Complete Guide to Cheapest US Airlines 2017
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Complete Guide to Cheap US Airlines in 2019

The experience on low-cost carriers is different from what you find on other airlines, and passengers who are caught by surprise are the ones who end up paying the most. We provide tips to help you avoid extra charges so you can keep cheap US airlines from becoming high-cost.

What to Expect When Flying with Cheap US Airlines

To help you be prepared for your next low-cost flight, the following chart summarizes the policies of several popular budget carriers. You’ll find more details on each carrier below.

Budget Airline Main Service Region Free Personal Item First Carry-on bag First Checked Bag Seating Choice Free Food and/or Drink Rewards Program
Allegiant USA Yes $10-$75 $15-$45 $0-$80 No No
Frontier USA Yes $30-$60 $25-$60 $4-$10 No Yes, and card
Spirit USA Yes $35-$100 $30-$100 $1-$50 No Yes
Sun Country USA Yes Free Usually free $0-$25 No Yes, and

card

Southwest USA Yes Free Free Open Seating Yes Yes, and card

Allegiant Airlines Review

Allegiant Air is a U.S.-based low-cost airline offering scheduled and charter flights. It was founded in 1997 and has its headquarters just outside of Las Vegas. The cheap US airlines approach of Allegiant Air allows the airline to serve smaller markets often overlooked by larger carriers. For example, Allegiant Air serves the Walt Disney World area via Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB) as opposed to the highly trafficked Orlando International Airport (MCO). Likewise, in the southwestern United States, Allegiant Air operates in Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) instead of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

Allegiant Air Experience

Flights are sold exclusively on AllegiantAir.com and not via any online travel agents (Expedia, Kayak, Hotwire, Travelocity, etc.). They do not offer a frequent-flyer loyalty program, so its passengers do not accrue miles or points. Allegiant Air charges for carry-on bags and does not offer daily flights to any of its destinations. Snacks are not offered on their flights, and seats on Allegiant Air aircraft do not have a reclining mechanism.

Allegiant Air Phone Number

Call Allegiant Air at 1-702-505-8888

Allegiant Air Destinations:

Allegiant Air has hubs at Bellingham International Airport, Washington (BLI); Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Florida (FLL); Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii (HNL); Los Angeles International Airport, California (LAX); Oakland International Airport, California (OAK); Orlando-Sanford International Airport, Florida (SFB); Palm Springs International Airport, California (PSP); Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Arizona (AZA); Punta Gorda Airport, Florida (PGD); and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, Florida (PIE). For more information, check out the interactive map on Allegiant Air Website.

Allegiant Air Destinations 2017 Map Cheap Airlines
Source: Allegiantair.com

Allegiant Baggage Fees and Extra Charges

Charges in the First Carry-on and First Checked Bag columns depend mainly on when you pay to take a bag — earlier is cheaper, and during the reservation process is best. Charges can also vary based on other factors unique to the airline.

In this context, “Seating Choice” simply means the ability to choose among the available regular seats, not from among premium seats.

How to Save When Flying Allegiant

Here are some tips to help you avoid unexpected charges at the airport:

    • Know what the cheap US airlines charge for each extra.
    • Choose which extras you want long before you get on the plane, preferably at time of booking. If you wait until you’re at the airport, the charges will increase dramatically.
    • Check maximum luggage dimensions and weight on each flight (from personal item to carry-on to checked bag), since airlines differ not only in luggage measurements, but also in strictness of enforcement.
    • Proofread every screen you enter while buying your ticket.
    • Proof it again when you receive the confirmation email. If there are any inaccuracies, phone the airline immediately.
    • Check in online, print your ticket and do not forget to bring it with you.
    • Travel light
    • Expect A-to-B transit, and no amenities (unless you’re paying extra).
  • Another great way to save on Spirit and Allegiant is to buy your airfare at the airport. There is an extra fee for booking your ticket online that you can avoid by going to the airport. The trick is to then go home, login with your confirmation number then purchase bags if desired.

Compare Flight Prices with Allegiant

Allegiant Price Chicago to Las Vegas Cheap Airlines
Source: Allegiantair.com
Sample Itinerary —Chicago-Las Vegas, January 11-14 (Roundtrip)
Ticket on American Airlines with one checked bag, free carry-on and drink $323
Starting fare on Allegiant with no extras $194
Ticket on Allegiant with seat selection one checked bag and carry-on $239

For this particular flight, if you choose to take one checked bag and one carry-on after booking, it will cost you $90 instead of $45. And it will cost you $100 if choose to do so at the airport.

With extra fees that are lower than most of the cheap US Airlines, Allegiant has no rewards program and no codeshares with other airlines. On Allegiant’s website, be prepared to jump through many flaming hoops before you’re actually allowed to buy your tickets.

Frontier Airlines Review

Headquartered in Denver, Frontier currently serves more than 80 cities in the United States, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Frontier Phone Number

Automated Flight Information: 1-800-432-1FLY
Early Returns: 1-866-26-EARLY
Reservations: 1-800-432-1FLY

Frontier Destinations:

You can find all of the Frontier’s connections on their route map. Popular destinations include: Houston, Kansas City, Memphis, Miami, Atlanta, Cancun, Chicago, New York, Las Vegas and more!

USA Frontier Destinations in 2017 Cheap Airlines
Source: flyfrontier.com

Frontier Airlines Baggage Fees

First Bag Second Bag Additional Bags Overweight Bags Oversized Bags
   $20            $30                $50              51-100 lbs: $75    63-80 inches: $75

Compare Flight Prices with Frontier

Sample Itinerary — Chicago – Las Vegas, January 11-14 (Roundtrip)
Ticket on American Airlines with one checked bag, free carry-on and drink $323
Starting fare on Frontier with no extras $174
Ticket on Frontier with carry-on, one checked bag seat choice and drink $292

As you can see, American Airlines is still more expensive even if you choose to pay extra for the carry-on, checked bag and a seat choice. If you are travelling on a budget, not planning to take carry-on with you, and do not care about your seating arrangement, then Frontier is definitely the way to go.  This will be a recurring theme for many of the comparisons below.

A relatively no-nonsense carrier with lower fees than most, Frontier has several programs that would be useful to a loyal flyer living in its service area, including a frequent flyer program and Discount Den. The airline offers two co-branded credit cards, including the Frontier Airlines World MasterCard, which offers a pretty good sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $500, along with an annual fee of $69. That’s enough for two domestic round-trip awards. In addition, Frontier’s Discount Den would save you $60 on the above fares alone for a $50 annual fee, and would continue giving you similar discounts for the rest of the year.

Spirit Airlines Review

Based in Florida and serving 39-plus destinations in North, South and Central America, Spirit Airlines offers low base fares — in fact, it’s often called the cheapest US airline, and offers frequent fare sales. While Spirit dishes up a lot of extra charges, they’re clearly spelled out when you make a reservation, so at least you know what you’re buying. Spirit does have a frequent flyer program, and a $9 Fare Club.

Spirit’s website is even more unwieldy than Allegiant’s, and the airline has a reputation for its seedy marketing campaigns. More importantly, Spirit is the only US airline to get a 2-star rating from the independent airline review and rating company Skytrax.

Like other ultra-low-cost airlines, Spirit will likely have the cheapest base fares but can cost you a lot if you don’t avoid the fees. Read this guide to make sure you avoid paying more than you have to when flying Spirit Airlines, and make sure you know all your rights with these Spirit Airline tips and tricks.

Phone Number

Contact Spirit Customer Care at 1 (801) 401-2222.

Destinations:

Spirit is serving 39+ destinations in the United States, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Latin America. Check the map below for the updated destinations.

Destination map from Spirit.com Cheap Airlines
Source: Spirit.com

Airlines Baggage Fees

Fare Club members pay between $30 and $100 to have a carry-on bag onboard; the $30 rate applies when members select the option during the booking stage. A $36 rate applies to members who select the option during online check-in. It costs $50 for members who wait until check-in at the airport to declare a carry-on bag. And it will cost you $100 to declare any bag at the gate—even if it’s a carry-on.

Non Members are subjected to a $35, $45, or $50 fee for every bag they bring into the cabin. Again, it’s cheapest if you select the option during the flight-booking process, mid-range during online check-in, and most expensive at the airport reservation desk.    

Checking bags won’t save the wallet either: $45 for the first bag if they select the option at the airport reservation desk, and as much as $100 each for bags three through five.

Compare Flight Prices with Spirit Airlines

Itinerary from Chicago to Las Vegas Spirit Airlines  Cheap Airlines
Source: Spirit.com
Sample Itinerary — Chicago – Las Vegas, January 11-14 (Roundtrip)
Ticket on American Airlines with one checked bag, free carry-on and drink $323
Starting fare on Spirit with no extras $155
Ticket on Spirit with checked bag, carry-on, seat and drink $361

Sun Country Airlines Review

Of all the LCCs discussed here, Sun Country (based in Minneapolis) is probably the most reasonable in terms of extra charges, and has a pretty straightforward website. Like Frontier, Sun Country received the top safety rating of 7. It’s an especially good option if you regularly fly into or out of Minneapolis. Sun Country operates a frequent flyer program and co-branded credit card, both of which offer decent value. Since July of 2011, the airline has been owned by members of the Davis family of Minnesota, who are also owners of Cambria®, a manufacturer of premium countertops.

If you fly with Economy class, nonalcoholic beverages provided; alcoholic and premium nonalcoholic beverages available for purchase; hot foods and snack foods available for purchase on board however only one of two hot choices per flight.

Phone Number

Contact Sun Country Airlines: 1-800-359-6786

Destinations:

For a complete information on cities Sun Country serves, visit the Travel Destinations section on Sun Country website.

Sun Country Destinations Map Cheap Airlines
Source: Suncountry.com

Airlines Baggage Fees and Extra Charges

    • Seat pitch of 31 to 33 inch with 17 inch width; seat selection may incur a fee on certain seats.
    • Blankets and pillows available for a fee.
  • Baggage allowance must be pre-purchased in 50lb increments.

Compare Flight Prices with Sun Country

Sample Itinerary — Boston – Las Vegas, January 11-14 (Roundtrip)
Ticket on American Airlines with free carry-on, seat choice and drink $323
Ticket on Sun Country with free carry-on, seat choice and drink $210

Southwest Airlines Review

Southwest operates nonstop flights to more than 100 destinations across 10 countries. The airline’s fleet is configured with just an Economy Class cabin. In contrast to many low-cost carriers, Southwest does not charge a fee for up to two checked bags; non-alcoholic drinks and pretzels or peanuts are also free on board. Early boarding access, automatic online check-in and alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.

Southwest famously prevents third parties from crawling their site for low fares –  as a result, many consumers don’t even factor it into their search when planning travel, so you should always search directly on Southwest.

Southwest Airlines Phone Number

For Southwest Airlines Customer Service, call 1 (800) 435-9792

Southwest Airlines Destinations:

As of September 2017, Southwest Airlines has scheduled flights to 102 destinations in 41 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, the newest being Santa Clara, Cuba on December 15, 2016. The airline has 15 focus cities and operates over 3,800 flights each day. You can view the interactive map on Southwest Airlines website.

Southwest Airlines Destinations Map 2017 Cheap Airlines
Source: Southwest.com

Airlines Baggage Fees

When you fly Southwest, your first and second checked bags are free.

Compare Flight Prices with Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Chicago to Las Vegas January 2018 Cheap Airlines
Source: Southwest.com
Sample Itinerary — Chicago – Las Vegas, January 11-14 (Roundtrip)
Ticket on American Airlines with one checked bag, free carry-on and drink $323
Southwest Airlines Fare with two free checked bags and drink $273

Compare Prices for Cheap US Airlines

Ticket on American Airlines with one checked bag, free carry-on and drink – $323
Starting fare on Allegiant with no extras – $194
Starting fare on Frontier with no extras – $174
Starting fare on Spirit with no extras – $155
Ticket on Sun Country with free carry-on, seat choice and drink – $210
Southwest Airlines Fare with two free checked bags and drink – $273

Flying with Cheap US Airlines

The cheapest fare without the seat choice and only one personal item is on Spirit Airlines. If you are planning to travel for a weekend and do not need any of the extras, this might be a way to go. If you choose to fly with a budget carrier, you should expect no first class service. You are just paying a little over $150 on a round-trip flight From Chicago to Las Vegas after all!

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