Travelling On A Budget
I am aware that Southwest Airlines SELLS airfares, but when they advertise a special sale, the first thought that comes to mind is that they are offering DISCOUNTED FARES, not calling attention to the fact that they are in the airline business. So when I see, “Final Days! Spring for a sale. One way as low as $69.” I don’t expect the lowest one way fare from Philadelphia to Las Vegas to be $196 or to Chicago for $153! That’s not a low fare.
The only work around to these bogus sales is that you can re-book with no penalty on Southwest if the fare goes down, but you still have to keep tabs on the expiration dates of your refunds and it can get complicated. Also, who is to know if these higher fares aren’t the new normal, until the next time you find an actual discounted fare. This is very annoying.
Lately, there have been so many changes that hurt the budget and infrequent traveler. You can find these here: The New Rules of Travel Rewards Programs
Is the average person not going to be able to afford air travel anymore? There aren’t any airlines that cater to the budget traveler now that Spirit and Frontier nickel and dime you to death. Why can’t a model like People Express, that runs popular tourist routes and fills every seat, on every flight, at a reasonable fare that earns revenue for the carrier, work out for us?
How To Get The Best Deals
Anyway, there are still some ways to deal with this situation. One is to fly during off times. I flew round trip to Las Vegas in the beginning of December for less than half the one way fare in the summer. I flew for $178 round trip from Philadelphia to Chicago in April and earned 1672 Rapid Rewards points, which was almost enough to pay for half the point fare to Chicago in October (3894 points, which was worth about $70). So, I know that $153 one way to Chicago is no deal.
Another way to find low sales in this new environment is to check the fare calendar every week, or even every few days, if you have the time. I found that December fare to Las Vegas in July. Round trip it was 9102 points or about $170, the round trip fare my friend paid. THAT is a deal.
The lowest rate to Las Vegas that I found for this so called Spring Sale was $297.95, not a terrible rate, but it was extremely limited. I saw return fares in April for $84 on three different days and was able to put together a Friday to Tuesday trip for that total price. The average price for this period would be more than $400, but if you really want to fly during a certain time period, it’s worth looking every day to see if something pops up. I search for my summer flight to Las Vegas, every couple of days and about a month ago, I found one day—yes–one specific day that the fare was $135, rather than $214, so I booked it. I haven’t seen that fare again. I booked my return trip at $224 to guarantee that I’ll have a set fare at a time I know I will be flying, in case the fare goes up.
Until there are no ways to lower your fare, these are the games you need to play as a budget traveler. When we are all taking staycations, then maybe the airlines will set prices at a reasonable rate, in an uncomplicated way.