Having lived the past thirty years in Los Angeles, I can say it's one of my favorite cities in the world. NYC is in many ways very different from LA: densely populated, cold in the winter, and there's a lot more hustle and bustle on out the streets. For the past few years, I've found myself being drawn powerfully to New York City and have made the trip out from LA 5-6 times a year.
Having succumbed to the Big Apple's charms, I've had to figure out ways to get there on the cheap. One particularly easy and effective way has been with the 50,000 mile sign up bonus with the Barclays Lufthansa Mastercard. One of the great values of this program is the business class redemptions within the Continental US for 17,000 miles each way. After meeting the minimum spend on the card, you have miles good for three one way transcontinental flights on the new premium service lay flat business class seating on United. Alternatively, you can squeeze out four segments in economy, but I'd rather just pay for flights in coach. The 50,000 mile signup isn't available right now, but I'd suggest jumping on it whenever it comes up.
Speaking of economy flights: there's another trick that I've been employing to get really cheap airfare. Those of you who've flown into the New York area know that there are three major airports in the area: JFK, La Guardia (LGA) and Newark (EWR). However, there's a little known airport code called "ZFV". This is essentially a non-stop flight into Newark and then an Amtrak train ride to the rail station in Philadelphia.
Basically, this is a prime example of the "hidden-city ticketing" trick that I wrote about last week. Many times I found $109 one way segments from LAX – ZFV, although the same effective flights from LAX – EWR were going for $229 and above. Additionally, United can't track if you got on the train ride or not, so you're basically free from any drama the airline would normally give you flying too many hidden city tickets. Finally, you can check bags on the ZFV flights because all passengers have to pick up their luggage even if they really need to take the train ride into Philly from Newark.
This is one of the best "hidden city" tickets that I know of right now. Although the ZFV segments currently aren't any cheaper than normal EWR flights, keep an eye out for these during future flights to New York. You may be surprised at how much money you can save.