As competition is reduced in the airline market, it makes it easier for these massive companies to control markets and jack up the prices. Honestly, the price of fuel should allow the price of airfare to drop dramatically, unfortunately, we don’t see that taking place. Airlines were running at such thin margins prior to this oil price dip it has caused them to smell green!
American Airlines and US Airways merged this year forming the largest airline in the world with over 335 destinations. The more mergers, the more leverage these companies have! Not to fear, we got into the points and travel game to try our best at hacking the system. Check out this simple yet effective way to save money on some flights. We all hate layovers, yes? We all love more money to be able to spend our on vacations, yes? Well, by building your layovers you can save a ton of money! (in some cases)
Phoenix to New York is generally $250-$275 round-trip. There are about 15 non-stops a day, however you are going to pay for that convenience. Let’s look at what you can do by playing with layovers and different airlines. It does seem a little odd to fly two airlines to get to your destination, really it is not that uncommon at all. I do it quite often!
Virgin America has a big presence in Dallas, specifically Dallas Love Field. Dallas Love Airport is the baby brother of Dallas Fort Worth. There is another popular airline other than Virgin that operates out of “LUV” field, ever heard of Southwest Airlines? Yep, Southwest only flies in and out of Dallas Love Field (DAL), not DFW. This means that you can utilize this airport for mixing and matching Virgin and Southwest flights to get you places for cheaper.
Here are all the cities you can fly to from Dallas Love Airport via Virgin and Southwest:
Let’s look at an example ‘hack deal’ from Phoenix to New York City for $163 using a layover in Dallas. Remember, a normal PHX > NYC round-trip is going to run you $250+.
As you can see, you can get a round-trip to Dallas via Southwest Airlines for $82 on your first leg. If you had Southwest points, you could book the first leg for 1,750 one-way. If you have 3,500 SW points sitting around, you could book the first leg with points and pay for the second leg with cash, grand total is 3,500 points + $81 in cash on Virgin America to New York from Phoenix round-trip. The first flight, Phoenix to Dallas, is what we would call a ‘positioning flight‘. Positioning flights are flights that position you to an airport other than your destination in order to catch a second flight and fly for less money. (or points)
PHX > DAL $82 on Southwest. DAL > NYC $81 on Virgin America = $163 round-trip from PHX to NYC
The round-trip from Dallas to to NYC is only $81 for your second leg on Virgin America! Another awesome thing is that both Southwest and Virgin Airlines are rated very high in customer satisfaction.
1. JetBlue – 81
2. Southwest – 78
3. Alaska – 75
4. Virgin America – 73
5. Delta – 71
6. American – 66 (includes US Airways)
7. United – 60
8. Frontier – 58
9. Spirit – 54
Southwest is going to stop you in Dallas anyway, but they want to charge $137 one-way! That means you are paying about $275 round-trip with the same exact layovers. Why not just book with two separate airlines and pay $111 less for the exact same routing.
You can do this ‘hack’ with most flight itineraries, you just have to remain flexible! I recommend using google.com/flights since you can use a map view and look for the cheapest layover airports in the direction of your travel. The only real draw back is if you are checking a bag you would have to re-check the bag in Dallas and hand it over to Virgin. I almost never check baggage so this is not an issue for me. The last thing you want to do in New York is drag a huge suitcase down a crowded street, just carry-on. One last thing, you will want to give yourself at least a one hour layover between your flights just to be safe. Dallas Love Airport is rather small so you should be able to get from end-to-end in five minutes.
*pricing may change on flights*