Best fares: It pays to move fast for lowest fares

By Tom Parsons
The Dallas Morning News
Posted June 11 2006

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When you see a great airfare, you have to be ready to book, since the sale may not last long.

Although the airlines often give a last purchase date, they may pull the fare early if they sell enough seats. Also, planes are flying fuller than ever, and seats may be hard to come by.

July travel is expected to reach an all-time high. Previously, planes flying 75 percent of capacity were considered full, but now the average flight is 83 percent full. Even during the offseason, planes are carrying 12 to 15 percent more passengers.

Our worst enemy this summer may be the weather. If flights are canceled, airlines will have little wiggle room due to full flights. Our advice: Arrive at the airport at least 30 minutes earlier than the airlines recommend. Would you rather give up 30 minutes today, or give up a whole day trying to get re-accommodated on another flight?

We're seeing sales for travel to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. The majority are valid beginning Aug. 15, for late-summer and fall travel. Depending on school start dates, these fares are best for people with school-age children. They also could work for college students. You'll see discounts on hotels and car rentals in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida for travel beginning in September, since this is traditionally off-peak to these destinations.

The following fares from Dallas must be purchased by Sept. 30 for travel Aug. 15 through Nov. 15. US Airways has a Web sale with fares from $223 to Freeport, Bahamas, and $255 to Mexico City. Travel round trip on American on fares starting at $254 to Belize City, $447 San Jose, Costa Rica and $459 Guatemala City. Delta also has seven-day advance fares starting at $385 round trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for travel though Nov. 15.
Wendy Auxillou
Auxillou Beach Suites
Caye Caulker, Belize