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How to avoid high fares on US domestic flights

Travel Tips

Question: I am travelling across North America this summer and have organised most of my trip.

But there are two legs that I'm having problems with because of the high fares. I need to fly from Detroit to Indianapolis on 9 August and from Indianapolis to Boston on 13 August, and the fares total more than £500 (about R9 500) - which is more than I spent on my transatlantic tickets.

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Between Indianapolis and Boston (a much longer trip), there is at least some competition - Delta versus Southwest.

What can you advise?

Lesley Andrews, Derbyshire

 

Answer: While many air links in the US are as competitive as routes in Britain, you have stumbled upon a couple that are not. Non-stop flights from a city that is dominated by a single airline - as Detroit is by Delta - can be very expensive. It looks like £300 for a one-hour hop. There are alternative connections, such as via Washington DC on United, for about £110, but this involves flying for a long time in the wrong direction. So I suggest you follow the lead of Paul Simon and take a Greyhound bus from Michigan's largest city. The fastest journey is about seven hours, and you are guaranteed to see a slice of Midwest life. The fare at greyhound.com depends on the departure you choose, but right now the most you will pay is around £25.

Between Indianapolis and Boston (a much longer trip), there is at least some competition - Delta versus Southwest - but non-stop flights are doggedly expensive. So instead choose one of the good-value connections, currently around £80: American Airlines via Philadelphia or United via Chicago or New York (Newark). I'd opt for American. It's the fastest journey (just under four hours), it arrives at a civilised time (8pm) rather than at midnight, and Philadelphia is a much smaller and more manageable hub than the other two.

Next time, though, consider booking all your domestic flights together with your transatlantic journey; you could find that those direct domestic legs come down in price to something sensible.

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