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PayPal Promo Offer: Save $50 on Midwest

Save $50 on summer flights with Midwest Airlines (tel. 800/452-2022; www.midwestairlines.com) when you purchase using PayPal. Just enter promo code Paypal50 when booking and -- tada! - $50 off. This deal is good for travel from July 2 through August 17. And although there's no mention that this offer is exclusive to round-trip fares, our attempts to book a one-way fare were unsuccessful. So we're guessing that means round-trip only. Still, $50 off per ticket isn't shabby at all, especially if you're booking a multiple passenger family trip. Offer expires July 14th.

USA 3000 Florida Sale

By now you probably know the drill. USA3000 (tel. 877-872-3000; www.usa3000airlines.com) is doing their usual sale thing and offering $10 off on each booked segment (that would be a $20.00 reduction on a round-trip purchase) from various cities to their Florida destinations. This promotion is valid for travel between now and December 15, 2008 (though some itineraries are not so bookable past the summer). You must enter the word FESTIVAL in the promo code box at time of booking only on the USA3000 site. Bookings must be made by midnight on July 7, and fares include:

Think Your Baggage Fees are High?

Check out FlyBe's (http://flybe.bookingsglobal.com) baggage charges. This European discount carrier charges next to nothing for fares, but oh do they sock it to you with the baggage. They might as well be in the freight forwarding business.

Get this: they allow only 10 KG (that's about 22 pounds) in carry-on luggage (that's free, for now anyway); then each checked bag costs $24, but it can weigh no more than 20 KG (that's about 42 pounds) before excess charges kick in. And those excess charges? $18 (about 9 pounds UK) per kilo (that's 2.2 pounds), or about $9 per pound.

So if your bag weighs 20 pounds over the 42 pound checked bag limit, you'd pay $180 each way plus the $24 base fee, or $408 round-trip!

With the strict and low carry-on weight allowance, they basically force you to check your bags.

So before you buy that cheap ticket on a foreign "discount" airline, be sure to get the facts on their baggage fees.

Using a Travel Voucher? It Could Cost You

Every now and then, airlines do throw passengers a bone. They'll credit you if you cancel before takeoff, refund you if the fare goes down after purchase, make it up to you when you get bumped from a flight, soften the blow if they can't get you home due to a mechanical failure or say they're sorry for truly execrable service (but it has to be really, really bad, and you usually have to ask for satisfaction). And they often do this in the form of a voucher, good for future travel, usually valid within a year of issue.

However, there's credit, which is what most people expect these days -- automatic, easily applied to your credit card account; and there's the voucher. And in some cases, Airfarewatchdog.com has found, redeeming vouchers triggers unexpected fees and involves a good deal of inconvenience. Read On...

Better Use Those Frequent Flyer Miles, Fast!

It was bound to happen. American, US Airways, and Delta are now charging to cash in your frequent flyer miles, and it's almost certain that others will follow, and that these fees will become a permanent fixture. On Delta, you'll pay $25 now for domestic frequent flyer tickets and $50 for international. On US Air, beginning in August, "free" tickets for US and Canada travel will now be assessed a $25 fee. Flights to Mexico and the Caribbean are $35 while flights to Hawaii or to international destinations outside of North America will cost $50. American Airlines charges a flat $5 fee.

Keep in mind the other fees associated with these once "free" tickets. You'll pay $100 or even $150 to change a frequent flyer ticket after issuance; $100 or more to rebank your miles should you decide not to use the ticket; an additional fee to issue a frequent flyer ticket over the phone or in person with a ticketing agent.

And get this: American recently announced copayments for certain business class tickets on various routes. Meaning that you'll have to fork over miles plus cash!

Plus there is no doubt in my mind that the standard 25,000 mile award level (which is virtually impossible to get in any case) will soon be history, as will the 50,000 "anytime" award (meaning there are no blackout dates).

So if I were you, I'd cash out. In fact, I just cashed in 150,000 miles in the British Airways Executive Club to buy a first class New York-London ticket. BA raised the price of their frequent flyer seats a few years ago and caught me unawares, and I vowed it would never happen again.

Cash in those miles! And beware of expiration. Miles are expiring faster than ever unless you have some activity in your account. And then look into a cash back credit card rather than a mile-producing one. Read on...

Additional Reporting by Tracy W. Stewart, David Landsel, and Alisa Brayman

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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