Steals & Deals for January 12-26, 2017
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EUROPE: Premium Economy on the Cheap in the Winter
Plunging coach fares on transatlantic routes this winter have obscured the extremely good bargains in the far more commodious premium economy cabins sold by European carriers. Here's some of what's available now:
Air France prices to Paris are as low as $1,260 roundtrip (New York/Kennedy) and $1,282 (Washington/Dulles) and include extraordinarily low prices from the West Coast: $1,405 roundtrip from Los Angeles and $1,442 from San Francisco. There's a 7-day stay requirement on most of the lowest prices. Advance purchase requirements range from 14 to 28 days. Travel is permitted before April 6. More details are here.
Alitalia premium economy prices include $1,524 roundtrip (Boston-Rome) and $1,525 (New York-Milan). It's $1,630 roundtrip from Miami to Venice. Also available: onward connections from New York to Athens in premium economy for $1,736 roundtrip. Tickets must be purchased by January 19 for travel through April 7. There's a 7-day minimum stay for Italy travel and a Sunday-night stay for Athens flights. More details are here.
Lufthansa has put most all of its premium economy network on sale. Prices include $1,489 roundtrip between Los Angeles and Nice, $1,659 between Houston and Milan, $1,699 between New York and Munich and $1,879 between Chicago and Krakow. Also notable: just $1,609 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Florence. Tickets must be purchased by January 19 for travel between February 7 and April 6. More details are here.
THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE BARGAINS
ACCOR: As Much As 50 Percent Off Global Hotels. Now Including the United States and Canada!
Accor, the French hotel giant, runs so many sales that it's hard to know when its promotions end and regular prices begin. But assuming these still are sales, you should know that its current promotion will knock as much as 50 percent off nightly rates when you book by January 19. The global sale offers different stay-by rules and minimum-night purchases and it's segmented by region. You'll have to get through a lot of verbiage and restrictions, but there are deals out there. And there's good news: Accor has integrated the Fairmont chain into the sales, so you'll find many more hotels available in the United States and especially Canada. Information: the Accor PRIVATE SALES page.
CLUB CARLSON: Essentially, 5,000 Bonus Points a Night--With Some Nasty Twists
Club Carlson, the loyalty program of Radisson, Park and Country Inn properties, has decided to unleash a big-number promotion: 100,000 points for 20 nights of stays by March 31. Essentially, that's 5,000 points for each night stayed. However, you need to commit to that 20 nights of stays or, apparently, you get nothing. Can't stay 20 nights? A one-night stay will get you 5,000 points and two nights earn 10,000. Four nights get you 20,000 bonus points and, if you go for eight nights, the bonus is 50,000 points. But, again, nasty twist. You can choose only one of those five offers when you register. So if you commit to two nights, for example, you're out of luck for more points if you stay more. Weird--and, of course, doesn't exactly make you want to stay additional nights. And isn't that supposed to be the point of these promotions? Information: the Club Carlson EARN BIGGER REWARDS page.
UNITED/HERTZ: Really Awful Suppliers, Really Big Bonuses
What do Hertz and United Airlines have in common? Lessee, both operations run poorly. A former United executive was just ousted as Hertz chief executive. And United once actually owned Hertz. Other than that? Both are desperate for customers. The solution: gigantic bonuses for even one-day rentals. Until March 31, book a mid-size or larger Hertz car at United.com and you'll receive a 1,500-mile bonus atop the 500-1,250 miles you'd normally earn as a member of MileagePlus. So that means 2,000 to 2,750 miles for rentals as short as a single day. Does this sound familiar? It should. It's a re-introduction and extension of a promotion that the two companies have continually offered for more than a year. Information: the EARN AWARD MILES page.
KLM: Sure, Africa Is a Long Haul in Coach, But These Prices Are Insanely Low
Deals to Africa are hard to come by. But along comes KLM with simply insane pricing albeit in coach. How about Atlanta to Nairobi for as little as $723 roundtrip? Or New York to Algiers for $816 roundtrip? Or Los Angeles to Nairobi for $880 roundtrip? Or even Washington to Johannesburg for as little as $903 roundtrip. There are some bargains to Morocco, too. Casablanca is just $923 roundtrip (from New York) and Marrakech is $932 (from Atlanta). The prices aren't come-ons, either. KLM has a handy-dandy bar graph showing you when the fares are available and there seems to be substantial availability. Almost all itineraries include a stop in Amsterdam, but that shouldn't surprise you. Restrictions are minimal, too, requiring only a 7-day and Sunday-night stay. Information: the EXPLORE AFRICA TODAY page.
> Exclusive Discounts For JoeSentMe Members <
The Aer Lingus offer: Name your own price on any route and any class of service. Aer Lingus will either accept your offer or respond with a guaranteed discount off its published fares.
How to claim the offer: Surf here for complete details.
The CircaTerra offer: Receive 15% off the price of all travel products and luggage, including sale prices.
How to claim the offer: Enter promo code JoeSentMe in the Gift Certificate or Coupon Code box on the order confirmation page when you shop at CircaTerra Travel.
The Cook Travel Offer: 10% off published fares on SkyTeam international business tickets. 5% off on Star Alliance international business or first class tickets. Upgrades on most airlines when available to business from full-fare international coach.
How to claim offer: Call 800-435-8776. Identify yourself as a JoeSentMe member.
The ECBC Offer: 30 percent off all purchases and free shipping except for Sparrow II carry-on bag and clearance items.
How to claim the offer: Enter the code JOESENTME in the promo code box on the checkout page when you shop at http://www.ec-bc.com.
The Groundlink Offer: Receive 20 percent off rides when you book them using the GroundLink app.
How to claim the offer: Download the GroundLink app from the Apple or Android stores or GroundLink.com. Enter JOESENTME in the promo code box that will appear on the screen before you confirm your ride.
HOTEL POINTS AND PRICE PROMOTIONS
MARRIOTT/STARWOOD: One Big Happy Family, One Dull Winter Promotion, Two Familiar Names
Now that Marriott, Starwood and their amalgam of 30 brands are one big happy family, it's really no surprise that they are coordinating their points promotions. Starwood Preferred Guest retains its Double Take branding, but is offering double points on your first three stays between January 16 and April 15. Marriott Rewards retains its MegaBonus branding, but is offering double points on your first three stays between January 16 and April 15. See how that works? Different names, same deal. You must register separately for each promotion. And after the first three stays, you'll receive a mass-customized promotion for additional business you throw Marriott and Starwood's way. That is a twist Marriott has used for years on MegaBonus and now it applies to Starwood, too.
HOTELS: Small Chains With Big Bargains for the Slower Season
As the big get bigger in lodging, the smaller chains need to fight for attention to stay relevant during the slower winter months. The tool of choice? Price cuts, of course, often dressed up with holiday trimmings. Here are some of the deals we've seen:
Fairmont offers 10 to 30 percent off all properties. President's Club members also receive a room upgrade. Book by March 31 for travel through April 30. Information: the STAY LONGER. STAY MORE. page.
Sonesta offers 10 to 35 percent off at Sonesta hotels and 25 percent at Sonesta ES extended-stay properties. Travel must be booked by February 10 for travel by March 31. Use code 2017WS for U.S. properties and WINTER for hotels in St. Maarten. Information: WINTER SALE page.
BEST WESTERN: $10 Back on Every Stay in December and January
Best Western has a weak loyalty program, so its primary method of goosing up traffic in the slow months is cash--or cash equivalents. This cycle's promotion: a $10 electronic gift card for every stay until January 29. You have to register for the promotion, of course, and be a member of Best Western Reward, that weak frequency plan. Information: GO. GET. REWARDED. page.
HILTON HHONORS: 5,000 Bonus Points If You Do a Bunch of Stuff
Hilton HHonors points are viciously devalued, so 5,000 of them aren't worth much. Still, Hilton will give you 5,000 if you register, book using the Hilton HHonors app and use a Visa to pay for a stay before January 31. Got that? Register, book by app, pay with Visa and stay in the next few months. Ironically, the information is on Hilton HHonors' MAKE TRAVEL EASIER page.
MARRIOTT REWARDS: A Huge Acquisition Bonus and Elite Status for $85
Silver Elite status in the Marriott Rewards program isn't fabulous and usually requires 10 nights of stays a year. But the Marriott Rewards credit card from Chase will comp it for you in exchange for its $85 annual fee. There is also a free night in Category 1-5 hotels each year you maintain the card. But now there's another interesting fillip: an 80,000-point bonus if you charge $3,000 in the first three months. The big bonus is good for two free restricted nights at Marriott's best hotels (Category 9) or four restricted free nights in the chain's mid-range (Category 5) properties. Information: the Marriott Rewards EARN 80,000 POINTS page.
GLOBAL AIRLINE DEALS TO CONSIDER
LA COMPAGNIE: Two to Paris in Business Class for $1,500 Each
La Compagnie has been gobbled up by a big French tour operator called XL, so maybe you should jump on their deals while the all-business-class service still exists. The latest from the airline, which flies daily Boeing 757s configured with 74 angled-flat seats? Two can fly together from Newark to Paris/CDG for $1,500 each, or a total of $3,000. That's about what OpenSkies, the British Airways-owned boutique carrier charges between New York and Paris for one seat. And it's less than half of Air France's walk-up business class fare. The La Compagnie offer is pitched as a Valentine's Day promotion, but you can fly at that price until February 28. Tickets must be purchased by January 15, however. Information: La Compagnie's LOVEBIRDS OFFER page.
SINGAPORE AIRLINES: $1,299 Lemonade (Premium Economy) From Lemons (Houston-Manchester)
Singapore Airlines keeps trying to make lemonade from its grab bag of so-called "fifth freedom" rights that allows it to fly to a third country en route from the United States to Singapore. The most lemon-y route of all? Nonstops between Houston/Intercontinental and Manchester, a service that replaced the failed Houston-Moscow run. Starting January 17, Singapore will deploy one of its new Airbus A350s on the IAH-MAN run and that means a 24-seat premium economy cabin, too. Singapore was late to the game with premium economy among international airlines, so you twin a bad route with a little-known product and you have a service ripe for a big discount. The solution? Roundtrips as low as $1,299 when you book by January 31 for travel until March 31.
BRITISH AIRWAYS: Let's Do That AARP $400 Discount Deal for Another Few Months
The still-inexplicable British Airways sale last year was sweetened by the fact that you could stack the AARP discounts atop the already ridiculously low fares. This year's AARP deal was slated to end on October 21, but was extended until December 31. Now it's been extended to January 31. That's either good news or bad. Short-term extensions are always good, but, in previous years, BA extended the deal for an entire year. Either way, though, it means you can still score $400 off a first or business class fare, $130 off a premium economy price and $65 off in coach. Those discounts are for roundtrip prices, of course. No one-ways or open jaws need apply. But the discounts also apply to BA's code-shares with American, Iberia, OpenSkies and Finnair. Naturally, you must be an AARP member (go ahead, spring for the minimal annual fee) and you do have to book through the approved AARP portal. As we learned during last year's bonanza, however, all of BA's fares are there. Information: the TRIP OF A LIFETIME page.
GROUND TRANSPORT DEALS WORTH YOUR TIME
AMTRAK: Three Winter Trips in the East Mean a Summer Freebie
Let's just say government-owned and bureaucratically marketed Amtrak isn't at the pinnacle of promotional activity. Still, its annual version of BOGO (okay, buy three, get one) isn't too bad. If you take six Acela one-way trips (or three roundtrips) by February 28, Amtrak will buy you back a roundtrip (or two one-ways) between July 5 and August 31. It is offering the same buy three (or six), get one (or two) promotion for trips on the slower Northeast Regional runs. You must register for both offers, of course. There are some modest blackout dates on the freebies and minimum-spend rules for the winter purchases. Information: the 1-2-3-FREE page.
NATIONAL CAR RENTAL: The Best Car-Rental Bonus Ever Is Back Again--for Another Month
Sometimes the classics are the best and that's certainly true for National's One Two Free promotion. Two rentals of a midsize car by January 31 earn a free rental day that you can use by June 15. But now it's even better: the rental period has been extended until February 28. As has been the case in recent years, the points-based system offers 300 points per qualifying rental. It takes 600 points for a freebie. And as usual, National has thrown in a few wrinkles to pique your continued interest. You'll get a one-time bonus of 300 points for any size rental in Latin America, Europe or the Caribbean. You'll also receive 300 bonus points for every renter you refer to the Emerald Club. Downloading and using National's app gets you 75 bonus points per rental up to a maximum of 300 points. There are also bonuses for weekend and weekday rentals of specified durations--and renting from local Enterprise locations. Advance registration and membership in the National Emerald Aisle program is required. Information: the ONETWOFREE page.
AVIS/BUDGET/AADVANTAGE: Rent Three Days, Earn Up to 500 Miles
Mileage earning from car rentals has had a strange history. In the early days of the frequency programs, they were gushers of cheap miles. Then the car rental firms realized they were paying plenty to the airlines for miles without moving the market since all the companies were doing the same thing. So for decades rentals were earnings deserts. Lately, however, airlines and rental firms have been working out relatively exclusive deals. Latest example? Avis/Budget will give you as many as 500 American AAdvantage miles for a three-day rental. The deal is valid until April 30, after being scheduled to end on October 15. Information: the EARN MORE. SAVE MORE. page.
ENTERPRISE: The Return of the $10-a-Day Weekend Rental
Even as it has rocketed to the top of the car-rental heap, Enterprise continues to do things differently. For starters, all of its locations are company owned, astonishing in this era of franchised everything. It has expanded rapidly at airports, but its roots remain in the we'll-pick-you-up local station. And many of those local stations close on Sunday with short hours on Saturday. The result: a ridiculously wonderful promotion that offers cars as low as $9.99 a weekend day, so long as you return the car on Monday. The $9.99 rate covers economy or compact cars. Larger cars are $14.99-$19.99 a day. The rates include 100 miles per day and are valid for rentals that start on Fridays. Best of all, the prices are valid at participating local stations until May 22. Information: the Enterprise WEEKEND SPECIAL page.
This column is Copyright © 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.