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New Airline Routes: The Secret to Cheap Flights & Award Availability

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Watching for new routes is fun – it's interesting to see where the airlines want to take you next. But watching new routes closely is also smart if you want to save hundreds or thousands on your next trip. 

Year in and year out, airlines are tinkering with their route networks, launching new nonstop routes – and even brand-new destinations – a few times each year in hopes of luring in new customers as they expand. Our advice? Follow the news and search for cheap cash (or award fares to use your points and miles) in the wake of these announcements … because they regularly lead to huge savings. 

Again and again over the last few years, we've seen major U.S. and foreign carriers launch new flights to exciting destinations all around the world. And it's not long after that we find some incredible deals on those upcoming new routes for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members.

As soon as we catch wind of these new routes, we always cover the news and pass it along to you, dear reader. But we also start searching for the best deals for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members … and we routinely find them.

When Delta announced new nonstop service to Taipei (TPE) from its Seattle (SEA) hub, we started watching it closely for this exact reason. And boy are we glad we did!




These SkyMiles fares to fly Delta One Suites business class on the A330-900neo are some of the lowest SkyMiles business class fares we've ever seen, especially for peak summer travel to Asia. 

That's just one example of why we love new routes and why one of the best ways to save big on airfare is to watch out for them.


Why You Want to Watch for New Routes

Let me start by saying that you don't actually have to do anything. We watch for this type of news constantly and will always bring you the latest right here. And if we find big savings on airfare or award redemptions, our Thrifty Traveler Premium members will get the deal right away, too.

But it's good to understand why a new route deserves your attention.

The number one reason is simple: New routes mean empty planes, and the airlines need to start filling those seats right away. Some airlines will offer those fares at a steep discount right from the get-go, hoping to create a buzz in order to get people onboard. You could be one of those people!

Plus, when airlines add new routes, it can put competitive pressure on the other airlines – and competitors often respond by slashing prices on their own flights. For instance, when Irish carrier Aer Lingus re-added Minneapolis (MSP) to Dublin (DUB) to its nonstop route network, it took Delta Air Lines all of five hours to announce they were launching the route, too. And what did that lead to? Great opportunities to get to the Emerald Isle as the two airlines duke it out for Twin Cities customers. 

Since those two new route announcements, we've seen fares drop into the $400s roundtrip in economy on both airlines, and we've seen business class award availability on Delta for 50,000 Virgin Atlantic points or on Aer Lingus for 55,000 Alaska Airlines miles.

MSP to Dublin


We see this happen all the time, which is why we watch new route announcements so closely. When Delta announced Boston (BOS) to Honolulu (HNL), we kept an eye on those flight prices to see how the airline would compete with Hawaiian Airlines, which also runs that route. Just a few weeks after the announcement… voila!




The same goes for routes without competition, too. When Philippine Airlines announced its new Seattle (SEA) to Manila (MNL) service, the seat map on all of those flights was 100% empty. To get butts in those seats, Philippine Airlines put out these introductory fares to start to fill those big birds up. 


Seattle to Manila flight deal


Ditto for Icelandair's latest route addition: The Faroe Islands. These one-stop flights to Vagar (VAE) all have dozens of recliner business class seats on board the long-haul leg between the U.S. and Reykjavik (KEF) – which Icelandair calls Saga Premium

And when those fares went on sale, those flights were (you guessed it!) totally empty.  


Saga Faroe Islands


That's how you get business class fares to the Faroe Islands like this, leading to at least 50%-off savings on every one of these fares. 


Book Business Class with Points on New Routes

Want to fly business class using your points and miles? New routes might be your single best bet to make it a reality.

Booking premium cabins using your points and miles can be a chore, as award availability can be tough to find to actually put those points to use. But we've seen an undeniable trend: When airlines add a new route, they often open up those top-dollar seats to be booked with miles, too – including by airline partners.

That can lead to deals like these.


Chicago to Rome


For years it's been just United and American owning the nonstop flights to Rome (FCO) from Chicago (ORD), but they don't get to have all the fun by themselves anymore. Italian flag carrier ITA Airways announced a new nonstop route to Rome to Chicago that began this spring. These comfortable business class seats were available during August, too. 

The same goes for this new nonstop route between Denver (DEN) and Istanbul (IST). These excellent Turkish business class seats were bookable for just 65,000 miles each way when you booked with Turkish. 




This deal is gone now – get the next business class award alert with Thrifty Traveler Premium!

Minnesota travelers have gotten very lucky lately with a slew of new routes in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). One of the most exciting new ones is these Lufthansa nonstop flights from Minneapolis and Raleigh (RDU) to Frankfurt (FRA) launching this June. That resulted in a business class deal like this: 


Minneapolis to Frankfurt business class


Just a few days after this deal, we found even more availability open up into July and August, too! Just 70,000 points each way would put you in one of these seats flying across the Atlantic next summer and beyond. And when the fares went on sale, you could book up to nine passengers into the business class cabin. Unreal.

You might recognize the pattern by now. Step 1: Air France announces a new route from Phoenix (PHX) to Paris (CDG). Step 2: Air France makes tons of business class awards available. 




Let's not let Europe have all the fun, though. This happens for lie-flat seats flying all over the world – including on fun, shorter flights to places like Bogota (BOG). 

This Emirates Business Class flight deal highlighted its newest, funky route from Miami (MIA) to Bogota (BOG), including its business class seats. 




While not the cheapest fare we've ever seen, it's a unique opportunity to fly Emirates business class for less. 

For the flight all the way down to Santiago, Chile (SCL), however, a lie-flat seat is a godsend. And wouldn't you know it: Lie-flat seats on the new Orlando (MCO) to Santiago (SCL) route were wide open to book with points and miles when those flights went on sale. 




Award availability for business class seats like this doesn't come around unless the planes are empty on brand-new routes. It's a surefire way to book the trip of your dreams in a lie-flat seat.


Bottom Line

That old saying goes “Newer is better,” and it can easily apply when you're looking for a great deal on a new flight.

As airlines try to drum up interest and fill seats on their newest routes, we regularly see deeply discounted fares (or amazing points deals) to some of your favorite – or soon-to-be favorite – destinations. So stay up to date on the latest new routes here at ThriftyTraveler.com and subscribe to Thrifty Traveler Premium so you don't miss out on the next great surprising deal.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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