Fare war: United and Alaska drop transcontinental business fares to $368 one-way

Jul 31, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

JetBlue’s Mint effect is real. The airline is launching new transcontinental flights out of Newark (EWR) soon, and it’s already driving down the prices in the market.

Last week, we told you about JetBlue Mint flights from Newark to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) available from $368 each way. Today, we’re seeing that United and Alaska Airlines are matching these fares. Even better, the low fares are now available through the end of the schedule in June 2021, including major holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year’s. JetBlue’s deal wasn’t as widespread originally.

For more TPG news and deals delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

If you’re considering booking this deal, you’ll probably want to pick United over Alaska. United offers lie-flat seats in business class on all its premium coast-to-coast flights, whereas Alaska only offers standard recliner seats. Most flights on this route are operated by United’s 757-200s with business class seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration. However, there are a few flights a day operated by United’s 787-10s. These planes feature United’s new Polaris business class seats, which are a huge upgrade over the older seats, so you’ll want to try snag a seat one of those flights.

United Polaris (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
United Polaris (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If there are low JetBlue Mint fares available for your dates then that’d be a great pick, too. While Mint doesn’t come with lounge access, it’s one of the best domestic premium cabins for onboard social distancing. Of the 16 seats in the Mint cabin, four of them are individual suites. Rows 2 and 4 are arranged in a 1-1 configuration and each suite has two large tables, as well as a door.

Should I book travel now?

There is a risk with booking travel now, since there is no way to guarantee when it will be safe to travel again. The CDC has a strong warning against any nonessential travel within the United States. While we hope things will return to normal quickly, there has been a surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

While all states have at least partially reopened, several have a mandatory, 14-day quarantine order in effect for visitors. If you’re booking this deal, know that New York and New Jersey have mandatory quarantines for travelers entering from high-risk states — including California. If the situation does not get better soon, you may end up being forced to change or cancel your trip.

Related: New York expands quarantine restrictions to 36 total U.S. states and territories

It’s also important to understand the cancellation and rebooking policies for any airfare you book. Fortunately, with any new United bookings made by Aug. 31, 2020 — along with Alaska and JetBlue bookings made by Sept. 8 — there is a good amount of flexibility. All of the airlines are allowing tickets to be changed or canceled for no fee. If rebooking, you’ll pay the difference between the original and new fare. If you cancel, you’ll enjoy a voucher or flight credit that can be put toward a new reservation.

Related: Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies

Transcon business class flight deals currently available

Airlines: Alaska, JetBlue, United
Routes: Newark (EWR) to/from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO)
Cost: $368+ one-way in business class
Travel Dates: July 2020 – June 2021

Pay With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline; starting Jan. 1, 2021 earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Citi Prestige® Card (5x on airfare),  Citi Premier® Card (3x on airfare), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel), American Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare booked directly with the airline or amextravel.com) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)

The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Sample itineraries

Here’s a look at some of the best deals you could book. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so you may be able to find deals between other cities as well.

Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) for $368 one-way nonstop on United in business class

(Photo by United)

Los Angeles (LAX) to Newark (EWR) for $368 one-way nonstop on United in business class

(Photo by United)

Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) for $388 one-way nonstop on Alaska in first class

(Photo by Alaska Airlines)

Newark (EWR) to San Francisco (SFO) for $398 one-way nonstop on United in business class

(Photo by United)

Newark (EWR) to San Francisco (SFO) to for $398 one-way nonstop on JetBlue Mint

(Photo by JetBlue)

How to book

It’s easy to book one of these deals. Just head to Google Flights and plug in your desired departure and destination cities. Filter your search to only show nonstop flights and select business class. Then, use the calendar function to find dates and prices that work for you and then click through to book with the airline directly or an OTA such as Expedia or Priceline.

(Photo by Google Flights)
(Photo by Google Flights)

Maximize your purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns bonus points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Citi Prestige® Card (5x on airfare), Chase Sapphire ReserveAmerican Express® Gold Card Citi Premier® Card (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases).

Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.