United leads airlines with off-season fare cuts

/ Source: The Associated Press

Following with tradition, United Airlines has launched a post-holiday fare sale intended to stimulate demand during a traditionally slow period, and many of its competitors followed suit.

Some sample one-way fares, which must be purchased by Jan. 9 as part of roundtrip service through March 7, include: $109 for Chicago to San Diego, $126 for Denver to San Francisco and $49 for Washington to Chicago.

The lower North American fares were published by Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based United, a unit of UAL Corp., late Tuesday and matched early Wednesday by AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp., US Airways Group Inc. and Continental Airlines Co., according to the air travel Web site FareCompare.

“We have this fare sale every year at this time because it helps increase demand for our off-peak travel season,” United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said.

Tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance, and U.S. itineraries require a two-day minimum stay, among other restrictions.

FareCompare guru Neil Banton said the fare sales affect close to 8,000 North American markets, but he noted that the select discounts were made following last week’s systemwide $5 per one-way ticket increase.