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How to get a good flight deal in 2022

Airfares are on the rise, but between several new low-cost carriers that have recently popped up and a few insider tips and tricks, there are still deals to be found.

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VSConsumers reading the latest headlines about skyrocketing airfares — due to a combination of increased travel demand as pandemic concerns wane and rising fuel costs — might assume that they lost their chance to get a good deal on flights this year.

They are not wrong to worry. Booking app Hopper predicts domestic air fares will average $360 round-trip by May, up from $235 at the start of 2022. International tickets will average $940 in June, up from $650 in January, according to Hopper. And prices for jet fuel, the second highest expense for airlines after labor, are expected to remain high due to the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war on energy supplies. As a result, Delta Air Lines recently said US flights will cost around $30-40 more roundtrip by June.

But airfare experts say it’s not too late to find a great deal on air travel, especially if you can be flexible on dates and destinations. The reason is that people are eager to travel again, and airlines that raise fares too much risk losing price-sensitive customers.

Destinations with great flight deals

“We are seeing travel providers continue to support the return of travel with competitive rates,” said Naomi Hahn, vice president of strategy at booking site Skyscanner. According to the latest Skyscanner research data, some top leisure travel destinations have actually seen prices fall this year from pre-pandemic levels, including Honolulu, Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the US, UK , as well as in Iceland and Portugal in Europe. A major influence is the number of competitors on a particular route and whether there is a low cost carrier in the mix.

When and how to find a good flight deal

Most experts agree that booking at least four weeks in advance, ideally six to eight weeks before travel, is key to getting a better deal and could save travelers up to 51%, especially s ‘they use the calendar search feature offered on many search sites. , such as Google Flights, as well as airlines’ own reservation systems. This feature allows travelers to see all airfares and select the dates when prices are lowest. Often, traveling a day before or after your originally scheduled travel dates can get you a cheaper fare, Hahn says.

Another way to save money is to use what’s called a “pirate fare”, or combine two one-way flights on different carriers. “Leaving with one airline and returning with another, or using different airports, can save money,” adds Hahn.

A simple and timeless bargain-hunting hack is simply to sign up for a price watch alert service, which is available on the Hopper app and a number of other travel booking sites, including including Kayak and Google Flights.

Follow the news

Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at flight deal tracking service Scott’s Cheap Flights, recommends international travelers keep a close eye on pandemic restrictions, as fares tend to drop right after a country has eased pandemic-induced travel restrictions.

“Each time the restrictions fall, we see airlines becoming more aggressive in putting planes on these routes,” Orlando says. For example, after Iceland lifted all of its travel restrictions on February 25, there are now a slew of new flights between the US and Iceland for this summer, and not just on major carriers like United. and Icelandair, but also on the new Play budget line.

A similar scenario unfolded after the UK eased entry rules earlier this year, prompting a flurry of new flights, including JetBlue’s recently announced Boston-London flights, which start in July and s ‘add to its existing service from New York to Heathrow and Gatwick. Bottom line, he says, “Keep an eye on the news and you’ll see the rates go down.”

Low cost carriers can help

There is also another promising development in airfare pricing that could help put downward pressure on airfares: the addition of several new discount carriers that have recently entered the domestic service market and international. Low-cost US startups like Breeze and Avelo offer cheaper flights that typically lower the going fare on major US carriers.

“Typically, when a low-cost carrier enters a route, they can cut prices by more than 20%,” says Hayley Berg, Hopper’s price intelligence manager. But she warned that “some of these airlines are starting out quite small and we haven’t seen their influence nationally”.

In Europe, new budget lines like Play and Norse Atlantic are hoping to revive the popular low-cost model of predecessors Wow and Norwegian Air, respectively. Berg says it’s no surprise they’re trying to revive the market for cheap fares to jump the pond. “Time and time again, airlines have found that American consumers are willing to pay $300 for $400 to sit in a really tight seat to cross the Atlantic,” she says.

Guide to New Low Cost Carriers

Since last year, a new breed of startups have been launched just in time to ride the wave of pandemic recovery. But if, like us, you’re struggling to find out who these new players are and what routes and prices they offer, we thought you could use a handy list when looking for bargains. An important caveat: On most of these low-cost carriers, expect to pay extra for almost everything, from seat selection and in-flight meals to carry-on and checked baggage.

Ah!

Ah! (short for “air-hotel-adventure”) is based at Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe International Airport with typical one-way fares starting at $79. Using 50-seat Embraer ERJ regional jets, Aha! flies between more than a dozen West Coast cities in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, including Tahoe, Palm Springs, Ontario (east of Los Angeles), Fresno (south of Yosemite) in California ; Eugene, Oregon; and Spokane, Washington.

Avélo Airlines

Avelo was launched in Burbank, Calif., and flies a fleet of 737s to both US coasts. The low-cost carrier recently opened a second base in New Haven, Connecticut, serving points in Florida and other destinations like Charleston and Nashville. From Burbank, Avelo offers daily return flights to Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. Additional destinations include Bozeman, Montana; Eureka and Redding in Northern California; Grand Junction, Colorado; Bend and Eugene in Oregon; and Pasco in Washington’s wine country. Promotional fares start at $49 one way; regular fares at $79 one way.

Breeze Airways may soon be flying coast to coast.

Breeze Airways

The brainchild of JetBlue founder David Neeleman, Breeze Airways is growing rapidly and now serves several cities in the eastern half of the United States, including New York’s MacArthur Airport in Islip on Long Island; Palm Beach in Florida; New Orleans; Norfolk, Virginia; and Charleston, South Carolina. It plans to start flying on longer routes in the near future, including coast to coast, when it adds a larger aircraft type – the Airbus A220 – to its existing Embraer regional jets. . One-way fares start at around $64 for the no-frills “Nice” class; for things like a free checked bag, you can upgrade to “Nicer” and “Nicest” fares.

French bee

French Bee is a low-cost airline departing from Orly airport in Paris whose momentum has been temporarily slowed by the pandemic. But the French discount line is back with a new series of long-distance flights between France, the United States and French Polynesia. French Bee flies between San Francisco or Los Angeles and Paris. These flights also continue to Tahiti. Fares between Orly and Los Angeles International Airport start at $279 one way. Flights are aboard an Airbus A350-900, a newer version of the state-of-the-art widebody aircraft.

Level

The low-cost Spanish unit of IAG (parent company of British Air, Aer Lingus and Iberia) is launching flights to Barcelona from Boston and Los Angeles this summer and is also resuming service from New York and San Francisco. Level flights are on board Airbus A330 jumbo jets. Round-trip fares start at $420 from New York and $631 from Los Angeles.

Cheek

The reincarnation of ill-fated Wow, Play airlines is launching transatlantic flights to Iceland this month starting with Baltimore-Washington airport in Reykjavik, followed by Boston, New York/Newburgh and Orlando, all via Airbus A321s narrow body. Once in Iceland, travelers can connect to 22 European hubs like Berlin, Brussels, London and Paris, as well as smaller outposts, such as Tenerife and Bologna. For the 2022 summer season, you can find deals for one-way flights under $200. Like Wow, Play operates single-aisle and single-aisle Airbus A320s and A321 Neos.

Coming soon . . .

Remember Norwegian Air, the mother of all low-cost airlines across the Atlantic? Well, stay tuned, because this airline will be back, at least in spirit, under new owners and a new name: Norse Atlantic Airways. Reportedly, it will use the same 787 Dreamliner jets on transatlantic flights as its predecessor, but will break tradition by starting small, flying from a handful of (yet unnamed) U.S. points to its hub in Oslo, where fliers can connect to airports. across the continent. The carrier has already secured permission from the United States to begin selling tickets, possibly as early as this month, for flights slated to begin this summer.

Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes