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Ski Sale from United

Save on winter trips to top Colorado ski destinations, with United's (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) new Ski Sale. Travel from Jan. 24 through April 10. Offer is valid for flights to Hayden/Steamboat Springs on Sunday through Tuesday, returning Tuesday through Friday. Fares require a 3-night minimum stay (Friday or Saturday night stays will suffice), with a maximum stay of 30 days. Tickets must be purchased 14 days prior to departure.

Round-trip fares must be booked by Jan. 31, and include:

February Sale to Europe from Aer Lingus

Need a ride to Europe next month? Aer Lingus (tel. 800/223-6537; www.aerlingus.com) has lowered fares for winter travel from select U.S. cities. Depart from New York, Boston, or Chicago, from Feb. 2 through Feb. 28, Monday through Thursday. Tack on an additional $15 for weekend travel. Tickets require a 7-day advance purchase. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights. Discounted tickets are not eligible for frequent flyer points.

Tickets must be booked by 7pm ET, Jan. 24, at www.aerlingus.com.

Round-trip fares include:

Save on Travel to New Zealand

Depending on where you live, it might pain you -especially now- to even consider spending a few days of your precious summer someplace where it's winter. Ah, but what if that place is New Zealand? Both Air New Zealand and Qantas just so happen to have sales from select US cities.

Air New Zealand's (tel. 800/262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com) Airpass starts at $848 round-trip, for travel to Auckland from May 1 through June 8. Add additional stops in up to 3 other New Zealand cities for $998. For those looking to cheat winter, Airpasses are also available for travel from Feb. 21 through March 31 for $1,048 (or including 3 stops for $1,198), as well as April 1 through April 30 for $1,098 (or including 3 stops for $1,248). Additional stopovers are available for purchase at $100 per stopover.

Tickets must be purchased at least 2 days prior to departure. Changes are permitted for $150 change penalty per person subject to booking class availability. A service fee of $50 USD per person will apply to changes.

Sale ends Jan. 31, 2011.

Meanwhile, Qantas (tel. 800/227-4500; www.qantas.com) is offering a similar deal for travel from the US to New Zealand, with the option to add stopovers at $100 per stop. Travel is valid from May 1 through June 8. Fares must be purchased by Feb. 1.

Round-trip fares include:

Our Fave (and Not So Fave) Destinations for 2011

It's always fun to read other people's lists of the 10, 20 or 41 places you must visit in the new year. The choices are always interesting to say the least, and by nature very personal. This year's New York Times list has some places I won't be rushing off to any time soon. Kosovo? Um, no. I honestly think some of the destinations in these lists are just there for shock value or because they weren't in previous lists and the compilers don't want to repeat themselves. Me, I'm all for repetition and I'm just not that adventurous. There, I said it.

I've been just about everywhere I've ever really wanted to go in my 20 or so years as a travel writer for magazines such as National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure, and as the jetsetting founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, so here's my list not of the places you must visit in 2011 (I'm not making recommendations, because, frankly, we haven't met), but the places I'd go back to again and again, followed by some places I haven't visited yet but wouldn't mind seeing, and a couple places I'm not rushing back to. Do take a look, and feel free to add your own.

From the Mailbag: Why Did United Offer Me an Upgrade?

Q: I have flown United a lot and have never been offered a last-minute upgrade opportunity at check-in to first class while vacationing. However, when my company sent me to Vancouver for a business trip, I got asked at every leg of the flight upon check-in. I happily forked over the $70 to enjoy the privileges, at least on one leg of my journey (and it worth was worth every penny, I might add). The Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada have self-serve beer on tap (Molson -- how very Canadian)!

My question: did United somehow know I was on business? Are they trying to woo me and turn me into a loyal United flyer? I personally didn't buy the ticket, rather it was my company's travel vendor (Carlson-Wagonlit). Did they happen to buy an upgradeable fare code? Maybe it's a fare that only travel agents can buy? If so, how do I buy the right fare code? Y, B, M, E, U, H Q? It's all gibberish to me.

A: Read on.

Additional reporting by Tracy W. Stewart and Ricky Radka

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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