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ATA's "Soaring Savings Sale"

Say that three times fast! ATA (tel. 800/435-9282; www.ata.com) is having a wide-ranging sale that other airlines quickly matched or in some cases are doing one better. Whether you'll save money pretty much depends on the route. For example (all fares below are round-trip and include taxes):

Washington, D.C. to:

  • San Jose, CA (depart June 6, return June 7): $203 vs. $197 on Frontier
  • Indianapolis (depart May 31, return June 7): $215 vs. $153 on major airlines

Maui to:

  • Nashville (depart May 16, return May 23): $615 vs. $560 on ATA through Travelocity
  • Los Angeles (depart May 31, return June 7): $558 vs. $413 on Northwest

New York to:

  • Chicago Midway (depart May 31, return June 7): $116 matched by major airlines
  • Denver (depart May 2, return June 9): $279 vs. $182 on Frontier

Restrictions: 7-day advance purchase, lowest fares are for travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, through June 30, 2006 (exception for travel between Honolulu and certain cities). Blackouts on April 14-17 and May 26-29. Tickets must be purchased by April 3, 2006, Midnight EST.

New JetBlue Routes

Good news for folks in Pittsburgh and Jacksonville: JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) is coming to town. The New York-based carrier has announced new service between Pittsburgh and both Boston and New York effective June 30 with one-way, non-stop fares starting at $74 and $64 respectively. JB will also begin flying between Jacksonville and New York JFK on June 15 with fares starting at $64 one-way, and between Boston and Buffalo effective June 15 with fares as low as $64 one-way. Over on the West Coast, the airline will launch nonstop flights between Long Beach and Sacramento on May 3 (as low as $54 one-way), and on June 30 between Burbank and Orlando ($124 one-way) and between Burbank and Las Vegas ($44 one-way).

Los Angeles or San Francisco to and within Australia for $999

Qantas Vacations (tel. 800/327-3843; www.qantasvacations.com), in conjunction with Qantas Airways, is offering a great deal to Australia that's part of the Qantas Airpass program, for $999 plus taxes. The pass will give you a round-trip airfare from San Francisco to Australia, and three one-way flights within Australia. Each additional one-way fare will cost $100 plus taxes. You can choose from 20 cities, including Ayers Rock, Darwin, Perth, Broome, Whitsunday Islands, Adelaide and Cairns. We did a quick check of fares on Travelocity between Sydney and Perth, to cite one example, and came up with a lowest of $328 plus tax on Qantas, and although lower fares might be available once you get to Sydney, this one example shows that you'll probably save money with this program. And the lowest round-trip fare between San Francisco to Sydney right now is $773 plus taxes. Add-ons from other cities in the U.S. are available, and are priced:

  • Add $50 from San Jose & San Diego
  • Add $150 from Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas & Phoenix
  • Add $220 from Dallas & Denver
  • Add $260 from St Louis & Chicago
  • Add $300 from New York; Washington, D.C.; Miami & Boston

For a complete list of destinations available in Australia, click here. You can ignore all the restrictions on that page, as it doesn't reflect the current promotion. To book, just call the number above. All your flights and dates must be confirmed at time of reservation, before April 13, 2006. Travel through June 30, 2006, with a 5-day minimum and 21-day maximum stay.

Cheap Last-Minute Deals to South America

LAN's (tel. 866/435 9526; www.lan.com) weekly last-minute deal is between Miami and Bogota, Caracas and Punta Cana. There are a very select few dates in March and April that you have to travel with, but if you're able to drop your bags and just go, it'll save you some moolah. Round-trip examples (including taxes and fees):

  • Miami to Bogota: $372 vs. $422 on Avianca through Orbitz (depart April 13, return April 18)
  • Miami to Caracas: $357 vs. $442 on Lasca through Expedia (depart March 31, return April 14)
  • Miami to Punta Cana: $318 vs. $406 LAN Chile through Travelocity (depart April 1, return April 8)

There are no specifics on when you must purchase these sale fares, but if you can indeed travel at a last-minute's notice, I suggest you jump on it!

Tokyo Sale

From the Airfarewatchdog Top 30, American (tel. 800-433/7300; www.aa.com and United (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) are offering decent fares to Tokyo for travel outbound from April 25 to May 2 with return travel completed by May 11. From Washington, the fare is $569 plus taxes, from New York JFK and Chicago it's $519 plus, and from LA or San Francisco $499 plus. Other cities are also included in this sale, and seats are readily available.

West Coast Spring Sale on Alaska Air

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) is having a spring sale (even though it's valid for travel through most of summer) that covers all the cities it flies to on the West coast. There's still availability on all the fares (except a few routes in August), and most of the fares are indeed lower than other airlines were offering when we checked, although other carriers may match on select routes. Here's a sampling of one-way fares, with all the taxes and fees included:

  • Seattle/Oakland CA: $80 vs. $90 on American through Travelocity (depart April 19)
  • Seattle/Phoenix: $109 matched by American and America West through Travelocity (depart May 5)
  • Los Angeles/Portland OR: $109 vs. $114 on American through Orbitz (depart June 9)
  • Las Vegas/Spokane: $120 vs. $175 on Delta as the next lowest fare through Orbitz (depart July 11)

Travel through August 3, 2006. Blackouts on April 1 to 3, 8-10 and 14-17 with a 21-day advance purchase. Round-trip purchase not required.

AirTran Sale

AirTran (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtran.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). This sale is still good, but AirTran has raised the base fares for their sales, compared to their first three sales of the year. Other airlines are matching, but only for travel through May or June in most cases. Some one-way examples:

  • Atlanta to/from Baltimore: $89 matched by major airlines but with much shorter travel dates
  • Boston to/from Chicago Midway: $69 matched by US Airways but travel through May 23 only
  • Miami to/from Memphis: $99 matched by major airlines with more restrictions
  • Washington, D.C. to/from Freeport: $119 vs. $144 on Delta

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

  • Dallas to/from Miami: $129 vs. $94 on US Airways (travel through May 23); but AirTran also has a $69 for travel through June 21
  • San Francisco to/from New York LaGuardia: $169, but AirTran also offers a fare for $114 with travel through May 17

For the lowest fares, travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for travel through October 4, 2006, except Florida, Grand Bahama Island and Las Vegas, travel April 25 through October 4. Fares are higher on other days, and this sale doesn't apply to Sunday travel. A 14-day advance purchase is required. Blackouts on April 13-14 & 17; May 26 & 29; June 29-30; and July 1-2 & 7-9. Blackouts from Boston April 12-17 and to Boston April 21-25. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 PM EST on April 4, 2006. We expect other airlines to match this sale on many routes, although they may require a round-trip purchase.

Intro Fare Between LA and Oregon for $99 One-Way

Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com) if offering an introductory fare for its new non-stop service between Los Angeles and Redmond/Bend, OR. The fare is $99 one-way, and the lowest fare shown on Travelocity is $129 one-way on Alaska or $258 round-trip on United. To qualify for this fare, travel between August 1 and November 17, 2006 with a 14-day advance purchase. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59PM PST, November 1.

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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