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How to JetBlue

As you probably know by now, most third-party booking engines like Expedia and Orbitz don't include fares from the ever-expanding JetBlue Airways (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com). And while competitors often match JetBlue's sale fares, they don't always, or they only match them on a round-trip basis (JetBlue sells all of its fares a one-ways). For example, JetBlue is beginning service between Upstate New York and Richmond VA beginning on March 31 for $74 each way. And although USAir is matching that price for flights on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, JetBlue has lots of $74 seats on other days of the week as well. The New York-based carrier is also beginning service to Bermuda on May 4, and flights from Burlington VT, for example, connecting through New York are as low as $139 each way. But the lowest competing fare we could find on Travelocity was $164 one-way on Continental with a next lowest of $189 one-way on USAirways. The lesson? If you live in or near a JetBlue city be sure to check their site and compare fares with the big online travel agencies.

A London Sale for the Record Books

Well, the bad news is that the great Virgin Atlantic London giveaway is over. The good news is that hundreds of visitors to Airfarewatchdog.com, which broke the news via newsletter on Saturday afternoon, saved literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on airfare to Europe. If you were sleeping through this whole event, for some reason known only to itself Virgin was selling tax-inclusive fares for travel all year long, including peak summer, for between $400 and $470 round-trip from most Virgin gateways, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, New York, Washington and Boston to London. And to make things even more interesting, seats were readily available any day of the week; fares were fully refundable; and all flights were nonstop. Again, this sale was launched on a Saturday, which leads us to two fare lessons: check fares on Saturday, and never give up hope that Europe will be affordable in summer. As a consolation perhaps, when we checked on Monday, British Airways had two reasonably good fares on Travelocity for outbound travel through March 31 and return up to a month later: Los Angeles or San Francisco to London Heathrow nonstop for $471 round-trip including taxes. Not the same thing as peak summer for that price, but not bad.

Save $50 on Select SAS Flights

Scandinavian Airlines (tel. 800/221-2350; www.flysas.com) is offering $50 off select round-trip flights (or $25 off one-way flights) from Newark, Chicago and Washington, D.C. to any SAS destination through March 31, 2006. The discount applies to the following flights: SK903, SK904, SK909, SK910, SK925, SK926, SK945, and SK946. If combining a round-trip fare with another flight number on outbound or return, a $25 discount will apply. Tickets must be purchased by March 31, 2006. And remember that SAS often offers fares on its site that they don't share with any other outlet, so be sure to comparison shop.

Ten Percent Discount on Delta and Song

If you purchase your tickets from Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) or Song (tel. 800/359-7664; www.flysong.com), each will offer a 10 percent discount for travel anywhere (through May 25th) in the U.S. plus San Juan and St. Thomas up to six friends, family or whoever in the same itinerary. If the link doesn't work, just remember to use coupon code 11A2P3J1.

Asia from $674 Round-Trip

Cathay Pacific (tel. 800/233-2742; www.cathaypacific.com) is having a big sale from Los Angeles, New York JFK and San Francisco to multiple cities in Asia: Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Bangkok, Mumbai, Penang, Taipei and more. Unfortunately, this deal isn't particularly good, since you can find lower fares on Travelocity and other sites. But these fares do come with a free stopover in Hong Kong.

Sample round-trip fares with all taxes and fees departing March 8 and returning on March 15:

  • Los Angeles to Bangkok: $784 vs. $761 on EVA
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong: $771 vs. $706 United
  • New York JFK to Singapore: $896 vs. $826 United

Granted the difference may not seem like a lot, so its boils down to two things: Which carrier do you prefer to fly (service, frequent flyer miles), and do you want a free stopover in Hong Kong (you'll only pay the additional airport fees). Travel Monday through Thursday only (an additional $25 one-way fee applies when you travel Friday through Sunday), with departures through March 31, 2006. All return travel must be completed by April 30, 2006. Fare is about $25 more for travel in February. Tickets must be purchased by February 28, 2006.

$79 One-Way to the Caribbean and Mexico

USA3000 (tel. 877/872-3000; www.usa3000.com) is having a last-minute travel sale to the Caribbean and Mexico from their U.S. destinations, all for $79 one-way, round-trip purchase not required. To Cancun, the sale applies from Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus OH, Hartford, New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. To Punta Cana, the sale applies from Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Hartford, New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Just for comparison, below are round-trip fares (since you probably want to come back to the States) with all taxes and fees included compared to the next lowest deals we could find, same dates:

  • Newark to Cancun: $247 vs. $383 round-trip on American (depart February 21, return February 29
  • Cincinnati to Cancun: $249 vs. $551 round-trip on Continental (February 19-March 2)
  • Baltimore to Punta Cana: $263 vs. $781 round-trip on United and USAirways (February 20-27)
  • Philadelphia to Punta Cana: $263 vs. $419 round-trip on Delta (February 20-27)

This sale is for departures through February 28, 2006, and availability can be tricky to find but does exist. On the plus side, U.S.A3000's booking engine will select the next date with the lowest fares, a very helpful feature.

Sale to Manchester, England England

UK-based bmi (tel. 800/788-0555; www.flybmi.com) is having a sale to Manchester from Chicago and Las Vegas from $678 round-trip. These fares aren't too bad since you'll save a bit of money compared to what else is out there and bmi flies nonstop. A sample of fares with all taxes and fees:

  • Chicago to Manchester: $825 vs. $744 on American (depart April 13, return April 20)
  • Chicago to Manchester: $586 vs. $590 on American (May 3-10 or May 31-June 7)
  • Las Vegas to Manchester: $683 vs. $768 on Delta (April 6-13)

Travel April 1 through June 10, 2006. Flights are daily, except flights between Las Vegas and Manchester, which are on Thursday and Sunday only. You shouldn't have too hard a time finding the fares as long as you're flexible, and the bmi booking engine will show you the fares for travel three days before and after your selected dates (just make sure you select the "flexible with dates?" option). The sale also applies to travel to London and Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow, via Manchester, and a stopover Manchester in either direction is permitted at no additional cost. Minimum stay is either three-nights or Saturday night. Tickets must be purchased by February 16, 2006.

NYC to Auckland for $628 Round-Trip

Air Tahiti Nui (tel. 877/824-4846; www.airtahitinui-usa.com) is offering a good deal between New York JFK and Auckland, New Zealand, with a base fare of $638 round-trip. A sample of fares with all taxes and fees included:

  • $786 vs. $1,430 on American (for a trip from April 5 to 12)
  • $785 vs. $1,409 on Qantas Airways (May 3-12)
  • $800 vs. $1,439 on American (June 2-9)

As you can see, the sale is really good based on the dates we chose at random. Availability is good, with a few sold out dates here and there, but make sure to select "Flexible" as that'll give you lowest fare. Travel May 27 through June 10, 2006. A five-day minimum and a 30-day maximum stay apply. Tickets must be purchased by February 22, 2006.

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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