Atlanta to Rio for $610 RT
Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is offering a $610 round-trip fare between Atlanta and Rio de Janeiro for departures through December 10, 2005 or between February 5 and March 31, 2006, with the last day of return on April 30, 2006. No advance purchase is required for this fare, but it requires a Saturday night minimum and a 30-day maximum stay. With a last minute departure on December 1, returning on December 13, the total fare is $698 round-trip, while the next lowest fare on Travelocity is $934 round-trip with Continental. Even if you travel during Rio de Janeiro's Carnaval (from February 25 to 28), departing on February 25 and returning on March 8, you'll get the same fare of $698 round-trip. And while the next lowest fare on Travelocity is not that much higher, at $717 round-trip via American, the Delta flights are non-stop, whereas the American flights require a change of planes. So these Delta fares are indeed a bargain. Availability for December and January departures is very limited, but if you plan your travel in February or March, which is the tail end of their summer, you'll get more choices.
Discount on Mileage Upgrade With Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines (tel. 800/525-3663; www.japanair.com) is offering a huge discount for travelers planning to use miles to upgrade to business class from Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco and Vancouver to Japan, when traveling between January 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006. The miles required for the upgrade in this promotion is 15,000 miles versus the typical 25,000. A round-trip upgrade is 30,000 miles instead of the usual 50,000. In addition, you'll receive double miles for your flights. However, you have to act fast, as this promotion is only valid through December 1, 2005. The downside is that you're only allowed to use Japan Airlines mileage (not that of partner airlines) for this promotion.
December Travel Sale to/from D.C.
Independence Air (tel. 800/359-3594; www.flyi.com) is having a sale for travel all of December to and from Washington, D.C.-Dulles. Fares start as low as $39 one-way (to/from Charleston, WV versus $94 one-way on Continental), and go up to $89 one-way (to/from Las Vegas, but you can get a $79 one-way fare on Travelocity through ATA, United and, ironically, even on Independence). Valid for travel between December 4 and January 3, 2006, with blackouts on December 21 to 23, 26 and 27, 2005. This is a pretty good sale, depending on destination, but the plus side is that Independence offers non-stop service, whereas other airlines offer connecting service or one stoppers. Availability is good as of this writing, and other airlines may be matching by the time you're ready to book. Tickets must be booked by December 1.
AirTran's Big Winter Sale
AirTran (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtranairways.com) is having a huge sale covering all their destinations (including Grand Bahama Island), with fares starting as low as $39 one-way (round-trip purchase not required). As always, AirTran sales are the real deal (with a few not so good fares thrown in here and there), with big savings on some routes and just a few dollars on others: Boston to/from Dallas is $109 one-way during the sale versus $139 round-trip on United; Chicago midway to/from Freeport is $74 one-way versus $104 one-way on Delta; Houston to/from Miami is $109 one-way versus $268 round-trip on American, Continental, Delta and Northwest; and so on. Typically the coast-to-coast fares aren't as good as the shorter hops: San Francisco to/from New York-LaGuardia is $149 one-way, but on Travelocity you can find an AirTran fare for $134 one-way albeit with different restrictions, or a $218 round-trip fare on ATA. For the lowest fares, travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for travel through March 1, 2006. A 10-day advance purchase is required. Blackouts on December 21 to 23, 26 to 30 2005; January 2, 3; February 16, 17 and 20, 2006. Tickets must be purchased by December 15, 2005. We expect other airlines to match this sale on many routes, although they may require a round-trip purchase.
Big Southwest Sale to/from San Diego
Southwest Airlines' (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com) weekly Click 'n Save specials are highlighting San Diego this week, but many other destinations are included and some competitors are matching. San Diego to/from Ft. Lauderdale is $114 one-way, no round-trip purchase required (versus $119 one-way on other major airlines); San Diego to/from Las Vegas is $34 one-way (versus $49 one-way on US Airways); and San Diego to/from New Orleans is $124 one-way (versus $143 one-way on American). Fares range from $34 to $124 one-way and as always you may do better with a Southwest Ding fare. Purchase by December 1, midnight Pacific Time; travel December 20 through March 31; and comply with the 21-day advance purchase requirement. These fares are available only on Southwest's site.
ATA System-Wide Sale
ATA (tel. 800/435-9282; www.ata.com) is having a huge sale to practically every destination it serves, with fares starting from $98 round-trip. This is a very good sale, since there's still a lot of availability left: Phoenix to/from Maui is $456 (including taxes and fees) round-trip non-stop versus $482 on United with a plane change; Chicago midway to Cancun is $266 round-trip non-stop versus $305 on United with a plane change. Most of the sale fares are indeed lower, although some of them will save you a mere $20 or so. A 10-day advance purchase is required for travel through February 14, 2006, and tickets must be purchased by December 6, 2005. Blackouts on certain routes apply, so check the site for complete details.
Five Percent Discount on United Fares
United Airlines (tel. 800/864-8331; www.united.com) is offering Mileage Plus Visa Card holders a five percent discount on all published economy class fares (United, United Express and Ted flights only, no code shares) in all booking classes for travel from the 50 United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands to all United destinations worldwide, for travel from January 1, 2006 through March 31, 2006. Reservations must be made by December 5, 2005. To identify your discount, look for the "Mileage Plus Fare" icon (which looks like a United logo) in your search results. To book, log onto www.united.com/membersonly.
George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and blogger whose website, www.airfarewatchdog.com, tracks unadvertised airfare wars and other fare sales.
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