In all our years of watching airfares, we hadn't seen a sale to Europe for spring and summer travel quite like this.

Launched on a Saturday (Jan. 17 to be exact) over a holiday weekend (which is typical), this was an extensive sale between large and small US cities served by US Air to several, but not all, major European capitals. Fares were approximately $300-700 less than competitors' prices, and surprisingly not a single competing airline matched.

Another point I want to make: If you had signed up for an airfare alert based on price only, you might have missed these bargains. That's because the lowest fare between, say, Harrisburg and London didn't necessarily go down during this sale. What went down were the time of year travel restrictions. Suddenly, a winter $600 RT fare was now a summer $600 RT fare. So let's say you signed up with Travelocity or Orbitz to alert you if the fare on that route went down. Since it didn't go down, you'd get nada.

Oddly, too, I didn't see this sale mentioned on any travel media Web site (except ours, of course). Maybe the other guys don't work over the weekend (there were a lot of great football games after all). Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for our readers, I usually work weekends and holidays because I  know that's often when the really good fare stuff happens.

Of course, many of our readers don't open email over the weekends or on holidays, so they'll be opening old emails and clicking on fares that no longer exist. Sorry 'bout that. Will we see fares like these again this summer? Perhaps, but somehow I doubt a new sale will be as wide ranging as this one.

A few summers ago, Virgin Atlantic had an amazing summer sale to London, but it was only on the routes they served. And we have seen sporadic, targeted sales to Europe in the past. So who knows. We'll keep you informed.

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