Steals & Deals for July 20-July 31, 2017
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HOW DARE THEY: Cheap Business Class on Europe Routes U.S. Airlines Avoid
U.S. airlines have the peculiar idea that if they don't fly a route, no one should be allowed to do it. Which explains their vicious and mostly untrue campaign against the big Gulf Carriers. But U.S. airlines can't explain why they don't fly nonstop to places like Athens or Budapest--or why travelers should help them restrict the carriers that do. Emirates, for example, offers the only nonstop year-round service to Athens and business class seats from Newark are as little as $2,880 roundtrip. And now LOT Polish is adding the first nonstops to Budapest from the United States in more than five years. The service launches next year, but business class roundtrips from Chicago are currently priced as low as $3,215. Flights from New York/Kennedy are now pegged at $3,250 roundtrip. (LOT Polish also offers a premium economy class on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners and roundtrips are $1,595 from Chicago and $1,660 from JFK.)
THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE DISCOUNTS
CITIBANK: 50,000 ThankYou Points for a Card With No First-Year Fee
Citibank, the financial institution that can't shoot straight, has done a typically terrible job promoting ThankYou points, its in-house loyalty plan. ThankYou offers terrific 1:1 points-transfer opportunities to Flying Blue (Air France/KLM), Eva Air, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles. So when Citi offers a big acquisition bonus--50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in three months--attention should be paid. That's especially true when the bonus applies to the Citi ThankYou Premier, a card whose $95 annual fee is waived in the first year. The card also earns triple points for travel expenditures and gasoline and double points on dining, concerts, sporting events and movies. Information: the PREMIER CARD page.
AFRICA: It's a Long Way in Coach, But Prices Are Insane!
The uber-low fares to Europe in recent months have obscured an even more remarkable airline pricing story: the record-low rates for flights to Africa. The long hauls are in coach, but, at these prices, buy yourself several seats and create a poor man's business class. Over its Amsterdam hub, for example, KLM prices include Los Angeles-Nairobi for $896 roundtrip; New York/JFK-Casablanca for $820; and Washington/Dulles-Dar es Salaam for $799. Over its Munich and Frankfurt hubs, Lufthansa is selling Chicago-Johannesburg seats for as little as $750 roundtrip and Denver-Cape Town flights for as little as $1,202. And Brussels Airlines, which flies from New York/Kennedy, is promoting flights to Kigali for $779 roundtrip and to Abidjan for just $2 more.
OMNI HOTELS: Stay Longer This Summer, Save More Dollars
Omni Hotels only has several dozen U.S. and Canadian properties so it doesn't get the publicity of the bigger chains. But its hotels tend to be lavish country properties or top-notch urban facilities. And they do creative promotions. This summer, there's a stair-step promo: You'll get 10 percent off one-night stays; 15 percent off two-night stays; 20 percent off three-night stays and 25 percent off four-night stays. There are blackout dates and capacity controls, but the sale rates are valid until September 10. Information: the SAVE THIS SUMMER! page.
LUFTHANSA: Premium Economy Below $1,300 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 $1,300 roundtrip barrier for its premium economy, which offers 38 inches of legroom, footrests, upgraded meals and other nice perks. The $1,269 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; LAX-Nice for $1,789; and San Francisco-Venice for $1,729. You must hurry: Tickets must be purchased by July 27 for departures between early August and November 30. A 14-day advance purchase and a Saturday stay are required. Cheapest prices are for midweek travel, of course, and weekend surcharges are about $100 each way. Information: the EXPANDED WINGSPAN page.
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.
HOTEL POINTS AND PRICE PROMOTIONS
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.
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.
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. Lowest prices are available July 7 to September 3.
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
AIR NEW ZEALAND: Okay, Baby, How About $2,500+ 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's now back at $2,554 roundtrip if you travel on select dates for the next 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 31. You even earn frequent flyer miles. (If you want to do the South Pacific in cheap comfort, Air New Zealand is selling seats in its excellent premium economy cabin for just $1,614 roundtrip.) Information: the Air New Zealand FLIGHTS TO COOK ISLANDS 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Five Days, Earn 500 Bonus 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. The latest example? Avis/Budget will give you as many as 500 American AAdvantage miles for a five-day rental. The deal is valid for rentals that begin by August 15. It's worth noting, however, that this deal is substantially less generous than a similar deal earlier this year. Information: the CAR PROMOTIONAL OFFERS 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.
CREDIT CARD OPPORTUNITIES
CHASE: 80,000-Point Bonus to Take an Ink Business Card
As the airline frequent flyer programs get less generous, smart travelers are banking their miles with banks. Chase Ultimate Rewards points, for example, offer a 1:1 transfer to United, Southwest, several international airlines and some hotel chains, too. There seems to be less risk by banking points with Chase and moving them to your programs as the good deals--or award availability--warrant. One of the current stars in the wide Chase portfolio? The Ink Business Preferred Card. For the $95 annual fee, you'll receive an acquisition bonus of 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 during the first three months. You'll also earn three points per dollar spent on travel expenditures; shipping charges; payments for Internet, cable and phone services; and certain advertising purchases. Information: the 80,000 BONUS POINTS 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.