Most rules for getting the best airfares to the Caribbean are the same as for air travel to other destinations: be flexible in your travel planning, check the web for the best fares, and subscribe to airline e-newsletters to keep up on last-minute deals and fare sales. About.com's Air Travel site offers more helpful tips. Bargain-hunters also can increase their odds of getting deals by:
Traditionally, the Caribbean has always been a more cost-friendly destination to travelers who buy air-land package deals than to independent travelers. It's not uncommon, for example, to find hotel deals that include airfare cheaper than the published prices for airfare alone on airline websites. Airlines, hotels, travel agencies, and even some destinations offer package deals that can save you big bucks on Caribbean travel.
Flying with Budget Airlines
San Juan is served by ATA Airlines and JetBlue; JetBlue also flies to Puerto Rico's regional Aguadilla and Ponce airports and Nassau, Bahamas plus flights to Bermuda and other destinations. Another discount carrier to check out is Spirit Airlines, serving Grand Cayman, Turks and Caicos, Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Nassau, Bahamas; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Thanks to its merger with AirTran, Southwest Airlines also is beginning to make inroads into the Caribbean, with flights to Nassau, San Juan, Punta Cana, Montego Bay, Bermuda, and Key West. In fact, Southwest has quickly become a major carrier to the Caribbean.
Arranging Travel via San Juan
Puerto Rico's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (Check Flights) has long been the region's major transportation hub, served not only by major U.S. carriers but by a number of regional carriers.
In some cases, it may be cheaper to book a cheap flight with a discount carrier to San Juan and then make arrangements to fly on a "puddle jumper" to one of the region's less-traveled islands than to fly directly or on both legs with a major U.S. carrier. Miami (Check Flights), Ft. Lauderdale (Check Flights), and St. Maarten (Check Flights) are also regional travel hubs that may provide cheaper flight combinations.
Checking Out Charters
Traveling Off Season
The best airfare deals to the Caribbean can usually be found in the offseason -- roughly mid-April to mid-December. In some cases, Caribbean destinations will offer "air credits" of up to $500 to help entice travelers during the off-season.
Go Where the Prices Are Low
The French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe have made a major splash in the U.S. tourism market by forging an unusual alliance with Norwegian Airlines, with some one-way airfares pegged below $100. That's just one example where travel costs can help determine your destination and offer the opportunity to discover an island you might not have considered otherwise.
Caribbean Trip and Vacation Planning
As with most air travel, be sure to book in advance to guarantee yourself a seat. Non-stop flights are generally more expensive, while multiple stop trips are on the cheaper end of things. Keep your eye out for special airline deals, and check in at GoCaribbean for upcoming monthly packages and specials from different resorts that may include travel or airfare expenses.