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ON A BUDGET

Getting Fare Deals to Mexico Via the Internet

October 01, 2000|ARTHUR FROMMER

Given Mexico's proximity to the United States, air fares to destinations there are surprisingly high. Sure, it's easy to get a reasonably priced package to Cancun or Acapulco, but flying to other parts of the country can be pricey.

One strategy for getting around high fares is to watch the weekly Internet specials provided by Mexico's two major airlines, Aeromexico and Mexicana. Their prices and cities vary with the seasons, but round-trip fares in the low hundreds are not uncommon, and direct flights to smaller Mexican cities are often available.

(Some readers might recall that Smarterliving.com, http://www.smarterliving.com, provides a searchable database of "E-savers," but it's only for flights in the United States and Canada.)

Aeromexico's program is called "Faresavers." Every Thursday, a new set of fares is posted on http://www.aeromexico.com. The most common specials are to Mexico City and Cancun, but less-touristed cities such as Guadalajara and Oaxaca also appear frequently.

Aeromexico allows you to choose from a set of listed departure and return dates. Discounted hotel and car rental are frequently available as well. The number of dates from which to choose varies weekly for each route. Some are more restrictive than others.

Mexicana's "Mex-e-savers" program provides a bit more freedom. The Internet specials, which are updated each Tuesday, allow you to choose a departure date usually between seven and 14 days in the future. Return dates are open, but there is a one-month maximum stay.

After filling out the information at http://www.mexicana.com, your reservation is confirmed by e-mail. If the dates you requested are not available, the airline will offer others. If you like the dates, then you give Mexicana your credit-card information and book the tickets.

Besides U.S.-to-Mexico flights, Mexicana occasionally offers deals on flights from Mexico City to other Latin American capitals such as Guatemala City and San Jose, Costa Rica.

The main drawback of both offers is that it's hard to plan. Even Mexicana rarely offers opportunities to book more than 14 days in advance, and there's no guarantee from week to week that your home airport and destination will be listed. Still, the chance to find a real bargain should keep interested travelers logging on.

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