Sun Country will start flying from its Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) hub to New Orleans (MSY) and Santa Barbara, CA (SBA) this summer. These are the latest route additions for Minnesota’s hometown airline turned low-cost carrier.
Sun Country has expanded its route network while adding baggage and seat selection fees shortly before being sold to a NY investment firm. This announcement follows a pretty brutal stretch for Sun Country after it stranded 250 or more passengers in Mexico during last month’s snowstorm.
The New Routes
Sun Country will start with a weekly flight to New Orleans on Sept. 6 but will fly 2x/week beginning Sept. 24, on Thursdays and Sundays. This route as hurting for some competition. Currently, only Delta and Spirit Airlines fly nonstop to the Big Easy. The fares will start at $89 each way, so a round trip ticket would be $178.
But Sun Country is now charging for checked bags, carry-ons and seat selection. That brings your full fare for a trip to New Orleans to at least $228 which is still fairly competitive.
It’s in line with what Spirit Airlines charges before tacking on all its fees. Further, fares on Delta are generally well north of $300, though we occasionally post deals on those flights here.
Sun Country will have a monopoly on the route between MSP and Santa Barbara. Just up the coast from Los Angeles. The airline is charging at least $109 each way, flying twice a week starting Aug. 16. With fees, expect to pay at least $268 round trip.
Are these Sun Country Flights to New Orleans and Santa Barbara a good deal? It’s going to depend on the availability of these low fares the airline is promoting. Both routes could be a solid deal even after factoring in the additional fees. But only time will tell if the low fares are the norm or an exception.
Keep in mind that both of these new routes are seasonal. Service to New Orleans ends Dec. 16, while the last flight out of Santa Barbara is Dec. 9.
Hundreds of travelers learned this the hard way when Sun Country canceled some of its final flights out of Mazatlan (MZT) and San Jose del Cabo (SJD) due to the April snowstorm. The airline then refused to book a charter and left it up to customers to book their way home.
After days of bad headlines, the airline finally relented and agreed to reimburse travelers for their additional expenses. While we’re certain Sun Country has learned its lesson, it’s smart to keep this in mind if you’re booked toward the end of the schedule.
We’ve been hard on Sun Country lately, but more flights in and out of MSP are always welcome news. Just remember that the low fares Sun Country is touting to New Orleans and Santa Barbara are higher if you bring a bag or want to pick your seat.