Air Fare Deals

JetBlue boosting Boston service. Now: Atlanta

JetBlue_and_Boston

JetBlue, already the largest airline at Boston Logan International Airport, is ramping up service there a bit more with the announcement of new service to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport beginning on March 30, 2017.

This will be JetBlue’s 63rd nonstop destination from Boston –(the most destinations of any airline at Boston Logan, the carrier notes) – and with it comes an introductory one-way fare of $47 – starting today.

In addition to Boston-Atlanta flights, JetBlue will be adding service between Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, New York JFK, and Orlando.

Wait – there’s more:

In addition to the flights between Boston and Atlanta, JetBlue also today announced some added flights out of Boston, including a fourth daily roundtrip Mint flight between Boston and San Francisco International Airport (SFO), starting July 15, 2017, and year-round service between Boston and Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport (MBJ), which currently operates as seasonal service.

JetBlue is also expanding its seasonal service between Boston and St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport (STT) to year-round service.

Cyber Monday airfare deals to get now

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Several airlines rolled out sales on Black Friday that continue through Cyber Monday (and maybe beyond.) Other airlines have teased about their sales but are waiting until Sunday or Monday to roll them out.

If you’re planning a trip, check these out.

On Black Friday Emirates announced a two-for-one round-trip airfare sale for travel out of its 10 U.S. gateways Chicago (ORD), Boston (BOS), San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Washington (IAD), Orlando (MCO), and New York (JFK).

The sale fares apply to economy class bookings for travel from January 9 through May 6, 2016.

Details and restrictions on the Emirates sale here.

Cathay Pacific’s Black Friday sale of up to 50 percent off prices on economy fares from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Boston to Asia will be available through December 4, 2015.  They’re also throwing in 1,000 bonus Asia Miles for each booking.

Etihad Airways is offering a CyberMonday deal of 25 percent off fares in economy, business and First Class from the US to a wide variety of destinations. The sale is good through November 30 for travel from January 1 through June 30, 2016.  More details here.

And Alaska Airlines will be kicking off its Cyber Monday sale on Sunday evening at 5 p.m. PST. All they’ve said so far is that the sale will include “some of the airline’s best deals of the year.”

Valentine’s Day: Fly with your sweetie for $1

Charles Lindbergh-themed Valentine

My household already has a holiday plan for Valentine’s Day, but if reservations weren’t already made I’d be looking closer at this offer from Turkish Airlines, which is good for the entire month of February.

Turkish airlines

Through January 17, 2015, passengers who purchase one ticket can get the second ticket for just $1 for travel between February 1-28, 2015 from any of Turkish Airlines’ six U.S. gateways: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Houston and Boston to destinations that include Paris, Venice, Vienna, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Berlin and London.

For booking this deal, contact a Turkish Airlines ticketing agent.
Restrictions seem straightforward and require that both passengers travel together for the entire itinerary.

Which is the point of Valentine’s Day adventures, right?

Travel deals for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Home shopping but dreaming of travel? Here are some of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals that might get you going.

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AIRLINES

Air Canada has a long list of Black Friday fare specials available now through November 30.

Cathay Pacific kicks off its Black Friday fare sale on Friday at midnight EST, promising deals from all its US gateways (SFO, LAX, ORD, EWR, JFK, BOS) to Asia – plus a sweepstakes.

Alaska Airlines‘ most popular fare sale is Cyber Monday, and they’ll probably offer a preview a day before.

From now through December 2, 2014 Airberlin is offering $499 roundtrip flights (including taxes) starting from Chicago, New York and Miami to many cities in Europe for travel January 12 to March 22, 2015.

LAN and TAM have something planned for Cyber Monday and it’s likely other airlines will jump in with offers as well, so check around.

HOTELS

HotelTonight, which recently expanded its offering from day-of bookings to 7-day-in-advance deals, is offering $7 hotel rooms on Black Friday starting at 7 a.m. local time, till the available inventory sells out, which should be pretty quickly.

On Black Friday Expedia.com is offering 90% off a limited quantity of select hotels in New York, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Cancun and San Francisco. The offer will be avaiable from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. PST. Expedia will also be offering a $50 coupon off Expedia rate hotels throughout Friday, as well as some Cyber Monday deals.

Many individual hotels, as well as chains large and small, will be offering Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals as well, so if you’ve got a destination in mind, be sure to poke around for lodging deals in that city or region.

Provenance Hotels, with a portfolio of 7 highly individual properties in Portland, Seattle and Nashville, for example, is giving each hotel’s Facebook and newsletter fans 25 percent off the best available rates through March 31, 2015 as part of a Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotion. (Sign up before Friday to make sure you get the mailing.

Tune-up tips for travelers

TRAVEL SUITCASES

Even the savviest traveler can use a few new tricks each year, whether on the road for business or leisure.

So here are some of the expert tips I gathered for a recent CNBC Road Warrior piece.

Fly Frugally

Before the end of the year, take inventory of your frequent flier miles. Claim credit for any missing miles and decide if you can top off—with an extra flight, hotel stay or mile-generating purchase—accounts where you are close to getting elite status perks for the following year.

When shopping for new flight reservations, sign up for fare alerts, enlist helpers such as Kayak’s price forecasting tool and remember the “24-hour reservation requirement” put into effect in January 2012 by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The rule requires carriers to hold a flight reservation for 24 hours without payment, or allow a reservation to be canceled within 24 hours without penalty if the reservation is made one week or more ahead of the flight’s departure date.

“If you see an airfare you’re comfortable with, book it,” said Kayak spokeswoman Maria Katime. You can continue your research and, if you find something better, go back and cancel.

Reasonable rental cars

When it comes to cars, reserve once you know your dates and have done some shopping, but recheck prices closer to the time of travel. “Prices can drop last-minute, depending on the actual availability of cars versus what the companies anticipate,” said travel expert Carol Pucci, who saved more than $100 with this method on the Big Island of Hawaii. “It was easy to do because I hadn’t prepaid, which is hardly ever a good idea given the chances of prices falling,” said Pucci.

To make sure a rental car company doesn’t charge you for scrapes, scratches or dings already on the car you’re issued, “take pictures of the car before you drive it away and when you return it,” said Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the business travel website Joe Sent Me.

“Rental firms are getting extremely aggressive about these charges and since the cars in the fleet are older these days than they used to be, there’s more of a chance you’ll be given a car with a ding and/or scratches,” he said.

Honing in on hotel deals

Sign up for the frequent stay program of any hotel you visit to take advantage of free perks that can include complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and welcome amenities such as cheese plates and bottles of wine for even the first-time guest.

Research room rates and hotel property reviews online, but as a final step, call the hotel you’ve chosen. “Once I narrow down my hotel choice, I call the hotel to see if they have any better offers then what I see online,” said Rob Connors, assistant vice-president of marketing for National Car Rental. “Your membership in a club or association might get you an added discount, and many times hotels offer special rates for suppliers calling on nearby companies.”

It’s also a good idea to check city tourism sites for short-run, special promotions.

Some cities have destination marketing funds and packages designed to generate room sales during off-seasons. The inaugural Hotel Week LA runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 14, and in 2015, more than 30 Manhattan properties are participating in the fourth New York Hotel Week from Jan. 3 to 18. The programs offer significant discounts rate for some of each city’s top, usually very pricey, properties.

Vancouver’s “Be Vancouver” promotion gives guests $125 American Express prepaid gift cards for bookings made by Nov. 16 for stays through Feb. 28, bringing rates in some upscale hotels down to less than $60.

“The offers coming from that program are the best we have on offer,” said Jim Mockford, general manager of the Listel Hotel. “They’re highly targeted in regards to time frame, so you have to be quick and flexible. So it’s always a good idea to put your name on the mailing list of your favorite hotels. You’ll hear about some great deals that you’ll never see anywhere else.”

Choosing travel gear

To get the best bang for your buck when shopping for travel gear “make a list of three to five ‘musts’ for your new bag and prioritize these as you do research,” said Michele Marini Pittenger, president of the Travel Goods Association.

“The manufacturer’s warranty policy can be an indicator of durability, but be sure to check the dimensions of new carry-on bags to avoid getting dinged by extra charges when flying,” she said.

When to use a travel agent

Modern online booking tools and mobile apps make it easy to research and reserve much of your own travel. But the customer services of a travel advisor who can quickly reroute and rebook you when there’s a travel snafu can come in handy.

“When it’s a trip that matters—family vacations, celebration travel, a destination you want to experience rather than ‘see’—that’s when you most need a travel advisor,” said Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel agencies. “Not only will they save you precious time, they can save you money with negotiated hotel benefits and extensive firsthand knowledge to ensure that you get exactly what you expect from the trip.”

Boarding the bus

“Bus travelers typically save 50 to 55 percent versus the train and 55 to 73 percent versus flying,” said Joe Schwieterman, a professor at DePaul University in Chicago and author of the Traveler’s Tradeoff study comparing intercity bus, plane and train fares across the United States.

“The ‘sweet spot’ for bus travel involves trips between 125 and 300 miles. Driving can be tedious, but air travel is often not cost effective,” he said.

When to book the bus?

“As early as possible,” said Megabus spokesman Mike Alvich. “Generally customers booking 30 to 45 days in advance will see the greatest savings, but even last-minute trip tickets are still very affordable in comparison to last-minute airline travel or even the cost of filling the gas tank of your personal vehicle.”

Smarter destination choices

You may not have much choice where business trips take you, but you can save money on leisure trips and avoid crowds by heading for South Africa, Shanghai, Uruguay, Portugal or some of the other “best-value” destinations on Lonely Planet’s Best Travel 2015 list.

Choosing “almost-as-good” alternatives to classic experiences in more expensive cities can also save cash.

“European cities are stuffed full of amazing historic buildings and churches that can be seen and explored for free without the crowds of big-name things,” said Lonely Planet’s editorial director, Tom Hall. “Gorilla trekking might be an unforgettable experience in East Africa, but looking out for chimpanzees and smaller primates can be much more fun and is certainly easier on the wallet.”