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THE BIG BARGAIN FOR APRIL 5-APRIL 19, 2012
AA/JAL: Buy Fast, Fly Soon and Get a Good-Looking Business-Class Fare
Business-class sale fares to Asia don't come around too often, so let's not bitch too much when one does come along, trailing strings behind them. This one is from the joint-venture partners American Airlines and Japan Airlines and you must purchase your seats by Monday, April 9, and depart between April 11 and May 15. Prices are good, especially for some behind-gateway routes. St. Louis to Shanghai is just $1,073 each way. (By contrast, New York to Shanghai is $2,073 each way.) Other bargains: Austin to Tokyo/Narita for $2,042 each way; Boston, Washington or San Francisco to Narita for $2,092; and Chicago to Osaka for $2,035. There is a 7-day advance purchase and a 3-day minimum stay and travel is only permitted on Monday through Thursday. But there is some good news: Return flights can take place as late as June 15. More fares and information: the Business Class Savings page.

THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE TRAVEL BARGAIN
OpenSkies: Paris in Late Summer or Fall? About $1,500 for Business Class
It hasn't exactly faded into obscurity, but OpenSkies doesn't have much clout these days with just the one route from Newark to Paris/Orly Airport. And with its decision to put a coach-class cabin back on its Boeing 757s, the British Airways subsidiary won't be all that distinctive, either. Still, OpenSkies' Prem Plus cabin (fka Biz Seat class) remains a bargain: 2x2 seating with lots of legroom and decent meals. And if you can book by Tuesday (April 10) for fall travel, a bargain price: $1,517 roundtrip including all taxes and fees. The fare is available for flights between August 24 and October 25. It's valid Monday to Wednesday with a Saturday-night stay. Information: the Special Offers page.

Air New Zealand: Fall Is Here Down There, So Fares and Restrictions Fall, Too
As the peak season winds down Down Under, Air New Zealand is cutting its early-fall fares up front. That's no surprise. But what is surprising are the limited restrictions: a 3-day advance purchase and 3-day minimum stay for the best price. And that best is pretty attractive: $6,088 roundtrip (including all taxes and fees) between Los Angeles and Auckland. It's just $100 roundtrip more to Wellington, $170 more to Christchurch and $6,348 to Queenstown. The travel window is open until May 31 when you purchase tickets by April 10. Information: the Discount Business Premier page.

Wyndham Rewards: Double Points and a Night at the Movies
Wyndham Rewards, the frequency program of Wyndham, Wingate, Baymont and a passel of economy brands, has a second-quarter promotion with a twist. Each stay will earn double points and two stays will also earn you a pair of movie tickets. The promotion is pointing you in the direction of the Avengers flick that opens next month, but the tickets are actually valid for any film showing in the participating theaters. The promotion period runs until July 8 and registration is required. Information: the Stay 2 Get 3 page.

IT'S SUMMER BUSINESS-CLASS EUROPE SALE TIME AGAIN
The annual summer business-class sales to Europe are now in full swing. We have all of the details, restrictions, sample prices and the appropriate links. Click here for deals from Aer Lingus to Virgin Atlantic.

AIRLINE BARGAINS THAT MERIT YOUR ATTENTION
British Airways: Age (or at Least an AARP Card) Has Its Privileges
Discounts for AARP members are fairly standard in the travel industry--at least on the ground. But AARP has also swung a deal with British Airways. The discount isn't an opaque "percent off" or "special price" promotion. It's a simple dollars-off deal on any fare you can find. As an AARP member, you'll receive $400 roundtrip off any first or business-class ticket. World Traveler Plus flyers receive $150 off roundtrips to Britain or $200 off a connecting ticket beyond London. There's even a deal for coach flyers: $75 roundtrip to Britain and $100 on connecting flights to Europe or beyond. Discounts are valid for travel until March 31 if you book by October 31. Information: the Save page.

Cathay Pacific: Lots of Flights--and Suddenly Lots of Up Front Bargains, Too
Let's just say that Cathay Pacific isn't the most aggressive discounter in the skies. But the well-regarded carrier based in Hong Kong has added a raft of seats to the United States in recent years, including its newish gateway at Chicago/O'Hare. That means the occasional sale on its business-class seats. From the aforementioned O'Hare, roundtrip business-class seats are now selling for as little as $6,344 roundtrip including all taxes and fees. Connecting flights to other destinations in China are selling for about $500 more. From Los Angles, Cathay is selling business class for as little as $6,194 roundtrip. There are also discounts on its San Francisco and New York/JFK flights. The other good news? The advance purchase is gentle (14 days), the minimum-stay restrictions are nonexistent and the fares will earn you either American AAdvantage or Asia miles. Best of all, the prices seem to be in effect until the end of the year. Information: The Cathay Pacific home page.

HOTEL FREQUENT-GUEST PROMOTIONS TO CONSIDER
Hilton HHonors: A Double-Points Promotion With Lots of Hotel Opt-Outs
Hilton HHonors has been devaluated so dramatically and so surreptitiously lately that I'm not sure any promotion has any real value. But if you still collect HHonors points, here's the second-quarter deal: double points or double miles if you're collecting airline miles on stays. The chain also continues to permit a massive amount of "opt-outs," which is jargon for hotels in the system that won't award double points or miles no matter what the chain is doing. The deal, which runs April 1 to June 30, has more than 325 opt-outs--at least 100 more than last year. Of course, registration in required.

Choice Hotels: Stay Twice in The Next 60 Days, Get a Free Night
Hyatt Gold Passport made "Faster Free Nights"--i.e. stay twice, get a free stay--famous, but it hasn't offered the wildly popular promotion much since Hyatt added lower-priced properties. But other chains have dabbled in the idea, the latest being Choice Hotels, the gigantic group of economy properties such as Comfort, Quality, Clarion and EconoLodge. Choice's spin is this: If you complete two separate stays between March 8 and May 8, you'll earn enough Choice Privileges points (8,000) for a free night at 1,500 of its lower-tier properties. Considering Choice has about 6,000 properties, the payoff is limited. Still, it's better than a poke in the eye, right? Registration is required and the promotion is open only to travelers based in the United States and Canada. Information: the Earn One Night Free page.

Hyatt Gold Passport: The More You Stay, the More Bonuses You Earn
Whenever Hyatt doesn't unveil one of its legendary "faster free nights" promotions, Gold Passport members are going to grumble. So you probably won't be thrilled about Hyatt's first promotion of 2012, either. It's a tiered bonus scheme that rewards you with more bonus points the more frequently you stay and adds additional points if you're a Hyatt Card holder. The promotion runs from February 1 through April 30 and it works like this: Stay four nights and receive 4,000 bonus points. Stay eight nights and you'll get a total of 12,000 bonus points. Twelve nights get you 24,000 bonus points and 16 nights of stays get you 44,000 bonus points. You'll also receive 25 percent more points in each of the four tiers if you have a Hyatt Card. Register here

Chase: 60,000 Bonus Points When You Take a Priority Club Card
Chase is a travel affinity card powerhouse, issuing the credit cards for United, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, British Airways and several other firms. And it frequently pumps up interest in the cards with massive "acquisition bonuses" that make savvy travelers sit up and take notice. (Not to mention apply for the card.) Latest to get the big-bonus treatment: the Priority Club Rewards Select Visa. Chase is currently offering 60,000 points the first time you use the card. That's the equivalent of four free nights in some Holiday Inn and most Holiday Inn Express properties. The card itself also isn't bad on a continuing basis: no foreign-exchange fees; five points on charges at Priority Pass hotels; two points on gas, grocery and dining charges; gold priority status; a 10 percent rebate on points claimed; and no annual fee for the first year. Information: the Immerse yourself page.

Sheraton: 1,000 Bonus SPG Points on Club Level Stays
Sheraton continues to insist that it has upgraded its Club Level rooms, lounges, products and services to the tune of $100 million. Sharp-eyed guests have been hard-pressed to find much difference, but there are, at least, more Sheratons with more Club Levels in more cities worldwide. To induce visitors to spring for the upgraded accommodations (which come with lounge access, continental breakfast and afternoon snacks), Sheraton is now offering 1,000 bonus Starwood Preferred Guest points for each Club Level stay through May 31. You must use an American Express card to score the bonus, not to mention be prepared for the $75-a-night average premium Club Level rooms command. Be sure to use promotion code CL1 and book the DAILYFS or SICLUB rate. Information: the 1,000 more reasons page.

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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 thereís 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. Donít 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 © 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.