Help Broomstick Book an Airline Flight

As I no longer have the resources to rent an entire airplane for myself I must {{{shudder}}} consider the airlines. Have pity, people - I haven’t had to fly commercial for a decade. Oh the changes! I think I can handle leaving weaponry at home (I don’t normally carry any anyhow) and deal with being asked to remove my shoes and I’ll check the TSA List of Forbidden Items before packing. What has me stumped it figuring out how to book that flight.

Yes! You, too, can help Broomstick fly again! Granted, it will be in coach instead of cockpit… :frowning:

Anyhoo - I can depart from either Chicago Midway OR South Bend, Indiana (South Bend is, in many ways, easier to get to, but whatever). The destination is Buffalo, New York.

Every site I look at wants me to name a firm depart/arrive date. Actually, since price is paramount (well, safety first, but next on the list is price…) I will happily arrange the days of travel to achieve the lowest fare. In many ways a direct flight would make me happiest, but I could tolerate switching airplanes once (as long as there’s a reasonable interval between landing/departing)


Please enlighten me as to this aspect of aviation!

Use Priceline.

Put in flexible dates and it will give you the approx rate for the day.

You can also search by price.

Edit: Nonstop flight next week is only 170 dollars.

On Travelocity, simply click the “my dates are flexible” radio button seen on the homepage search function, which will search months at a go – or the +/- 1-3 days which gives a grid of three days in either direction for both outbound and return.

Broomstick, I hope it’s a good thing that’s got you up in the air.

Best wishes for a safe and fulfilling journey. :slight_smile:

Just out of curiosity, was renting an airplane ever really an alternative to flying commercial? It seems like unless you’re renting a jet or something, it’d only be moderately faster than driving. And are there companies that let you do one-way rentals or would you have to have the plane rented out for your entire trip?

Maybe I’m being a little Western-states centric, but isn’t Indiana to Buffalo that only like 300-some miles? Why not pilot your own landcraft? With having to get to the airport an hour ahead of time on either end, I’ll bet it’ll be close to a wash time wise, and cheaper to boot.

I routinely drive to visit family about 600 miles away and even though it’s a couple of hours faster all told to fly, I think it’s completely worth saving the aggravation of commercial aviation.

You can also take an Amtrak, for $58 each way (assuming the trip is more than 2 weeks away and not during the runup to Christmas). The South Bend - Buffalo trip takes 9 hours and runs overnight on the route (11:30 pm - 8:30 AM)

Yes. The family is trying to arrange for me to visit dad and one of my sisters when no one is seriously ill, dying, etc. A purely social family visit.

First of all, if you’re piloting a general aviation aircraft you DO NOT have to be at the airport an hour before the flight! (It’s not like that Cessna is gonna take off without the pilot, ya know?) With the local airport only a 10 minute ride away, indefinite free parking for the car, and 20 minutes for preflight and other such things it was typically a half an hour from my front door to airborne.

Not only did I have access to airplanes that could cruise 2-3 times highway speeds, I could usually fly a straight line from point to point and thus avoid all the curvy bits in the road. That means a 6 hour drive could drop to 3 hours or even 2 hours - an enormous time saver.

When you consider that just getting to the airport for a commercial flight was usually 1.5-2 hours, plus, getting there an hour early for security/check in, plus the time from commercial airport to actual destination… well, from my home to Detroit via commercial airline was about 5-6 hours door to door, or no faster than a car (and much more hassle!) On the other hand, even one of the slower planes I flew could make the trip in a mere two hours flight time, making for about 3 hours door-to-door or about half the time.

No, it’s not cheaper. What you’re saving is time and commercial airline hassle. You’re not saving money, or general aviation hassles.

FYI from my location to Buffalo is actually about 500 miles by road (gotta account for the twists and turns).

If my husband comes with me the trip will be by car and also involve our birds. If, however, he stays home then in many ways it’s much easier to just put me on an airplane.

I’m a general aviation pilot, and I’ve done a few pretty long trips in light aircraft. It is a pleasant alternative to driving or airline flights, but I think it is only viable if you can be flexible on when to travel. I consider weather to be the limiting factor. Most light aircraft do not have the performance to climb above the weather like airliners do. Many of them also lack onboard weather radar and the equipment to handle icing. These factors can cause the plane to be grounded for days at a time, especially during winter.

I’m surprised no one’s mentioned

You can choose everything you want on a sliding scale, and it will give you results based on your chosen criteria.

Southwest Airlines flies that route, and it may be the cheapest way to fly. Note that I don’t think you can buy tickets on Southwest via most of the usual websites (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.).

I miss the good old days, too - nearly 30 years ago I used to do computer consulting for a non-US carrier, and I had a stack of tickets (back when they were the red carbon-paper ones) that were OPEN*3 (any departure airport / any arrival airport / any date/time) and which were honored on all of the “real” US carriers (not on carriers like People Express). And that carrier once chartered a 747 from Air Canada to fly me and a few stranded travel agents back to the US (the carrier’s 747 did double duty as their country’s version of Air Force one for their king, and would be unavailable for scheduled flights on occasion due to that).

As far as I know, Southwest does not sell tickets on any partner or third-party travel website.

However, has recently started returning Southwest flights (info only) in their search results, so you can click through and buy directly from The advantage, of course, is that you can use’s filters to find all flights, including Southwest.

Seconding Kayak. It provides the most options, too many at some times.

Many sites, including the one I linked to above, allow you to select flexible dates (usually +/- 3 days), and allows you to select Low Fare dates.

I of all people hate to be the one to bring this up, but if cost really is a primary consideration, it really isn’t all that far a drive. Plus, you’ll have your own ground transportation when you get there.

Thirding Kayak. It’s simply brilliant in its simplicity. I use the UK version almost exclusively now.

Top Kayak tip for newbies: once you’ve performed your initial search, you can adjust many different criteria with the tools on the left-hand side of the page, and it updates the results in real time.

If you’re a broomstick, can’t you just… ahhh, never mind.

With travelocity you can also check a box that lets you search surrounding airports so you should be able to search Midway and South Bend at the same time. Click the Advanced Search options link. However, you won’t be able to do this and flexible dates at the same time.

I’m going to add to the Kayak love, that site is the best I’ve found for what you want to do. I will also search nearby airports, as well as +/- 3 days.

If you’re really not getting anywhere you could get a travel agent to quote for you.

Alternatively just try working out which is the cheapest airline for a given day/time, then go poking around their site to see if you can make it cheaper.

It don’t know if internal US flights are the same as international but on international flights the cheapest are return fly on mid-week days and involve you staying away for a Saturday night. The only exception tends to be popular commuter flights that get booked up, flying in the middle of the day tends to avoid the business crowd.


I would pay to see a flight of a SpaceDog riding a Broomstick.