Cheap flights -- do they exist in general?
July 7, 2007 9:11 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to get an ultra-cheap roundtrip out of the DFW area to anywhere, just for the sake of flying? I have a nearly-4 year old son who would love a plane ride, but I haven't seen any truly cheap tickets since the Southwest Airlines "Peanut Fares" days. If not, I'll just wait for a real vacation to come up one day.
posted by rolypolyman to Shopping (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why not check with some of the local private pilot airports. I imagine you could get somebody who wants to gain hours to take you up for the cost of gas. Unless you want the jet experience, the small planes feel a lot more like flying to me anyway.

Or, a helicopter would be pretty cool too.
posted by willnot at 9:21 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Download Ding! from Southwest and leave it running. Some ridiculously low fares pop up on it fairly frequently. It feels weird to run some corporation's advertising software intentionally, but it stays out of the way, and is kind of fun.
posted by AaRdVarK at 9:31 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Depends on your definition of ultra-cheap. If I were you I would sign up for an any promotional e-mail from American Airlines (since they are gigantic at DFW) and wait for them to advertise flights that meet you target price.
posted by mmascolino at 9:39 PM on July 7, 2007


I am not sure what your definition of cheap is, but Travelocity's Dream Maps can tell you where the lowest fares will take you. If you set the max cost per person to a lower number, it will give you more specific options.

Similarly, air-fare.net gives you the same info in another format.

Lastly, I've recommended it before - Site59 lastminute.com can get you a good deal if it's last minute and you also want a hotel room.

None of these sites show anything cheaper than about $100 right now.

This is a long shot but you can also watch the flyertalk Mileage Run Deals board...you never know what they will find there.
posted by cabingirl at 9:42 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you want a ride on a jet, it depends on how much "ultra-cheap" is to you. At the moment, at Airfare Watchdog, you can get round-trip flights from DFW to other places in Texas for just under $100 per person, and round-trip to places farther away (e.g., Kansas City) for $140 or so.

A private plane ride would be a lot of fun, and not too expensive -- and probably more fun than going through airport security. Here's a company in Dallas that will take 2 people up in a small plane for 30 minutes for $160. 1 hours for $215. I'd vote for going this route, personally.
posted by barnacles at 9:49 PM on July 7, 2007


If the destination isn't an issue (and it sounds like it isn't), you can fly on SW to Austin or Houston for $49 each way. Corpus is more -- $88 is the cheapest I can find each way.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:53 PM on July 7, 2007


Thanks... I was hoping to keep this under $100 but it's sounding like I'm not going to even be in the ballpark and it will have to wait. Man, to think I paid $19 back in 1988 to fly from Dallas to San Antonio on a Southwest 737.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:55 PM on July 7, 2007


second airfarewatchdog.

you should be able to get to fly with a student in an R-22 helicopter for around $75/seat (it's a two-seater, so kiddo would go on your lap provided both are less than 240lbs combined).

just make sure the student has at least 80 hours.
posted by krautland at 9:57 PM on July 7, 2007


If you can get to Austin/Houston somehow, Southwest is offering $29/one-way fares between the two right now here.
posted by mdonley at 10:33 PM on July 7, 2007


I'll echo willnot's suggestion. Look up a list of airports in the phone book--small ones with private planes on the outskirts of the city &/or the ones that offer flying lessons are a good shot. Go and hang around with your son to watch the planes and chat with pilots--they'll be carrying flight bags and small chart books that strap to their thighs for hands-free navigation. Explain that your son's really interested in airplanes and flying, and that this is a great opportunity (and much cheaper than most tickets), and ask if they ever take passengers.

Plenty of pilots make routine flights from DFW to San Antonio, or Miami, etc, just to get air miles to up their certification (often they won't land, so if you're interested in getting off the plane before they head back toward Dallas, be sure to ask!).
posted by soviet sleepover at 10:43 PM on July 7, 2007


Third willnot. Except with this twist: act like you're interested in taking flying lessons. Most instructor schools at small airports I've seen have a free "introductory flight" in a Cessna 152 or 172 if you're considering lessons. They let you take the controls and everything (once you're safely airborne and in clear space).

Go to the nearest muni airport with your son "to look at planes taking off and landing." While there, ask about lessons. Look unconvinced that it would be a good idea. They'll probably offer to fly you around for a bit to show you that it's perfectly safe and fun too!!!1. Since the 152 only has 2 seats, you'd need to carry your son on your lap, but they may go for it. The 172 has four seats. If all else fails, at least you got to see some planes up close.

I've gotten several plane rides with this trick. Except that I really was (and still am) considering lessons, so it wasn't really a trick, I guess.
posted by ctmf at 11:27 PM on July 7, 2007


If you really want your kid to enjoy the flight, take him on a Discovery Flight out of one of the many flight schools in the area. Monarch Air in Addison is a good place to do this with a very modern fleet. As a bonus, depending on the instructor who takes you up, your kid may actually get his hands on the controls. Should run you anywhere from 79-99 dollars.

SovietSleepOver - those time-building pilots you're talking about cannot legally take paying passengers with them - and it's hours in the air, not air miles, unless they're specifically doing cross-country flying for Comm or Ins ratings.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:41 AM on July 8, 2007


I just saw this on boddit.com

Kids fly for $49 to Washington, DC!1 ticket per adult purchase on Southwest Airlines

Book your complete Southwest Airlines Vacations air/hotel package of three nights or more to Washington, DC and one child (ages 2-17) per adult flies for just $49 roundtrip! Packages must be booked by August 2, 2007, for travel July 16 - September 27, 2007. Friday and Sunday travel is excluded, as is travel from August 30 - September 4, 2007.

Southwest Airlines Vacations offers you the freedom to explore ...

http://www.boddit.com/deal.php?l=c9a17339e49b1c174bbbef078d3b005a
posted by k8t at 11:01 AM on July 8, 2007


teambilly: those time-building pilots you're talking about cannot legally take paying passengers with them

I *think* the rule here is that they cannot do it for profit but are allowed to share the cost of a flight with passengers. that's how I did it during my helicopter time, where this is legal.
posted by krautland at 9:56 AM on July 9, 2007


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