Thanksgiving already? If you are planning to travel over Thanksgiving, you may want to consider buying your ticket now… Hipmunk says that by doing so you could save 17% over waiting until October when most people make their Thanksgiving travel plans. For Christmas bookings, I’d say wait until about mid-October. And don’t expect many out-of-this-world bargains this year… a busy, expensive peak summer is usually an indicator of a busy expensive holiday travel season. This year the early birds won’t get huge discounts, but they will at least get the best seats on the most convenient holiday flights.
Fare Sale. Last week the airlines rolled out an across the board fare sale with some really good deals for fall and winter (no holiday) travel. As of today the fare sale is over, but there are still a few deals lingering out there…like this JetBlue fare between SFO and JFK for just $336 roundtrip. While there is no “official” sale going on right now, check fares anyway and you still might find some decent fares for fall/winter trips.
Gasoline! Some good news for drivers and flyers: Labor Day pump prices are at their lowest level in four years, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Prices are lowest on the Gulf Coast ($3.24/gal) and highest on the West Coast ($3.83/gal) as of August 25. Gulf Coast prices are often low compared with prices in other regions because of the Gulf Coast’s proximity to half the nation’s refining capacity. Oil is still trading at around $100/barrel which means less pressure on airlines to raise fares to cover fuel costs. But remember, all this could change as tensions flare in the Middle East. The EIA forecasts that the U.S. average retail price of gasoline will decline modestly through the end of the year, reaching a monthly average low of $3.30/gal in December.
Deadline looms for 50,000 Miles: This month, the United Explorer Card rolled out a limited-time, 50,000 mile bonus for those spending at least $2,000 within three months of signing up. Add an additional user who makes a purchase on the card in the same timeframe and you get an additional 5,000 United miles. That 55,000 bonus is almost 100% more than the card’s longstanding bonus offer of just 30,000 United miles. So if you’ve been sitting on the fence on this one, now’s the time to jump off. This bonus offer is only good through Tuesday, September 2. 50,000 miles is enough for one round trip domestic first class saver ticket or two coach tickets or enough to nicely top off your MileagePlus balance! More details here.
Holiday Business Class sales: Want to fly overseas for the holidays in style…and at a discount? Joe Brancatelli does a masterful job of keeping track of biz class discounts airlines offer when those seats otherwise fly empty over the holidays. These are not cheap fares by any means… but they are cheaper than standard business class. We’re talking $2,500 to $3,500 round trip to Europe from the US vs the normal $5,000-$8,000. Currently, SAS has the best deals…Christmas in Copenhagen anyone? Based on a recent study, Americans are not all that jazzed about overseas travel during the holidays anyway…which means that we’ll probably see even more bargains (relatively speaking) on overseas flights as holidays approach.
Hawaii on your mind? Fares from the mainland to Hawaii have also dropped as the fall “shoulder season” gets underway. Hawaiian Airlines has been dangling round trip coach fares of around $400 round trip from the West Coast lately, so use that as your gauge when trying to determine whether you are getting a “deal” or not. Due to high demand, fares to Hawaii as well as hotel rates have skyrocketed this year, so seeing fares around $400 is a relief. Hawaiian has a fare sale that ends Sept 2– but keep an eye out for future fall deals on all airlines. Dreaming of Kauai? TravelSkills readers can get a very special buy-one-get-one-free deal at the Cliffs at Princeville condo resort if you book this week. The deal applies to stays of any length, booked for any time. No strings attached. Rates start at $324 per night. But you have to commit by Sept 4. To get the deal call 808-367-8024 and mention “TravelSkills.” Check out what TripAdvisor says about The Cliffs here.
Alaska Mileage Plan sale. Alaska Airlines is offering BIG discounts for award trips between now and Oct 31. For example, travelers in San Francisco can fly to Seattle, Portland or Salt Lake City for just 5,000 miles each way. Flights from many other mainland cities to Mexico are just 12,500 miles each way. Details here.
That’s it for now! Have a great Labor Day weekend!
Thank you, dear TravelSkills readers. As you may recall, we recently posted news about a new 50,000 mile bonus for those signing up for a United Explorer card. We are pleased to report that you all rallied around that offer (for which we earn a commission), and that definintely helps pay our bills this month! Thanks to all of you who signed up– if you did not, consider doing so before the bonus goes away on September 2!
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