Celebrate! It's Spring Festival Season

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Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic / Getty

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Travel deals, news and updates for the week of April 12, 2009


They Just Keep Dropping. Delta SkyMiles and Northwest WorldPerks members can save up to 20% when booking international economy tickets. Business and first-class flyers, who always get more, save 25% to London, Paris and other destinations. Travel must include one Saturday night and tickets must be purchased at least 14 days in advance. Book by April 20 for travel through June 15.

Southwest Shrinks Fares, Expands Service. Southwest Airlines is having a sale on tickets purchased 14 days in advance. Check out $49 one-ways between Philly and Pittsburgh, or between Phoenix and L.A. Fares are good through June 25, excluding Friday and Sunday flights and travel from May 21 to 26.

On June 28, the airline will make its big-city debut — good news for bargain-hungry New Yorkers. Southwest will offer eight daily flights from New York City's LaGuardia Airport: five to Chicago Midway (starting at $89) and three to Baltimore (starting at $49, which is cheaper than Amtrak).

Book at Your Leisure. Virgin America is also putting fares on sale, but with a more forgiving advance-purchase policy. Book three days ahead for travel between Boston and San Francisco starting from $109; with seven days, you can fly from New York City to San Francisco starting from $119. In-flight, order from a good snack menu, choose from a 25-film library or chat with the clever cutie three rows back, with Virgin America's seat-to-seat chat system. Tickets must be purchased by April 20 and must be used between April 14 and June 10 or from August 25 to October 14. 877-359-8474

Look Ma, No Fees! Both CheapTickets and Orbitz are banishing fees on flights booked on or before May 31. Orbitz has also added a hotel sale to the deal, with discounts of 30% through May 31.

Clipping Big Bird's Wings. The last British Airways Concorde aircraft will reportedly be sold to Dubai (along with the Queen Elizabeth 2) as a tourist attraction on Palm Jumeirah. The supersonic BA fleet was grounded six years ago and all the other aircraft were donated to museums, except this last one, which had been stripped for spare parts. That's not the last indignity it will suffer — to get the plane to Dubai via ship, its wings will have to be cut off before loading. Once at its final destination, it will be tarted up and opened for touring.


A Sure Thing. The Summer Escape package at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay is offering guests a Fly Back Free certificate worth $350. Enjoy poolside action with the $100 Cabana Credit, and try your hand at the tables with $25 in free Sand Dollars, and you might save (or win!) enough money to do it all over again. Rates start at $89 per night through September 10. 877-632-7800

Ohio Escape. The Deer Creek Resort in Deer Creek State Park, less than 30 minutes from Columbus, has hiking and biking trails, fishing on Deer Creek Lake and a 350-acre golf course. With the Any Day Golf Package, get a nightly rate of $147, or book two nights and get a third night free (starting at $89) with the Spring Fling package. Both packages are available through May 22. 22300 State Park Road, Mt. Sterling, Ohio; 877-678-DEER

Spring Break. The Orlando Ritz-Carlton's Family Fun package gives you two connecting rooms with a lake view. Upon arrival your cranky kids will get "ice cream passports" to cheer them up, entitling them to unlimited ice cream all weekend (the State Department might want to consider that perk as well). Kids 12 and under also eat dinner free when you dine as a family. At bath time, you'll find that each room has a signature rubber duckie — a spa duck, chef duck and golf duck — to collect. Rates starts at $478 per night for two connecting rooms and include breakfast and late 2 p.m. check out. 4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, Florida; 800-682-3665

Mickey Wants You. With all the layoffs at Disney World, the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau is eager to attract visitors with a new Deal of the Week every week through June 30. Right now, you can get four nights for the price of three at the Orlando World Center Marriott, plus a room upgrade to a pool view and free hot breakfast buffet daily. Book by April 17 with the promo code PK9.

Relax and Stay Awhile. New York City's Empire Hotel is encouraging you to extend your midweek business trip through the weekend and invite your significant other along. With the Stay Another Day package, you get a room upgrade, a buffet breakfast for two, a pitcher of sangria, iced tea or lemonade for lounging by the roof-deck pool, and two cocktails at the Lobby Bar. Rates start at $259 per night. The package is valid through September 15. 44 West 63rd Street, New York City; 212-265-7400

Bring the Kids. If you're traveling to New York City with your brood, the Pod Hotel has five newly renovated Townhouse Suites that each sleep four. Less townhouses and more like lofts, the suites each have a queen bed and two trundle beds amid the groovy Lucite globe swing chairs, beanbags and rocking chairs, as well as flat-screen TVs and free wi-fi. If it's warm enough outside, you can hang out at the hotel's outdoor café or rooftop deck. Rates start at $199 per night. If you're traveling alone, you can book a regular room for just $69 per night. 230 East 51st Street; 800-742-5945

Stay for Play. O.K., it may not be Carnegie Hall, but the Gem Hotel's Rooms for Tunes program could get your music piped into the lobbies of its three New York City locations. Artists who perform or live in the Chelsea, Midtown West or SoHo neighborhoods of the city may bring their CDs to the nearest hotel by May 31 for consideration. If selected, you get your music played and one free night at the hotel, which you must use by September 7. Winners will be notified by June 22. 449 West 36th Street (Midtown West); 135 East Houston Street (SoHo); 300 West 22nd Street (Chelsea); 212-695-1055


Hartford Connection. The LimoLiner luxury bus service, which has leather recliners, free wi-fi, TV and radio, is adding a stop in Hartford, Conn., on its New York City–Boston route starting April 16. The Hartford–New York City trip takes about two hours and 15 minutes — faster than the train, which requires a change in New Haven. The bus picks up passengers at the Hilton at 1335 Avenue of the Americas in New York City and drops off at the corner of Church and Trumbull streets in Hartford. A one-way introductory rate of $39 is available until July 15. 888-546-5469

Greyhound, Upgraded. Greyhound's 25 million passengers are about to get a brand-new bus — similar, the company says, to the models that celebrities tour in. The new commercial buses may not have champagne or beds with silk sheets in the back, but they do have free wi-fi, power outlets and, most importantly for anyone who's taken a bus, extra legroom. The first buses will be rolled out between New York City and Toronto or Montreal, then on the New York City–Boston route. Over the next few years, the entire fleet will be revamped. 800-231-2222


With spring comes the launch of countless celebratory festivals around the country. Get out and enjoy one.

Remember the Alamo. Texas likes to do things big, and the 11-day Fiesta San Antonio, commemorating the battle of the Alamo, boasts over 100 different events, including a parade in which people on horse-drawn carriages pelt each other with flowers, a military parade, oyster bakes and carnivals. From April 16 to 26. 877-723-4378

Musical Interlude. During New Orleans' French Quarter Festival (April 17 to 19), the streets of the Quarter fill with some 400,000 visitors who are serenaded with all kinds of music, from jazz to opera to gospel, across 15 stages. If it's just jazz you want, Nola has that too: the New Orleans Jazz Festival runs from April 24 to 25 and April 30 to May 3.

Signs of Spring. The Atlanta Dogwood Festival showcases the blooming of dogwood trees as well as the talents of local comedians, artists and musicians. From April 17 to 19.

Washington state's Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (April 1 to 30) has fields of blooming tulips to admire. If, like the Dutch did in the 1600s, you catch tulip mania, you can see some rare and unique breeds at the nurseries, and perhaps even plant a few of your own.

The Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival (April 17 to 19), celebrating the gift of 1,000 trees to the city in 1976 by Japan, is a showcase of traditional Japanese dance, art and, best of all, sake.