Travel deals, news and updates for the week of Feb. 23, 2009
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
Safety Net. JetBlue is working hard to burnish its rep. The airline says it will refund the full cost of tickets purchased between now and June 1 if you subsequently lose your job. Just let the airline know 14 days before you're due to travel that you'll be needing that money to pay the rent, rather than pina coladas.
Cheap Latin Flair. Lan Airlines, a Oneworld partner, is offering low fares to South America. If you've always wanted to climb to Machu Picchu, you can now fly to Peru from Miami for as little as $298 round-trip. For a more urbane getaway, fly from Los Angeles to Chile ($749 round-trip) to sample some Malbec vintages, or head to Argentina from New York City ($599 round-trip) to perfect your tango. Purchase tickets before Feb. 28 for travel before June 15.
Winter Break. Cold weather is for suckers. Check out Air Tahiti Nui's ""Take Your Lover to Tahiti" deal for $859 round-trip from Los Angeles to Papeete. For an extra $200, you'll get to Auckland for a taste of New Zealand's bright, grassy sauvignon blancs; the Auckland flight includes a free stopover and overnight stay at the new Manava Suite Resort Tahiti. Book by Feb. 28 for travel through April 30.
Cincinnati Calling. This ought to make your trip to Ohio a little less painful. Delta SkyMiles members who register at this website and fly before May 13, can earn at least 3,000 bonus miles for their first round-trip flight to or from Cincinnati. Flyers will also earn 10,000 extra miles for their fifth round-trip. The deal applies only to certain routes, including flights to Atlanta, Denver, L.A. and Philly. Check the website for details.
Cincinnati, Outbound. Delta is slashing fares out of its Cincinnati hub on 21-day advance purchases to cities in Florida, the Northeast and the West Coast, with discounts of up to 58% compared with 2008 rates. Fares to L.A. are going for $130 each way, down from $310 last year, or to Boston for $152 each way, down from $205.
Mideast Envoy. El Al, Israel's national airline, is cozying up to American travelers with guaranteed low summer airfares. If the airline lowers prices after you buy a ticket, you'll get a check for the difference. Fly from Newark International Airport to Israel for $1,099 or bump up to business class for $3,699. From L.A. to Jerusalem it's $1,399 or $4,199 in business. Tickets must be purchased by March 3 for travel from June 20 through August 19. Call 800-223-6700 for reservations.
Beam Me Up. Southwest is launching a Wi-Fi test run aboard its new aircraft a total of four planes in its fleet will be Web-enabled by early March. If you happen to get a seat on one of them, you'll see placards telling you how to hook up to the Internet for free. In other Southwest news, the airline has just announced it will begin service to Boston's Logan Airport (until now, it has been flying to nearby Manchester, N.H.) this fall.
Credit Only. American Airlines will be transitioning to cashless cabins on domestic flights starting this summer. So, have your plastic handy if you want to buy headsets, food or drinks.
Win Miles for Tips. American Airlines' "Share a Trip, Win a Trip" contest gives you a chance at 275,000 AAdvantage miles, which the airline says is enough for two first-class tickets almost anywhere it flies. Enter online by writing about your favorite thing to do or see anywhere around the globe the deadline is March 15 then wait to hear whether you've won. (Ten second-place winners will get 1,000 frequent flyer miles each.) Prizes will be announced April 15.
HOTELS & PACKAGES
Double Down. Best Western is offering its Rewards members double points if they stay at least two nights at any of the chain's locations between now and April 5 and register for the promotion online. Registering will also automatically enter you into a sweepstakes for a million-point grand prize, redeemable for gas cards, meals, airline tickets, or natch, nights at the chain. Booking your rooms online earns you another 250 bonus points, so you'll get something, even if you don't win the big prize.
Making Up. Had a spat with your loved one? Fairmont is offering an international "Get Out of the Doghouse" package through April 15, to help you make it up to your honey or at least distract him or her for the weekend. At the Fairmont in Newport Beach, Calif., weekend rates start at $279 a night, including valet parking, a $25 credit for food and beverage, along with a wine-and-cheese welcome basket. Stay at the Fairmont in Scottsdale, Ariz., and get breakfast and a 60-minute couples massage starting at $649 per night. Check out the website for other participating locations and packages.
Take the Edge Off. Whether you're a legitimate oenophile or just want to plunge into a big pour, the Napa Valley Marriott has rooms starting at $169, including a bottle of Cakebread wine and tastings at two other local wineries. The rate also includes breakfast, so you don't go off on vineyard tours with an empty stomach. The hotel is also discounting spa services by 20%. Book through April 30 and mention code M11. 3425 Solano Avenue, Napa, CA; 707-253-8600
Emerald Isle. Celebrate St. Paddy's Day the way it was meant be. Sceptre Tours' seven-day package to Ireland includes round-trip airfare from New York City or Boston to Dublin for $799 per person, a night at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt (just south of Dublin) and a stay at the four-star Strand Hotel in Limerick. While you're on the road (the car rental is also included), you can stay four nights at any of 1,200 Irish Farmhouse Bed & Breakfasts. The same package is available from Chicago or Washington, D.C., starting at $949, and from San Francisco starting at $1,059. Book by Feb. 27 for travel from May 1 to June 15.
Cruise Now. If you've never been much for cruising, now might be the time to reconsider cruises are getting cheaper and more enticing by the day. Holland America Line, for one, is ginning up new itineraries throughout the Southern Hemisphere aboard the 1,432-passenger Volendam, including a 34-day circumnavigation of Australia, departing March 14, with stops at the Great Barrier Reef and 18 ports of call. Fares start at $4,599. 877-724-5425
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT.
Cheap Seats. You don't have to trawl the Great White Way for good theater. Take in an off-Broadway show (also useful for impressing a first date or a client, on a budget) with two-for-one tickets to off-Broadway shows see Cynthia Nixon in Distracted or Kathleen Turner in The Third Story during the last two weeks of Feb. Check out the On the House deal here.
What's On in St. Louis. The Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, Mo., has a retrospective of mid-century modernist architect Eero Saarinen, who designed the iconic TWA terminal at JFK airport and, of course, St. Louis's Gateway Arch. "Shaping the Future" takes a look at the Finnish architect's work through full-scale mock-ups and a selection of drawings, models, photographs and films, through April 27. Washington University, Skinker and Forsyth Blvds., St. Louis; 314-935-4523
Wall Paper. The first exhibition to open at LACMA's new Renzo Piano designedbuilding, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, examines the artwork produced on either side of the Berlin Wall during the postwar division of the country. The "Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures" displays paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, and artists' books reflecting Germany's efforts to deal with the aftermath of Nazism and the reconstruction, via capitalism in one Germany, communism in the other. Through April 19. 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles; 323-857-6000.