Trips Ahoy!

Best Low-Fare Airlines

AirTran Airways & Frontier Airlines
Big-ticket trips without paying big-ticket prices

At a time when major airlines are reeling, low-fare carriers like AirTran Airways (a Business Travel Award winner last year) and Frontier Airlines continue to grow and prosper. Why? First, travelers tend to use lower-cost providers more frequently in tough economic times. Second, the carriers' low-cost structures make it easier to adjust to changes in consumer demand.

Business travelers east of the Mississippi are flocking to AirTran, which never requires a round-trip purchase or a Saturday night stayover for a low fare. The only drawback: Travelers usually must make a connection at AirTran's Atlanta hub-one of the 37 cities the airline serves. AirTran offers a special program for small businesses called the A2B Corporate Travel Program, which provides upgrades, reduced restrictions, lower change fees and bonus frequent-flier points. Even more attractive to business travelers are features such as business-class seating at a $25 premium, advanced seat assignments, and full participation in travel agents' computer reservation systems.

AirTran operates 336 flights a day using 30 brand-new Boeing 717s and 30 older DC-9s.

If you live in the Western U.S., you'll find the best deals on Frontier. Even if you haven't taken advantage of the airline yet, you may have noticed its aircraft, adorned with giant images of animals.

From its Denver base, Frontier now serves 28 cities nationwide with a fleet of 24 Boeing 737s and 6 Airbus A-319s. This makes Frontier an ideal choice for those on either coast looking for a low-cost alternative.

In exchange for that low fare, Frontier passengers must be willing to stop over in Denver. Frontier offers advanced seat assignments, electronic ticketing, flight status paging notification, curbside check-in and EarlyReturns, its frequent-flier program. Small and medium-sized businesses can receive online access to corporate rebates, direct booking capabilities, and reporting information about their companies' travel and accounting histories.

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This article was originally published in the April 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Trips Ahoy!.

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