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JetBlue's Winter Sale Ends Soon

Haven't taken advantage of JetBlue's (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) "Winter Clearance" sale? There's still time, since most of deals end on January 19, 2006, with the exception of the unheard of fare between Boston and Washington, D.C. Dulles for $25 one-way, which is available through January 10 only. Other routes in this sale compared to what's found on Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia and their ilk: Long Beach, CA between Las Vegas or Oakland, CA for $39 one-way, versus $54 one-way and $183 one-way respectively, on US Airways; New York JFK between Boston for $40 one-way (matched by American and Delta); Boston between Seattle for $59 one-way versus $79 one-way on Alaska; and so on. Many of the fares are matched by other the major airlines, but sometimes on a round-trip basis only, whereas none of these JetBlue fares require round-trip purchase. Last day of travel is either February 15 or April 4, 2006, depending on the route.

New Routes, Not Such Great Fares

Starting in May, Delta (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) will begin flying to Budapest, Hungary; Manchester, UK; and Shannon, Ireland from New York JFK and is currently offering introductory prices for these routes. However, the fares listed aren't that great: Delta is offering New York to Budapest for $498 round-trip plus tax, but a quick search on Travelocity comes up with $319 round-trip offered by a plethora of airlines (Austrian, British Airways, Lufthansa, etc). Same goes for New York to Manchester and Shannon: the introductory fare is $318 round-trip to both cities, and the lowest on Travelocity is $168 round-trip on US Airways plus tax, and $238 round-trip on American Airlines, respectively. Travel may begin May 15 (May 8 for Budapest) through June 15, 2006, and must be completed by July 15, 2006. A 7-day advance purchase and minimum stay Saturday night are required. Tickets must be purchased by January 23, 2006.

New Zealand Sale from LA or SF

Air New Zealand (tel. 800/ 262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com) is having a good online-only sale to New Zealand from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, with fares starting from $910 round-trip. This sale allows stopovers in Fiji, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Samoa or Tonga when you fly between Los Angeles and Auckland on the outbound journey for $90, or for $180 if you choose to stopover on your return trip.

Fares from Los Angeles to:

  • Auckland $910 round-trip (versus $932 round-trip on Air Pacific via Travelocity)
  • Christchurch $996 round-trip (versus $1,049 round-trip on Air Pacific via Travelocity)
  • Wellington $1,065 round-trip (versus $1,018 round-trip on Air Pacific/Travelocity)

Fares from San Francisco:

  • Auckland $910 round-trip (versus $935 round-trip also on Air New Zealand through Travelocity)
  • Christchurch $996 round-trip (versus $1,066 round-trip on Air New Zealand through Travelocity)
  • Wellington $996 round-trip (versus $1,035 round-trip on Air New Zealand through Travelocity)

Not only are the ANZ.com fares lower, but most of their flights are non-stops (you have to change in Fiji with the higher Air Pacific fares).

A four-day advance purchase is required with no minimum stay and a one-month maximum stay. Travel February 1 through August 31, 2006. Tickets are available for purchase through May 25, 2006.

Bangkok or Manila from $722 Round-Trip

Cathay Pacific's (tel. 800/233-2742; www.cathaypacific.com) online-only monthly special to Asia highlights Bangkok, Thailand and Manila, Philippines this month, with fares starting from $722 round-trip from Los Angeles, New York JFK and San Francisco. If you're just flying from point to point (Los Angeles to Bangkok), this deal is so-so, since their fare (including all taxes and fees) departing March 15 and returning on March 22, for example, is $784 round-trip, whereas Travelocity came back with a $751 round-trip fare on EVA Airways. However, if you use the free stopover in Hong Kong option, the fare difference is quite evident. Using March 1, 2006 as a departure date, and March 15, 2006 as a return with a stopover in Hong Kong for two nights in both directions, Travelocity came up with $1,267 round-trip on Cathay Pacific. However, using the same dates through Cathay Pacific's site, the price is a much lower $815 round-trip.

Checking between New York JFK and Manila, using the same dates, the no stopover fare on Cathay is $842 round-trip, while on Travelocity the best deal is $1,277 round-trip on Emirates Airlines. And if you add a four-day stopover in Hong Kong on the outbound flight, Cathay's sale fare is $858 round-trip versus $1,405 round-trip with Travelocity (also on Cathay Pacific). So clearly, there are some bargains to be found here.

This sale is for departures February 1 through April 30, 2006, and all return travel must be completed by May 16, 2006. No minimum stay is required, but there's a 30-day maximum stay restrictions. Seats are still plentiful, and they're available for purchase through January 31, 2006, or until sold out.

Delta's Big Sale on Atlanta

In typical fashion, in response to AirTran Airways' (tel. 800/247-8726; www.airtranairways.com) sale covering all their destinations, Delta (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is matching with its own sale to/from Atlanta (a hub for both airlines). Delta's prices, destinations and rules are similar to Airtran's. Sample fares include Atlanta between Baltimore, Boston and Newark for $79 one-way; between Houston Hobby for $84 one-way; between Washington, D.C. Dulles and National for $59 one-way, and many others. A 10-day advance purchase is required for travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday through May 24, 2006. Round-trip purchase not required. Blackouts are February 17, 20 and April 7, 8, 13 to 18, 2006. Tickets must be purchased by January 17, 2006.

Earn up to 36,000 Bonus Miles Flying to the West Coast

American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is offering travelers bonus miles when they travel to or from any American destination in California, Oregon or Washington State. To participate in this great offer, you must register at the site above and use promotion code AAWCB, and travel before February 15, 2006. The bonus miles are cumulative for up to eight qualifying round-trips (1,000 for each one-way segment) so you could earn up to 36,000 bonus miles.

Big Southwest Sale to/from Reno

Southwest Airlines' (tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com) weekly Click 'n Save specials are highlighting Reno this week, but what's curious is that Southwest actually has lower fares, which other airlines are matching, than those advertised in this sale. For example, the sale list features Ft. Lauderdale at $114 one-way, but you can find that route on Southwest easily, using their "shortcut" feature, at $99 one-way, a price that is being matched by Continental and US Airways. The one difference is that the Southwest sale is valid for travel through June 9, 2006, while the other airlines are currently only offering travel through May 23, 2006. Purchase by January 12, midnight Pacific Time; travel January 31 through June 9, 2006; and comply with the 21-day advance purchase requirement. These fares are available only on Southwest's site.

A Less than Ideal Sale

US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com) is having a non-event of a sale between some of its East Coast markets. This isn't much of a sale compared to what we currently have listed on Airfarewatchdog. Here's a comparison of fares using the sample list and what can be found on Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia:

  • Charlotte between Indianapolis for $198 round-trip versus $134 round-trip on Northwest
  • Charlotte between Philadelphia for $278 round-trip versus $98 round-trip on Northwest
  • Norfolk between New York LaGuardia for $188 round-trip versus $168 round-trip on major airlines
  • Philadelphia between Akron for $208 round-trip versus $98 round-trip on Northwest
  • Philadelphia between Albany for $278 round-trip versus $168 round-trip on Continental, United and--guess who -- even US Airways itself
  • Philadelphia between Rochester $198 round-trip, matched by Continental and United
  • Pittsburgh between Syracuse $198 round-trip versus $168 round-trip Continental, United and, again, US Airways

The two lower US Airways fares above are also available using US Airways' online flexible search. Rules and restrictions for the sale: 21-day advance purchase; one-night minimum stay; and there are extensive blackouts.

Last Minute Trans-Continental Fares

Lastly, there are some good (and bad) last-minute transcon weekend deals for departure this Saturday, returning the following Monday or Tuesday. Included are New York/San Francisco (either direction) at $179 round-trip on American, same deal Seattle/New York and Los Angeles/Boston. Newark/Los Angeles is $188 round-trip on AA. Contrast that with United's much higher "deals," including Seattle/Boston and New York/Seattle $307 RT fares (apparently United doesn't monitor the competition very closely).

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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