The Airfare War is Driving Roundtrip Ticket Prices Down—Way Down

Fliers are seeing ridiculously low prices lately.

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You can get great deals on airfare now, thanks to increased competition between airline companies. The Associated Press reported earlier today that fliers have been seeing dirt-cheap prices — like New York to L.A. for $150 roundtrip, or Chicago to Boston for $80 roundtrip — in off-peak hours. It's great news for travelers, but this new dip in prices is also something that big airline companies have been trying to avoid for years. 

And while you probably aren't going to be seeing the price of air travel permanently sink to these levels, it's nice to know you can save big if you buy at the right time. Most people know the cheapest days to buy plane tickets are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays (when business travelers aren't flying, basically), but now some airlines can afford to lower prices dramatically because of cheaper fuel costs — or because they're doing things like adding more seats to flights.

The other thing is, when one airline offers a lower rate for a popular flight, its competitors are often forced to match them — for example, when Frontier, a really small, scrappy airline, has a sale for $15 one-way tickets for members of its club, it pushes big guys like American Airlines to offer competitive rates. Or, when Southwest offers a cheap flight from New York to L.A. with a connection in Dallas, United is forced to provide a flight just as cheap connecting through Chicago. 

The Associated Press was able to snag a $40 from New York JFK to Dallas-Fort Worth yesterday (remember: buy on Tuesdays) — a promising sign. Hopefully there's more of that to come. 

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