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  • Budget Airlines in USA

    Hi

    I wasn't sure which forum to post this in but I just wanted to pick your brains about airlines in the USA.

    The deal is that my troop in the UK has recently discovered a troop with exactly the same name in your friendly neighbour Canada. We've arranged an exchange programme with them for next summer and are currently looking for the cheapest way to get a small contingent from here to Toronto.

    A lot of internet searching has so far shown the cheapest routes to generally be via the USA with the cheapest of all being a change in Charlotte Douglas (you will have to forgive me that I had never heard of the place till now) with US Airways.

    But it did occur to me that with air travel being so much more part of the culture than in the UK (generally it's quicker to go by train for domestic travel( there must be all kinds of airlines in the USA that don't appear on big travel websites like skyscanner and lastminute etc. Or even websites that I have never heard of.

    So can anyone point me towards any good budget airlines in north east USA that may do us a cheap hop over the border to Toronto?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Not sure what it would cost, but there is the possibility of maybe flying into Buffalo, New York and then driving to Toronto?

    Best of luck,
    Sentinel947

    Comment


    • #3
      A few suggestions:

      For US flights, check Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia - they're the most popular tavel booking sites in the US - they'll likely have better access to domestic flights than Skyscanner or Last Minute.

      Don't forget to factor in your cost to get from the UK to a destination across the pond and look at it as a total. The flight from Charlotte to Toronto may be cheapest, but unless the flight from the UK to Charlotte is among the cheapest, what you save on one leg may be spent on the other.

      The most popular route from Toronto into the US appears to be Chicago O'Hare. It's likely that the reverse is true, or nearly true as well. Chicago O'Hare is a major international airport and is one of the largest airport hubs in the world. It has a lot of flights coming in from the UK either with a stop-over in New York or as non-stops. Are you sure you're getting the lowest possible prices by flying into and out of a regional airport like Charlotte? Other airports to consider would be Atlanta, NYC, Washington DC and Boston.

      Consider, too, that it's not neccessarily all about money. Things can go wrong, and if there's mechanical issues with a plane, or weather issues, you're more likely to get re-assigned at an airport with a lot more planes going to your destination.

      Finally, how many is a "small contingent" - I know the new millenium is all about do-it-yourself, but this might be one of those times when engaging the services of a travel agent, or working directly with an airline, might pay off.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for that chaps, I'll do some more snooping around!

        In terms of major airport v regional airport is that the bigger airports tend to be more expensive. Similar to Charlotte the next cheapest route is a change in Rekyavic with Iceland Air (I'd find an icelandic scout forum to ask similar questions on but my icelandic is about as sharp as my quantom physics)

        A small contingent is 6, 2 leaders and 4 scouts. It's something we are doing on a small scale this time round with a view to doing something bigger in the future.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Skip,
          Back in the day, I remember the joy of finding a Bucket Shop in London and booking a last minute trip for next to nothing.
          Today here in the US, everything is done on the web.
          I live about a 45 minute drive from downtown Pittsburgh, about an hour from the airport.
          We have a small regional airport. Arnold Palmer Regional in Latrobe PA. About a 15 min drive for me.
          Used to be that I could book a flight from Latrobe to Pittsburgh.
          The advantages were that I avoided the drive to Pittsburgh (Always a pain). There were no lines and the parking is free.
          The cons were that it cost almost as much to fly from Latrobe to Pittsburgh as it did from Pittsburgh to New York.
          There were very few flights which meant if the connections didn't mesh you were stuck.
          It now seems that there are no flights to Pittsburgh.
          The airport has become home for Spirit Airlines which offers cheap flights to a very limited number of places.
          I've never used their services. Friends of mine who have homes in Florida use them a lot. They have taken the time and understand how to get the best deals.
          When I looked at how to book a flight I was overwhelmed with everything being an extra.
          However if I really wanted to go and save a lot of money?
          I'm sure I could work it out.

          I don't think I know of a budget airline that offers international flights.
          Maybe you might want to think about getting the cheap flight from the UK to the USA and then renting a big car?
          I have cousins in Toronto and can drive there in about six and a half hours.
          Sometimes when looking for cheap flights home, it is cheaper for me to fly out from Toronto.
          I know that Martin Gerrard has brought a group of Venture Scouts over from England to Canada a few times. The group was a lot bigger and if I remember right he rented a school bus. -You might want to drop him a line?
          Good Luck,
          Eamonn.

          Comment


          • #6
            As much as I'd love to have you go through CLT so I could perhaps meet you on the way, and although I don't know the price difference, I'd choose to connect through Iceland. No contest.
            That said, most of the budget airlines out of CLT don't often appear on search engines like Travelocity or Expedia. I recommend a good travel agent who can ferret out all the best options and then provide assistance if you get in a jam someplace along the way.

            Comment


            • #7

              Cambridge: Suggested itinerary: Heathrow to Buffalo NY, bus to Niagara Falls (see the sites), cross to Canada (stay in Youth Hostel, become a member before you leave home), bus to Toronto to your Scout Pen Pals, stay with Scout families (I presume), fly home direct Toronto to Heathrow.
              Are any of your group member of the Auto Association in the UK? See what travel agent services they can offer such a deserving group as the Scouts.
              I can vouch for the Hostel in Niagara, nice place. And the boys will love the action at the falls , both American side and Canadian.

              Comment


              • #8
                Possibly the option (maybe only) youre seeking is https://www.flyporter.com which serves Torontos Billy Bishop Airport.
                Unless plans include visiting the US, I would consider carefully if the cost savings (if any) incurred by transferring at a US airport is worth the additional time and the hassle of another passport control point. Id be surprised if transferring via a US city is significantly less cost than direct between UK and Torontos Pearson International Airport via a carrier like www.airtransat.com.
                PS: I too recommend a Niagara Falls visit.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would not go through O'Hare if it can be avoided at all. It is a huge airport and your connecting flight could be on the other side of the airport from your inbound flight.

                  I think my wife and I had to change planes in Charlotte once ... I remember it being a small airport and very clean. Not bad for a connecting flight (logistically at least) - hard for Scouts to get lost.

                  FWIW, Thousand Islands is also a nice border crossing. But much further from Toronto.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I apologize if this advice is unsolicited or unhelpful - but I'd strongly recommend trying to make a direct flight work, even if it works out to be a bit more expensive. Not sure where you're starting from in the UK, but I believe that there's some variety in carriers offering direct service to Toronto from various cities in England and Scotland. It may end up being more expensive, but at least you won't have to deal with going through customs/immigration multiple times, transferring luggage, worrying about whether a delayed flight will cause you to miss your connection, etc - and dealing with all that while exhausted, jet lagged, and shepherding a bunch of teenagers around. It will also allow you to spend more time Scouting, rather than hanging around airports :-).

                    If a direct flight is simply too expensive, at least stick with a single airline (or partnered airlines or codeshares or whatever they're called) rather than buying a separate ticket on a budget carrier. That way you'll at least have a little smoother time checking bags, and in the event a flight is delayed or cancelled, you'll have at least a little easier time rescheduling and dealing with it.

                    I often travel on the budget airlines domestically, and their service is usually at least not any worse than the "legacy" carriers - but I really wouldn't chance it for an international trip with Scouts. One of the problems is that the discount airlines often only service secondary, smaller airports for a city. So say you're international flight lands at OHare in Chicago, but the budget carrier services Midway Airport in Chicago, which is about an hour drive from OHare. Also, the budget carrier will probably want to charge you for checked baggage, which the bigger airlines will probably waive if you have an international flight on the same ticket.

                    That said, some of the bigger budget airlines in the US are Southwest Airlines and JetBlue, though I'm not sure if they serve the Toronto area. It looks like WestJest and Porter Airlines serve Toronto airports, but I'm not sure if they serve wherever your international flight would go into.

                    Not sure if you've seen, but the Wikipedia article for an airport usually lists the airlines and destinations that serve that airport, that might be a help in your research?

                    All that said, I wish you the best of luck in your trip, it sounds like a great adventure!

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                    • #11
                      From my travel Germany to the US, prices always go up on June 30, so if you can be outbound before then you may save some money. And, avoid Delta. Delta has one of the few direct flights to our current city, and it is a horrible, horrible flight, with a horrible plane, and just all around hideousness.

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                      • #12
                        Cambridge,

                        I took a troop from the UK to NY in 2010, and encountered many of the same issues you are. My advice:

                        DON'T treat journey planning as if it is an Easyjet flight to Spain, find yourself a good specialist travel agent that you have easy access too. (local is always better as they wont want any bad publicity if things start to go wrong).

                        DON'T assume that the website price is the best deal you can get. Your agent should be able to do better. Some airlines do special charity rates that aren't published.
                        Look at indirect flights via Europe, changing at Schipol or Rome can be a lot cheaper.

                        INSURANCE - Use UNITY they do understand (Spent hours looking and re-looking at alternatives, having to explain what we wanted etc..)

                        lots of lessons learnt here ;-)

                        Gareth

                        www.1stwestbury.org.uk

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I took the advice and went to see a travel agent today. They found a very good deal to Buffalo price wise but it does mean a change in Chicago (big scary airport to get kids through!) and returns at an unsoicable time and of course a slightly longer drive (about 2 hours drive to our ultimate destination rather than 1 hour from Toronto).

                          The best they found to Toronto was actually a direct flight with Air Transat at 700. The problem being we're flying at a time when it is school holidays for UK, USA and Canada. The indirect ones I've found on the internet so far all seem to magically acquire extra costs, sometimes with an explanation and sometimes without!

                          Think I may stick with direct flights.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The other thing to remember is to allow LOTS and LOTS of time to clear immigration at your port of entry; don't underestimate the fatigue levels before you even get in the car at the other end. I used to travel regularly to Miami from the UK, my employer would not allow us to drive upon arrival (or return) but insisted that we either got a taxi/chauffeur or spent the night at a hotel near to the airport. I know we all do it on holiday etc.. but you'll be responsible for scouts not just yourself.
                            Continental do a special charity ticket scheme but it is a bit of a lottery, the same with Virgin.

                            Cheers

                            Gareth

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Not sure what you're looking at price-wise, but connecting through Chicago might be a doable option if it's going to save you a lot of money (keeping in mind you'd need to factor in additional cost for ground transportation from Buffalo to your final destination.) I fly out of Chicago fairly often, and it's not too terrible finding where you need to go. You would need to change terminals after you clear customs, though. But I find Chicago OHare easier to navigate than Heathrow, anyway.

                              But I echo the comment about leaving plenty of time for the layover in Chicago - I'd say allow at least 3 hours. So bottom line I'd still recommend the direct flight unless it's drastically more expensive.

                              By the way, even if the airline doesn't offer a charity discount for Scouts, you could still ask about a group rate, which I think most airlines would be more likely to consider.

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