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New Service to/from St. Petersburg, FL on Allegiant

Allegiant Airways (tel. 888/594-6937; www.allegiantairlines.com) has begun serving St. Petersburg (a good alternate airport to Tampa and not a bad drive from Orlando) with nonstop service and their usual low fares. Even better, at least at this writing, all fares were being sold with no advance purchase requirement. Allegiant Airlines is one of the few carriers that is actually making money, and part of the reason is that only sell fares on their own web site, which means they don't need to pay commissions to Travelocity, Orbitz and the like. Allegiant primarily serves smaller alternate airports such as Rockford IL and Roanoke VA, but also flies to Knoxville and Las Vegas. The new routes and fares are listed on Airfarewatchdog's St. Petersburg/Tampa page.

Midwest Airlines Sale

Midwest Airlines (tel. 800/452-2022; www.midwestairlines.com) has launched a new sale for purchase by January 16. Travel is good through February 14 or, for about $20 more on most fares, through September 30. For an additional $5 off and as an incentive to buy on their site (do we see a pattern here?), use promo code SAVE5DOLLARS.

Some sample fares, all round-trip before taxes:

Continental Sale to Germany

Often, when we're researching this column, we find that sales touted on airline web sites aren't as good as they sound. But other times, it's the reverse: the fares we actually find are much better than what we expected. Case in point: Continental's current "Visit a Winter Wonderland in Germany" sale. For example, their advertised fare from Newark to Cologne is $189 one-way before taxes, which typically add at least $100. But in fact, Continental (tel. 800/525-0280; www.continental.com) is selling this route on its own website and elsewhere for $268 round-trip, including taxes. The airline also has better-than-advertised fares, all on nonstop flights, to Berlin for $439 and Hamburg for $431. In general these low fares have seats available for travel until at least mid March.

European Sticker Shock

If you've experienced price shock when searching for fares to Europe lately, you should be aware that Germany, for some unknown reason, is currently the cheapest European destination. For example, Los Angeles to Frankfurt is a mere $457 round-trip including taxes, and as you airfare experts know, this is particularly amazing since Frankfurt has some of the highest airport taxes in Europe.

Some other "deals" we've found, all tax-inclusive and round-trip:

If you've been shopping around for other European destinations, keep in mind that Germany's location makes it a convenient point-of-entry. Budget airlines such as RyanAir (www.ryanair.com) and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) offer cheap fares (DIRT cheap if you book in advance, the usual two-weeks) from Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin to cities such as Bratislava, Paris, or Olbia (that's in Sardinia, if you're scratching your head). These airlines, like the above-mentioned Allegiant, generally operate from smaller airports which tend to be farther from their city's center, so, when booking, it's wise to allow yourself a full day to make your connecting flight in Germany.

Asia Sales

The Airfarewatchdog.com team has found some relatively good fares to Asia this week. Here's a sampling as we publish, all round-trip including all taxes and surcharges (these are generally unadvertised sales, so fares may change by the time you read this):

Typically, you'll find the lowest fares Monday to Wednesday or Thursday.

Aloha Sale to Hawaii

Aloha (tel. 800/367-5250; www.alohaairlines.com) is having another great one-way sale between the Mainland and the islands.

Sample fares include, one-way before taxes:

Even though Aloha states on its site that the travel period for these fares ends on February 28, we discovered that seats are available for the same fares, at least on Travelocity, for travel May 1 to June 13 as well. Currently, other airlines are charging as much as $100 more on some routes, although they may play catch up and match soon.

But as is often the case, you can sometimes find even better deals that what is being advertised. Both Aloha and ATA are currently selling Oakland to Hilo for $158 each way, or about $50 less that Aloha's sale fares.

And we found Oakland to Honolulu for $118 one way.

Delta Sale to Europe

These deals are definitely lower than we saw earlier this week, but they're not always the lowest in the market. However, even though they might be matched by other airlines, they're still pretty good for nonstop service.

Some sample fares with taxes:

  • New York JFK to Amsterdam ($462 nonstop on Delta, vs. $421 RT with connecting flights on IcelandAir)
  • New York JFK to Madrid we found better luck booking a cheap fare on Air Comet Plus at $441 RT including taxes, nonstop flights.
  • New York JFK to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines for $624 (Delta lists this at $578 round-trip plus tax, but Turkish Airlines is selling the route for $624 with taxes, so obviously Turkish is the better deal).

Senior Fares

Someone asked recently why Airfarewatchdog.com doesn't list senior fares, and if, in fact, anyone still offers them. The only airline we're aware of that consistently offers senior discounts is Southwest, and they're listed in a very well-hidden corner of Southwest's website. Only problem is, they're not actually lower than Southwest's regular and sale fares. For example, this week Southwest is selling Baltimore to Albuquerque for $89 one-way, but the senior fare is $139 one-way. The good thing about these fares, however, is that they're fully refundable and they carry fewer advance purchase and change restrictions. You must be 65 or over to book them, and online purchase is now available (previously, you had to book them by phone). For further details, visit this page on Southwest's site.

Airfarewatchdog fare Alerts Now Have a Vacation Hold

Airfarewatchdog.com has redesigned its airfare alert newsletters to give subscribers more control over what they receive and when the receive it. One cool innovation is a "vacation hold". After all, our job is to send you away to far off places cheaply, but while you're gone, we doubt you want your email inbox filling up with our alerts. So we let you put your subscription on hold for up to a year (also useful when you're out of the office on business or on maternity leave or simply out of vacation time). Also new is the ability to choose between daily, weekly or two to three time per week alerts. And another nice feature is that when subscribers sign up for fare alerts from their nearest airport, they also get fares from nearby alternate airports (for example, subscribe to fares from Newark and you'll also get deals from LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and Allentown, PA all in one email).

Additional reporting by Tracy William Stewart

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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