Steals & Deals for April 13-27, 2017
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CONDOR: Really Cheap Business Class Fares (One-Way, Too!) to Frankfurt and Munich
Condor was once the charter division of Lufthansa, which explains the carrier's grey-and-yellow color scheme and not-quite-a-crane logo that looks eerily like that of its former parent. Now a division of Thomas Cook, the British travel agency, Condor is expanding fast and it isn't aping Lufthansa's stratospheric business class fares. Condor's up front prices are dirt cheap and, remarkably, available one-way, too. Samples: Seattle to Munich for as low as $1,379 one way; Austin to Frankfurt for $1,329; and Pittsburgh to Frankfurt for as low as $799 one-way. (Condor has launched a 13-city U.S. expansion this summer and gateways also include San Diego, New Orleans, Baltimore and Portland, Oregon.) And especially considering the price, Condor's business class is quite good: configured 2x2x2 in Boeing 767s and outfitted with spacious angled-flat beds with at-seat power and 15-inch monitors. You'll even receive Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan credit. The one downside? Flights only operate two to four times a week from most U.S. cities. Information: the CONDOR UNITED STATES Web site.
THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE BARGAINS
CATHAY PACIFIC: The Annual Buy-Now, Save-Later Asia Summer Business Class Sale
Cathay Pacific has just changed chief executives after disappointing earnings, so changes may soon be coming to the much-admired Hong Kong-based carrier. But the annual late spring and summer business class sale to Asia has arrived right on schedule. From New York, for example, it's $4,107 roundtrip to Manila. If you're headed to Singapore, it's $4,120 roundtrip from either Los Angeles or Chicago. If you're headed to Thailand, it's $4,119 roundtrip from San Francisco to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket. Tickets must be booked by April 30 for travel between May 24 and August 14. Information: the EXPLORE ASIA 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 $802 roundtrip? Or New York to Algiers for $661 roundtrip? Or Los Angeles to Nairobi for $844 roundtrip? Or even Washington to Johannesburg for as little as $825 roundtrip. There are some bargains to Morocco, too. Casablanca is just $813 roundtrip from New York or $988 from Los Angeles. 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, requiring only a 7-day and Sunday-night stay. Information: the EXPLORE AFRICA page.
AIR FRANCE: Premium Economy Below $1,300 Roundtrip to Paris
Delta Air Lines has announced that it will launch a genuine international premium economy cabin later this year on its Airbus A350s and the betting is that its product will look a lot like the one already on offer from SkyTeam partner Air France. It's one of the best in class. Right now, Air France is offering some extraordinary values on the service, especially from the West Coast. It's just $1,563 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Paris, for example. From New York, it's $1,242 roundtrip. From Washington/Dulles, it's just $1,598 roundtrip. There are also excellent deals over Paris to other destinations in Europe, too. (Sample price: Chicago-Milan for $1,543 roundtrip.) The advance purchase rules are a bit stiff, however: 21 to 28 days. Travel is permitted until August 5 or again between August 26 and September 2. Information: the PREMIUM ECONOMY page.
YOUR EXCLUSIVE MEMBERS-ONLY DISCOUNTS
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HOTEL POINTS AND PRICE PROMOTIONS
MARRIOTT REWARDS: 100,000-Point Acquisition for the Chase Marriott Card
Acquisition bonuses do not get larger than this: 100,000 Marriott Rewards points if you take the personal version of the Chase Marriott card. You must spend $5,000 during the first three months you have the card, but that's not much of an impediment when you consider the payoff. You can score 7,500 more points when you add an authorized user. The annual fee is $85. Which means you're paying $85 for bonus points that can get you 13 nights at Marriott lowest-priced hotels or two award nights at its more expensive (Category 9) properties. Information: the 100,000 BONUS POINTS page.
WORLD OF HYATT: A Cheapie Promotion From a Much-Devalued Program
If you need more proof that Hyatt has all but given up competing for the business of frequent travelers, consider the first promotion from World of Hyatt, the chain's newly introduced, much-devalued replacement for Gold Passport. Hyatt will begrudgingly give you double base points starting with your second stay between April 1 and June 30. If you're still going out of your way to find a Hyatt property, this promotion is better than a smack in the face. Not much better, but, still, a little better. Advance registration is required, of course. Information: the DOUBLE POINTS FOR BEING YOU page. (And, no, I don't know what the hell that means.)
CHOICE HOTELS: The Heavily Restricted Two-for-One Deal Is Back Again
Choice's lightly regarded Choice Privileges program is once again rolling out the heavily restricted two-earns-one promotion. For two separate stays before April 27, you'll receive enough points to claim a free night at about 1,500 of Choice's properties. There are lots of gimmicky rules and restrictions (not to mention advance registration), so make sure you read carefully before you commit. Information: the STAY TWO TIMES page.
BEST WESTERN: Not a Lot of Dough, But a Lot of Chances to Earn a Little Dough
Best Western Rewards has upped its game a little bit from last year with its spring promotion. Each stay before April 30 will earn you a $10 Best Western gift card. That's chump change, of course, but this time Best Western is allowing you to earn the bonus as many times as you stay during the promotional period. Advance registration is required. Information: the GO. GET. REWARDED. page.
HILTON HONORS: 1H Now, But a 2K Bonus a Day Until April 30
Hilton has changed the name of its frequency program. The double H is gone and you'll call it simply Hilton Honors from now on, if you please. If that news doesn't overwhelm you--and it shouldn't--at least you can look to this: a 2,000-point bonus each day you stay at a Hilton property until April 30. Even though Hilton Honors points aren't the most valuable in the hotel universe, you have to admire the straightforward approach of the offer, the inclusion of all Hilton properties around the world and the ability to rack up a fairly tidy cache of points. Advance registration is required, of course. Information: the 2K EVERY DAY page.
GLOBAL AIRLINE DEALS TO CONSIDER
FINNAIR: Russia and Eastern Europe Cheap in Business Class All Year
Finland remains what it has always been: a middle ground between Europe and Russia. And Vantaa Airport in Helsinki remains what it always has been: a fabulous place to change planes. See where I'm going with this? Finnair is offering great deals in business class over its Helsinki hub to Russia and other European destinations. Best of all, prices are valid for travel until the end of the year if you can book soon and hit the admittedly stiff (90-day) advance-purchase restriction. Sample prices: Moscow or St. Petersburg for $2,289 roundtrip; Tallinn or Vilnius in the Baltic States for $2,769; and Warsaw for $2,775. The cheapest option: Yekaterinburg for just $2,275 roundtrip. Oddly, if you're actually headed to Helsinki, the nonstop roundtrip price is $2,849. There is a 10-day minimum stay. Information: the Finnair OFFERS page.
ALASKA MILEAGE PLAN: When Was the Last Time You Saw an Enrollment Bonus?
Alaska Airlines is revving up the promotional activities now that it has actively begun the process of integrating Virgin America into the system. One of its tricks is a blast from frequent flyer programs past. Alaska will give you 5,000 bonus miles when you open a Mileage Plan account before April 30 and fly on Alaska or Virgin America before September 30. Information: the 5,000 REASONS TO JOIN page.
MERIDIANA: $1,500 Roundtrips to Italy in Business? Nice Work If You Can Get It
I've lost track of how many airlines have been folded into Meridiana, which started life as Alisarda, a carrier launched by the Aga Khan to fly to Sardinia. Although almost unknown in the United States, Meridiana (often under the name EuroFly) has flown from New York to Rome, Naples, Milan and Sicily. Nonstop to Naples and Palermo, Sicily, I'll have you know. And fares to Naples or Palermo are eye-poppingly cheap this year--about $600 roundtrip in coach and $1,550 in the better-than-you'd expect business class. The trick to getting the fare on Meridiana's once- or twice-weekly nonstops? Making sense of the chaotic, quintessentially Italian Meridiana Web site. Flights in April, May and October are available at the lowest fares. Prices will be a bit higher in late spring and the summer.
LACOMPAGNIE: Paris When It Sizzles--at a Legitimately Sizzling Fare
All-business-class La Compagnie only flies one route--Newark-Paris/CDG--but now it's got a rich uncle for an owner and flies twice daily. That's about 150 business class seats a day in each direction. To help move those seats--admittedly, not lie-flat, but quite comfortable nevertheless--LaCompagnie is selling 1,000 of them for a fabulous price: $1,300 roundtrip. You can fly as early as May 9 at the low fare. Information: the La Compagnie FRENCH SUMMER page.
AER LINGUS: Finally, Some Decent Summer Business Class Fares
Ever since Continental Airlines disappeared, the airline industry's appetite for dramatic summer business class sales has also disappeared. The Star Alliance, where Continental landed even before its merger with United, kept up the summer sales promotions for a few years. But, lately, it's been slim pickings up front. But this year, at least, Aer Lingus is riding in with some fine summer fares up front. And that makes sense since Aer Lingus has expanded dramatically in the United States and has expanded the size (and quality) of its business class cabin. And Dublin is an easy airport for connections to continental Europe and the United Kingdom. With that as introduction, here are the fares: $1,999 roundtrip to Dublin or Shannon from New York/Kennedy, Newark and Boston; $2,399 from Toronto to Dublin; $2,599 from Chicago/O'Hare to Dublin; $3,199 from Washington/Dulles to Dublin; and $3,599 from Los Angeles to Dublin. Those fares are valid for midweek travel between June 1 and September 1 if you book by April 19. You must include a Saturday-night stay. Information: the Aer Lingus FLYING BUSINESS page.
BRITISH AIRWAYS: Half a Loaf (Well, a Discount Loaf) Is Better Than Nothing
The long-standing discount deal between British Airways and the AARP is finally dead. Too bad, too, since it gave a $400 discount on business or first class seats atop any other fare or price promotion you could find. Still, all is not loss. BA's new deal for AARP members, while half a loaf, is still worth having. When you enter via the AARP portal, you'll receive $65 off coach, $130 off premium economy and $200 off business or first class seats. It requires a roundtrip purchase, of course. Discounts are available for travel through March 31, 2018, when you book by December 31. Information: the EXCLUSIVE AARP MEMBERS page.
DELTA SKYMILES: A Rich and Game-Changing Partnership With Airbnb
Business travelers are the last serious bastion of the traditional hotel/motel/resort nexus. While they aren't averse to using Airbnb on longer leisure trips, business trips are the sweet spot for hotel status and points earnings. But Delta SkyMiles may be challenging your assumptions. Its newish partnership with Airbnb has just taken a rather rich turn. Delta is offering three SkyMiles for every dollar you spend on an Airbnb accommodation. Plus you'll receive a $25 discount and a 2,000-mile bonus for your first use of Airbnb. You'll even earn as many as 25,000 bonus SkyMiles if you become an Airbnb host. The deal is valid through April 30, 2018, when you complete your bookings by April 30. Information: the LIMITED-TIME OFFER page.
GROUND TRANSPORT DEALS WORTH YOUR TIME
NATIONAL/SOUTHWEST: Quadruple Rapid Rewards Points for Weekly Rentals
Southwest Airlines and National Car Rental have teamed up to offer an intriguing payoff for rentals if you need a car. Instead of the standard 600 Rapid Rewards points, a two- or three-day National rental will earn 1,200 points. Rentals of 4-6 days will earn 1,800 points. Weekly or longer rentals will score 2,400 points. To score the points, use Contract ID code 5030510. The bonus points are valid on rentals until January 31, 2018, with a one-day advance reservation. Information: the RAPID REWARDS PROMOTIONS 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.
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.