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THE BIG BARGAIN FOR APRIL 19-APRIL 30, 2012
Boston-London: A Private Little Business-Class Fare War
A spate of big events in London this year--the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Queen's Jubilee--are making discount business-class tickets to the British capital a tougher get than usual. Add the offensive British air-tax system, which double-dips long-haul and premium-class flyers--and you have unacceptably high fares up front. Unless you're talking the Boston-London/Heathrow run, where a private little fare war has broken out among American, Delta and Virgin Atlantic. For most of the summer, each is offering a startlingly low roundtrip fare of $2,096--and that includes all taxes and fees. The fare seems available on at least one flight a day in each direction from all three carriers and there does appear to be plenty of availability, although not on every carrier every day. The unadvertised price is valid on flights through September 3 if you purchase your tickets by April 25. A Saturday-night stay is required. Look to book in I Class on American, S Class on Delta and Z Class on Virgin Atlantic. Your best luck to score the price is to use the flexible search feature on the airlines' respective Web sites or try Kayak.com.

THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE TRAVEL BARGAINS
Finnair: Eastern Europe Coach Bargains Via Helsinki Through May
Finnair has struggled to keep its U.S. profile up while it reassesses its place in the European skies. That has led to a series of business-class deals in recent months--assuming you use its New York flights and fly via its compact, efficient Helsinki hub. This week, however, the bargains are in coach to Eastern Europe. The fares include $819 roundtrip to Moscow; $795 to Riga; $715 to Budapest; $710 to Prague; and $810 to St. Petersburg. To score the deals, you must travel midweek, include Finnair Flights 5 and 6 in your itinerary and stay over a Saturday night. Most deals are only valid for travel until May 31, but a few extend through the end of the year. You'll notice some equally wonderful fares to Western Europe (including France and Italy) on the promotional page. I had very little luck finding availability on those, however.

Hyatt: A Free Night, Free Breakfast and Late Checkout All Year
About 100 Hyatt Hotels have very quietly launched a promotion called Free Time that includes a clutch of nice perks: a free third night after a two-night stay, free breakfast for two each day of your stay and a 2 p.m. checkout. Better yet, the deal is available through the end of the year at the participating U.S., Caribbean and Canadian hotels. (A slightly different offer is available to guests of the other participating Hyatt hotels.) Some other nice bits: You have until November 30 to book and the appropriate rate (coded FRTIME) does not require pre-payment. As far as I can tell, Free Time rates seem to be pricing out about $25 a night higher than the standard tariff at most Hyatt properties. So that means you're paying about $50 for the "free" night and "free" breakfasts. That's probably as close to "free" as you're actually going to get in today's lodging environment. Information: the Free Night Into Free Time page.

Hotels: Best Western and InterContinental Offer $50 Rebates
The Best Western and InterContinental chains are both out with $50 rebate offers, but the terms and conditions are radically different. At Best Western, you'll have to complete three separate stays before June 3. At InterContinental, you'll get your reward if you complete a two-night stay at a participating property by August 2. Best Western will deliver your rebate electronically. At IHG, however, you'll have to complete paperwork and do a mail-in to receive the MasterCard branded rebate card. Naturally, both chains require you to register in advance. Click here for details and terms of the Best Western offer. Click here for the InterContinental terms.

Southwest: 2,000 Bonus Rapid Rewards Points for Business Select Fares
Southwest Airlines has been targeting business travelers for years now, but this the most direct appeal yet. The airline will give you 2,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points whenever you purchase a one-way Business Select fare and travel before May 29. Buy a roundtrip Business Select fare and you'll receive a total of 4,000 bonus points. The bonuses are atop the standard Rapid Rewards credits you'd receive for your fare. Registration is required, which you can accomplish here.

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
American Airlines: Business-Class Deals Throughout Latin America
We finally know what motivates the legacy carriers to offer substantial discounts in business class: bankruptcy. For years a laggard in the discount game, especially up front, bankrupt American Airlines is suddenly alive with deals. Last week, it was Asia. This week, Latin America. In fact, there are two sales running concurrently, one specific to Colombia and Ecuador and the other for Central America. (An aside: American calls the latter sale "Central America and Panama." I dunno where AA learned geography, but isn't Panama part of Central America?) The Colombia/Ecuador sale is for travel by December 8 if you purchase seats by May 9. Prices include $480 each way from Raleigh/Durham to Bogota; $622 from New York/JFK to Quito; and $418 from Miami to Medellin. The Central America sale requires travel to begin by June 9 and returns to be complete by June 15. Prices include Houston-Managua for $532 each way; Dallas/Fort Worth to San Jose, Costa Rica, for $504; and $555 for Boston to Belize City. Click here for the Central America sale and here for details on the Colombia and Ecuador sale.

Brussels Airlines: Trade Your E-Mail Address for a 10 Percent Discount
Brussels Airlines, the kind-of, sort-of successor to Sabena and the carrier that absorbed Richard Branson's failed Virgin Express, is coming across the pond this spring. It'll launch New York-Brussels flights in June and it's already a member of the Star Alliance since it is basically controlled by Lufthansa, one of Star's founders. If you can fight through all of that, you should know that you can score a 10 percent discount on your next Brussels Airlines itinerary when you sign up for the carrier's mailing list. The discount has a short validity date--you must purchase seats by April 30--but you can travel any time from May 1 to April 31 next year. Information: the Join 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 24. Information: the Discount Business Premier page.

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, 2013, 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
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.

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.