New fare sales make flying to New York cheaper than staying home

airplane-landingI’m not going to discuss how much I dislike the idea of a “staycation” and that’s partly because these airlines have pretty much taken any real question about whether you should sit around your sad hometown or go to a wonderful place like New York City. If fares drop any more the airlines will be giving you their credit card number instead of the other way around.

This country is awash in cheap domestic flights right now, though some are obviously much better deals than others. For example you have to pay almost $300 to go between Portland, Oregon and the Los Angeles area, and yet flights to NYC from LA are starting just a bit above $200. WTF?

Sample fares from Los Angeles to New York City

I don’t know where you live so it would be impossible to list the prices from each city, so instead of that I’m going to list the best current fares from Los Angeles to NYC so you can see which airlines are slashing fares and which aren’t playing the game. Depending on where you live you’ll probably find similar patterns, though the prices might be lower and hopefully won’t be much higher.

Los Angeles to New York City – Roundtrip prices

  • US Airways: $216
  • AirTran: $221
  • Continental: $227
  • Southwest: $238
  • Virgin America: $239
  • JetBlue: $268

One thing you might notice on this list is that the really great airlines like Virgin America and JetBlue are only a bit more expensive than US Air, which many people aren’t too fond of. This is at least 5 hours in each direction so it might be worth spending a bit more for a good experience on the way, but that’s up to you.

Hotels are crazy cheap too

I just got an email telling me about a one-day sale at the Buckingham Hotel on 57th Street for $159. You couldn’t pick a better location, as it’s across the street from Carnegie Hall, and close enough to Times Square but actually in a way classier part of Midtown. If you are seeing this in August, the deal might not be valid, but it’s still worth a try.

Generally speaking, hotels in NYC and pricing rooms almost 50% lower than last year at this time, so what was once a really expensive city to visit is suddenly reasonable, and it can be cheap if you know how. Most of the hotels in Manhattan start above $100 per night, though there are a few starting closer to $80 on the low end.

But there are also party hostels in New York City, where you can get a bed starting around $30 per night and meet people and hang out with the international crowd too. At most of these places you can even buy your own beer or wine (go to Trader Joe’s wine store on 14th Street) and start the party at the hostel, and then head out into the city once everyone is properly lubed up. Really, a visit can cost surprisingly little if you know what you are doing.