Winter travel season is fast approaching. This is the time of year that people start thinking about their winter getaways. When the cold weather gets unbearable, a few days (or even a week) can be a lifesaver, or at least enough of a break to help you get through the rest of the snowy season with your sanity intact.
Because demand for tropical vacations rises during the colder months, so do the prices of airfares and hotels. Flights to the Caribbean, Hawaii and the South Pacific can nearly double during the tropical travel high season.
Some airlines offer better deals that others. Of course, it depends on which island destination you are headed for. Some airlines have more frequent flights and package offerings for certain islands that can significantly reduce the price of a flight or hotel.
Since it launched its service to the Caribbean (mainly from its hub in Fort Lauderdale), JetBlue has become a major player in the Caribbean’s low-cost air travel game. It offers plenty of sub-$100 one-way fares between Lauderdale and destinations like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas. In addition, JetBlue offers connecting service between major island destinations. That is rather rare for US-based airlines.
Another low-cost-carrier, AirTran, has also recently increased service to island destinations in the Caribbean. Destinations include the Bahamas, Aruba and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airline regularly lists promotional fares and sale prices on its web site, making them easy to find. Though AirTran does not have hotel/airfare packages, it does offer chances to book hotels at (sometimes) discounted rates through partner web sites.
Liat Airlines is a low-cost carrier that specializes in connecting the various Caribbean islands by air. The airline often works with Caribbean Airlines to serve passengers from the US. The airline is a no-frills carrier, but offers plenty of sub-$100 fares. Liat’s service makes it easy for travelers to catch connecting flights to some of the Caribbean’s less visited destinations. This makes cheaper, less crowded destinations easily reachable. The airline also offers hotel deals to fliers.
Caribbean Airlines connects major cities in Eastern North America with the Caribbean’s hottest destinations. Caribbean offers flights from Fort Lauderdale and Miami, but also from other major hubs like New York JFK and Toronto Pearson. Destinations include Kingston, Barbados and Trinidad, and also less-visited places like Suriname, Saint Martin and Antigua. The airline is a good choice for non-package tourists who want an alternative to the service offered by legacy carriers.
Major legacy carriers all fly to the Caribbean and Hawaii. The prices can be comparable to other carriers, but are sometimes more expensive. However, for people traveling from destinations that do not have a direct service to the islands, United, Delta, Continental or American can often be the best deal overall. In addition, these airlines sometimes offer the best overall deals on resort/hotel and airfare packages. Each works regularly with resort and hotel chains and travel agents to provide a good selection of packages.
(image via BriYYZ)
Air Tahiti Nui is the major airline serving French Polynesia. These destinations (namely Tahiti and Bora Bora) are not cheap. Airfares on Tahiti’s major air carrier are no exception. However, the airline has several types of deals that are offered regularly and can be turned into significant money-savers. An example was a recent promotion that allowed kids to fly free to Tahiti with a paid adult ticket. Air Tahiti also offers packages that can significantly reduce the price of Tahiti and Bora Bora’s pricy hotels and resorts. In addition, the airline occasionally offers deals on trips from LAX to Paris.
Hawaiian Airlines is one of many carriers that fly to America’s 50th state. It offers some of the best deals on flights, with promotional fares available for under $400 round trip. The problem: passengers who aren’t on the West Coast have to catch a connecting flight because Hawaiian only flies from airports in the western one-fifth of the US. However, if prices are low enough, it can still be a good deal. This is especially the case for passengers who want to take advantage of Hawaiian’s package deals, which offer cheap prices on resorts and hotels for those who pay full-price for airfare. These packages can be a significant money-saver for tourists from the Mainland.