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American's Valentine's Sale

Valentine's Day is on the horizon, and if you're a do-gooding spouse or partner looking to whisk away your loved one this year, take heed. Though plenty of airlines are currently advertising romantic getaway specials, some of these fares aren't so special at all. First up, let's look at American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) "Fall in Love with Europe" sale. These fares must be purchased by February 5, and are good for departures between January 29 and February 28, and travel must be complete by March 30. For all destinations in the United Kingdom, these fares are good Monday through Wednesday and, for destinations throughout continental Europe, Monday through Thursday. Chicago to Dublin is advertised as $288 round-trip, before tax of course, which ends up putting it at $387. Oddly enough, we found the same trip on the same dates non-stop for just $2 more, also on American, using Travelocity. Tack on the tax, and the advertised fare of $453 for Boston to Brussels comes to about $550, which isn't necessarily horrible but we did manage to find the same route on the same dates for $493 on other airlines. In fact, most of these sale fares were undercut by Lufthansa, United and US Airways by about $50 on average. It may not seem like much, but every little bit helps, especially when there are two of you, and you're trading dollars for euros these days.

New Routes on Frontier

Frontier Airlines (tel. 888/435-9322; www.frontierairlines.com) has been recognized by the Department of Transportation as being an official "major airline," and they continue to grow. Starting in March, they'll begin service on four new routes. Denver to Hartford begins March 2; Sacramento to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico begins March 3; San Jose, California to San Jose del Cabo beings March 3; Denver to Louisville begins April 1, and Denver to Vancouver begins May 5. These routes will be available at special introductory prices, with Louisville to Denver for $80 one-way, for purchase by February 28 and good for travel by May 10, and round-trip purchase is necessary for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Other destinations from these new cities are also discounted, for example Hartford to Austin (via Denver) is $92 one-way, for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday off-peak travel through June 6 (some blackout dates do apply), and Hartford to Phoenix (again, via Denver) for $99 one-way (same rules apply). Better still, you can double your miles earned when flying these routes between the following dates: Hartford/Denver March 2-April 15, Louisville/Denver April 1- May 15, Sacramento/Cabo March 3-April 15, San Jose/Cabo March 3-April 15, Vancouver/Denver March 15-June 30.

Icelandair's Lucky Fares

Icelandair (tel. 800/452-2022; www.icelandair.com) offers deals to those who subscribe to its lucky fares e-mail lists, such as New York to Amsterdam for $330 round-trip, or $418 with tax. Sometimes, as is the case with any airline e-newsletter, these fares aren't always the best deals. We found non-stops on both Delta and Continental for just $439 round-trip on the above route, with all taxes, by searching Travelocity. Why add another hour or three onto your trip when, for a few dollars more, you can fly nonstop?

Los Angeles to Hong Kong $717 with Taxes, Nonstop

If you're flying to Asia, you'll do well to visit Cathay Pacific's (tel. 800/233-2742; www.cathay-usa.com) website: They often have low fares that you can't find anywhere else. Right now, they're selling nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong for only $717 round-trip, including tax. In fact, this deal is highlighted on Airfarewatchdog.com's "Fare of the Day" page, where we note that you'll even get Cathay miles (over 14,000 of them), which isn't always the case on these super low fares. On Travelocity and Orbitz, the next best connecting fare is $857 on Northwest, and the best non-stop fare is $996, also on Cathay Pacific, both with taxes included.

Asia Air Passes

Planning a trip to Asia soon? You may want to consider buying an air pass. Much like a Eurorail pass that allows you to hop on and off at various cities, this allows you to fly several different segments throughout Asia, within certain parameters. Cathay Pacific currently offers a discounted air pass for $1,399 (if you sign up as an e-news subscriber) for up to 23 cities in 21 days of unlimited travel. This is good for departures from February 26 through May 17, and August 20 through December 1, with all travel concluded by December 8.

For shorter trips (and smaller budgets), we suggest the China Southern Airlines (tel.888/338-8988; www.cs-air.com/en/) air pass for $329 off-season (until May 31). This includes a minimum of 3 flights and, for a reasonable fee, can be extended to a maximum of 10 segments, good for travel within China only. In June, this pass will increase slightly to $389; still a pretty good deal. Singapore Airlines (tel. 800/742-3333; www.singaporeair.com) is also offering a new Southeast Asia Air Pass for $1,699, which includes roundtrip economy class air fare from North America to Singapore and a choice of three excursions to any of 26 cities. An upgrade to roomy Executive Economy is $400 more roundtrip. Complete travel by May 31, 2007. Obviously, Cathay's pass is the better deal since you're not limited to just three trips within Asia and it costs $300 less.

Sale to New Zealand

Air Tahiti Nui (tel. 877/824-4846; www.airtahitinui-usa.com) is offering Los Angeles to Auckland for as low as $848 roundtrip before taxes. Tickets must be issued by February 28, 2007 and travel must occur from April 1 to May 31 or August 1 to September 21 2007. Minimum stay of 5 nights and maximum stay of one year apply. Searching L.A. to Auckland traveling May 1 and returning May 9, we found seats, using the site's flexible date search, for $718 roundtrip before taxes, or $985 with. These fares can also be booked on Travelocity, where we found next lowest fares of $1,082 roundtrip on Air Pacific and $1,112 via nonstop Air New Zealand flights, for those dates. Note that Air Tahiti Nui doesn't fly this route nonstop.

Alaska Airlines Mexico Sale

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/426-0333; www.alaskaair.com) is having a "Spring into Mexico Savings" sale from Los Angeles to many of its Mexican destinations, if purchased by February 12, for travel completed by May 10. Initially these each-way fares sound great, but in reality, they aren't that much lower than the going-rate. Los Angeles to Cabo is advertised as $104 each-way, which comes to $307 round-trip, with tax. Using the same dates (February 21- February 28), we found the same route for $301 on Frontier. Seats must be purchased by January 31 at midnight.

Airtran Sale

AirTran (tel.800/AIR-TRAN; www.airtran.com) is having a Big Game sale to south Florida, for those who spent all their money on Super Bowl tickets but forgot to buy the plane ticket. West Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale and Miami are available from $54-$109 each way. The only problem is, these low fares are good for travel to Florida on February 5 or 6, and good for travel from Florida on February 1, 2, and 3. So, with the Super Bowl being on the February 4, you won't actually be able to attend the game itself. Plus, you'll end up paying a full fare for one of the legs of your trip, which in some cases could still be cheaper than most fares. These fares must be purchased by January 31 at midnight. Below, a sample of these fares:

  • Atlanta to Miami, Ft Lauderdale or West Palm Beach $54
  • Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia or Houston to Miami, Ft Lauderdale or West Palm Beach $74
  • Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas to Miami, Ft Lauderdale or West Palm Beach $109

How Can Airlines Be so Heartless?

From our mailbox: A woman buys a fare on American Airlines in April for October travel. Soon after purchase, she's diagnosed with breast cancer and cannot travel for the foreseeable future. American tells her that for a mere $100 fee, they will kindly let her use the ticket for up to a year -- but from her April purchase date, not her October travel date, which turns out to be useless to her because, well, you know, the radiation treatments will still be ongoing. We suggested that she write or call again, because clearly this is adding bad news upon bad news. Yes, American did finally agree to give her an extension, for which we guess they should be applauded. But why put the poor woman through this in the first place? Has she not suffered enough? Why charge a fee at all in these circumstances? Will American, with its planes so full these days, not be able to sell her seat? Had this passenger bought her ticket on Southwest Airlines, by the way, there would have been no change fee. How is that Southwest has been profitable year after year and doesn't charge these egregious fees, and American loses money year after year, and does charge them? We'd love to know the answer.

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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