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AA San Salvador Summer Sale

Missed it the last go around? Well don't you worry, because American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) has put San Salvador back on sale. All purchases must be made by July 15 (unless they should decided to extend the sale yet again, which, who knows), and travel must be complete by September 15. Fares include:

10% Off or $10 Off JetBlue

Jet Blue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) is having another promo code sale. These price reductions do not show up in automated fare comparison or other types of airfare sites and are only available on JetBlue's site. That's because they want you to deal directly with them and not some third party.

To save $10 click here and enter promotion code JET07 when you select your flights.

If you'd rather take 10% off, click here and enter promotion code JET17 when you select your flights.

For those who are not math majors like me, you'll want to use the $10 promo code on fares under $100 and the 10% code for those over $100.

Offers cannot be combined. Valid until 11:59 p.m., July 11, 2008. Travel is valid for travel between September 3 and December 16, 2008 with blackouts on travel from October 9-14 and November 25-December 1. For your reading pleasure, we've included the rest of the fine print here on our site.

Northwest Increases Fees, Adds New Ones

As so many airlines jump on the ol' charge-for-luggage-so-we-could-stay-in-business bandwagon, Northwest (tel. 800/225-2525; www.nwa.com) announced Wednesday that they too will begin charging passengers $15 for the first piece of checked baggage. The new policy applies to tickets sold from July 10 and on, for travel beginning Aug 28, for travel throughout the U.S. and Canada. The fee for second checked bags is $25, and $100 for three or more bags.

Northwest also increased ticket change fees from $100 to $150 per ticket, and Worldperks members looking to redeem their hard-earned miles must now pay $25 for every domestic ticket issued, $50 for trans-Atlantic, and $100 for trans-Pacific travel. (To see all new Worldperks charges, click here) Plan on buying your ticket over the phone? Tack on a $25 fee for all reseverations made on the horn. Yes, annoying for you, but good for them. Northwest hopes to generate upwards of $300 million a year with these new fees.

AA to Begin New Service to Mexico

American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) has added Tampico, Mexico to their roster of international destinations. Book by August 31 to snag Tampico at a special intro price, good for travel from July 9 through September 30. Fares include:

Downsize Schmownschmize: Allegiant Air Adds New Routes

Allegiant Air (tel. 888/594-6937; www.allegiantair.com) very quietly loaded some new routes onto their website and we listed the fares just as soon as we made the discovery today. No fanfare, no specific notice made on their site. Just slipped those little devils in and left our eagle-eyes to catch them.

On August 21, twice weekly service commences between Las Vegas and Appleton, WI. A bit later, on September 19, Casper, WY to Las Vegas joins the hit parade. And now, those of you in or near Grand Forks, ND can get to Las Vegas on Allegiant's non-stop service as well, as of September 29. Round trip fares currently range from $158.00- $218.00, depending on the route.

Although Allegiant already services Mesa, AZ and Rockford, IL to and from other cities, they will begin flights between Mesa and Rockford on October 3 as well at $248.00 round-trip.

All of Allegiant's service is non-stop and all Allegiant fares listed on our site can be purchased as one-ways for 1/2 the round-trip fare. Allegiant Air is NOT represented on any travel search engine sites. So, check out Allegiant's site for all booking details.

Goodbye Frequent Flyer Miles, Hello Cash Back?

Remember Green Stamps? I sure do. I remember helping my Aunt Freda paste them into books and then trade them in for toasters and clock radios and the like. The company is a shadow of its former self, but still exists, sort of, in the guise of S&H Greenpoints (www.greenpoints.com).

The American public's fascination with Green Stamps started to wane in the 1980s, and turned instead to frequent flyer miles and points.

One big difference: you could always spend your Green Stamps as soon as you had enough to buy something. But "spending" frequent flyer points is getting harder, and may get harder still.

The airlines do hand out hundreds of thousands of so-called "free" seats each year, it's true. But if you're earning frequent flyer miles with an airline-affiliated credit card, chances are you're paying a hefty annual fee to the credit card company. And now there are new fees for cashing in frequent flyer miles and the old ones have been jacked up. You'll pay up to $100 for some frequent flyer credit cards annually, and over at Delta and US Air you'll pay up to $50 for cashing in miles (I'd be surprised if other airlines don't add this fee), not to mention a penalty of up to $100 if you cash in those miles at short notice, and another $50 to $100 should you decide not to use your ticket (a "redeposit fee"). Oh, and there's a fee of up to $30 should you need to speak to an airline representative during the transaction.

True, airline credit cards do hand out generous sign up bonuses (20,000 miles is typical) to snare you. And true, some frequent flyer awards are good value if the price you'd pay to buy the ticket is exorbitant (such as a first class international roundtrip that might cost $15,000 but can be had for 150,000 miles).

But if you're like most people and you cash in your 25,000 miles for domestic flights costing $300, $400, $500, or even $600 round-trip, then miles earned with frequent flyer credit cards may just not be worth the hassle any longer.

Instead, let's look at $25,000 spent in various categories on what are arguably the two best cash back rewards cards available: The American Express Blue Cash and Chase Freedom cards, both of which have no annual fee. The Amex card pays 5% back on groceries, gas station purchases, and pharmacies, and an industry leading 1.5% on everything else; the Chase card pays 3% back on whatever your top three (of a possible 15) spending categories are in a given month, and then 1% on everything else, plus a bonus $50 back with your first purchase (much better than paying $50 to cash in frequent miles).

Be sure to take a look at this handy side-by-side comparison chart. As you'll see, a typical family could easily earn almost $700 with the Amex card in a year, or around $450 with the Chase, assuming a spend of $100 a week on groceries, $3000 a year on gas, $1000 annually on drugstore/pharmacy purchases., and the rest of the $25,000 on other categories.

Who Knew? A New Way to Weekend

Wow, and here we thought we knew everything. Airfarewatchdog has just stumbled upon an interesting way to combine weekend fares. United, American, and Northwest often have weekend fares (leave Saturday or sometimes Friday and Saturday, return the following Monday or Tuesday), both for the upcoming weekend and the following weekend. This you (and we) knew.

But what we didn't realize is that you don't have to be confined to returning the following Monday or Tuesday on the "this weekend" fares. You can combine the outbound "this weekend" fare, leaving on Saturday, with a return on the "next weekend" fare, returning on the Monday or Tuesday a week later. This gives you a choice of taking a 4 or 5 night trip or an 11 or 12 nighter. See for yourself. We've taken a screenshot of a weekend itinerary and posted it to our blog.

Additional Reporting by Tracy W. Stewart, Alisa Brayman, and Jacob Kasnett

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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