Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Search for Domestic Airfares

I'm not just a travel writer, but the unofficial travel agent for family members both near and distant. Recently my third cousins Laura and Leslie (whom I adore and think of as first cousins) asked me to help them find a good round-trip fare between Chicago and New York.

It should have been a cinch. But with fares creeping up and their budget tight, I was checking fares daily at, and (hey, I'm thorough) and not finding anything that set my heart a pitter pattering.

It can take many hours at the keyboard to find a good fare! (Image by Zhao)
Which is why I jumped to attention when I got an email this morning from JetBlue announcing fares of 20% off the norm. I zipped over to the J-Blue site, and found that yes indeedy the rates were very, very good. I was about to jump on the phone to the cousins, not trusting email because this is one of those one-day wonder sales (it expires at midnight tonight), when I noticed that the fares were only good for the fall months. Darn! Leslie and Laura wanted to visit in Junes

So it was back to the drawing board, or rather my email, where I found a offer for Southwest Airlines. You pony up $40 in advance and you get $80 to spend on tickets (so basically a $40 discounts). It, too was a rapidly disappearing deal (deadline end of day tomorrow), so I quickly moused over to Southwest's site to see what it'd be charging for the dates in question. That turned out to be $233 which, oddly enough, was the exact same lowest price that American, Delta and United were charging (should I be whispering the words "price fixing" right now?). But with the $40 groupon, the cousins would be paying, well, $40 less than anyone else.


I've alerted them and am hoping they'll be able to get the deal. Frankly, with gas prices rising, I don't think they'll be able to do much better...unless they decide to hitchike.

I blog about it here as a cautionary tail about the twists and turns one must take to get a good airfare nowadays. Oy.

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