In recent years, the price of flying has soared. Many tourists must decide whether to spend a fortune or stay at home.
Airline ticket costs have increased by 25% due to rising inflation. Most people believe that the well-known and more expensive airlines are the safest and most trustworthy, but not everyone can afford that luxury.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Using budget airlines or purchasing low-cost tickets can save money on air travel.
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The Cheapest Airlines to Fly
Are you eager to travel and cross items off your bucket list? For your upcoming vacation, check out the cheapest airlines below! Also, be sure to follow these tips from frugal frequent flyers.
Southwest Airlines is among the most renowned low-cost carriers across the US. It serves various domestic and international destinations, with 49% of Americans rating their experience positively, making it a popular airline.
What sets Southwest apart is its customer service. The staff is known for being polite and helpful, creating an enjoyable atmosphere for travelers. In addition to that, passengers also get free inflight entertainment and snacks.
The airline doesn’t charge extra fees for baggage or seat selection features. This is a great advantage when traveling as part of a group or family looking to save money! With their low-fare calendar, customers can easily find the least expensive flights.
Little kids fly free on Southwest. Perhaps the best deal with Southwest is their Companion Pass, which let’s a friend fly free.
Finally, their Rapid Rewards program offers rewards points for each dollar spent, which can be redeemed for free flights, hotel stays, and other benefits.
The Airline comes in at a cost/mile of $0.467, according to LendEDU.
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Spirit Airlines is a go-to option for all budget travelers planning to explore the US, Latin America, or the Caribbean. As the seventh largest airline in the US, Spirit is a major player.
Prices are low with Spirit. Luxury service is not expected, and uncomfortable seats might be encountered. Customers who want extra amenities like food, carry-on baggage, and seat selection will need to pay additional charges.
Despite this, overall costs are lower than most other airlines.
The Spirit Saver$ Club membership offers an annual savings of approximately $160 on average on low-fare flight prices and discounts on luggage, fast-track security & boarding gate access, and reserved seating for you and eight guests.
There are also partner benefits available for $69.95 each year.
JetBlue is an airline based in New York City that flies to over 100 destinations across the United States, South America, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean. The airline has a reputation for its comfortable seats, friendly crew, and inflight entertainment options.
You can confidently choose JetBlue Airways if you want a comfortable flight with complimentary snacks and drinks and top-notch customer service. And all of this comes at a relatively low price.
To get the lowest prices, you must opt for their Blue or Blue Basic programs featuring low-priced tickets, free WiFi, and seat-back entertainment.
While the Blue Basic program seems great, it offers few amenities and extras. Be prepared to pay fees for additional carry-on luggage and bag checks starting at $35.
You also won’t have access to advanced seat selection. But this could be the cheapest option if you’re traveling light or couldn’t care less about seat selection.
JetBlue has traditionally operated within the Americas but recently took their business international by initiating transatlantic flights to London.
JetBlue has become a popular choice for budget travelers in the United States, with a cost per mile of $0.402.
4. Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air (formerly Westjet Express) is a low-cost airline that offers flights to popular vacation destinations. The airline is known for its ultra-low fares, which can save you a lot of money if you’re willing to forego some of the standard amenities that come with flying.
The Nevada-based airline currently flies to over 140 destinations across the United States. Some of its operating bases include:
- Grand Rapids, MI (GRR)
- Nashville, TN (BNA)
- Bellingham, WA (BLI)
- Des Moines, IA (DSM)
- Fort Walton Beach, FL (VPS)
- Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL)
Allegiant Airlines offers two main fare classes: Basic and Bonus. The Basic fare is the most affordable option and includes a seat on the plane and one personal item.
For an additional fee, passengers can purchase services such as checked bags, carry-on bags, seat selection, and priority boarding.
The Bonus fare includes one carry-on bag, one checked bag, and the option to select a seat when booking.
Allegiant Airlines is considered a budget airline because it operates on a no-frills model, offering basic services at a low cost. The airline focuses on providing affordable air travel by streamlining its operations, flying to smaller airports, and charging additional fees for non-essential services.
By doing so, Allegiant can keep its costs low and pass on the savings to its customers in the form of lower fares.
Despite this, the overall cost is still lower than other airlines.
To save even more money when flying on Allegiant Air, join their frequent flyer program, called Allways Rewards. Signing up is free and lets customers earn points towards free Allegiant travel immediately.
5. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is a major American airline based in Seattle, Washington. They fly to over 100 destinations across the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico. With an award collection for top-quality service, you can be sure to enjoy your flight on Alaska Airlines.
Although Alaska Airlines is one of the cheapest airlines, you can get lower prices with their loyalty program, Mileage Plan. With this plan, you can earn and redeem miles on flights with Alaska Airlines and their partners, which include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Fiji Airways, and more.
You don’t need to be a frequent flyer to join the Mileage Plan program; it is free to sign up. Start earning rewards immediately from their award-winning loyalty program (Nerdwallet Best-of Awards 2021).
If you want a constant flow of information about their lowest fares, consider signing up for Alaska Airlines’ email list to get updates on their cheapest flights.
6. Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines is the largest airline in Hawaii, and it flies to over 28 destinations across the Pacific Ocean, North America, and Asia. The airline is revered for its expansive network, award-winning service, and on-time arrivals.
Prices for flights on Hawaiian Airlines are generally lower than other airlines flying to similar destinations. And you can get better flight fares through the HawaiianMiles program, which is not based on how much you spend but on how much you fly. You can redeem your HawaiinMiles anytime because they never expire, and you can choose any seat in the main cabin.
Wait, there’s more! The Hawaiian Airlines Bank of Hawaii World Elite Mastercard gives you 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days. Here’s the best part – you pay a $0 fee for the first year – and $99 for the following year.
Asides from Hawaii Airlines’ cheap fares, you will have peace of mind flying with them as they’ve never had an accident since they first took to the skies back in 1929.
7. United Airlines
United Airlines is one of the world’s biggest carriers, with a huge network of destinations across the globe. With its headquarters in Chicago, it holds an excellent reputation for its inflight services and offers low-cost flights.
Ticket prices tend to be cheaper when booked early, as these are released 11 months before departure and increase as it gets closer.
The United MileagePlus loyalty program rewards members with free checked bags, priority boarding, and no annual fee! Additionally, customers can redeem their miles for flights, hotel stays, rental cars, or experiences.
For even lower prices, there is the Basic Economy option at United, their lowest-priced fare. However, this comes with certain restrictions, such as being unable to choose a seat or bring a carry-on bag (depending on the destination).
8. American Airlines
American Airlines is another large airline in the United States with a vast domestic and international flight network. The airline’s headquarters are in Fort Worth, Texas.
American Airlines offers low fares for domestic and international flights. You can get cheaper tickets when you book your flight early. If you want to save even more money on American Airlines, become a member of their loyalty program, AAdvantage.
As a member, you can earn and redeem miles on flights with American Airlines and its partners. You can also transfer your miles to your friends and family.
American Airlines allows you to use your miles for:
- Car rentals, hotels, and vacations
- Flights to over 1000 destinations worldwide
- Other retail products
The AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard also gives you access to more bonus offers, so feel free to get that too. It’s free for the first year.
9. Frontier Airlines
Denver-based Frontier Airlines is a discount carrier with routes to more than a hundred cities in North America, South America, and the Caribbean.
The airline uses a “bare bones” business strategy, providing the bare minimum of service to its customers at a low base fare by streamlining its operations, flying to smaller airports, and charging for extras.
Economical, Classic, and plus are the three primary fare categories Frontier Airlines provides, each with its own perks and services.
A convenient feature of flying Frontier Airlines is the option to change or cancel your reservation free of charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure time if your trip is more than seven days away.
In addition, purchasing your plane ticket ahead of time or during off-peak times might save you a lot of money. That’s the definition of a win-win flight.
You can get the latest Frontier specials and discounts by signing up for the Frontier email newsletter or visiting the airline’s website. This low-cost carrier offers additional services, such as trip insurance, parking at the airport, and vehicle rental packages.
Frontier Airlines is a great alternative if you are looking for low-cost flights to locations in North America and the Caribbean.
However, many customer evaluations on Frontier Airlines’ website suggest that the company still has some work to do in terms of customer care, and that it can be challenging to have cancellation requests completed in a timely fashion.
What is Considered a Budget Airline?
A low-cost carrier (LCC) or “budget airline” is an air service that provides inexpensive tickets in exchange for fewer services.
Some airlines only provide one-way flights, others only fly to minor airports, while still others charge extra for amenities like checked luggage, meals, and entertainment.
Most low-cost airlines have a “no frills” business model in which they cater to their customers by meeting their most fundamental transportation requirements at rock-bottom prices.
This is accomplished by focusing on a single type of plane, flying shorter itineraries, and selling tickets online.
Furthermore, budget airlines typically use a lean staffing approach, which results in fewer personnel per passenger than conventional airlines. This helps businesses to save money on salaries, which they may then use to provide reduced fares to their patrons.
Although they may not provide the same level of service as full-service airlines, low-cost carriers have grown in popularity among cost-conscious American vacationers.
However, before purchasing a flight, customers should check the airline’s policies and costs, as some low-cost carriers add surcharges for amenities that are standard on other airline tickets.
Not all of the above airlines are considered low-cost carriers. The only low-cost carriers on our list is Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, Jetblue, Spirit, and Southwest. The other four are not.
Get Ready for Takeoff
Those are the cheapest airlines to fly to your destination. If you plan a future trip, always check for early-bird specials, flight deals, and travel deals when booking your flight, and you can take advantage of loyalty programs to get the best deal.
And don’t forget to compare airfares before you book! By doing so, you can save more money in the long run.
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Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.