5 Lesser-Known, Low-Cost Airlines That Fly to the Beach and Beyond

by  Kristine Hansen | Updated on May 24, 2019
Plane flying over a beach
Plane flying over a beach / Tomwang112/iStock

You already know that most major airlines can easily get you to Mexico, Florida, and the Caribbean in time for sunset cocktails. However, these flights can be costly  especially in high season. If you’re looking to save some money on a warm-weather escape, consider booking a flight on one of these five smaller and more affordable carriers. Here’s everything you need to know about these airlines, as well as where they service, what their policies are, and other nitty-gritty details.

1. Sun Country Airlines

This Minnesota-based airline has been flying to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida for more than 35 years and currently offers non-stop service from Minneapolis, Dallas, Las Vegas, and St. Louis. From St. Louis, travelers can escape to Tampa for as low as $147 round-trip on nonstop flights beginning in December, 2019. Sun Country Airlines also offers flights to the beaches of Fort Myers, Florida; Miami, Florida; Cancun, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico; Huatulco, Mexico; Mazatlán, Mexico; Los Cabos, Mexico; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The airline also flies to Aruba, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Belize. Carry-on and checked bags cost $30 each if you reserve online, and $40 at the airport.

2. Allegiant Air

This Las Vegas-based airline has “cheap flightsas its tagline, so you know you’re getting a good deal. Allegiant Air services smaller airports near big cities, including Chicago (RFD in Rockford, IL); Washington, D.C. (BWI in Baltimore, MD); and New York City (EWR in Newark, NJ); as well as 18 other U.S. destinations. Additionally, the airline offers flights to warm-weather destinations like Phoenix, Arizona; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Palm Springs, California; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. We found direct round-trip fares as low as $217 between Chicago and Phoenix. The catch: Only one personal item is included in your fare, and it must fit under the seat in front of you. Checked and carry-on bags cost extra (between $18 and $45, depending on the route), but you can reserve in advance for added savings. 

3. Volaris

Looking for a cheap way to get to Latin America?  Consider booking a flight on Volaris, which services around 75 U.S. cities and Central American destinations, including San Jose, Costa Rica; San Salvador, El Salvador; and 40 Mexican cities. We found direct one-way fares from Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta starting at just $89 in July. Also, consider becoming a v.club member. You'll get discounted prices, as well as two complimentary carry-on bags (no more than 22 lbs. between the two bags).  

4. Caribbean Airlines

As its name suggests, Caribbean Airlines provides affordable flights to – you guessed it – the Caribbean. It's also the state-owned airline for Trinidad and Tobago, a lesser-known, under-the-radar Caribbean island nation. Direct round-trip flights between New York City and Port of Spain (Trinidad) cost around $1,000 round-trip for economy non-flex, which includes a free carry-on and checked bag. Alternatively, you can fly from Toronto for just $600 round-trip. Caribbean Airlines also services St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Jamaica (Kingston and Montego Bay); Barbados; Antigua; Cuba (Havana); St. Lucia; Nassau (the Bahamas); St. Maarten; and Grenada.

5. Cayman Airways

The first thing you need to know about this airline is that service is largely seasonal (expect to find the most flights in the winter). Direct routes between Chicago, Denver, and New York City to Grand Cayman only operate between early-November through early-March, and the only daily route is between New York City and Grand Cayman. However, if you live in the Midwest, it may be worth it to book your trip within this narrow window, as the non-stop flights will save you hours in travel time. We found one-way economy flights from Chicago to Grand Cayman from just $211 in April. Looking to travel to other Caribbean hotspots? You’re in luck: The airline also services Cuba, Jamaica, and Honduras.


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