Posts in the category "Free Stuff":

Travelers get deals & freebies on Tax Day

Monaco Chicago_Tax Day_1

Ready with that tax return?

Whether you’re writing a check to Uncle Sam this year or he’s writing one to you, the stress of preparing your taxes may leave you yearning for a vacation, but fretting over your travel budget.

Help is on the way.

Some hotels and restaurants around the country are coming to the rescue with special Tax Day promotions that include carefully calculated deals and rewarding rate reductions.

You have until midnight April 16th to take advantage of the “Tax Break” special for weekend stays at participating Starwood hotels in the New York City area.

The deal provides weary taxpayers 15 percent rate discounts on stays that include Thursday to Sunday arrival dates through May 31, 2015 at W New York, W New York – Downtown, W New York – Times Square, W New York – Union Square, W Hoboken, Sheraton New York Times Square, Sheraton Tribeca, The Westin Grand Central and The Westin Jersey City.

Those checking into those hotels on Tax Day – April 15 – may also request the Tax Break discount rate and cash in on special perks being offered by some of the hotels.

For example, W Hotels guests will receive a piggy bank; guests at the Sheraton New York Times Square will receive a $25 Macy’s gift card, two complimentary drinks during Sheraton Social Hour and a Pay Day candy bar; and guests at the Sheraton Tribeca will be able to nibble on complimentary Pay Day, 100 Grand and Sugar Daddy candy bars.

On April 15, Portland, Oregon’s Hotel Monaco will offer complimentary chair massages during the nightly wine hour along with free champagne (for toasting refunds) and chocolates (to console those who owe money.) The adjacent Red Star Tavern will be serving specialty cocktails for $4.15 and buying one of those drinks for any guest who shows proof that they had to pay taxes this year.

The Tax Break Package at the Hotel Monaco Chicago waives the city’s hefty 16.4 percent occupancy and lodging taxes on room rates throughout the month of April. And on April 15, the food tax on bills at the hotel’s South Water Kitchen will also be waived. On Tax Day the front desk will also be handing out Pay Day and 100 Grand candy bars.

Travelers will also find Tax Day deals at some restaurants around the county.

Boston Market is offering diners a buy one/get one free meal deal on April 15 and, for those who want to explore the barter economy, on April 15 participating Hard Rock Café locations will host a Sing For Your Supper event and give a free Local Legendary Burger to diners willing to get up and sing a song on stage.

(My story about Tax Day Deals for travelers first appeared on CNBC)

Free car wash at Spokane Int’l Airport

Spokane Airport car wash

It’s only Thursday, but we’re declaring the free car wash offered at Spokane International Airport the airport amenity of the week.

Opened in November – right before big Thanksgiving travel rush – the car wash at GEG is already quite popular. Complimentary for anyone who parks in the airport garages ($10/day) or on in the outside lot ($8/day), in December 889 cars got a free bath. In In January – 1,360.

Why would an airport offer a free car wash?

Airport spokesman Todd Woodard explains it this way:

“We serve a geographically diverse 80,000 square mile region that covers parts of three States and two Canadian Provinces. As a regional transportation asset, we feel a particular obligation to express our appreciation as many drive significant distances to access our air service.”

Spokane Airport car was sign

Free gifts, courtesy of your airport

I’m a big fan of free. Especially at the airport. So here are a few of the items I included in a slide show of great airport promotions that I put together for CNBC Road Warrior.

1_Fort Wayne International Airport _ Passengers are welcomed to Fort Wayne Int'l Airport with a locally-baked cookie

Volunteers at Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport welcome arriving passengers with a cheery greeting and a complimentary cookie baked and individually wrapped by nearby Ellison Bakery. They’ve been doing this since sometime in the late 1980s and, by December 2009, handed out their 1 millionth cookie. Don’t worry if you’re too late to get a cookie from one of the treat-toting Hospitality Hosts; there’s an after-hours self-service cookie stand.

Jacksonville Airport

On both Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, volunteers at Jacksonville International Airport hand out more than 1,000 colorful carnations to passengers.

4_Oakland International Airport parking_A  promotion at OAK offers passengers heading to Hawaii, Europe and Texas free parking.

The parking promotions at Oakland International Airport is a very nice, money-saving perk. Through April 15, travelers leaving from OAK on any airline heading to any destination in Hawaii or Europe can get up to five days’ free parking (worth up to $110) in the airport’s Daily Lot. Passengers flying to any destination in Texas can get free parking (up to $66) through April 15 as well.

Get smart: free classes on Virgin America flights

Classroom

Courtesy National Library of Australia, via Flickr Commons

You might learn something new next time you take a Virgin American flight.

Starting February 1, free audio and video lectures from the popular series The Great Courses will be available on the airline’s Red in-flight entertainment system.

The series library runs to more than 530 titles and covers everything from history and music to science, literature, language, health, nutrition and personal development.

Virgin America will be offering these course samples:

• Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Inexplicable Universe; from the course, The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries (video)

• Cook Like a Pro Chef: Lessons From The Culinary Institute of America; from the course, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking (video)

• Sneferu – The Pyramid Builder; from the course, Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

• Um, Well, Like, You Know; from the course, The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins

• Did Slavery Really Cause the Civil War?; from the course, The Skeptic’s Guide to American History

• The Enlightenment and an Introduction to the Classical Era; from the course, How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

• What is Big History?; from the course, Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity

• Junk-Food Monkeys: What Happens When Baboons Eat like Us?; from the course, Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science

• Becoming a Spy; from the course, Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History

• Making High-Stakes Decisions; from the course, The Art of Critical Decision Making

• Not All Carbs Are Created Equal; from the course, Nutrition Made Clear

• Creative Nonfiction: Writing Great Beginnings; from the course, Writing Creative Nonfiction

• How People Respond to Incentives; from the course, Thinking Like an Economist: A Guide to Rational Decision-Making.

 

 

Airline perks for Seahawks and Patriots fans

Sunday was a big day for football fans (especially fans of the Seattle Seawhawks and the New England Patriots, of course) and airlines are helping get the celebrations for Super Bowl XLIX underway.

To celebrate the Seahawks win, Alaska Airlines is offering a free drink to everyone on a flight leaving Seattle on Monday, January 19:

For those who want to make quick plans to go the game, JetBlue is adding extra flights between Boston and Phoenix. In addition to the regular schedule of flights (already sold out), JetBlue is adding a flight leaving Boston on January 30, 2015 at 8:20 a.m. (arriving at 12:24 p.m.) and returning on February 2, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. (arriving at 6:10 p.m).

Sunday evening, Alaska Airlines teased about another special Super Bowl treat:

And early Monday Alaska Airlines announced a re-run of last year’s sweepstakes offering Mileage Plan members a chance to fly from Seattle to Phoenix on a special charter on Feb. 1.

“Russell Wilson’s Fan Flight II – For Strong Against Cancer,” a four-day sweepstakes is taking place on Alaska Airlines’ Facebook page.

Fifty-six prize winners will receive two round-trip tickets for an ‘inflight tailgate party’ from Seattle to Phoenix on its “Go Russell 737-900ER” aircraft. Winners will also get two nights of hotel accommodations, admission to an exclusive game day party and transportation to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and their hotel.

(I was able to tag along last year and it was a heap-of-fun!)

The sweepstakes is open to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members who are residents of Washington, Oregon and Alaska and winners will be notified by phone and email beginning on Friday, Jan. 23 at 8 a.m. PT. (Last year, winners told me they had a short window to answer the notification, so on Friday, be sure to check your email and voice mail right away.)

The airline is also adding extra flights between Seattle and Phoenix:

On Jan. 30 flights will head from Seattle to Phoenix at 1:30 p.m. and 5:55 p.m. and on February 2nd from Phoenix to Seattle at 5:55 p.m. and 10:25 p.m.

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