Travel Bargains to Consider
May 30 to June 6, 2019
THIS WEEK'S BIGGEST DEAL
Members Only: $400 Off Aer Lingus Business Class RT in August
Summer business class deals have largely disappeared, but Aer Lingus is offering JoeSentMe.com members $400 off roundtrips to Ireland in August. If you're only traveling one-way, the discount is $200 off a business class flight. Travel is available August 1 through September 2 when you purchase your tickets by June 14. The members-only discount is available on nonstops to Dublin from nine gateways (Philadelphia, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, Hartford, New York/JFK, Miami and Toronto/Pearson) or to Shannon from JFK or Boston. As I trolled the Aer Lingus site, that means business class roundtrips will start around $2,000 for midweek flights and mostly be in the $2,400-$2,800 range. How do you score the deal? Surf to AerLingus.com
and enter JOESENTME19 in the box after you click on the Add Promo Code link. And a reminder: I negotiate member discounts strictly for your benefit. We receive no payment or commission of any kind if you fly Aer Lingus.
THIS WEEK'S OTHER BIG DEALS
Air New Zealand: ANZAC Premium Class Starts at $2,000 Roundtrip
Transpacific bargains have been hard to come by in recent years, but Air New Zealand is out with discounts in premium economy and business class to Australia and New Zealand. Prices start as low as $1,973 roundtrip (premium economy) and between Los Angeles and Auckland. Prices are just a few dollars more to Sydney or Brisbane. There are similar prices from San Francisco and somewhat steeper fares from ANZ's Chicago/O'Hare and Houston/IAH gateways. Fares from Honolulu are slightly lower than the LAX rates. Travel is valid on select dates from mid-June to mid-April next year. The big catch? Tickets must be purchased from 28-90 days in advance. Information: the Air New Zealand FLIGHTS
At Your Gate App: $5 Off Your First Airport Delivery From Five Guys
Food delivery to your airport gate is growing fast and one of the players is the At Your Gate app. It operates at six airports, including San Diego, Newark, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland (PDX), New York/LGA and Terminals 7 and 8 at New York/Kennedy. To induce you to download its app--find details here
--At Your Gate is offering $5 off orders from Five Guys, the well-regarded burger-and-fries chain. To score the discount, use promo code 5G at checkout.
Hyatt: A Free Extra Night at Park Hyatts--If We Feel Like It
When a fairly simple offer--get a free night's stay if you purchase a multi-night stay--has more than 500 words of terms and conditions, be wary. So it is with Hyatt's newest promotion for its top-tier Park Hyatt properties. The offer seems simple enough: Book two or more nights at participating properties and you'll receive an additional night at no extra charge. That works out to a 33 percent discount at the Park Hyatt hotels requiring a two-night minimum; a 25 percent discount at properties offering a free fourth night; and a 20 percent discount at the hotels offering a free fifth night. Then it gets complicated. The lengthy T&Cs don't even tell you when you can claim the free night, when there are blackouts or virtually anything else. You'll have to go hotel-by-hotel to figure it all out. Complicating matters more, you'll only get the free night if your stay is prepaid. Still, Park Hyatts are fine hotels and you may score a nifty discount on a multi-day stay if you plan carefully and hack your way through the restrictions. Information: the NIGHT ON PARK HYATT
Choice Hotels: $50 Gift Cards After Two Stays
Choice Hotels has a dreary loyalty plan--and some really
dreary properties--but here's an enticing opportunity: Earn a $50 gift card after two stays at Choice by August 9. The cards are valid for purchases at Amazon, Apple, Applebee's, Best Buy, Chili's, Kohl's and Lowe's. (Cards for Canadian travelers are also offered for Hudson's Bay, Starbucks and Esso/Mobil.) To claim the deal, you must be a member of the Choice Privileges frequency plan, register in advance and book stays via Choice channels. You'll receive enough Choice Privileges points (8,000) to claim the cards by September 30. You can earn an unlimited number of $50 cards during the promotion. Information: the SPEND IT YOUR WAY
HOTEL POINTS & PRICE PROMOTIONS
Hotels: In the Summertime, When the Discounts Are Hot(ter)
Everyone is fed up with the big U.S. lodging chains. Too many brands we've never heard about, too few perks in "revised" elite programs and an all-around disinterest in making us feel special. What's the solution? Perhaps checking out some of the smaller chains and their deals. Here are some of the most interesting ones:
, the French giant, is mounting its annual summer sale
. About 2,800 hotels worldwide participate and rates seem to be from 20 to 30 percent off. Free breakfast is included at most properties. Reservations must be prepaid by May 24 for travel from mid-July to September, although some Asia/Pacific properties extend the sale until July, 2020.
is not a name you'd recognize, but it manages some fine hotels in the United States and Canada. Its summer promotion
knocks 20 percent off properties in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Toronto, Florida, Texas and elsewhere. The sale is valid for stays from from May 27 to September 2 if you book by May 31.
is offering a sale from stays from June 1 until September 30 in the Americas and June 14 to September 8 in Europe. Prices are 15 to 25 percent off, plus another 5 percent off if you join the NH frequency plan. The promotion
does require payment at the time of reservation and you must book by May 26.
, like many chains, offers a discount for AAA members. The price saving is usually modest--about 10 percent--but Omni is now doubling up
. If you use the chain's prepaid AAA rates the saving is 20 percent at hotels in San Diego, San Francisco and Atlanta. It's 25 percent in Washington, Chicago, Boston, New York, Providence, Dallas, Montreal and Toronto.
World of Hyatt: Bonus Points for MGM Stays in Las Vegas
Hyatt is so small compared to truly global chains like Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental and Accor that it needs to find partners everywhere. In Las Vegas, for example, it partners with MGM Resorts and now it is promoting those properties with bonus points offers. At nine MGM resorts, you'll earn double World of Hyatt points (that's 10 per $1 spent). At three others, you'll get a 20 percent bump, which is 6 points per dollar spent. The promotion runs until July 31, but advance registration is required for each offer. Information: the WIN BIG WITH MGM RESORTS
Hilton Honors: Stay a Lot, Get a Lot of Low-Value Points
With the possible exception of Delta SkyMiles, no major frequency currency is worth less than Hilton Honors points. Which explains why Hilton basically offers double-point promotions on a year-round basis. The latest iteration offers double points starting with the second stay between May 6 and September 8. Then there's the added fillip: a stair-step accelerator offering 10,000 points on the 10th stay, 15,000 points on the 15th stay and 20,000 points on the 20th. What's it all mean? A lot of low-value points for a lot of Hilton stays in four months. Advance registration is required, of course. Information: the GO MORE, GET MORE POINTS
Marriott Rewards: 2,000 Bonus Points a Stay at Select Courtyards
I asked on Twitter recently how to tell the difference between the various Marriott-branded select-service brands when they all use similar bathroom amenities, soft goods and other material. Apparently Marriott Rewards also gets that it doesn't offer much differentiation these days. Its "solution?" A 2,000-point-per-stay bonus when you book select Courtyard by Marriott properties. Use code 53M to grab the extra points. No, that won't change your world, but never walk away from extra points. Information: the COURTYARD 2K EVERYDAY
Hotels: Maybe You Can Find Room-Rate Savings With a Credit Card
Airline fares have been relatively flat in recent months, but hotel and resort rates continue to rise, precipitously in some destinations. Possible solution: hotel discounts offered by your credit card. American Express Platinum Cards
, for example, feature a Fine Hotels & Resort collection that covers more than 1,000 properties around the world. Bundled with the FHR rates are space-available room upgrades; check-in as early as noon based on availability and guaranteed
4 p.m. checkout; breakfast for two; free WiFi; and property-specific food and beverage credit or other amenity. Meanwhile, Visa Signature
cards claim to offer special rates at 900 properties. Perks include space-available upgrade; free WiFi; free breakfast for two; a $25 food and beverage credit; and late checkout. Of course, all of these specials come with some caveats. Most hotels in the programs are in the luxury category. You must book directly at the card's special Web site. And you should always check that the rate you're paying is competitive with other offers.
Waldorf/Conrad: $50 Daily Statement Credits at Hilton Luxury Digs
When you affect luxury--as Hilton's Waldorf and Hilton brands do--rate cutting is frowned upon. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, of course, but it is frowned upon nevertheless. The preferred method of lowering the price is by gimmicks. The current gimmick? A $50 statement credit for each night you spend in participating Waldorf and Conrad hotels. Three-day advance reservations are required and there are blackout dates. And as I always say with deals like this, always check to see whether a cheaper rate is available than the promoted gimmick. A two-night minimum stay is required. All Waldorf properties honor the promotion and 27 Conrad properties are participating. Waldorf is calling its $50-a-day BEST OF WALDORF
. The Conrad promotion is called COMPLIMENTS OF CONRAD
GLOBAL AIRLINE DEALS TO CONSIDER
Etihad: Two-Day Free Stay in Abu Dhabi Through the End of the Year
Etihad Airways doesn't seem to have much of a future. It is dwarfed by its Dubai-based neighbor Emirates, its strategy of buying into weakened European airlines collapsed and the royal family that owns the carrier is losing patience with endless losses. Which is a long-winded way of explaining why Etihad is desperate to figure out an angle to get Americans to fly over Abu Dhabi. The current angle: free two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi, including lodging at several of the city's excellent hotels. The stayover needs to be booked by December 1 for travel until December 31. That offer is for coach flyers, by the way. Business and first class travelers and customers in Etihad's The Residence, the over-the-top private double cabin, have their own offer. Information: the Etihad STOPOVER IN 2019
KLM: Under-the-Radar Business Class Sale Rates Worldwide
Even though KLM kicks in about 80 percent of the profit of the combined KLM/Air France, the Dutch part of the partnership remains distinctly under the radar when it comes to publicity. In other words, prepare to fly over its Amsterdam/Schiphol hub if you're looking for business class bargains. From New York, sample prices include $2,020 roundtrip to Madrid, $3,148 to Accra, Ghana, and $2,714 to Delhi. From Miami, it's $2,446 to Athens roundtrip and $3,574 to Mumbai. From San Francisco, it's $2,548 roundtrip to London, $2,917 to Chennai and $3,842 to Cape Town. There are also similar sale prices from all 12 of KLM's U.S. gateways. The KLM site offers a handy month-by-month bar chart of the fares and then a day-by-day breakdown of availability. It's a slick way to find the lowest fares. Information: the KLM'S BEST OFFERS
Qatar Airways: Price-Fixed Business Class 'Sale' Apparently Permanent
Several times this year Qatar Airways has offered up putatively "prix fixe" business class sales to destinations around the world. Either it worked or Qatar Air's marketing team has run out of ideas because the promotion has apparently become a comparatively permanent part of the carrier's fare structure. In case you've forgotten, Qatar claims that is has set a fixed-price business class fare structure: $2,450, $2,950, $3,450, $3,950 or $4,450 roundtrip. But, of course, there's much less there than meets the eye. Qatar falls back on "starting at" verbiage that means every ticket is, um, "market price." Still, there is a smattering of seats at each price point. Sample fares: $2,450 roundtrip on Atlanta or Miami to Delhi; $2,450 from New York/JFK to Tbilisi, Georgia; $2,950 on Los Angeles-Da Nang, Vietnam, or Chicago-Manila; $3,450 on DFW or Atlanta to Johannesburg or Miami-Hong Kong; and $3,950 between Philadelphia and Kathmandu. The best prices are available for midweek travel between July 29 and January 1. A seven-day minimum stay is required. And a reminder: All trips operate via Doha, Qatar Air's hub. Information: the Qatar Air BUCKET LIST EXPERIENCE
Cathay Pacific: Modest Sale, Modest Prices on Great Business Class
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific continues to offer targeted bargains on its exceptional transpacific business class. The newest sale is modest in travel window (depart by June 15), modest in price (fares start at around $3,600 roundtrip from Seattle to Vietnam but are much higher from Washington/Dulles and Chicago), modest in restrictions (7-day advance purchase) and modest in opportunity (you must book by May 31). Prices from Cathay Pacific's San Francisco gateway start below $3,900 roundtrip and are as low as $4,150 from New York. Depending on gateway, your return can be as late as three months or six months after departure. Poke around and, depending on your gateway, you might find something great. Information: the Cathay Pacific BUSINESS CLASS SUMMER OFFER
LAN: Some Rare Business Class Discounts to South America
Nothing's harder to score than a business class discount to South America. U.S. carriers serving the routes mostly use domestic first class configurations to South America, not exactly a palatable choice. And the Latin carriers aren't the savviest marketers. That said, here's something of note: A smallish sale from LAN, which flies a legitimate business class with lie-flat beds. The bargains at the moment: $963 roundtrip from New York to Guayaquil, Ecuador; $1,239 from Miami to Lima, Peru; and $1,990 from Los Angeles to Lima. Fares to Lima are available for travel between May 5 and July 4. The New York sale is valid for travel between May 8 and July 8. Look to book in I class. Information: the LAN PREMIUM BUSINESS
Alaska Airlines: Double Miles on Coast-to-Coast Flights Through 2019
Alaska Airlines continues to try to forge a new identity on the coast-to-coast flights it assumed in the Virgin America buy. Shorn of their white seats with 55-inch pitch and mood lighting, Alaska's flights are relying on a more-than-generous 41-inch pitch and lots of upgrades. Now another tactic: double miles on transcontinental flights until the end of the year. The only restriction: advance registration before your first transcon run. The double-miles offer is valid between Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose and East Coast airports from Boston/Logan to Fort Lauderdale. That includes New York (Kennedy and Newark) and Washington (BWI, Dulles and National) airports. The deal is also offered on routes where Alaska Air had flights before it purchased Virgin America. Information: the DOUBLE MILES COAST2COAST
Finnair: Cheap Business Class This Year? How About Russia?
Finland remains what it has always been: a middle ground between Europe and Russia. And Vantaa Airport in Helsinki remains what it always has been: a fabulous place to change planes en route to Russia. See where I'm going with this? Finnair is offering great deals in business class over its Helsinki hub to Russia. Prices are valid for travel until well into next spring if you can hit the admittedly stiff (up to 60 days) advance-purchase restriction. Sample fares: Yekaterinburg for $2,295 roundtrip; Moscow for $2,294; and St. Petersburg for $2,299. Oddly, if you're headed to Helsinki, the nonstop roundtrip price is $3,481. Ticket are nonrefundable and no stopovers are permitted. Information: the Finnair FLIGHT OFFERS
Hainan Airlines: You're Not Going to China at These Insane Fares?
There are precious few bargains to European cities this spring and summer, but if you're looking for someplace, how about China? Hainan Airlines is basically giving away seats to fill planes on its fast-expanding network. Best of all, Hainan doesn't just fly to Beijing and Shanghai, but also operates nonstop to places such as Xi'an, Chengdu, Changsha and Chongqing. Coach fares start as low as--wait for it--$376 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Shanghai. (Other samples: $633 roundtrip from Boston to Beijing and $502 from Seattle to Beijing.) Business class seats start at just $2,319 roundtrip between Los Angeles and Xi'an. (Other samples: $2,710 from Chicago to Beijing and $2,855 from New York/Kennedy to Chengdu.) Seats at those prices are limited, of course, but they're available in decent numbers. Travel is valid through September 30. Information: the Hainan OFFERS
Alaska Airlines: Okay, But If You'd Like Status ...
If you are
going to chase status, maybe consider the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plus. It is the only U.S. program with a mileage-based system, which has proven more lucrative than the diluted revenue-based schemes adopted by other airlines. It also has expanded its route network via the Virgin America acquisition and offers awards on a wide range of international partners. It's the Virgin purchase that has led Alaska Air to offer a status challenge to flyers on the East and West Coasts. Residents in ten states and the District of Columbia earn entry-level MVP status for two coast-to-coast roundtrips by May 31. You'll earn MVP Gold status if you do four roundtrips before May 31. Advance registration is required for the promotion. Information: the COAST-TO-ELITE CHALLENGE
La Compagnie: Business Class to Nice for $1,300 Roundtrip
Now that it's owned by a larger and more stable travel outfit, all business class La Compagnie of France is beginning to make some sense. Its sole route--Newark-Paris--has moved to Orly, the close-in Paris airport that makes sense for the airline's point-to-point customers. The schedule seems more reliable, too, and new aircraft are on the way. The airline also is adding a smart new run: a seasonal nonstop between Newark and Nice in the south of France. The service will operate between late May and late October and La Compagnie will use Boeing 757s configured with angled-flat beds in a 2x2 configuration. The introductory price was a startling $1,200 roundtrip and the current price is just $1,300 roundtrip. Seats at that price still are available for few select days in July and August with solid availability in September and October. Information: the La Compagnie DESTINATION FRENCH RIVIERA
Swiss: Holy Moley! It's a First Class Sale--With Lots of Holes, Of Course
There aren't many first class cabins to Europe left, so finding a first class sale
is just this side of a miracle. But maybe we should discuss the holes first: It's on Swiss, which has a limited route network. It's on Swiss, which means you're connecting via Zurich. It's on Swiss, which has a good, but not stupendous, first class product
. And flights are only available for travel at the sale price starting in late July. Still, it you can thread the needle, you can find some excellent bargains. Samples from New York/JFK: Rome for $6,052 roundtrip, Naples for $6,090 and Barcelona for $6,621. From Boston, it's $5,812 roundtrip to Copenhagen. From Miami, you'll find a $6,083 roundtrip to Barcelona. And one bonus: $8,587 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. Information: the SWISS
British Airways: AARP Deal, Reduced Again, Extended Through 2020
British Airways isn't only hacking away at the quality of its in-flight product and its reputation as a premium carrier. It's also reducing the classic deals you can use to get discounts. Take its long-standing AARP deal. BA once offered as much as $400 off roundtrip. Now first and premium economy class discounts have been axed and we're left with $200 roundtrip off BA's outdated business class and $65 off its newly "densified" coach class. Also gone: the opportunity to twin the AARP discount with other BA promotions. Still, $65 or $200 off is better than a stick upside your head. And the current deal is now valid for travel until the end of 2020 if you book by January 31, 2020. The cost of entry: the $12 fee required to join AARP
. And you must enter through the AARP portal to score the discounts. Information: the EXCLUSIVE AARP MEMBERS
GROUND TRANSPORT BARGAINS
United/Hertz: Worst-in-Class Providers Offer Really Big Bonuses
What do Hertz and United Airlines have in common? Lessee, both operations run poorly. A former top United exec was ousted as Hertz chief executive for doing a lousy job. And United once actually owned Hertz. Other than that? Both are desperate for new customers. The solution: gigantic bonuses for even two-day rentals. Until October 31, book a mid-size or larger Hertz car at United.com for at least two days and you'll receive a 1,500-mile bonus atop the 500-1,250 miles you'd normally earn as a member of MileagePlus. That means as many as 2,750 miles for rentals as short as two days. Sound familiar? It should. It's a re-introduction, extension and slight rejiggering of a promotion that the two companies have continually offered for about four years. Information: the BOOK YOUR CAR THROUGH UNITED.COM
Avis/Budget/AAdvantage: Rent Three Days, Earn 500 Bonus Miles
Mileage earning from car rentals has had a strange history. In the early days of the frequency programs, they were gushers of cheap miles. Then the car rental firms realized they were paying plenty to the airlines for miles without moving the market since all the companies were doing the same thing. So for decades car rentals were earnings deserts. Lately, however, the airlines and rental firms have been working out relatively exclusive deals. The latest example? Avis and Budget, which are sister firms, will give you 500 American AAdvantage miles for a three-day rental. This is a revamp of a deal that Avis and Budget have been offering on and off for the last few years. This deal is valid for rentals that begin by June 30. Information: the 500 BONUS MILES
National/Southwest: Quadruple Rapid Rewards for Weekly Rentals
Southwest Airlines and National Car Rental have teamed up to offer a bigger payoff for rentals if you need a vehicle. Instead of the standard 600 Rapid Rewards points, a two- or three-day National rental will earn 1,200 points. Rentals of 4-6 days will earn 1,800 points. Weekly or longer rentals will score 2,400 points. To score the points, use Contract ID code 5030510. Bonus points are valid on rentals until January 31, 2020, with one-day advance reservation. By the way, if this sounds familiar, it is exactly
the same deal that ran all of last year. Information: the RAPID REWARDS PROMOTIONS
CREDIT CARD ACQUISITION BONUSES
Hawaiian Airlines: 50,000- TO 70,000-Mile Bonuses
Big credit card acquisition bonuses aren't just for the big airlines and the big banks. Hawaiian Airlines partners with Bank of Hawaii to promote the Hawaiian credit cards and the numbers are huge. You'll earn 50,000 miles for taking a personal card
and spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. The business card
offers 60,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. You'll earn another 10,000 miles if you also acquire an employee card and make a purchase on it. The $99 annual fee is not waived.
Chase: Honest, Sapphire Preferred Is Better Than Capital One Venture
The decision of Capital One to get into the points-to-airline transfer game has rattled Chase Bank, whose Ultimate Rewards points are the gold standard of bank currency. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has suddenly upped its acquisition bonus to 60,000 points and it is clear that Chase wants to make sure you don't defect to the Capital One Venture card. How do we know? The promotion page for the acquisition bonus is literally a comparison chart between Chase and Capital One. You should
have a Sapphire Preferred card, so grab one now if you don't have one. Sixty thousand points is too good to pass up. The annual fee is $95, which Chase's chart has to admit isn't as good as Capital One's first-year fee waiver. Information: the EARN 60,000 BONUS POINTS
American Express: Lots of Points to Take Hilton Card. But, Um...
American Express really, really wants you to take one of its four Hilton cards. And the lure, as always, is a bigger acquisition bonus: from 75,000 to 150,000 Hilton Honors points. The problem? Hilton Honors points have very little value, even in the ridiculously devalued travel world. Getting a half-cent return is often a victory in Honors, which is now completely revenue-based and ludicrously overpriced for everything but a standard room. (And sometimes not even then...) But if you find value in Hilton, at least one of these four cards will be useful and perhaps two should be on your radar. The no-fee Hilton Honors Amex will give you 75,000 points for $1,000 of spend in the first three months. The sweet spot is 125,000 points, available for Amex's two Hilton cards with a $95 annual fee. Information: the Amex UPGRADE YOUR STAY
Chase: 80,000-Point Bonus to Take an Ink Business Card
As the airline frequent flyer programs get less generous, smart travelers are banking their miles with banks. Chase Ultimate Rewards points, for example, offer a 1:1 transfer to United, Southwest, several international airlines and some hotel chains, too. There seems to be less risk by banking points with Chase and moving them to your programs as the good deals--or award availability--warrant. One of the current stars in the wide Chase portfolio? The Ink Business Preferred Card. For the $95 annual fee, you'll receive an acquisition bonus of 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 during the first three months. You'll also earn three points per dollar spent on travel expenditures; shipping charges; payments for Internet, cable and phone services; and certain advertising purchases. Information: the 80,000 BONUS POINTS