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Last Minute Fares from Sun Country

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Save on early December travel to/from Minneapolis with Sun Country's last minute fares. Travel dates vary by route.

Dallas/Ft. Worth fare is good for travel from Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 2, 2010. Stated Las Vegas fare is good for travel from Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 6, 2010 and to Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 2, 2010. Stated Los Angeles fare is good for travel to Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 2, 2010. Stated Palm Springs fare is good for travel to Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 3, 2010. Stated San Diego fare is good for travel from Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 6, 2010 and to Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 3, 2010. Stated San Francisco fare is good for travel to Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 5, 2010. Stated Seattle fare is good for travel from Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 5, 6, 2010 and to Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 6, 2010. Stated Phoenix fare is good for travel from Minneapolis/St. Paul Dec. 5, 2010.

Fares start at $69 one-way, and include:

Las Vegas to Minneapolis $138 round-trip

Minneapolis to Seattle $138 round-trip

San Diego to Minneapolis $138 round-trip

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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Tired of winter already? It's almost summer in Buenos Aires

By David Landsel

Airfarewatchdog.com

As we here in the United States hunker down for another winter, Buenos Aires is shedding those extra layers and getting ready for a long, blissfully hot summer. This year, why not put the Caribbean on ice and really head south, all the way to fun-loving Argentina? Here are a few essential must-dos for when you get off the plane.

1)     A night at the museum It's no secret that things get started late around here, evening-wise; it's fairly common to eat dinner after 10pm. You'll get used to it though; there's plenty to do in the early evenings – on Wednesdays, for instance, you can pay a late visit to the city's jewel-box Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, also known simply as MALBA. Admission is just 8 pesos – that's barely $3 – and they're open until 9pm. Before or after you tour the petite but satisfying collection, which showcases Argentinian modern masters such as Antonio Berni and Guillermo Kuitca, make sure to stop at the in-house Café des Arts, which has a beautiful patio and a full menu.

2)     Into the wild Everyone likes to bang on about how European Buenos Aires is, and at times that can be true; then there are places like Puerto Madero, the city's redeveloped old port, which are indisputably American -- New York's South Street Seaport and Battery Park City, all rolled into one, a mix of shopping, tourist-friendly restaurants and flashy apartment buildings and office towers, incongruently located directly adjacent to the city center, with its crowded, narrow streets clinging to a tight and unexciting grid. Portside or city center-side, it can all get a little stifling, particularly in the summer time; good thing then that there's so much open space so close by. The Reserva Ecologica is nearly 1,000 acres of rather wild territory atop a major dumping ground; today, it buffers the port from the vast Rio de la Plata. Part forest, part wetlands, you can really get lost out here, which, on a sweaty summer day, might be just the thing. Birders spot egrets and swans; gay guys spot each other – rent a bike near the entrance for a few pesos an hour, or take a half-day to explore it on foot. Either way, take a camera; there are some pretty cool skyline views.

3)     Hit the Sunday fair in San Telmo At times it feels like a kitschy tourist trap and at other times it's a serious art and antiquities fair; either way, in high season, this weekly event that crawls all the way up Calle Defensa from this historic, city center-adjacent neighborhood's colorful Plaza Dorrego counts for some of the best people watching in town. An international crowd mixes with scores of locals, bargaining over Evita memorabilia, tango CD's and mate gourds; come early, come late – the action goes all the way into the evening. The neighborhood restaurants and bars make a killing; if you're looking for a good, unhurried, meal, best to get a little bit off the beaten path to a place like local favorite Café San Juan (Av. San Juan 450) or health-conscious and friendly Origen (Peru 1092).

4)     Hanging by the pool at the Four Seasons You never know who you're going to bump into at the city's premier address for international celebs. (Is that Paul McCartney, over there? Probably.) Located in an out-of-the-way spot that's still a short walk from the center of town and the attractions of the exclusive Recoleta area, this is one of the sexiest pools in town, set in a garden next to the hotel's iconic Belle Epoque mansion. As summer heats up – like, now – this is one of the top places to be. Not staying over? Gain access simply by booking a treatment in the adjacent spa; by local standards the prices are astronomical – for many Americans, they'll seem quite reasonable.

5)     Try the ice cream It's our opinion that there is no such thing as good or bad ice cream in Buenos Aires – only excellent and more excellent. Seriously, there are few countries with as firm a handle on the craft as Argentina; even the mass-produced stuff from chains like Freddo that many an Argentinian will warn against is going to be miles better than the last scoop you had back home; of course, there's no better place to start than a scoop of the dulce de leche, that iconic, creamy burnt caramel / condensed milk flavor you find everywhere here. Everyone has their favorites; if we have to choose, we'll go ahead and recommend Volta, a mini-chain that – like any ice-cream joint worth its stuff around here – will deliver to your apartment or hotel. (We could get used to that.)

6)     Eat seasonal The concept of seasonal cuisine has yet to cross the minds of many an Argentinian diner, but pardon us if the idea of sizzling rump steaks and big plates of gluey pasta (Italian cooking is omnipresent here and generally to middling standards) don't really seem exciting on a steamy summer evening. The way people eat here, you'd think Argentina didn't boast hundreds of miles of pristine Atlantic coastline, coastline that yields some incredible seafood, such as flaky pink salmon from Patagonia, or sweet, delicate shrimp plucked from the waters of Puerto Madryn. Pining for pesce? You're best off cooking yourself – those staying in apartments can hit up the popular El Delfin fish market and see what's good; lazy types can resort to sushi, delivered all over town by a host of places that range from okay to downright awful. We're more comfortable at the likes of Puerto Cristal, a snazzy but fairly affordable Puerto Madero joint where you can order from a long list of fresh seafood, simply prepared the way you like it, with a nice salad to start. We can't promise nobody will look at you like you're crazy, but this is Buenos Aires, where there's no wrong way to do anything -- it's all about the level of confidence with which you do it (Alicia Moreau de Justo 1082).
 

7)     Sit and do nothing First impressions of Buenos Aires may lead you to the false conclusion that this is a fast-paced city on the move. This town does put on a great show of going about its business, but all that charging down sidewalks and speeding down the avenidas is more reflex than necessity. At heart, this is a city that likes to kick back and have a good time; if you're here on vacation, don't get sucked into the drama – just stake out a ringside seat and watch it all go down. Start your day in the happening Palermo Hollywood neighborhood, with breakfast at the cuter-than-a-button Oui Oui, a French-ish bakery/café located in a quiet mid-block location and filled with good-looking young patrons (Nicaragua 6068). Once you can't take another croissant or latte, pick up and move along to the northern end of the Palermo area and grab a spot at the local branch of the nifty Tea Connection mini-chain, a zen oasis of world-class teas and speedy free wireless internet (Cervino 3550). Later, stroll through the green parks in the popular Palermo park system, past the beautiful Bellas Artes and Decorative Arts museums – the latter has a great café, Croque Madame, good for – you guessed it – killing another hour or two, or maybe having a bit of lunch (Libertador 1902). Later, head on into Recoleta; if it's happy hour, claim a chair in the sexy second-floor bar at Milion, a restaurant and nightspot carved out of one of the neighborhood's lavish former private homes. Order up a proper aperitif – a negroni, for instance. Drink, repeat (Parana 1048).   

8)     Get out on the water You've probably heard that saying, "it's not the heat, it's the humidity." That pretty much sums up any day in Buenos Aires – even in the dead of winter, we've stood in poorly ventilated subway cars sweating buckets; the air is often like a heavy, wet blanket. (It's not pretty.) While there are some blissfully beautiful summer days where the humidity burns off and it almost feels like you're in the desert, things get so dry, this isn't the norm; not by a long shot. For those unbearable summer days, there's Buquebus; this popular ferry service connects the city's waterfront with Uruguay, out across the Rio de la Plata, which is either the widest river in the world or a gulf of the Atlantic Ocean, depending on whom you ask. Either way, you're out there and you're gulping down huge helpings of fresh air, either on the 1 hour ride to the colonial city of Colonia del Sacramento – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – or the 3 hour journey to the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, a pleasant, low-key town that's easily explored on your own. If you've got the time, ask about connections to Punta del Este (4-5 hours including a bus ride), the famous beach resort that draws well-heeled South Americans each summer that's a lot like Miami's southern cousin, but with even more Spanish spoken.

Fly to Buenos Aires nonstop on LAN from Miami or via Lima or Santiago from New York, more information at lan.com. Airfarewatchdog lists deals to Buenos Aires, when available, here.

Fare of the Day: Washington DC to Madrid $380 RT

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, November 29, 2010

Fly from DC to Madrid for just $380 round-trip, nonstop, including all taxes this winter on Spanair.

This fare is offered on just a few dates from January through mid-March (early spring break?). Similar fares (think low $400s) are available for nonstops to Barcelona. These are "hidden" fares, meanining they are sold by Spanair, but operated by United/Aer Lingus.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Airfarewatchdog's top 10 tips to find low airfares

by George Hobica

Airfarewatchdog.com

Yes, fares on many routes are much more expensive this holiday season than last, but airfares are not static and there are (relative) deals to be had any time of year. Here is Airfarewatchdog.com's best advice for making your airfare dollars go farther no matter what the time of year.

1. Sign up for the airlines' email feeds and frequent flyer programs

Yes, we know, you already get too much email, but the airlines want to develop a one-on-one relationship with you, so they'll send you special deals, such as 50 percent off promo codes or two-fers, if you sign up. Airline sites sell much more than airfares these days (hotels, rental cars, credit cards and such), and they will entice you to deal direct rather than use a third party site such as Orbitz. Here are links to US domestic airline sign up pages and for international sign ups. If you're on Twitter, you might also want to follow the airlines' tweets, which they're using to promote exclusive Twitter-only deals. We signed up for Virgin America's frequent flyer program and because we haven't flown them yet we keep on getting promo code discount offers to give them a try.

2. Be a flexible travel date flyer

If you don't care when you go as long as the fare is low, try a flexible date search. It's getting harder to search airfares based on flexible travel dates now that many sites (Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity and Expedia among them) have eliminated their flexible date calendars. But Kayak.com still has a good one (you must register as a user to see it under Flights/more options/flex month). Another good site is Adioso.com and Google has two sites worth exploring: www.google.com/flights/explore and www.google.com/flights.  More about flexible travel date search here.

3. Search airline sites individually, but not exclusively

As noted above, many airlines have "private" sales, reserving their very best fares for their own sites. These are different from promo code fares.  International airlines such as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Qantas regularly offer lower fares (i.e., $100-$400 less) on their own web sites compared to what you'll find on Kayak or Orbitz. And yet, you shouldn't ignore online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity, because these sites will tell you if it's cheaper flying out on one airline and back on another. In general, airline sites want you to fly only on their "metal."

4. Buy hotel + air packages

It's often significantly cheaper to buy an air plus hotel package rather than airfare alone, especially for last minute travel. We often see Travelocity "TotalTrip" offerings, especially on last minute flights, pop up with hotel plus air for half the price of air alone. Lastminute.com is also a great source for finding last minute packages.

5. Use Priceline for last minute trips

If you don't have a 7-, 14-, or 21-day advance purchase window to buy your fare, your best bet is the "name your own price" feature of Priceline.com. True, you won't know the exact flight times or airline you're flying until to pay for your trip, but you can save 50% or more. Hotwire.com can also be useful for last minute trips.

6. Use consolidators, but beware of the restrictions

Especially with the economic downturn, business and first class cabins will be emptier in 2010, and deals will be amazing. Consolidators specializing in premium cabins will have some great deals, and the airlines themselves will be heavily discounting their premium cabins, so check the specials on their web sites. Sites like Vayama.com, airfare.com and Asia.com also sometimes sell consolidator fares, but read this to understand how these fares work and what the extra restrictions might be.

7. Consider the extra fees before you buy

If Southwest has a fare of $198 round-trip and United has one for $148, and you are checking three bags, then Southwest actually has the lowest fare because Southwest charges nothing for the first two checked bags, whereas United would charge each way for three. You can find baggage fee charts here.

8. Combine two separate fares rather than buying one fare

If you're flying to a destination in Europe, you might save money by purchasing one fare from the US to, say, Dublin, and another from Dublin onward on Ryanair.com (just beware of Ryanair's onerous fees). Same holds true for some destinations in Asia (fly into Singapore and catch a low cost carrier such as Airasia.com from there) and to some smaller Caribbean destinations via San Juan or the Bahamas. Even domestically, two fares are often less than one, such as the recent scenario where Dallas to Honolulu was selling for $350 round-trip with tax, but Houston/Honolulu was $800. As you're no doubt aware, you can fly Houston-Dallas for a lot less than $450! Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time between connecting flights in case one flight is delayed.

9. Buy tickets on an airline that will refund the difference if a fare goes down

Let's say you've found the lowest fare, and then the day after purchase your non-refundable fare for the same itinerary goes down. If you ask for it you can get a refund for the difference. But some airlines will charge you a costly "administrative" fee of $150 or more, wiping out any savings. Others will give you the entire fare difference without extracting a fee. Currently, the "nice" airlines are JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska.

10. Check fares several times a day, and don't listen to airfare pundits who predict airfares

A lot of people like to pretend they're clairvoyant, and they know where airfares are headed. But airlines are unpredictable creatures, and any airfare expert who claims he knows that airfares will be lower or higher in the coming months or the coming day is suspect. No one can accurately predict where airfares are heading, any more than we can predict the stock market, because we have no idea when the economy will improve, or how much airlines will cut back capacity, or when the next flu epidemic will hit. If we could, we'd all be comfortably retired by now! And although many people swear by Bing.com/Travel's predictions, doesn't it make sense that if Bing really could predict airfare directions accurately that every other site would be out of business by now? But that hasn't happened. Fares fluctuate throughout the day, and the number of seats offered at the lowest fares also changes frequently. So if you don't like the fare at 10 a.m., check at 2 p.m. or the next day and you may be surprised.

Fare of the Day: Miami to Los Angeles $176 RT

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fly from Miami to Los Angeles for $176 round-trip, including all taxes.

 

This fare is valid for travel 7 days a week, when available, with a 330-day travel period. Tickets require a 14-day advance purchase. Found via Travelocity.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

SAS Winter Sale to Scandinavia & Eastern Europe

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, November 24, 2010

SAS has discounted fares to Scandinavia and Eastern Europe from select US cities. This offer is valid for travel from December 26 through March 31. Fares require a Saturday night minimum stay, and allow a 12 month maximum stay.

Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight, on all dates.

All bookings must be made by November 30. Fares include:

Newark to Copenhagen $641 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Washington DC to Stockholm $662 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Washington DC to Copenhagen $641 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Los Angeles to Stockholm $762 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Chicago to Bergen $670 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Chicago to Oslo $666 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Chicago to Riga $770 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Chicago to Warsaw $691 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Seattle to Copenhagen $765 round-trip, incl. all taxes

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Fare of the Day: Chicago to San Francisco $160 RT

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fly from Chicago to San Francisco for $160 round-trip, nonstop, including all taxes.

This fare is valid for travel 7 days a week, from January 4 through March 9. A 14-day advanced purchase is required. Seats are limited.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Fare of the Day: Ft Lauderdale to Hartford $159 RT

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, November 22, 2010

Fly from Ft Lauderdale to Hartford for $159 round-trip, including all taxes, as part of today's 1-day only sale from JetBlue.

This fare is valid for travel every day of the week, except Friday and Sunday, from November 29 through December 18. Also available for one-way purchase at half the cost of the round-trip.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

8 great reasons (besides low fares!) to visit San Diego now

By George Hobica
Airfarewatchdog.com

In too many parts of this great country of ours, the weather's gone sour – goodbye sunny October days, hello damp and cold November. It's in times like these that our minds begin wandering, to places where the weather never, ever goes sour. Few places can boast as reliable a track record for sunshine and relative warmth than San Diego; luckily, weather isn't the only reason the city's a whole bunch of fun right now.

And with the economic downturn impacting some of its key markets, such as Arizona and the rest of Southern California, San Diego is shaping up to be one of the best travel bargains around right now, with some really low airfares and a lot of attractive hotel deals, great outlet shopping, a world-famous zoo, wonderful beaches, luxe spas, and some amazing wineries. So slap on the sunscreen and get moving – we've got a whole bunch of stuff for you to do, just as soon as your flight lands.

OUT OF AFRICA You've heard of the San Diego Zoo, but did you know about the San Diego Zoo Safari Park? Located way up in the northern part of San Diego County, think of this 1,800-acre preserve as the closest thing to a real, live, African safari this side of Africa. Or, at the very least, that Kilimanjaro Safari Park ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando. You'll find 3,500 animals from nearly 300 species, ranging from red-fronted gazelles to Sumatran tigers. Rowrr.

SAY SPAAAAAH! San Diego is world-renowned for its destination spas; something about that warm desert climate that promotes the idea of not being a total couch potato, we guess. But the best spa in the region isn't the flashiest; it's tucked away down on the other side of the border, just outside of the sleepy town of Tecate. The 70 year-old Rancho La Puerta the world's first fitness spa -- offers some of the best value for money you'll find at a spa in this part of the world. Come for a week, stay as long as you like. 

A BEACH OF ONE'S OWN Speaking of the border – not all Southern California beaches are crowded; in fact, there are some that are so beautiful and yet so quiet, it's almost freaky. That's what you'll find down at Border Fields State Park, otherwise known as our favorite beach in San Diego County. On a sunny Saturday, which is most Saturdays, it's not out of the question that you'll be the only one there. Getting there takes work, though; the government is continually making up new excuses to keep the park gate shut; we suspect it's to discourage visitors to the area completely. When you complete the one-plus mile hike out to the beach and down towards Tijuana, you get a pretty good idea as to why – once it gets down to the beach, the border wall kind of just stops, allowing just about anyone who wants to the chance to slip through. Not only is it a pretty beach (occasional empty water bottle pile-up aside), on weekends, you'll hear some pretty decent live music from the bars in Mexico. 

ESCAPE FROM IT ALL As good as the spas are in San Diego, sometimes we just don't feel like lifting a finger. That's okay – there are plenty of resorts in the region, staffed by the sort of people who are just waiting for us to press a button and ask to have, say, another bottle of champagne sent up to the patio. This fall, you can get some great rates at some of the area's most exclusive properties – check out the Park Hyatt Aviara, for instance, with its great views from up on a hill overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean; through Dec. 31, get your third night free, plus a $50 resort credit.

PRADO, PRADO, PRADO! Right at the heart of the city's gorgeous Balboa Park, you'll find El Prado, one of the most beautiful streets in the United States. Of course, it's not so much an actual street as it is a collection of ornate Spanish revival/baroque buildings dating back to nearly 100 years ago, when the park was the site of the Panama-California Exposition. Today, the buildings are largely occupied by museums; of all the high-profile choices here, though, our favorite is the less-known Mingei International Museum, dedicated to folk art and contemporary craft from around the world.

RAISE A GLASS Did you know that there are more than 50 wineries in San Diego County right now? Did you know that there are a couple dozen more near Ensenada, just south of the border, in the striking Valle de Guadelupe? You do now. When in this part of the world, there's no need to drink the vino from faraway places like Napa, or even Santa Barbara – stick with the local stuff, which can often be really, really good. We're fans of the rich reds at Fallbrook Winery [] up in the very northern part of the county; ditto the elegant blends at Vinas Pijoan in the Valle de Guadelupe, all named after the women in the winemaker's life (we're into the Leonora, a perfect marriage of Cab/Merlot.)

CATCH A WAVE Ever want to learn how to surf, but don't know where to start? The laidback beach scene here is the perfect place for newbies to get on, er, board – seven days a week, the dudes at Surfari welcome beginners for two hour lesson that include both on-land and in-the-water practice. Classes are held in Mission Beach, starting at 9, 11, 1 and 3. Anyone's welcome, and you can even book private lessons if you're embarrassed to be seen by others. Bring your swimsuit and a towel, and you're ready to go.

FIND YOUR OUTLET As a popular destination for both vacationers and shoppers from just south of the border, San Diego is blessed with a whole heap of great outlet malls. Our advice? Don't choose just one, try them all, from the fancy-schmancy Carlsbad Premium Outlets [] – think Barneys New York, think Ferragamo – to the striking Las Americas, a vast outdoor pedestrian village built directly on the border to attract well-heeled residents of Tijuana, who flock to an excellent selection of stores including Neiman Marcus Last Call and a superb (and relatively hard-to-find) Under Armour boutique. For a nice selection of more typical outlet brands in a pleasant atmosphere, visit the pretty Viejas Outlet Center, located inland – think Levi's, Eddie Bauer and Nautica.

And it's all quite inexpensive to fly to, as you can see from this current list of low airfares into San Diego.

with reporting by David Landsel

 

 

30% Holiday Sale from Porter Airlines

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, November 19, 2010

Save 30% on holiday flights with Porter Airlines. Just enter promo code GIFT30 at time of purchase. Valid for online bookings, for travel through February 28. No minimum stay!

All purchases must be made by November 24. Fares include:

Boston to Ottawa $293 round-trip

Boston to Quebec City $223 round-trip

Boston to Thunder Bay $293 round-trip

Boston to Montreal $279 round-trip

Chicago to Halifax $405 round-trip

Chicago to Ottawa $279 round-trip

Chicago to Quebec City $251 round-trip

Chicago to Thunder Bay $265 round-trip

Chicago to Montreal $279 round-trip

Toronto to Boston $167 round-trip

Toronto to Newark $150 round-trip

Toronto to Chicago $167 round-trip

Toronto to Halifax $195 round-trip

Toronto to Ottawa $125 round-trip

Toronto to Montreal $125 round-trip

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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