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THE BIG BARGAIN FOR EARLY MARCH, 2010
ANA: We're Japanese. We Hate Discounting…
The only people who seem to hate discounting more than the Germans are the Japanese, so you shouldn't be surprised at the extraordinarily limited opportunity to take advantage of this All Nippon Airways business-class bargain. If you can travel between April 10 and May 8, ANA has cut business-class fares as low as $4,013 roundtrip. That price covers flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya. It's $100 more if you want to travel from Chicago/O'Hare and it's $4,613 roundtrip if you're flying from New York/Kennedy or Washington/Dulles. Oh, as if that wasn't targeted enough, you'll have to purchase your tickets by March 31. Information: the Limited Biz Value Fares page. (Well, at least they were honest in naming the page…)
THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE TRAVEL DEALS
Air Lingus/Ritz-Carlton: Four People, Two Rooms, One Car, One Great Deal
Disastrous economic times make for strange bedfellows and that's why this Aer Lingus and Ritz-Carlton deal to Ireland is so stunning. If four people can travel together, it's one of the very best I've ever seen, in fact. It includes roundtrip business-class seats on Aer Lingus to Dublin; six nights in a suite and an interconnecting room at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt in County Wicklow just south of Dublin; six nights use of a full-size automatic rental car including free mileage and GPS navigation system; daily breakfast; and a dinner at Gordon Ramsay's Restaurant at the hotel. Until March 31, the price is $2,299 a person based on four traveling together from either New York/Kennedy or Boston/Logan. It's $50 more a person from Chicago/O'Hare. Prices rise $100 a person for travel in April. There are also slightly higher prices for travel in May through August and special pricing if it's just two people traveling. Information: the Ultimate Affordable Luxury page at the Aer Lingus Vacation Store Web site.
United Airlines: Get the Bargain Fare Before United Screws Up This Route, Too
Threadbare United Airlines is moving around some of its limited supply of international jets to make room for new flights between its Washington/Dulles hub and Accra, Ghana. The service starts on June 20, which means United will have screwed it up by the end of the year. So you might want to jump on its attractively priced introductory fares that are available between June 20 and August 29. From Dulles, it's as low as $706 roundtrip. Connecting "behind gateway" service is also available from its Chicago/O'Hare ($738 roundtrip), Denver ($865), San Francisco ($879) and Los Angeles ($879) hubs. Tickets must be purchased by March 22 and a Saturday-night stay is required. Information: The Introductory fare to Accra page.
Westin Hotels: How 'Bout That? A Deal for Business Travelers!
Hotel chains like Westin that cater to business travelers rarely offer us a break on the rate. They usually save the discounts and promotions for the weekends, when we'd rather be back at home base. But kudos to Westin for this one: Stay twice at any Westin in the United States and Canada during the week by May 13 and they'll throw you a $100 Amazon Gift Card. You must register for the promotion by April 30, but otherwise it seems straightforward enough: Stays between Sunday and Thursday qualify and you must be a member of the Starwood Preferred Guest program. You can earn as many as three gift cards during the promotional period. Information: the Welcome Back to Balance page.
BUSINESS-CLASS BARGAINS AROUND THE WORLD
Continental Airlines: Better Late Than Never, The Summer Sale
Continental Airlines is the unquestioned creator of the summer business-class sale to Europe, but this year it was beaten to the punch by some of its Star Alliance partners, United and SAS (see below). Still, Continental seems to understand the market best and its fares this year, to a few markets, are even lower than last year. From Continental's Newark hub, prices are as low as $759 one-way to Birmingham, England. It's $859 one-way to Belfast, Northern Ireland; Edinburgh, Manchester and Brussels. It's $909 one-way to Amsterdam, Geneva, London, Lisbon, Munich, Stockholm or Zurich. But prices are notably higher this year to Italy (Rome and Milan) and Spain (Barcelona and Madrid). At slightly higher fares, the sale is also valid from Continental's Cleveland and Houston hubs and on connecting service through Newark. The travel window is a few days smaller than last year (July 5 to September 3 to Europe, return by September 9), the restrictions are modest (a Saturday-night stay) and the 60-day advance purchase rule is not particularly relevant since we're talking about summer travel. Information: the BusinessFirst to Europe page.
United Airlines: Wow! A Summer Business-Class Sale Already!
Had enough of the cold weather? Well, don't head to Europe now because its weather is worse than ours and most Europeans have even less tolerance for it than we do. But here's an intriguing idea: Europe in the summer, when it is (or should be) warm. And, shockingly, United Airlines has already launched a summer fare sale to Europe. Prices are not insanely low, but they are good and it might be wise to book now if you're the kind of person who likes to plan in advance. The outbound travel window is July 5 to September 5 and return travel must be completed by September 9. Sample prices: Washington/Dulles to Brussels for $1,075 each way; Chicago-Paris for $1,225; Denver-London for $1,325; and San Francisco-Frankfurt to $1,325. The restrictions: roundtrip, nonrefundable purchase and a Saturday stay required. Information: the Summer in Europe page.
OTHER TRAVEL BARGAINS AVAILABLE AROUND THE WORLD
Boscolo Hotels: 52 Weekends in 11 Cities in Europe for One Price (€1,880)
The Italy-based Boscolo Hotels chain has invented one of the most creative promotions in years. The Boscolo Key Card costs €1,880 a year and is valid for 52 weekend stays. The stays (check in Saturday or Sunday and check out Sunday or Monday) can be claimed in 11 cities: Bologna, Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice, Verona and Varese, Italy; Nice or Lyon, France; Prague; and Budapest. You can stay as many as five times in each city during the year whenever a standard, superior or deluxe room is available. The €1,880 price includes the VAT tax, but not breakfast. Pretty fabulous deal if you can get enough use out of the card. Information: the Boscolo Key Card page.
SuperShuttle: A Winter Discount--and You Don't Have to Drive to the Airport
My least favorite thing in the world: driving to and from the airport. My most favorite thing in the world: a no-strings discount. So you know I like this one: 15 percent off SuperShuttle's normal roundtrip fares until March 15. And, as usual, you get frequent flyer miles on Delta, Frontier, United and US Airways. The deal is valid for all SuperShuttle airport services except travel to and from Miami International. Information: the Winter Garage Sale page.
Scotland: All Those Islands, the Highlands and David Rowell, Too
David Rowell, our friend The Travel Insider, puts together a few trips a year for small groups of folks who want a more customized experience. His current package is an 11-day trip that covers Scotland's Inner and Outer Hebrides and the Scottish Highlands. Besides David's personal attention (he escorts each group), David chooses the accommodations, arranges the itinerary and plays the genial host. (Well, he doesn't just play the genial host. He is a genial host!) Besides, he knows where all the good whisky is, too. (I know. On his last Scotland trip, he even found a Scotch I could drink and I don't even like whisky!) This year's tour begins on June 14. The price has just been reduced to $2,595 a person and may go lower still if the group expands a bit. Check out complete details here.
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THE FINE PRINT Nobody pays their way onto this page. I post the deals solely for the benefit of members based on my perception of what is a great price or a terrific value. The prices do not include applicable taxes unless specifically stated. Assume there are weird restrictions and caveats I never thought to ask about. Unless otherwise stated, you should be able to book these deals at any travel agency or directly from the listed travel supplier. Never assume that these prices (or any price listed publicly) are the lowest that are available. You should always ask if there’s a cheaper price or better deal. Virtually everything is capacity controlled or subject to blackout days, based on availability and subject to abrupt change whenever they think they can squeeze us for a few extra bucks. Please do not suspend your inbred skepticism. Don’t blame me if these deals are sold out when you try to book at these prices, but do let me know if you think that we're being scammed. It's important to expose the fakers and phonies. -- Joe Brancatelli
This column is Copyright © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.