Now Boarding: Southwest, JetBlue AND Virgin Air ticket sales

I’ve ripped this straight from the LA Times travel blog: the first airfare sales of 2010, already!

Southwest Airlines: This is a three-day sale that ends Jan. 7, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.  Valid for travel every day except Fridays and Sundays through May 12, with a 14-day advance purchase. Fares start at $59 each way, pre-tax, for itineraries such as Los Angeles – Las Vegas; Los Angeles – San Francisco/San Jose/Sacramento/Oakland/Reno; and Burbank – Las Vegas.

Virgin America: Book by Jan. 11 for travel Jan. 7 through March 10,  with fares starting at $39 each way. The $39 fares include flights between the California destinations— San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego—plus San Francisco – Las Vegas. Flights between Los Angeles and the East Coast start at $99 each way to Boston, and $109 each way to New York, Washington, D.C. and Fort Lauderdale. These flights require only a 3-day advance purchase, but tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable. The lowest fares are for travel Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Travel on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday are $10 more each way. If you want to fly between March 11 and  June 20, you’ll find prices about $10 more each way. Note: Tickets purchased from Virgin America over the phone will cost an additional $15 per guest per itinerary.

 JetBlue: This “Shake Up the New Year” sale has prices starting at $29 each way, but from our corner of the world, prices start at $39 each way between Long Beach and Las Vegas, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento if you travel on Tuesday or Wednesday. Other days of the week go up to $49 each way. Book by 10:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Jan. 13, for travel through March 24 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Saturday. Requires a 10-day advance purchase. The Airfarewatchdog blog notes that JetBlue also tells you how much the flight will cost if you pay with points.

Tip: You might want to compare airfares for your destinations through the different sales. Tickets on Southwest between Los Angeles and Portland or Seattle, for instance, started at $157 each way, but fares  started at $59 each way on JetBlue for flights out of Long Beach to Seattle (on a Tuesday or Wednesday). Flights between Los Angeles and Seattle were $79 each way on Virgin America.

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