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August 6, 2003 -- Fall sales for U.S. routes are in full swing, and now that discount airlines such as AirTran, Spirit and JetBlue have set the pace, the majors are fighting back with low fares of their own. If you're looking to book a domestic trip for this fall, now is a good time.

American's fares are a clear response to Spirit and JetBlue, two airlines which poured low fares into the New York-Florida and New York-California markets recently. Rather than beating the smaller airlines' fares, American is generally matching them. Still, include American in any search on these routes, because they may have their lowest fares available when the smaller airlines are sold out (or vice versa.) Their best fares include:

 

  • New York to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa or New Orleans: $118
  • New York to San Diego, San Jose (CA), Orange County, Ontario (CA), Oakland (CA) or Long Beach: $198
  • New York to Las Vegas or Seattle: $198
  • Syracuse, NY to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa or West Palm Beach: $138
  • Long Beach to Atlanta, Fort Lauderale or Washington/Dulles: $198
  • New York to San Juan (PR): $158

To book, click here or go to American Airlines by August 27. There are a slew of date restrictions on these fares. Fares from New York to Seattle (a JetBlue route) are valid from September 3 through October 31; fares from New York to West Palm Beach (served by JetBlue and Spirit) are valid after November 1, and fares from New York to San Juan are only valid on flights departing after 7 pm. All other fares are valid from Sept. 3 ? Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 ? Dec. 17.

Northwest is shoring up its bulwarks against AirTran and Spirit with sales between the East and Midwest. Find full details and book at www.nwa.com/features/ussale.html. Buy through August 12 for travel from now through December 17. All holiday weekends are blacked out, and the fares aren't available Fridays and Sundays. Competitive fares include:

 

  • Milwaukee-Washington, DC: $118 (matched by American, Delta)
  • Dayton-Orlando: $138 (matched by American, Delta, AirTran)
  • Milwaukee-Binghamton, NY: $168 (matched by Delta)
  • Minneapolis-Atlanta: $170 (matched by Delta, AirTran, Continental, United, American)
  • Flint-New Orleans: $198 (matched by Delta, Continental)

US Airways is focusing on low fares out of their Philadelphia and Pittsburgh hubs. Purchase online at www.usairways.com/promotions/specials/great_deals.htm by August 11 for travel by December 17. Holiday weekends are blacked out. This could be a good sale for people who live near US Airways' smaller-town airports, like Allentown, Penn. And Syracuse, NY. Fares we liked include:

 

  • Pittsburgh-Atlanta nonstop: $130 (matched by Delta, AirTran)
  • Charlotte?Grand Bahama Island: $168
  • Washington, DC-Orlando: $156 (matched by AirTran)
  • Buffalo-Grand Bahama Island: $216 (matched by AirTran)

Orbitz, meanwhile, has wrapped these sales up with unannounced matching fares from Delta and United into a big bundle of cheap tickets. They're a good place to look to compare fares, anyway. Tap into their sale page here ; they say their lowest fares are only available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday flights. We found these fares particularly appealing, especially since they include tax:

 

  • Indianapolis-Orlando nonstop on Delta: $137
  • Chicago-LA nonstop on American and United: $179
  • Phoenix-Chicago nonstop on American, United and America West: $179