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From United: D.C. to Madrid for Spring/Summer

We've barely washed away the stink of last summer's chlorine, so it seems a little premature to start planning trips for next spring/summer. Still, we can't ignore United's (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) current sale from D.C. to Madrid, good for Monday through Thursday travel, until August 29. You'll find the cheapest fares of the sale available from March 26 through May 13, with higher sale fares from May 14 through August 29.

Fares require a Saturday stay, with a maximum stay of 90 days. Book your tickets by October 31!

St. Croix & St. Thomas Sale From American Airlines

Fight off those fall temps a little longer with a trip to St. Thomas or St. Croix. American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) just so happens to have a sale, good for Monday-Thursday travel through December 17. Fares require a 2-night minimum stay, with a maximum stay of 30 days.

All fares must be purchased by November 3, and include:

South Florida Sale to the Caribbean & Latin American

American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is back with their standard Caribbean & Latin America Sale from Miami and Ft Lauderdale. Fares are valid for travel through December 10, Monday-Thursday, except for blackout dates November 20-30. Tickets require a 2-day minimum stay, with an allowed 30-day maximum stay.

Book by October 26, 11:00am ET. Fares include:

Fares to Fly By from Virgin America

Virgin America's (tel. 877/359.8474; www.virginamerica.com) latest round of Fares to Fly By range from $40 to $100 each way. Travel between October 23 and March 10, minus blackout dates November 25, 28, 30, December 17, 18, 23, 23, 26, 30, and January 3.

Fares must be purchased by 11:59pm on October 27.

On many routes, you'll find other airlines (Southwest, United, Alaska, and so on...) are matching.

Midweek Madness Sale to/from Arizona

Fly to/from Arizona on the cheap with the Midweek Madness sale from Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/426-0333; www.alaskaair.com). Sale fares are valid for Tuesday and Wednesday travel through February 10. Blackout dates are December 18-21, 23, 26-28, and January 2-4. Tickets must be purchased by October 30.

Remember, these fares are reversible:

Southeast Asia Sale from Honolulu

The China Airlines (tel. 800/227-5118; www.china-airlines.com) sale from Honolulu to Southeast Asia is still up for grabs, for travel this fall. Fares are valid for outbound travel on Thursdays and Sundays through November 29 at the latest, although dates of travel will vary by destination. Fares must be purchased by October 31, and include:

Air France Ups Fees for Checked Bags

Flying to France this Fall? Starting November 1, Air France (tel. 800/237-2747; www.airfrance.com) will charge a $50 fee for checking a second bag, weighing up to 50lbs (23 kilos). For passengers departing from Europe, this fee will be €50. Bags weighing between 50lbs and 70lbs will now cost $100 (or for European departures, €100), up from the previous charge of $50. For checking a third (or additional) bag up to the allowed weight of 50lbs, passengers will be charged $200 (or for European departures, make that €200). These new fees apply only to passengers traveling in Economy Class between the US and Europe, as well as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey. Passengers are allowed to check one free bag, weighing up to 50lbs.

Passengers flying in First or Business Class are exempt from these new baggage rules. Also, those flying Economy with Gold, Silver, SkyTeam Elite, or Elite Plus status are allowed 2 pieces of checked luggage at no cost, provided bags do not exceed 50lbs each.

Club 2000, Skipper members, and those traveling in Premium Voyageur Class are allowed 2 pieces of checked luggage at no cost, provided bags do not exceed 70lbs each.

More info at AirFrance.com.

Panic in the Papers: Will Holiday Travel Really Cost You as Much as They Say?

If you've been watching TV and reading the papers lately, you've seen the dire warnings that peak holiday travel airfares have been marching in only one direction: up. Buy today or you'll pay more tomorrow!

Of course, we at Airfarewatchdog have dedicated our working lives to tracking airfares, and we know that fares go up and down as airlines test the waters to see how much passengers are willing to pay. Not only do fares go up and down, but the airlines employ sophisticated computer programs that adjust the number of seats at the lowest fares. So one moment there might be just one seat or no seats at the lowest fare between, say, Newark and San Francisco and then next minute there might be 5 seats.

So when the New York Times reported in an October 15 front page article that "Holiday Airfare is Soaring Daily" and a flight departing Nov. 25 and returning Nov. 29 from Newark to San Francisco that was $504 on Sept. 18 was $770 if bought last Thursday, we decided to track that and other routes mentioned in the article to see if they would go down in price. Check out our findings so far here and here, and follow along in our blog as we update.

Additional Reporting by 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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