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3-Day Frontier Sale Ends Soon

We've seen quite a few 3-day sales launched this week, the newest entry coming from Frontier Airlines (tel. 800/432-1359; www.frontierairlines.com), good for noon Monday-noon Thursday travel through May 20. Fares do require a 14-day advance purchase and all purchases must be made by January 23.

Upgrades from Economy to Classic start at $20, and to Classic Plus for $50. Beware of the following blackout dates: February 13, 16, March 6-8, March 13-15, March 20-22, March 27-29, April 3-5, April 10-11, and April 13.

For further details, visit Frontier's website and check your city page for fares.

January System Sale from Delta

Delta's (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) January System Sale is good for travel until March 4, between most US cities. All fares must be booked by January 26 and require a 14 day advance purchase, and Saturday night stay. Fares include:

All fares are available for one-way purchase. And, whaddaya know: no blackout dates!

No Advance Purchase to San Juan

Had your fill of cold weather yet? Well, for whatever reason, the airlines have eliminated advance purchase restrictions on their lowest fares to San Juan. Just toss a toothbrush in a bag and get out of here already!

Lowest fares are for travel Mon-Thu. These fares could vanish any second, so snatch them up while you can:

Hong Kong & Taipei Deals from China Airlines

China Airlines (tel. 800/227-5118; www.china-airlines.com) has a couple of great web deals up at the moment. First up, Los Angeles to Hong Kong is $600 round-trip, or $689 with taxes. This offer is good for outbound weekday travel between January 24 and April 30, and must be purchased by February 28.

Also from China Airlines, Los Angeles to Taipei is $689 round-trip, or $755 with taxes. This fare is good for outbound travel between January 24 and May 20, and must be purchased by February 6.

Will Airlines Continue to Shrink, then Merge?

United Airlines (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) lost $1.3 billion in the last quarter, and announced 1000 further salaried and management job cuts in addition to the 2500 job losses announced in Q2 2008. In addition, the nation's third largest carrier (after American and Delta) will further downsize, parking aircraft and reducing seat capacity. Airline ticket purchases continue to decline, despite some really amazingly low fares, as the economy deteriorates.

Some industry watchers suggest that further downsizing and consolidation is inevitable. One thing that's preventing future consolidation is that the remaining players are still too big to get government approval for a merger (e.g., if United and US Air were to combine at their present sizes, the new entity would have too large a market share to suit antitrust regulators and Congress). But what if those carriers continue to cut personnel, seat capacity, and routes? Then they might "right size" to the point where a merger would be possible. Anyway, that's the thinking of some in the industry. No predictions here about whether that will come to pass.

But airline shrinkage is a fact of life. American Airlines also reported dismal financial results for the quarter just ended, with a $340 million loss. American plans to cut total seats flown by 7 percent this year compared to last, while United plans to eliminate up to 12.5 percent of capacity in North America in 2009 and 5 to 6 percent internationally, for a total full year reduction systemwide of 7 to 8 per cent.

That's All Folks: Huge Spring/Summer US Air Sale to Europe Ends

In all our years of watching airfares, we hadn't seen a sale to Europe for spring and summer travel quite like this. Launched on a Saturday (Jan. 17 to be exact) over a holiday weekend (which is typical), this was an extensive sale between large and small US cities served by US Air to several, but not all, major European capitals. Fares were approximately $300-700 less than competitors' prices, and surprisingly not a single competing airline matched.

Another point I want to make: If you had signed up for an airfare alert based on price only, you might have missed these bargains. That's because the lowest fare between, say, Harrisburg and London didn't necessarily go down during this sale. What went down were the time of year travel restrictions. Suddenly, a winter $600 RT fare was now a summer $600 RT fare. So let's say you signed up with Travelocity or Orbitz to alert you if the fare on that route went down. Since it didn't go down, you'd get nada.

Oddly, too, I didn't see this sale mentioned on any travel media Web site (except ours, of course). Maybe the other guys don't work over the weekend (there were a lot of great football games after all). Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for our readers, I usually work weekends and holidays because I know that's often when the really good fare stuff happens.

Of course, many of our readers don't open email over the weekends or on holidays, so they'll be opening old emails and clicking on fares that no longer exist. Sorry 'bout that. Will we see fares like these again this summer? Perhaps, but somehow I doubt a new sale will be as wide ranging as this one.

A few summers ago, Virgin Atlantic had an amazing summer sale to London, but it was only on the routes they served. And we have seen sporadic, targeted sales to Europe in the past. So who knows. We'll keep you informed.

Allegiant Airlines: My How They've Grown!

Have you looked at the Allegiant Airlines (tel. 888/594-6937; www.allegiantair.com) route map lately? While other airlines are dropping routes, this scrappy low cost carrier is adding them. One of their latest cities is Grand Rapids, with nonstop service to Orlando/Sanford and St. Pete. With few exceptions, Allegiant connects smaller airports throughout the US to warm weather vacation and convention destinations, such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Mesa AZ (near Phoenix) and St. Petersburg.

Allegiant holds frequent "sneak" sales with fares as low as $15 each way, and constantly fiddles with its pricing, which certainly keeps us on our toes. Although they have many extra fees, most notably a $13.50 charge for booking online, their fares are consistently low, and the flights are almost all nonstops, They also sell all their fares one way for half the round-trip price.

Allegiant is also one of the few profitable airlines in the US right now. They keep the bottom line healthy by selling vacation packages and ancillary services like shows (such as Blue Man Group), rental cars, and tours.

One thing to look out for when booking on their site: if you just want airfare and not a package, be sure to click the "Flight only" button on their booking engine. Enter your travel dates, and you'll automatically be shown a flexible date calendar showing which fares are available those months. Use the arrows to search subsequent months and you may find lower fares. We've found that they often launch their best sales on Saturdays.

Allegiant's fares do not appear on online travel agencies or fare aggregators, and are only sold on their own site or over their toll free reservations line. Airfarewatchdog researches and reports on their fares route by route seven days a week, 365 days a year. Currently, Allegiant is accepting reservations through July 31, 2009. Sign up for their emails, since they sometimes send out promo codes that will save you even more.

And in case you were wondering, Airfarewatchdog has no monetary relationship with Allegiant. They don't advertise with us or pay us commissions. Heck, they probably don't even know we exist.

Additional Reporting by 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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