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Super Sale to Australia

Usually the airlines' sales to Australia are nothing spectacular. They take off $60 or $100 round-trip and call it a sale. Prices fluctuate in a fairly narrow range, and go up during their summer (our winter) and down during their cooler weather. This United sale (tel. 800/538-2929; www.united.com) is different. For example, San Francisco to Melbourne or Sydney is at $760 round-trip, before taxes; Qantas is charging nearly $200 more, and that's for travel from May 1 to June 8. Miami to Sydney is $910 in this sale; next lowest is over $1300 on Qantas. So grab these fares pronto! The rules: Travel outbound February 13 to March 6, return February 16 to March 27. There's no minimum stay required. But act quickly: Tickets must be purchased by February 10, 2006. Don't miss this.

Save a Lot to Southeast Asia

United Airlines (tel. 800/538-2929; www.united.com) is the place to buy your fares to Asia right now as well. They're having what appears to be a nearly system-wide sale, even though the samples on United's Internet site don't suggest this. Even though there are pre-tax fares listed on other airlines that seem lower, in almost every case when we searched for fares with taxes United came out ahead, and often offered nonstop or one-stop flights at the lower fares compared to two-stop or change-of-plane flights on other carriers.

Sample round-trip fares, with taxes, leaving February 14 and returning February 22, as culled from Travelocity on February 7, 2006:

  • Dallas-Hong Kong: $860. Next lowest: $883 American (next lowest via Expedia was $1158 sold by US Airways on United equipment)
  • Atlanta-Singapore: $974. Next lowest: $1,465 Delta (next lowest via Expedia $737 on Northwest)
  • Phoenix-Shanghai: $773. Next lowest: $943 Air Canada (next lowest via Expedia was $828 Japan Airlines)
  • San Francisco-Beijing: $719 nonstop. Next lowest: $812 Air China (next lowest via Expedia was $707 ANA or JAL with a change in Tokyo)
  • New York JFK-Ho Chi Minh City: $990. Next lowest: $1437 American (next lowest via Expedia was $1392 Delta)

Need we say more? A seven-day advance purchase required, for travel Monday to Thursday through March 30, 2006. A six-day minimum stay is required. Tickets must be purchased by February 17, 2006. Since United doesn't yet have a flexible date search function, we highly recommend using Travelocity.com, which does.

And Speaking of United's Asia Sale

You might find this interesting. We sure did. As you know if you've been reading this column for a while, we're big fans of Travelocity's flexible date search (not to beat a dead horse, but it's the only search engine that does flexible date searches internationally, and 330 days in advance, to boot). But get this: while we were checking to see if United's fares were the real deal, one of the routes we analyzed was Minneapolis to Shanghai. We first did a flexible date search, and found that Japan Airlines seemed to have a lower pre-tax fare at $738. We clicked on the "good to go" green dates in the calendar of March 4 outbound and March 11 return, and got a fare of $972 round-trip total on JAL. But then, we wanted to see what other airlines were offering on those same dates, so we did an "exact date" search plugging in March 4 and March 11. And guess what. Travelocity returned $1,225 on Northwest and $1,363, both with taxes, on United as the only options. We found this very disturbing, and inexplicable, but it shows once again that flexible date search is often your best option. Even if you're not flexible it's the place to start (and often end) your search. Incidentally, Orbitz and Expedia had the same route and dates for $930 round-trip on Northwest so, as the examples in the United Asia Sale above clearly show, you really need to check more than one search engine when looking for deals. But you already knew that, right?

Singapore's Monthly Web-Only Sale

Singapore Airlines (tel. 800/742-3333; www.singaporeair.com) is offering a monthly sale from Los Angeles, New York JFK and San Francisco to multiple destination in Asia plus Frankfurt. The sale has some good fares and some not so good fares, depending on your destination and dates. A sample of round-trip fares with all taxes and fees:

  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (depart February 22, return March 1): $670 vs. $667 on Delta
  • New York JFK to Frankfurt (depart March 13, return March 20): $495 vs. $383 on Delta
  • New York JFK to Singapore (depart February 21, return February 28): $974 vs. $960 on Cathay Pacific via Travelocity or $973 on United (but this route is $819 on United if you leave on February 14 and return on the 22nd)
  • San Francisco to Seoul (depart March 2, return March 9): $861 non-stop vs. $910 on EVA Airways with a plane change in Taipei

The fares can be tricky to find, depending on your destination, but Singapore's fare tool has a "Flexible Travel Dates" option which we suggest you use to get a look at what the prices are if you can shuffle dates. Although you might only save a few dollars on some flights, you do get that world-famous Singapore service, which is probably worth the effort. Travel through May 23, 2006. There's a 30-day maximum stay. Tickets must be purchased by February 28, 2006.

Double Miles with New Alaska Partners

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) has partnered with Air France and KLM as new Mileage Plan partners. To celebrate this, members can earn double miles on all paid Air France and KLM operated flights between February 1 and April 30, 2006. To qualify for the double miles register here.

Save $20 on Spirit Tickets

Spirit Airlines (tel. 800/772-7117; www.spiritair.com) is offering $20 off tickets for a limited time only. In order to qualify for the discount, make your reservations online by 11:59PM EST February 8, 2006 for flights flying between Monday and Thursday through March 31, 2006.

A Decent Caribbean Sale from NYC/Newark

Delta (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is offering a decent sale to the Caribbean from New York JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. Whether or not you get a good deal depends on your travel dates, but based on our totally unscientific, random sampling, chances are you'll save some dough. The sale includes Antigua, Barbados, Santo Domingo, and St. Maarten. A sample of fares including all taxes and fees include:

  • LaGuardia to Antigua (depart February 8, return February 15): $491 vs. $808 on American
  • LaGuardia to Santo Domingo (depart March 15, return March 22): $318 , matched by American
  • LaGuardia to St Maarten (depart February 14, return February 22): $439 vs. $502 on United
  • JFK to Santo Domingo (depart March 15, return March 22): $364 vs. $318 on American
  • JFK to St Maarten (depart February 14, return February 22): $439 vs. $551 on American

It looks like most seats are available in February, so if you're planning a last minute trip to escape winter, this is a great sale. Depart through March 31, 2006, and all returns must be completed by April 30, 2006, except to Antigua, with last day of departure April 28, 2006. Travel to Barbados and St. Maarten from Monday through Thursday, and back to the U.S. Tuesday through Friday. Blackouts to Santo Domingo February 18 to 21, March 16 to 19 and 22 to 25; from Santo Domingo on February 26 to March 2 and April 20 to 24. No advance purchase required and a 2-day minimum stay. Tickets must be purchased by February 20, 2006.

BA Extends Two Free Nights Promo

If you didn't take advantage of British Airways' (tel. 800/247-9297; www.ba.com) "London for Free" promotion, you have another 2 days to do so. This promotion offers two free nights' hotel accommodations in central London when purchasing airfares between the U.S. and any worldwide destination. airfares start at $298 plus tax between New York's JFK or Newark airports and London's Heathrow. Travelers may choose to fly directly to London and take advantage of two free hotel nights or fly to any worldwide British Airways destination with a stopover in London to enjoy those two free hotel nights. Sample airfares (all before taxes and fees, which can add a small fortune to the final price) to other destinations from New York include

  • Amsterdam for $368
  • Barcelona for $433
  • Cairo for $636
  • Nairobi for $900
  • Rome for $427

The two free hotel nights are available at a selection of three and four-star hotels. All the hotels are centrally located, and are within walking distance to attractions, shopping, restaurants and underground stations. The prices quoted above are based on double occupancy; single occupants are offered one free hotel night. Considering the cost of hotels in London these days, this is a pretty good deal. And it's also valid from all 19 British Airways' gateways at an additional cost. 7-day advance purchase required. Travel is valid Monday through Wednesday (a $30 one-way surcharge for travel Thursday through Sunday) with departures through April 2, 2006. Minimum stay is Saturday night and maximum stay is 11 months. Available for purchase through February 9, 2006. The hotel rooms must be used by August 31, 2006.

Additional reporting by Kim Liang Tan.

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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