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So what is going on here? Orbitz is no longer listing JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) fares -- that we knew. But why is Travelocity not showing JB's lowest fares either? We won't expect an answer from any of the three parties anytime soon, since they never answer our emails or phoned inquiries, and therefore we just don't bother contacting them anymore (I mean hey, we're busy here). But you, dear consumer, if you're looking for the lowest fare on a JetBlue-serviced route, must search both a third party site like Orbitz and JetBlue itself. Of course, that's what we do all day and all night: compare individual airline sites with various third-party online travel agencies. Yeah, we know, sounds boring, but we love it.

Not that JetBlue always has the lowest fares: that's absolutely not true. But they might. And sometimes Travelocity does list the lowest JB fare, but not always. Even Kayak doesn't always get it right, and to make things even more confusing, we have actually seen lower fares on Travelocity than on JetBlue itself, for the same route and travel dates. But that's very, very unusual so forget we mentioned it.

As proof of what's going on here, take a look at the results of a fare search from Newburgh, NY to Ft. Lauderdale leaving June 13 and returning June 19. Kayak lists JetBlue as having a fare of $144 round-trip. Travelocity shows JetBlue at $194 round-trip, a whopping $50 difference. And Orbitz shows no JetBlue at all, instead giving us US Airways for $195 round-trip.

The Early Bird gets the Ver de Terre

For those folks feeling a little intimidated by those high summer fares abroad, the airlines have begun to trot out all their sales for fall. Air France (tel. 800/237-2747; www.airfrance.com) is having just such a sale, good for departures from October 1 through October 31, with a maximum stay of one month. All travel must be booked by June 10. A few advertised sample fares include:

  • Miami to Budapest, advertised as $297 each way: Using October 10 through October 17 as our dates of travel, we easily found the $297 fare, which comes to $710 round-trip, including taxes. Searching these same dates on Orbitz shows Air France as having the best fare, at $721 round-trip, including taxes.
  • Houston to Paris, advertised as $339 each way: Again, the advertised fare is easy to find. We chose October 16 through October 23, and our final fare, taxes and all, came to $773 round-trip. A follow-up search on Orbitz lists the lowest fare as $751 round-trip, with taxes, shared by United and Lufthansa.
  • San Francisco to Florence, advertised as $475 each way: This fare isn't as readily available as the previous two. We searched the flexible search calendar through the month of October, and did manage to find an even better fare of $385 one-way available in the last week of the month. This fare also available in the second week of November as well, long after the sale was to end. So for travel from October 29 through November 5, our total fare came to $880 round-trip. Plugging in these dates on Orbitz, we found a lower fare of $825 round-trip, including taxes, again shared by United and Lufthansa.
  • Chicago to Cairo, advertised as $477 each way: Using October 1 through October 11 as our dates of travel, we found a fare of $1,077 round-trip, including all taxes. Over at Orbitz, we found a lower fare of $985 round-trip, including taxes, on Royal Jordanian, however it comes with 2 stopovers, in Detroit and Amman. Alitalia ties with what we found on Air France, at $1,077.
  • New York to Delhi, advertised as $492 each way: We chose October 1 through October 12 as our travel dates, and found a fare of $1,087 round-trip, including all taxes. Searching these same dates on Orbitz pulled a fare of $950 round-trip, including taxes, on Finnair.

Though there are some pretty decent fares included in the sale, United and Lufthansa offer some of the same routes for a little less.

Northwest Intro Fares to Düsseldorf & Brussels

Northwest Airlines (tel. 800/225-2525; www.nwa.com) began their new nonstop service from Denver to Düsseldorf on June 5, and will begin service to Brussels on June 15. Excited? Well, these new routes are both being offered at special introductory rates until June 14. This sale is good for travel now until November 30, but let's be realistic. You're not going to find these fares during peak summer months. We went snooping around for fall and came up with the following:

  • Los Angeles to Düsseldorf, advertised as $283 each way: We searched for travel from October 2 through October 10, and found a fare of $601 round-trip, including all taxes. That's actually a little better than the advertised fare of $283 each way. At $625 round-trip, including taxes, Northwest is also the best deal listed on Orbitz.
  • Detroit to Düsseldorf, $285 each way: We checked for travel from September 4 through September 12, and found a fare of $603 round-trip, including all taxes. The same trip on Orbitz also lists Northwest as having the lowest fare, and it's the only nonstop too.
  • Minneapolis to Düsseldorf, $295 each way: Searching for travel from August 27 through September 3, we found a fare of $636 round-trip, including all taxes. Northwest is also the lowest fare on Orbitz, at $647 round-trip, including all taxes.
  • Detroit to Brussels, $330 each way: We found a fare of $670 round-trip, including all taxes, for September 9 through September 17. Check these dates on Orbitz and you'll see that Northwest is the only nonstop. Sure, there is a slightly lower fare of $665 round-trip on Delta, but it includes a stopover. You may as well spend the extra $5 and avoid the hassle of shuffling through yet another airport.
  • Minneapolis to Brussels, $344 each way: Using September 3 through September 11 as our dates of travel, we found a fare of $708 round-trip, including taxes. Orbitz shows Delta as having the lowest fare at $586 round-trip, including all taxes.
  • Los Angeles to Brussels, $348 each way: We found a fare of $715 round-trip, including all taxes, for September 3 through September 14. We checked out the same dates on Orbitz and found that Northwest was listed, again, as having the best fare, at $726 round-trip, including tax.

On every route we checked out, Northwest has the best fare and, in some cases, is the only available nonstop. As expected, these sale fares aren't available during the summer, but start popping up on the flexible-search calendar as early as September 1. Book directly on nwa.com and avoid those Orbitz booking fees.

Skybus to Tack on More Cities

Skybus (www.skybus.com), the super low cost carrier is selling seats between Columbus, OH and Chicopee, MA and Columbus/St. Augustine, FL, as well as San Diego, all at their usual $10 each way intro fares.

What is Chicopee? No, it isn't that cute little bean that hummus is made from. It's a town not far from Albany, NY or Hartford, CT, in western Massachusetts. The airport is called Westover Metro Airport. This is a good airport form which to launch a visit to the lovely http://www.frommers.com/destinations/theberkshires/" target="_blank">Berkshire Mountains, where you'll find lots of peaceful resorts and lots of cultural opportunities, among them Tanglewood and several notable museums, and the famous Canyon Ranch spa.

And the St. Augustine airport is a good alternate for Daytona Beach or Jacksonville, not to mention it's just a short drive away from the World Golf Village (www.wghof.com).

--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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