If you haven’t already, I would suggest subscribing to The Fare Deal Alert which provides a free daily newsletter with fare deals from various U.S. cities.
One of the listed options is Houston, which has listed some incredible deals in the past ten days to numerous cities in Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania and Israel.
When it comes to travel planning, sometimes it helps to “nest” itineraries from a gateway city to save several hundred, if not thousands, in travel expenditures. The only downside to this, of course, is additional flying time and increased risk of operational issues which can lead to delays or missed connections.
That being said, if you have a flexible travel schedule, and do not mind backtracking (or happen to live in the Southeast) then I highly recommend exploring options to fly out of Houston
There could be multiple explanations for this, but one of the more common ones tend to deal with the type of passenger and traffic that Houston attracts. A vast majority of the premium traffic flying into and out of Houston is energy-driven, which therefore occupies most of the cabin space up front. In the back, however, with plenty of space available, airlines just want to fill the plane as much as possible to avoid spoilage.
Houston has also been hit by the decline in oil prices over the past few years, which has led to a downturn in premium traffic. Though signs have indicated a positive trend for 2017, there are still plenty of seats that airlines need to fill.
To Asia, it helps greatly that numerous foreign carriers fly to Houston, including Air China, Korean Air, All Nippon Airways, EVA Air and Singapore Airlines offer competitive fares to Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei and Singapore (via Manchester), respectively. Each of them are also timed to depart Houston in such a manner that connections are possible, although some are better than others:
- Air China to Beijing: 4 times per week, midnight departure
- Korean Air to Seoul: 5 times per week, 10 am departure
- ANA: daily, 10 am departure
- EVA Air: daily, midnight departure
- SIA: 5 times weekly, 7pm departure (to Manchester)
Eastbound options are plentiful as well. You have choices between Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates to find great deals to virtually any city in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
- Air France to Paris: daily, afternoon departure
- Lufthansa to Frankfurt: daily, afternoon departure
- British Airways to London Heathrow: 12 weekly, afternoon and late evening departure
- KLM to Amsterdam: daily, afternoon departure
- Turkish Airlines to Istanbul: 5 weekly, evening departure
- Qatar to Doha: daily, evening departure
- Emirates to Dubai: daily, evening departure
Houston is Excellent for Mileage Runs
Another great feature of Fare Deal Alert is that it will provide the tools necessary to reproduce the fare and give you a high-level overview on the number of elite qualifying miles and redeemable miles you will earn on each deal. There are plenty of confusing elements that may exist for purchasing travel deals which appear tempting on paper, but poor in practice because a preferred carrier doesn’t honor the booking class at very good earning rates (see Delta and virtually any of its SkyTeam partners, outside of Air France – KLM).
Thankfully, Fare Deal alert takes care of that. Here are some sample itineraries that have come online from Houston over the past several days with the number of EQMs available on the airline booked:
- American, Houston to Shanghai, 15,114 EQMs for $622
- Delta, Houston to Tokyo Haneda, 13,998 EQMs for $400
- United, Houston to Manila, 18,566 EQMs for $579
- Air Canada, Houston to Tel Aviv, 14,104 EQMs for $562
- Korean Air, Houston to Beijing, 7,607 EQMs for $544
As always, one thing to be wary of is that while these deals can provide excellent accrual towards elite-qualifying miles, they will provide much less value towards elite-qualifying dollar thresholds required to retain status each year. The one major U.S. carrier which is an exception to this rule, and does not have a minimum spend requirement, is Alaska Airlines. Hence, deals like Korean Air to Beijing, if credited to Alaska, will provide greater overall value towards status qualification.
If you are planning to take a big trip this year, consider planning your journey from Houston as a starting point to take advantage of great fare deals. You will also find that Houston has some other perks, such as an American Express Centurion Lounge which opened last year, and provides hot food service and showers, as well as a plethora of connecting flight options into the airport via United, Spirit and Southwest (if you’re willing to connect to Hobby airport).
Have you taken advantage of the fares into Houston? Let us know in the comments below!