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Carol Sottili

Two airfare sales with short shelf lives: Airtran's systemwide sale ends tomorrow; it features $39 one-way fares to Boston and Rochester and $89 fares to Grand Bahama Island (taxes extra). Jetblue's fare sale ends Friday; I just got an email from someone over at Travelzoo.com (a good site to locate travel deals) alerting me to the Jetblue $69 fare to Las Vegas - that's $158 round trip with taxes - it does not get any better than that!

Also, want to share a few tips and lessons learned during my trip last week to London:

*If you can swing it, pay for premium economy seats (British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer these out of Dulles to London Heathrow). Yes, they're more comfortable than the back-of-the-bus seats, but that's not the selling point. You get a dedicated check-in line at Dulles and Heathrow. The lines for economy check-in at Heathrow were a couple of hours long - I had four people in front of me on the premium economy line. If you fly economy, leave PLENTY of time at Heathrow.

*Price out transportation before you get there. My daughter and I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington, the tube to Elephant & Castle and then a bus to her dorm. It would have been cheaper to take a cab, and a lot less exhausting, especially with luggage.

*The Premier Travel Inn www.premiertravelinn.com is an excellent "budget" hotel. I stayed in the Tower Bridge location, and it was clean, convenient and above average. Budget in London, by the way, translates to about $190 a night. Expect to pay double for everything there that you buy here. Cup of coffee that's $2 here is 2 GBP, the equivalent of about $4.

By Carol Sottili |  January 17, 2007; 11:25 AM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili , Deals
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What are te basic rates for taxicabs in Amsterdam? I will be staying in a hotel on Jan Luykenstraat Street and will need to go to the cruise pier near Cantral Station.

Thanks

Posted by: roxpiano | January 17, 2007 11:37 AM

My wife, son and I went to London this summer on British Airways and they lost my son's luggage. It took us three days and numerous hours on hold before his luggage turned up. We are still arguing with them on reimbursement!

Posted by: Jim | January 17, 2007 11:58 AM

If you don't want to indulge in premium economy seats on British Airways, look into their on-line check in---even for international flights (at least London-Baltimore). You can check in 24hr. before departure and print your boarding pass, and there are dedicated bag drop-off lines at Heathrow. (I've also used BA online check-in from BWI to LHR)

Posted by: Kari A | January 17, 2007 12:00 PM

Thanks for the comments. Roxpiano, please send that request for info along to Travel Q&A (travelqa@washpost.com) or post it on our chat on Monday 2-3 p.m. Also, I should have noted that I flew Virgin Atlantic, which is located in a different terminal than British Airways at Heathrow. Didn't notice dedicated bag drop-off lines - my guess is that they were also long. I did check in online on the way back (wouldn't let me on way out for some unknown reason), but it didn't matter in my case. As for bags getting lost, no airline has a corner on this market.

Posted by: Carol Sottili | January 17, 2007 12:24 PM

Flying out of Heathrow has always been easier for me than flying out of Dulles. Shorter lines, more staff, better airport layout (I know, we're talking Heathrow here - shows how much I hate Dulles).

You're ahead in terms of money (and, IMO, in terms of stress) buying a 6 zone travel card, getting on the tube at Heathrow and taking Picadilly Line into the city, changing to Bakerloo at Picadilly Circus or Northern at Leicester Square, and then hopping your bus - it's a little more than 6 quid a person and it's good all day for bus as well as tube journeys. Heathrow Express is a rip off.

(full disclosure - I lived a year in London, go back at least once a year, and only took a cab from Heathrow once, because I was ill and the transfer at Manchester knocked everything out of me. The Green Park tube station is awful if you're going between Picadilly and Jubilee lines with three bags, but that's because all Jubilee line transfers are horrid. Anything else is a piece of cake.)

Posted by: MB | January 17, 2007 4:12 PM

Re: question about taxi fare to pier near Centraal Station in Amsterdam. I stayed on that street at the Hotel Pita in late October. I walked about 1 block to the tram stop (very near the Van Gogh Museum - and there is another very close to the Rijksmuseum) and took either the #2 or 5 (I think) that went to the Centraal Station, and then walked a very short distance to where the canal boats left.(Since I am recovering from knee surgery, please believe me when I saw it was a very short distance - less than a football field). If you are at the other end of that street, there is a #12 that goes to Centraal Station. Be sure to ask the locals: they generally speak very good English and incredibly helpful. I only took two cabs the whole time I was there, and don't remember how they figured out the fare. The trams are really fun, a good deal, and come quite frequently. You tell the driver where you are going and they will sell you a ticket for the appropriate number of zones (which is 2 to get to the Centraal Station). The locals take luggage on the tram; I am not that plucky. Hope this helps!

Posted by: Jan | January 18, 2007 4:00 AM

I've also done the online check-in for Baltimore-London flights on British Airways. I've also done check in at an automated kiosk in Heathrow and then just dropped off my bags. The regular check-in lines were very long, but we were checked in with bags checked within about 5 minutes. We used a car service to get to and from Heathrow last year; cost us about 20 GBP each way, but if you hate dragging your bags on the Tube, it is Worth. Every. Penny. Especially given that Heathrow Express is 10-15 GBP each way and that only gets you as far as Paddington.

Posted by: MECM | January 18, 2007 1:20 PM

Once you're in London, the bus system is wonderful. Lots of dedicated lanes to avoid traffic. The extensive system takes you just about anywhere you want to go, especially to sections of London that are a bit off the beaten path. Plus an all-day pass is only 3.5 GBP. Go here to get maps of the system:
www.tfl.gov.uk/buses/buses_map.asp

Posted by: Carol Sottili | January 18, 2007 1:44 PM

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