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may 19

New budget airline Vision delivers cheap fares

A new tiny airline called Vision—one that has yet to show up on Expedia or Kayak—is expanding service to so-called second-tier cities nationwide. For residents of cities like St. Louis, and Little Rock, Ark., the great news is that affordable flights to sunny destinations in the lovely American south are now within reach. Sample fare: About $398 round-trip between Atlanta and Las Vegas via Destin, Fla. (plus taxes and fees).

Here's the skinny: Late last year, Vision Airlines, based in Suwanee, Ga., started flying regularly scheduled service on a couple of routes. It is now developing a connecting hub in Destin, Fla. On June 1, it plans to start serving a longer list of airports that will include Atlanta; Louisville; Chattanooga; Gulfport; Ft. Lauderdale; Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda; Knoxville; Lafayette, La.; Las Vegas; Little Rock; Niagara Falls; Orlando Sanford; Savannah; St. Louis; and St. Petersburg. For example, an Atlanta passenger has 13 destinations to choose from, but not all of the cities that Vision serves.

Vision flies a mix of prop planes and Boeing 737 jets, notes the New York Times. Also, the airline "is subject to the same safety and maintenance regulations as their larger counterparts."

Before you book a ticket, know that flights may not be frequent—some routes don't have daily service. So if there's a flight cancellation, you may be stuck for days. Think twice before booking one of these flights for a vital trip, such as to your daughter's wedding.

Small airlines are also prone to going out of business (remember Skybus?). The airline is trying to create a "hub" at Destin-Fort Walton Beach in northern Florida, notes USA Today.

But if you pay with a credit card, as most people do when buying plane tickets, you'll be able to get a refund if the airline vanishes.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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