Travel news, deals and updates for the week of June 1, 2009
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
Save a Benjamin. Emirates is having a "One Day World Sale" on June 4, offering $100 off round-trip tickets booked online and originating in any U.S. gateway: New York, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The deal applies to all classes of travel on flights to select global destinations, including Dubai, Cape Town and Mumbai.
A Trio of Virgins. The U.S. Virgin Islands St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are participating in a "Sizzlin' Sampler" promotion that gives you a $300 airfare credit, the fourth night free at select hotels, plus a $50 dining coupon and a $50 coupon for attractions. Click here for links and phone numbers for participating airlines, hotels and vacation packagers. The promotion applies to trips booked by Oct. 15 for travel through Oct. 31.
New Bird. JetAmerica, a new low-cost airline, is scheduled to start service in July to four U.S. cities Toledo, Ohio; South Bend, Ind.; Lansing, Mich.; and Melbourne, Fla. The new venture is starting small, flying just one Boeing 737-800, with plans to add new aircraft by July 2010. For now, the big draw is JetAmerica's fares: depending on the flight, the first nine to 19 seats will sell for just $9 each, with the rest of the seats sliding up in price to $199, depending on how quickly you book. No matter how low your base fare, there will be surprise add-on fees: $20 to secure an assigned seat, $20 to buy a ticket by phone, $10 to book on the Web, $15 for each bag you check, plus whatever you spend on food, drinks and in-flight TV. That's right, it could cost your luggage more to fly than you.
Watch Your Weight. American Airlines and American Eagle are instituting a box and bag embargo on oversize, overweight or excess baggage from June 6 to Aug. 25 on flights from the U.S. to Grenada, Jamaica, Haiti, Ecuador, the Bahamas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and other destinations in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Passengers will be allowed one carry-on bag, with a maximum size of 45 linear inches and a maximum weight of 40 lb. Checked luggage weighing between 51 and 70 pounds will cost $50 per bag. Sports equipment, such as golf bags, surfboards and other items, can be counted as part of the total checked-bag allowance, but you may have to pay extra.
Plastic Only. American Airlines will go cashless on all flights within the continental U.S. as well as flights to and from Hawaii, Alaska and Canada. Be prepared to use your Amex or other credit cards to pay for headsets, fresh meals, snacks and beverages. The airline's commuter lines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection, will continue to accept cash.
Extra Miles on Shuttle Flights. Delta is offering Delta SkyMiles and Northwest WorldPerks members 2,500 bonus miles for each one-way flight on the Delta Shuttle between New York City and Boston or Washington, D.C., on top of the standard 500 miles for shuttle flights through July 26. To get the goodies, SkyMiles members need to register here. WorldPerks members can register here. Last week Delta also began offering 60% off walk-up prices on the Shuttle, so it's doubly good news.
Pet-Friendly Air. Southwest is now welcoming pets aboard. For a pet fare of $75, you can bring small cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin, as long as they are in a carrier that fits under the seat. The carrier counts as your carry-on bag allowance, but unlike most other airlines, Southwest doesn't charge for your first two checked bags. Pet-fare tickets go on sale June 1 for travel beginning June 17.
While Southwest doesn't charge for your first two checked bags, it will raise fees on your third checked bag and overweight bags (weighing between 51 and 70 pounds). After June 17, that fee goes from $25 to $50. The airline is also changing its policy on unaccompanied minors: tickets for kids ages 5 to 11 traveling without an adult will incur a $25 service charge, and unaccompanied minors may now travel only on nonstop or direct flights (no change of planes). The fee will apply to tickets bought after May 31, for travel beginning June 17.
HOTELS & PACKAGES
No blackout dates, no bait-and-switches. We've found nearly two dozen hotels offering standard rack rates of under $100 from beachside luxury in Puerto Rico and Florida to mountain vistas in Colorado and Utah.
Luxe for Less. There's some bargain luxury to be had in Puerto Rico at the Spanish-owned Gran Melia resort, which is extending its booking window for TIME.com readers. You'll get a $99-per-night deal if you book two nights, or $85 if you book three nights, including a breakfast buffet, through Sept. 30 as part of the "Summer Under the Sun" package. The rate is for a garden-view junior suite, but hey, with the golfing, pools and ocean right outside, you won't be in your room that much anyway. If you get tired of the beach, the resort is also near the El Yunque rain forest, which is the only rain forest in the U.S. parks system. Gran Melia is just 45 minutes from San Juan. 200 Coco Beach, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico; 866-436-3542
You'd Better Belize It. On Caye Caulker, a tiny, easygoing island off the coast of Belize, you can get cheap deals at the tiny beach-front Tree Tops Guesthouse, described by our travel editor as basic but comfy (she recommends booking the Sunrise or Sunset suite, for $98). All rooms are sparkling clean and have air-conditioning, a ceiling fan, a refrigerator and cable TV, and most have private baths. The two "luxury" suites have Internet access. There are bicycles available, plus a sandy front courtyard with hammocks and lounge chairs. The friendly proprietor, Doris, will tell you everything you need to know about the island, from the best breakfast spot to the best dive shop (one of the main reasons people come to Belize's cayes is to dive the famed Blue Hole). And you can't beat the rates: rooms start at just $50 per night. 501-226-0240
In Grande Style. On Florida's southwest coast, Naples Grande Beach Resort, part of the Waldorf Astoria collection of luxury hotels, presents a destination where even the Astors would feel at home. The resort has 23 waterfront acres, three miles of white sandy beaches and three swimming pools, including a pool with a 100-ft. waterslide (O.K., maybe Mrs. Astor wouldn't totally love that). All for $99 per night. Through Sept. 30, you get a fourth night free if you stay three nights. Plus, if you book by July 15, you'll earn a certificate at the end of your stay, good for another free night through Dec. 20. 475 Seagate Driver, Naples, Fla.; 888-722-1266
Disney for a Song. Through June 30, the Palisades Resort in Orlando, Fla., is offering two nights free, for three nights booked, plus free breakfast, parking and shuttle transportation to Disney World, just seven miles away. Rates for a two-bedroom suite with kitchen start at $415 (making that a daily rate of $83 for the five nights). Or, book a one-bedroom suite starting from $79 per night. 14200 Avalon Road, Orlando, Fla.; 321-250-3030
Hipster Check. The Sagamore, the boutique hotel in Miami's South Beach that bills itself as the "art hotel," given its hip design, has some sweet rates midweek: you can grab four friends and stay two nights in a suite for just $69 per person per night. Weekend nights start at $80 per person, including a continental breakfast. Rates are good through Oct. 31.
Beachside Birthday Treat. Miami's Deauville Beach Resort has a "Happy Birthday to You" package, which includes an ocean-view room, a birthday cake and champagne for $99 per person per night. If you can afford to stay awhile, the "Miami Beach" package gets you three nights for $93 per person per night, including breakfast every day, one lunch, one dinner and an economy rental car (the total comes to $560). 6701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Fla.; 800-327-6656
Home State Advantage. The Costa d'Este Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Fla., which is owned by pop star Gloria Estefan, has weekday rates from $99 per night; plus, if you stay three nights, you'll get the fourth night free. Weekend rates run a bit higher, starting at $119. But if you're a resident of the Sunshine State, you get 10% off. Sale prices are valid through Sept. 30. 3244 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach, Fla.; 877-562-9919
Rocky Mountain High. In Colorado's Rocky Mountains, Keystone's Forest Condominiums has rooms for $99 a night from June 16 through Sept. 7. The condos are near the White River National Forest, through which you can hike, and the Snake River, down which you can raft, and the River Golf Course, where you can dig through sand traps. When you check in, you'll get an "Adventure Passport" telling you about free and discounted activities like yoga classes, fly-fishing clinics, geo-cache scavenger hunts and wine tastings. 877-753-9786
All This, Plus Brunch. There isn't any skiing at Alta Lodge in the summer, but there are plenty of wildflowers and cool mountain air. Just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City in Utah's Wasatch Mountains, the Alta Lodge is offering a "Sunday Brunch Package" for two for $94 on a Saturday or Sunday night, including a full brunch fill up for days on everything from pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins to cheese blintzes. The offer is good from June 7 to Oct. 11. 800-707-2582
Going Cheap in the Big Easy. The Astor Crowne Plaza has crisp white duvets and midweek rates (Sunday through Thursday) of $79, and weekend rates for $89, through Sept. 3. The hotel is located near New Orleans' French Quarter. 739 Canal St., at Bourbon Street, New Orleans; 888-696-4806
Vegas, Baby! As you'd expect, Las Vegas hotels are running some outstanding specials right now: Circus Circus is just $27 per night (800-634-3450); the Excalibur will run you $31 (877-750-5464); Luxor starts at $55 (877-386-4658); the Monte Carlo ups it by just a buck at $56 per night (888-529-4828); New York New York has rooms for $65 (866-815-4365); the MGM Grand has $75 rack rates (877-880-0880); and the Mirage comes in under a C-note, with rates at $99 per night (800-374-9000).
Vegas of the East. If you want to gamble back East, near cooling ocean breezes, the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., has midweek rates starting at $59, including two show tickets. Book using the promo code TSHOW through June 30. There are also some Fridays in June that have rates at $99, including breakfast; book using the code TFRI. 800-345-8767
South of the Border Bargains. There is no shortage of deals in Mexico. The Occidental Hotels and Resorts, for one, has cheap rooms at its various locations: Allegro Nuevo Vallarta from $46; Allegro Cozumel from $56; Allegro Playacar from $57; Occidental Grand Xcaret from $77; and Occidental Grand Cozumel from $78. Most properties are also offering the second night free through June 30. Kids under age 12 stay free through Dec. 20. Book by June 15. 800-858-2258