Clark Howard: Travel e-Scapes Newsletter December 16, 2010

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Travel Tips, Tidbits & Trivia

Continental introduces Farelock
FareLock is a new booking option that offers Continental Airline customers the opportunity to hold reservations and lock-in ticket prices for 72 hours or seven days with no commitment to purchase a ticket. The new feature, offered for a fee on certain domestic and international itineraries, gives customers additional flexibility to plan their travels and avoid the risk of price increases or sold-out flights. Customers may choose FareLock when booking at Continental.com and opt for a 72-hour or a seven-day hold. They may return to complete the transaction at any time between purchasing the lock and its expiration, or they may choose an auto-ticketing feature which tickets at the end of the lock period. FareLock fees, beginning at $5 for a 72-hour hold and $9 for a seven-day hold, will vary based on a number of factors such as the itinerary, number of days to departure and the length of the hold. The carrier will continue to offer its 24-hour flexible booking policy that allows reservation changes and cancellations with full refund without a fee within 24 hours of booking. For customers choosing FareLock, the 24-hour flexible booking policy remains in effect upon ticketing, although the FareLock fee is non-refundable.

Vegas in 3-D
Travelers are now able to check out hotels, shops, casinos and thousands of other Las Vegas attractions by exploring the city online in 3D and then book travel reservations with just a few clicks. 3D Travel incorporates Google Earth technology to allow visitors the chance to zoom around Las Vegas, checking out the city from different angles on a virtual tour. The new Las Vegas web site includes accurate street views and speedy navigation. New features also include an itinerary builder and a shopping cart, allowing travelers to save hotels and activities while clicking through the site. The Las Vegas launch comes after the success of a similar website for Hawaii, launched in July.


Today’s HOT International Bargains

The following rates could vanish at any time. HOT deals have no ticket-by date – meaning the airlines can ‘pull’ the rate when they deem the offer a sell-out or an error. Act fast!

One-way from Atlanta:
$174 each way, Toronto, Ontario
$243 each way, Montreal, Quebec
A 30-day advance purchase required
Travel any available day
No blackouts
Complete travel by November 12, 2011
Valid on USAirways via Charlotte to Toronto; Philadelphia to Montreal
Inclusive rates: $215 YYZ; $290.69 YUL


Great International Deals

The following rates have a ticket-by date which gives you a bit more breathing room to purchase tickets. However, these rates can also expired should an airline deem the offer sold-out — or a mistake!

Round-trip from Atlanta:
$334 Madrid, Spain
A 3-day advance purchase required
Add $30 per direction for weekend travel
Depart by December 24-April 12, 2011
No blackouts
Purchase by December 31
Valid on USAirways via Philadelphia
Inclusive rate: $757.80

Round-trip from Atlanta:
$389 Bermuda
A 2-day advance purchase required
Add $17 per direction for Friday-Sunday travel
Stay at least any two nights
Complete travel by February 28, 2011
No blackouts
Purchase by December 22
Valid on Delta, nonstop
Inclusive rate: $483.50


New RedCoach Atlanta terminal & routes

RedCoach is the first luxury ground transportation provider in the Southeast with destinations throughout Florida extending into Georgia. The company will add two new Florida destinations from Atlanta: Ft. Pierce and Downtown Disney. RedCoach currently serves Gainesville, Orlando and Miami from Atlanta. The Downtown Disney location will provide passengers with a direct route to Walt Disney World theme parks, Florida’s top tourist destination — and from either Hartsfield Airport or the new Buckhead location at the Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites. The new Fort Pierce destination will be located at the Fort Pierce Service Plaza on the Florida Turnpike.

One-way rates are $25 to Gainesville; $37.50 to Orlando; $40 to Ft. Pierce or Miami and $42.50 to Disney.

RedCoach’s fleet of luxury motorcoaches is a refuge from the hassle and continually inflated cost of air travel. RedCoach cabins seat just 27 whereas regular coaches seat 56. Passengers can recline their business class leather seats with foot rests up to 140 degrees. WiFi is complimentary and each seat comes with a lap desk and standard 110V electrical outlet, making it easy for passengers to work or play while they ride. If work is not on the agenda, passengers can also watch movies shown on the motorcoach’s LCD monitors. Before arriving, freshen up in the clean on-board lavatory.

Each luxury coach is fully equipped with the latest technology in safety, quality, and comfort in order to meet traveler’s needs. Every coach operates with a GPS satellite system that continually monitors coach location, position and driver activity, making it possible for RedCoach to notify passengers of any travel delays and updates while they wait. For additional security, each motorcoach has interior security cameras that are constantly monitored.


The Best Hotel & Resort Deals

Hip Palm Springs on a dime
Palm Springs is at its best in winter, when the nearby mountains are covered in snow and daytime temperatures stay in comfortable double digits. To fully enjoy the scene, the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel offers a $100 daily credit with rooms starting at $179 a night. This is a tremendous offer considering that room rates here can climb as high as $359 per night. The daily $100 credit can be applied to WiFi, dining or other property services. This downtown hotel, formerly known as the Wyndham, underwent a big face-lift to reopen as a Renaissance earlier this year. New features include renovated guest rooms and suites, the poolside Rocks Bar & Lounge and the Date Restaurant. Situated at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, the hotel is just blocks to restaurants, shops, art galleries and nightlife of Palm Canyon Drive. Valid on stays through June 30. Refer to promo code P50.

Introductory Rates at a new Ft. Lauderdale resort
Travelzoo has uncovered a wonderful offer from a new Ft. Lauderdale beach resort, the B Ocean Hotel. A grand opening special of $149 is offered any night of the week on stays from January 24-April 30 (blackouts; January 27-29). Act fast to land this deal! The low rate is offered only to the first 149 rooms booked. After the sale is sold-out, rates at this posh property will average $319 per night. Guests can choose to book an upgraded room with floor-to-ceiling windows and better oceanviews for $175 (all rooms have views of the sandy white beaches and Atlantic Ocean shoreline). Guest rooms feature signature bedding, complimentary WiFi, designer white leather furnishings, HD LCD TV and a stuffed sea turtle (part of the B Humane brand’s program to highlight regional endangered species). On-site are dining options including a Sushi restaurant; B’stro for organic breakfast, lunch and dinner and Quench, a patio bar at the infinity pool. Book a stay through December 21. Start the booking process at Travelzoo.


Travel Quotation

AOL recently asked its Small Business Board of Director members, “What Are Your Best Travel Secrets?” Here’s one…

This is one of my areas of expertise. Some quick tips:

1. Pick an airline and a hotel and stay loyal to them — status and rewards make the whole process much easier, and it’s usually not worth it to try to save a few bucks to get the cheapest deal.

2. To quote Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, ‘It’s not tipping I believe in, it’s over-tipping.’ Tip early and often, it’ll come back to you many times over, especially when you’re in a jam.

3. Pack light. If you’re not good at it, learn. This isn’t just a skill, it’s a necessity. (If you want to see how a real professional does it, watch Up in the Air.)

4. Back up all of your electronic info regularly. Keep a hard copy of critical info with you and if you can store a thumb drive with key data separate from your computer, all the better.

5. Get an ‘Oh Sh*t’ plan. Think of what happens if you get mugged and don’t have anything. Have a way to get back on the grid. Consider online backups (like Mozy or Carbonite) and other safety precautions.

Clint Greenleaf, Founder and CEO, Greenleaf Book Group


Note: Unless otherwise stated above, follow these guidelines when booking special airfares from Clark Howard’s e-Scapes newsletter:

    No expiration of travel means the rate is valid on trips taken over the next 331 days, or the advance booking window allowed on most airlines International rates are based on mid-week travel days, or with most airlines Monday-Thursday. (one exception is Monday-Wednesday to London). Economy class airfares to Europe require a minimum stay requirement of a Saturday night and a maximum stay of a month. Economy class airfare to Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East typically require a 6-day minimum stay; 30-day maximum. Most domestic coach class airfares, including Canada and Hawaii, are based on mid-week travel. Weekend travel days are typically $10-$30 higher, per direction, for both domestic and international destinations. All airfares shown on e-Scapes are exclusive of taxes, fees, unless noted otherwise. Fuel surcharges on international trips can add from $180-$400 to base rates shown above, varying by continent.

Clark Howard’s Travel e-Scapes Team reminds you that the information in this newsletter is researched on the same day that you receive it. It can happen that by the time you read your copy a particular airfare may already have expired, especially the “HOT” deals listed. Airlines can publish and then ‘pull’, or discontinue sales without warning. Timing is everything!

Get more of Clark’s best travel deals Mondays through Fridays on the Atlanta Travel Deals page.

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