As summer winds to a close, the airlines continue to enjoy full planes and fare sales are becoming harder to find. But one thing we've noticed more and more lately: carriers are reserving their best deals for their own sites and aren't sharing them with third-party booking engines or releasing them to travel agents and computer reservation systems. You'll find three current examples below, including fares along the West Coast on Alaska Air, to Hawaii on Aloha, and to Asia on EVA Airways.
Airtran 3-day Florida Sale
AirTran Airways (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtran.com) is having a three day sale on all flights to and from Florida with fares starting as low as $59 one-way (round-trip purchase not required). Here are some sample one-way fares before taxes and fees:
- Atlanta to/from Ft. Lauderdale: $59
- Baltimore to/from Ft. Myers: $59
- Boston to/from Jacksonville: $79
- Buffalo to/from Orlando: $59
- Charlotte to/from Miami: $59
- Dallas to/from Pensacola: $89
- Dayton to/from Sarasota: $69
- Houston to/from Tampa: $89
- Indianapolis to/from West Palm Beach: $69
- Kansas City to Ft. Myers: $69
- New York to Miami: $79
- Philadelphia to Pensacola: $59
- Raleigh to Tampa: $59
- Richmond to Sarasota: $59
- Wichita to West Palm Beach: $79
For the lowest fares, travel through October 19, 2006. Fares are higher for travel on Fridays and Sundays. A 14-day advance purchase is required. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 PM EST on August 24, 2006. We expect other airlines to match this sale on many routes, although they may require a round-trip purchase.
Spirit Airlines Introductory Fares
Spirit Airlines (tel. 800/772-7117; www.spiritair.com) is launching several new routes over the next few months and offering great introductory fares. Below are some sample one-way fares before taxes. Click on the links for more information including when service begins.
- Atlanta to Las Vegas: $89
- Atlanta to Orlando: $89
- Atlanta to Tampa: $89
- Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta: $119
- Las Vegas to Atlanta: $99
- Las Vegas to Fort Lauderdale: $119
- Orlando to Atlanta: $89
- Tampa to Atlanta: $89
Hurry, these low fares sell out fast. Travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fares may be higher on other days. Purchase your ticket by August 31, 2006.
Bad Hawaii Sale
United Airlines (tel. 800/864-8331; www.united.com) is having a sale on fall travel to Hawaii. However, the sample prices posted on their site are in almost all cases a lot higher than other carriers are charging. In addition, seats are hard to find at the advertised fares. We just thought we'd mention it so that you wouldn't waste your time. Travel off-peak Monday through Wednesday to Hawaii and Tuesday through Thursday from Hawaii. Complete travel by November 16, 2006. A three-night minimum stay is required. Purchase your ticket by August 25, 2006 with a 14-day advance purchase requirement.
Good Hawaii Sale
Aloha Airlines is having an "End of August" sale from the West Coast to Hawaii. Oakland to Kona, for example, is listed at $99 each way. We discovered that we could find seats for the outbound flight on this route for $99 on August 25, but the lowest we could find on the return was $149 on August 31, for a total with taxes of $282 round-trip. So we tried to see if we could get a better deal anywhere else, using Travelocity: on those same dates, the lowest fare we could find was $595 round-trip with taxes on Aloha; on Orbitz, we got $602, also on Aloha. San Diego to Maui came out to $272 round-trip with taxes vs. a next lowest $459 on Hawaiian or $502 on Aloha using third-party sites. However, the bad news is that many of the routes listed on Aloha's site under this sale are completely sold out at the lower fares, especially to airports such as Hilo and Lihue, but even on the Orange County to Kona route which is listed at $99 each way, we saw that fare available only outbound on August 27, with returns as high as $416 one-way. So only if you hit it right, this is the real deal, and as is so often the case these days, you must purchase on Aloha's site only, and these fares won't pop up in any third-party "low fare alerts" you may have signed up for. Also, to its credit, Aloha has a very easy to use flexible date search function that shows you fares over a range of 7 days. Travel August 25 to August 31 only. Round-trip purchase is not required in case you're thinking of relocating.
AA to Central and South America
American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is offering a sale on travel to Central and South America. And there seems to be a fare war going on especially from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru. A few days ago, the route was about $650 round-trip with taxes included on American, then it went down to about $520 on American, and today we see it's as low as $467, which is a really good deal. Below are some sample fares including taxes and fees:
Depart September 14, Return September 28
- Boston to Belize City: $619 vs. next lowest $667 on Continental
- Chicago to San Salvador, El Salvador: $628 vs. $540 on Continental
Depart October 16, Return October 23
- Los Angeles to Sao Paulo: $988 vs. $784 on Copa via Orbitz.com
- New York to Buenos Aires: $878 vs. $783 on Continental
Depart March 20, Return April 10
- Miami to Panama City: $512 vs. $561 on Avianca via Orbitz.com
- Raleigh to Lima: $649 vs. $699 on LAN via Orbitz.com
As you can see, Continental has lower fares on most of these routes. Outbound travel is valid September 2, 2006 through December 8, 2006 and January 8, 2007 through March 27, 2007. Complete all travel by April 26, 2007. Purchase your ticket by August 25, 2006.
20 Percent Off Select Alaska Airlines West Coast Flights
Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) is offering a 20 percent discount on flights between its airports in Oregon and Southern California and between cities it serves in Washington State and the San Francisco Bay area. In almost all cases, these fares are the lowest in the market, although United has beaten the pants off the competition recently on the SFO to Portland route with easy to find $159 round-trip (tax included) fares. To receive the discount, enter e-certificate code EC04606 when making reservations at www.alaskaair.com. Travel between September 20, 2006 and November 15, 2006. This offer expires August 27, 2006. And you can book only on Alaska's website. Speaking of which, it occurs to us what a chore it is to find the true lowest fare on a particular route when Alaska has a sale like this. In some cases, Southwest may also fly the route, so you have to check Southwest, which only lists its fares on its own site, in addition to Alaskaair.com. But your work isn't done yet: you also have to check a Travelocity or an Orbitz to see if one of the other major airlines has a lower fare. It's the kind of thing we do every day at Airfarewatchdog.com, so trust us, we know it's a pain.
Air France Fall Sale
Depart September 14, Return September 20
- New York to Paris: $604 vs. $544 on Air India (from Newark, nonstop)
- Miami to Rome: $1,012 vs. $806 on Alitalia via Orbitz.com
Depart October 17, Return October 26
- Houston to Madrid: $761 vs. $743 on American
- San Francisco to Athens: $1,180 vs. $1,136 on Delta via Orbitz.com
So this isn't such a hot sale we guess. But for you New Yorkers, that Air India nonstop from Newark to Paris is a great deal, and seats were readily available for late summer travel when last we checked. Depart September 12, 2006 through October 31, 2006. There is no specified expiration date to this sale so it may be changed or withdrawn without notice.
Delta's Atlanta Sale
Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) has discounted some fares from and to Atlanta. Seats are very easy to find. Here are some sample fares including taxes and fees:
Depart September 21 Return September 24
- Newport News, VA to Atlanta: $218 vs. $214 on Airtran
- Melbourne, FL to Atlanta: $217 (only Delta flies this route)
Depart October 8, Return October 22
- Killeen, TX to Atlanta: $218
- Rochester, NY to Atlanta: $214 vs. $259 on Airtran
Depart November 1, Return November 14
- Melbourne, FL to Atlanta: $217
- Wichita, KS to Atlanta: $238 with Airtran matching
Delta is offering great fares on these nonstop flights to smaller cities. Travel between September 11, 2006 and November 15, 2006. Book your ticket by August 28, 2006.
EVA Online-only Deals From San Francisco to Asia
EVA Air (tel. 800/695-1188; www.evaair.com) has launched a sale to various Asian cities from San Francisco, and you can leave immediately in many cases. Once again, these fares are available only on EVA's own site. Every day, we see more and more airlines withholding their best fares from the airline industry's GDS's (global distribution systems), which means you simply cannot rely solely on the Expedia's and Orbitz's to find you the lowest fare. Below are some sample fares including all taxes and fees:
Depart August 23, Return August 31
- San Francisco to Taipei: $697 vs. $797 on China Airlines
San Francisco to Hong Kong: $845 vs. $901 on Philippines Air via Orbitz.com
Depart September 2, Return September 10
- San Francisco to Taipei: $740 vs. $897 on China Airlines
San Francisco to Singapore: $918 vs. $955 on Philippines Air via Orbitz.com
In general the rules are: depart between August 23, 2006 and September 4, 2006 with lower fares on select dates and routes and return within 30 days. However, we also saw a $550 round-trip base fare San Francisco/Taipei on EVA with departure dates August 29-September 3 and no restriction on the return date (we assume you have to return within a year however). Tickets must be purchased by August 28, 2006.
Another jetBlue Sale
And last but not least, jetBlue Airways (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) is having a three day sale on many of its routes. (FYI: JB sells its lowest fares on its own site, however www.sidestep.com compares fares on jetBlue and other airlines and will refer you to whoever has the lowest fare). Below are some sample one-way fares before taxes and fees. Click on the links for more information.
- Boston to Buffalo: $59
- Boston to Pittsburgh: $59
- Buffalo to New York JFK: $59
- Burbank to Las Vegas: $49
- Burlington to New York JFK: $59
- Long Beach to Las Vegas: $49
- Long Beach to Oakland: $49
- Long Beach to Sacramento: $49
- New York JFK to Boston: $50
- New York JFK to Nassau, Bahamas: $89
- New York JFK to San Juan, PR: $89
- Pittsburgh to New York JFK: $59
- Portland to New York JFK: $59
- Richmond to Boston: $69
- Rochester to New York JFK: $59
- Syracuse to New York JFK: $59
- Washington Dulles to New York JFK: $50
A seven or 14 day advance purchase is required depending on the route. Travel any day August 28, 2006 through September 9, 2006. Purchase your ticket by August 23, 2006. September 1, 2006 through September 4, 2006 are blacked out.
Additional reporting by David Shan.
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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