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New Nonstop Service from the Bay Area to Maui & Kona

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/426-0333; www.alaskaair.com) now offers nonstop service between San Jose and Kahului-Maui and Kona. Flights between San Jose and Kahului-Maui operate three times a week, with service between Sacramento and Kona operating four times a week. Alaska will also begin service between Sacramento and Kahului-Maui, starting March 26. Introductory fares are available starting at $179 one-way, for travel from April 25 through June 10, Mondays through Thursdays.

Round-trip fares must be purchased by March 18 and include:

Allegiant's New Service to Hawaii

Big news from Allegiant Air (tel. 702/505-8888; www.allegiantair.com) this week, as they announce plans to expand service to Hawaii. The carrier will add six Boeing 757-200 aircraft to their fleet of 46 MD-80s, two of which will be delivered within the next two months and, according to a press release from Allegiant, be placed into service by the fourth quarter. Another plane will be delivered in November 2010, followed by another in January 2011, with the final two aircraft put into service in 2012.

This is great news for travelers living in and around those smaller markets currently served by Allegiant, where affordable fares to Hawaii are few and far between. Allegiant hopes to begin service once regulation requirements have been met, so stay tuned for dates and introductory fares.

Washington, D.C. Sale from United

Visit D.C. this spring, just in time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. United's (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) D.C. sale is good for daily travel through June 9. Fares require a 14-day advance purchase, as well as a Saturday night minimum stay.

Round-trip fares include:

Last Chance: Summer Sale from Aer Lingus

What's the deal with summer fares to Europe? Everyone wants to know, and if winter fares are any indication, well, we imagine (with capacity cuts and so on) it could get pretty pricey. That's why this summer sale from Aer Lingus (tel. 800/223-6537; www.aerlingus.com) seems pretty reasonable, with early summer fares going for barely more than they did for winter travel, at least along some routes. Round-trip fares are valid for travel on Monday through Thursday, from June 1 through June 15. Sale ends at 7 p.m. ET, March 12, so you'd better hurry.

New Service, New Sales from Midwest

Midwest Airlines (tel. 800/452-2022; www.midwestairlines.com) is adding new routes and at special introductory fares. Beginning May 3, look for nonstop service between Kansas City and Columbus, followed by Kansas City and New Orleans on May 20. Fares start at $69 one-way, and are available for travel on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday for New Orleans, and for Columbus on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Round-trip tickets must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. ET, March 15, and are valid for travel through June 25.

Midwest will also begin their seasonal service between Milwaukee and both San Diego and Seattle. Look for service to San Diego to begin April 19 and for Seattle on May 14. Round-trip fares start at $198, and must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. ET, March 15.

Round-trip fares include:

Why Skycaps Might Be Your Best Friends at the Airport

If you hate to wait in long lines to check in your bags when you fly, maybe it's time to avail yourself of skycaps. You've probably noticed them working outside airline terminals in all kinds of weather, but perhaps you've never bothered to enlist their services either because you don't know what they do -- or you do know what they do, but don't want to pay extra for what they do.

But trust us, now that airlines are charging more and more fees for checking bags, check-in lines can sometimes be maddeningly long as passengers fumble with payment, rearrange the contents of their bags to make them lighter, and argue with check-in agents about this hated new reality of flying.

That's where skycaps come in. Visit our blog to find out just what they can do to help ease your trip and save you cash.

Longer Layover, Less Stress

From the Airfarewatchdog mailbag:

"For our anniversary, my husband and I purchased two tickets to Auckland on Air New Zealand. At the time, we purchased what was the cheapest fare, but now I see that fares for the very same trip on Air New Zealand have dropped by several hundred dollars. I called Air New Zealand to ask about a credit or refund for the difference but was turned away. Is there something we can do to recover the difference?"

See our reply here.

Additional Reporting by Aaron Tam & Tracy W. Stewart

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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