Steals & Deals for May 11-May 25, 2017
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AIRLINES: In Search of Big Summer Business Class Fare Sales
If you still have your heart set on a summer holiday in Europe, you've got just two choices: Throw yourself on the mercy of your frequency program (lots of luck) or search for a bargain. The deals out there aren't anywhere as good as they were during the glory days of the summer business class sale, but some good prices are available. At least they are if you shop carefully, consider the options and make a tweak here or there to your plans. Here is what is out there now:
AIR NEW ZEALAND: From LAX to London on a Secret Route
Air New Zealand has what is called a "fifth-freedom" right to carry U.S. passengers between Los Angeles and London as part of its Auckland-LAX-London run. So it often discounts the daily LAX-Heathrow portion and is doing so again this summer. The current deal is $3,766 roundtrip for business class travel between July 12 and August 29. Tickets must be purchased by May 25. Information: the FLIGHTS TO LONDON page.
AER LINGUS: Great Summer Business Class Fares, Fabulous Transatlantic Beds
Aer Lingus has extended its summer business class sale. 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. Bargains include: $1,999 roundtrip to Dublin or Shannon from New York/JFK, 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 when you include a Saturday-night stay. There are also some extra perks: Stopovers in Ireland and the in-flight WiFi is free. Information: the Aer Lingus FLYING BUSINESS page.
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 launches a 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 downside? Flights only operate two to four times a week from most U.S. cities. Information: the CONDOR UNITED STATES Web site.
DELTA AIR LINES: Rebranded 50-Day Advance Purchase Fares Offer Some Deals
Delta is offering some late summer and autumn business class bargains--so long as you understand the fares are really structural 50-day advance-purchases prices with a new purchase-by date. Sample prices: New York/JFK to Copenhagen for $2,198 roundtrip; JFK-Stockholm or Pittsburgh-Paris/CDG for $1,998; and Atlanta-Madrid or Salt Lake City-London/Heathrow for $2,398. The fares are valid for travel between July and October 27 when you include a Saturday-night stay. The big trip wire: Tickets must be purchased by May 17. Information: the Delta EUROPE SALE.
FINNAIR: Russia and Eastern Europe Cheap in Business Class
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 East European cities. 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 $2,865; and Warsaw for $2,875. Oddly, if you're actually headed to Helsinki, the nonstop roundtrip price is $2,585. There is a 10-day minimum stay, but plenty of inventory, liberal purchase-by dates and very wide travel windows. Information: the Finnair OFFERS page.
LA COMPAGNIE: 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. When you can't find the $1,300 promo, the going fare will be around $1,800 roundtrip. Information: the La Compagnie FRENCH SUMMER page.
LUFTHANSA: Shadows of Great Summer Fares That Used to Be
For several years after the United-Continental merger, it was Star Alliance partner Lufthansa that drove the summer sale frenzy. But now its business class summer pricing is hardly exciting. Still, better than a sharp stick in the eye. Sample fares: New York-Geneva for $3,009 roundtrip; Dallas/Fort Worth-Milan for $3,299; and San Francisco-Barcelona for $3,539. Basically, you'll find the same prices on other Lufthansa Group airlines (Swiss, Brussels and Austrian) and United. You'll find flights from virtually any U.S. city to Europe using hubs in Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich or Vienna. Tickets must be purchased by May 30 for travel between June 6 and July 20. Information: the LUFTHANSA BUSINESS CLASS 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. It's now partially owned by Qatar Airways. Although almost unknown in the United States, Meridiana (often under the name EuroFly) has long flown from New York/JFK to Rome, Naples, Milan and Palermo, Sicily. 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 May and October are available at the lowest fares. Prices will be a bit higher in June and the summer.
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HOTEL POINTS AND PRICE PROMOTIONS
CLUB CARLSON: Up to 100,000 Points for Stays Until June 30
If you're playing Club Carlson--the frequency program of Radisson, Park and Country Inn hotels--the chain is offering a fairly large payoff for stays until June 30. You'll earn triple points on all stays and a 5,000-point bonus for each Sunday or Monday night you stay. You can earn as many as 100,000 bonus points during the promotion. Advance registration is required, of course. Information: the TRIPLE POINTS page.
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.)
GLOBAL AIRLINE DEALS TO CONSIDER
CATHAY PACIFIC: The Annual Buy-Now, Save-Later Asia Summer Business Class Sale
Cathay Pacific has 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 did arrive right on schedule--and has even been extended through May. Prices from New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco are around $4,100 roundtrip to destinations such as Beijing and Shanghai, China; Manila and Cebu, Philippines; Singapore; and Taichung and Taipei, Taiwan. Tickets must be booked by May 31 for travel between May 24 and August 31. Information: the EXPLORE ASIA page.
LUFTHANSA: Deeply Discounted Coach Fares to India for Early June Departures
Lufthansa has a long history serving India over its Frankfurt and Munich hubs and continues to post fabulous coach fares for travel to the subcontinent. Prices start at only $839 roundtrip (Charlotte or Atlanta to Mumbai) and include: $859 (New York-Chennai or Detroit-Bengaluru); $879 (San Francisco or San Jose to Mumbai); and $909 Dallas/Fort Worth-Delhi. There are similar prices from most of its nearly two dozen U.S. gateways. Tickets must be purchased by May 18 for departures between June 2 and June 7 and returns until September 7. The advance-purchase restriction is just three days. One reminder, though: Lufthansa will slap an annoying surcharge on fares if you don't buy from its proprietary Web site or other approved channels. Information: the MAJESTIC INDIA 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.
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.
GROUND TRANSPORT DEALS WORTH YOUR TIME
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 car rentals were earnings deserts. Lately, however, the 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 for rentals that begin by June 30. Information: the EARN MORE. SAVE MORE. page.
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 July 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.
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.