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Alaska Airlines Web Specials

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/426-0333; www.alaskaair.com) has been tinkering with their Web Specials. Passengers may now purchase one-way Web Specials, make changes to their flights for a $75 fee, and can combine their Web Special with other fares for more date options. Take a look at their latest offerings:

American Airlines Mexico Sale

Diving through a mob of soccer moms for a Cabbage Patch doll? That's not very you. Don't spend your days in the mall, prowling for Tickle-Me Elmos and iPhones. You could have your entire list checked off (Online shopping, hello?) and be in Mexico, sipping a margarita, before your amigos back home have even found a place to park. American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is having a nationwide sale to select destinations in Mexico, good for travel November 27 through December 13.

Aloha Sale

Aloha has several new sales up for grabs this week, one of which could work in favor of Hawaiians looking to spend their holiday on the mainland. The Mele Special is good for eastbound travel from December 20 through 21 and westbound travel from December 25 through 31. Sale number two, Holiday Travel Specials, is good for travel from December 1 through 19, and January 9 through February 29. And what better way to celebrate your extra day this leap year, eh? Sample fares include:

And once in Hawaii, how ever will you do your island hopping, hmm? Well, Aloha has a sale on interisland travel too, with fares as low as $29 one-way. Round-trip sample fares include:

Qantas Sale

When you hear the phrase "Down Under," do you wait for the words "the Manhattan Bridge" to follow? If so, gentle Gothamite, you may be due for a vacation. Qantas (tel. 800/227-500; www.qantas.com) has Sydney on sale for travel in November, December, and May. Think it's too late to plan a trip to Australia for November? Not with an advance purchase of just 72 hours. See how laid back those Aussies are? Just be sure and book your trip by November 30, at the latest. And if you'd like check out Brisbane, or drop in on friends in Melbourne, just add a stopover at $150. Sample fares include:

Online Travel Agencies Headed for Extinction

Airlines are increasingly selling offering their best deals on their own sites, and not sharing them with Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, Sidestep, and other online travel agencies (OTAs) and so-called aggregators. Many low cost carriers are now selling all their fares only on their own sites.

It's pretty clear why this is happening: airlines are forced to pay OTAs and other third party sites a commission when a consumer buys an airfare, just as they used to pay travel agents, who once got a standard 10 percent commission on every airline ticket they sold. If the airlines can skip the middleman, not only do they save the commission expenses, but they build consumer loyalty and drive traffic to their sites.

So which airlines consistently offer the best of these "private" sales? We list them for you in the Airfarewatchblog.

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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