Skip to content

Low-cost airfare is back: Fly from $21 on full-service carriers into 2021

Sept. 19, 2020
4 min read
Low-cost airfare is back: Fly from $21 on full-service carriers into 2021
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.

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.

Low-cost airfare is officially back.

We saw this coming with the recent Alaska Airlines buy one, get one sale, and United award tickets selling from 5,000 miles each way.

Though we're still in the midst of a pandemic, with masks required on all U.S. airlines and quarantines still in effect when entering many states, several domestic airlines are clearly ready to try and stimulate demand the old fashioned way with cheap airfare.

How cheap, you ask? We're talking $21 from New York to Florida on a full-service airline cheap, or $57 for a transcontinental flight on a low-cost airline. Seriously.

Related: What it's like to fly in the U.S. right now

There's certainly room for very reasonable debate about whether now is the best time for more travelers to leave home and take to the sky just because the tickets are cheap. But, with TSA screening numbers still generally trending upward week over week (reaching, so far, over 800,000 people daily), people are flying.

So, if you've decided to fly again, you might as well get the best deal you can.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Another upside of these unusually cheap tickets is that you don't have much money on the line if you need to ditch your travel plans at the last minute.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

In many cases, the airlines are still allowing you to change your plans without penalty, but if you paid several hundred dollars for a ticket, that's still several hundred dollars you'll have tied up with the airline until you do ultimately fly. But if you only paid $21 for a ticket, that's a relatively inexpensive purchase if you change your mind.

Related: 5 tips for planning a trip during the ongoing pandemic

Here are some evergreen tips for finding the cheapest flights, but if you're curious about the low fares airlines are advertising right now, here's a sample of deals we've found well below normal prices. We mostly highlighted discounted basic economy fares on full-service carriers.

  • Newark (EWR) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL): $21 one-way on United, dates into late January 2021
  • Newark to Austin: $26 one-way on Spirit, dates into March 2021
  • Chicago (ORD) to New York (LGA) $40 one-way on American or United, dates into February 2021
  • Denver (DEN) to Chicago: $41 one-way on United or American, dates into February 2021 (tickets start at $20 on Frontier)
  • Houston (IAH) to Newark: $43 one-way on United, dates into December
  • Washington-Dulles (IAD) to Chicago: $49 one-way on United, dates into February 2021
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Austin (AUS): $50 one-way on United, American, and JetBlue dates into January 2021 (tickets start at $38 on Spirit)
  • Dallas (DFW) to Orlando (MCO): $50 one-way on American, dates into December (tickets start at $24 on Frontier)
  • Miami to Los Angeles: $57 one-way on American, dates into March 2021

Related: We compared pandemic-era flights on four airlines, here's what it was like

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons, Jackson Wyoming
Moulton Barn at the base of the Grand Tetons in Jackson Wyoming. (Photo by strickke / Getty Images)

Bottom line

It's been a long time since there were so many opportunities to fly for around the cost of a meal at Applebees on carriers such as United and American.

Coincidentally (or not), these are the airlines not guaranteeing blocked middle seats. If you want to ensure you'll have that extra space, you may need to budget in the cost of buying a second seat, too.

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh

Featured image by Getty Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

Fair/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees