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Deal ALERT: Late summer/fall fares sales start early

If peak season fares will keep you grounded this summer, here’s some great news: This morning,  Southwest.com and AirTran.com kicked off a decent late summer/early fall fare sale, but you’ve got to act fast. That’s because the sale only lasts 72-hours and only a handful of seats on each plane are selling at the discounted prices. Here are the specifics:

>Travel dates: Travel must take place between Monday, August 13 and Wednesday, November 14.

>Roundtrip fares range from $100 to $280 roundtrip (all in), based on flight length. For travel up to 500 miles, fares are $100 round trip. For travel 501 to 1,300 miles, fares are $200 round trip. For travel 1,301 or more miles, fares are $280 round trip. (Fares are available one-way.)

>This is a 72-hour sale, so tickets must be purchased online at Southwest.com or AirTran.com between today and midnight Thursday, June 14.

>Sale fares are NOT available on Fridays or Sundays.  Blackout dates: Aug. 18, Aug. 30, Sept. 3, and Sept. 4, 2012.

>I expect United, Delta and other carriers to match most of these fares by later today, so shop around if you don’t find the fare you want.

>Based on what we’ve seen fare-wise this summer, these are some great deals. Sample roundtrip Southwest or AirTran fares from SFO/OAK/SJC include:

$100: Burbank, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange County, Reno,  San Diego

$200: Albuquerque, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle

$280: Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Houston

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Summer fare sale shockers

 

American's fare "sale?"

Have you checked out the latest round of summer fare “sales?”

I’m shocked! Not because fares are so low…but because the so-called fare “sale” rates are so…sky high.

Blame it on the high cost of fuel, declining capacity or increasing demand, but these fares hurt!

If you are planning to fly this summer, you better start saving now. Or start mapping out a summer road trip, which is looking more and more appealing with the price of gasoline declining.

A few examples of roundtrips from a “fare sale” trumpeted by American Airlines today:

  • SFO>St Louis: $538
  • SFO>Houston: $512
  • SFO>Ft Lauderdale: $480
  • SFO>Los Angeles (LAX): $186

Also today Virgin America trotted out a special introductory fare on flights to its newest airport, Washington National: $400 round trip! Ouch! And that’s only if you can fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday after August 14th. Those flying on other days will pay about $550 round trip. United, which just started flying nonstop between SFO and Washington National this month, is currently asking for a whopping $674 round trip for travel in late June. Double ouch!

Thinking about a July trip to Hawaii? Right now, you can’t find a seat on a nonstop for less than about $728 roundtrip between SFO, Oakland or San Jose and Honolulu.

Got some business to take care of in NYC? Get ready to pay up! Even in this hypercompetitive market, the lowest fares for nonstops from SFO in mid July are now in the $400-$500 range.

Thinking about Europe but you have not bought your ticket yet? Air France will fly you round trip between SFO and Paris nonstop for a mere $1,679 in July or August. Nonstops on United or Lufthansa to Frankfurt are now about $1500 round trip. How about SFO-London for a little pre-Olympics action in July? British Airways, United and Virgin Atlantic will get you there for about $1,400 round trip.  If you would like to fly in for the Games, fares are $2,000+ for economy class round trips.

My best advice for those on a budget is to try and schedule your trips before about June 15, or after about August 24—a cheaper period outside the peak of the peak summer travel season. If your schedule can handle it, choose one-stop flights or red-eyes, which tend to be cheaper. Most times, you’ll find cheaper fares on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays.

Have you searched summer fares yet? Please provide any highs or lows (or onerous restrictions) you’ve found in the comments boxes below. 

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Spring-Summer fare sales creep out

Virgin America's new San Francisco Giants bearded livery. Thoughts?

Some good news for travelers… but not such great news for the economy today…

Typically summer fare sales don’t start until AFTER Easter. But this week, and in the weeks leading up to it, we’ve seen airlines kicking off the summer fare sale season a little bit early.

That’s good news for travelers worried that high oil prices that could translate into higher ticket prices, which could put a crimp in their summer vacation plans.

But when airlines put fares on sale early, it’s a signal to me that advance bookings for the summer might be a little weak. To me, this means that consumer confidence is still waning as travelers take a “wait and see” approach to summer vacation.

For the most part, spring and summer fare sales so far have been fairly restrictive- for example, many require travel on slow days like Tuesdays or Wednesdays in order to get the lowest fares. Most sales only last for a few days. Plus, I’ve not seen too many sale fares that go deep into peak summer travel season- most up to this point have been good for trips into mid-June only. A quick scan of peak (July-August) fares still shows a few eye-poppers- with no sales so far during the summer peak.

Here are the details on the current crop of early summer fare sales- they are led by low fare carriers, but majors are matching these deals, too. (All sample fares below are for roundtrips and include all taxes and fees. These fares were available when I checked on the morning of April 3, but are subject to selling out.)


VIRGIN AMERICA: In honor of its partnership with the San Francisco Giants and the newest member of its fleet taking to the skies this week (see the Giants-inspired “Fly Bye Baby” bearded aircraft above), Virgin America launched a “#flythebeard” fare sale. Sample roundtrip fares for travel through June 13 are: $160 to Las Vegas, Los Angeles or San Diego or $280 round trip to New York. A special introductory fare of $218 to Portland is good for flights from June 5 through Oct 17. Sale expires April 5. Details.

JETBLUE has a great one-day sale that expires tonight at midnight tonight, but you can fly all the way through June 20. Not available on Fridays or Sundays. Sample sale fares from SFO: Long Beach $100. Austin $200; New York JFK $240 or to Boston or Ft Lauderdale for $280. Details

UNITED is offering round flights to Seattle for just $200; Austin for $249; Denver $278; Dallas Ft Worth or Newark for $320. Details.

SOUTHWEST is offering a 24-hour sale for flights to/from Chicago Midway. From SFO, you can fly for $287.50 round trip on Tuesdays or Wednesdays or Saturdays through May 23. Details

Are these fares low enough to spur you into action, or are you going to wait and see what else might come along? Please leave your comments below!