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Monday, October 16, 2000

Airlines give
isles Christmas

Most carriers are likely to
match United's offer of nearly
50 percent off for travel
to the mainland

By Russ Lynch

United Airlines said today it is once again offering Hawaii residents a Christmas present: fares for mainland travel in December that cut nearly half off the previously posted prices for the same dates.

As of late this morning, Northwest and Continental airlines had posted similar fares, and the bargains are likely to spread to other airlines since the carriers typically match each others' moves.

Counting all taxes, fuel surcharges and other add-ons, this year's "Mele Kalikimaka" fares on United add up to a Honolulu-West Coast round trip for $386.

The lowest fare posted for the same trip by airlines that have not yet matched United is $753, so the sale fare saves nearly 50 percent.

For Honolulu-New York, United's fare of just over $687 is 38 percent below the next-lowest posted airfare, $1,106, said Geoff Ross, a supervisor at International Travel Service in Honolulu.

Ross cautioned that would-be travelers may not find the seats they want at those prices and United also warned that seats are limited. But Joe Hopkins, a spokesman at the airline's Chicago headquarters, said today that the bargain fares will be "widely available."

As usual, the low fares apply only to round trips starting in Hawaii and are not available for trips originating on the mainland.

The fares are good for travel starting in Hawaii from Dec. 1 through Dec. 29, and the return trip must start between Dec. 29 and Jan. 7.

Neighbor Island connections are available through United's local partner, Aloha Airlines.

United said there are no blackout dates and the fares apply seven days a week. Most of the year, weekend travel costs more than on weekdays.

Tickets are not refundable, but itineraries can be changed for a $75 fee, provided the new dates are withing the Mele Kalikimaka period, United said.

International Travel said that United's reservations system is showing three levels of Mele Kalikimaka fares, and travelers who can't find seats at the rock-bottom discount may get tickets for a little more that are still bargains.

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