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Three airlines have effectively reduced the number of miles needed to obtain award travel this season.
First we learned that VirginAtlantic was offering 20% bonus miles when converted from Amex points in October, effectively a 20% reduction in the miles needed for flying in all classes of service.
Although not quite the same thing, US Airways now gives a bonus mile for each mile purchased through Nov 15 2010. So, for less than $1400, one can buy enough miles to fly in business class virtually anywhere US Airways or its SkyTeam alliance Star Alliance partners fly.
And now, the Air France/KLM airline has halved the number of miles needed for travel on dozens of routes.
Of course, with half of France on strike (sacre bleu! retire at 62! why, we'll be luckly to retire at 82!) you may want to avoid Air France altogther, but assuming that the French worker realizes that 30 or so years of doing nothing might get a bit boring, these are indeed great offers.
You can fly to Europe from various U.S. cities for half the normal number of miles required in the FlyingBlue (i.e., AirFrance/KLM) frequent flyer program. For example, you'd need just 50,000 miles to fly roundtrip from Dallas to Europe in business class on KLM, and a mere 25,000 miles in economy!
On Air France, it's just 57,000 miles to fly from Los Angeles to Europe in biz class, or 28,750 in econ. You can't fly to Peoria some days for that few miles.
Mileage reductions are also on offer from Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Montreal, Calgary, and Detroit, and also from Europe to many destinations. There are various date restrictions and book by dates for each route.
So if you have miles in FlyingBlue, you're in luck. If you don't, you still may be in luck, since you can transfer points in the American Express Membership Rewards program or Starwood Starpoints into your FlyingBlue account.
In addition to the French airport and fuel workers propensity to strike at a moment's notice, there's also the issue of award seat availability. A 50% discount on required miles is of little use if there are no seats available, and we can't guarantee that your preferred dates of travel will be offered.
Not a member yet of FlyingBlue? Sign up here.
--George Hobica, Airfarewatchdog.com
Posted by George Hobica on Sunday, October 24, 2010
By George Hobica, Airfarewatchdog.com Las Vegas these days is so much more than gambling--er, gaming. Besides cheap airfares, and equally good value for money hotels such as the Wynn, Encore, Bellagio, Four Seasons and the newly-opened Mandarin Oriental, we love the shows, the restaurants, the shopping, the nightlife, the beach clubs, the spas, and the city's proximity to great Southwest attractions such as the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, Zion National Park, and other natural and manmade wonders.
10. LOTS OF LOW AIRFARES Best of all from the perspective of an airfare web site, flying to Las Vegas remains amazingly cheap. If you live in or near one of the cities (47 and counting) with Las Vegas service via Allegiant Airlines, you'll sometimes find one-way nonstop airfares for as little as $19 (plus fees and taxes, of course). You'll find a constantly updated list of low fares into Vegas on Allegiant, Southwest and all airlines here.
Categories: Airfare Tips
By George Hobica, Airfarewatchdog.com
If you have time to kill at New York's LaGuardia Airport, here are some unusual things you can do to pass an hour...or two...or three.
Turn your next delay into a mini-vacation with our weekly guide to transforming even the worst airport into your very own personal playground! This week, we're visiting New York's LaGuardia Airport; so close to the bright lights of Manhattan, but so very far away. No need to sulk the next time you’ve got some forced downtime at NYC's little airport that so often can't; not with our guide to what's fun (see Airfarewatchdog's daily list of low fares to and from New York-LaGuardia):
TAKE A HIKE! It's not every day you find an airport you can escape on foot – at least not without risking life and limb to run across various highways and boulevards. If you've got some time on your hands, get some exercise by walking along the footpath that leaves from the far end of the Delta terminal; it'll connect you to a paved promenade that runs along Flushing Bay, past the almost-charming World's Fair Marina and on over to the new home of the New York Mets, Citi Field. On the way back, stop at the promenade-adjacent Dunkin Donuts that's a favorite with limo drivers waiting on their airport pickups.
GRAB A BURGER There may be better burgers in New York – scratch that there are better burgers in New York, way better. But when you’re stuck at an airport, nothing says happy like a big old pile of freshly-cut potatoes fried in sizzling peanut oil, or a juicy hamburger topped with cheese, jalapenos, bacon and mushrooms. Or whatever it is you like on top of your Five Guys burger. This relatively-new franchise of the popular Northern Virginia chain is officially the best junk food you’ll find at the airport; it's located in the Central Terminal food court / shopping area, pre-security (thank goodness).
HOP OVER TO ASIA If you're seriously stuck, you shouldn't hang around the airport for too long – there's too much close by that’s worth seeing. Buy a Metrocard from the vending machines in the Central Terminal (or from the newsstands on arrivals levels of the other terminals) and look for the Q48 bus stop; in 20 minutes or less, you’ll be in the heart of downtown Flushing, known across the New York area as the most happening of the city's many Chinatowns. Asiatown is a more appropriate way to explain the bustling commercial district, a mix of cultures from across that part of the world, all amounting to a place that can be completely overwhelming even to long-time New Yorkers. Think Times Square, but with a lot less English spoken. And with better restaurants. Remember to allow for a half-hour of travel time on the return, just in case there's traffic.
LIKE A LOUNGE, BUT DIFFERENT There aren’t really any airline lounges at LaGuardia we'd bother to buy or beg our way into if we weren't already granted access with our tickets or frequent mileage programs; that said, when we are at the wrong end of a long wait at the airport, we always cross our fingers it's at the US Airways terminal. In that case, we usually scuttle off down to the shuttle gates (they’re to the right of security when you come in.) The waiting area around Gates 15-22, catering largely to a crowd that doesn't believe in showing up to the airport much earlier than their departure time, can often be a ghost town; bonus – lots of free magazines and newspapers to read while you wait.
HAVE A DRINK Fine dining and a decent wine list at an airport? It's not out of the question, and certainly not at LaGuardia, which has quite successfully hosted one of many Todd English restaurants, Figs, for quite some time – long enough for many people to even forget that it's there. Don't. Right in the heart of the Central Terminal, on the food court level – again, that's pre-security, so everyone can go, Figs is the savior of many a stranded passenger; some Tuscan white bean soup and a nice dry Italian red can make the most interminable wait just a little more bearable.
By George Hobica, Airfarewatchdog.com Chicago may be at its most popular during the steamy, sunny summers, but we know plenty of locals who've got nothing but love for the city during the fall months. And we totally get it. What's not to get, really – the weather's still decent, the trees turn lovely colors, the crowds have dwindled; no more crazy summer festivals clogging the downtown lakefront. Fall in Chicago is a sweet spot. An all too short one, though; the time to book a flight? That'd be now. And here's a short list of things we love to do there:
YOU CAN GET PHYSICAL New York has Central Park and the Hudson River, Los Angeles has Griffith Park and the Pacific Ocean. Chicago brings its best features (well, natural features) together in one spectacular, almost-unbroken chain of open spaces that front directly onto shimmering Lake Michigan. Any proper exploration of the lakefront must begin at windswept Northerly Island, just a short stroll from the tourist crowds at the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. Particularly on a weekday, this former airport (hands up, who remembers Meigs Field?) is not only one of the most peaceful places for a stroll anywhere near the center of town, it's also one of the most picturesque. Bring a camera – the skyline and marina views are stupendous.
IT'S TOTALLY COOL Let's turn the clock back about twenty years. Could anybody have envisioned a Chicago that competed with the coasts on the coolness front? Well, it happened, particularly on the city's West Side, which bounced back from decades of anonymity to become pretty much where it's at, Midwest-wise. Once laggard neighborhoods such as Wicker Park and Bucktown now comprise the heart of what's essentially become Chicago's Brooklyn – a whole other city, a whole different vibe, just a short hop from the center of town. Start a nightlife tour of the area with early cocktails at the plush and civilized, speakeasy-ish Violet Hour cocktail lounge (1520 N. Damen Ave.); then head across the street for beers and tacos (or more cocktails) at the classy (but insanely packed) Big Star, spilling out of an old gas station (153 N. Damen Ave.). Consider yourself properly introduced.
IT'S SECOND TO NONE Los Angeles may have eclipsed Chicago population-wise decades ago, but the Windy City bows to nobody in the culture department – well, outside of New York, anyway. Some people prefer Chicago, where it's easier to keep track of just what is happening on any given day; one thing that's easily remembered is the fact that the outstanding Art Institute of Chicago is now the second-largest art museum in the country. It was always a must-see, now there's just more of it, thanks to last year's addition of the $300 million Modern Wing, designed by starchitect Renzo Piano.
PLAY THE MARKETS Speaking of makeovers and important Chicago institutions, have you seen the city's Maxwell Street Market lately? Do you even know what it is? Or was? Let's start with the latter – this used to be Chicago's Lower East Side – wholesale this, pastrami sandwich that; years of decline lead to the decimation of the neighborhood. While a lot of locals like to kvetch about how things have never the same after they tore everything up (and subsequently put in condos and big-box stores), those unburdened by knowledge of the past will love the market, now held right in the shadow of the Loop skyline, for its informal and fun feel. Come hungry – the best reason to visit is for some of Chicago's best street food, much of it authentically Mexican (S. Des Plaines St., south of W. Harrison St.).
SOME OF THE BEST PIZZA EVER So you don't like tacos? No problem; this is Chicago. You can eat whatever you want. What we're eating, lately: Pizza, a lot of it, from Nick Lessins and Lydia Esparza'stiny, one-oven operation on the North Side. The place is called Great Lake. You may have heard of it recently; this hip little pizza parlor got a one-way ticket to stardom last year, when GQ Magazinetapped them as the home of some of the best pies in these United States. Bemused bystanders wondered how a relatively new spot serving artisanal thin-ish pies--baked in a gas oven, yet! -in a city known for deep-dish and true thin-crust might have trumped tradition.Somepeople wondered if the reviewerhad lost his mind.After too many Great Lake pies to count, we'll weigh in and say that it's a safe bet that most of the doubters have never eaten here. Meticulously crafted from seriously good ingredients (we love the one with Wisconsin sheep's milk cheese andearthy cremini mushrooms) embedded incrust that's alternately chewy, pillowy and crusty all at once, this is pizza you'll never, ever forget. A lot of people hate Great Lake. A lot of people can go to Pizzeria Uno and leave us alone. To be fair, there are certain considerable obstacles on this particular pathway to pizza pleasure, ones that every potential diner should know about. For starters, you wait forever. You need to come in early, or not at all. (This is a one-man army; Lessins can only make so many pies in a night.) Only masochists try to dine in; there are but 12 seats in the appealing but ultimately kind of stifling room. Don't fret, though. Just come armed with a strategy. Ours? Be there right when they open, order, then go around the corner to In Fine Spirits (5418 N. Clark St.), order a couple of cocktails and forget about the fact that it'll be an hour or more until we eat. Or that we'll be eating in the car. Who cares, really. When the pizza's this good, you just suck it up (1477 W. Balmoral Avenue, 773-334-9270).
THE RIVER IS UP The most popular way to see the Chicago River tends to be via pricey sightseeing boat; we prefer to see the river and work up an appetite for things such as that pizza we can't shut up about (see above); one of the ways to do this is to head up to Chicago River Canoe & Kayak; rent a craft for around $15 an hour and plot a northbound trip up the river; that way, when you're tired, you can ride the current back to their North Side launch. If you prefer, the outfitter offers guided tours. Hurry – they close for the season on Oct. 31. They could stay open all year, but their insurance probably doesn't cover the rental of icebreaker boats.
THE LAKE IS THE LAKE We love Lake Michigan at any time of year, but if the trees are turning, we like it even more. Just a little over an hour from downtown Chicago, find yourself in some seriously pretty – and seriously quiet – countryside. Sure, navigating the industrial (and post-industrial) mess that is Northwest Indiana can be a bit of a bear, but once you cross the state line into Michigan, you're right in the middle of Harbor Country, home to charming towns like New Buffalo and beautiful state parks such as Warren Dunes; it all adds up to one of the best excuses we can think of for renting a car at the airport.
THE DINING IS FINE Chicago may be famous for pizza, but it is also one of the best fine dining cities in the Western Hemisphere right now, thanks to chefs that know now to balance celebrity with commitment to quality in the kitchen, chefs like Grant Achatz (Alinea), Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco) and, more recently, Top Chef 4 winner Stephanie Izard (The Girl & The Goat). The biggest news this year, though, is the opening of Next, an accessible, world cuisine-exploring spot conceived by Grant Achatz. Achatz is known around the world for his inventive brand of molecular gastronomy, served prix-fixe in a formal Halsted Street townhouse-style restaurant; this new joint will feature rotating menus; dinners will be ticketed – you reserve and pay in advance; subscriptions will be available. What's one of the world's most acclaimed chefs doing, tinkering with affordable and fun, not to mention cocktails, which will be served at the adjacent bar, called Aviary? We're as curious as anybody – so far, details are few and far between, though the opening date is promised to be fast- approaching. Track the project on the restaurant's Facebook page, or stalk the actual space, steps out of the Loop (953-955 W. Fulton Market St.). In the meantime, we'll be at Bayless' casual Xoco, ordering some of the best Mexican street food we've ever had – on either side of the border. Wait, did we just say that? Yes. Yes we did (449 N. Clark St.).
Looking for low airfares to Chicago? Here's a current listing from all over the US.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, October 22, 2010
New York to Guayaquil, Ecuador $266 round-trip, incl. all taxes
Available on select dates only, via Copaair.com. Search November and December for the Economy promo dates at $103 each way.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, October 22, 2010
Didn't we just run a NYC/LAX fare earlier this week? Well, yes, we totally did. And while that fare happens to still be available, we couldn't resist posting another very good deal for the same route:
Los Angeles to New York $219 round-trip, nonstop, incl. all taxes
Good for travel on select dates in January, and February. Valid for travel 7 days a week, with a 14-day advance purchase. Found via Travelocity.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 21, 2010
Columbus to Tampa $102 round-trip, incl. all taxes
We're seeing lots of great $60 base fares from United this morning, including this one for travel from Columbus to Tampa. We found fares available in spring, from March 13 through April 6, for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
These won't last long!
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, October 20, 2010
New York to Los Angeles $156 round-trip, incl. all taxes
From Sprit Airlines. Valid for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays through February 11. Avoid blackouts around Novemeber/December holidays. Requires a 3-day advance purchase.
How much are frequent flyer miles "worth"? Five route/fare scenarios:
Posted by Ricky Radka on Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Fare of the Day: Boston, MA (BOS) to Beijing, China (PEK). $690 RT, including all taxes. Winter travel. Flights on Air Canada found via www.vayama.com
We found this fare on select dates in the months of November, December, and January. Flights departing or returning on weekend days are about $15 more. Some sample itineraries are: Nov. 15 to 27, Dec. 2 to Dec. 10, and Jan. 5 to Jan. 20.
This fare is not available every day, so you must play around with dates to get this cheaper price to appear.
Categories: Airfare Tips