Domestic flights in the US - bundle ticket?
Replies: 33 - Last Post: Sep 20, 2012 3:46 PM Last Post By: max_mexico
Sep 11, 2012 7:16 AM
Domestic flights in the US - bundle ticket?Coming from South Africa to the States for six weeks in April/May 2013 - exchange rate is terribly daunting and therefore seeking the cheapest way to get around the states by air (which will be our greatest cost as we want to go EVerywhere)!
A friend mentioned this:
A budget national airline that offers a ticket lasting a month that allows you to fly anywhere inside the States as much as you like..
Heard of this?
Otherwise - anyone know of a "bundle" ticket or somehow we can buy a lot of domestic tickets and get them cheaper?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Sep 11, 2012 7:27 AM
1I don't know about bundled tickets, but there are a number of "budget" airlines operating domestically in the U.S. Also, April/May is a low travel time in the U.S. and there are often special deals if you are flexible with your travel times on budget air carriers like SouthWest, JetBlue, Horizon, Allegiance, Pioneer and even some larger ones like Delta and Alaska Air. Generally, flying on Wednesdays or Thursdays is cheaper.
Be careful when checking prices to be sure all taxes and fees are included and what the cost is for carry-on as well as checked luggage.
Sep 11, 2012 7:34 AM
2I've never heard of such a ticket on airlines. Busses and trains yes, but airlines? that's new to me. I'm not saying they don't exist.
The problem with travelling America by air instead of car is that
- you see the cities, not the sites. (I'm guessing in that regard the US is more like South Africa and less like Europe.)
- Our airlines work using "HUB" system. If you want to fly from Northeast to Southeast they might route your flight via HUB somewhere in the midwest. It's actually a very cost-efficient system for getting for point A to point B but kind of a terrible one for travelling all over the country.
The best way to tour the US is to chose 1 or 2 or even 3 regions and explore them thoroughly by car. Whether you drive or fly in between regions is up to you.
Edited by: LongIslandBob
Sep 11, 2012 8:48 AM
3Your friend might have heard about this. From a news article
Visit North America
I am not sure what kind of savings these two offer. Lots of restrictions.
Alaska Air Pass
Sep 11, 2012 9:07 AM
4I doubt an air pass will be cheap or save you anything.
Another great airline is Southwest, they tend to be the low cost leader, though not like the old days due to fuel prices. But one advantage for Southwest is the fact you can cancel or rebook a flight for no charge or fees, just pay the new fare, as most airlines charge $150 to change or cancel a ticket. The other great thing about Southwest, is they allow 2 checked bags and a carry on at No Charge. most other airlines are charging for bags in some manner.
April/May is a good time to travel as well as school is not out and vacationers dont hit the roads until late June. The negative is many of the mountain areas in National Parks may not be open yet due to snow.
It will be spring time, and very pleasant weather overall, from the south to the north. Easter Week is a very busy time for the airlines, as also Spring Break for the college/high school kids in Mid March to Easter early April just so you know, mainly Florida and the Gulf Coast.
Overall its easy to explore the east coast via trains, as NYC, Philly, Boston and Wash DC are all under 5 hour train trips from eachother. You dont want a car in those cities either. Other citied with great public transport and easy to get around via foot/taxi/trains/busses besides NYC/Philly/Boston are Chicago and San Francisco. (and Las Vegas).
Its best to rent a car for the western US national parks. Good base cities for doing a loop are LA, Vegas, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix, Santa Fe areas depending on time and interest.
California and Florida are also good to rent a car oneway and drop in another major city in the state. You need a car in Florida unless just flying into Miami for the beaches or Orlando for the Amusement parks, hotels have shuttles or take a taxi to resort.
Another nice area to rent a car is from Wash DC, with so much history (civil war) and old south culture, as well as nature with the Appalachians and Smokeys, Blue Ridge Parkway and the charming Charleston SC is a great loop. Off the beaten path would be whisky/horse country in Kentucky/Tennessee.
New Orleans is best fly in/out IMO.
Hope that helps.
Sep 11, 2012 9:29 AM
Sep 11, 2012 3:24 PM
Sep 11, 2012 3:31 PM
7Actually, you can fly all around the US using One World/Star Alliance, in any direction you please, just have to leave the US in different direction then when you entered for a RTW. If you flew in from EU, you can then fly onward to Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Caribe Islands, Guam, Asia or Australia.
Sep 11, 2012 10:04 PM
8Jetblue has had it in the past. But it's not exactly cheap. Where are you thinking you'll fly? Are you going to rent a car? Tell us about your plans, we might be able to suggest an economical route.
Allegiant and Spirit are the cheapest US airlines I know of. I saw tickets as cheap as $26 flying out of Oakland last month including all taxes and fees, and that was regular price not promotion. You have to pay for luggage though, even carry-on. I never found Southwest particularly cheap.
Sep 11, 2012 10:52 PM
Sep 11, 2012 11:13 PM
10Thank you so much for all your suggestions, very helpful!
We are not sure exactly where we want to go, but this our current wishlist for the 6 weeks (subject to change, perhaps dramatically as we do more research, suggestions welcome!):
Fly South Africa --> Raleigh, NC (trip must start in Raleigh)
Return: JFK --> South Africa
(this seems to be cheapest on British Airways at the moment, but will only buy ticket next year).
"First draft" ideas:
Raleigh --> Miami ......................fly/bus?
Miami --> Boston............................fly. (which airline?)
Boston --> DC...............................bus?
DC --> Denver (skiing?)..................................??
Denver --> Dallas (have family here).........................fly (which airline?)
Dallas --> Vegas...........................fly (which airline?)
Vegas --> San Fran.....................rental car?
San Fran --> LA.....................rental car?
Grand Canyon.....................rental car?
West coast --> NYC....................fly (which airline?)
NYC --> Home (South Africa)
I'd like to drive/bus west coast and fly/bus east coast and across state - how's that sound?
Suggestions welcome, wishlist subject to change a lot.
Edited by: dubdubb
Sep 11, 2012 11:55 PM
11You list 11 cities/areas in 6 weeks, which comes out to 4 days per area, not including travel time. Have you traveled at such high pace before? I personally don't mind it, but most people will tell you that you are moving way too fast and packing too much in short time.
Your route also seems a bit illogical. Have you mapped it up? Here it is:
Why would you fly all the way back to NY then fly home? Can you not fly out of California? Sure, ticket might cost more, but how much money and time do you spend getting to NY? It probably makes more sense to visit NY while visiting Washington DC and Boston.
Why would you visit California, then Yellowstone, then go back to California, then go to NY? Did you mean Yosemite?
Here's a suggestion: Fly into Raleigh, make your way up north to DC, NY and Boston by car, train or bus. Fly from there to the west. Rent a car and do the "standard" tourist loop of SF, LA, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon. Tack on Yosemite if you'd like. Fly home out of LA, SF or Las Vegas, whichever is cheaper. Skip Denver. Skip Yellowstone. Skip Miami. If you want to see family in Dallas, visit them on the way from Boston to California. Look for a single ticket connecting in Dallas, not two one-ways, this could save you money. Example of this route:
To get a much better idea of what's feasible in 6 weeks, make an itinerary, day by day, of where you plan to be. Include travel time and costs. This is easy to find on google maps and google search.
What is your budget by the way? Do you have a US visa already?
Sep 12, 2012 4:27 AM
12THANK YOU max_mexico - those maps are a great help.
Skipping Denver does seem a lot better logistically (and seasonally as we would want to ski there). We're still feeling very ambitious so might still squeeze in Miami.
And yes, I meant Yosemite! Thanks!
The flight home from LAX isn't too much more expensive on British Airways so I think finishing up with Boston, DC and NYC and then moving to California and flying home from LAX is better.
Budget is flexible.. We'll stay in the cheapest accommodation we can find and skip some meals but we're willing to pay to get around and do a lot.
Visa's are sorted.
Edited by: dubdubb
Sep 12, 2012 5:08 AM
Your latest post clarifies a lot of things.
Personally, having toured much of the US I would not fly so much. Instead I draw you back to my early mention of the US in terms of “regions” and advising you to pick 4 or so regions and tour each one by car.
Here’s how I would do your trip:
- Arrive at Raleigh visit with family
- Region 1: (the South, not the deep South, but still the South)
Monticello, Williamsburg, Jamestown. A theme park or two
- Region 2: (the Northeast)
- Region 3 (the Rockies)
- Region 4. (the Desert to LA) Leave Colorado and hop to the NM desert before beginning an auto-tour headed through the major desert sites on the way to then to Los Angeles.
Of course you can add or substitute other regions (Florida, Texas, New Orleans or whatever.) But honestly your itinerary has Florida and Texas and Yellowstone and Colorado and the South and the North East and the desert. To me that seems like a lot of time to/from/at the airport and not much time vacationing.
Don't let me tell you how to travel, but that's how I'd do it.
Sep 12, 2012 10:38 AM
14For the time being at least, South Africa is one of the least expensive originating countries from which to use round the world tickets issued by Oneworld carriers. (It's also among the cheapest for Star Alliance, but the Oneworld Explorer product is more flexible given your plans.)
The Oneworld ticket, unlike other airline alliance-based RTWs, is priced according to how many continents you touch, rather than how many miles you fly. You're allowed so many flights within each continent - four for Europe, Asia, Africa, the Southwest Pacific (Oz/NZ etc.) and South America, and six for North America, of which only one can be a coast-to-coast nonstop.
You're allowed 16 flights in all (including intercontinental ones) and as mentioned above, travel between continents has to be generally in an east-to-west or west-to-east direction, although zigzagging within the continents is okay. (North America also includes Central America and the Caribbean, Europe includes most of the Middle East and Mediterranean Africa.)
Of course you have to fly on routes flown my members of the alliance with which you book an RTW, so there are some built-in limits, but on the other hand you can use the RTW pretty effectively if your aim is to bounce around a continent. Some of your destinations, such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, are really accessible only by car (unless you just want to sleep in the closest train or bus station) and some flights are too cheap or short to "waste" one of your RTW tickets on. Travel up and down the US east coast, for instance, is really better done by rail or bus, given that places aren't that far apart and the infrastructure is well developed. By the time you go out to Raleigh-Durham airport, check in, go through security and fly to DC, then travel into the District, you could probably have driven the distance quicker and more comfortably.
For example, here's a potential route using this ticket and traveling home to SA via Australia. (I'm taking liberties with actual stops, but you can play with the idea endlessly.)
Joburg - London - Istanbul - Amman - London - Raleigh/Durham - Miami - Denver - Dallas - New York - Los Angeles - Honolulu - Sydney - Auckland - Brisbane - Sydney - Joburg
Or here's one where you return to SA via Asia instead of Australia:
Joburg - London - Istanbul - Amman - London - Raleigh/Durham - Miami - Denver - Dallas - New York - Los Angeles - Honolulu - Tokyo - Bangkok - Colombo - Hong Kong - Joburg
In price terms, a four-continent RTW like either of the above would cost around US$1200-1400 (say ZAR 10,000 - 12000) more than a simple JNB-RDU//JFK-JNB ticket on BA or any other carrier. You might be able to pay for the same internal flights in the US for that much, but might not; either way you're getting a lot more travel this way. One thing to note in doing price comparisons is that with RTW tickets your baggage is included, whereas on pay-as-you-go flights most US carriers will add baggage fees on top of base fares, so be sure you're doing an apples-to-apples comparison. As a final note, let me just mention that SA is also a "cheap" origin point for business-class RTW tickets, which generally cost around double the economy-class fare. Not only would this be a lot more comfortable (duh) but you would earn enough frequent flyer points with a business-class RTW that your next trip to the US or Europe would be paid for in the process, so figure the leverage involved while you're at it.
Now you may or may not want to do this much additional travel (or may not have time for it nor budget to pay for all the additional nights/hotels/meals etc.) But I did want to throw out that option since you're starting in SA.
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