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July 30, 2003 -- You don't have to be rico to get to Costa Rica this fall, thanks to a great sale from US Airways. Though flights are very limited, prices on US Airways' new routes from the East Coast to the Central American paradise are much cheaper than others we've seen.

To take advantage of this sale, you must fly in and out on Saturdays only between November 8 and December 13, and buy your ticket online by August 1 at www.usairways.com/promotions/specials/sneak_sjo.htm. What do you get for your trouble? Unbeatable fares nonstop from Philadelphia and Charlotte, and one-stop from other cities listed.

The fare is simple: $338 plus tax from Boston, Baltimore, Charlotte, New York (LaGuardia), Philadelphia and DC. There's one flight a day to and from each destination. Flights to Costa Rica leave early in the morning, arriving around lunchtime; flights back leave just after lunch, arriving in the evening.

This is an especially good buy because November and December are the high season for Costa Rica, when the beaches are warm and dry and the weather balmy. If you're planning a vacation near San Jose for November or December, it'd be good to book hotels well in advance, too. For a full guide to Costa Rica, see www.frommers.com/destinations/costarica.

US Airways also now knows the way to Mexico City, and they're trying to draw in fliers with a more flexible sale to Mexico. Buy by August 1 for travel any time between October 28 and December 17, and you'll pay $338 (plus tax) from Boston, Baltimore, Charlotte, New York or Philadelphia on weekdays, and $378 plus tax on weekends.

But Continental also knows Mexico, and when we tried sample dates, we found Continental's regular fares cheaper than US Airways' sale fares from some cities. Specifically, US Airways won out with flights from Boston and Charlotte; Continental did best from Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. Both US Airways' and Continental's fares were very low for these cities, but we suggest shopping around before committing to a fare from either airline.