“After booking, keep checking the fare,” said George Hobica, the founder of the flight deal site Airfarewatchdog.com, who canceled a $650 flight when he found the same itinerary with the same airline earlier in the day for $400; after rebooking, he had a $250 flight credit. “Thanks to no-fee cancellation policies, it’s much easier to change to a cheaper flight or date,” he said.
Internationally, Hopper predicts the average round trip will be $940 in June, exceeding 2019 fares. Providing alternatives, a number of foreign low-cost carriers are new or returning service to stateside airports, including French Bee, which is introducing service between Los Angeles and Paris from $321 one way. Its existing New York-to-Paris fares start at $197.
Additionally, it offers packages that combine air and train travel on the French national railway. A recent search for a round-trip ticket between Newark and Paris with train service to Lyon and back was $600 in May.
Condor Airlines from Germany is back with its biggest U.S. deployment after skipping last summer. It flies between Frankfurt and a dozen American airports, including new service from New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A recent search found flights that cost 30 percent less than Delta and Lufthansa.
Spain-based Level is introducing routes between Barcelona and Los Angeles (from $479 round trip), New York ($425) and Boston ($475). The airline will have more than 11,000 weekly seats on routes between the United States and Spain, twice the number it had in 2019.
Remember that most low-cost carriers charge extra for things like checked bags, meals and seat assignments, so factor those in when comparing prices to standard carriers, which include many of these in their fares. Flight frequency is another potential hazard; if something goes wrong weather-wise or mechanically, it may take a while before a low-cost carrier can get you on your way.
Using loyalty points
Experts say now is always a good time to use your points and miles. Why? Because they don’t accrue interest, are prone to deflation as airlines may change their value, and, if you cancel, you’ll usually get the points back (versus a cash sale, which is often returned as a voucher).