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1. Posted by MaxineK (Budding Member 45 posts) 6y

Hi,

With ALOT more people in America than Australia, there are a quite a few more airline carriers available to choose from.
Firstly, is there much difference amongst the airlines?

Secondly, I'm looking at flights between Sacramento and JFK in late December and it seems that Delta is the cheapest - has anyone travelled this route and can recommend a carrier that won't burn a whole in my pocket?

Last question - I have heard that you can rock up to airports and they often sell cheap last minute flights - is this true? And is it recommended?

Thank-you! :)
Maxine

2. Posted by bazzlevi (Budding Member 16 posts) 6y

Taking your last question first, I think you might be referring to "flying standby", which is almost certainly not going to be possible in late December as that is a heavy travel period due to the holidays.

The best way to find a cheap fare is to use Expedia or Orbitz. Once you determine the lowest fare from the carriers represented on those sites, go to www.southwest.com to check the fare on Southwest Airlines. It is a major carrier in the U.S. that does NOT publish their fares through third-party travel websites, so you have to check their fares directly on their website. Remember that all of the major carriers in the U.S. charge check-bag fees EXCEPT for Southwest Airlines. Be sure to factor that in when comparing fares.

In general, late December will be an expensive time to fly due to the high demand. If you can fly in the first half of the month, or in January, you will have better luck finding good fares.

There really isn't a major difference among most of the carriers in the U.S. except for jetBlue and Southwest, both of which generally get higher marks for customer service/satisfaction.

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 6y

'bazzlevi' covered your questions very well. The days of cheap standby are long over. You pay much more now without advanced booking. I have 2 suggestions. Try 'priceline'. You tell them what you want to pay. Using priceline, a very last minute offer might be accepted. Make a low ball offer, say $50 to JFK. They will reject it, but you will have a ball park number on what is acceptable. If you have flexibility, make a bit higher offer on a day you really want to fly. You might get a bargain IF the plane is not full. Better your $80-100 than an empty seat. But as pointed out, you are trying to fly in a very heavy demand time frame. Doubtful it will work over those dates.

The other option is to fly out of SFO. Many more flights and a chance of a better fare. Good luck with your planning.

4. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 6y

Quoting bazzlevi

The best way to find a cheap fare is to use Expedia or Orbitz

Once you've found the price through one of the suggested agents above, contact the airline direct. They might do a better deal for you, thus saving the commission to the agent. Just a maybe.

United Airlines will probably be cheaper than Delta and a 99% certainty that cheapest of their options will involve a change (probably in Chicago) and the onward flight will be to Laguardia(NY) and not JFK.

However, if you want that little bit of friendlier service, then go with Delta.
United are not a terribly efficient or sociable airline overall and their timekeeping doesn't win many awards.

5. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 6y

Official on-time performance Jan. 2009 - Aug. 2009:

Delta Air Lines: 77.21%
United Air Lines: 79.26%

Number 1 carrier in the USA (concistently) when it comes to on-time performance: Hawaiian Airlines (92.11%) but HA doesn't fly to New York. Agree that there are probably better rates out of San Francisco than Sacramento. I never flew JetBlue, but my son did a couple of times and JetBlue usually has pretty good rates. They fly to JFK.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Oct-2009, at 16:53 by bgl ]

6. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1992 posts) 6y

Late December and cheap do not fit together. You could not have picked a more expensive time to fly, and it sounds like you'll need one way rather than RT? Also, as another guy said, Sacramento is not a major airport - this means very little competition = higher fare. I suggest you look at Southwest Airlines (they do not fly into JFK - use their other NYC area airports instead). I suggest you book ahead if you can for a lower fare. Also consider Continental Airlines into EWR/Newark from San Francisco. All of these flights will be 98% full at that time - only busier time is Thanksgiving.

There is a big difference in airlines, IMHO. Delta, NWA and United are three of the worst.

7. Posted by Ham Radio (Respected Member 284 posts) 6y

Quoting bgl

I never flew JetBlue, but my son did a couple of times and JetBlue usually has pretty good rates. They fly to JFK.

My wife and I just returned from a trip to New York City (JFK) on JetBlue. They were outstanding. Free satellite television (DirecTV) and XM radio. Bring your own headphones or rent a pair for $2. They don't serve meals but the free snacks were good and a nice selection of beverages and bottled water.

Baggage: You can check one bag for free, and carry on one small bag and a personal item (laptop, purse, tote).

At JFK, JetBlue operates out of a brand new terminal, No. 5 (called "T-5") which is sparkling clean, comfortable with good food service and services available.

I normally fly Southwest for business, but you could do a lot worse than JetBlue. You wouldn't get me to fly United or Delta if you threatened me with a weapon.

8. Posted by MaxineK (Budding Member 45 posts) 6y

Thank-you all so much for your help!! It's alot easier for me to make plans now.

~Maxine

9. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 6y

Quoting bgl

Official on-time performance Jan. 2009 - Aug. 2009:

Delta Air Lines: 77.21%
United Air Lines: 79.26%

Could very well be official, the same as Ryanair say they are officially fantastic.
However, United Airlines are terrible at service and timekeeping from Europe to the USA.
How they perform in the USA isn't something I'm up on, but I've flown on them a few times and they've nearly always been late, both arriving and leaving.

10. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 6y

I have worked in the airline industry all my life so I know that ALL airlines obviously experience delays. Some more so than others. Some people may have very unfortunate experiences with a particular airline, and others may have very good experiences with that same airline.

I happen to have my mileage program with United Air Lines and have flown with them a bit over 150 times over the last 15 years (yes, I keep track of my flights). To the Far East, plenty of domestic U.S. flights and plenty of flights to Europe. Amazingly not a single flight of all those flights was delayed more than 15 minutes! Needless to say, I realize I've been very fortunate. Just two months ago I travelled from Honolulu to London and back. Four different United flights. Every single flight arrived early - up to 30 minutes early. Despite my experience I would never tell someone that "they are always on time". Just like it's not a good idea to say that they are "nearly always late" - especially if you only "flown on them a few times."