Travel e-Scapes: August 11, 2015

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DESTINATION & DEAL OF THE DAY: Southern California

Travel e-Scapes: August 11, 2015

One-way from Atlanta, each way:
$105 Long Beach
A 21-day advance purchase required
Travel any available day of the week
Complete travel on or before July 7, 2016
No blackout dates
Valid on American(+Fees $) via Dallas Ft. Worth
Stopovers not permitted


TRAVEL TIPS & TIDBITS

Best & Worst Airline/Hotel Programs

US News & World Report released its new list of the best and worst airline and hotel rewards programs.  The publication changed its methodology, giving more weight to the ease of mileage redemption to recognize the increased importance of ease of earning flights, nights and membership benefits.  Spirit, Delta and United performed poorly because their programs lacked in three key areas: ease of earning, award flight availability and additional benefits.
The worst hotel programs scored poorly because they lacked an easy way of earning points, property diversity and geographic coverage. 

Best Airline loyalty programs:
1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

2. American Airlines AAdvantage
3. Southwest Rapid Rewards
4. JetBlue TrueBlue (was #1 in 2014)
5. HawaiianMiles
6. Virgin America Elevate
7. Frontier EarlyReturns
8. United MileagePlus
9. Delta SkyMiles
10. FREE SPIRIT

Best Hotel loyalty programs:
1. Marriott Rewards
2. Wyndham Rewards
3. (tie) Best Western Rewards
3. (tie) Club Carlson
5. IHG Rewards Club
6. Leaders Club
7. La Quinta Returns
8. Starwood Preferred Guest
9. Hilton HHonors
10. Hyatt Gold Passport
11. Choice Privileges
12. Stash Hotel Rewards
13. Omni Select Guest
14. Kimpton Karma Rewards
15. Le Club Accorhotels
16. Fairmont President’s Club
17. iPrefer
18. Loews YouFirst

The Works from Frontier
Frontier Airlines hopes to polish up its tarnished reputation with a new add-on fee concept for customers who don’t like surprises. In the last two years, U.S. Department of Transportation reports show Frontier had the highest customer complaint rate of the nation’s 12 largest carriers. Complaints for Frontier soared earlier this year. In March, they surpassed another ultra low-cost carrier: Spirit Airlines. Frontier ended up with a last place ranking in both complaints and on-time arrivals. But in May, the DOT report showed complaints to Frontier were down by nearly half, when compared to March. There were also improvements to its on-time arrival.
Frontier’s new fare option – The Works – now lets customers bundle everything they want:
One carry-on bag
One checked bag
Advance seat assignment
Priority boarding
Fare refundability
No change fees (fare differences may apply)
The bundle is exclusively available for purchase at FlyFrontier.com and must be booked at the time of initial booking. The Works, from $49, is one-way and based on round-trip fares purchased by August 31.


SPECIAL DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL OFFERS

Airfare offers – ones with a ticket-by date – and deals with our suggestion to ‘Hurry!’ can expire at anytime.   Heed Clark’s advice: Buy that great airfare deal – and then figure out a reason to go there! Eventually you’ll see the world at a fraction of the normal price!

HURRY! One-way from Atlanta, each way:
$40 Dallas-Ft. Worth
A 21-day advance purchase required
Valid Tuesday or Wednesday
Complete travel on or before November 19
Valid on American(+Fees $), nonstop

One-way from Atlanta, each way:
$43 Chicago-O’Hare
A 7-day advance purchase required
Valid Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday
Complete travel on or before December 16
No blackout dates
Purchase by August 14
Valid on United(+Fees $), nonstop

One-way from Atlanta, each way:
$48 Philadelphia
$88 Los Angeles
A 7-day advance purchase required
Valid Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday
Add $10 per direction for other travel days
Complete travel on or before December 16
Blackout dates: September 3, 4, 7, 8; November 19-December 1
Purchase by August 14
Valid on American(+Fees $), nonstop

HURRY! GO NOW! One-way from Atlanta, each way:
$152 San Diego
No advance purchase required
Go as soon as this weekend!
Travel any available day of the week
Complete travel on or before July 7, 2016
Valid on American(+Fees $) via Dallas-Ft. Worth
Stopovers not permitted

One-way from Atlanta, each way:
$162 Cancun
$210 Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos – or – Puerto Vallarta
A 14-day advance purchase required
Travel any available day of the week
Complete travel on or before March 16, 2016
Purchase by September 3
Valid on American via Dallas-Ft. Worth or Miami
One free stopover permitted

One-way from Atlanta, each way:
$188 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
A 14-day advance purchase required
Travel any available day of the week on southbound flights operating between 8-10am; northbound between 3-6pm
Complete travel on or before December 16
No blackout dates
Purchase by September 3
Valid on Delta(+Fees $), nonstop

Round-trip from Atlanta:
$700 Milan, Itay
Add $25 per direction for Friday, Saturday outbound and/or Friday-Sunday returns
Depart August 23-December 18 or December 25-May 14, 2016
A 7-night minimum stay required
Stay up to six months
Purchase today, August 11
Valid on American(+Fees $) via Miami
Stopovers not permitted
Note: Round-trip rates of $930 are valid on departures through August 23 (3-day advance notice) or December 19-24

Airline fees can and often do exceed the cost of your ticket!
+Fees $$$ = Carry-on Bags: $10-$75; Checked Bags: $15-$100; Seats: $3-$199; additional fees vary by carrier
+Fees $ = Checked Bags: $24-$125; Select/Preferred Seats: $9-$99


SPECIAL HOTEL & RESORT DEALS

Save in Wine Country
The Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel, an hour north of San Francisco, is centrally located to over 330 Sonoma County wineries.  The hotel sits on 13 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds that offer panoramic views of the Santa Rosa Valley.  A ‘VIP Wine Package’, available on stays through December 30 includes: 
Complimentary bottle of wine at check-in
Reserve wine tastings for two at Kendall Jackson and Paradise Ridge Winery
20% off wine purchases at Kendall Jackson Winery
15% off wine purchases at Paradise Ridge Winery
$25 voucher to use for lunch or dinner in hotel’s restaurant, Nectar
Rates from $159 a night.
Also, in Sonoma County is one of the newest attractions of the Bay Area, the 320,000 square foot Graton Resort & Casino.  Unlike most casinos, Graton Resort & Casino was designed with large windows that welcome natural light.  It features 3,000 state-of-the-art casino slots, 144 blackjack, poker and baccarat tables, a Live Poker Room that boasts 18 tables with both limit and no-limit games, and 13 restaurants.

Late Summer Deal
Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa offers rates from $199 a night on stays through October 31.  Recently opened on August 1 following extensive renovations, the resort’s ‘More Marco, More Paradise’ package includes:
Two dinner entrees nightly at Pazzi’s or Quinns with a soft drink, tea or coffee (excludes alcohol, appetizer, tip)
50% discount on spa services at The Spa (excludes the hair salon)
$25 golf discount per person, per day at the Rookery or Hammock Bay
Refer to promo code D60.
The resort features luxurious new guest rooms, celebrity chef featured restaurants and enhanced fitness and entertainment.  However, major renovations and expansions are underway at the resort through 2016.  Plans are to debut a stunning new JW Marriott Resort on January 1, 2017.  Until then, guests will find construction in public areas, along the entire block and areas adjacent to the property.  


Travel e-Scapes is brought to you by Clara Bosonetto, Team Clark Travel Editor. Follow Clara on Twitter.


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