Houston is one of the most expensive major cities to fly out of. Looking at data from the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only Cincinnati and Anchorage have average fares that are higher for such a large city.
United’s market dominance in Houston is the leading factor to high fare prices. The only nonstop domestic city pairs with any sort of competition are:
- Houston – Atlanta (Delta)
- Houston – Cincinnati (Delta)
- Houston – Charlotte (US Airways)
- Houston – Chicago (American, Spirit)
- Houston – Dallas (American)
- Houston – Denver (Frontier, Spirit)
- Houston – Detroit (Delta, Spirit)
- Houston – Las Vegas (Spirit)
- Houston – Los Angeles (American, Spirit)
- Houston – Memphis (Delta)
- Houston – Miami (American)
- Houston – Minneapolis (Delta)
- Houston – Salt Lake (Delta)
- Houston – New York/LGA (Delta)
- Houston – Orlando (Spirit)
- Houston – Philadelphia (US Airways)
- Houston – Seattle (Alaska)
- Houston – Washington D.C. (US Airways)
That’s 17 city pairs with competition. And rarely do competing carriers put these routes on sale and as such, amounts to no real competition. Spirit does put their cities on sale but United never matches them.
We have been covering Houston for about 7 months now and we’ve notice a few trends for fares that are consistently close to 6 cents per mile and are mileage earning.
Domestic Value Airfare Destinations
We see the following routes consistently being fairly valued –
- Houston – Boston. JetBlue entered the Houston and Boston route on July 25th with service between Boston and Houston – Hobby Airport. Since JetBlue’s entrance, we have consistently seen both JetBlue and United offer fares around $200 between Houston and Boston.
- Houston – Seattle. Alaska Airline consistently discounts its service between Houston and Seattle. We often see this around $200. In our experience, United has always matched Alaska’s discounts.
- Houston – Merced and Fresno, California. We’ve seen United often offer fares to these two cities in Calfornia for around $200. These fares are a nice getaway to the national parks in California.
And what about Southwest city pairs? Southwest has a discount airline reputation but its fares from Houston – Hobby are not cheap from a cents per mile basis. Though when they do have their annual sales, United will match. But those sales are infrequent and Southwest sales are usually very restricted — e.g., limited travel dates.
Are there other city pairs? Once in a while, we do see Delta and American attacking United’s fares to the Caribbean and Hawaii. If they are posted, do not dwell on them as they disappear fast. Lock it up if you want to go.
International Value Airfare Destinations
Turkish Airlines launched service to Houston from Istanbul on April 1st, 2013 and since then, travel to Turkey, Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent has been cheaper than ever before. These destinations are consistently under 6 cents per mile for travel from January to March and September to November.
- Houston – Istanbul, Turkey
- Houston – Tel Aviv, Israel
- Houston – Beirut, Lebanon
- Houston – Amman, Jordan
- Houston – Cairo, Egypt
- Houston – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Houston – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Houston – Manama, Bahrain
- Houston – Doha, Qatar
- Houston – Muscat, Oman
- Houston – Nairobi, Kenya
- Houston – Entebbe, Uganda
- Houston – Lagos, Nigeria
- Houston – Johannesburg, South Africa
- Houston – Mumbai, India
- Houston – Delhi, India
United and its Star Alliance partners (Lufthansa, Brussels, Air Canada, Austrian and Swiss) will often match Turkish’s fare sales. SkyTeam carriers (Delta, KLM and Air France) are usually in the mix too. Istanbul is a good base if you don’t mind backtracking when visiting Europe — fares between Istanbul and Europe are usually cheap, use skyscanner.net to search for low cost carrier options!
What about East, North and Southeast Asia?
American will frequently attack United’s fares to Shanghai and Beijing — but they rarely last more than a day. We rarely see other East Asia cities on sales.
And how about Central and South America?
Not much besides hoping for Aeromexico to put something on sale, like the recent $299 deal from Houston to Bogota with limited travel dates.
It never goes on sale from anywhere.
This post is based on data we’ve collected, from observations we have made and from deals we have done. We could be totally off base. Houston flyers, where else do you see value with flights? Let us know on our Facebook page or on twitter.