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Upstart Airlines Offer Downscale Fares


A hardy band of upstart airlines continues to make a gallant and largely successful fight for survival (although the inevitable shakeout has also occurred, and several names, such as Kiwi and Reno Air, have disappeared lately).

These low-cost airlines provide valuable price breaks to the flying public, nearly always undercutting the major carriers. But since they don't always appear on travel-agency computers or big Internet travel sites, a rundown of routes and costs might be useful when planning your next domestic trip.

* Air Tran, telephone (800) 247-8726, Internet

From its hub in Atlanta, it serves about 30 destinations in the eastern half of the United States: Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Walton Beach, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa); Georgia (Savannah); Illinois and Iowa (Chicago-Midway, Moline/Quad Cities); Indiana (Bloomington); Louisiana (New Orleans); Massachusetts (Boston); Michigan (Flint); Mississippi (Gulfport/Biloxi); New Jersey (Newark); New York (Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York-LaGuardia); North Carolina (Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem, Raleigh-Durham); Ohio (Akron/Canton, Dayton); Pennsylvania (Philadelphia); Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston-Hobby); Tennessee (Knoxville, Memphis); Virginia (Newport News/Williamsburg); and Washington-Dulles.

Ticket prices run about $54 per flying hour, with 14-day advance purchase. For the average round-trip walk-up fare, add about $130.

* ATA, tel. (800) 435-9282, Internet

This Chicago-based carrier has direct and connecting flights to Dallas; Dayton, Ohio; Denver; Des Moines, Iowa; the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Sarasota and St. Petersburg; Grand Rapids and Lansing, Mich.; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Madison and Milwaukee, Wis.; Los Angeles; New York City (JFK and LaGuardia); Philadelphia; Phoenix; and San Francisco.

ATA flies outside the continental United States to Honolulu and Maui; Cancun, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Irish cities of Dublin and Shannon.

Cost: about $75 per flying hour, with no set advance-purchase rules or specific charges for walk-ups; prices depend on availability.

* Frontier, tel. (800) 432-1359, Internet

Flying out of Denver, it'll get you to Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta; Baltimore/Washington; Boston; Bloomington, Ind.; Chicago-Midway; Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Omaha, Neb.; Orlando, Fla.; New York-La Guardia; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.

About $47 per flying hour, based on seven-day advance purchase; add $150 for the average walk-up.

* National Airlines, tel. (888) 757-5387, Internet

Based in Las Vegas, this carrier was established in 1999 and flies to Los Angeles and San Francisco; Chicago-Midway; Dallas/Fort Worth; New York-JFK and Newark; and Philadelphia.

About $55 per flying hour, based on 14-day advance purchase or, for some flights, seven-day advance purchase. For the average walk-up fare, add about $175.

* Proair, tel. (800) 939-9551, Internet

From a Detroit hub, it serves Atlanta; Baltimore/Washington; Chicago-Midway; Indianapolis; New York-La Guardia and Newark; Philadelphia; and Orlando, Fort Myers and St. Petersburg, Fla.

About $60 per flying hour with no added charge for walk-ups.

* Spirit Airlines, tel. (800) 772-7117, Internet

Its hub is in Detroit, from which it flies to Los Angeles; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Florida cities, including Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Melbourne, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach. But other routes link Atlantic City, N.J., to Cleveland, Ohio; Fort Lauderdale, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach; New York-LaGuardia to Fort Lauderdale, Myrtle Beach and Melbourne; New York-Newark to Fort Lauderdale, Myrtle Beach, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

About $70 per flying hour, but no advance-purchase rules or separate walk-up fares; prices depend on availability.

* Sun Country, tel. (800) 752-1218, Internet Formerly just a Minneapolis-based charter airline, it now has regularly scheduled flights not just to Northern cities like Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles, but also to the eponymous "sun country" of Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth, Harlingen, Houston, San Antonio); Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa/St. Petersburg); Arizona (Phoenix); Nevada (Las Vegas and Laughlin); and California (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco).

Approximately $50 per flying hour, based on seven-day advance purchase; walk-ups add $40.

* Vanguard Airlines, tel. (800) 826-4827, Internet

It flies out of Kansas City, Mo., and Chicago-Midway to Atlanta; Buffalo, N.Y.; Dallas/Fort Worth; Denver; Cincinnati; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Myrtle Beach; and Pittsburgh.

About $50 per flying hour, based on 21-day advance purchase. For the average round-trip walk-up, add about $175.

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