Travelers find deals on tickets

By Ed Brock

Karen Shailendra and her husband are flying Delta Air Lines to Los Angeles this weekend for right around $400.

"The tickets really were good deals," said Shailendra, site manager at the Wilma W. Shelnutt Senior Adult Center on Battlecreek Road in Jonesboro. "My husband listened to Clark Howell and then he grabbed ?em."

Timing is the key to getting a good price on tickets, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said.

"The earlier you can do it the better deal you get," Black said.

Of course, that means people with a sudden urge to travel this Fourth of July holiday are out of luck. For example, a two-way ticket from Atlanta to San Francisco leaving Sunday and returning Tuesday would be over $2,000 for an economy class ticket, Black said.

More than 1 million Georgians are expected to travel somewhere over the holiday weekend, according to AAA Autoclub South, and 100,000 of them are expected to travel by air.

What will happen after the holiday is anybody's guess, said AAA Division Manager Lisa Weaver whose offices are on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow.

"We don't get any advance notice on fare sales," Weaver said. "From what I've heard all the flights are over booked."

Last-minute travelers may still have some luck this week with AirTran Airways.

"We still have a few seats left on Monday and Tuesday looks pretty good," said AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson. "I think you can count on AirTran having another sale or two before this summer's over."

AirTran holds fare sales generally once a month, Hutcheson said, so there may be some later this month and in August.

Meanwhile, there's always the Internet.

For example, a round-trip ticket on Delta for San Francisco for a week-long trip starting on Aug. 5 can be booked on Expedia or Travelocity for $382. Each site has postings of special rates for other locations as well.

Also, JetBlue Airways recently opened a route between Long Beach, Calif. and Atlanta with tickets costing around $200 round trip.

AAA is expecting a resurgence in leisure travel, AAA Senior Vice President of Public and Government Relations Kevin Bakewell said.

"We're optimistic that travel will continue to increase and bolster the economy as it has done since early May," Bakewell said in a statement. "We're encouraged by the exceptional travel values we're able to pass along and, judging by the number of people coming into our branch offices it appears that our members are encouraged, too."