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Travelocity's Flexible Date Search: On the Danger List?

Here at Airfarewatchdog, we feel like there's been a death in the family. Travelocity (tel. 800/249-4302; www.travelocity.com) has recently removed all their International fares from their once-admirable flexible date search tool. After some investigation, we learned that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was displeased that the online travel agency wasn't showing those often hefty international fuel surcharges in their fare results under flexible search. (As you know, the difference between the "base" and final "all-inclusive" fare on international routes can be $200-$350, much of that in fuel surcharges.) Since Travelocity has no way of automating the inclusion of those charges, which vary from airline to airline and can only be calculated once specific dates are chosen, they've been forced by the DOT to no longer offer this valuable service. However well-intentioned on DOT's part, this is a huge blow, in our humble opinion, to the consumer. Travelocity was the last remaining fare search option available to a consumer wishing to search any international fare, even between international destinations, without specifying a travel date, up to 330 days ahead . With the exclusion of United's fares from Travelocity flexible date search, reported in an earlier column, this once robust feature is looking increasingly anemic.

Delta Honolulu Sale

Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is having an unadvertised sale on flights to and from Honolulu, Hawaii. These fares may change at any time without warning. Travel Monday, Tuesday, or Saturday, between August 22, 2006 and December 10, 2006. Other days are an additional $20 each way. Below are some sample one-way fares to Honolulu from a few departure cities before taxes and fees:

  • Albuquerque, NM (ABQ): $229
  • Austin, TX (AUS): $229
  • Baltimore, MD (BWI): $239
  • Chicago O'Hare, IL (ORD): $239
  • Denver, CO (DEN: $229
  • Detroit, MI (DTW): $239
  • Houston, TX (IAH): $229
  • Las Vegas, NV (LAS): $159
  • Ontario, CA (ONT): $149
  • Phoenix, AZ (PHX): $148
  • Salt Lake City, UT (SLC): $219
  • Seattle, WA (SEA): $219

Spirit's Hoffa Sale

Spirit Airlines (tel. 800/772-7117; www.spiritair.com) is having yet another cheekily-named weekly sale, this time dubbed "Hoffa." Many of these fares are the lowest available, if sometimes only by a little bit. Below are some sample round-trip fares before taxes and fees:

  • Atlantic City to Detroit: $138
  • Detroit to Cancun: $198
  • Fort Lauderdale to Nassau: $78
  • Los Angeles to Detroit: $198
  • Myrtle Beach to Atlantic City: $158
  • Tampa to Cancun: $138
  • Washington DC to Fort Lauderdale: $138

Travel on selected dates through August 31, 2006. Purchase fares by July 22, 2006 only on www.spiritair.com.

Southwest Systemwide Sale

Of course, Travelocity only listed Southwest's fares for a short while a number of years ago before that discount airline pulled out (ironically perhaps, Southwest lists some of its fares with Sabre, the big online reservation system that travel agents use, and the same one that Travelocity runs on). Today, of course, only Southwest.com lists Southwest's fares. The go-it-alone airline (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com) is having a systemwide sale with special fares on almost all its routes throughout the country. Below are some sample one-way fares without taxes and fees.

  • Albuquerque to/from Sacramento: $94
  • Baltimore to/from Denver: $99
  • Chicago to/from San Diego: $99
  • Dallas to/from Providence, RI: $109
  • Los Angeles to/from Detroit: $99
  • Orlando to/from El Paso: $89
  • Seattle to/from Birmingham, AL: $109

These are very low fares, relatively speaking, and most have already been matched by other airlines although sometimes only on a round-trip basis. Travel between August 17, 2006 and December 10, 2006, with lowest fares available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Purchase your ticket by July 27, 2006. These fares are only available on http://southwest.com/cgi-bin/lowFareFinderEntry.

Air France Sale

Air France (tel. 800/237-2747; www.airfrance.us) is having a major sale from all its U.S. gateways to destinations in Europe, Africa, and India. However, on every route we checked, another airline was offering a slightly lower fare. (Of course, if you're going to Paris, we suggest paying the higher fare if Air France flies the route nonstop). Here are some sample fares including all taxes and fees. Comparison fares were found using Orbitz.com.

Depart September 19, Return September 26

  • New York to Barcelona: $619 vs. $591 on Alitalia
  • Washington to Mumbai: $1,273 vs. $1,064 on British

Depart November 21, Return November 28

  • Houston to Paris: $647 vs. $604 on United
  • San Francisco to Athens: $800 vs. $744 on Lufthansa

Depart February 6, Return Feburary 19

  • Boston to Rome: $653 vs.$ 591 on Lufthansa
  • Los Angeles to Johannesburg: $1,487 vs. $1,359 on Iberia

As you can see, other airlines have beaten these sale fares when comparisons were made using Orbitz.com. Travel dates vary by destination. For most routes, depart starting September 11, 2006 (and, not surprisingly, you'll find the most availability on many routes if you depart on that ill-fated day and return a week later). Lower fares are available for winter travel starting November 1, 2006. Purchase your ticket by July 28, 2006.

USA3000 $10 Discount

USA3000 (tel. 877/872-3000; www.usa3000.com) is for the second week in a row offering its popular $10 discount. It's valid on all flights booked by July 24, 2006 for travel through September 30, 2006. USA3000 serves the Caribbean and Florida from Baltimore, Chicago O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or St. Louis. This airline, which sells all its fares one-way, already has the lowest fares on most of the routes it serves, and its online reservation tool has an easy to use flexible date search option. To redeem your $10, type in the promo code Sizzle in the yellow box when booking online at www.usa3000.com.

AA to Central and South America

American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is offering a sale on travel to Central and South America. Below are some sample fares including taxes and fees:

Depart August 22, Return August 28

  • Boston to Belize City: $569 vs. $592 on Continental
  • Chicago to Rio de Janeiro: $1,106 vs. $938 on Delta

Depart October 15, Return October 23

  • Los Angeles to Buenos Aires: $947 vs. $937 on Lan Peru
  • New York to Sao Paulo: $809 vs. $776 on Delta via Orbitz.com

As you can see, most of these fares have been bested by other carriers, if only by a little bit; but more importantly, we've seen these routes lower -- much lower -- in the past, so perhaps is not the optimal time to buy if you aren't in a hurry to travel. Travel between August 14, 2006 and December 4, 2006. There is a three day minimum stay requirement. Purchase your ticket by July 23, 2006.

Icelandair Lucky Fares

Icelandair (tel. 800/223-5500; www.icelandair.net) is having a special promotion on travel to Reykjavik, Iceland. Here are some sample fares including all taxes and fees. Comparisons were found using Travelocity.

Depart September 12, Return September 18

  • Baltimore to Reykjavik: $578 vs. $714 on Delta
  • San Francisco to Reykjavik: $628 vs. $879 on United

This is a great sale for those who want to see Iceland. Depart from Baltimore, Boston, New York, or San Francisco starting in mid-August. To book this promotional fare, you must register for free in the Icelandair's Netclub. There is no specified last date to this promotional offer so it may end at any time.

20 Percent off select Alaska Airlines Flights

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) is offering a 20 percent discount on flights between Mexico and Oregon or Idaho. Alaska currently has flights to nine cites in Mexico. To receive the discount, enter e-certificate code EC04106 when making reservations at www.alaskaair.com. Travel between September 6, 2006 and November 15, 2006. This offer expires July 23, 2006. And you can book only on Alaska's website.

Additional reporting by David Shan

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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