It is perhaps the biggest travel sale in years—and one that could extend through 2017. It’s happening as a result of a perfect storm of the continuing fallout from Brexit, a strong U.S. dollar against the British pound and the euro, the unintended consequences of President Trump’s executive order on immigration, and the excess capacity in almost all markets caused by the emergence of a number of disruptor airlines now starting to fly long-haul nonstop routes to U.S. cities from around the world.
With fewer international travelers heading to the U.S., the unfilled return seats are now empty, the airlines are scrambling to fill them, and hotels are facing a similar challenge. As a result, airfares haven’t been this low in years. The lack of passengers on flights to international destinations and even some U.S. markets, has caused a serious fare war.
Let’s start with international airfares. In the law of supply and demand, consumers can now directly benefit. Consider these almost absurd fares.
International Airfare Deals
You can fly round trip between Los Angeles and Hong Kong on China Eastern for $441. Regular fares normally start at double this amount.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, which just was approved in the last days of the Obama administration and given its permanent operating certificate, just introduced flights between Hartford, Connecticut and Edinburgh, Scotland. The introductory fares were $70, and even in high summer season, are under $500.
Norwegian has announced 10 new transatlantic routes to U.S. cities like Providence, Rhode Island. Norwegian Air Shuttle starts flying from Providence to Ireland and Scotland on June 15th of this year.
WOW, a discount carrier based in Iceland, is flying from Baltimore to London each way for just $189, with a free stopover in Iceland.
Hainan Airlines has added about 75 new routes since 2006, and one of its newest is a nonstop flight from China to Las Vegas.
Do you want to fly from Los Angeles to Dublin? You’d never guess that Ethiopian Airlines—which is flying brand new 787 Dreamliners—flies the route, and the fares are often under $400.
Edelweiss flies nonstop from Zurich to Las Vegas. Soon the airline will fly from Zurich to San Diego.
Speaking of San Diego, there’s Volaris, the largest airline in Mexico, and smart travelers are crossing the cross border express from San Diego directly into the Tijuana Airport, where they can fly the airline anywhere in Mexico (and back to more than two dozen U.S. cities) for prices that match Mexican bus fares.
Here’s a surprise: Honolulu is no longer just a vacation destination. Thanks to ultra long-haul disruptor airlines, it’s also become a hub to the South Pacific and Asia. Jetstar Airways now flies Honolulu to Australia for as low as $427 round trip.
This June, another new entrant (from Malaysia) Air Asia X, inaugurates its nonstop flight from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu for $149!
But the real battle remains over the Atlantic. As airlines like Norwegian increase transatlantic low fare service, U.S carriers are matching the fares.
Norwegian has fired the first salvos with New York to London fares as low as $69 (one way), or round trip from New York to Oslo for as low as $350. Norwegian also flies New York to Paris, round trip, starting at $335.
What are the U.S. carriers doing? They’re dropping their fares as well.
You can find flights from Miami to Budapest for $451 or flights from Philadelphia to Barcelona for $450—both on American Airlines.
You’ll also find flights on Iberia from New York to Rome for as low as $388.
European Train Travel
Once you’re in Europe, even the trains are offering discounts. Eurostar has dropped prices 20 percent, which is not typical. Some existing fares are from London to Brussels, one way, starting at $59 and London to Paris, one way, starting at $59.
Domestic Airfare Deals
Back in the domestic market of the U.S., JetBlue has taken on long-time competitors American and Delta in the Boston-LaGuardia shuttle market. The coach fares on this route—with the plane only in the air an average of 38 minutes—can be as high as $809.
JetBlue, the dominant carrier in Boston, has entered the shuttle arena, and fares have dropped in some cases to under $150.
In other highly competitive markets, United has dropped its Newark to San Francisco round-trip airfare to as low as $266.
Are you flying between Dallas and Phoenix? Some American fares now start at just $98, round trip.
Deals in Business Class
Do you want to upgrade? It’s not a problem. The airfare deals don’t just apply to economy seats—you can find discounts on business class as well.
Condor Airlines, the third biggest German airline, is competing strongly on discounted business class fares. Beginning this summer, the airline starts service from San Diego, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans to Frankfurt. Normal business class fares average $4000 on the route, but Condor is selling its at about $2500, round trip.
A flight from JFK to London on Norwegian Air Shuttle in business class is just $1095. Normal business class fares on other major airlines start around $3000. Those business class fares on Norwegian are also dropping in May to $889.
Right now, Delta offers a round-trip flight between Boston and Dusseldorf for as low as $363.
In the cruise industry, the deals are equally attractive and promise to remain that way throughout 2017. Why? All the reasons stated above still apply, plus this fact: every single shipyard in the world is working at full capacity. They are building 56 new cruise ships of every size and pedigree. That’s a lot of empty cabins to fill on top of the vacancies on the current fleets. As a result, we’ve seen some cruise lines, like Norwegian Cruise Lines, sell seven-day cruises starting at $67/night.
This means that hotels are discounting at each of these destinations. Fewer people are traveling from the U.S. overseas, and many more overseas travelers are opting to avoid and/or cancel their flights to the U.S. in 2017.
Want to see more of Peter Greenberg’s reports for CBS This Morning? Check out:
- How Uncertainty Over Travel Ban is Hurting U.S. Travel Industry
- Princess Cruises Fined $40 Million for Illegally Dumping in the Ocean
- How Presidential Libraries Provide Historical Perspective
By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com