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Are frequent flyer credit cards worth the plastic they're printed on?

Posted by George Hobica on Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We've been wondering. Does it make sense to spend $25,000 on a frequent flyer credit card in order to earn 25,000 miles, which is typically what you need for a free domestic roundtrip ticket. If, that is, there are seats available to frequent flyers, which there often are not.

All too often, you have to spend 45,000 or 50,000 miles for a domestic ticket, right?

And what if that ticket would only cost you $179, or $225, the typical price that we often list for cross country fares when there's a sale?

Maybe you'd be better off with a cash back credit card instead. For example, after you've spent $6500 using your card, the American Express Blue Cash card pays 1.5% on all purchases, and 5% back on supermarket, gas station, and drugstore purchases. So let's say you take that same $25,000, and let's say $15,000 of that is "other" purchases, and $10,000 is gas, food, and drugstore.

The calculator please! You'd earn $225 plus $500 for a total of $725 in cash back. And then you take that cash and buy yourself a nice airline ticket without being told, sorry, there are no seats.

Honestly, seems like a no brainer to us.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Frequent Flyer Cards


$1 Spirit Sale Ends at Midnight

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spirit has introduced yet another wonky sale, the latest in their Cheapano Fibonacci series. Fares start as low as $1 each way and creep up to $233 each way, though members of their $9 Fare Club (which you can join now) have access to a wider selection of fares. Yes, putting together a round-trip itinerary with the available dates can sometimes leave you cross-eyed but it's absolutely do-able (just ask some of the Airfarewatchdog staff who chewed through their ropes and ran bought tickets the last go 'round, and saw a little Florida sunshine!) Just take a gander at these fares:

Valid dates of travel vary from city to city, so check their chart for specifics, but think early February to as late as mid May in some markets. Fares must be booked by midnight January 30, so hop to it!

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Domestic US Fares

New JetBlue Refundable Fares and other observations

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, January 29, 2008

JetBlue this week began offering new refundable fares through their website and third-party partners. This new option provides additional flexibility to people who want the ability to change or cancel their travel plans without penalty. This comes on the heels of Southwest’s launch of their “Business” and “Business Select” classes of service in November which also allow for ticket changes and refunds. JetBlue appears to be playing a bit of catch-up in this space.

JetBlue allows unlimited changes to the ticket without penalty as well as a full refund at any time prior to the flight’s departure. If you miss your flight and do not notify the airline, you will receive a full credit for the cost of the flight to be used at a future date within one year.

This appears to be a positive development, but in investigating the new fare structure, has noticed that travelers need to carefully compare their options when considering the new refundable fares.

For example, we checked prices on flights from West Palm Beach to New York, JFK on a Friday in March and found that JetBlue’s everyday fare was $99-$119 each way, while the refundable fare for the same flight was priced at $399 each way. That’s up to four times the cost for the added flexibility, which is quite steep.

However, when we checked prices for New York, JFK to West Palm on the same Friday, prices ranged from $204 to $324 at their everyday fare vs. the same $399 for the refundable fare. In this instance, the price premium was not as great and may be worth the added cost for the additional flexibility.

We recommend doing your homework and comparing the lowest available JetBlue fares with the new refundable fares before booking. Depending on your specific situation and the prevailing fares at the time of booking, the new refundable fares may or may not be an option worth pursuing.

One final note on JetBlue’s fares… We have noticed that when booking two or more passengers, *some* JetBlue flights drop in price as much as $15 each way. When we checked flights from West Palm Beach to New York, JFK on March 14, we noticed that the lowest fare when booking one passenger was $99 each way, while the lowest fare shown for two or more passengers was $84 each way. We have noticed this before, and it seems to be a nuance of JetBlue’s reservation system, although it’s never been officially documented anywhere to our knowledge. Yet one more thing to keep in mind when comparison shopping for airfare.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

American Sale to Jackson Hole

Posted by Jonathan Weinberg on Thursday, January 24, 2008

American is offering 20% off flights from anywhere in the Continental US to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for travel in September '08.

This deal is available for travel from September 2, 2008 through September 30, 2008.  Reservations must be made via the American Airlines website using the promotion code DFJACGO by January 27, 2008.

Categories: Domestic US Fares

Southwest $99 one-way or less sale ends today!

Posted by George Hobica on Thursday, January 24, 2008

Southwest is always having sales, yet they remain one of the few profitable airlines. Now why is this? Anyway, their latest sale for travel Jan 29-Feb 29 ends tonight midnight CT.

Fares range from $49 to $99 each way, no round-trip purchase required. Ft. Myers, FL; New Orleans, LA; and Orange County, CA are not included in this sale. What's particularly good about this sale is that it's not the usual Tue/Wed only deal. You can find seats seven days a week, with a few exceptions.

Be sure to use Southwest's "ShortCut" (their flexible date search calendar) to find seats more easily. Most other airlines are matching this sale.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Domestic US Fares

Latin America at 25% off on AA

Posted by Jonathan Weinberg on Tuesday, January 22, 2008

American has a fantastic promotion going on right now to Latin America, with 25% off all flights from the Continental US to the following destinations:

  • Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR
  • San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)
  • Belize City, Belize (BZE)
  • Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA)
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP)
  • Tegucigalpa, Honduras (TGU)
  • Panama City, Panama (PTY)
  • Managua, Nicaragua (MGA)
  • San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL)
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
  • La Paz, Bolivia (LPB)
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia (VVI)
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG)
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
  • Barranquilla, Colombia (BAQ)
  • Bogota, Colombia (BOG)
  • Cali, Colombia (CLO)
  • Medellin, Colombia (MDE)
  • Quito, Ecuador (UIO)
  • Montevideo , Uruguay (MVD)

We found some great deals through this promo like New York (JFK) to San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) for $217 roundtrip including tax with good availability.

This deal is available for travel from January 22, 2008 through May 14, 2008.  Given the extended travel window, the lack of any other restrictions on this fare, and the 25% discount, it's one of the best we've seen yet from American.

Reservations must be made via the American Airlines website using the promotion code DFSPRLAT08 by February 5, 2008.

$40 off round-trip flights on Spirit

Posted by George Hobica on Monday, January 21, 2008

This is a pretty simple deal: Just enter SAVE40 (all caps, no spaces) in the Promotion Code box on the home page when booking your flight to save $40 off your roundtrip purchase for travel between January 23, 2008 and February 12, 2008 or between April 8, 2008 and October 31, 2008. Once the promotional code is entered, fares displayed will automatically reflect a promotional discount of $20 off each way for a total discount of $40 when purchasing a roundtrip reservation. You always get $10 off round-trip when booking on Spirit's site, so basically you're getting an extra $30 with this promo code.

Sale ends midnight Jan 22.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Domestic US Fares, Caribbean/Mexico/Latin America Airfares

New low fares to Asia

Posted by George Hobica on Sunday, January 20, 2008

United Airlines has lowered fares to Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul. We found plenty of seats for February travel and some of these fares are half what you'd pay on other airlines.

To search these fares, use our handy dandy international fare search page.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Asia/Australasia Airfares

How to See More for Less Down Under

After making that long-haul trek all the way across the Pacific to Australia or New Zealand, you will be no doubt be ready to get out and shake a leg. Whether you're on a business trip with meetings in several cities or a walkabout in the outback is more your pleasure, both Qantas and Air New Zealand have some great ways to keep you on the move on the cheap.

Air passes may not always be the amazing deals they claim to be, but the Qantas Aussie AirPass is almost better than advertised—a good deal at any time and an extraordinary bargain under the right circumstances. It essentially gives you a choice of 3 extra cities to visit in addition to your point of entry and even lets you return from a different airport, all at virtually no extra cost and sometimes for even less than the price of a standard return ticket to any one city.

For example, the best fare currently available to Sydney in May is $1,140 round-trip with taxes from Los Angeles.

Now pick up an Aussie AirPass and throw Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane into the mix, and the total price comes to $1,263.

In other words, you can tour the whole of Southeast Australia and Tasmania for only $120 more than the price of seeing Sydney alone, and the savings are even greater to other cities. Yes, even the math is magical in the Land of Oz!

Lest you think this all sounds a tad too good to be true, there are some limitations, of course. First of all, this is not a free pass to roam at will, because you must plan your entire itinerary at the time of booking. Furthermore,

  • Straying beyond Zone 1—which includes all major cities except Perth, but not major tourist attractions like Alice Springs and the Great Barrier Reef—will cost you at least $300 more.
  • Extending your stay beyond the maximum 3 weeks up to 3 months will set you back another $300.
  • Traveling outside the cheapest seasonal periods of May and August will add anywhere from $100 to $1,100 to the cost of your trip. It appears that you only need to start —not complete—your trip in any given period for that particular period fare to apply.
  • Leaving from cities other than Los Angeles or San Francisco tags on $90-360 if you buy your connecting flight through Qantas, but you can of course buy it separately and possibly for less.

The Aussie Airpass is on sale for travel through early December 2008.

Categories: Asia/Australasia Airfares

Mexico at 20% off on AA

Posted by Jonathan Weinberg on Wednesday, January 16, 2008

American has a great promotion going on right now to Mexico with 20% off all flights from the US to Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Ixtapa.  This deal is available for travel from April 1, 2008 through April 30, 2008. 

This promo only requires a one night minimum stay and a minimum base fare of $125.  These deals typically require a Saturday night stay, so compared to others we've seen recently, the terms are pretty favorable.

Reservations must be made via the American Airlines website using the promotion code DFAPRMXPLE by January 21, 2008.

Categories: Caribbean/Mexico/Latin America Airfares
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