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Airlines offer vacation packages, from $414

/ Source: Sherman's Travel

Book by: Select dates through August 15, 2009

Travel by: December 15, 2009

The deal
For many travelers, an aircraft is simply a method of transportation to their destination and the experience ends the moment they collect their personal items from baggage claim. Recently, we’ve been witnessing a slew of airlines that are branching out to offer vacation packages at rates that are well below what travel agencies are offering. Here’s a few of our editor’s favorites to Hawaii, Europe, and Australia with rates starting from as little as $414.

British Airways flight and 3-night trip from $599
Experience London this fall before the chilly bite of winter sets in, and snag terrific rates on these flight and hotel combos starting from just $599. This package includes three nights hotel stay at the Royal National hotel, where nightly rates start at £72 ($118) a round-trip economy flight to London from New York, (other cities are available at an additional cost) and fuel surcharges.

The flight alone can easily set you back $500-$800, so even after taxes and fees — which aren’t included — are factored in you’re still saving a bundle by booking the combo. Similar packages are also available to Rome from $699, and Barcelona from $669. Travel is valid from September 3 through October 21, however tickets must be purchased by July 31.

The catch: Booking the quoted rates on the Web site takes some time and patience. You'll have to keep entering your dates to find this low price.

V Australia offers 4-night package from $779
West Coast dwellers can test-ride in Richard Branson’s latest pet project, V Australia, the chic new airline (think Virgin America and Virgin Blue). Take off from Los Angeles to Sydney and stay four nights at a 3-star hotel starting from $779 — with taxes included. Rates are also available to Melbourne from $875, Brisbane from $894 and numerous other cities in Australia. With the Australian dollar increasing in value, it’s now or never to book that dream vacation to the land down under.  This offer is valid for bookings made by July 31, for travel through December 15.

The catch: V Australia is just beginning to expand its U.S. presence so you’ll have to find another low-cost carrier to arrange a connecting flight to Los Angeles. 

Last-minute fly and stay in Dublin from $699
Summer is quickly slipping away and if you haven’t yet planned a getaway, the clock is ticking. This 4-night package from Aer Lingus stands out in the crowd because these incredibly low rates are valid for peak-season travel this August. Packages include hotel accommodations at the Regency Hotel in Dublin, daily Irish breakfast, and round-trip airfare from Boston or New York starting from $699. Or, you have the option of flying from San Francisco, Chicago, or Washington, D.C. from $769.

For a hotel upgrade, try the 4-star Maldron Cardiff Lane, centrally located in Dublin, for just $50 more. This offer is available for travel through August 22, but must be booked by July 31. Tip: If you can wait until August 23 to get your travel fix, fall rates go into effect but temperatures remain summer-like for a few weeks. You’ll save $100 by visiting between August 23 and October 31.

The catch: You better get packing because the deadline is right around the corner.

Hawaii 4-night package from $414
United Airlines is practically giving away vacations to Hawaii with prices this low.  Starting from $414 you can spend four nights relaxing on the beaches of Oahu, or catch a wave on the Big Island from just $592. These rates include round-trip airfare from Dallas (to Oahu) or Seattle (to the Big Island), taxes, and fees. Additional departure and arrival cities are available at slightly higher costs. This offer expires August 15, with travel valid from August 9 through November 15.

The catch: Don’t expect glamorous accommodations, you’ll be staying in a 2.5 star hotel.

The dollars
Rates are per person, and do not include hotel transfers.

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