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Domestic Off-Peak, Non-Holiday Airfares Fall From the Sky

October 22, 2003 -- With so many people planning Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays right now, it seems the rest of the domestic flight schedule is looking a bit ... lonely. To give their planes some company, a slew of domestic carriers are offering sale fares for dates that aren't during those peak holiday weeks. If you can travel off-peak, you can save.

None of these deals are extraordinary mind-blowers. Think of them as extending a general atmosphere of low fares like a pleasant mist over the nation -- and please, please shop around. In many cases, the specific sale fares airlines offer won't be the lowest you'll be able to find. (We checked all the fares below using December dates on Orbitz to see how they compared.)

The most immediate sale comes from AirTran ( Their sale is only in effect today and tomorrow (Thursday), for travel every day except Sunday through Feb. 13. A seven-day advance purchase is required, and if you're trying to travel on a holiday weekend, don't. Fares we liked from this sale include (all fares roundtrip, before tax):

  • Miami-Tampa $78 (matched by US Airways, American, Continental)
  • Rochester (NY)-Baltimore $88 (lowest available fare)
  • Newport News-New York $128 (lowest available fare)
  • Pittsburgh-Orlando $138 (matched by United, US Airways)
  • Atlanta-San Francisco $198 (matched by JetBlue, Delta)

Denver-based carrier Frontier also has a right-now sale ending Thursday as well, for flights up until Feb. 11. They're sticking with what they know and only featuring flights to and from Denver, but hey, skiers, that sounds like you. Sale fares are available for flights on Mondays-Thursdays and Saturdays, a 14-day advance purchase is required, and holiday weekends are blacked out. Find a full list of fares and book online at Roundtrip fares that attracted us included:

  • Denver-Milwaukee $158 (matched by US Airways, United)
  • Denver-Tucson (AZ) $178 (matched by United)
  • Denver-New York, Orlando, Portland, Seattle $198 (matched by United)

Southwest's sale is even more far-ranging, though there's no page on their Web site summarizing the sale fares. They're just trying to make sure you check when you shop around, because their fares aren't available on any of the major travel agency sites. The general rule is that no fare is higher than $99 each way for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; one-way fares are up to $139 on other days, which is still low.

The advantage of this Southwest sale is that it covers a wide range of less-served routes, so if you're in a smaller Midwestern or Western city, it may give you a break from high fares.

Their sale fares are available through Nov. 13 for flights anytime after Nov. 4. There's a 14-day advance purchase requirement and plenty of holiday blackouts. But the fares, of course, are worth it. Samples include (roundtrip, before tax):

  • Baltimore-Islip (NY) $78 (unbeatable)
  • Austin (TX)-Los Angeles $198 (lowest available fare)
  • Baltimore-San Jose (CA) $198 (lowest available fare)
  • Spokane-Nashville $198 (matched by Northwest, United)
  • Tucson (AZ)-Islip (NY) $198 (matched by Delta)

Buy these fares online at

The beat goes on at JetBlue; they've been having a sale for quite a while, so some of their lower fares might be sold out, but they're still worth looking at. Find their current sale fares online at In general, these fares are available for purchase through Oct. 31 and travel through Feb. 10, with a 7-day advance purchase. Fares to be aware of include:

  • New York -- San Juan (PR) $198 (lowest available fare (ATA?!)
  • New York -- San Diego $198 (matched by American)
  • Long Beach (CA) -- Fort Lauderdale $198 (matched by Delta, American)
  • Boston -- Denver (starting Jan. 7) $198 (lowest available fare)

So wherever you're traveling in the US, enjoy these good fares. But for the holidays, we suggest getting your relatives to come to you.

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