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Expense reports are pushing envelop too hardTraveling for business is not cheap. The days of the six-figure expense account are long gone. Five-star client dinners, four-star hotels, three-martini lunches, two tickets to the local NBA game since you’re in town, and one Lexus rental car are a bit too much to put on the boss man’s dime in today’s business climate. It’s hard breaking the addiction to the cherished triple C: the Company Credit Card.

To hold on to as much as you can, why not fly cheap? Sure, the major carriers have a few nice perks, but really, all you’re doing is sitting there. It’s a simple choice: do you want an extra pillow on the plane, or do you want to watch Kobe dunk? Of course, that choice is obvious. So ironically, in the spirit of preserving corporate excess, here are five super-cheap airlines that are great for business trips.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airplanes airplane in the air

  • Flies: Airbus
  • Operations: Western Hemisphere
  • Destinations: 52 Cities
  • Hubs: Detroit, Dallas – Ft. Worth, Chicago, Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale

In operation since 1980, this is one of the first no-frills carriers in the United States. Their claim to fame? Dirty advertising. Google Image search “Spirit Air promotions” for some stuff we can’t print here.

AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways Plane on a runway

  • Flies: Boeing
  • Operations: US, Mexico, Caribbean
  • Destinations: 57 Cities
  • Hubs: Baltimore/Washington, Atlanta, Orlando, Milwaukee

Formerly ValueJet, AirTran is popular, even being patronized by major sports teams like the Orlando Magic. Their claim to fame? They like to play in turbulence. Google “AirTran turbulence 1998” for some interesting stories.

Frontier Airlines

Fronteir Airplane on a ground

  • Flies: Airbus
  • Operations: North and Central America
  • Destinations: 74 cities
  • Hubs: Denver, Trenton

Not to be confused with the 1950s Frontier Airline, this Frontier started in 1994. Their claim to fame? They went bankrupt and were acquired by Republic Airways yet somehow managed to keep their name.

Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air Airplane in the air

  • Flies: Airbus, MacDonald Douglas
  • Operations: United States
  • Destinations: 79 cities
  • Hubs: Honolulu, Phoenix, St Petersburg/Tampa, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Oakland, Bellingham (Seattle area), Myrtle Beach, Punta Gorda

This one is pretty popular and serves a lot of the smaller markets. Their claim to fame? Every ticket is one-way. You have to book a return flight separately. While this may seem like a hassle, it can actually save you money and make your trip more flexible.

Vision Airlines

Vision Airline airplane in the air

  • Flies: Airbus
  • Operations: Southeastern US
  • Destinations: 3
  • Hubs: St Petersburg/Tampa, Orlando, Biloxi

Basically a regional carrier, these guys have downsized A LOT, down to just three destinations. Their claim to fame? At this point, simply being in business!

There are a few others you have likely never heard of, such as Sun Country, which is a regional carrier in the Florida area, and People Express, which has been resurrected and expects to begin flying again later in 2013.
As great as discount airlines are, a lack of widespread availability, much like the carriers detailed above, will lead you back to the big guys from time to time. If you do have to go that route, remember Jet Blue, Southwest, and Virgin America. These are major carriers for the most part – certainly just as popular – but they offer significantly lower rates and fees than the likes of United and Delta.

Featured images:

The author Chris Turberville-Tully works with ESA Serviced Apartments in the UK. ESA provides travelers a more economic option than hotels. Serviced apartments are also roomier and are furnished.

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