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Ski Sale from American Airlines

American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is having a sale to/from top ski destinations like Jackson Hole, Gunnison, Vail, and Steamboat Springs. It's rarely cheap to fly to these places, and while some of these may be a tad higher than previous "ski-town" sales we've seen from American, they're still currently the best on offer. Travel is valid Sunday through Wednesdays, through April 4, but avoid blackout periods March 11-13, and 18-20. Fares require a 2-night or Sunday night minimum stay.

Purchase by 11:59pm CT, March 10. Round-trip fares include:

Family Ties Sale from Direct Air

Save on family travel with the Family Ties Sale from Direct Air (tel. 877/432-3473; www.visitdirectair.com). Purchase a flight voucher for just $169 round-trip, incl. all taxes and fees, valid for travel along any DirectAir route. Purchase up to 20 vouchers. You're not required to provide the names of passengers at time of purchase, so tickets are transferable to any friend or family member. Vouchers are good for travel from May 1 through April 30 of 2012. No blackout dates!

Purchases include Family Ties Passport membership, and a $109 round-trip airfare including all taxes. Passport Membership benefits include complimentary coach seat selection, 50 percent off First-Class upgrades within 48 hours of departure (when available), pre-boarding and reduced change/cancellation fee of $50 per person. However, members are still subject to baggage fees.

In case you're unsure, Direct Air cities include Springfield IL, Rockford, Kalamazoo, Toledo, Columbus OH, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Niagara Falls, Plattsburgh, Worcester, Newark, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Melbourne, Ft Myers/Punta Gorda, and Boca Raton/The Palm Beaches area.

You'll find a step-by-step guide on booking this deal on VisitDirectAir.com.

Sun Country's Spring Fare Sale

Sun Country's (tel. 800/752-1218; www.suncountry.com) Spring Fare Sale is good for travel to/from both Minneapolis and Lansing, from April 5 through June 7. Fares are valid for travel into or out of Dallas, Harlingen, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, and San Diego. Avoid blackout dates May 26 through May 30. Tickets require a 7-day advance purchase.

Service schedules vary by route, with certain seasonal destinations beginning as late as May 5. Check suncountry.com for service schedules.

Interested? All round-trip tickets must be booked by 11:59pm CT, March 3.

Fat Tuesday Sale from AirTran

AirTran's (tel. 800/AIR-TRAN; www.airtran.com) Fat Tuesday Sale is valid for travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through May 24. For travel to the Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico, fares are valid on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Tickets require a 10-day advance purchase. Avoid blackout dates: April 21-25, 30, and May 1, and -- if traveling to/from Florida -- March 10 through April 4. For international travel, blackout dates are March 12, 13, 18-20, 26, April 2, 21-25, 30, and May 1.

All bookings must be made by 11:59pm ET, March 3.

Round-trip fares include:

Buying Miles: Is It Ever Worth It?

Airline loyalty programs provide a host of perks for frequent flyers, but is it ever worth forking over money for miles without flying? Most domestic airlines offer a purchase miles program, but the costs can be pretty steep. Some airlines allow you to top up your account in conjunction with a paid flight, but those miles can be even more expensive. So when is it ever worth it to pay outright for miles?

Selling loyalty miles is a huge moneymaker for airlines since it is essentially costing them nothing to give you miles. While they do cost the airline a small amount (since they are now a liability on its balance sheet until you redeem them), it is a great way for them to build ancillary revenue. Ahh, there's that famous term that is so prevalent in today's airline industry. Yet, this may be a wise move on your part. Let's examine.

From the Mailbag: Miles for Seats, Just not Upgrades?

Q: It seems that the major U.S. airlines (Delta, American and Continental) will allow you to use their miles to get "free" business class tickets either on their own international flights or the flights of European partners, but will allow upgrades from coach to business class only on their "own" flights, i.e. flights of the U.S. airline on which you have earned the miles.

This must have something to do with negotiated arrangements between the U.S. airline and the overseas partner. It seems to me that the "partner" airlines would be more willing to give up an upgraded seat which generates some revenue, than a so-called "free" seat, and that correspondingly the U.S. airline would have to "pay" the partner less for the upgraded seat than the "free" seat?

So what I am missing about this picture?

A: Read on.

Additional reporting by Tracy W. Stewart and Ramsey Qubein

George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and blogger whose website, www.airfarewatchdog.com, tracks unadvertised airfare wars and fare sales, including the most helpful and always updated Top 50 Airfares.

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