April 1, 2017 Transcon Update
Save up to 55%, and
Get a free vacation in the Caribbean or Mexico.
When we go after a fare most of us think like World War One generals: Hurl masses (an extensive search) at the center (big search engines and airline sites) and hope for the best.
Didn’t work—and often still doesn’t.
FCF thinks it’s better to conceive of a search as a flank attack—find the loophole, then exploit it. Don’t be U.S. Grant or Douglas Haig, be George Patton.
Which brings us to a flank attack on the Transcon. As FCF reported last month, JetBlue is no longer driving down fares on this route, which is why we highlighted a Delta Workaround, which offered savings of up 52%.
So, here’s another way to turn the enemy line when it comes to short-notice Transcon fares.
FCF’s Stopover Loophole Strategy (SLS)
—With American Airlines
It’s a flank attack because you’re not booking the main destination, but a subsidiary one that is free. The key element: finding a low-fare route that allows a free stopover. It’s the option to try when you’re flying less than 14 days out, at which point fares start to skyrocket, so you might as well get a free side trip.
Flank attacks are all about opportunity. On the Transcon, the routes and regions that at times allow a free stopover on a Los Angeles / San Francisco – New York Transcon flight are in the Caribbean and on New York-LAX/SFO are in Mexico.
SLS West Coast Example
American’s Los Angeles-Bermuda no-advance purchase fare allows a free stopover in New York (which would be your Transcon flight LAX-JFK). So you can do business in New York, vacation for a few days in Bermuda, and then fly home, all for $1,773. Or, you can pay $3,677 for American’s average seven-day advance-purchase Transcon fare (no-advance-purchase fares start at $4,500), a savings of $1,904.
AA.com: Los Angeles – New York – Bermuda – Los Angeles screenshot:
SLS East Coast Example
The airline’s best JFK-San Jose del Cabo fares don’t have an advance-purchase requirement and allow a free stopover in Los Angeles. Fly JFK-LAX on AA’s Transcon, do business, fly to San Jose del Cabo, then fly home for $1,640. The alternative: a $3,677 seven-day advance-purchase ticket.
AA.com: New York – Los Angeles – San Jose del Cabo – New York screenshot:
Destinations to Search
American Airlines Caribbean destinations that allow a stopover in New York include Bermuda and St. Thomas at the moment; these cities change often. Mexican destinations that allow a stopover in Los Angeles or San Francisco include Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo.