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United Sale to Los Cabos, Mexico

United (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) is also having a sale to Los Cabos with fares that are definitely lower than the competition.

For example, Chicago to San Jose Cabo (aka Los Cabos) is $271 round-trip during this sale; it's about $400 round-trip on every other airline; New York to Los Cabos is $276 round-trip versus about $100 more on other carriers. This is not a system-wide sale sorry Detroit, Peoria and Minneapolis, to name a few cities left out) and the savings aren't that dramatic from certain other cities that are included (such as Boston at $319 round-trip; other airlines are charging just $7 more). But if your city is listed in the samples on United's site then you're good to go. Just a short travel window here: October 15 to November 13 with no minimum stay required, travel any day of the week.

European Deals: The "Extras" Are Higher Than the Fares

A number of airlines including Air Canada and United have been touting low fall fares to Europe in recent sales. But when you proceed to the final booking steps, as you may have noticed, there's considerable fare shock because the taxes, government fees, and fuel surcharges are so high. For example: Air Canada says it'll fly you from Dallas to London Heathrow for $298 round-trip; but after all is said and done it's really $525; Lufthansa lists a $328 base fare on that route, but (gasp!) it's $600 with all the extras. Air Canada lists New York LaGuardia to Heathrow with a connection in Toronto for an enticing $168 round-trip in its current sale; but it's really $384 all-in (you're better off flying on British Airways non-stop from JFK for the same $168 base fare which works out to just $6 more than Air Canada's deal). When the taxes and fees more than double the base fare, it's time that airlines offer better disclosure.

SAS to Stockholm

Scandinavian Airlines (tel. 800/221-2350; www.scandinavian.net) is offering a truly spectacular deal from Newark to Stockholm, but it's only available on their site. And, just when we were losing faith, in a complete departure from standard industry practice they list the fare with all surcharges included. It's $399 round-trip, all-in. Seats are readily available last we checked; you must book by October 31 and begin travel between November 1-December 9; December 25-January 1; or January 11 to March 27. The minimum stay is a Saturday night and the maximum 30 days. The next lowest fare on this route non-stop is on Malaysia Airlines, but the base fare begins at $348 so you can just imagine what it really costs (figure on adding, oh, about $152.10).

Tahiti from $648 Round-Trip

Air Tahiti Nui (tel. 877/824-4846; www.airtahitinui-usa.com) is offering non-stops from New York to Papeete, Tahiti for $648 round-trip (or about $825 with those pesky extra charges). Still, this is a good deal. You must purchase by October 10. You may have more fun booking it on Travelocity using a flexible date search. Air France wants over $1,400 for this route, so this is, without question, a real deal. Fares from Los Angeles to Papeete are actually a bit higher, starting at $661 round-trip, so go figure.

Cathay Pacific Deal of the Month to Hong Kong

We usually find deals on Cathay (tel. 800/233-2742; www.cathaypacific.com) pretty hard to book, but this deal appears easy to snag and it's really good, at least right now. Los Angeles to Hong Kong is advertised at $590 round-trip, non-stop. You'll pay $663 in reality after all the add-ons are added on but this is still a great deal. For an itinerary leaving February 14 and returning March 6, the lowest fare we could find on Travelocity was $788 round-trip on China Airlines and that would be with a change of planes. That itinerary bought via Travelocity on Cathay would set you back a whopping $1060 with taxes. These Cathay fares are only available on Cathay's site. Travel is valid Monday-Thursday only from February 1 to March 31, 2006 and must be bought by October 31 but they'll sell out long before then so jump!

George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and blogger whose website, www.airfarewatchdog.com, tracks unadvertised airfare wars and other fare sales.

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