Travel news, deals and updates for the week of April 6, 2009
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
Getting on the A-List. Bump up to a better airline lifestyle on Southwest: the airline's Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program will grant you "A-List" status if you fly five round-trips before June 15. A-Listers get the coveted "A" boarding pass, which allows you to board early and claim your preferred seat, plus access to priority Fly By airport security lanes. A-List status is valid through December 31.
Just Don't Touch the Queen. American Airlines customers traveling to the U.K. before June 30 will earn extra bonus miles. An economy ticket gets you 25,000 bonus miles; if you're up front in first or business class, you get 50,000 bonus miles. Just register here before flying and use promotion code UK50K.
Lost Bags Found. It seems the airlines may be getting at least one thing right: SITA, an air transport communications firm, reports a 20% drop in mishandled bags in 2008 that's 10 million more bags finding their rightful owners. According to the report, most lost, delayed, damaged or pilfered bags are due to the transfer from one aircraft to another; 49% of lost luggage were pieces that were checked through on connecting flights and never made it to the luggage carousel. Other problems included bags failing to make it on the plane in the first place (16%) and ticketing errors or security problems (13%). One reason for the decrease in lost baggage may be simply that there's less checked baggage overall, since airlines now charge you to check. Who knew: an upside to airline fees.
Is This on the Safety Card? We all know how frustrating it is to be trapped on a plane on the runway, idling for hours, waiting hopelessly for lift off. Here's one reason to steel your patience: Robert McDonald, a Scottish traveler who was stuck aboard a Delta flight for more than two-and-half hours at New York City's JFK airport on March 31, had apparently lost his cool. In an attempt to deplane, McDonald allegedly yanked open the aircraft's emergency exit door while the plane was on the tarmac. The crew says it stopped him from opening the door fully and deploying the emergency chute, but, in the end, McDonald got his wish. He got off the plane albeit with a police escort. He now faces up to a year in prison if convicted of reckless endangerment and criminal tampering.
Moment of Zen. Toronto's Cosmopolitan Hotel, whose slogan is Zen in the City, is offering free evening meditation classes. Every night at 8:30 p.m., an instructor leads a class in the hotel's solarium to reduce guests' stress level and increase relaxation. After gaining a sense of peace, you can sink into 400 threat-count Egyptian cotton sheets or relax further with a $25 credit at the hotel spa. Rates start at $152 per night, including complimentary tea when you check in. 8 Colborne Street, Toronto, Ontario; 800-958-3488
Here Comes the Sun. The London West Hollywood has free sunrise yoga and tai chi classes for guests every Saturday and Sunday on the hotel rooftop, overlooking the Los Angeles skyline and Hollywood Hills. You'll be up so early, you may even catch a glimpse of celebrities staggering home after a decadent night on the town. Rates start at $199. 1020 North San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA; 866-282-4560
Healing Arts. The Kripalu yoga center's main red-brick building, originally a Jesuit seminary built in the '50s, may not be gorgeous, but its setting overlooking Stockbridge Bowl is one of the best views of the Berkshires. Kripalu (57 Interlaken Road, Stockbridge, MA; 800-741-7353) offers renowned yoga and meditation classes, as well as kayaking, cycling and guided meditation walks. Healthy meals are included in your stay, but if you prefer to venture into nearby Lenox, check out the sushi at Fin (27 Housatonic Street, Lenox, MA; 413-637-9171), whose Japanese fare is as good or better than anything you'll get this side of the Pacific. Rates, including classes and meals, start at $160 per night for a shared dormitory room; private rooms start at $320. A new annex opens in May.
How-To: Reiki. The Emerson Resort & Spa in New York State's picturesque Hudson Valley is teaching the Japanese stress-relieving techniques of reiki. The first Sunday of each month, the Shoden class teaches students how to heal through guided imagery. The third Sunday of the month, the Okuden class helps you learn to move energy through breath. But if your idea of stress-relief is sitting back and being pampered, forgo the classes and check out the four-star spa's massages, facials and hydrotherapy treatments. The reiki package starts at $436 per night, including breakfast, dinner and a $100 spa certificate. 5340 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY; 877-688-2828
Shape Shifting. If the long winter has left you a bit doughy, the Gansevoort Turks & Caicos' Exhale Spa is offering monthly Core Intensive Weekends, starting May 14-17, to help get you back to buff. You'll endure daily Pilates-style fitness classes, plus one 60-minute massage for recovery purposes. If you want to stay on and just sit like a slug on the beach, the hotel has a special opening rate of $295 per night, which includes an oceanview suite, breakfast, a daily fitness class and 35% off at the spa. Rates for the fitness weekend, start at $1,600, including all meals. Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands; 877-774-3253
Lakeside Leisure. If the idea of spending a day canoeing in the Adirondacks, then having a soothing Jacuzzi and getting a massage in front of your private fireplace sounds appealing, you might be interested the Escape & Relief package at the intimate Fern Lodge in Chestertown, NY. As an added bonus, after your massage, the hotel owner's husband, who works in the wine business, offers a free wine tasting. Rates start at $649 for two nights, including breakfast and a 45-minute in-room massage. 46 Fiddlehead Bay Road, Chestertown, NY; 518-494-7238
Southwestern Comfort. At Sante Fe's Eldorado Hotel & Spa, you'll get a free spa treatment with every night of your stay, as part of the Relieve Stress package. Spa-goers can choose one 50-minute massage or facial, or apply $130 credit to another treatment each day. Rates start at $199 per night with the promotional code PKGNID 309 West San Francisco, Santa Fe, NM; 800-955-4455
In-Port R and R. For just $179 per night, at Marriott's Casa Magna Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta you get: an in-room spa bath upon arrival, two spa treatments, two fitness classes and daily breakfast during your four-night stay. The offer is good through Dec. 18 with the promotional code ZJ1. Paseo La Marina 435, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; 888-PARADISE
Fill 'Er Up. Analysts say oil prices are going up again this summer, so BedandBreakfast.com has compiled 150 Tanks for Traveling offers from B&Bs around the U.S. The various deals give you anything from $75 to $150 in gas vouchers (participating B&Bs include High Haven House Inn in Vineyard Haven, Mass., and Black Bear Inn in Bolton Valley, Vt.); and 10% discounts for driving a hybrid car (at the Craftsman in Pacific City, Ore.); to free picnics for guests who ride bikes instead of driving (at the William Seward Inn in Westfield, NY).
Get More for Less. The Marriott Rewards guest loyalty program, has lowered the points required for a three-night stay at participating Marriott hotels anywhere in the world from Phuket, Thailand, to Tucson. To stay three nights, you'll need to redeem only enough points for two. So, if you stay six nights, for example, you'll be charged for four. The Three For Two promotion is good through Sept. 7. 801-468-4000
Greener Way to Go. If you've got the time, you can take Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited service all the way from Chicago to Boston; the company has just added sleeper cars for the entire 20-plus-hour journey. For $264 and up each-way, you can kick it old school and feel good about being a greener traveler while being rocked to sleep along the rails.
Texting Back Home. When you're traveling domestically, it's easy to let people know you've arrived, but when flying abroad, what with the time difference and the roaming charges on your cell phone, it can be tricky. ArrivedOK lets you automatically tell the home team that you've landed, via text or email. Register your flight, along with the destination airport, estimated arrival time, along with any phone numbers or email addresses to which you'd like to send a notification. The ArrivedOK system tracks your cell phone and when you turn it on after landing it instantly sends "Arrived OK" messages to people on your list. If you become one of the beta testers now, you get a one-year free subscription.
There's an App for That. Choice Hotels has a new iPhone app that lets you find and book rooms at one of 5,800 hotels including Comfort Inn, EconoLodge and Cambria Suites around the world. The app also gives directions while you're on the road. 800-424-6423