MONEY deals

$15 Flights! Crazy Airfare Sales From 4 Airlines Right Now

Southwest Airlines
courtesy Southwest Airlines—Wieck

All four airlines have flights on sale for under $50.

The data indicates that, at long last, flights are getting cheaper. Based on this week’s crop of new airline sales—with four airlines launching sales starting under $50 a flight—it sure seems like prime time to snag a deal.

Before plotting a cheap getaway, note that availability on the fares listed below is limited in terms of both seats and dates. Be as flexible as you can to ensure the best possibility of paying the least. For the most part, forget about flying on a Friday or Sunday for a prayer of grabbing one of these bargain fares. But if your schedule allows midweek travel during the off-peak autumn season, there are some amazing deals to be had.

Frontier Airlines: From $15
Like Spirit Airlines, Frontier runs on a business model of cheap flight prices and few (read: almost no) complimentary extras. The tradeoff for having to pay for basic amenities like carry-on baggage is inexpensive airfare, especially when there’s a sale—like now. One-way flight prices start at just $19 or $20 for select Tuesday, Wednesday, and (sometimes) Saturday departures on routes such as Phoenix to Chicago, Denver to Portland (OR), Cleveland to Raleigh-Durham, and St. Louis to Orlando. In most cases, flights must be booked by August 26. In many cases, the fare is lowered to $15 with use of the code SAVEBIG when purchasing.

Spirit Airlines: From $34
Low-fare, high-fee Spirit Airlines lists select dates this fall when fares start at just $34 each way on routes such as Atlantic City to Atlanta, Philadelphia to Myrtle Beach, New Orleans to Chicago, Las Vegas to San Diego, and Orlando to Cleveland. Longer routes like Fort Myers to Minneapolis and Los Angeles to Cleveland are priced starting at just $63. These sale prices must be booked by August 26, and availability and dates are limited. Members of Spirit’s $9 Fare Club can save up to $10 or so more on each flight, though paying the $60 annual fee is probably only worth it if you fly Spirit a few times a year.

Southwest Airlines: From $39
Because Southwest is the lone airline that still allows passengers to check two bags at no extra charge, this is arguably the best value of the bunch. The airline is discounting flights all over the country, and sale airfares are valid for purchase through September 3. Still, availability is limited so it’s probably best not to wait too long. The best fares start at $39 each way on a few routes to and from Washington, D.C. (Reagan) and Indianapolis, Akron, and Columbus (OH). Among the other intriguing deals are Orlando to Indianapolis ($102), Seattle to Orange County ($94), Oakland to Las Vegas ($63), and Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale ($88).

JetBlue: From $49
Bookings must be made by Wednesday, August 26, to snag JetBlue fares such as Detroit to Fort Lauderdale ($79), Hartford to Washington, D.C., ($79), Charlotte to Boston ($79), New York-JFK to Jacksonville ($99), Long Beach to Sacramento ($59), Las Vegas to Long ($49), and Boston to Richmond ($49). Fares on valid on Monday-Thursday and Saturday departures from September 8 to December 16, with a few blackout dates around holidays.

Read next: This Is the Cheapest Time of Day to Book a Flight

MONEY

The Next Spirit Airlines May Be No Better Than the Old One

Frontier Airlines Offers Cheap Uncomfortable Flights
Scott, Kathryn—Getty Images Frontier Airlines was bought by Indigo Partners in 2013 and is now planning to double its fleet size.

Frontier Airlines emerges as a copycat to low-cost Spirit Airlines.

How much discomfort is someone willing to endure for a cheap flight?

This is the question travelers must consider when facing the prospect of flying on the new Frontier Airlines. The carrier, reinvented by Indigo Partners, the private equity firm led by Bill Franke who ran ultra-low budget airline Spirit Airlines, has scaled back on basic amenities like legroom and gotten rid of TVs, free carry-on bags, complimentary drinks, free reserved seating, and even its toll-free customer service number.

And, like its highly profitable low-cost rival Spirit Airlines, Frontier’s strategy of cutting costs and airfares while adding fees have yielded great financial rewards for the company. Frontier earned more than $129 million last year, and it plans on a huge expansion that would double its fleet in less than a decade, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Unfortunately, Frontier’s growth and enhanced profits have come at the sake of customer satisfaction and the quality of the service. Delays plague almost a third of Frontier’s flights, and the rate of customer complaints about the airline are second only behind Franke’s former project, Spirit.

What’s more, while Spirit has a long-established reputation for cramped seats and few complimentary extras, the brutally efficient character of Franke’s Frontier Airlines is at odds with the airline’s past reputation of catering to business travelers and special touches like complimentary cookies. This sharp break from the past has especially frustrated passengers in Frontier’s main hub, Denver. But to the airline, that’s the cost of providing an ultra-cheap fare — some as low as $15.

Franke, however, maintains that he isn’t doing things quite like he did at Spirit, which charges for water and doesn’t have reclining seats. He believes plenty of consumers would be happy to pay slightly more than basement prices to get a more humane experience. “I now think there is a kinder, gentler way,” he told the Journal.

MONEY Travel

Flight Prices Just Got a Whole Lot Cheaper

airline-costs-drop
Russ Rohde—Getty Images

It's been 20 years since fares decreased this much.

Looking to plan a last-minute end-of-summer getaway? You’re in luck: Airline ticket fares saw their steepest drop in two decades last month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a 5.6% drop in fare prices in July, even as U.S. consumer prices as a whole inched up 0.1%, NBC News reports. What gives? Fuel costs at a six-year-low and a Justice Department investigation into potential airline collusion that may be keeping the industry on its best behavior, for starters.

Whereas decreases in airline fares typically lag behind dropping fuel costs by six months or even a year, BestFares CEO Tom Parsons told NBC that the sustained low costs of fuels and airlines’ unprecedented profits are likely giving them the confidence to compete with budget airlines. And with the late August “Deal Zone” coming up in late August — when kids head back to school and families aren’t traveling — consumers can expect even bigger drops and better fares than usual.

The low prices are expected to last into the fall, but don’t wait too long: economists predict that the ticket price slump will be temporary.

 

MONEY Travel

Obama Pushing to Resume Commercial Flights to Cuba This Year

The National Hotel, Havana, Cuba
Rob Rae—age fotostock The National Hotel, Havana, Cuba

Hopping a flight to Cuba is about to get much easier.

Soon after the federal government announced new rules cracking the door wide open for Americans hoping to visit Cuba, ferries and charter flight operations sprang into action to launch Cuba-bound services for travelers.

For the time being, however, the options remain limited—and somewhat complicated. Getting to Cuba isn’t as simple as hopping on a website and booking airfare to, say, Miami or Aruba because regularly scheduled commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba still do not exist. And the reason they don’t exist is that restrictions remain in place prohibiting such services.

These restrictions could soon disappear, though, if President Obama has his way. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is working on a deal with Cuba that would allow commercial flights between the two countries to resume as soon as December 2015. The momentous event would mark the first time in more than half a century that Americans could quickly, easily, and legally book passage to the Communist-ruled island nation.

Quite obviously, the aftereffects of allowing regular commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba would be huge for American travelers and Cuba’s tourism industry. “If they do that and it’s possible to book an ordinary flight instead of go on a charter, lots more people would go to Cuba,” William LeoGrande, an American University professor who has conducted extensive research about U.S.-Cuba relations, told the Wall Street Journal.

If things go according to plan, it will only get easier for Americans to get their hands on (legal) Cuban cigars.


TIME Airlines

This Airline Just Made a Huge Order For 250 Jets

US-AVIATION-AIRBUS A320
SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images An Airbus airplane.

IndiGo is India's largest airline

French-based airplane maker Airbus has scored the company’s biggest order ever in a deal it firmed up with Indian budget airline IndiGo.

IndiGo, India’s largest airline, and Airbus have been working together since as far back as 2005 when the airline ordered 100 A320s – which Airbus has already delivered. IndiGo committed to expanding the fleet to 280 Airbus aircraft in 2011, and with today’s announcement, increased the fleet by an additional 250 planes.

The Associated Press said the jets would cost $26 billion at list price, although the news agency points out customers usually negotiate discounts with jet makers.

Strong economic growth over the next few decades is expected to propel the Asia Pacific region’s airline industry to new heights, with some observers estimating it will one day be the largest air travel market in the world. By 2033, almost half of global traffic will be to, from, or within the region, reports say.

India is a star performer from the region. The International Air Transport Association has projected that India – currently the ninth largest market in terms of air passengers – will overtake the United Kingdom to become the third largest market by around 2031.

TIME Emirates

This Airline Is Launching the Longest Flight in the World

HSV Team Hands Over A380 To Emirates Airline
Krafft Angerer—Getty Images Emirates stewardesses pose in front of an aircraft.

Here's your big opportunity to spend almost 18 hours on a plane

Emirates said Thursday it would begin offering daily flights between Dubai and Panama City, according to the Associated Press. The duration of the trip, when westward, totals 17 hours and 35 minutes, making it the longest commercial flight in the world.

The flights, which will begin Feb. 1, make Panama City the inaugural destination in for Emirates in Central America. The trip traverses a total of 8,590 miles, according to Bloomberg. Previously, the longest flight in the world was a flight from Dallas to Sydney offered by Qantas, which took 17 hours.

According to Bloomberg, Panama will serve as the entry-point for tourists and business travelers into South America and the Caribbean.

TIME Airlines

Airline to Begin Weighing Passengers for ‘Flight Safety’

Airline to set up a “special weighing machine” at the departure gate

Uzbekistan Airlines announced a new policy that involves weighing passengers shortly before take off.

A statement by the airline announced a decision to install a “special weighing machine” at departure gates, where passengers would be weighed along with their luggage.

“According to the rules of International Air Transport Association, airlines are obliged to carry out the regular procedures of preflight control passengers weighing with hand baggage to observe requirements for ensuring flight safety,” read a statement posted to the airline’s webpage.

A spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association denied any knowledge of a regulation that would require passengers to stand on a scale, adding in a statement to CNN that airlines normally calculate passenger loads as a mathematical average, rather than a precise, personal measurement.

MONEY deals

JetBlue Is Offering a Crazy 2-Day Sale

JetBlue plane taking off from runway
courtesy JetBlue

Beach escapes for under $100.

A new JetBlue sale stretching through Wednesday means that flights for Florida and the Caribbean are dirt cheap. Here’s a sampling of one-way airfare prices, generally available for flights heading in either direction.

  • Jacksonville-Fort Lauderdale: $49
  • Detroit-Fort Lauderdale: $74
  • Tampa-Washington, D.C. (DCA): $89
  • Pittsburgh-Fort Lauderdale: $94
  • Sarasota-New York (JFK): $119
  • Orlando-Worcester: $139
  • Chicago-San Juan (Puerto Rico): $144
  • Fort Lauderdale-San Francisco: $169

Again, this is just a sample of prices. It appears as if most, if not all, of JetBlue’s flights to, from, and around Florida and the Caribbean are on sale. Check out the full list of routes and prices here.

Fares are valid on bookings made by Wednesday, August 12, for departures between September 1 and November 20. Availability is limited, and there are a few blackout dates, including days around Labor Day and Columbus Day weekend.

Before booking, take note that the period when these prices are valid for travel coincides with the tail end of hurricane season, generally considered to stretch from June through November for Florida and the Caribbean. There had to be a catch, right?

Read next: Save With Last-Minute Vacations

MONEY Airlines

Traveler Complaints Against Airlines Are Up 20%

Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
Rosa Irene Betancourt—Alamy

While airline profits are soaring

The U.S. Department of Transportation just released the latest Air Travel Consumer Report, focused on the period from January to June 2015. Mixed in with some good news—the rate of mishandled baggage is down slightly—is the glaring bit of data showing that airline complaints are sharply on the rise.

For the first half of 2015, travelers lodged 9,542 official complaints about air travel to the DOT via email, phone, or in person. That’s a rise of roughly 20% over the same period in 2014, when travelers filed “only” 7,935 complaints.

Complaints increased in a wide range of categories, including flight delays, cancellations, refunds, and baggage service. But the number of gripes concerning two topics in particular—fares and customer service—rose particularly sharply. Complaints about fares, specifically “incorrect or incomplete information about fares, discount fare conditions and availability, overcharges, fare increases and level of fares in general,” increased from 296 to 870. Customer service issues, meanwhile, drew 1,121 complaints during the first half of 2015, compared with 832 for the same period the year before.

One interesting note is that the two most complained about American carriers just so happen to be renowned for having incredibly cheap—but also confusing—airfares, and both say they keep their fares low by offering minimal levels of customer service. The carriers we’re talking about are Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, which both have complaint rates that are more than five times the industry average.

Also interesting is that complaints are rising at a time when airlines are incredibly profitable due to the combination of low fuel prices, diminished competition in a post-merger world, and persistently high airfares and traveler fees. All in all, while the airlines sure should be happy with how things are going, it seems to be a different story for airline customers.

TIME cecil the lion

How Much Delta’s Lion Head Trophy Ban Could Cost Africa’s Economy

Some say hunting actually promotes animal protection

Amid the outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist in Zimbabwe last month, several major airlines, including U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, said they would no longer transport lion heads or other leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo hunting “trophies.”

While wildlife conservationists praised the bans as a way to discourage the poaching of endangered species, not all environmental groups were pleased with the new policies. In particular, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs announced on Thursday that it was “disappointed” with Delta’s decision, saying the airline’s “blanket ban” does not distinguish between animal “specimens” that were acquired legally versus those killed illegally.

The trade of animal trophies is a significant contributor to South Africa’s economy, with the country’s hunting industry worth nearly $500 million, the environmental agency said.

Namibia also complained that the airline bans would actually endanger more animals by reducing hunting tourism, which funds the country’s protection efforts, according to the Associated Press.

An editorial in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, titled “How Trophy Hunting Can Save Lions,” argued a similar point. The editorial cited statistics that Kenya’s 60% to 70% of Kenya’s large wild animals have been wiped out since the country banned hunting in 1977: “Lion conservation succeeds when it provides incentives for local people to protect lions and their habitat. In other words, if it pays, it stays,” the authors wrote. “When done responsibly and legally, trophy hunting is a way to ensure African lions are here to stay.”

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