Steals & Deals for June 29-July 13, 2017
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LUFTHANSA: Premium Economy at $1,200 Roundtrip to Europe
Coach airfares to Europe are at historic summer lows. So where does that leave premium economy? At levels below where traditional summer coach fares used to sell. Lufthansa has now broken the $1,200 roundtrip barrier for its premium economy, which offers 38 inches of legroom, footrests, upgraded meals and other nice perks. The $1,199 roundtrip price is only on one route--New York/Kennedy to Lufthansa's Frankfurt hub--but other runs are being offered at equally eye-popping rates: Washington-Naples for $1,669; Los Angeles-Nice for $1,789; and San Francisco-Venice for $1,719. You've got to hurry: Tickets must be purchased by June 30 for departures between August 1 and November 30. A 14-day advance purchase and a Saturday stay are required. The cheapest prices are for midweek travel, of course, and weekend surcharges are about $100 each way. Information: the EXPANDED WINGSPAN page.
THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE DISCOUNTS
VISA: Third Night Free This Summer at Three Hilton Chains
If your weekends away can stretch to three nights this summer, you have a friend at Visa. Specifically, Visa Signature cards. If you're interested in staying at one of three Hilton brands--Waldorf Astoria, Conrad or Curio, Visa will float you the third night free if you arrive on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday and book via a Visa Web site or its concierge service. (You must pay with a Visa Signature card, too, of course.) You'll also be guaranteed a room upgrade, free WiFi, free continental breakfast, a $25 food and beverage credit and 3 p.m. checkout. The offer is available for three-night stays before September 30. (You must also check out by October 31, which is a weird restriction when you think about it.) The offer is good at properties in the United States, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region. Information: ONE FREE NIGHT page.
LA COMPAGNIE: France in Business Class, in Adult ($1,300) and Children's ($1,000) Sizes
La Compagnie, the French all-business-class carrier that flies between Newark and Paris, continues to roll out promotions to fill its 150 daily seats in each direction. The current offer: Fares as low as $1,300 roundtrip for adults and $1,000 for children. The promotion is good for travel between July 10 and September 3 when you book by August 27. And to think my family summer holidays were three days in Lake George, about 150 miles away. The times they are a'changin'. Information: THE FAMILY TRIP page.
AMERICAN EXPRESS: Big Acquisition Bonuses for Delta Credit Cards
American Express paid a king's--er, Centurion's--ransom to keep the Delta Air Lines portfolio after losing Costco, the 800-pound gorilla of its affinity card lineup. So Amex certainly needs to keep churning to get more Delta cards in the hands of frequent travelers. The result? Impressive acquisition bonuses for two personal and business cards tied to Delta. If you act by July 5, you can score a gold SkyMiles card in either the personal or business flavor and earn 60,000 miles. You'll also receive a $50 statement credit. The Gold Card's $95 fee is waived in the first year, too. If you opt for the Platinum version (personal or business), the bonus is 70,000 miles and a $100 statement credit, but the $195 annual fee isn't waived. Depending on the card, you'll also have to spend $3,000-$5,000 during the first four months of card membership. If you value SkyMiles, these are good bonuses. But choose wisely based on your spending patterns and needs. Information: the MAXIMIZE YOUR MILES page.
CLUB CARLSON: Earn Free Fridays or 10,000 Bonus Points This Summer
If you're a player in Club Carlson, the frequency program of Radisson and several other smaller chains, your summer promotion is unique--and possibly quite rich. For each two stays you complete between July 1 and September 30, you'll receive 10,000 bonus points--or a certificate for a free Friday-night stay. There are some restrictions, of course. Besides advance registration, you'll need to choose either the bonus points or the free Friday, which can be used between October 6 and January 26. You can earn the bonus as many as three three times during promotion. Information: the FREE FRIDAY page.
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 Frankfurt for $2,168 roundtrip; Raleigh-Paris or JFK-Venice for $2,108; Atlanta-Rome for $2,498; and Atlanta-Madrid for $2,409. Fares are valid for travel between late August and late October when you include a Saturday-night stay. The big trip wire: Tickets must be purchased by July 5. Information: the Delta EUROPE SALE.
YOUR EXCLUSIVE MEMBERS-ONLY DISCOUNTS
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 base 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 ECBC luggage purchases and free shipping except for 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.
The Sheffield Spice & Tea Offer: Receive 15% off all purchases of spices, teas, rubs and accessories.
How to claim the offer: Surf to http://www.sheffieldspices.com and, when you reach the shopping cart page, enter joesentme2017 in the coupon code box.
SUMMER BUSINESS CLASS FARE SALES
AIR NEW ZEALAND: Okay, Baby, How About $2,200+ Business Class to the South Pacific?
Sometimes it's just flat-out fun to follow these extraordinary deals as airlines test and figure out how to fill an aircraft. As you surely know by now, Air New Zealand has regularly promoted exceptionally cheap business class fares to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands using its nonstop flight from Los Angeles. The eye-opening initial price was just $1,998 roundtrip. The deal has been regularly revived at prices fluctuating between $1,800 and $2,200. It disappeared for a while, but now it's back at $2,276 roundtrip if you travel on select dates from July through the end of the year. The slightly higher price is justified by the fact that Air New Zealand is now operating the route with its latest lie-flat business class beds. But there's still only one flight a week in each direction, departing late Saturday nights from LAX and late Friday nights from Rarotonga. Still, for a South Pacific trip at such a low price, those aren't tough conditions. Tickets must be purchased by July 5. You even earn frequent flyer miles. Information: the Air New Zealand FLIGHTS TO COOK ISLANDS page.
HAINAN AIRLINES: Under the Radar in the Battle for Seattle
Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines are waging a noisy battle for control of Seattle-Tacoma Airport, but other carriers do operate from Sea-Tac and offer some excellent deals. Case in point: Hainan Airlines, the Chinese carrier owned by the voracious HNA Group. Its route map is expanding, but it may still be best for one of its first U.S. routes, between Seattle and Shanghai. Hainan this fall is offering an insanely low coach fare of just $478 roundtrip for departures between August 28 and October 31. Prices for the airline's Seattle-Beijing flights are just $10 more roundtrip Tickets must be purchased by July 31. Information: the OFFERS 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 until 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.
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.
HOTEL POINTS AND PRICE PROMOTIONS
PARIS: When It Doesn't Sizzle, Hotel Chains Up the Discounts
Paris has yet to shake off the negative publicity surrounding the recent terrorist attacks and that has led major hotel chains to lower their rates. For example, 14 Marriott properties in metropolitan Paris offer bargains on stays of three nights or more. The discount is 25 percent off four-star properties and 20 percent off five-star hotels. Valid through September 10, the deal includes breakfast for two, no small benefit in Paris, where in-hotel meal prices are astronomically high. Use promo code SPJ. Paris-based Accor Hotels is knocking up to 30 percent off summer prices at its 800 hotels around France. Breakfast is included in the rate. The lowest prices are available July 7 to September 3.
WORLD OF HYATT: 10 Percent Back on Award Redemptions This Summer
World of Hyatt, the much-reviled replacement for Hyatt Gold Passport, is swiping a promotion first offered last year by Gold Passport. The deal effectively lowers the prices of awards until September 5. The specifics: Claim any award by that date and get 10 percent of redeemed points deposited back into your World of Hyatt account after the stay. You can book either all-points or Points + Cash awards and get the 10 percent discount. Caveats: You must register by June 30. Your stay must be completed by September 5. And you must also have a Hyatt Chase credit card to get the discount. INFORMATION: the REDEEMED POINTS BACK page.
MARRIOTT: So Many Programs, So Many Promotions
With Marriott running away from the rest of the lodging industry in terms of size, it is beginning to leverage its strength even in the frequency arena. The main Marriott Rewards promotion offers 2,000 bonus points per stay starting with the second stay. The Starwood Preferred Guest offer is double points on weekdays and triple points on weekends. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards offer is double points per stay and triple points if you have the Ritz-Carlton card. All three promotions are valid until September 4 if you register by August 30. The best place to view all three offers is at the MARRIOTT NEWS page.
GLOBAL AIRLINE DEALS TO CONSIDER
AER LINGUS: Split Your Travel Classes for a Summer Holiday
Aer Lingus has emerged as a sprightly and creative player in the transatlantic market. And here is as interesting a promotion as you'll see. Aer Lingus is pitching a split travel option for flyers from its Northeast stronghold. It wants you to fly to Dublin in coach and return in its very comfortable business class. Flights to Dublin from the Northeast are short, but flying coach on the overnight eastbound segment is counterintuitive. Actually, it isn't. It means Aer Lingus is selling all of its business class seats to Dublin and needs help filling business class from Dublin. Here's how it all works. From July 1 to through August 22, fly coach to Dublin from Boston, Hartford, New York/JFK or Newark and return in business class. The price: as low as $1,348 roundtrip. The tickets must be purchased by June 20 and booked in A class outbound and D class from Dublin. Information: the TRAVEL DEALS page.
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 (60-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.
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 Around $1,500 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 $1,667 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Paris, for example. From New York, it's $1,508 roundtrip. From Washington/Dulles, it's just $1,598 roundtrip. There are also excellent deals over Paris to other destinations in Europe, too. 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
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.