For the week of Feb. 9, 2009
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
Comfort, at a Cost. US Airways is falling in line behind JetBlue and charging economy-class passengers for a pillow and blanket. You'll have to lay out $7 for the perk, but you can keep the set. First class and business class passengers continue to get their comfort gratis.
Linked In. With the merger of Delta and Northwest, members of the airlines' frequent-flyer-program SkyMiles for Delta and WorldPerks for Northwest can link their accounts and transfer miles between them. Couple the accounts before March 15 and get 500 bonus miles.
Flight Plans. Domestic airlines will be carrying 6.6% to 8% fewer passengers in 2009, according to a new report by the Boyd Group. Airlines will respond to the decline by cutting capacity 10% but if they don't raise fares now, they'll still lose an estimated $7 billion in revenue this year. Which could result in more add-on fees for travelers or fare hikes down the line. The Boyd group is not predicting a return to 2008 capacities until 2014.
Cross-Country Discount. Going head-to-head with Virgin America, which just started new service to Boston, JetBlue is offering $105 one-way tickets between Los Angeles and Boston or New York's JFK. There are some restrictions: fares are valid only for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday between June 17 and July 24, excluding June 27.
Far East Access. Continental is launching daily direct service between Newark Liberty Airport and Shanghai on March 25. To celebrate, the airline is offering a special $777 round-trip fare to Shanghai from Newark. From cities such asa Houston, Miami and Cleveland, the fare is just $888 round-trip to Shanghai on flights that connect through Newark. Tickets must be purchased by Feb. 28 for outbound travel from March 25 to April 30; all travel must be completed by June 30.
Waiting Room. For American Airlines flyers, there's a new Admirals Club lounge in Washington D.C.'s Dulles International Airport. Open daily at 5:30 a.m., the club has Wi-Fi, copy and fax machines as well as snacks and drinks. Yearly membership starts at $350 and includes access to Qantas lounges, but you'll get $50 off a new membership or $25 off a renewal, if you buy in person at the new lounge at Dulles before April 30. Or you can simply buy a day pass for $50. Terminal B, mezzanine level, near gate 63
Automated Help. American Airlines installed a new service called Remember Me on its automated-phone system, designed to cut the time you spend on the phone getting flight information. AAdvantage members can enroll in the program and register three phone numbers; when you dial in, the system will automatically pull up your reservation information. If you call on the day of travel, the system will immediately relay your gate and departure info. Check the website for details. 800-433-7300
$100 Round-Trips. STA Travel is offering a "Travel Bailout: 5 Days 5 Deals." Every day from Feb. 9 to Feb. 13, 20 tickets to a single destination Miami, L.A., New York City, Denver or Chicago will be offered for just $100 round-trip. The city of the day is announced on the website at 11 a.m. EST, but you have to call 800-360-9273 starting at 1 p.m. EST to get a ticket. Hope you've got fast redial reflexes.
HOTELS & PACKAGES
Valentine's Freebie. What better state to spend Valentine's Day than Virginia, whose state slogan declares it "for lovers?" Virginia is marking the 40th anniversary of its Lovers campaign by giving away 40 free trips over 40 weeks. One person per week will win a Virginia getaway two- to seven-night trips that include listening to music in the Blue Ridge mountains, touring a winery in Williamsburg or kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay. Log on to the the website to enter.
Travelocity for the Disabled. Craig Grimes, who has traveled through Spain, Nicaragua and several other destinations in a wheelchair, has created a new website called Accessible Travel, an online info and booking site devoted to helping his fellow handicapped globe-trotters. Launching on Feb. 19, the site will include information on accessible hotels in San Francisco and eight European cities including London, Paris and Prague and will expand over the next few months to include New York City, Miami, Chicago, Boston, L.A., Scandinavia and New Zealand.
City Stimulus. New York Signature Collection hotels including the four-star Plaza, London and Carlyle hotels are still offering a third night free, plus a special VIP package at Saks Fifth Avenue, with gets you a personal shopper, a discount on merchandise, plus complimentary coffee and dessert at the store's lounge. Check website for participating hotels and to make reservations through Feb. 27.
For Ladies Who Lunch and Travel. The Plaza hotel has paired up with high-end cobbler Jimmy Choo, offering transportation from the hotel to the Madison Avenue shoe store in a Rolls Royce, a glass of champagne to loosen your wallet and $200 off purchases of $1,000 or more. Show off your new goods at the hotel's Rose Club, where you'll get complimentary cocktails. Rates for the "Be My Valentine" package start at $645 per night. Feb. 13 and 14 only. Fifth Avenue at Central Park South; 212-759-3001
Cheesy Children's Weekend. If you can't get a babysitter for Valentine's Day, bring the kids along. In Sante Fe, the Inn of the Anasazi's weekend "Children's Crafty Mac & Cheese" package starts off with a family pottery class to create a personalized dinner plate. On Saturday afternoon, kids get a lesson with the Inn's chef, who teaches them how to cook their own mac and cheese and sugar cookies. At dinnertime kids get served, you guessed it, mac and cheese on their custom-made plates, and at night, their sugar cookies will be waiting by their bed with a glass of milk. Rates begin at $329 for two nights. Through Sept. 1. 113 Washington Avenue; 505-988-3030
The Nines for $99. The Nines, the new Starwood Luxury Collection hotel in Portland, Ore., is practically giving away rooms for $99 per night through April 18. The hotel is perched on the top nine floors of a former department store with a library stocked by famed local bookseller Powell's, which is within walking distance and definitely worth a visit. 525 SW Morrison Street; 877-229-9995
Habla Espanol? Intrepid Travel is offering a buy-one, get-one-half-price deal on Latin American packages. Choose from sailing and snorkeling in the Galapagos, sipping your way through the Malbec wine region in Chile and Argentina, or climbing to the ruins of Peru's Machu Picchu. Package prices range from $1,705 to $2,480. You can take a companion, or opt to use the half-price trip yourself as a separate booking. Travel must be arranged by Feb. 28. Quote code 2682. 800-970-7299
Ski Season. Canada's Fairmont hotels Chateau Lake Louise, Jasper Park Lodge, Banff Springs, Mont Tremblant and others have a flurry of ski packages, with breakfast and daily lift tickets, starting at $239 per night. See the Fairmont's ski website for details.
Desert Bloom. Not a snowbird? Try heading to Utah's Red Mountain Resort & Spa, where the "Signature Package" includes three meals per day, unlimited fitness and wellness classes and guided hikes for $199 per person per night, plus you can book a massage or facial for just $69. Forgo the classes and just enjoy the meals and the resort's pool and fitness center for just $169 per night. Through March 31. 1275 East Red Mountain Circle, Ivins, UT; 877-246-HIKE
Designer Tea. Fashion Week begins Feb. 13 in New York City. If the designer confections on the runway make you drool, indulge yourself with decidedly cheaper and tastier versions of the togs at Bergdorf Goodman's "Prêt-A-Portea." Cakes and pastries designed to look like couture pieces from the Spring 2009 collections there's a petit four resembling a Chanel purse, a mousse made to look like a Michael Kors dress and other treats inspired by Christian Louboutin, Oscar de la Renta and Thakoon are served daily with tea from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The cost is $45 per person, $60 with a glass of champagne. 754 Fifth Avenue, at 57th Street; 212-872-8977
Classic Dinner Theater. Admit it, you eat dinner in front of the TV. So, why not do it en masse in front of a big screen? Nine Thirty, the restaurant at the Los Angeles-Westwood W hotel, will pair film screenings with a three-course dinner and wine every Sunday, from Feb. 15 through May 17. Dinner will be served al fresco on the hotel's patio, along with showings of An Affair to Remember (Feb. 15), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Feb. 22) and the Irish love story Once (March 1). The meal begins at 6 p.m., and showtime is at 6:30 p.m. Nine Thirty, 930 Hilgard Avenue; 310-443-8211
Wined-Up. During Mardi Gras season, the Besh Steakhouse at Harrah's New Orleans Casino will add unlimited pours from a selection of 20 wines to any meal Monday through Wednesday nights for just $20.09. Better be careful if you plan to play baccarat after dinner. 8 Canal Street; 504-533-6111
Place Your Bet. At long last, direct rail access to Atlantic City from New York. The Atlantic City Express Service (or, ACES) takes just under three hours and runs Friday through Sunday from Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. With leather seats and kiosks selling food and drinks, it promises to be more comfortable than the bus. There's also a lounge car, complete with a stereo and DVD system, at back of the train, which can be rented for a group. Introductory ticket prices are $50 one-way for coach; $75 for first class. 877-326-7428
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Ode to German Engineering. What with bankers denied their bonuses and sales of luxury cars down 24% in the U.S., about the only place you'll see a Porsche these days is in the car-maker's new museum in Stuttgart. You can goggle at 80 historic vehicles and watch technicians at work on customers' classic cars. If the pretty putt-putts whet your appetite, check out the on-site gourmet restaurant, Christophorus, and the cigar bar. Porscheplatz 1, Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen; for reservations at Christophorus, dial 49-711-911-25980.
Hello, Dali. What began as a temporary exhibit in Berlin has now become, due to popular demand, a permanent museum of the works of Salvador Dali. The museum's website is in German only, but the 450 drawings, books, sculptures and film clips on display need no translation. Leipziger Platz 7, Berlin; 49-30-364-12730