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August 1, 2003 -- Whether you're crossing from north to south or west to east, JetBlue, Spirit and AirTran are connecting the four corners of the country with sales this week. These low fares are good enough that if you're planning a cross-country trip this fall, you might as well book it now.

AirTran's sale offers low fares across the East. If you're flying to or from Atlanta, Rochester (NY), Baltimore or Florida, they're definitely worth a look. But some of their fares to the Midwest weren't the best we found: they were matched or beaten by other airlines on their Dallas-Orlando and Flint-Orlando routes. Great roundtrip fares we saw on their site included:

  • Atlanta-Baltimore: $170 + tax
  • Atlanta-Chicago: $150 + tax
  • Baltimore-Rochester (NY): $88 + tax
  • Philadelphia-Boston: $68 + tax
  • Philadelphia-Fort Lauderdale: $176 + tax

We can't gush enough about that Philadelphia-Boston shuttle fare, which is cheaper and more convenient than either the train or the bus, especially because both cities' airports are linked directly into their mass transit systems.

AirTran is also offering double frequent-flier credits on these sale flights. To get these fares, you must book 10 days in advance for flights that aren't on Fridays and Sundays from now through December 17; you can buy the flights now through August 12. All flights are available as one-way tickets, as well. Buy online at www.airtran.com or by calling 800/AIRTRAN.

JetBlue's sale reflects the airline's swiftly expanding route network, which has branched out from its original New York base to colonize the New South and Mountain West. Hot fares from JetBlue include:

  • New York to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse or Burlington: $78 + tax
  • Long Beach, CA to Salt Lake City: 118 + tax
  • Atlanta to Long Beach or Oakland, CA: $158 + tax
  • Other cross-country routes (New York, DC and Fort Lauderdale to various points in California or New York to Seattle): $198 + tax

If these fares (combined with free satellite TV and some really tasty blue potato chips) interest you, they must be bought by August 27 for flights between Sept. 3 and Nov. 19 or Dec. 3 through Dec. 17. A 14-day advance purchase is required. The fares are also available as one-way tickets. Buy online at www.jetblue.com/specialoffers/superfly.asp.

Spirit's sale is coming to an end soon -- you have to book by Saturday, August 2 -- but their fares are also competitive. For their flights, you've got to book at www.spiritair.com and fly between August 19 and November 6, so this is a good sale if you're flying cross-country but can't wait for those JetBlue fares to kick in. Roundtrip prices that excited us:

  • Detroit to Myrtle Beach: $108 + tax
  • Chicago to Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers, Tampa or Orlando): $128 + tax
  • New York to Denver or LA: $198 + tax
  • Atlantic City to Denver or LA: $218 + tax

Spirit also now flies from Atlantic City, NJ to Las Vegas, which leads us to ask: isn't that like bringing coals to Newcastle? For a full list of their sale destinations, see www.spiritair.com/sale.cfm.