Every day, the airlines announce new sales, usually on their websites. Some are really good; others not so much. We dig deep to tell you which ones are really worth the mouse clicks and which aren't.
LTU to Germany and Beyond
Not all airlines charge the same, it goes without saying, and sometimes it's the airlines you've never heard of that charge the least. Case in point: LTU (tel. 866/266-5588; www.ltu.com), a German airline that often announces Internet fare sales on its site, and flies from Los Angeles, New York, Florida (Orlando, Ft. Myers, and Miami), and Canada (Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver) to five German cities with connections to Eastern Europe. We checked several dates on the Los Angeles/Dusseldorf nonstop and found that LTU was consistently $100 cheaper than other airlines flying between the two cities with a connection. The same fares pop up on Travelocity as on LTU's own site, so these "Internet Specials" are apparently not exclusive to LTU.com. Checking on a flight from JFK to Berlin, with a return from Warsaw to JFK, LTU's site came up with a $723 round-trip fare compared to Travelocity's $708
Independence Air Sale
Scrappy little Independence Air (tel. 800/359-3594; www.flyi.com) is having yet another sale, forcing its competition to match in many, but certainly not all, cases. All fares are sold one way with no round-trip purchase requirement, and the lowest fares are for travel Tuesday and Wednesday. Boston/Detroit, for example, is $64 one-way, with a connection at Washington's Dulles Airport, or $10 more for travel other days of the week. Competing airlines are charging $60 more round-trip on the route. Washington Dulles/Los Angeles is $94 one-way during this sale, which is being matched by all competitors on that route. The sale ends August 29 and travel on these fares through October 5.
Delta's Last-Minute Weekend Fares
Delta's (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) weekend web sales seem particularly good lately, and it appears they were released on a Monday this week rather than the historically normal Tuesday. Also interesting is that while usually these fares are to and from Delta's Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City hubs, this week there are routes like New York/Charlotte and Orlando/Huntsville on offer. This week their deals range from $88 to $168 roundtrip.
And Last Minute Fares You Might Not Have Considered
And speaking of last minute weekend fares: if you're like most people, you rely either on airline web sites and emails to find last minute weekend fares, or you subscribe to a newsletter that lumps together all these fares each week. But you might be missing some tricks . . . and there may be fares you don't know about.
For example, Northwest Airlines doesn't advertise its weekend deals, but it does have them every week, and not just to and from its hubs. Often these fares are to and from competing airlines' hubs, especially when those airlines have offered a weekend fare into one of Northwest's hubs. These fares can be found by doing a Travelocity flexible date search.
Another tip: let's say you have to get Sioux Falls to Wilmington, NC this weekend, but no airline seems to be offering a last minute weekend fare. Well guess what: actually, there is one. Delta is offering a weekend fare between Sioux Falls and Cincinnati and another one Cincinnati to Wilmington. There's no reason why you can't combine two weekend fares with a connection through the airline's hub, providing that the schedules work for you. In most cases, Travelocity and other booking engines will figure out the combined fares. And, of course, you can combine different airlines' weekend deals when and where they can connect with each other.
One more way of snagging a great weekend fare that you might otherwise not consider: Site59.com.
Often, for less than the price of a last minute weekend fare (when the airlines aren't having a cyber sale on a particular route you want) Site59 might have an air/hotel package that costs less than the airfare alone. Check out their deals this weekend and you might be surprised to find that there is a last minute deal to exactly where you want to be.
Delta Intro Sales
Delta is having an introductory sale between Orlando and select cities, starting at $138 round-trip. The cities included in this sale are: Austin, TX; Charlottesville, VA; Chattanooga, TN; Fayetteville-NW Regional, AR; Fort Wayne, IN; and Jackson, MS. With the exception of Austin and Jackson, these fares are the lowest available in the market, although it's likely that competitors will match. Travel dates vary, depending on destination, but ranges from Oct 10 through Dec 15. Blackouts Nov 23 and 27. Tickets must be purchased by Sep 16.
The Atlanta-based carrier is also offering intro fares between Columbus or Indianapolis and select cities, with prices ranging from $118 to $238 round-trip. Some of the deals are pretty good, such as Columbus to/from Los Angeles for $156 round-trip and Indianapolis to/from Las Vegas for $128 round-trip. Travel between October 15 through November 22 and purchase these fares by Sep 16.
Gainesville on Sale
Since when did it cost so little to fly to and from Gainesville, Florida? Since the city is not served by a discount airline yet, Delta and Northwest pretty much have it to themselves. But Northwest, we discovered earlier this week, has slashed fare (St. Louis $128 roundtrip compared to Delta's $343; Albuquerque $158 on Northwest vs. Delta's $424) between the city and nearly everywhere it serves in the 48 states. This is not an advertised sale and we're surprised Delta hasn't matched it. Just one of those odd little far wars that pop up now and then, and there's no telling when it might disappear so if it's still available when you read this, grab it.
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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