I recently got a cheap flight to Las Vegas for just $51.20 round trip.
It’s no secret that people have very strong opinions on budget airlines and tend to fall firmly in one camp or the other. I stand firmly on the side of, “Just get me there safely and I’ll sacrifice some creature comforts.” I’ve been delayed or had flights cancelled by the big boys just like with budget airlines.
Let’s be honest, if you’re not flying business or first class, coach is coach and whether you have 2 extra inches of legroom or not, it’s a pretty miserable experience. I’d rather fly miserably with huge cost savings.
I’m 5’8″ and my knees hate airports seats. I honestly don’t know how people taller than me do it. But I can suffer through it knowing I’m on my way somewhere great. Besides, I like that budget airlines don’t bake in costs for things I don’t really want.
Are you really charging me $100 more for the peanuts? Give me a break!
Who needs to have the price of a cup of water built in?! Because we all know I don’t want water … I’m paying for the alcohol. Especially en route to Vegas!
So even if you’re a budget airline hater I’d encourage you to take a second look. Buy your own water and snacks in the airport store. Try packing better — and don’t even get me started on all the things you think you “need” to bring. Most people overpack like crazy (including myself) but it just so happens that even with my over packing I still fit everything I need in a backpack and skip the crazy baggage fees. (I’ll be writing a post shortly on exactly what I packed for this trip.)
With roundtrip airfare for only $51.20 you can spend your money on the really important things … like drinking …
Poolside at the W Hotel Las Vegas. (Should have said $51.20.)
And gambling …
Just getting warmed up!
So I want to talk about my current favorite budget airline Frontier. I’ve been based out of Columbus, Ohio for the last year and Frontier has tons great deals all over the country. There are several other budget airlines lots of people are familiar with like Allegiant and Spirit but Frontier has the best deals from my home airport to destinations I actually want to go.
They typically have their best deals on Tuesday and Wednesday but for this flight I caught a rare deal on a Saturday and jumped on it. This deal was a part of their Labor Day sale and flights were marked down 90%.
While I bought this flight on Monday and left that Saturday you don’t have to act that fast. Many deals are for an extended time out so you can book now but fly within the next few months. Definitely pay attention around holidays. They love to have one day deals of extreme markdowns.
I also pay for their Discount Den program which gives you discounts on flights all the time. Here are some examples of current discounts:
Columbus to Los Angeles, one way on Tuesday, 9/19/17
Discount Den price — $109
Non club price $129
Columbus to Denver, one way on Sunday, 10/8/17
Discount Den price — $129
Non club price $179
Columbus to Las Vegas, one way on Tuesday, 10/10/17
Discount Den price — $59
Non club price $79
With a membership price of only $49.99 a year, it’s simply a no brainer as much as I fly. What’s included? Well their website touts 7 bullet points, but I think most of them are fluff if you actually read them.
Benefits of the club membership according to Frontier’s website.
Here are the few that actually matter for me.
- Exclusive access to THE lowest fares
- Apply the low fares for up to 6 people as long as you’re traveling also
- Earn EarlyReturns miles for every purchase*
As shown in the example flights I mentioned earlier, the Discount Den price is often at least $20 cheaper (one way) than the non club price. That means with one round trip purchase the membership pretty much pays for itself.
I don’t have to do anything to get the special fares other than log into my Frontier account when I go to book. The website simply shows both prices side by side and I select the DenDeal$.
Club and non club pricing on Frontier’s website.
I haven’t actually flown anywhere with anyone else on Frontier but hey, a girl can dream right?! I think a lot of solo travelers plan to take trips with other people at some point … when the stars align and schedules match. But for now I’ll just keep going it alone and keep this feature in my back pocket for use someday.
*Earning miles is listed as a feature of the Discount Den program but you actually don’t need to be a club member to earn miles. You just need to sign up for Early Returns, their frequent flyer program which is free. This last bullet basically says you’ll be earning miles with every Discount Den purchase but as long as you’ve joined EarlyReturns, you earn miles with every purchase so this is pretty much a fluff bullet.
I do recommend signing up for EarlyReturns. It’s quick and easy and if you fly Frontier often the points definitely add up. One of the drawbacks of their mileage program is that points expire if you haven’t taken a flight within the last 6 months.
I almost lost all of mine last year when I did a 6 month stint without flying Frontier as I was getting some great deals on other airlines. Fortunately I was able to move them over into my Amtrak account the day before they expired using Points.com. This website allows you to keep track of all of your points and miles at various loyalty programs in one location. You can redeem points and miles or exchange them among each other like I did by switching my Frontier miles to Amtrak points.
Please note that I am by no means a “trip hacker” or “points hacker” and am actually really bad at it. I don’t have the patience nor the interest in keeping up with miles and points and credit card rewards but when I do look into this type of stuff I check out www.thepointsguy.com and www.10xtravel.com.
I’m also signed up for Frontier’s email list. My friends and family are constantly asking me how I get such good deals and my answer is usually, “How did you NOT get the same deal? Did you not see their email?!” Trust me, I know our inboxes are full of junk but I always make time to open their emails.
While this flight to Las Vegas was an amazing deal it’s actually only the second best deal I’ve gotten with Frontier! I once flew from Fort Lauderdale to Cleveland for a flat $30 round trip several years ago. They had penny deals where the fare was $0.01 and you only paid the remaining taxes which came out to $14.99 each way. Sometimes I wonder how this airline makes money but as long as they keep having these insane deals, I’ll keep on booking!
Oh … and as far as the cramped seats? I think flying budget is all about mentality. If you have awful expectations, you’ll have an awful trip. If you chill out and go in positive you’ll have a much better trip.
On my way out to Vegas and on the way back … I had the whole row to myself!!! Score!