Travelers who value time (and sanity) might wish for simplicity in airline pricing. It would be nice, but it isn’t going to happen.
Is it all a plan to keep marketers fat and happy? Somewhat. These folks are the ones who create confusion and call it “deals.”
Why does the confusion exist? To make money. Travelers who don’t take the time to find and figure out the deals are doomed to pay more.
Here’s ten ways to beat them at their game — or at least to play their game and win.
Invest $59.95 and receive $600 on travel values. This offer is available to new members of Delta SkyMiles. After you enroll, your personalized Delta SkyMiles PlusPack offer (necessary to utilize this deal) will arrive by mail within eight weeks. Benefits include: 5,000 bonus miles, four one-way upgrades valid for travel within the 50 United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico (valid with Coach Y or B fares), and a discount of up to $75 on Delta, Delta Connection, Delta Express or Delta Shuttle. You also receive a space-available upgrade at participating Radisson Hotels & Resorts and an upgrade at a participating Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts in North, Central and South America when you book at corporate rate or higher. Also included: added days and upgrades from four car rental companies, a magazine subscription and 2,000 bonus miles if you sign up for MCI residential long distance service.
Receive a $99 Continental Airlines companion RT if you are in your first year of OnePass membership, or enroll as a new member. New and first-year members are entitled to purchase two packages, each including the companion certificate, valid for travel in the mainland U.S. and to Canada. The Executive Pack ($64.95) provides the certificate, 5,000 bonus miles, four one-segment space-available upgrades (use with any published fares), a one-class National rental car upgrade, two visits to Continental’s Presidents Clubs and 10 percent off refueling at Thrifty. The Prestige Pack ($99.95) provides the certificate, up to $100 off a separate RT, 7,500 bonus miles, six one-segment space-available upgrades, two Radisson upgrades, three free months (up to $75) of new MCI long distance service, six month’s membership in National’s Emerald Club, 10 percent off a Thrifty car rental, two visits to Continental’s Presidents Clubs and a three-month subscription to InsideFlyer. Call (713) 952-1630.
Two-For-One to Europe
Fly two-for-one to Europe through May 31 with purchase by December 31 and payment by MasterCard. Purchase a full-fare Icelandair Economy or Business Class RT and receive a same-class companion ticket. A separate offer gives Business Class travelers add-ons the airline calls Icelandic Deluxe Cocktails: hotel accommodation for one night, with Scandinavian buffet breakfast, rental car, and a spa visit and admission to the Blue Lagoon. Purchase a featured package to Scandinavia, the United Kingdom or Continental Europe using the Take-A-Break deal, and receive complimentary hotel accommodation for one night plus admission to the Blue Lagoon. Purchase an Icelandair Holidays Adventure Package to Reykjavik and receive an additional hotel night and Blue Lagoon admission. All Icelandair/MasterCard offers are valid for departure from Boston, New York JFK, Baltimore/Washington, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Orlando. Some restrictions apply. Hotel accommodations must be booked at the time of purchase.
Travel from DC to Europe on business class fares starting at $2,325 RT. This Spanair special requires two people traveling. The $2,325 price is based on the first passenger paying a fare from $3,100 and the second passenger traveling at 50 percent off. The Avant Class special is offered for travel to Spain and the Canary Islands. In some cases, you can also use it for travel to Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Stockholm, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart. If a forced overnight connection in Madrid is required (as with travel to Stockholm), Spanair will pay for one night’s stay at a Madrid airport hotel, but the stayover itineraries are not eligible for the companion deal. Spanair’s Avante Class includes limousine service to and from the Washington area and Dulles Airport. United Mileage Plus credit is earned for Spanair travel.
Two Virgins for One
Receive a free Virgin Atlantic companion ticket when you purchase a RT Economy Class fare to London from Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco or Washington (DC). Tickets must be purchased by November 15 for travel through February 28. Blackout dates from Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Newark, San Francisco and Washington (DC) are January 1-10; from Miami and Orlando, January 1-14. Tickets must be purchased with an American Express card and must be six-month APEX fares. Contact Virgin Atlantic at (800) 862-8621.
Red Eye Prices
Fly coast-to-coast on Red Eyes for $99 one-way. The fare applies between New York JFK and Oakland, convenient to San Francisco and the Bay Area, and between JFK and Ontario, serving the Los Angeles area. These JetBlue flights are inventory-priced (the cheapest seats are sold, then the next pricing tier is offered). One-ways start at $99 and go to $149, $199 and $249. There is no advance purchase requirement.
Ever Been to Tahiti?
Air Tahiti Nui has an almost two-for-one Business Class offer for Los Angeles-Papeete. The RT fare is $3,898. Two passengers travel for $3,900. Minimum stay is four days. Maximum stay is 45 days. Request fare code DPAX2.
Receive $50 off Sun Country Airlines just for applying for their Smile Awards MasterCard. The card awards one Smile Point for every dollar you spend using the card; 10 points for every dollar spent on a Sun Country ticket. Points can be redeemed for free domestic or international travel (25,000 Smile Points earns a free domestic ticket). There is no annual fee, no blackout dates and no Saturday stay requirements. You also receive a 2,500 point bonus the first time you use your card, and you can earn points even when you’re buying tickets for colleagues, friends and family.
For the Dog in You
Receive $160 in American Airlines discounts plus pet food and care discounts with a $69.95 annual membership in the Pet Care Savings Club. You also receive discounts on car rentals, a Pets Welcome half-price hotel directory and other pet perks. Each airline certificate is valid for $40-80 off a RT within the continental U.S. You have 30 days to review your membership materials (and cancel, if you choose) before your credit card is billed. Call (800) 388-7387.
Get a $50 RT discount with Northwest Airlines’ Fearless Flying, a 40-minute video version of the airline’s seminar for anxious flyers. The kit also includes a 30-minute audiotape with relaxation exercises, a handbook, a relaxation breathing tube and the discount certificate. The cost of the kit is $69.95, plus shipping and handling. Call (888) 577-4455.
Tom Parsons is editor of Best Fares Magazine.