Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Domestic Flight Prices

When they're good, they're really good. But otherwise it's going to hurt the ol' pocketbook.

In a country full of extremes and often lacking a happy medium, I guess it should be no surprise that airline tickets are just more of the same. You are either going to pay R$758 (US$465) for your round trip tickets between Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, or you will find them on a great sale for R$160 (US$98).

Our vacation flight to Argentina that I found such a great deal on leaves from São Paulo on Saturday. We saved somewhere in the neighborhood of US$1200 by not flying from Belo Horizonte. I figured we would either find a flight on sale between then and now or just take a bus there and back. It was looking a lot like we were going to be spending our first 8 hours of vacation on a bus when the flights just weren't going on sale. Yesterday was the day of truth. I was going to buy bus tickets but decided to check flights one last time. And good thing I did, since the flights were on sale for R$80 each way which was identical to the bus fare!

After spending the first 10 months of our relationship 859 miles apart, Eric and I really learned to love Airtran Airways. Several times per month they put all of their flights on sale, and we were always able to book tickets between Moline and Atlanta for $69-$99 each way. Inevitably, several of the major airlines would end up matching those prices as well. Brasil's three domestic airlines (Tam, Varig, and Gol) haven't quite got that kind of frequency or inclusiveness with their sales. But several times in the past 6 months, I have seen promotions for R$99 on one-way flights, R$48, and even very limited R$7 flights during one special sale. So if you have some time to watch the prices, are even the slightest bit flexible with your travel plans, and especially if you are flying between major cities in Brasil, it is possible to beat those horrendous prices you normally see on domestics!

And another interesting point is that sometimes tacking on domestic flights to an international flight doesn't change the price too much. My family booked an itinerary that has them flying around Brasil quite a bit and it wasn't that much more than just a straight flight in. You just never know . . .

But the happy news is there will be no sleeping on buses for the two of us on this trip! The bad news is that we are going to have to deal with the Brasilian airports which, in our experience, is rarely a painless process!


Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

Hi Emily,

How do you search for your flight deals? Do you just check the airline's web-site or use a search engine?

Unfortunately, I've never found the random kind of deals. One time I did see a flight on Gol for R$100 but that is it. We were really wanting to travel around more, but it's impossible with such high prices. We've been sticking to places within driving distance like Curitiba, Foz and Floripa. I want to see the north so much!

Another thing is that we only find a limited number of options on the airline's website. Fortunately, the staff support at my husbands office will search the flights through the company travel agency and we get many more options. The cost is a few reais cheaper, but not much.

Emily said...

Lori, I totally hear you on wanting to travel more but not being able to afford the flights! That has been the case for us a lot too!

I try to check each of the airline's websites on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes www.submarinoviagens.com.br is good too. While I have seen several great deals, we really haven't been able to take advantage of them because we normally aren't super flexible. (Eric pretty much needs to work Mon-Fri 8-6 . . . or 7 or 8 or sometimes 9 - ugh!) The deals are often for weekdays or odd times and the cities on sale are usually quite limited. But, the sales do exsist. They aren't always super helpful for those of us living with working folks though, unfortunately. Hey, next super cheap flight sale, you wanna run away with me for a girl week of Brasil exploration and just leave the boys back home to fend for themselves? ;)

Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

Ha, ha! Sounds good. I will check out the site you mentioned. I know what you mean. My husband has an hour commute out to the middle of nowhere-land from where we live. So he is gone 13 hours a day! It makes even leaving early on Friday for a long weekend difficult.