September 5, 2003 -- If you didn't make it to Asia during those post-SARS sales, have no fear. Japan Air Lines is serving up a sweet, secret sale to the East -- and to the South. Meanwhile, if you're thinking of a holiday in the Phillippines, Cathay Pacific is offering a spectacular deal, especially for fliers from the East Coast.
JAL's Secret Sale
The sweetest fares in JAL's system are from New York to Sao Paulo, Brazil: roundtrips are a mere $300 plus tax. That's amazing. This fare is good for outbound travel between Sept. 20 and Sept. 30 and returns between Sept. 23 and Oct. 14, and you can buy tickets any time before Sept. 25 -- though we're sure the fares will sell out well before then. A five-day advance purchase is required, and flights on Fridays-Sundays cost $25 each way extra. There's a three-day minimum stay and two week maximum.
JAL flies overnight on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from New York to Sao Paulo, returning Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
JAL's home market is Japan, and they're offering similarly low fares for trips to Nippon and beyond. Buy by Sept. 14 for departures between Sept. 7-9 or Sept. 16-19, and returns between Sept. 10-16 or Sept. 19-26. A five-day advance purchase is required, and flights on Fridays-Sundays cost $50 more for each leg. Fares include:
- LA to Tokyo or Osaka: $550
- San Francisco or Las Vegas to Tokyo: $550
- New York or Chicago to Tokyo: $600
- LA, San Francisco or Las Vegas to Bangkok: $600
For trips further out in Asia, JAL has a complex maze of fares; the best thing to do is just to try to find your particular city pair at www.japanair.com/e/e-value/info/A30032e_intro.php#asia. Sale fares depart from LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and Honolulu, heading out to Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jakarta, Denpasar, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hong Kong and Seoul. Fares from the US mainland range from $590 for trips from the West Coast to Beijing and Shanghai, to $860 from New York or Chicago to Bali.
JAL's Asia sale fares are good for departures between Sept. 20 and Sept. 30, and returns between Sept. 23 and Oct. 14. A five-day advance purchase is required, and flights on Fridays-Sundays cost $40 more for each leg.
To get any of these fares, you have to be a member of JAL's free "Mileage Bank" frequent flier program. Go to www.japanair.com/e/ and click on "e-value fares" for full details.
Cathay Makes Manila the Dilla for Rilla
For trips between October 1 and November 30, Cathay is offering a $499 fare from New York, San Francisco or LA to Manila, with a free stopover in Hong Kong at no extra charge. Taxes aren't included, but the FedEx ticket delivery fee is.
This is a simple deal. The only rules are that you have to buy your tickets as soon as possible, and that you can't stay more than 30 days. Punishing change and cancellation fees apply, so make sure this is a trip you want to take before signing up. You don't get any frequent flier miles for this trip, and there are no formal connections to or from other cities.
Whether or not this fare is worth building your own connections depends on where you're flying from. From Phoenix, for instance, we found a $619 base fare to Manila on the Taiwanese carrier EVA AIR through Expedia. If you combine the Cathay deal with a $58 Southwest roundtrip from Phoenix to LA, you save $50, but lose a protected connection.
From Houston, we found several fares around $780. Because domestic fares from Houston are so high, you probably wouldn't save any money flying to LA to grab this deal. But if you're in Boston, where fares to Manila are around $750, you'd save big bucks by hopping on a $15 Chinatown bus and zipping down to New York for the $499 fare.
Cathay warns that "the most desirable dates sell out fast," so book soon by going to www.cathay-usa.com/dotm/dotm.asp.