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AirTran Sale

AirTran (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtran.com) is having another big sale covering all their destinations, 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. Other airlines haven't matched these fares on all routes at the time we write this, but may do so by the time you read.

Sample one-way fares before taxes and fees:

Typically the long-haul fares aren't as good value, compared to what other airlines are offering, as the shorter hops:

For the lowest fares, travel Tuesday or Wednesday through November 8, 2006. Fares are higher on other days, and this sale doesn't apply to Friday or Sunday travel. A 14-day advance purchase is required. Blackouts on June 29 and 30; July 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9; and September 4, 2006. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 PM EST on June 1, 2006. We expect other airlines to match this sale on many routes, although they may require a round-trip purchase.

Excellent Air New Zealand Sale from $764 Round-Trip with Taxes

Air New Zealand (tel. 800/262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com/usa) has just announced a summer sale from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Seats are not easy to find and this fare must be booked on the airline's own website. Below are some sample fares with taxes and fees included.

Depart June 15, Return Jun 27

  • Los Angeles to Auckland $764 vs. next lowest of $1,126 on United via Travelocity
  • San Francisco to Auckland $764 vs. $1,126 on United

Depart June 19, Return July 11

  • Los Angeles to Christchurch $850 vs. $1,110 on Qantas

Depart June 25, Return July 10

  • San Francisco to Wellington $850 vs. $1,200 on United

As you can see this sale is very good. Purchase by June 5 for departure between June 1 and 27. Return within 30 days after departure.

Southwest Airlines Sale

Southwest (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com) has launched a new Click and Save sale for travel June 13 to September 12, in select markets. Fares range from $44 one-way to $124 one-way are require no round-trip purchase, but do stipulate a 21-day advance purchase.

Sample fares, before taxes and fees, all one-way:

  • Albuquerque/Nashville $104
  • Baltimore/Albany $44
  • Chicago/Denver $89
  • Detroit/El Paso $114
  • Houston Hobby/Jacksonville $99
  • Las Vegas/Los Angeles $44
  • Orlando/Chicago $99
  • Seattle/Reno $82

Other airlines may be matching or beating these deals, although when they do so it's often on a round-trip-only basis.

Summer Sale to Japan

Japan Airlines (tel. 800/525-3663; www.japanair.com) is offering Super Sale Fares to various destinations in Japan from the United States. These fares include a special deal on the new "double daily" Chicago to Tokyo service. Below is a sample of round-trip fares including taxes and fees:

Depart June 14, Return June 21

  • Chicago to Tokyo $908 vs. $814 on American (just to show you how quickly fares change, while we were in the process of fact checking this American's fare was $1,178 -- in the space of 30 minutes)

Depart August 9, Return August 16

As you can see, the sale is pretty good especially considering that the Tokyo flights are nonstop. These fares are good for midweek travel, Monday through Thursday, and must be purchased by May 25.

Peak Summer Sale to Hawaii

United Airlines is offering a summer sale to Hawaii. Fares are valid between most cities Mainland US cities and Maui or Kona. Seats are easy to find. Sample fares including taxes:

Depart June 29, Return July 12

Depart July 19, Return July 26

These fares on United are being matched by most major airlines. The United fares are available for travel Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday through August 1, 2006. Purchase by May 31 with a 7 day advance purchase and a 3 night minimum stay.

Atlanta to Belize City and San Salvador

Delta Airlines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is having a sale from Atlanta to Belize City and San Salvador. Seats are not easy to find, but the prices are pretty decent. Here are a few examples, with taxes and fees all included:

Depart June 12, Return Jun 19

You can indeed save money on this sale, although it appears that fares to San Salvador are better than those to Belize. Travel Monday through Thursday, with departure on or before July 15 and return by September 13. Purchase by May 31.

New Service Between San Francisco and Vancouver

Qantas (tel. 800/227-4500; www.qantas.com.au) has launched a new route between San Francisco and Vancouver (http://www.qantas.com.au/regions/dyn/us/specials/webDeals295). In celebration of this new service, Qantas is offering discounted Economy and Business class fares starting at $198 round-trip before taxes and fees. Below are a few round-trip samples with taxes and fees included:

Depart July 26, Return August 2

Savings do exist, but Qantas only runs this route three days a week. But, hey, you get to ride a big comfy 747 instead of those little tin cans. Travel between June 14 and August 9. Purchase by June 30.

Spirit's New Frequent Flyer Program

Spirit Airlines (tel. 800/772-7117; www.spiritair.com) has launched a new, innovative frequent flier mileage program. They have tied the program to their Free Spirit Credit Card, which automatically entitles users to elite status, but what's innovative are the levels beyond elite. Spirit actually ranks all of its members based on mileage earned and displays your rank on its website. The top 500 members get special treatment and an invitation to an awards party. It keeps getting better as your rank goes up until you reach the top spot. Being number one comes with some unbelievable benefits including having a plane named after you and free trips on Spirit for an entire year. Although the likelihood of reaching this lofty position is slim, there are benefits for all the regular members, called "Somebody," in the program: Mileage never expires, there are no blackout dates on awards, and all miles count toward elite status. On the downside, we find the awards chart a bit confusing with its four different redemptions levels.

Additional reporting by David Shan

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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