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Airlines Getting Desperate?

You may have seen this article in the New York Times, where Airfarewatchdog's very own Jason Ma was cited as one of the many people who bought peak Christmas airfare far in advance, thinking that prices would only go up. Jason booked a ticket from New York to LA for $649 round-trip and then the fare went down to around $539 on the same flights. Well, now we see Newark to LA on peak Christmas nonstops via Continental for $325 including tax. Ouch! Clearly, people are not traveling like they used to and the airlines are freeing up cheap seats at the last minute. In fact, that $325 fare is available on many dates besides the ones shown below, over Christmas week. Sorry Jason!

Southwest Winter Sale, Part Two

If you didn't catch it the first go around, Southwest (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com) has extended their Winter Sale through December 4. This sale is valid for travel between December 12, 2008 and February 28, 2009, although as they say on their site, "fares may not be available on all flights during key travel dates (12/20/08-1/4/09).Â? Hmph. Regardless, you'll find some pretty excellent round-trip fares included in this sale, such as:

Sun Country International Sale

Sun Country Airlines (tel. 800/752-1218; www.suncountry.com) is currently running a sale on their site with fares as low as $149 one way (before taxes and fees). Some locations include Cancún, Cozumel, St. Maarten, and Punta Cana. So when everyone else is shivering from the harsh winter weather, you can be shivering from the frozen drinks you just finished on the beach. You must travel between November 26, 2008 and February 11, 2009. Take a look at Sun Country Airlines' website for full terms and conditions.

Airlines Pooh-Pooh Pets on Planes

Southwest Airlines has never allowed them. Frontier Airlines banned them as of June 9th this year and now charges up to $400 round-trip to fly them as baggage under the plane. And Delta and United recently raised their in-cabin pet fee to such absurdly high levels that they might as well have banned them. Are airlines sending a message to passengers and their pets? 

Most animal welfare experts insist that shipping pets as cargo (in the airplane's hold) isn't such a great idea, since a malfunction in pressurization or temperature could result in an animal's death, plus if an airline can lose your bag, they can also lose your pet. Frontier, on its site, clearly states, "No oxygen will be administered to a pet in the event of an emergency.Â? Well, duh, of course not, but kudos to them for being up front about it. But it seems like airlines have declared war on in-cabin pets. Delta now charges $300 round-trip for each in-cabin pet, as does American, both up from $200 earlier this year, and United upped its charge recently from $200 to an industry-leading $350 round-trip. Continental is a relative bargain at $250 round-trip and JetBlue is even better at $200 round-trip. But the winner is AirTran, which currently charges just $69 each way for in-cabin pet transport. Southwest Airlines doesn't even allow pets in the cargo compartment, let alone in the cabin. So should pets be allowed in the cabin at all? We're running a poll right now and welcome your opinion.

$20 Off USA 3000 Holiday Promo

Fly USA 3000 (tel. 877/872-3000; www.usa3000airlines.com) between now and December 19th or January 5-31st and save a little cash. All you have to do is enter the promo code HOLIDAY, and receive an instant $10 savings on one-way travel or $20 for round-trip. This holiday promotion runs through December 15th.

ANA Japan Sale

Looking to start off the New Year with an adventure? Well for the month of January, All Nippon Airways (tel. 800/235-9262; www.anaskyweb.com) is slashing prices on round-trip airfare from major U.S. destinations to some of Japan's most popular cities. Here are some sample fares that I found on their website (round-trip with all taxes and fees included):

  • January 5-15: San Francisco (SFO)-Tokyo (NRT), $1,066.90
  • January 5-15: Los Angeles (LAX)-Osaka (ITM), $1,067.90
  • January 8-18: New York City (JFK)-Tokyo (NRT), $1,186.90
  • January 9-19: Chicago (ORD)-Nagoya (NGO), $1,163.10
  • January 9-19: Washington (IAD)-Nagoya (NGO), $1,193.10

The sale is for round trip airfare from January 5, 2009 to January 31, 2009. You must book by December 9, 2008 in order to lock in these low fares. For more information and full details check out ANA's website.

Additional reporting by Andrew Hickey and 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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