Editor's Note: Starting off the New Year on an upbeat note, Expedia and US Airways have buried the hatchet. You can now once again buy US Airways tickets on Expedia.
January 5, 2004 -- It's a new year, and with the dropping of the big ball came the first 2004 airfare sales. A slew of airlines are offering pretty low fares on trips to a wide range of destinations. We've reported on some of these sales already, but since it's a new year, we thought you might want to hear about them again.
The Best Domestic Deals
Alaska (www.alaskaair.com), ATA (www.ata.com), American (www.aa.com), Delta (www.delta.com), JetBlue (www.jetblue.com), Northwest (www.nwa.com), Southwest (www.southwest.com), United (www.united.com) and US Airways (www.usairways.com) are all running official sales right now, so we advise the usual smart shopper's six-step plan for finding low airfares:
- Steps 1-3: Check Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity for fares.
- Step 4: Check out the Web site of the airline offering the lowest fare found in steps 1-3, above.
- Step 5-6: Check JetBlue and Southwest's Web sites, if you're flying one of their routes, because they don't list their fares on online travel agencies.
That said, we'll point out some particularly friendly fares here.
JetBlue's ongoing sale offers $198 cross-country roundtrips on a wide range of routes. Combined with their reputation for comfortable and friendly service, we think that's a winner. As the sale has been going on for a while, though, we expect many of the lowest fares to be sold out. It's worth a try: go to www.jetblue.com. You must buy tickets by Jan. 31 for travel by Feb. 10. Routes covered for $198 (in either direction) include Boston-Long Beach or Oakland; Washington/Dulles-Long Beach or Oakland; Long Beach-Fort Lauderdale; and New York-Denver, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Oakland, Ontario, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Seattle or San Juan, Puerto Rico. JetBlue flies into New York's JFK airport, which used to be terribly annoying to get to, but is much more convenient now that the new AirTrain is running (click here see our past column on the JFK AirTrain.)
ATA has also cut many of their fares nationwide to $198 roundtrip -- far, far, far too many to list here. Their sale is especially tasty for residents of cities like Springfield, Ill., who can now travel anywhere from Boston to Orlando to San Francisco for $198. We also like New York-LA for $188; Indianapolis-Orlando for $118; Phoenix-Chicago for $168; and Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Madison or Newark-San Francisco for $198. Book online by Jan. 12 for travel between Jan. 13 and March 17 at www.ata.com.
US Airways has stolen a page out of the AirTran playbook by offering a $73 roundtrip fare between Boston and Philadelphia. As we so often like to say, that's cheaper than the train, which is $148 roundtrip on this route. Excellent. We also like how US Airways is competing with Southwest by offering Albany-Phoenix and Providence-LA for $198 each. Purchase at www.usair.com by Jan. 12 for travel on Mon-Thu before March 3, or between April 13 and May 23
The Best Hawaiian Bargains
From New York, by far the best deal to Hawaii is on ATA (www.ata.com). They've got $398 roundtrips to Honolulu from both LaGuardia and Newark, with a change of planes in San Francisco. Purchase by Jan. 12 for travel through March 17.
From the West Coast, Hawaiian Airlines (www.hawaiianair.com) and Aloha Air (www.alohaair.com) have competing sales. Aloha's sale covers flights from now through March 12. Roundtrips to Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, Hilo or Kona from Burbank, Oakland, Orange County, Phoenix, Reno, Sacramento, or Las Vegas are a mere $284. That's unbeatable. You must buy these fares online at www.alohaair.com, and we couldn't find a date when this sale would end, so snap up the fares now if you can.
Hawaiian has competitive fares of $289 roundtrip from LA, Ontario and SF and $299 from San Diego and Sacramento for travel in January. Add $20 for travel between February 1 and March 12. We couldn't find an expiration date for those fares, so buy them as soon as possible if you're interested.
The Best European Escapes
To London, great fares include $210 from Philadelphia on US Airways, $198 from New York on Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com), $218 from Washington/Dulles on Virgin, $286 from Chicago on American, and $338 from LA or SF on Virgin. Fares are generally good for purchase this week and for travel through mid-March.
Other attractive fares include Boston-Munich for $298 on United/Lufthansa; Boston-Amsterdam for $266 on American; Denver-Amsterdam for $418 on United; Houston-Frankfurt for $326 on American; Miami-Amsterdam for $366 on Northwest/KLM; Pittsburgh-Munich for $356 on US Airways and San Francisco-Nice for $438 on United. Buy your tickets this week with your favorite online travel agent.
The Best World Fares
To Asia, we're seeing some fine fares on Northwest: LA-Japan for $488 is a particularly good one, and New York-Taipei for $680 isn't all that bad. Buy by Jan. 16 for travel between Feb. 1 and March 25 on Mon-Thu flights. United has San Francisco-Seoul for $478 and New York-Tokyo for $598. Buy by Jan. 16 at www.united.com.
To New Zealand, Air New Zealand has continued their sale from last year. They're offering an $850 roundtrip fare from LA to Auckland if you fly out on Jan. 13/14/16/18/19 and return on Jan. 26/27/28/30. You must buy today at www.airnz.com for this fare.