The kid flew to Spain overnight on a rock-bottom student fare. I’m gonna get me a Whatsammata U sweatshirt, a beer mug and a fake ID because I want in on one of these deals.
The site she used, STA Travel, got her a one-way flight on Iberia* from JFK to Madrid for $241, including taxes and fees. It’s a very good deal but, on the face of it, not a completely extraordinary one. Iberia would have sold a round-trip ticket for about double the price of that one-way ticket.
What Iberia wouldn’t do, though, was sell a one-way ticket for under $1,000. And the kid wanted a one-way ticket because she’s uncertain about her return date.
Even on round-trip fares, STA Travel offers extra flexibility. Its fee for a ticket change is just $25 , which is far less than the airlines usually charge. (Iberia charges $200.)
These fares aren’t for everyone, though. To qualify for STA Travel’s reduced rates you have to be a full-time student or under 26 years old. And I’m not at all sure the college sweatshirt is going to convince anyone.
There are other student travel sites with different criteria. At Student Universe, for example, some reduced fares are extended to college faculty members.
* Iberia just reported its 11th straight profitable year. I’m not sure whether this is related to the text message I received after the kid boarded her flight: "Wow! Criminally tight seat pitch!"