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Midwest Sales 1 & 2

What's that old bit about one door closing and another opening? The same could be said of these two sales from Midwest Airlines (tel. 800/452-2022; www.midwestairlines.com), the first of which will expire on May 23, and is good for travel through May 31. Well, obviously that doesn't give you a whole lot of time, so if you find that door closed, Midwest has a second sale good for travel through mid-November. Sure, fares are about $30 higher than the previous sale, but that's still pretty incredible, plus you'll have a wider calendar to work with. All purchases must be made by May 26, and fares include:

Virgin America Summer Sale

Although these fares are certainly not the lowest they've been, given the rising cost of oil, etc., we have to accept these less-than-stellar sale fares for what they are. They're at least a break, for now, from some fares that have been a hundred or two more than the "sale" fares. This latest entry from Virgin America (tel. 877/359.8474; www.virginamerica.com) has one-way fares beginning at $49 and ending at $179, depending on route. Taxes and fees are additional in all cases. We have to say that the "sale fare" for the New York to San Francisco route is being touted as $179 each way. Our math says that should yield a fare of about $358 before taxes/fees. Both on Virgin America's own site and Travelocity, we found a $325 fare, valid for travel until Oct. 21. Meanwhile, the "sale" fare is only valid for travel until June 25, so go figure._In any event, the new Summer Sale on Virgin America ends May 23 (presumably Pacific Time as Virgin America is headquartered in Burlingame, though not stated in the fine print.), so, if you're lucky enough to be reading this first thing on Friday, you might want to get a move on. Fares are good for travel between May 28 and June 25, and include:

USA 3000 Sizzle Sale

USA3000 (tel. 877/872-3000; www.usa3000.com) is having one of their frequent $10 off sales. This time around, purchases must be made by 11:59pm EST on May 26, and are good for travel from now through August 31. Just use the word SIZZLE in the promo box at time of booking on the USA3000 site. And, as always, seats are limited.

The interesting thing this time is that we've become conditioned by these USA3000 sales to take $10 off in each direction we fly. This time, although their small print says "fares are available for one-way travel," when we booked a round trip between any two points, we saved only $10, not $20. Not quite as sizzling as it could be. Perhaps there is just a glitch in the booking mechanism on their site? By the time you read this, that may very well be fixed. For now, so that we don't misrepresent their fares, we've listed USA3000 sale fares with only a $10 reduction on a round trip. However, as any math wiz (or not) can tell you, 2 one-way bookings make a round -trip, so if you're creative in your booking you might be able to finagle the $20 savings you've become accustomed to with USA3000.

Aer Lingus Sale to Shannon & Dublin

Aer Lingus (tel. 800/223-6537; www.aerlingus.com) is at it again with another sale to Dublin and Shannon, this one in two parts, for early summer travel in June and for peak summer travel from July through third week of August. We've seen much better prices earlier in the year, but the cheapest seats have probably long since sold out, so if you haven't bought your ticket already now might be a good time. Even at these higher rates, the lowest fares can be hard to find from most Aer Lingus gateways, so prepare to be flexible and act fast, even if the sale runs through May 28.

American Airlines Tokyo Sale

American (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is having a sale on summer travel to Tokyo Narita, with fares starting at $495 one-way, which comes to (let us break out the abacus...) $1,075 round-trip, including all taxes. Other round-trip fares include:

All purchases must be made by May 27 for departures no later than August 17.

New Service to Moscow

Summering in Moscow? Skimp on airfare and save the rest for a thimble of beluga (or osetra, if you prefer) to whet your whistle. American (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is offering special introductory fares on their new service to Moscow, beginning June 2. Fares must be purchased by June 20, and include:

$15? For One Measly Bag?

Well, by now you've surely heard: American will soon begin charging passengers $15 for checking their first bag. The news comes just weeks after the new $25 fee for all 2nd bags checked. They've also quietly raised other fees as well. Domestic change fees are up from $100 to $150, while international change fees can range from $150 to $300, depending on your destination. Unaccompanied minors will set you back $100, up from $60, and the fee for cabin pets has gone up from $80 to $100. That's each leg of your trip. So if your little Sally is flying to grandmother's house, chihuahua in tow, tack on an additional $400 to your ticket. Is that you howling, or Sally's chihuahua? But before you go clutching your pearls, bear in mind that oil is over $130 a barrel and the airlines have to keep the lights on somehow. Expect for other carriers to dream up similar fees and, in the meantime, get out your jewelers loupe with us as we examine fees from Delta, American, and US Airways.

Additional Reporting by Tracy W. Stewart, Alisa Brayman, and Bo Borre

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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