Unlike Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and, well, pretty much most of the world, really, the United States lacks for small airlines that include medium-haul international routes. For decades, medium- and long-haul international flights were solely the domain of legacy carriers such as Delta, American, and United. Now, however, more and more smaller airlines are helping Americans go beyond our borders for work, pleasure, and simple winter escapes. A piece in the New York Times illustrates just how prevalent this trend has become, and customers are the obvious beneficiaries. In an industry quick to create new fees, alienate customers, and downsize, this is a rare piece of good news for travelers.
JetBlue, once known only for leather seats, in-flight satellite television, and blue potato chips, is now offering flights to Bogatá, Colombia, and plans to launch service from New York to Cartagena in early November. This will expand their offerings in Latin America, which already include flights to Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. As recently as ten years ago, the idea of a small carrier offering flights to a single South American destination, let alone two in Colombia, would have seemed unlikely.
Additionally, Southwest’s purchase of AirTrain expanded the Dallas-based airline’s business into Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Spirit Airlines, as well, flies to the Caribbean and Latin America. Of course, flying Spirit comes with its own set of challenges.
How does this benefit you? Competition drives down prices. Airlines like Southwest and Spirit already pride themselves on being budget carriers, so the expanded offerings just mean more opportunities to save in new places. Furthermore, legacy carriers don’t like seeing the little guys trying to muscle into their territories, which leads to price wars. While not necessarily good for the airlines’ bottom lines, fare battles lead to some amazing sales for consumers.
You can take advantage of all of this is by using various travel search sites to hunt down fares rather than just going to one airline’s web page. The easiest way to do that? Check out our Travel Search page to scope out the best fares.