Airline Steals & Deals: Why Fly Domestic When You Can Go Abroad?

The friendly skies have given way to the bone-dry desert – that’s where airlines have parked hundreds of planes as cash-strapped travelers are flying far less often. With passenger traffic down 10 percent so far this year, carriers are cutting capacity. It’s a move that typically sends airfares soaring, but not these days. Plunging demand has put prices in a nosedive – all good news for the few of us who have the time and money to take a vacation.

The average domestic fare for Memorial Day weekend is down 12 percent from last year, but international fares have fallen even further. So why fly domestic when you can go abroad for practically the same price? Senior Editor Gabe Saglie did some digging to find some of the best deals in the skies right now.

You can fly U.S. Air from New York to Denver for $297 “out the door” or New York to Hamilton, Bermuda for $292 – that’s round trip, with taxes and fees included. If you’re on the west coast you can get a $589 round-trip ticket from L.A. to Anchorage on Alaska Air or, better yet, Air Tahiti Niu will take you from LAX to Paris for the exact same price. No offense to our Alaskan friends, but most of us would probably rather see Paris in springtime if it weren’t gotten cost a nickel extra.

>>Web Extra: More Airfare Bargains

For the D.C.-based, there’s a round trip on American Airlines to Seattle for $459 or one to Barcelona on Iberia Airlines for $446. And keep in mind, these prices are all “out the door,” meaning they are both ways and include taxes and fees. That’s a new advertising technique that airlines are employing, finally getting away from the one-way price promotions, Saglie said. Plus, international flights typically waive all the extra fees for checking bags and – get this – usually still feed you!

So if you’re looking to get away this spring, you may be able to take a trip you probably didn’t think you could afford. Who said nothing good came from the recession?