Cheap Flights 101

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LAST-MINUTE SEATS FOR SALE
Airtech targets a similarly flexible demographic as courier agencies, but puts passengers on empty or standby seats at the last minute. If you’re flexible with your dates and destinations, you can get pretty sweet deals, like a flight to Europe for about $200. First, buy a FlightPass for travel between certain regions, say the U.S. and Europe, with a departure window of two to four days. When a flight comes up to your preferred destination, you’ll get a call. If it fits you desires and interests, you head to the airport and redeem your pass for the tickets. Think of it as the budget traveler’s way of flying on standby. One intrepid traveler used Airtech to get home to Greece for the 2004 Olympics. She got the call—a flight to Amsterdam from Washington, D.C., for around $200—and headed out that afternoon. After a leisurely day in the Netherlands, she hopped a train south to Athens and reached her destination for half of what it would’ve cost had she flown direct. Plus she got to go to Amsterdam. But if you need to be in a certain city at a certain time, Airtech ain’t for you.

SMALL-SCALE AND CHARTER AIRLINES
Small-scale airlines and some charter services often offer specially scheduled or seasonal flights to high-traffic destinations for low rates. USA 3000 Airlines flies from Midwest and Northeast cities to vacation destinations in Florida, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico for fares 20 to 60 percent cheaper than major carriers’ fares, depending on the city. Sun Country Airlines is another small carrier based in Minnesota with flights to more than 40 domestic, Caribbean, and Mexican destinations. Especially at the last minute, rates can be significantly cheaper than those of Northwest, Sun Country’s biggest competitor. When purchasing tickets, be aware of restrictions on refunds and rescheduling after missed connections with other carriers. To find small carriers, look up a full list of airlines that service your local airport.


Published: 15 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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