Yesterday, I flew from Missoula to Des Moines on United Airlines. My ticket cost just over $1000. I have flown United for the past five Christmases, and they have stranded me overnight six times. I would fly some other airline, but United’s merger with Continental and Delta’s merger with Northwest/KLM means there are only two carriers serving that route, and United is usually cheaper. Their secret to keeping fares low is to take your money in advance and then do whatever.