Alert! All of you who, like me, are emotionally allergic to bad weather, now is the time to start looking for the good airfare prices. Nothing gets me through each winter day of my discontent better than anticipation of flying toward sunshine.

Airlines, like most other companies, are doing some cyberspace flying themselves and occasionally offer enticing discounts in order to get flyers to book their own tickets electronically.I discovered a half-price fare from Salt Lake City to San Diego, if I booked on the Internet. A friend in the travel business brought this bargain to my attention, but the fare was advertised elsewhere.

Airline Web sites are a logical source of price information. The travel ads in this newspaper, especially in the Sunday Travel section, should be searched for the perfect trip. Your travel agent is another superb data source. The consolidation of small travel agencies into large ones has made it harder to bond with one agent who will give you a heads up about good deals. If you have such a contact, be good to him/her because such personal access to travel tips is priceless.

Ordering tickets on the Internet is much like ordering over the phone. You'll need to have your credit card ready, but you won't have a real person to answer your questions. I had previously talked to the friends with whom I'd be traveling to San Diego so I was clear about their available dates, optimal travel times and seat preferences. With special fares, this preparation is necessary. While you call back and forth, planes fill up, so know these basics before you go online.

I recommend the use of an airline flight schedule. These are available free from airline ticket offices or airport ticket counters. Often you can pick one up on an airplane itself. I've seen them near the front of many planes in plastic bins attached to the wall. Obviously, these schedules receive regular updates, so keep current.

My modem had cardiac arrest a while ago (a story in and of itself), so I had to rely on my brother, Stan the dextrous, to let his fingers do the surfing. If you don't have Internet access yourself, let a nice brother, neighbor, grandchild or friend help you with the reservations. And the very least you can do is bring your helper a T-shirt from your trip. There will be enough Internet opportunities in the future that you should find an Internet connection now.

Because my brother does not live in the same valley I do, we arranged a time when we could make the reservation together. Plan some time because even the Internet can be sluggish. I kept handy all the essential plastic cards, a calendar and my airline schedule. Once Stan connected with the Web site, we did have to look at several weekends in order to get the optimal flight schedule.

Even if you travel infrequently, sign up for an airline's repeat-flyer-mileage-collection program number. The goal here is to amass miles for a future jaunt. Signup forms are available at ticket counters and from flight attendants on most flights. In-flight magazines usually have a form inside, unless a previous passenger used it.

Yes, and in most cases, you can sign up on the Internet itself.

Give your repeat-flyer-mileage-collection program number at the point of order. At check-in, whether or not you have luggage, you'll probably encounter a line. You will not wish to wait in this line any longer than necessary. Remember that the gate person asking you who packed your bags wants to get through that line as fast as you do. He won't be inclined to ask for your repeat-flyer-mileage-collection program number. Input your number on the Internet and save a step at check-in.

I asked the airline to mail the San Diego tickets to me. Going ticketless, definitely the future of travel, means you'll have a verification number rather than the actual ticket itself. On my last ticket-less flight, the agent told me I didn't have a ticket even as I presented my verification information at check-in. I had to involve a supervisor before I could get a boarding pass.

Stan and I found the Internet to be a slick way to make reservations. It was faster than the interminable hold we have both endured trying to place phone orders during airline fare wars or specials. After 50+ hearings of an airline's jingle, a caller can become crazed, even if sunshine beckons in the deep mid-winter.