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The International Air Travel Association notes that nearly 3 billion people fly annually, for business or pleasure.  That's a lot more people taking to the skies!  Lower airfares are a key reason for this impressive growth rate.  The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 ushered in an era of heightened competition and relatively low airfares for American air travelers.  Suddenly, millions of people who never considered flying before became frequent flyers.  Flying was no longer just for the elite, and the airlines adapted to this trend.  By the year 2000, low-cost airlines were the norm.  These airlines offered a low-cost, no-frills product, and provided some serious competition for more traditional airlines.

Until deregulation, the fares, routes, and schedules of commercial aviation had been regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).  Since that time, many discount airlines have entered the market and average airfares have decreased 20 percent or more for both domestic and overseas flights.  The increased competition has also forced full-service airlines to lower their fares and adjust their service levels in order to compete with their no-frills competitors.

airport check-in counter Low-cost carriers usually offer simple, straightforward fares that are announced in advance.  Generally, they quote fares for each leg of a trip, and a passenger simply adds up these fares to calculate the total cost for a journey.  Airfares are often lower on Saturdays and during the middle of the week than on Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays.

In addition to the United States, countries like Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom have also deregulated their airlines.  Because of deregulation, airlines can negotiate their own operating relationships with other airlines, and can determine airfares and flights according to demand.

flight departure gate A very popular way to save on airfare is to stay over at your destination on a Saturday night.  Staying over on a Saturday night can reduce an airfare by up to 70 percent.  While the benefits are obvious to leisure travelers, even corporations are favoring this approach.  Employees are sometimes being encouraged to take the weekend off and enjoy it on the company tab.  Some companies are even flying spouses out for the weekend, because two discount airfares can be cheaper than one full-price airfare.

Remember that restrictions do apply when you a buy a discount airline ticket.  You may not be able to change your outbound flight without racking up significant fees.  Ticket rewriting and change fees are often assessed on top of the more expensive ticket price.

Some low cost airlines do not participate in the large-scale reservation systems, so LowAirfares.us features a directory of low cost airlines, as well as air travel tips and a popular airline reservation service, where you can check flight schedules, compare airfares, and purchase airline tickets.  It is important to know the IATA airport codes of your departure and destination airports, because most airline reservation systems use these codes to identify airports.  It is also important to book your airline reservations well in advance in order to get the best airfares.  If you must reserve a flight on short notice, as many business travelers do, you will probably pay a higher fare.

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Discount Airlines

  • Southwest Airlines
    This Texas-based airline offers flights to many US cities.  "Stop searching.  Start traveling."
  • JetBlue Airways
    This New York-based customer direct airline offers low fares to a growing list of destinations.
  • Frontier Airlines
    This Denver-based airline provides affordable service to destinations in USA and Mexico.
  • Sun Country Airlines
    This Minnesota-based airline flies to various destinations in the USA, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
  • Spirit Airlines
    This Florida-based airline offers low airfares to popular U.S. and regional destinations.
  • Silver Airways
    This Florida-based airline provides turboprop service in Florida and the Bahamas as well as regional service from several core airports throughout the USA.
  • RyanAir.com
    This UK-based airline offers a wide range of discount flights between Great Britain and the European continent.

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