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The sheer number of low-cost options may be better than ever at Northwest Arkansas National Airport, and it’s not just the low-cost carriers offering great deals.

Using the online tool Google Flights, it’s easy to find more than 30 cities that can be reached from XNA for less than $250 roundtrip.

The long list includes the low-cost carriers’ trips to cities that often have super affordable options such as Las Vegas, Denver and Orlando, but the legacy carriers are well represented, too. They are selling deeply discounted seats on planes leaving for Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York and other cities.

The discounting is happening because the low-cost carriers are competing to gain passengers’ attention as the busy summer travel season transitions to fall, a time when it’s more difficult to lure leisure travelers.

That’s coupled with much more low-cost service being available at XNA as Allegiant Air, Breeze Airways and Frontier Airlines have added new flights. Flights to Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans and St. Pete/Clearwater have already started, and XNA by year’s end will see the low-cost carriers add new nonstop flights to Houston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Punta Gorda to the map.

Additionally, XNA’s legacy carriers (American, Delta and United) aren’t able to pack their planes with business travelers like they traditionally do in the fall because many of those travelers remain sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s left the legacy airlines offering inexpensive airfares to the fewer-than-usual business travelers who remain on the move and hoping to add leisure travelers to the mix.

More than 30 low-cost options is a ton to sort through, so FareFlightNWA set out to identify the best of the best. These are the destinations we’d favor if we were planning a leisure trip before year’s end.

We didn’t include any destinations that require long layovers to meet the less-than-$250 goal. That’s why you won’t find Frontier’s affordable trips to Reno, Portland and some other western cities on our list.

Keep in mind that prices change rapidly in the world of airlines. If 10 seats on a flight get sold before you start planning your own trip, it’s likely to become more expensive.

We’d favor:

  • New York. The Big Apple hasn’t been a nonstop from XNA for months, and it’s past time to go there. American and Delta restart the nonstops to LaGuardia in September. American, for example, goes nonstop for $219 roundtrip if you travel Sept. 16-20 from XNA-LGA.
  • Boise. You didn’t see this one coming, did you? United and American are selling XNA-BOI for $235 and $239, respectively. Travel dates are Sept. 16-22. United is the best option because it requires just one stop; American means two stops. That picture at the top is Boise, just so you know.
  • Charleston. Delta is selling trips to the historic city on Sept. 9-15 for $199 roundtrip. It’s almost as cool as Northwest Arkansas, and a short layover in Atlanta isn’t too bad.
  • Tampa. Florida has a ton of low-cost options from XNA (we counted 13 cities for less than $250), but we favor Breeze Airways at $186 roundtrip to TPA. Target early November when there are a few options at that price. It’s a nonstop, and the airline has no change or cancellation fees. The remarkable Breeze flexibility is valuable.
  • Texas. Hard to pick just one destination in the Lone Star State, so we cheated. It’s our list, after all. Texas has a combination of low-cost carrier flights to three cities at our price point and then one more that’s way more affordable than it was a couple of years ago. A Sept. 16-22 nonstop to Dallas/Fort Worth on American is $173. That’s really good. Other Texas options: Austin from Sept. 10-17 on Allegiant ($72); Houston from Dec. 3-10 on Allegiant ($70); and San Antonio on a whole lot of days in October and November on Breeze ($78).
  • Honorable mention: Denver on Frontier ($98 on Oct. 7-10); Chicago on United ($189 on Sept. 16-19); and Phoenix/Mesa on Allegiant ($96 on Oct. 7-10).