Some good news for travelers… but not such great news for the economy today…
Typically summer fare sales don’t start until AFTER Easter. But this week, and in the weeks leading up to it, we’ve seen airlines kicking off the summer fare sale season a little bit early.
That’s good news for travelers worried that high oil prices that could translate into higher ticket prices, which could put a crimp in their summer vacation plans.
But when airlines put fares on sale early, it’s a signal to me that advance bookings for the summer might be a little weak. To me, this means that consumer confidence is still waning as travelers take a “wait and see” approach to summer vacation.
For the most part, spring and summer fare sales so far have been fairly restrictive– for example, many require travel on slow days like Tuesdays or Wednesdays in order to get the lowest fares. Most sales only last for a few days. Plus, I’ve not seen too many sale fares that go deep into peak summer travel season– most up to this point have been good for trips into mid-June only. A quick scan of peak (July-August) fares still shows a few eye-poppers– with no sales so far during the summer peak.
Here are the details on the current crop of early summer fare sales– they are led by low fare carriers, but majors are matching these deals, too. (All sample fares below are for roundtrips and include all taxes and fees. These fares were available when I checked on the morning of April 3, but are subject to selling out.)
VIRGIN AMERICA: In honor of its partnership with the San Francisco Giants and the newest member of its fleet taking to the skies this week (see the Giants-inspired “Fly Bye Baby” bearded aircraft above), Virgin America launched a “#flythebeard” fare sale. Sample roundtrip fares for travel through June 13 are: $160 to Las Vegas, Los Angeles or San Diego or $280 round trip to New York. A special introductory fare of $218 to Portland is good for flights from June 5 through Oct 17. Sale expires April 5. Details.
JETBLUE has a great one-day sale that expires tonight at midnight tonight, but you can fly all the way through June 20. Not available on Fridays or Sundays. Sample sale fares from SFO: Long Beach $100. Austin $200; New York JFK $240 or to Boston or Ft Lauderdale for $280. Details
UNITED is offering round flights to Seattle for just $200; Austin for $249; Denver $278; Dallas Ft Worth or Newark for $320. Details.
SOUTHWEST is offering a 24-hour sale for flights to/from Chicago Midway. From SFO, you can fly for $287.50 round trip on Tuesdays or Wednesdays or Saturdays through May 23. Details
Are these fares low enough to spur you into action, or are you going to wait and see what else might come along? Please leave your comments below!