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This week we've uncovered a real and true systemwide sale on AirTran plus great to only-fair prices on flights to Hawaii, Paris, Amsterdam, all of Mexico and more.

AirTran Sale

AirTran (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtranairways.com) is having its second sale of the year, and as usual, this covers all their destinations (including Grand Bahama Island) with fares starting as low as $39 one-way (a round-trip purchase is not required). As always, AirTran sales are the real deal. Some routes are a tad higher than in their previous big sale, but good nonetheless. The following fares are one-way unless noted.

  • Atlanta to/from Baltimore: $84 vs. $109 on Delta
  • Boston to/from Chicago Midway: $49 vs. $109 on USAir or $138 round-trip on Northwest
  • Miami to/from Memphis: $94 vs. $139 on three major airlines
  • Washington, D.C. to/from Freeport: $104 vs. $139 on Delta or $258 round-trip on Northwest

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

  • Dallas to/from Miami: $114 vs. $124 on American (travel through March 8) or $158 round-trip on United
  • San Francisco to/from New York LaGuardia: $154, but on Travelocity you can find ATA fares for $109 (albeit with travel only through February 15) or for $238 round-trip valid for travel through April 27, 2006

For the lowest fares, travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for travel through May 24, 2006. Fares are higher on other days, and this sale doesn't apply to Sunday travel. A 10-day advance purchase is required. Blackouts are on February 17 & 20; March 25; and April 1, 7, 8, 13, 14 & 17, 2006. Additional blackouts dates for travel to/from Florida and Freeport apply. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 PM EST on February 14, 2006. We expect other airlines to match this sale on many routes, although they may require a round-trip purchase.

A So-So Deal to Paris

Air Tahiti Nui (tel. 877/824-4846; www.airtahitinui-usa.com) is offering a $466 round-trip fare between LA and Paris. The fare's not too bad, but you'll need to factor in almost $200 in taxes. For example, departing on February 28 and returning on March 8, the airline is offering an even lower base fare of $382 round-trip, but add the taxes and fees and the fare comes out to $579 round-trip. Travelocity, using USAir, has the same route for a next lowest $598 round-trip, but the Air Tahiti Nui flight is a non-stop vs. a plane change in Philadelphia on USAir. Re-jiggering the dates to depart on March 21 and return on March 28 the fares are the same for both Air Tahiti Nui and USAir. The sale's not bad, but trying to find available dates can be a bit tricky. Just be patient and flexible in your dates, you can save yourself some dough (which you'll need, since Paris isn't cheap). The $466 round-trip base fare is for travel through March 31, 2006, from Monday through Thursday only; $40 more for weekend travel. Saturday minimum stay and one month maximum stay. Tickets must be purchased by February 7, 2006. When making a reservation through Air Tahiti Nui's site, be sure to select "Flexible," or you'll get an error message that they don't fly between LA and Paris.

A Good Sale to India

Continental Airlines (tel. 800/231-0856; www.continental.com) is having a pretty good sale to Delhi for spring travel from 18 cities in the US. The fares are very easy to find, and for the most part, you'll save some money over the next lowest fares when searching through Travelocity. A sample of the round-trip fares with all taxes and fees:

  • Baltimore: $867 on Continental vs. $875 on American (sample dates: May 19 to May 26)
  • Los Angeles: $1,067 on Continental vs. $1,201 on Air India (March 19 to March 26)
  • New Orleans: $967 on Continental vs. $1,025 on American (April 7 to April 14)

You can depart between March 19 and May 24, 2006, and all return travel must be completed by June 30, 2006. No minimum stay required but the maximum stay is three months. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 PM CST, February 17, 2006.

Head to Hawaii in the Spring and Summer

Hawaiian Airlines (tel. 800/367-5320; www.hawaiianair.com) is having a sale for spring and summer travel between nine of its cities and Honolulu and between two cities and Maui. Typically the sales from Hawaiian are notorious for being next to impossible to find. However, so far seats seem to be relatively easy to find at the sale fare. Round-trip samples, with all taxes and fees, include:

Depart May 11, return May 18

  • Between Las Vegas and Honolulu: $419 vs. $461 on Ted/United
  • Between Phoenix and Honolulu: $339 vs. $362 on ATA

Depart May 31, return June 7

  • Between San Jose and Honolulu: $318 vs. $369 on Hawaiian through Travelocity

Depart May 18, return 26

  • Between Seattle and Maui: $508 vs. $515 on Northwest

The good thing about Hawaiian's booking engine is that it'll display fares three days before and after your initial choice to see if there's a lower fare. We didn't have too much trouble locating fares, and suggest jumping on the sale quickly. Travel between late April (start date for travel during this sale varies depending on your city) and June 8, 2006, and "fares may not be available" (their wording, but we're guessing it means either blackouts or low availability) on the following dates:

  • Portland to Honolulu: April 18 to April 29
  • Honolulu to San Diego: May 25 to May 31
  • San Diego to Honolulu: May 24 to May 31
  • Seattle to Maui: April 18 to April 25
  • Honolulu to Sacramento: April 21 to April 27

There's no stated end date for this sale that we could see, but like we said, jump on it.

Southwest sale to/from Phoenix

The weekly Click 'n Save specials from Southwest Airlines (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com) shines the light on Phoenix, Arizona this week, but many other destinations are included and some competitors are matching. It's a decent sale, and the fares within the Western U.S. seem better than those to/from the Eastern U.S. Sample one-way fares (before taxes and fees) between Phoenix and the following cities include:

  • Baltimore: $124 vs. $99 on Continental (Southwest also has a $99 one-way non-advertised sale that's available online only)
  • Burbank: $34 vs. $51 on United or $68 round-trip on America West and USAir
  • Denver: $67 vs. $59 on Frontier and United (Southwest also has a $59 non-advertised sale that's available online only)
  • Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ontario CA and San Diego: $34 matched by America West and USAir, but travel through May 23 only

Fares, as usual, range from $34 to $124 one-way and as always you may do better with a Southwest Ding fare, or even another Southwest fare that's not part of this sale. Purchase by midnight PST on February 2, 2006; travel February 21 through June 9, 2006; and comply with the 21-day advance purchase requirement.

Take 15% Off Fares to Mexico in February

AeroMexico (tel. 800/237-6639; www.aeromexico.com) is offering a 15 percent discount on flights from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Ontario CA, Orlando, Phoenix or San Diego to any destination in Mexico when you travel in February. Tickets must be purchased by February 28, 2006, and the last day of travel is February 28 as well. And speaking of Mexico, last week (and even as late as yesterday) United had some outrageous $99 round-trip ($200 with taxes) fares from Atlanta to Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas, and also from Seattle to those Mexican destinations, all good for travel clear through December 2006. They're gone now, but just goes to show what you might find if you snoop around.

Not so Splendid Sale to Europe from NYC

Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is having a sale from New York JFK to Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Milan, and Paris, but the fares didn't knock our socks off, based on the fares we've searched through Travelocity. Here are some random round-trip comparisons, with taxes included:

  • JFK to Amsterdam: $373 vs. $309 on Northwest (depart February 7, return February 14
  • Brussels: $423, matched by American and Continental (depart March 8, return March 15)
  • Milan: $508 vs. $446 on American (depart March 30, return April 6)

It's possible that some of the Delta fares are good deals, or are perhaps nonstop vs. connecting flights, which might justify the higher fares. Depart between February 6 and March 31, 2006, and all return travel must be completed by April 30, 2006. A seven-day advance purchase required and Saturday night minimum stay. City specific blackouts apply. Tickets must be purchased by February 7, 2006.

Additional reporting by Kim Liang Tan.

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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