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Help please with US budget airlines

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Dec 8th, 2009, 11:52 PM
  #1
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Help please with US budget airlines

I'm not familiar with US budget airlines and am looking at a flight from Los Angeles to New York and then onto London - one way.

I think it might work out cheaper if it was done in the above legs with budget airlines. What airlines would you recommend - I am aware here in Australia of our budget airlines restrictions and rules etc and imagine that the same apply there. I know I have my favourite budget airline here - some are definitely better than others! So would appreciate any feedback thanks.

Many thanks in advance.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 01:44 AM
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Pricing among various airlines in US is insane - and we have found that "budget airlines" do not really exist - sometimes the ones thought to be less expensive turn out to have higher fares when we research flights (my husband travels on business and no longer has use of a business travel agent - so I am the one who ends up researching fares). JetBlue, Southwest, AirTran are often thought of us "budget" and they are all fine airlines. If you asked people here their most and least favorite airline, you would get a zillion conflicting responses.

I suggest you use kayak.com to start your research. Then book with the actual airline website itself. Travelocity.com and Expedia.com are also useful for research - since all 3 of these sites allow you to research among a variety of airlines for fare and schedule.

One additional tip - when looking at flights into New York, check all 3 airports - codes are JFK, LGA, EWR (for Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark). An example of the insanity - husband is flying Boston-New York today. Newark (actually in New Jersey) is closest to his client. But flights BOS-JFK roundtrip are around $200 and BOS-EWR were $700.

But to answer your actual question - I love JetBlue (newer planes and seatback TVs), hate AirTran (they made a big mess of a reservation a few years ago and I haven't forgiven them), and find Southwest annoying (you don't reserve a seat, just a boarding priority - and for our travels their fares have been higher)
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Dec 9th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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I think one problem may be with the "one way" part of this also, although I think you can buy that on Air Tran.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 04:10 AM
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One-way fares within US are usually half of round-trip - this has changed in recent years. Some routes still charge more if you buy a one-way ticket, but not nearly as often as it used to be.

Internationally, which I have less experience with, seems to still be more expensive than half of RT.

I just checked random April dates (on kayak) for LAX-BOS and you can fly one-way on 3 different airlines for $120-140 and RT is double that.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 05:04 AM
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Virgin America, a branch of the worldwide Virgin name, flies the LAX-NY Kennedy route. They're here in the U.S. to compete with the "budget" airlines. You may be able to get a good fare through them with an easy connection to London on Virgin Atlantic.

I've flown Spirit Airlines several times. They're a low cost airline that I'm pleased with. They fly LAX-LGA but go through Detroit. Not sure if LGA offers London flights though. Someone in that area would know better than me.

Have good trip.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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Virgin Atlantic was one of the $120 one-way airlines when I checked random dates - along with Delta and United - all non-stop. If I remember from earlier posts, NY area airport matters less since they will be spending some time on east coast prior to flying to London.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 05:48 AM
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jetblue.com flies from Long Beach which is near LA to JFK and usually has good prices and nice airplanes. Not sure how Virgin American compares in prices or equipment. While kayak.com doesn't have every single airline (it doesn't include Southwest.com for example) it gives pretty great info. There's a "fare chart" on the left that shows which days in a month have better rates and other good info. You can also search "all NYC airports" and click for "show nearby airports". I will tell you though to avoid a transfer between Newark (EWR) and either JFK or LGA. It's not a good option. LGA and JFK are not that far apart though. Btw, I'm not at all sure that your theory of stopping in NYC and on to London is correct. There may be better prices flying non-stop or changing in another less busy city like Philadelphia (although not sure who flies from LA to Phil).
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Dec 9th, 2009, 05:52 AM
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PS. I just picked an arbitrary date in Jan (6th) and did a search on kayak.com for LA to London. The 2 lowest fares were on bmi and Air New Zealand, BOTH NON-STOP and both $654 one way. That's great value to me.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 05:54 AM
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Note that budget airlines such as Southwest are not included in Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, etc., searches.

Unless you have to stop in NYC for some reason, your plan is not necessarily the most economical. It's true that one-way fares are not the problem they used to be.

You'd have to be very careful booking this trip on two tickets, especially during winter months when delays and cancellations are legendary at the New York area airports. If you miss the second flight, you'll likely have to purchase a new ticket to London, with no credit for the flight you missed (depending on the airline). The best bet would be to plan an overnight between your flights, but a hotel room would offset some of any savings.

Have a look at www.1800flyeurope.com If the airline is not listed, you can usually tell by the flight times, or just phone them.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 07:05 AM
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There is another new search website (Travelzoo affiliated) similar to kayak

www.fly.com

While they include JetBlue and Virgin, they may not include some of the other budget airlines such as Southwest and Spirit.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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LGA is NOT an interntional airport - domestic flights only - and that mostly short haul - since the runways are too short for the largest planes.

Don't be fooled into a "cheap" flight through LGA -since it can be expensive and time-consuming to get to the international airports - EWR especially.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 07:33 AM
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Several people have mentioned Southwest Airlines, but since you are from Australia, you may not be familiar with them. Southwest is considered a "budget" airline, but their fares may or may not be cheaper than the more traditional airlines. It all depends on when you book your ticket. The earlier you book, the more likely you will be able to get a "Wanna Get Away" fare, their cheapest. Also, there is never any problem with booking a one-way fare with Southwest.
The attraction for Southwest Airlines for many people, myself included, is that there are no fees to cancel or change a flight. They will deposit the amount you paid for your ticket for one year and you can use that money at any time within the year to purchase another ticket. Other airlines charge around $100 to change your ticket. Another "plus" for Southwest is that they don't charge anything to check up to 2 bags. Most US airlines charge from $15 - $50 to check each bag, so if you plan on checking any bags, Southwest can save you money.
I did a search on a random day in March and you can get from LAX to LGA for $134+ and on a random day in April, you can do the same flight for $99+. They book only up to 5 months in advance, so you can book tickets now up to early May.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Not enough info from the OP.

Do you plan to stay over in NYC or are you just assuming that's the cheapest way to get from LA to London? Also, when? Airfares (both transcon and TATL) are highly seasonal and affected by holidays, spring break, price of fuel, blah blah.

If you plan to stay over, then your total fare will be considerably higher than if you're planning to fly straight through. In addition, NYC > London (in fact, any US city > London) is a high-demand route, and airlines can and will charge more for those nonstop services than to other destinations. If you have the time, have a look at 3 tickets, LA > NY, NY > Dublin, and Dublin > London. Because Aer Lingus (the Irish flag carrier) has re-cast itself as a low cost airline, and since the majors are lemmings when it comes to pricing, fares into DUB from N. America tend to be significantly cheaper than into London. Of course, you then have to pay for a separate ticket to London, but adding everything together can save $100 - $200 or so over direct flights. How much is your time worth?

As for the transcons, United, American and Virgin America all match each others' fares all the time, so just pick the timing that works best for you.

But the above questions are crucial - stopover and timing.
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Dec 10th, 2009, 01:24 PM
  #14
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Your replies are all very helpful so thank you so much. There are a few options and my son will see what he comes up with.
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Dec 10th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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Unless you need to stop over in New York, I would fly Air New Zealand from LAX-LHR. It's about a 10-hour trip, if I remember correctly. Good leg room, decent food, New Zealand wines, and individual chairback entertainment systems with tons of choices.

Lee Ann
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Dec 10th, 2009, 09:32 PM
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a lot of good info here. If all other factors were the same, I prefer jetblue for the flying experience.
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Dec 11th, 2009, 10:33 PM
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Just use NYC if you are searching for fares to New York - airport code NYC covers JFK, EWR, and LGA.

stormbird, you should answer Gardyloo's first question, at least.
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