Steals & Deals for November 8-22, 2018
LA COMPAGNIE: Holiday Roundtrips to Paris for $1,300 in Business Class
Paris-based La Compagnie is the last of the boutique carriers plying the North Atlantic. But the good news is that its sole route (Newark to Orly) seems to have solidified. Its (mostly) twice-daily service using Boeing 757s offers a 74-seat business class with angled-flat beds and simplified meal service. Still, for the quoted rate of $1,300 roundtrip--about $200 lower than in recent weeks--how can you go wrong? Seats at those prices seem available for travel over the Thanksgiving weekend, most of December and into the first two weeks of January. Information: the La Compagnie SPECIAL DEALS page.

HEY JOE: Baron Wolman's Deep Photographic Dive on Jimi Hendrix
Even if you do not know Baron Wolman's name, you know his work. Baron's photography literally defined and immortalized the look of rock and roll. Any classic pose or picture you remember is probably Baron's work. He's launched an Indiegogo campaign for his newest book, a mammoth collection of Jimi Hendrix photographs. As a special exclusively for his fellow JoeSentMe members, Baron is offering a bonus if you pledge for a Collector Edition book. Kick in at the Collector Edition level and he will include a copy of his Rolling Stone Covers book. It features all 21 of his covers with the contact sheets from which they were taken as well as the backstory of each cover. To score the bonus, write your name and include "c/o JoeSentMe" with your address on the Indiegogo order form. That'll alert Baron and he'll take it from there. To see the Indiegogo campaign, surf here. But hurry: Your bonus opportunity ends on November 30.

TPC SAWGRASS: Christmas, Florida, Golf, Discounts? You want More?
Attention must be paid when our golf maven, Dan Vukelich, calls something "among the best golf travel deals" he's seen. So if you want to play TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, here's the TopGolf VIP Package: two nights of lodging at the Sawgrass Marriott; daily breakfast at the clubhouse; a round on The Players Stadium Course; a round on Pete Dye's Valley course; a skip-the-line pass; and a $100 gift card. The package at the quoted price of $915 per person, is valid for arrivals between December 17 and 31. Information: the TPC SAWGRASS VACATION PACKAGES page.

CHASE/HYATT: $50 of Statement Credit for Everyday Spending
Chase has been desperate to pump up the volume on the credit cards it offers to Hyatt frequent guest program members. As Hyatt continually shoots itself in the metaphoric feet, that forces Chase to up the ante on the older Hyatt Card and the newer World of Hyatt Visa cards. In November and December, Chase is offering a $25 monthly statement credit when you spend $500 on Internet, cable and phone services; shipping; grocery stores; and movie theaters. You must register in advance, of course. Information: the STAY CONNECTED. GET REWARDED. page.

MARRIOTT REWARDS: 2,000 Bonus Points Per Stay at Select Courtyard Hotels
I asked on Twitter recently how to tell the difference between the various Marriott-branded select-service brands when they all use similar bathroom amenities, soft goods and other material. Apparently Marriott Rewards also gets that it doesn't offer much differentiation these days. Its "solution?" A 2,000-point-per-stay bonus when you book select Courtyard by Marriott properties. Use code 53M to grab the extra points. No, that won't change your world, but never walk away from extra points. Information: the COURTYARD 2K EVERYDAY page.

AIR NEW ZEALAND: Cheap Seats in All Three Cabins 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. Now it's back at a higher price--$2,494 roundtrip--if you travel on select dates in the next year. The 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 if the price increase puts business class out of your wheelhouse, Air New Zealand has a fantastic alternative: $1,394 in its well-regarded premium economy. And if you're looking for deep discounts, it's $794 roundtrip in coach. 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 November 16. You even earn frequent flyer miles. Information: the Air New Zealand FLIGHTS TO COOK ISLAND page.

HAWAII'S LOCAL BUZZ: 20 Percent Off Great Hawaiian Coffee and Delectable Sweets
If you've ever been to Hawaii--or even if you haven't--you know that the Islands are now home to great coffee; insanely good macadamia nuts and products made with them; and terrific local honey. The best of the coffee and the finest nuts and sweets come from small farms such as the Big Island's Paradise Meadows. Its Hawaii's Local Buzz brand turns out an impressive array of coffee, candies, cookies and honey. How good? I have to hide the shortbread to avoid gorging on it. And the mac nut-studded chocolates often disappear in an eating frenzy. To introduce you to the farm's fabulous line of local products, Hawaii's Local Buzz is offering JoeSentMe members a 20 percent discount on its entire online shop. Enter the promotional code joesentme at checkout when you order at the Hawaii's Local Buzz site.

THAILAND: Ted Carter's Special Villa With a Special Perk for JoeSentMe Members
Ted Carter is best-known in the travel world for a series of fabulous travelogues for British Airways and for The Point, the five-star resort he crafted in the Adirondack Mountains. Ted lives in Thailand now and he's behind the White Elephant House, a glorious private villa in Kantharalak. He's accepting guests and offering a bundle of accommodations, three meals a day and all the Ted trimmings. You can book a stay via White Elephant House's Airbnb listing, but Ted is offering a special perk for JoeSentMe members: roundtrip taxi service from Ubon Ratchathani, the nearest airport. That's a US$64 value. To claim the perk, book via Airbnb and then contact Ted directly and identify yourself as a JoeSentMe member.
circaterra      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.

cook      Cook Travel Offer: 10% off most 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.

ecbc      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

groundlink      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 Enter JOESENTME in the promo code box that will appear on the screen before you confirm your ride.

sheffield      The Sheffield Spice & Tea Offer: Receive 15% off all purchases of spices, teas, rubs and accessories.
     How to claim the offer: Surf to and, when you reach the shopping cart page, enter joesentme2018 in the coupon code box.

HOTELS: Worst. Quarterly. Promotions. Ever.
With hotel occupancy high, room rates rising and competition fading, major hotel chains certainly don't feel compelled to offer much of an incentive to get your business. Which explains why the latest quarterly points promotions are so disappointing. I don't think you'll find anything below compelling enough to move your business to another chain. And remember, advance registration is required.
      BEST WESTERN offers double points per stay until November 18.
      CHOICE HOTELS offers enough points for a free night at about 1,000 properties when you complete two paid stays by November 9.
      HILTON offers double points on most stays and triple points at luxury properties and resorts. The offer is valid until January 3.
      MARRIOTT/STARWOOD MegaBonus offers 2,000 bonus points per visit on stays of two or more nights. There is also a 1,000-point bonus per brand visited starting with the second brand. The promotion is valid until January 31 when you register by January 7.

HOTELS: Maybe You Can Find a Room-Rate Savings With Your Credit Card
Airline fares have been relatively flat in recent months, but hotel and resort rates continue to rise, precipitously in some destinations. Possible solution: hotel discounts offered by your credit card. American Express Platinum Cards, for example, feature a Fine Hotels & Resort collection that covers more than 1,000 properties around the world. Bundled with the FHR rates are space-available room upgrades; check-in as early as noon based on availability and guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout; breakfast for two; free WiFi; and property-specific food and beverage credit or other amenity. Meanwhile, Visa Signature cards claim to offer special rates at 900 properties. Perks include space-available upgrade; free WiFi; free breakfast for two; a $25 food and beverage credit; and late checkout. Of course, all of these specials come with some caveats. Most hotels in the programs are in the luxury category. You must book directly at the card's special Web site. And you should always check that the rate you're paying is competitive with other offers.

WALDORF/CONRAD HOTELS: $50 a Day in Statement Credits at Hilton's Luxury Digs
When you affect luxury--as Hilton's Waldorf and Hilton brands do--rate cutting is frowned upon. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, of course, but it is frowned upon nevertheless. The preferred method of lowering the price is by gimmicks. The current gimmick? A $50 statement credit for each night you spend in participating Waldorf and Conrad hotels. Three-day advance reservations are required and there are blackout dates. And as I always say with deals like this, always check to see whether a cheaper rate is available than the promoted gimmick. A two-night minimum stay is required. All Waldorf properties honor the promotion and 27 Conrad properties are participating. Waldorf is calling its $50-a-day BEST OF WALDORF. The Conrad promotion is called COMPLIMENTS OF CONRAD.

AFRICA: It's a Long Way in Coach, But These Cheap Fares Will Cushion the Blow
U.S. carriers barely serve Africa and the continent's homegrown industry is in constant chaos. (Latest issues? Nigeria has abandoned plans to relaunch a national carrier and South African Airways is near collapse.) It's a recipe for poor service, longer-than-necessary connecting itineraries and few premium class deals. On the other hand, carriers serving Africa are basically giving away coach seats if you book in advance (usually 14 days) and include a Saturday-night stay. And, weirdly, those connecting flights are something of a benefit if you're stuck down the back. At least you get a chance to stretch your legs between long hauls. Meanwhile, here is what I have seen this week from carriers linking the United States and Africa over Europe or the Middle East.
      BRUSSELS AIRLINES: $810 roundtrip from New York/Kennedy to Kigali or $817 from JFK to Entebee.
      EMIRATES: $999 roundtrip from Chicago/O'Hare to Dar es Salaam.
      ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES: $1,041 roundtrip from Washington/Dulles to Addis Ababa.
      KENYA AIRWAYS: $811 roundtrip from New York/Kennedy to Accra or $845 from JFK to Zanzibar.
      KLM: $773 roundtrip to Algiers from San Francisco or $851 from Los Angeles to Nairobi.
      LUFTHANSA: $549 roundtrip from Boston to Algiers; $619 from Atlanta to Cairo; or $819 to Johannesburg from Houston/Intercontinental or Seattle/Tacoma.
      QATAR AIRWAYS: $896 roundtrip from Philadelphia to Nairobi or $807 from New York to Johannesburg.
      TAP AIR PORTUGAL: $688 roundtrip from New York to Fez, Casablanca or Marrakech.
      TURKISH AIRLINES: $769 roundtrip from New York to Cairo or $799 from New York/Kennedy to Johannesburg.

FINNAIR: Cheap Business Class This Fall? How About Russia and Finland?
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 en route to Russia. See where I'm going with this? Finnair is offering great deals in business class over its Helsinki hub to Russia. Prices are valid for travel until well into next spring if you can hit the admittedly stiff (60-day) advance-purchase restriction. Sample fares: Yekaterinburg for $2,277 roundtrip; Moscow for $2,291; and St. Petersburg for $2,298. Oddly, if you're actually headed to Helsinki, the nonstop roundtrip price is $3,032. Elsewhere in Finland, it's $3,142 to Oulu and $3,188 to Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland. That last one is if you're interested in hanging with Santa. Information: the Finnair FLIGHT OFFERS page.

BRITISH AIRWAYS: The AARP Deal, Reduced Again, But Extended Another Year
British Airways isn't only hacking away at the quality of its in-flight product and its reputation as a premium carrier. It's also reducing the classic deals you can use to get discounts. Take its long-standing AARP deal. BA once offered as much as $400 off roundtrip. Now first and premium class discounts have been jettisoned and we're left with $200 roundtrip off BA's outdated business class and $65 off its newly "densified" coach class. Also gone: the opportunity to twin the AARP discount with other BA promotions. Still, $65 or $200 off is better than a stick upside your head. And the current deal is now valid for travel until the end of 2019 when you book by January 31, 2019. The cost of entry: the $12 fee required to join AARP. And you must enter through the AARP portal to score the discounts. Information: the EXCLUSIVE AARP MEMBERS page.

AMTRAK: The Annual Double Days Promotion Offers, Um, Double Points
The only travel supplier that does less interesting and more predictable promotions than Marriott--even Marriott must be tired of MegaBonus, you'd think--is Amtrak, the national railroad service. I've lost track of how many years the Amtrak powers-that-be have deployed the Double Days moniker in service of an equally hoary double-points offer. This year's version lasts until December 17 and awards double Guest Rewards points on up to four train rides a day. Advance registration is required, of course. INFORMATION: the EARN TWICE page.

CAR RENTAL: 'Drive-In' Deals Start at $7.99 a Day--If You're Headed to Florida
Car rentals firms are known for offering super-low one-way rates when you help them move vehicles to seasonal high-demand markets. In spring, it's taking cars from sun destinations to the Northeast and Midwest. In the fall, however, it's the other way around. You'll get great deals if you rent one-way from cities along the East Coast and drop your car off in Florida, which needs vehicles for the winter snowbird season. Here is some of what's on offer now:
    HERTZ is hoping you'll pick up a car in select Northeast or MidAtlantic cities and drop it at select Florida locations. But Hertz has a complicated grid of pick-up/drop-off cities that varies by date until December 9. You can rent for as long as 10 days. Prices start at $7.99 a day for economy-class to full-size vehicles. Information: the DRIVE ONE-WAY page.
    AVIS wants you to rent cars in the Northeast by October 31 and drop them in Florida. Prices are $13.95 a day for any car up to mid-size class and rentals can be as long as 14 days. Convertibles rent for $30.95 a day. Information: the ONE-WAY RENTALS page.
    BUDGET has a Florida drive-in deal that is virtually identical to the Avis offer. No surprise since Budget is owned by Avis. Information: the ONE-WAY RENTALS page.

ENTERPRISE: The Return of the $10-a-Day Weekend Rental, Now $3 More
Even as it rocketed to the top of the car-rental heap, Enterprise continues to do things differently. For starters, locations are all 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 weekend promotion. For years, the buy-in price was $9.99 a day. This year, however, the lowest rate is $12.99 so long as you return the car on Monday. The $12.99 rate covers economy or compact cars. Larger cars are $14.99 (for intermediates) to $19.99 a day (full-size). Those prices are unchanged from last year. All rates include 100 miles per day and are valid for rentals that start on Fridays. Best of all, prices are valid at participating local stations until May 21. You'll find some holiday blackouts, but, otherwise, it's open season for cheap cars for a weekend jaunt. Information: the Enterprise GREAT WEEKEND CAR RENTAL RATES page.

UNITED/HERTZ: Worst-in-Class Providers Offer Really Big Bonuses
What do Hertz and United Airlines have in common? Lessee, both operations run poorly. A former top United exec was ousted as Hertz chief executive for doing a lousy job. And United once actually owned Hertz. Other than that? Both are desperate for new customers. The solution: gigantic bonuses for even two-day rentals. Until February 28, book a mid-size or larger Hertz car at for at least two days and you'll receive a 1,500-mile bonus atop the 500-1,250 miles you'd normally earn as a member of MileagePlus. That means as many as 2,750 miles for rentals as short as two days. Sound familiar? It should. It's a re-introduction, extension and slight rejiggering of a promotion that the two companies have continually offered for about three years. Information: the EARN AWARD MILES page.

NATIONAL CAR RENTAL: Best Car-Rental Bonus Ever Is Back--With Two Cool Twists
Sometimes the classics are the best and that's certainly true for National's iconic 12Free promotion. Two rentals of a midsize car by February 28 earn a free rental day that you can use by June 13. As has been the case in many recent years, the points-based system offers 300 points per qualifying rental. It takes 600 points for a free rental night. And as usual, National has thrown in a few wrinkles to pique your continued interest. This year, National really wants you to book on your phone. You'll receive 25 points for downloading the app, 75 points when you book using the app and 50 points when you complete a transaction on the app. Another big twist this year: Enterprise, National's parent company. You'll receive 200 points each time you rent from a local (i.e., non-airport) Enterprise location. You can claim that one up to three times. You'll also receive 300 points if you use Enterprise in Europe. Advance booking and EmeraldClub membership are required. Bottom line: The additions and attendant restrictions make the 12FREE promotion a little more complex than in years past. But you'd be crazy not to put National at the top of your rental mix during the fall and winter. The payback is too good to ignore. Information: the EARN TO THE MAX page.

AVIS/BUDGET/AMERICAN AADVANTAGE: Rent Three Days, Earn 5,000 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 and Budget, which are sister firms, will give you 5,000 American AAdvantage miles for a three-day rental. This is a revamp of a deal that Avis and Budget have been offering on and off for the last few years. This deal is valid for rentals that begin by October 15. Information: the CAR PROMOTIONAL OFFERS page.

NATIONAL/SOUTHWEST: Quadruple Rapid Rewards Points for Weekly Rentals. Again.
Southwest Airlines and National Car Rental have teamed up to offer a bigger payoff for rentals if you need a vehicle. 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. Bonus points are valid on rentals until January 31, with one-day advance reservation. By the way, if this sounds familiar, it is exactly the same deal that ran all of last year. Information: the RAPID REWARDS PROMOTIONS page.

CRUISING: Here Comes the Sun--and Hundreds of Hours of Jazz and Soul Music, Too
Cruising isn't really where my mind wanders, but I admit that hitting the high seas with a gaggle of musicians hits my personal sweet spot. Whether it's jazz or soul, there are several sailings on tap in the months ahead that may really get you out of the aircraft, too. Here's what's on offer:
     The 2019 version of the Jazz Cruise offers more than 200 hours of music on a January 19-26 sailing. Departing from Fort Lauderdale, the Celebrity Infinity will call in St. Croix, San Juan and other ports. The onboard talent is dazzling: John Pizzarelli, Cyrille Aimee, Bill Charlap, the Jeff Hamilton trio, Nicki Parrott, Elaine Elias and dozens of others. There are still several classes of staterooms available and prices start at $2,400 a person based on two people traveling together. The fare includes accommodations, musical events, meals and non-alcoholic beverages. Information: the JAZZ CRUISE page.
     The 2019 Blue Note at Sea jazz cruise also uses the Celebrity Infinity and will run from January 26-February 2. It departs from Fort Lauderdale and ports of call include Nassau, Cozumel and Key West. Onboard talent includes Wynton Marsalis, David Sanborn, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Kurt Elling and many others. Prices start at $2,400 a person based on two people traveling together. The fare includes accommodations, musical events, meals and non-alcoholic beverages. Information: the BLUE NOTE AT SEA page.
     The Soul Train cruise overlaps the other two and runs January 20-27. It uses the Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam, departs from Fort Lauderdale and is scheduled to call in the Dominican Republic, San Juan and the Bahamas. The onboard talent includes really big names such as Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight and George Clinton as well as Stephanie Mills, Evelyn "Champagne" King, the Ohio Players and many more. Prices start as low as $1,900 a person based on two people traveling together. The fare includes accommodations, musical events, meals and non-alcoholic beverages. Information: the SOUL TRAIN CRUISE page.

TAP AIR PORTUGAL: The Free Portugal Stopover Can Now Be Five Days Long
In the early days of transatlantic jet travel, free "stopovers" in the country of arrival were a standard perk. Now the practice has virtually disappeared and airlines will charge you separately if you don't make your onward connection within hours of your transatlantic arrival. But TAP Air Portugal, revitalized under the leadership of a consortium fronted by JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman, has brought the perk back. Last year it revived a free, three-day stopover in Portugal as part of roundtrip, transatlantic nonstops to Lisbon and Porto. Beginning with travel in September, however, stopover privileges will be extended to five days. There are also other perks attached to the stopover, including hotel discounts, free museum and attraction admissions and free wine with meals. TAP and its partners have even created a "stopover app" to help guide you around the country via smartphone. Information: PORTUGAL STOPOVER page.

AMERICAN EXPRESS: Lots and Lots of Points to Take a Hilton Card. But, Um...
American Express really, really wants you to take one of its four Hilton cards. And the lure, as always, is a bigger acquisition bonus: from 75,000 to 150,000 Hilton Honors points. The problem? Hilton Honors points have very little value, even in the ridiculously devalued travel world. Getting a half-cent return is often a victory in Honors, which is now completely revenue-based and ludicrously overpriced for everything but a standard room. (And sometimes not even then...) But if you find value in Hilton, at least one of these four cards will be useful and perhaps two should be on your radar. The no-fee Hilton Honors Amex will give you 75,000 points for $1,000 of spend in the first three months. The sweet spot is 125,000 points, available for Amex's two Hilton cards with a $95 annual fee. Information: the Amex UPGRADE YOUR STAY page.

CHASE/HYATT: 60,000-Point Acquisition Bonus for the New Hyatt Card
After Hyatt replaced its much-admired Gold Passport program with the chintzier World of Hyatt program, many travelers decided the small chain simply wasn't worth the effort. Hyatt has yet to recover despite several modest make-good efforts. Now its credit card partner, Chase, is trying to goose up the action, too. The new World of Hyatt Visa Signature card comes with a fairly compelling acquisition bonus: 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months and 20,000 more points when you spend $6,000 in the first six months. That 60,000 points is good for two nights at Hyatt's best hotels (Category 7) or a dozen nights in 5,000-a-night Category 1 properties. Standing perks on the card: four points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels and two points per dollar spent at restaurants, on fitness club and gym memberships and on local transportation. You'll also earn entry-level elite status plus five nights credit toward mid-level status. You'll also get two additional nights credit for each $5,000 you spend during the year. The annual fee: $95. Information: the 60,000 BONUS POINTS page.

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 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright 2018 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.