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Last week we mentioned American¿s Mother¿s Day weekend sale, and United Airlines (tel. 800/864-8331; www.united.com) has countered with its own Mother¿s Day weekend sale, which has a lot of the same routes that American does. However, unlike American¿s sale, it appears that United¿s sale is only within the US 48 states and to Canada. Since United¿s site doesn¿t offer a complete listing of routes covered in this sale, you¿ll just have to enter your city pairs of choice on the site, and if the return results have a purple arrow followed by ¿Mother¿s Day Sale,¿ then you know you¿re on the right track. Below are samples of fares, including taxes and fees:

Depart May 13, return May 16

  • Chicago to/from New York City - $150 round-trip versus $147 on ATA
  • Boston to/from Los Angeles - $290 round-trip, matched by American
  • Seattle to/from Santa Ana Orange County - $239 round-trip versus $250 round-trip on America West

Depart May 13, return May 17

  • Denver to/from Miami - $160 round-trip versus $180 round-trip on Northwest
  • Baltimore to/from St. Louis - $200 round-trip versus $194 round-trip on American
  • San Antonio to/from Vancouver - $306 round-trip versus $314 round-trip on Northwest

Depart Saturday, May 13 and return Tuesday, May 16 or Wednesday, 17, 2006.

Meanwhile, we¿ve seen sporadic Mother¿s Day sale fares on Continental, especially to and from smaller cities in Texas such as Waco, Brownsville, and Tyler, for around $218-$238 round-trip, from a wide variety of cities.

Free Companion Travel to Caribbean and Latin America

US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com) is offering a deal where if you purchase a round-trip ticket to either the Caribbean or Latin America between now and May 7, 2006, you get a free companion ticket the next time you buy another ticket to either the Caribbean or Latin America for travel between August 20 and November 15, 2006. It just works out to buy 2-get-1 free (not quite free, as you¿ll have to pay for taxes and fees). Among the restrictions: travel Monday through Thursday only, with a 14-day advance purchase, 3-day minimum and a 30-day maximum stay. To qualify, you¿ll have to register first before making your first purchase.

Last minute Departures to Mexico

AeroMexico (tel. 800/237-6639; www.aeromexico.com/usa/english/index.html?) is offering last minute fares to select cities in Mexico from their US gateways (Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio and San Diego). The fares look really good if you can just drop everything and travel within a week or so. Below are samples with all taxes and fees included:

Depart May 5, return May 12

  • Chicago to Mexico City - $330 round-trip (non-stop) versus $300 round-trip on Northwest (with 1 plane change). The next lowest fare ¿ a non-stop flight ¿ is $355 round-trip on United
  • Houston to Mexico City - $395 round-trip versus $441 round-trip on Continental
  • Phoenix to Guadalajara - $326 round-trip versus $365 round-trip on America West

Depart May 2, return May 12

  • Las Vegas to Los Cabos - $279 round-trip versus $335 round-trip on Delta

As you can see, the fares are indeed lower than the competition, but you should get moving if you want to grab one, as availability is very limited, and depending on your departure city, you might have to play around with the dates. Cities included in this sale are: Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Leon/Bajio, Los Cabos and Mexico City.

Tickets must be purchased by May 1, 2006 for travel mostly through May 15 (some cities have an earlier return-by date).

Summer Sale from Newark or Chicago to Finland

Scandinavian Airlines (tel. 800/221-2350; www.flysas.com) has extended their online-only sale from either Newark or Chicago to pretty much everywhere they fly in Finland. Cities include: Helsinki, Kuopio, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Tampere and Turku. Prices start from $300 to $355 one-way, based on round-trip purchase, depending on exactly when you travel between May 1 and August 31, 2006. Below are a few sample round-trips (comparison fares are taken from Travelocity) with taxes and fees included:

Depart May 11, return May 18; or depart August 11, return August 18

  • Chicago to Helsinki - $705 versus next lowest $1,130 on Northwest/KLM
  • Newark to Helsinki - $705 versus a next lowest $990 on Northwest and KLM

Depart July 7, return July 14

  • Newark to Turku - $754 versus $1,111 on United/SAS/Finnair

Depart July 19, return July 26

  • Chicago to Turku - $754 versus $1,216 on American/British Airways

After a bit of searching, we found it hard to get the lowest base prices listed, but what we did find was cheaper than on other airlines. Availability is limited depending on travel dates (seems to be a lot of sold out dates from Chicago in July), so you play around with dates and save.

Fares are lowest when traveling between May 1 and 31 or August 1 and 31, and are between $30 to $50 more for travel between June 1 and July 31. Saturday night minimum and 1 month maximum stay. Tickets must be purchased by May 8, 2006.

Cash and Miles for Northwest Tickets

Northwest Airlines (tel. 800/225-2525; www.nwa.com) is offering a spring cash and miles promotion where you use WorldPerks Miles and a set amount of money for tickets within the US 48, Canada and Mexico, travel to Europe and travel to Asia. You can either choose to pay more and use fewer miles or pay less and use more miles. This is a good promotion if you have a bunch of miles on Northwest sitting around but not enough for a frequent flier ticket.

For example, you can travel coast-to-coast for either 5,000 miles plus $189 for a round-trip ticket or 10,000 plus $119. To Canada you¿ll spend $199 (plus 5,000 miles) or $139 (plus 10,000 miles); and to Mexico is $369 (5,000 miles) or $269 (10,000 miles).

For Europe, it ranges from $534 (5,000 miles) to $374 (20,000 miles); and to Asia it¿s $870 (5,000 miles) to $460 (20,000 miles). The fare and mileage requirement varies, depending on which zone in the US you live in.

A 14-advance purchase is required for departure through June 2, 2006, and all return travel by June 5. Asia travel is for departure through May 28, 2006, with all return travel completed by June 9. All tickets must be purchased by May 14, 2006.

10 Percent Discount to Mexico and Between California and Montana

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaairlines.com) is offering 10 percent off their Web fares for either travel between San Francisco or Los Angeles to Guadalajara, Mexico and between cities in Montana and the following California airports: Long Beach, Santa Barbara, Orange County, Los Angeles and San Francisco. To qualify for this discount, just book online before April 30, 2006 for travel through June 15, and enter e-certificate code EC02406 in the appropriate box. Blackouts May 25-26 and 29-30.

AirTran Sale

AirTran (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtranairways.com) is having another big sale covering all their destinations (including Grand Bahama Island), with fares starting as low as $39 one-way (round-trip purchase not required). The discount airlines are slowly raising their fares, but these are still good deals.

  • Atlanta to/from Baltimore - $89 one-way matched by major airlines, which are, however, offering much shorter travel dates (mostly through June)
  • Boston to/from Chicago Midway - $74 one-way matched by US Airways but with travel through June only
  • Miami to/from Memphis - $99 one-way matched by major airlines with more restrictions
  • Washington DC to/from Freeport - $119 one-way versus a next lowest $124 one-way on Delta

Typically the long-haul fares aren't as good value as the shorter hops:

  • Dallas to/from Miami - $129 one-way versus $94 one-way on American
  • San Francisco to/from New York LaGuardia - $159 one-way, but on Travelocity you can find an AirTran fare for $134 one-way with travel through June 21

For the lowest fares, travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for trips through October 4, 2006. Fares are higher on other days, and this sale doesn't apply to Sunday travel. A 14-day advance purchase is required. Blackouts on May 25, 26, 29, June 29, 30; July 1, 2, 7-9 and September 4, 2006. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 PM EST on May 4, 2006. We expect other airlines to match this sale on many routes, although they may require a round-trip purchase.

Continental Sale to Dehli

Continental (tel. 800/525-0280; www.continental.com) is offering fares as low as $818 round-trip plus tax from US cities it serves to Delhi, India (fares are $200 more round-trip from the West Coast). This sale ends May 6, and you must travel outbound between April 12, 2006 - May 9, 2006 and complete all travel by August 9, 2006. American appears to be matching on a few routes. Shop around though, because we found some lower no advance purchase fares on Air India from several US cities for departures in late April and returns through May 31.

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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