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Updated TSA and UK DOT Guidelines

The TSA has relaxed its rules regarding liquids and gels brought on board commercial airlines in carryon luggage. Now, travel sized toiletries, no larger than 3 ounces, that fit in one clear quart-sized plastic Zip-Loc bag (had we known, we would have bought stock in S. J. Johnson). And liquids purchased in the secure area after the checkpoint will be allowed on board as well. So its time to go back to the local drug store and pick up a bunch of travel sized items for your next trip. In addition be prepared to pay for overpriced water and other drinks in the airport shops. The relaxation of the liquids ban has been long awaited and we hope that air travel will return to "normal" with the busy Thanksgiving travel season ahead.

And in other carry on relaxations, the British Department of Transport authorities are now allowing larger sized carry on bags in cabins, but still ban liquids of all sizes, no matter where bought. You're now allowed to bring into the cabin one bag measuring no more than 56 cm by 45 cm by 25 cm (that translates to something like a 22 inch roll-on suitcase). Here's how British Airways spells it out. If you're carrying a handbag or other smaller bag, that must be placed within your allowed bag, not in addition to it.

JetBlue on Travelocity with Lower Fares

JetBlue Airways (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) fares have started to appear on Travelocity (www.travelocity.com), which is good news for consumers. Comparison shopping is now much easier since you won't have to go to several different websites to find the lowest fare. In addition, Travelocity has a flexible travel date search option that JetBlue's own website lacks. We can only hope that this trend continues and JetBlue fares start appearing on Orbitz and Expedia. They already appear on Cheapair.com (www.cheapair.com) as well. True, if you book on Travelocity you'll pay their $5 fee.

But wait: it may be worth it. We noticed something odd when researching the Washington Dulles to Rochester NY route this week. There was $69 one-way fare on JetBlue shown on Travelocity's flex date search. This fare also appeared on other airfare listing sites. However, as is often the case, we were able to find no seats at this fare using the search calendar on Travelocity, and it didn't show up on JetBlue, either (at Airfarewatchdog.com, we spend hundreds of hours each week not just finding fares, but also checking to see if seats are available at these fares).

We were able to find seats at the next highest fare, $79 one-way, leaving, among other dates, on October 16 on the 4.35 PM departure, using Travelocity, which ended up at $104 round-trip with Travelocity's $5 booking fee. But JetBlue.com, same flights, wanted $114 round-trip. Maybe you really want to fly JetBlue anyway, and a $10 difference doesn't matter to you. But we were shocked (shocked!) to see that at least in this one instance, JetBlue was selling the same flight for more than Travelocity (perhaps someone at Travelocity or JetBlue can explain this to us, although we won't hold our collective breath for an answer). Also, if you haven't checked lately, JB has a whole new look to its website. Not sure it's that much of an improvement, but it sure does look snazzier.

New JetBlue Fares

And speaking of JetBlue, the airline is introducing new nonstop service from New York JFK to Sarasota, Fla. at $59 one-way. Book by October 5, 2006 for travel from October 5 to December 15.

The ever-expanding carrier has also reduced fares on its nonstop flights from New York to Aguadilla, Ponce and San Juan, Puerto Rico at $89 one-way, and to Raleigh, NC at $49 one-way; from Boston to Orlando at $69 one-way (American matching with nonstops as well); and Boston to Columbus, OH at $39 one-way. Same October 5 booking deadline.

"Shuttle Fares" $50 one-way

Remember when it cost a heckuva a lot of money to fly between New York and Boston or Washington? Well, it still costs a lot if you don't plan ahead for weekday travel (a "walk up" midweek fares on Delta or US Air between LaGuardia and Boston is a mind-boggling $319 round-trip one way, last we checked -- we'll take the Acela, thank you very much, for a third of that). But if you're traveling on a weekend, there are "walk up" fares as low as $50 each way. Continental flies to Washington's Dulles and National airports from Newark on Saturdays and Sundays with no advance purchase and no minimum stay for $50 one way, for example, and seats are wide open at that price. Or Continental sells those routes for the same price any day of the week with a 14-day advance purchase. From New York JFK, JetBlue flies to Washington Dulles for $50 with a 14 day advance on Monday-Wednesday, United has $50 fares for last minute weekend travel any week of the year, as well as $50 any day of the week fares with a 14 day purchase. And you can fly from Boston to New York LGA or JFK on similar deals on US Air, Delta, JetBlue, and American.

20% off select Alaska Airlines Flights

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) is offering a 20 percent discount on flights between Canada, such as Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria, and Vancouver, and its southern California cities, including Ontario, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, and Palm Springs. These fares are the lowest in the market by, as you might expect, 20 percent. Travel between October 11, 2006 and December 20, 2006. For more details including the blackout dates, click here. To receive the discount, enter e-certificate code EC05106. This offer expires October 1, 2006. Book only on Alaska's website.

Some sample fares, all of which include taxes and are listed one-way (no round-trip purchase is required, double for round-trip):

Los Angeles to:

Palm Springs to:

San Diego to:

Delta to Europe and Beyond

Delta Air lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is touting discounted fares from New York and Atlanta to various cities in Europe and beyond. Below are some sample fares including all taxes and fees:

Depart November 1, Return November 8

  • Atlanta to London $555 vs. next lowest $494 on American
  • New York to Amsterdam $468 vs. $494 on Northwest

Depart February 1, Return February 12

  • Atlanta to Grand Cayman Island $382 vs. $371 on American
  • New York to Mexico City $395 vs. $345 on US Airways

As you can see, most of these fares have been matched or beaten by other airlines. Depart through March 31, 2007. Blackout dates to all destinations are from December 15, 2006 through January 7, 2007. Advance purchase requirement varies by city. Purchase your tickets by October 9, 2006.

Sale to New Zealand

Air New Zealand (tel. 800/262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com) is offering discounted fares to Fiji from Los Angeles. Below are some sample fares including taxes and fees:

Depart October 9, Return October 19

  • Los Angeles to Fiji $991 vs. next lowest $1,096 on Air Pacific
  • Los Angeles to Fiji (business class) $3,500 vs. next lowest $4, 016 on Air Pacific

So yes indeed, Air New Zealand has the lowest fares on all of these routes. Travel Monday, Thursday, or Saturday from September 1, 2005 through July 31, 2007.

US Airways Liberty Fares

US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com) is letting freedom ring with Liberty Fares from Philadelphia but its catchy name doesn't make up for the fact that many of these fares are being beaten by other carriers. However, that's probably what you'd expect, since US Air knows they can charge a premium for nonstop service. Below are some comparisons:

  • Philadelphia to Myrtle Beach $228 with Airtran and United matching
  • Philadelphia to Nashville $210 vs. $158 on Continental
  • Philadelphia to San Diego $258 vs. $198 on Continental
  • Philadelphia to San Juan $278 vs. 218 on Delta
  • Philadelphia to Savannah $238 vs. 186 on Northwest

As you can see most of these fares are being beaten by $50 on other carriers. The only exception is on the Myrtle Beach route. There is no specified expiration date to this sale so it may end at any moment.

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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