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Good Old French and Italian Fare the New Spanish Way

Lower than advertised sale fares and cheap flights with good deals on late summer and early fall travel to Barcelona and Mardrid, Spain; Milan, Rome, and Venice, Italy; and Marseilles, Nice, and Paris, France, plus many other destinations.

We're not recommending that you start pairing sangria with foie gras or serving up your hearty lasagna as bite-size tapas, no matter how original or fashionable it might strike you. But we do want to remind you that Iberia, Spain's national airline, has both France and Italy well covered, and we're not talking checkered tablecloths here. With almost two dozen tasty French and Italian destinations and some equally sweet-smelling late summer deals, you might want to think about making your way through the kitchen Madrid rather than some of the more obvious—and expensive—choices, like the front door Paris or Rome.

Unlike the Iberia sales we told you about earlier this year, which helped make Boston the cheapest starting point for European travel and dining, this sale's best offers are from New York and, for an even more welcome change, the deals we've found are in fact considerably lower than list price. Starting mid-September, nonstop flights to Madrid and Barcelona go for around $700 including taxes, and connections to the nearest genuine French or Italian restaurant won't cost you much more than a drive to the local Olive Garden, unless you were smart enough to buy a Prius before they sold out.

So, here's a menu of delightful destinations for your delectation. Assuming you're not a total slave to your cravings, where you go will no doubt depend on more than just your taste buds. To make it easier for you to follow your nose as well as your passion, we've included visual aids today and you may consider the map below your geography lesson for the week year. Just pick the spot that piques your fancy (OK, your appetite), skedaddle over to our international fares page and type in the name of the city, then click on the fare to get all the dish details.

France: Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Lyon, Paris, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Rennes, Strasbourg, and Toulouse.

Italy: Bologna, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Pisa (Florence), Rome, Turin, and Venice.


Categories: Europe/Africa/Middle East Airfares

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10% off JetBlue flights to/from Chicago

Posted by Jonathan Weinberg on Friday, June 27, 2008

JetBlue's recent $10 off each way promo just expired, but they have a new promo with the same terms for customers traveling between Chicago (ORD)  and New York (JFK) , Boston (BOS) and Long Beach (LGB). 

The promotion is valid for travel from 9/3/08 to 10/31/08.  Reservations must be made by 6/30/08.  Use promo code HJCHICAGO10 to take advantage of this offer.

 

Categories: Domestic US Fares

10% off or $20 off: two new JetBlue promo codes

Posted by George Hobica on Monday, June 23, 2008

Have you signed up for JetBlue's frequent flyer program? If you haven't, you are missing out on some great deals.

The airline emails frequent promotions available only to members of TrueBlue, such as the one we just received this morning.

"It's never too early to start planning an exciting, end-of-summer or fall adventure. Book now through June 26 for travel between September 3 and October 31, 2008 and save 10% each way!

Just click here and enter Promotion Code OCTJET2 when you select your flights. Remember, you must click through this email to take advantage of this offer and travel must be completed by October 31, 2008."

Note, however, that you have to click through from the email to get the deal. Or so they say. However, we think that if you just click on this link, and enter the promo code, you'll get the 10% off. Try it and see.

But wait there's more: use promo code OCTJET and you'll get $10 off each way on any JetBlue fare using the same link.

Obviously, the $20 off roundtrip code is best for fares under $200; over $200, use the 10% off prom code.

So don't hesitate to sign up for frequent flyer programs and the airlines' special offer email lists. Airlines are bypassing traditional sales methods, preferring instead to develop a direct relationship with their customers by using promo codes and fare widgets.

That's why, frankly, all these new computerized, high tech fare prediction and comparison tools and web sites don't quite have the full picture (besides the fact that they don't take Southwest Airlines into consideration).

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

The Sound of Savings and Sausages

Unadvertised sale with good deals on late summer flights to Vienna, Austria.

Hark! The hills are still alive with many good things and the fictional Von Trapps are having a "vonderful" party. There will no doubt be singing and dancing involved, so be sure to bring your best baritone and tap shoes, and if we know this beer garden right, there should be plenty of fine wine and smoked Vienna sausages, so better bring your appetite, too.

To get you and your vocal talents there, Austrian Airlines has teamed up with some favorite partners and party planners and put a few good seats on sale for late summer travel. Fares for early September departures start at $670 from New York, $710 from Chicago, and $840 from San Francisco, and you can see all the fares right here.

Believe it or not, at current price trends these are good deals to pricey Vienna, even if they are more the kind of fares we'd have liked to see over the summer. Still, seats aren't easy to come by, so if you want to join this party you'd better get cracking and quit your whining. It'll only ruin your beautiful yodeling voice, anyway, so just hush, smile and say tschüs!

Categories: Europe/Africa/Middle East Airfares

You'll find the cheapest fares for travel after Labor Day and through October 30

Posted by George Hobica on Sunday, June 22, 2008

Even with the airlines losing zillions, they're still publishing some ridiculously cheap fares. Our fare of the day, for example, on June 22 is Dayton to San Francisco for $212 RT including tax. But like many cheap fares, this one is essentially sold out for most of the summer. The really cheap fares are only available on most airlines, domestically, from after Labor Day through October. And Tuesday and Wednesday, as always, are the cheapest days of the week to travel (that's because most business travelers begin their trips on Monday and return Thursday or Friday, and most leisure travelers leave on Friday and return Sunday or Monday).

That said, we've seen a number of super deals on US Airways for scattered dates in July and August. But you must use a flexible date search to find them.

Southwest has been playing around with unadvertised sale fares, too, especially for Tue/Wed travel in October. Try their "Shortcut" flexible date feature to find deals.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airfare Tips

New York to Italy family fares in August

Posted by George Hobica on Saturday, June 21, 2008

EuroFly, the lower-cost airline flying betwen New York JFK and Italy, is offering discounts for August travel if there are 2 to 4 passengers traveling together.

Four people pay a total of $3439 plus about $90 per passenger in taxes,  or $2679 for three. Destinations include:


Rome, Naples, Bologna, Pescara, Palermo, Lamezia and Bari. More details and to book on their site.

 

 

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Europe/Africa/Middle East Airfares

The inside scoop on American's $15 first bag fee

Posted by David Landsel on Saturday, June 21, 2008

So how's it going over at American Airlines in the post free checked bag era? Airfarewatchdog.com interviewed American spokesperson Tim Smith to get the inside scoop.

But first, some background. It was a time-honored tradition among many an experienced traveler -- never check luggage, even if you're over the carry on bag limit.

     After all, crossing your fingers and heading for the gate usually paid off. Nine times out of ten, you'd get away with a bag (or two) that exceeded the airline’s carryon regulations. If you didn't, the worst was that you'd be forced to gate check your overage (mmm...forbidden overage). That is,  if it didn't fit in the overhead compartment.

(Of course, if you’re old enough, you remember when there were no overhead bins on planes—just shallow and narrow racks to place your coat on, and passengers brought on board only a small airline-logo flight bag. But that’s another story.)

     The benefit of gate checking bags can be substantial -- a decrease in the chance of loss or delay, delivery to the jet-way shortly after landing and no time-consuming waits in crowded claim areas.

    Now passengers on American Airlines have yet another incentive to bend the rules -- the airline's new $15 one-way fee for the first checked bag.

    Passengers, obviously, will need to beware American's newest employees: The Luggage Police.

    Anticipating resistance to the surcharge, American has wisely laid on extra bodies. These employees are, essentially, enforcers. Their task will be to monitor strategic locations (security lines, for instance) to see that passengers aren't toting more than their share of Louis Vuitton. Customers with too many items or bags too large to bring on board, says the airline, "will be assisted in checking their luggage."

     So many questions. 

     Such as, how will they "assist" passengers, exactly? (We can see it now -- "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to come with me....")

    American spokesman Tim Smith is confident that that those required to pay the fee won't have a prayer of getting around it.

     Unless, of course, you manage to sneak your contraband roller board past "curbside check-in, ticket counter check-in, self-serve kiosk check-in, our people stationed before security, the TSA checkpoint itself....without anyone noticing," he says.

    In which case, you'll most certainly be told at the gate that you will need to gate check your bag. And -- oh yes -- there will be a fee for that, and, yes, there are credit card machines at the gates, Smith tells Airfarewatchdog (we were wondering about that, and now we know).
 
    Sure, maybe they run out of space in the cabin. Fine, then. For your properly-sized carryons that inadvertently end up flying cargo class, there will be no fee. Happy now?

    LE DELUGE?
    The airline says that the whole process has been relatively hassle free -- no rush for the overhead bins, no YouTube-worthy fights over space.

     That could be largely due to the fact that there is a gigantic loophole in the policy. The vast majority of customers -- 75 to 80 percent, Smith says -- won't pay at all, ever, due to mileage status, fare type or itinerary (international travel is excluded).

    However, as any frequent traveler knows, it's not the 80 percent you have to worry about -- it's the 20, or even 10 percent of people on a plane who have no idea what they are doing that have the potential to really gum up the works.

    The airline says it is helping to smooth the process.

     For example, its self-service check-in kiosks have been reprogrammed to accept payment for any checked bags; they have eliminated the $2 fee to check bags at the curb, while gate and cabin staff are ramping up announcements in the gate area and on the plane, reminding people that it's strictly wheel end first in the overhead compartment to fit bags more efficiently and to put as much as possible under the seat in front of them. 

    CHANGING NEEDS?
    Luggage cops aside, it could be possible that airlines adding the fee (US Airways and United fire up the credit card machines August 9 and 18, respectively) could end up with the side benefit of needing fewer bodies to get planes on and off the ground. For example, if more passengers carry on, couldn't the airline do away with baggage and ground crew?

    "We don't expect a reduction," says American's Smith. However, he admits that there could be tough times ahead, for reasons related to the announced capacity cuts and grounding of planes, not to mention the still-rising cost of fuel.

     On the matter of a decrease in liability for lost or damaged luggage, Smith, pointing back to the fact that up to 80 percent of American passengers will not pay the fee, says he does not expect any thing to change, other than the fact that things will improve in that arena due to "better bag handling and practices."

    THE FUTURE OF THE FEE
    Believe it or not, this whole first-checked-bag business could have easily been a nonstarter. After announcing the policy on May 21, American was left to twiddle its thumbs until United and US Airways followed suit.
    
    American CEO Gerard Arpey isn't concerned what people think. In fact, in a speech quoted in a June 19 article on TheStreet.com, Arpey's stance appears to be that it is high time the public starts thinking clearly about what it really costs to run an airline.

     Arpey called fares "out of whack" with the actual cost of the flight, and stating that it would cost $250 to ship a typical bag from New York to Dallas overnight.

     Something to think about when you ponder that that there are times when you can fly yourself to Dallas for less than that. Let alone your bag.

Editor's note:

Should airlines charge for carry on baggage rather than checked baggage? Sounds like a good idea to us. Share your comments with other blog readers, and vote in our poll.

 

Categories: Airline Industry News

United to begin requiring minimum stays

Posted by George Hobica on Friday, June 20, 2008

Hot off the AP:

"United Airlines says it will start requiring minimum stays for nearly all domestic flights starting in October. It is also raising its cheapest fares by as much as $90 one-way.

The second-largest U.S. carrier says the moves are among a number of changes it is making to combat record high fuel prices.

Spokeswoman Robin Urbanski says the Chicago-based airline's new lowest available fares range from $69 to $199 one-way, based on length of the flight.

Starting October 6, most United fares will require a one- to three-night or weekend-night minimum stay."

I think what they mean to say is that most non-refundable fares will require a minimum stay. What this means, of course, is that business travelers hoping to do same day or 1-night stay business trips will not be able to use the cheapest fares.

However, we don't expect that "low cost" (what we used to call low cost) carriers such as Southwest, Jetblue, Airtran, and Allegiant will follow suit. These airlines sell all their seats one-way for half the lowest round-trip fare.

Please share your comments by clicking here.

 

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Should airlines charge for carryon bags and not for checked ones?

Posted by George Hobica on Friday, June 20, 2008

Here's an idea: Instead of charging for checked baggage, why not charge for carry-ons instead? That's what Mark N. Katz suggests in this article. With passengers rethinking those bulky carry-ons to avoid such a fee, security lines and boarding times could be seriously reduced. So which one would you rather pay (and no, smarty pants, 'neither' isn't an option here)? Checked bag fees that passengers will probably try to avoid by feverishly stuffing as much as possible in a carry-on, which could lead to longer security lines? Or a carry-on bag fee that could potentially reduce wait times? But don't let us sway you. Tell us what you think in our latest reader poll.

And if you're old enough to remember, back in the good old days of flying, there was no such thing as carryons. Airlines just had basically hat racks to put your coat and hat on, and no bins that closed. You were only allowed to bring one of those cute little airline flight bags you see sold on eBay sometimes. And a little reading matter, and a camera. That was it. Maybe we should go back to the good ole days.

 

What do you think? Leave some comments below!  I've copy pasted some of the emails we've already received on this topic, below.

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In response to your survey question about which I would prefer a fee for checked baggage, or a fee for carry-on. Checked baggage might be a viable option if the airlines had a better track record of making sure my baggage arrived when I did at my destination. At least with carryone (or my favorite plane side check-in) I know my belongings will be where I am and not sitting in the baggage area of another airport.

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I would much prefer that the airlines charge for carry on bags. If they did, maybe I wouldn't get hit in the face by overloaded backpacks as often!

 

 

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Concerning charges for checked baggage on airlines, I much prefer that travelers be charged for carryon baggage! Not the ladies' handbags or reasonably sized tote bags/computer cases, but suitcases! I don't know how many times I've waited forever in the aisle being unable to get to my seat awaiting someone trying to stuff their suitcase(s) into an overhead bin. Fully agree that charging for checked baggage will create even more of that type problem!

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Regarding the article about charging for carry on's - No Way! I carry one bag and a laptop bag and I do not want to trust my stuff to the checked baggage nightmare. My bag fits on the regional jets like CRJ50's so I defnitely don't overstuff it nor hold up the crazy security lines... I travel too much for that kind of headache!

 

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Charging for carry-on instead of checked baggage - I THINK IT'S A GREAT IDEA. Pass it on ....

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I would prefer first checked bag be free and first carry on be free. Charges would only for second bags, checked and carry on

 

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Since we only use one carry on bag per person and do not check any bags this would not be a good solution for us. To make it equal for everyone, have all passengers put all their luggage on a scale and have it weighed along with the passangers weight.

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Yes, why the heck didn't the airlines determine charging for carry-on luggage would be a better option than charging to check luggage? Mark N. Katz couldn't of spelled it out any clearer! Now the airport security lines (searches) will taken even MORE time to get through. Charging passengers to check their carry-on luggage is only the beginning of yet more airline travel nightmares!

 

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I like the idea of charging for carry-ons and allowing the first checked bag free! I am usually traveling with both a computer bag and a clothing bag that would fit overhead. But, I don't travel enough anymore to warrant preferred boarding, so that means a race to find a place for ANY carryon! Why not charge those who travel for business on a regular basis and prefer to carry on? They're usually on expense accounts and can charge the fees back to their companies. Besides, even if I can find a space for a carry-on, I'm short and not as strong as I was when I traveled on business. The baggage charge is also a real deterrent to any traveler who is less than perfect or physically fit. That's discrimination! Maybe AARP should take up this cause for older travelers.

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I think charging a fee for carry-ons is great idea. Let everyone bring on a briefcase and/or purse no charge, but check everything else.

 

 

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

The Combination to the Savings

To beat the high cost of travel these days, we often suggest that you think a bit outside the fare box and look into putting together your own combinations for deals and savings that won't show up anywhere at the click of a button. Taking advantage of a 2 current sale fares mentioned elsewhere on our blog, we offer you a couple of options for easy savings using a sample New York to Manchester, England, itinerary to illustrate the point and possibly inspire you to proceed on your own.

Categories: Europe/Africa/Middle East Airfares
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