Calling All Bostonians: 9 non stops for less than $99 round trip

There was plenty of evidence in yesterday’s edition of Hump Day Fare Hacks that flights to Europe are staggeringly cheap right now. Equally exciting is that there are a (comparatively speaking) large number of Boston-originating domestic flights that are going for far less than usual. The craziest part of that is that – while low-cost carriers are present on this spontaneously-created list – they make up less than half of the options, meaning that legacy carriers (namely American) are offering flights for cheaper than ever before. If that’s any sign of what’s to come, that’s good news for us travelers!

Note 1: All of these fares were found through Google Flights. There are even more sub-$100 destinations if you are fine with layovers, including Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando.

Note 2: I hesitated listing Spirit Airlines flights, as – in addition to charging for pretty much everything except a seat and personal item – my plane has been delayed coming back both times I’ve flown them. However, they do offer some exceptional deals, and if you know what you’re getting into, the low price may well be worth it, although I will say that I consider jetBlue to have similarly low prices and far superior service.

 

Baltimore – Southwest Airlines – $82

Chicago (O’Hare) – American Airlines and United Airlines – $87

Cleveland – Spirit Airlines – $69

Dallas-Ft. Worth – American Airlines – $87

Detroit – Spirit Airlines – $79

New York JFK – American Airlines – $69

New York LaGuardia – American Airlines and jetBlue – $97

Washington (National) – American Airlines – $69

West Palm Beach – Spirit Airlines $89

 

Hump Day Fare Hacks: September 14, 2016

Norwegian Index for September 14, 2016 (measured in dollars): 292.0.

As you can tell, the Norwegian Index (defined in last week’s post) fell by 2.0. What’s more, though, is that’s not even the most impressive development for this week. Instead, I think the craziest thing is the fact that there are three routes without low-cost carriers that are showing sub-$500 round trips between New York and Europe. If I had to pick one for myself, I’d choose JFK-MUC on Lufthansa for $490, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • September 27 (return October 6)
  • October 11, 18 (return October 20, 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $306

Thoughts: Just waiting for this one to go below $300 (it won’t, but that would be impressive).

 

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 9, 11-13, 15, 16, 18-20, 22, 23, 25-27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5, 6, 8-10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22-24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1-3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15-17, 19, 20, 22-24, 26-29

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $585

Thoughts: Combined with Lufthsana’s increase to $597 for BOS-FRA, TAP and BOS-LIS come back into the picture for the exceptionally low price, variety of dates, and the fact that many of said dates fall during the coldest part of winter – an idea time to venture to Portugal.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • December 5
  • January (2017) 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 13

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $338

Thoughts: Up $8 on last week but with new dates available. Really don’t know what to make of the fact that there are direct flights to London for less than $400 round trip.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on: October 14, 21 (return October 22, 29)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $286

Thoughts: Norway is cold, but this fare is hot. And with Norwegian going out-of-season at the end of October on the BOS-OSL route, now’s the time to book.

 

Boston – Tel Aviv

Leave on:

  • November 20, 24

Carrier: El Al
Price: $650

Thoughts: Have family in Israel? Want to visit them over Thanksgiving? Book this flight.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • December 13-19
  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February (2017)
  • Any date in March (2017)

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: Much like last week, my recommendation would be KLM and its Boeing 747 or 777 over the Delta 767 or United 757, but you can’t go wrong with this price and the extensive range of dates.

 

New York JFK – Brussels

Leave on: December 13, 14, 16

Carriers: Brussels Airlines
Price: $443

Thoughts: In addition to the fare listed, there are a number of different dates in 2017 where a sub-$500 fare is available, so your options may be far more extensive than I’ve listed here.

 

New York JFK – Munich

Leave on:

  • December 13

Carriers: Lufthansa
Price: $490

Thoughts: Just one departure date available, sure, but this is crazy stupid low. Never thought I’d see a Lufthansa long-haul flight going for less than $500.

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $261

Thoughts: A dollar off last week. Stockholm, eat your heart out.

 

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 15, 22

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $269

Thoughts: A very commendable second place in the unofficial Norwegian competition for lowest fare of the week on Hump Day Fare Hacks.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: September 7, 2016

This week, I’m introducing a new measurement called the “Norwegian Index.” Before you accuse me of turning a user-friendly blog into pure airline jargon, I should say that the Norwegian Index is simply the average of all Norwegian Air Shuttle flights profiled by Hump Day Fare Hacks in a given week. I think this is a solid way of seeing what an average “low-cost” (e.g. non-legacy carrier) transatlantic fare is at a given time, and, as such, will provide a basis of comparison for the cost progression or regression, depending on how the market behaves. And while a more comprehensive version would perhaps be weighted by the number of available days for each route, I simply don’t have the time or interest to take that on. If you’d like to undertake that task, be my guest – I’ll be sure that you get the appropriate recognition.

Norwegian Index for September 7, 2016 (measured in dollars): 294.0.

Just to be clear – this does not mean that I’ll be profiling more or less Norwegian flights in order to generate a more favorable Index. The average will be computed after I choose the deals to be profiled in a given week, ensuring that the Index is calculated objectively.

Moving on – Lufthansa is the airline to watch this week, offering a range of flights for less than $510 on BOS-FRA, JFK-MUC, and EWR-MUC. The German flag carrier usually charges significantly more on transatlantic flights, so this is something to take advantage of if you have the desire to travel to Bavaria or Hesse. Additionally, Hainan is offering exceptionally low fares on BOS-PEK for a number of September dates – prices which seem unthinkable at first glance given that the closest one is just six days away.  Two different countries; two carriers synonymous with quality; four great deals. Can’t beat it. (Maybe they can, but I don’t see it happening).

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Beijing

Leave on:

  • September 13, 14, 21, 26, 27

Carrier: Hainan Airlines
Price: $638

Thoughts: It may well be too short of notice to plan a trip to China, but if you’ve got a week and $638 to burn, I can’t think of a better investment. I’m kidding, of course – however, the fact that this fare is available for a transpacific flight less than a week away is almost unthinkable.

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • October 11 (return October 20)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $305

Thoughts: Just one date left. Either way, an exceptional deal, even if not as cheap as BOS-OSL.

 

Boston – Frankfurt

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11, 13-16, 18, 20-23, 25, 27-30
  • February (2017) 1, 3-6, 8, 10-13, 15, 16, 18-28
  • March (2017) 1-23, 27-31

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $507

Thoughts: If a $1 decrease wasn’t enough, the fact that the number of available dates drastically increased makes this deal a very attractive proposition. Anything transatlantic trip for less than $600 on Lufthansa is an exceptional fare.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $330

Thoughts: A $3 increase with 2 more days of availability. Business as usual for Norwegian.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • September 30 (return October 8)
  • October 17, 21 (return October 25, 20)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $269

Thoughts: This is the second week that this fare and these dates are available. If you haven’t bought your ticket already and you have even the slightest of desire to do so, you probably should.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • December 6-20
  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February (2017)
  • Any date in March (2017)

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: This smells of an over saturation of capacity in the market – one that could well be rectified in the coming months. Either way, this is a fantastic deal to take advantage of – personally, I’d recommend KLM and its Boeing 747 or 777 over the Delta 767 or United 757, but you can’t go wrong with this price and the extensive range of dates.

 

New York JFK and Newark – Munich

Leave on:

  • December 6, 7, 12, 13

Carriers: Lufthansa, United Airlines
Price: $505

Thoughts: A pretty exceptional fare for Munich, and made even better by the fact that you have the option between two airports and two carriers. I personally would choose Lufthansa over United, but that’s just me – you can’t go wrong with this price.

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5, 7, 21, 23
  • March (2017) 2

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $262

Thoughts: Don’t know how Norway in the winter is – I imagine it’s probably cold. What I do know, however, is that this is an exceptional price.

 

New York JFK – Paris

Leave on:

  • December 8
  • January (2017) 19, 24, 26, 31
  • February (2017) 28

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $328

Thoughts: $1 more than last week. Guess this isn’t a good deal anymore (sarcasm).

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 15, 22, 27

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $270

Thoughts: I’d be curious to see what flights between New York and Miami are going for during the winter. I bet this price would be competitive with those fares.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: August 10, 2016

While many of the usual suspects stuck around this week, there are a couple of new fares to look at that — I think — represent very good value. For one, TAP Portugal is now offering flights direct from Boston to Lisbon for less than $700 round trip. TAP’s co-owner, David Neeleman, is the former CEO of jetBlue, and his track record speaks for itself. Additionally, New York to Brussels for less than $500 is a very good price, and is something worth looking at if you’re looking to travel around Belgium and the surrounding countries. Yet those two deals aren’t the only ones worth looking at — even under the umbrella of “already existing” deals, there are still many that represent excellent value: perhaps

Though I can’t say that there were any new deals that truly jumped out at me in the way that the EWR-HKG on United for $488 a few weeks back did, this week still has three sub-$300 fares. And the fact that those fares aren’t complete anomalies anymore has me continually rethinking the possibility of whether Norwegian’s low fares are becoming the “new normal.” Can’t say I’d be against it.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • October 4, 11, 18 (return October 13, 20, 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $305

Thoughts: I’d be very curious to see if this route dips below $300 round trip. While the narrowing of available dates and the fact that it’s a seasonal service makes it unlikely, it could well happen next year.

 

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • September 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 19-22, 27-29
  • October 1, 3-6, 10-24
  • January (2017) 9, 11-13, 15, 16, 18-20, 22, 23, 25-27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5, 6, 8-10, 12, 13, 15-17, 19, 22-24, 26
  • March (2017) 1-3, 5, 8-10, 12, 15-17, 19, 22-24, 26, 28, 29

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $629

Thoughts: TAP Portugal, which happens to be Portugal’s flag carrier, is one of the newest carriers at Logan, and is supposed to be good from what I’m observed. In addition to the range of dates advertised, there are a number of dates in November and December available for just a dollar more round trip (so, $630). Lisbon is said to be a great destination for fall, winter, and spring travel, so this seems worth a punt.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 13, 15, 17

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $336

Thoughts: A slight narrowing of available dates, but a $4 price drop versus a high intrinsic value on the Boston to London market still makes this an excellent deal.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • September 30 (return October 8)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $285

Thoughts: This $16 price increase from last week shouldn’t scare you off (there’s also the option of October 4-12 for $1 more). What it does do, however, is — along with the narrowing of available dates for the lowest fare — reinforce that these sub-$300 prices won’t be around forever. Still, absolutely incredible value for your money!

 

Boston – Tel Aviv

Leave on:

  • November 24, 26 (return December 1, 3)

Carrier: El Al
Price: $650

Thoughts: The two days among a number of more expensive dates makes this price a true “fare hack.”

 

NEW YORK

 

Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • November 9-18, 20-30
  • December 1-15

Carrier: United Airlines
Price: $461

Thoughts: $1 less than last week’s price on a normally-expensive route. Worth the investment for those looking to check out the Netherlands.

 

New York JFK and Newark – Brussels

Leave on:

  • November 9-13, 16, 17, 19-30
  • December 1-15

Carrier: Brussels Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines
Price: $485

Thoughts: A very solid deal on a market that typically runs expensive, although not as expensive as Amsterdam.

 

New York JFK – Hong Kong

Leave on:

  • October 25-27, 31
  • November 1, 2, 8, 9, 15-17, 21-24, 28-30
  • December 1, 5-7

Carrier: Cathay Pacific
Price: $554

Thoughts: A number of dates for a fare that represents incredible value. Can’t believe that it’s lasted this long.

 

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • December 2
  • January (2017) 13, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 3, 5, 16, 17

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $280

Thoughts: Norway has overtaken Sweden (at least in terms of who has the cheapest Hump Day Fare Hacks destination) this week. A decent selection of dates.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 16, 18, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 20, 25, 27

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $281

Thoughts: Same dates. Same price. Same great deal.

Finding Cheap Flights is Easier Than You Think

This weekend, I traveled to Washington D.C. to visit a good friend from college, flying both BOS-DCA and DCA-BOS on American Airlines’ Airbus A319s. Both legs were rather uneventful as far as aviation milestones go, although I did get a pretty great view of the Friday evening sunset on the way down.

For my trip to Logan, I opened a ride sharing app and requested a ride. It must have been the quickest pickup I’ve ever had waiting for a ride: I saw the app confirm the driver, only to look up and see his van parked around 20 yards away. Apparently, he was driving down the street, received the request, saw me looking at my phone, and pulled over. It was a serendipitous and convenient encounter.

During the ride, my interest in finding cheap flights came up. I told him that I’ve flown four times for less than $100 round trip. Somewhere in there, he spoke of his desire to travel to his native Morocco with his family, but said that the flights were extremely expensive — a round trip from New York to Casablanca was well north of $1,300 for one adult.

“Well,” I said, “I was looking last week, and saw that flights to Casablanca from JFK are going for less than $1,000.”

“Really?” he asked.

“You bet,” I replied. “Let me check on my phone.” I had downloaded a third-party app that gave me access to the Google Flights interface, so I entered “JFK” and “CMN” and picked a pair of dates that I thought would be cheap: a pair of Wednesdays in December, well before Christmas. The result: a $790 direct flight on Royal Air Maroc.

When I told him of this price, he was pretty surprised. However, I knew in the back of my mind that an affordable flight from Boston — even if it wasn’t direct — would be even better than the option that I’d told him of.

“Let me see what I can get you from Boston,” I said. I plugged in BOS and CMN in, expecting to find something around the same price.

Lo and behold, it was even cheaper: a $681 round trip on TAP Portugal was available for a variety of dates in Fall 2016.

“That’s crazy!” he exclaimed when I told him of the price. After cautioning him that it would involve multi-hour layovers in Lisbon on both legs of the journey, to which he said was completely fine, I said that I’d be happy to pass along the itinerary to him if he’d provide his email, to which he eagerly obliged. In a matter of minutes, a pipe dream had become much closer to reality.

Knowledge is Power

Though this story might seem self-promotional or a “humble brag” of sorts, that’s not my intention at all. Rather, it’s to convey that flying can be much more affordable than many might think.

Despite naming my weekly blog series Hump Day Fare Hacks, I’m here to emphasize that what I do is not rocket science. Similarly, it is not anything that you cannot do. When I told a co-worker that I use Google Flights, which has an incredibly user-friendly interface and lists the schedules of pretty much every airline*, he jokingly asked me how I could be called an “expert at finding cheap flights” by fellow employees. (I’d like to stress that I did not give myself that title.) I replied that it’s not about using a tool that no one else has access to, but rather having unique knowledge such as:

  • Knowing what’s a good deal, rip-off, and normal price for a particular route.
  • Being aware of which airlines tend to run cheaper vs. more expensive in certain markets.
  • Keeping cognizant of price increases, fare classes, and other pertinent information.
What to Change

Many will go to an airline’s website, plug in the dates they want to travel on, and pick the first flight that they see. And while it might result in peace of mind because you’ve booked and paid for your trip earlier, reality is that you could save hundreds of dollars by scouring your options more comprehensively, checking a variety of dates, and looking at low-fare calendars. When I have a trip that I want to book, I usually experiment with a variety of dates, carriers, and trip lengths to see what will yield the best deal. And while I will usually pay extra for things like a window seat, I’ll usually take the 6 a.m. flight if it means that I’ll be saving $100 one way.

Certainly, flying has become much more affordable in the past decade. From increased competition and the emergence of low-cost carriers like jetBlue, to low fuel prices and increasingly efficient aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, there are a number of factors that have contributed to the falling prices of flights.

Regardless, it seems that many are still unaware of what a “normal price” for a flight on a certain route, not to mention a “good deal,” is — myself included. Before I started flying on a regular basis in 2014, I would have assumed that a BOS-PHL flight would go for $300+ round trip. In reality, there are a number of flights on that route for less than $200. If I myself have suffered from these misconceptions, I’m certain that there are many more out there just like me.

Bottom Line: Be an Educated Consumer

Much like buying a car, the best way to get a deal on a flight is to be an educated consumer. That means looking at a variety of travel websites, airlines, and repositories to see where the best deals are. Additionally — unless you’re on a strict schedule — it helps to experiment with a number of dates, flights, and seats. Considering that paying for a flight is, often times, a large financial investment, it’s surprising to see how many people who will simply book the first two dates that come to mind without realizing the savings they’re missing out on. There are a number of affordable, even cheap, flights out there if you know where to find them. Good news: it’s much easier than you think.

Note: * There are some carriers that don’t publish their fares on Google Flights, Southwest Airlines being one of them. That said, I’ve found some great deals on Southwest’s website, although such prices are usually exclusive to certain routes — email me if you want to know more about a particular city pairing.