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21 February 2012

How does a regular person afford to fly anywhere???? [More:]My daughter and wife plan to travel from Indy to Oklahoma City in a couple of weeks (over spring break) to look at, and secure, housing for my daughter's summer internship in OKC.

Driving down will kill an entire day, each way, being at least 13 hours one-way. Flying both of them, though, looks to cost in the area of $1,400-1,500!!! That's not a cost we could begin to absorb in good times, let alone these days.

How do people manage to afford to fly anywhere, if you aren't doing it on a company's dime? Admittedly, flying between two smaller-market cities doesn't help matters.

Tips? Tricks? Condolences?
Your lead time may be too short. Generally, I can find affordable flights when I book at least 3 weeks in advance.
posted by Ardiril 21 February | 12:29
My tricks:

*I book ultra early. If I haven't booked Christmas by Halloween, I feel like a failure.
*I fly ultra early- the 6 am flight always seems to be the cheapest. Nothing like getting to the airport at 4 am. This year I did it pregnant and was throwing up in the airport bathroom from too little sleep and breakfast. Ahh, memories.

Thankfully, I'm generally flying NYC-Tampa, which seems to have a good number of flights.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 21 February | 12:35
The day of the week makes a difference, as well as length of stay. I just found seats on Frontier at $385 each, roundtrip with 1 stop, on Orbitz, leaving March 5, 6 or 7 and returning a week later. American Airlines is about $25 more. If you try booking tickets directly through their respective websites, you may find something cheaper. Also, if you call to speak to a human, you could pay $20 for the privilege.
posted by Ardiril 21 February | 12:37
Unfortunately, she's limited to a strict timeframe on this, due to her class/work/spring break scheduling. The earliest they can fly out is March 11. Coming back could be any time that week. If they fly out the 11th, they could fly back on the 13th, provided they can see and secure a place on the 12th.
posted by Thorzdad 21 February | 12:47
Kayak lists flights in the mid-400s. Southwest's website has flights as cheap as $227. I'm using March 11 - 13.
posted by mullacc 21 February | 12:52
I use, and others like -- both sites search multiple carriers and sites, and allow you to look at flights throughout the day. It's even better if you're flexible by a few days, you might be able to save a couple hundred dollars (especially off of a potential $1,400-1,500 trip).
posted by filthy light thief 21 February | 13:07
Kayak lists flights in the mid-400s. Southwest's website has flights as cheap as $227. I'm using March 11 - 13.

Does Southwest include all the taxes and fees upfront? I think Kayak does, which might count for some of the price difference.
posted by filthy light thief 21 February | 13:08
Southwest's website has flights as cheap as $227.

That's almost certainly for just the outbound leg. Southwest is annoying that way.
posted by ROU Xenophobe 21 February | 14:22
No kidding!! A main reason why I prefer to remain in the city of my birth, where all my relatives are, is that if I moved anywhere else, I'd have to spend tons of money visiting them. And waste our natural resources in the jet fuel...
posted by Melismata 21 February | 15:51
Whoops. Yeah, Southwest also ends up mid-400s when you add both legs together. Sorry!
posted by mullacc 21 February | 15:59
Right now my favorite site for finding decent prices for airfares is One of its best features is the email alerts when fares prices fall.
posted by bearwife 21 February | 17:13
My tip (totally useless in this case) is to buy tickets very early - at least a month in advance if you can and to be flexible about travel times. You can save huge amounts of money this way, as the airlines are well aware that people's choices get narrower and they are prepared to spend more money as the travel date gets closer. As TPS says, very early and very late flights usually sell much more slowly so you are more likely to have choice. Friday night, Sunday night and Monday morning are probably the worst times to try and get a cheap flight, so maybe they are better to travel a couple of days later than the 11th, if the departure date is flexible?.

Is it possible to drive to a different city and fly from there, or fly to a different city, then drive from there (would need to factor cost of a hire car)? Different routes, even over the same distances, vary dramatically in price.
posted by dg 21 February | 18:29
I have no useful tips, just commiseration: How does a regular person afford to fly anywhere? ARGH.
posted by Elsa 22 February | 14:11
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