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Archive: Carol Sottili

Get Movin': Travel Deals, Contests

* If you're thinking of heading to Killington, Vt., to ski, take a look at the resort's Web site first. The Killington Deal Grabber offers lift tickets for $50 beginning at 8 a.m. Monday (Feb. 16) for travel the week of Feb . 21-27. Walk-up rates start at $77 for...

By Carol Sottili | February 16, 2009; 07:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

All Aboard: $1 Bus Tickets to New York

Tripper Bus is the latest discount bus service to offer rides for as little as $1 each way to New York. The bus will begin making the trip Feb. 13. It'll go between Manhattan (34th Street and the northwest corner of 7th Avenue) and Bethesda (7525 Old Georgetown Rd., between...

By Carol Sottili | February 6, 2009; 10:17 AM ET | Comments (5)

Super Bowl Cities: Which Is Better to Visit?

Let's choose a Super Bowl winner based on whether we'd rather travel to Pittsburgh or to Glendale, Ariz. Pittsburgh is a lot more intellectual than its stereotypical rep as a gritty, working-class city. The new August Wilson Center for African American Culture is set to open this spring. The city...

By Carol Sottili | January 29, 2009; 07:45 AM ET | Comments (4)

Which D.C. Attractions Rate Four, Five Stars?

Mobil Travel Guide has announced its 2009 four- and five-star awards for hotels, spas and restaurants in North America. Just 72 made the five-star cut. The Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. and the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va., received five stars, as did the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond....

By Carol Sottili | January 23, 2009; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (1)

Act Fast: Southwest Sale to Seattle

Southwest Airlines is offering half-price fares to Seattle for travel Feb. 3-May 31. But act fast: Deadline to buy is 11:59pm PST on Thurs., Jan. 22 (2:59 a.m. EST on Fri., Jan. 23). Discounted fare from BWI Marshall or Washington Dulles for connecting flights is $157 plus $54 taxes ($211)...

By Carol Sottili | January 20, 2009; 12:51 PM ET | Comments (1)

Travel Deals: French Riviera, N.Y.C. and More

If you're looking for cheap digs in Cannes on the French Riviera, set your alarm for 6 a.m. Friday. Hotel Martinez will begin taking reservations then for its 80th anniversary deal. It will offer 80 rooms for stays Feb. 1-28 at 80 euros a night double (about $109), including breakfast;...

By Carol Sottili | January 6, 2009; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (0)

Airport Security Explained

Are you one of those airport security line grumblers? You know the type. "I can't believe we still have to take off our shoes. The floor is filthy. My feet are cold." Or "You've got to be kidding me about the size of my shampoo bottle. I paid $24 for...

By Carol Sottili | December 16, 2008; 02:01 PM ET | Comments (2)

What U.S. Cities Have the Healthiest Airports?

Two of our region's airports -- BWI Marshall and Reagan National -- have placed in the top 10 of the nation's healthiest. The rankings by Health Magazine gave BWI the number two spot, behind Phoenix Sky Harbor. BWI "features soft music and comfortable lighting at one of its key security...

By Carol Sottili | December 2, 2008; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (4)

Act Now: Last-Minute Deals

If you're flexible (and lucky), you may still be able to nab a sale fare on promos being offered by Air Jamaica and Icelandair. Icelandair is offering a round-trip fare of $399 (plus taxes) from New York to Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Reykjavik. Taxes vary by city, but round-trip fare...

By Carol Sottili | November 24, 2008; 01:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

New York, Cheap & Fancy

It was my mother's 85th birthday Friday, so we decided to meet in Manhattan for dinner, a play and an overnight stay. When I started pricing out the one-night event, it was looking as if the night would cost more than $1,000, so I started looking for ways to save...

By Carol Sottili | November 18, 2008; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (5)

Raving, Not Ranting, About Air Travel

We're all used to the travails of flying. Delays, cramped planes, random fees, missed connections -- you know the drill. But it may not be a bad idea to share when things go right. Last week, I flew to San Jose, Costa Rica from Reagan National, connecting in Houston, on...

By Carol Sottili | November 17, 2008; 07:53 AM ET | Comments (6)

Pilot Strike Looms for Air France

Pilots at Air France have called for a four-day strike, scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday and to end at midnight Monday, Nov. 17. Air France, in a statement issued Thursday, said it is expecting "very significant disruptions to its operations." Cancelled flights for tomorrow (Friday) include Flight 39...

By Carol Sottili | November 13, 2008; 04:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Act Now: New Airfare Deals

Two airlines today announced three-day sales that will end Thurs., Nov. 13. Southwest has launched a system-wide Web-only sale for travel Dec. 2-Feb. 11. For example, fly round trip from BWI to Salt Lake City for $239, including taxes. A 21-day advance purchase is required, and the lowest fares apply...

By Carol Sottili | November 11, 2008; 12:58 PM ET | Comments (2)

The Delta-Northwest Merger and You

Delta Air Lines has acquired Northwest Airlines for $2.8 billion. What does it mean for travelers? Not much...yet. Both airlines issued statements stressing business as usual. Travelers will continue to book and buy tickets through the airlines' respective phone numbers/Web sites. They'll check in with the airline they're flying. Members...

By Carol Sottili | October 31, 2008; 09:41 AM ET | Comments (4)

Places to See: St. Louis

Think vacation, and St. Louis isn't the first city, or the 20th, to come to mind. But, having just returned from a short trip there to visit my daughter in college, I can attest to its attractiveness as a tourist destination. It's a quick two-hour nonstop flight, and sale fares...

By Carol Sottili | October 28, 2008; 11:54 AM ET | Comments (5)

One-Day Airfare Sale to Europe

Today (Wed., Oct. 22) only, Lufthansa is offering rock-bottom fares from Washington Dulles to several cities in Europe. Fare is $568 round trip, including all taxes and surcharges, to Frankfurt and Munich. Slightly higher sale fares are available on flights to Athens, Budapest, London, Paris, Warsaw and Zurich. You must...

By Carol Sottili | October 22, 2008; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Virgin America Gets Creative: Coffee, Tea, Energy Drink?

Airlines need to make money, and selling seats on the plane is no longer the only way to raise a buck. Many now charge extra for bags, snacks, drinks and assigned seats. But Virgin America is getting even more creative, partnering with a company called Vitalize Labs to sell its...

By Carol Sottili | October 20, 2008; 01:28 PM ET | Comments (3)

'World's Largest Cruise Night' Sale Packs Savings

If you're contemplating booking a cruise, mark Oct. 16 on your calendar. It's the World's Largest Cruise Night, a sales event sponsored by Cruise Lines International Association. (It goes on for 24 hours, but it's called cruise night because lots of agencies hold special evening events.) Last year, about 4,000...

By Carol Sottili | October 10, 2008; 07:36 AM ET | Comments (0)

Short-lived Travel Deals

OpenSkies, a premium airline now owned by British Airways, yesterday announced sale fares between New York and Amsterdam, and New York and Paris. The sale will continue until the first 1,000 tickets are sold on each route, or until Oct. 15, whichever comes first. Round-trip fare in PREM+ class to...

By Carol Sottili | October 7, 2008; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (1)

Southwest Security Line Changes

Southwest is apparently trying to make itself even more attractive to business travelers by offering priority security lines for its best customers. Travelers holding business select tickets, or those with "A-List" designations (must fly at least 18 round-trip flights per year) will get access to the fast lanes, which will...

By Carol Sottili | October 3, 2008; 06:58 AM ET | Comments (4)

Turbulence: Alitalia's Future in Trouble

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. Monday...The last of the airline's nine labor unions today signed on to a rescue plan, which means that the airline will continue flying for now. An investor group has made an offer, but it must find a foreign airline partner to make the plan work. Negotiations with...

By Carol Sottili | September 24, 2008; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (4)

Travel Deals and News

A few travel deals to check out: 1) The Curacao Hospitality and Tourism Association is holding an auction on travel lodging, meals, tours, etc. Bidding ends on Friday, Sept. 26 at noon. Current bids are low. As always, before bidding, make sure you're getting a real deal by checking the...

By Carol Sottili | September 24, 2008; 07:14 AM ET | Comments (0)

Honeymoon Hints

Planning the wedding is a big enough job. But add the stress of putting together a never-to-be-forgotten honeymoon, and it's enough to put even the most organized couple over the top. Choosing a destination is the top priority. It sometimes helps to see what's popular, either to be part...

By Carol Sottili | September 12, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

Act Now: Short-lived Airfare Deals

Virgin America has a decent sale between Washington Dulles and Los Angeles or San Francisco. Round-trip fare is $271 including taxes. Travel must be completed by Oct. 29. Deadline to buy is today (Thurs., Sept. 11). Also, OpenSkies, a premium discount airline that was recently purchased by British Airways, is...

By Carol Sottili | September 11, 2008; 01:41 PM ET | Comments (0)

Sex on the Beach? Not in Dubai

Having sex on the beach, especially when there's a possibility of getting caught, is a definite no-no, even in destinations where just about anything goes. But a British couple recently discovered that behaving badly on the wrong beach can get you in very deep trouble. The 36-year-old woman and 34-year-old...

By Carol Sottili | September 5, 2008; 07:52 AM ET | Comments (8)

Stay Longer or Pay Higher Airfares

Once upon a time, before discount airlines became major players, the legacy airlines typically required Saturday-night stays to discourage business travelers from scooping up the cheaper leisure fares. That changed when airlines such as Southwest and Airtran started gaining market share with cheap fares, and far fewer restrictions. The legacy...

By Carol Sottili | September 2, 2008; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

United Food Service Changes, Part II

I blogged a few days ago about United's decision to stop serving free food on flights from Dulles to Europe -- here's a link -- but we didn't know then why Washington Dulles was chosen, and whether the decision was permanent. An update: United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said in an...

By Carol Sottili | August 29, 2008; 07:58 AM ET | Comments (11)

No (Airline) Food For You

Starting Oct. 1, there will be no such thing as a free meal on United Airline's flights between Washington Dulles and Europe. The airline will become the first major carrier to start charging economy seat passengers for food on transatlantic flights (first and business-class passengers will continue to receive free...

By Carol Sottili | August 22, 2008; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (33)

'Summer Vacation' Ideas for September

Back in April, a friend told me she couldn't wait until it got warm. I told her that I never hope for summer to start, because next thing I know, it's Christmas. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but, of all the seasons, summer seems to pass the most...

By Carol Sottili | August 19, 2008; 02:12 PM ET | Comments (6)

New Protocol for Laptops

Good news for road warriors. As of this past Saturday (Aug. 16), you no longer had to remove your laptop from its bag when going through airport security. But you probably had to invest in a new bag to meet the requirements. In order to be considered checkpoint friendly, the...

By Carol Sottili | August 18, 2008; 07:22 AM ET | Comments (8)

Well-Spun Travel News

The airlines have issued lots of press releases and e-mails in the past couple of weeks, all with upbeat headlines and positive vibes. But, despite the spin, it's not all good news. Here are a few items that crossed our desks: * From American Airlines came the e-mail headlined, "More...

By Carol Sottili | August 15, 2008; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (3)

When It's Tough to Relax at a Resort

So you're all ready to head down to the resort pool. Sunscreen, check. Sunglasses, check. Towel, check. You can already taste the margarita. And then you notice that, even though there is hardly anyone at the pool, every single lounge chair is covered with a towel. Do you: a.) Alert...

By Carol Sottili | August 14, 2008; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (17)

Class Action Suit Brings Refunds

It's not every day the airlines give money back to their passengers. But that's what British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will be doing as part of a class action lawsuit settlement (the airlines were accused of conspiring to fix fuel surcharges imposed on long-haul fares). On July 25, I received...

By Carol Sottili | August 12, 2008; 07:03 AM ET | Comments (1)

And I Thought We Were All Staying Home

Gas is through the roof! Air travel is a nightmare! We're all doing stayvacations this year! Nah, not really, according to a survey conducted by Visa that was released last Thursday. The credit card company surveyed 1,000 card holders who have traveled outside of the United States during the past...

By Carol Sottili | July 31, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

Airline Deals Are Getting Rare

Less than five years ago, you could fly to Europe for $298 round trip off season, including taxes. And, in 1977, I flew the now defunct Peoples Express, one of the first post-deregulation discount carriers, for $99 each way from New York to Los Angeles: I paid a similar price...

By Carol Sottili | July 22, 2008; 06:23 AM ET | Comments (9)

Guess Who's Not Coming to America?

With the dollar being not so strong against the Euro and the British Pound, among others, you'd think that foreign visitors would be flocking to the United States. You'd be wrong. According to statistics from the Travel Industry Association (TIA) and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, there were two million...

By Carol Sottili | July 15, 2008; 07:19 AM ET | Comments (16)

Airline Schedule Changes

Seems not a day goes by without airlines announcing schedule cuts, mergers or bankruptcies. In recent weeks, Delta said it would reduce domestic capacity by 13 percent in the second half of 2008. United will cut service by 14 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. US Airways is going...

By Carol Sottili | July 7, 2008; 01:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal? Look to Unfamiliar Airlines for Deals

Don't forget smaller foreign carriers when searching for deals to Europe. Not all offer service out of Washington, but even those that fly out of other hubs often offer codeshare agreements. And some sales are so good that it may be worth it to fly out of New York or...

By Carol Sottili | June 20, 2008; 06:44 AM ET | Comments (6)

Game Plan: Playing Ball at Shea Stadium

Adults can go to all kinds of camps these days: space camps, rock-n-roll camps, golf camps, etc. But, after watching my husband and his campers play ball on the field at Shea Stadium this week, I have a difficult time believing that any could rival Mets Fantasy Baseball Camp experience....

By Carol Sottili | June 6, 2008; 06:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hotel Horrors: Don't Let This Happen to You

Are there any resorts or hotels left that aren't catering to big groups? Last weekend, our small family reunion (31 Kennedy kin - no, not those Kennedys) gathered at a nice resort in the Poconos. But our stay became less than pleasant when a huge wedding party took over the...

By Carol Sottili | May 30, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

Coming Soon: A New Airline Bucks The Trend

As airlines go belly-up, cut schedules and levy more fees, you'd not think it's a good time to start a new airline. But British Airways is doing just that: Starting June 19, its new airline -- OpenSkies -- will start service between New York's JFK and Paris-Orly. The airline is...

By Carol Sottili | May 23, 2008; 08:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal?: Putting Spirit's $19 Fares to the Test

Spirit Airlines is an upstart discount carrier that often offers crazy fares. "Can you believe it?" says its current fare sale. "Spirit has (fares) from only $19 each way." So can we believe it? Is it possible to get a $19 fare? And where do these fares get you? From...

By Carol Sottili | May 9, 2008; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (11)

What's the Deal: The Luck of the Irish

Aren't we glad that Aer Lingus came back to town? The airline bailed out of BWI, ending its nonstop flights to Shannon, Ireland, several years ago, but then restarted nonstop service from Washington Dulles to Dublin last year. And now it's one of the few offering decent sale fares for...

By Carol Sottili | May 2, 2008; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cruise News: Let Them Eat Cake!

Eva Gularte, her sister and her mother are none too happy about their cruise aboard the Norwegian Star, according to reports in the Miami Herald and Travel Weekly. The women claim in a lawsuit filed in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monday that NCL failed to disclose to passengers that making reservations...

By Carol Sottili | May 1, 2008; 01:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

Airfare Sale Within a Sale

Airtran's systemwide sale for travel through Nov. 12 is offering some decent fares. Good, right? But now the airline has announced a two-day Extra Savings sale that is far more restrictive, but offers incredibly cheap fares. The deal applies only to nonstop flights. From Washington Reagan, pre-tax fares are $49...

By Carol Sottili | April 25, 2008; 06:31 AM ET | Comments (1)

What's the Deal: Good News . . . and Bad

First the good news. Virgin America has launched a fare sale from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Fare on the nonstop flights is $119 each way: round-trip fare with taxes is about $273. While we've seen cheaper, the flights are nonstop, planes are new and each seat...

By Carol Sottili | April 22, 2008; 02:42 PM ET | Comments (0)

Delta/Northwest Marriage: What Does It Mean?

Should the Delta/Northwest merger go through, the jury is still out on what type of effects it will have on the regular schmoe trying to make his way back home. Will frequent-flier mile programs change? Will more fees be charged? Will there be less competiton and higher fares out of...

By Carol Sottili | April 15, 2008; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: The Downright Ugly Skies

The annual Airline Quality Rating report [PDF] is out, and the news is not good. The study, conducted since 1991 by the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Aviation Institute and by Wichita State University, concludes that the top 16 domestic airlines are bumping more passengers, losing more luggage, arriving later...

By Carol Sottili | April 8, 2008; 06:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal: Stretch Your Legs and Save $$$

Tired of sitting in the small seats? If you're willing to pay up to have a little room, but you're not willing to pay a fortune, take a look at Virgin Atlantic's sale on premium economy seats. I flew this class of service on Virgin several times last year, and...

By Carol Sottili | April 4, 2008; 09:18 AM ET | Comments (1)

Insta-CoGo: ATA Airlines Goes Belly-Up

ATA stopped flying today, leaving passengers stranded. The airline served about 10,000 passengers per day, operating flights from Chicago's Midway Airport to Dallas, Oakland and the Mexican cities of Cancun and Guadalajara, and from Hawaii to Oakland, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas. So what happened? The airline cited the...

By Carol Sottili | April 3, 2008; 01:33 PM ET | Comments (4)

Insta-CoGo: Fees, Fees and More Fees on Delta

You may have heard that Northwest has joined United, US Airways and Delta in assessing a fee for a second piece of checked luggage. It'll cost $25 each way for tickets issued March 29 or later for travel May 5 or later to destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico...

By Carol Sottili | April 1, 2008; 12:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal: Will Open Skies Mean Lower Fares?

If you've been putting off buying that ticket for spring travel to London in the hopes there will be a sale, get out your credit card. It's time to buy. Virgin Atlantic, United, US Airways, British Airways and others are all offering fares of about $600 or less, including taxes,...

By Carol Sottili | March 28, 2008; 06:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal?: What You Need to Know About Summer Airfares

Farecast, a Web site that analyzes airfare trends and offers predictions and pricing, has issued its summer forecast, concluding (no surprise here) that summer fares to Europe are 10 percent higher this year. But the analysis also concludes that there are ways around paying sky-high fares, as long as you're...

By Carol Sottili | March 21, 2008; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Insta-CoGo: Delta to Charge $25 for Second Checked Bag

Delta is the latest carrier to add a $25 fee for a second piece of checked luggage. The carrier hasn't made a formal announcement (and Delta's Web site still says that you're allowed two pieces of checked baggage), but Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott confirmed today that the fee will go...

By Cindy Loose | March 20, 2008; 02:25 PM ET | Comments (13)

Travel Tech: Airfare Searches for the Truly Frugal

If you're the type of traveler who needs to unturn every stone in search of the absolutely lowest airfare before you'll buy, take a look at Priceline's new product, called Inside Track. It's the latest player to offer sophisticated airfare analysis for consumers. Other sites, including Kayak, Farecast and FareCompare,...

By Carol Sottili | March 18, 2008; 07:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal? Special Edition

AirTran and Virgin America are offering quick sales that will end today. Here are the details: *Airtran is offering a systemwide sale. From BWI, fares range from $49 to $144 each way plus taxes. From Dulles, fares are $74-$144 each way plus taxes. And from DCA, $79 to $144 each...

By Carol Sottili | March 14, 2008; 07:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal: First Summer Airfare Sale to London

British Airways is the first carrier to break the ice on summer airfare sales across the pond. The sale fare is still not cheap -- $959 round trip (including taxes) to London Heathrow from Dulles or BWI -- but it's one of the first fares we've seen for under $1,000...

By Carol Sottili | March 11, 2008; 01:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal: Sales to Europe Are Popping Up

It's been slim pickings for sale fares to Europe. We told you about some business-class sales last week, but this week, we have even better news. Iberia has launched a sale from Washington Dulles to destinations across Europe. And United and Virgin Atlantic are offering sale fares to London. The...

By Carol Sottili | March 7, 2008; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (9)

What's the Deal: Europe This Summer? It Can Be Done

If you've spent the past months scouring Web sites in an attempt to find an airfare of under $1,000 round trip to Europe this summer, you most likely haven't booked yet. There have been a couple of short-lived sales, but none that have had broad appeal. Blame jet fuel, Europeans...

By Carol Sottili | February 29, 2008; 07:19 AM ET | Comments (2)

Baggage Check: US Airways Follows United With $25 Fee Per Extra Bag

We knew it was only a matter of time. US Airways became the second major domestic carrier to announce it will begin charging $25 for a second piece of checked luggage. United, which codeshares with US Airways, was the first when it announced earlier this month that it would start...

By Carol Sottili | February 27, 2008; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bonus Rant: Cheap Seats (and a Ray of Hope)

I hate walking through first or business class on my way to the cheap seats, especially on long flights. The people sitting there swirling their mimosas always seem so smug. As I struggle into my middle economy seat and the guy in front slams his seat into my knees as...

By Carol Sottili | February 27, 2008; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (15)

What's the Deal: Get Away From the Ice!

If you've put off planning that spring vacation, here are a couple of deals that could give you ideas. * Virgin America is offering a "Why Leap When You Can Fly" sale. Price is $238 round trip plus about $21 taxes for nonstop flights from Washington Dulles to either Los...

By Carol Sottili | February 22, 2008; 07:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal?: New Air Service, New Bargains

We don't know how long these fares will last, but AirTran has announced new nonstop service from BWI to Los Angeles, Seattle and Dallas beginning May 6, and, as of last night, was offering cheap introductory fares. To Los Angeles, fare started at $219 round trip, including taxes (United, the...

By Carol Sottili | February 15, 2008; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (3)

What's the Deal: An Airfare Crystal Ball?

Farecast has been on the leading edge of geeky, yet incredibly useful, analysis of airfares for a few years. But up until yesterday morning, the site's claim to fame -- predicting whether a specific airfare would go up, down or stay the same -- was restricted to certain domestic cities...

By Carol Sottili | February 8, 2008; 07:52 AM ET | Comments (3)

Baggage Check: More on United's New Rules

I've delved a bit deeper into United's domestic policy changes and have discovered some hidden items that may wind up costing inattentive travelers even more than the $25 the airline will charge for a second piece of checked luggage (and remember, that's $25 each way, so we're talking $50 round...

By Christian Pelusi | February 5, 2008; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (25)

Monday Rant, Part 2: United's New $25 Checked Bag Policy

Big announcement from United Airlines this morning: Domestic passengers will have to pony up $25 to check a second piece of luggage. The policy change applies to travel on or after May 5, and to tickets purchased today or later. The new policy appears targeted at the occasional leisure traveler:...

By Carol Sottili | February 4, 2008; 12:58 PM ET | Comments (90)

The Monday Rant: Nonsmoking Rooms . . .That Aren't

Have you ever specifically requested a nonsmoking hotel room only to find that the previous guest has ignored the rule? It's not a huge problem if there are other rooms to be had, but when a hotel is sold out, it can be a big hassle. Even worse, you don't...

By Carol Sottili | February 4, 2008; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's the Deal?: Bargains to Grab Now

It's February. Time to plan your garden and your vacations. You're on your own finding seed catalogues, but I can help with some travel deals. Here are a couple that are worth a look: Cathay Pacific is again selling its All Asia Pass for travel in 2008, which can save...

By Carol Sottili | January 31, 2008; 09:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fantasy Travel: Let's Go Mets

My husband, Bud, is spending the week living out his fantasy. No, not that kind of fantasy. He's in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at N.Y. Mets Fantasy Baseball Camp -- experiential travel at its finest. It cost a bundle (more than $4,000), but it's a once-in-a-lifetime event, a 50th birthday...

By Carol Sottili | January 25, 2008; 08:11 AM ET | Comments (2)

New England Snow: It Just Keeps Coming

Strap on those skis and head to New England! Killington, Vt. has already received 10 inches of new snow in 2008, and nearly set a record in December, with 92.5 inches. A grand total of 117 inches have fallen this season, and now the resort is reporting sunshine and soft...

By Carol Sottili | January 4, 2008; 11:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bah, Humbus: The Ride From Hell

So we all know that flying is a trial. But there are worse ways to travel. My daughter flew in from college in St. Louis and the flight went like a charm. In less than four hours door-to-door she had traveled about 900 miles. She should have stopped while she...

By Carol Sottili | December 20, 2007; 01:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Dust Off the Skis and Snowboards!

The storm that just dumped a few inches on us was good to some of our area ski resorts. Many of them have already opened, or will open by Saturday. But who's got the best snow? Our top picks: * Wisp Resort in Western Maryland has had a foot of...

By Carol Sottili | December 6, 2007; 01:41 PM ET | Comments (0)

More Boarding Changes at Southwest

Southwest Airlines has taken more measures designed to attract the business traveler. But is the move going to negatively impact the average not-so-frequent traveler visiting Grandma for the weekend? Here's a rundown of the changes announced today: * A new Business Select fare, which costs $10 to $30 more per...

By Carol Sottili | November 7, 2007; 01:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

The California Fires: What's Happening Now

San Diego is trying to return to some semblance of normalcy, at least for tourists. While fires are still raging north, east and south of the city, the Santa Ana winds were expected to end today and more humid ocean air is supposed to start moving in. The mayor recently...

By John Deiner | October 25, 2007; 02:29 PM ET | Comments (0)

San Diego Fires: What Travelers Will See

The subject line in my friend Linda's email yesterday said it all: FIRE!!! "Here's what I woke up to at 2:30 a.m.," she wrote. "James called, 'Mom, you'd better get up. It's on its way." A photo accompanying the email showed a ridge of flames on the hill above her...

By Carol Sottili | October 24, 2007; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (1)

Maxjet's Rocky Relationship With Dulles

If the story in The Post's Business section today about Maxjet Airways suspending service from Washington Dulles to London Stansted evoked a bit of deja vu, the feeling was not misplaced. The discount all-business-class airline has ditched us before, only to come back a'courting. The Northern Virginia-based airline, which started...

By Carol Sottili | October 10, 2007; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (3)

Green Sans Greenbacks

So we all want to do our part to save the planet when traveling, right? We hang up our towels in the hotel and use them again. We turn out the hotel room lights upon leaving the room. We take advantage of any recycling program offered. Well, maybe we're a...

By Carol Sottili | October 9, 2007; 07:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

New Seating Policy Coming for Southwest

Anyone who has flown Southwest Airlines knows the drill. No seat assignments. You check in online as soon as you can -- 24 hours before the flight leaves -- because you want to be in the coveted A group. But if you can't do that, and wind up in the...

By Carol Sottili | September 21, 2007; 09:31 AM ET | Comments (15)

Travel Deals Requiring Fast Action

Several airlines are offering short-lived sales to Europe. Here are your choices: * United and Lufthansa (codeshare partners) have a sale to cities throughout Europe; last day to buy is tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 20). Fares are not dirt cheap from Washington (for example, it'll cost about $709 round trip to...

By Carol Sottili | September 19, 2007; 04:01 PM ET | Comments (2)

Hurricane Dean: What You Need to Know

Hurricane Dean is poised to become a Category 5 (the worst -- winds over 155 mph) hurricane before it slams into Mexico's Yucatan peninsula tomorrow morning. The resort areas of Jamaica and Grand Cayman were lucky. The storm passed to the south, and most resorts sustained only minimal damage. Most...

By Carol Sottili | August 20, 2007; 03:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Aer Lingus Pilots Call Off Strike

Good news for travelers going to Ireland this week: The pilots for Aer Lingus have decided not to stage a two-day walkout. Nonstop flights from Washington to Dublin that had been canceled are now on again. Only four flights remain canceled: On Tuesday, Flight 104 from New York to Dublin...

By Carol Sottili | August 20, 2007; 03:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

Air Travel May Not Be Fun, but It's Cheap

Flying to Phoenix, Cincinnati, Chicago? Even if you are stuck on the tarmac and your luggage gets lost, chances are it's costing you less this summer than last. Farecast.com, a Web site that not only searches for airfares, but also predicts whether they're going up, down or staying the same,...

By Carol Sottili | August 20, 2007; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (3)

Aer Lingus Fliers Beware

Attention everyone flying Aer Lingus next week. The pilots have announced a 48-hour strike, and the airline said it will cancel all of its flights on Tuesday (Aug. 21) and Wednesday (Aug. 22). Also, no flights will operate from Ireland to the United States on Thursday, Aug. 23, and there...

By Carol Sottili | August 16, 2007; 03:06 PM ET | Comments (1)

For Cruisers, Denim at Dinner

This could be the news a lot of cruisers -- or would-be cruisers -- have been waiting for. Norwegian Cruise Lines' new policy says that men can wear "nice" jeans at dinner and women can wear slacks or jeans (hmmm, I guess women inherently know "nice" from not-so-nice). Kids can...

By Carol Sottili | August 15, 2007; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (38)

Help a Beggar, Pay a Fine

Proposed legislation in the Indonesian city of Medan would fine people, including tourists, about $660 for giving money to beggars. The city of 2.5 million, Indonesia's third largest, has about 11,000 beggars, many of them children. On the face of it, the legislation seems mighty harsh. But city officials maintain...

By Carol Sottili | August 13, 2007; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (0)

Warm & Fuzzy Stories About Air Travel?

If you've flown at all this summer, chances are you've lived through a horror story, whether it be hours on the runway, lost luggage, surly employees, cancelled flights, etc. Even if you haven't traveled, your neighbor, friend, daughter, significant other, hairdresser has probably given you an earful about their flight-from-Hades...

By Carol Sottili | August 9, 2007; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

When Morons Go on Vacation

Just got back from a couple of weeks in Ocean City, Md. Had fun, but came home annoyed and sad about the behavior of a small minority of fellow vacationers. Here are just a few of the sights I witnessed: *A grown man of about 40 stomping on baby frogs...

By Carol Sottili | July 19, 2007; 03:50 PM ET | Comments (18)

Short-Lived Airline Deals

Airlines are more often than not offering sales with very short shelf lives. It's not uncommon for a sale to last for only a couple of days. Here are a few that will expire before the Travel section goes to press on Sunday. *Aer Lingus has a September sale on...

By Carol Sottili | July 10, 2007; 03:54 PM ET | Comments (2)

Honeymoons: Tried and New

Last year, we devoted almost an entire Travel section to honeymoon travel. It included a "Honeymoon-O-Matic" designed to match personalities with trips, a story about what's hot and what's not, a list of honeymoon resources, the Top 10 list from Modern Bride (with our alternative suggestions), etc. Most of...

By Carol Sottili | June 20, 2007; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (14)

Cruise Report: Carnival Liberty

Just returned from a six-night Western Caribbean cruise (Freeport, Bahamas; Grand Cayman; Costa Maya, Mexico) aboard the Carnival Liberty out of Fort Lauderdale with 10 family members, ranging in age from 19 to 83. Here are a few pros, cons and lessons learned. Positives: All gather for the "hairy chest"...

By Carol Sottili | June 14, 2007; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Canvassing Tony Soprano's Neighborhood

I visit North Caldwell, N.J., several tiimes a year to see my brother's sister and her husband. The town's claim to fame is the Sopranos. Tony S. and family live in North Caldwell in the show, and much of it is shot in the surrounding area. Staking out Tony's place...

By Carol Sottili | May 23, 2007; 10:52 AM ET | Comments (12)

Myrtle Beach Sans All-You-Can-Eat

My oldest child graduated last weekend from Coastal Carolina University, in Conway, S.C. just outside Myrtle Beach. We had a nice-size crowd coming in for the festivities (two aunts and one grandma from New Jersey; one uncle and one grandma from New York; and my husband, daughter and myself from...

By Carol Sottili | May 11, 2007; 09:14 AM ET | Comments (0)

Summer Sale: Fly to London

A rare summer sale to London has been announced, but act fast: Tickets must be purchased by midnight EDT on Thursday. British Airways is offering round-trip fares of $780, including taxes, from Washington Dulles or BWI to London Heathrow (fares on other airlines have decreased since the BA sale was...

By Carol Sottili | April 24, 2007; 12:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

Contrails Are Not Pretty

We all know we're polluting the environment when we get behind the wheel. Turns out we're also damaging the environment when we board a flight. And travel organizations are lining up with ideas to assuage our guilt. It started with small eco-conscious tour operators, but now such major players as...

By Carol Sottili | April 13, 2007; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Cheap Can Flying Get?

It's often occurred to me that it's cheaper to fly now than it was 30 years ago. I remember paying $99 each way on People Express to fly from LA to NY in the late 1970s, about the same price you'll get with a good sale today. My mother swears...

By Carol Sottili | April 11, 2007; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Lobby Music, Hyatt-Style

Hyatt is moving into the music business. It's the first hotel chain to sell its own collections of downloadable MP3 format music. The initial nine collections, which cost $22 each, are linked to two of its properties, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch in Arizona, and Hyatt...

By Carol Sottili | April 6, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Coming Soon: Dulles-to-Dublin Flights

Aer Lingus didn't waste any time in announcing that it will start new service between Dublin/Shannon and several U.S. cities, including Washington Dulles. On March 22, Europe's 27 transport ministers singed an "open skies" agreement in Brussels, which will open up flight routes between Europe and the United States, and...

By Carol Sottili | April 2, 2007; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (2)

Drop the Water Bottle!

Carnival Cruise Lines yesterday announced that it has changed its beverage policies. Passengers are no longer allowed to take nonalcoholic beverages onboard, including water. And they will now be limited to one bottle of wine per adult upon embarkation only. The new policy also warns that ship personnel will confiscate...

By Carol Sottili | March 30, 2007; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (23)

Spain for Sissies

Attention all travelers who like the concept of getting out of their comfort zone and traveling unescorted through foreign lands, but who stick with the tried-and-true because they don't want to maneuver through strange roads, languages, customs, etc. I have discovered the perfect destination. Think exotic enough that you won't...

By Carol Sottili | March 27, 2007; 01:23 PM ET | Comments (4)

Deals That Require Action

Short-lived deals are gaining popularity with airlines. Guess it's a good way to fill seats without commiting to long-term sale fares. They're often advertised only through the airline Web sites, or via e-mail to those who sign up for notifications. This week, discount airlines are pounding each other in the...

By Carol Sottili | March 22, 2007; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

Spirit Airline: No Free Bags (or Sodas)

Spirit Airlines deserves some sort of spin award for its latest press release, which notes, by the way, that it's going to start charging for checked luggage and beverages. The headline on the release reads, "GREAT NEWS! Spirit Airlines Lowers Fares, Many Up to 40%, and Now Gives Customers The...

By Carol Sottili | March 6, 2007; 03:22 PM ET | Comments (19)

Dulles Meltdown, Part Deux

My colleague Andrea wrote a fun blog item on Feb. 22 -- "Dulles Meltdown" -- about how the Disrict of Columbia Parking Associates guys helped extricate her car from a glacier in the economy parking lot at Dulles. Here's my own snowed-in-at-the-Dulles-economy-lot saga: Have scraper? Will travel. (AP Photo, Chris...

By Carol Sottili | March 2, 2007; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Ooh La La

Air France is launching new daytime flights from JFK to Paris beginning May 1, and is offering a very good sale fare on those flights. The daily nonstop leaves New York at 7:50 a.m. (gets into Paris at 9 p.m.), so you'll either have to get up at 0-dark-30 to...

By Carol Sottili | March 1, 2007; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Three London Airports in Three Days

I recently arrived at London Heathrow on a Saturday, flew out of Gatwick on the same day, flew back into Stansted three days later, and then went back to Heathrow to get home. Whew. Some quick impressions and observations: Heathrow: Know which terminal you're in before you go --...

By Carol Sottili | February 23, 2007; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (15)

Wednesday Deals: Part II

Hot off the presses: British Airways just announced a three-day sale. Fly from Washington Dulles or Baltimore for $298 plus $158 taxes. That's a grand total of $456. You have to fly Feb. 28-March 25 on Monday-Wednesday to get the cheapest fares, and you have to stay over a Saturday...

By Carol Sottili | February 21, 2007; 03:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

Wednesday Deals!

We have a few quick deals this week. Airtran is offering a two-day sale that expires tomorrow. Fares start at $39 each way plus taxes from BWI to Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Dayton, Ohio; and Rochester, N.Y. Rules include 10-day advance purchase and travel by May 23 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or...

By Carol Sottili | February 21, 2007; 01:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

Why is It Snowing in London? (And I'm Not Talking About London, Ontario)

So what do you think my chances are of flying into London's Heathrow (I'm leaving tomorrow) and then transferring across town to Gatwick to catch a flight to Spain now that six inches of snow have fallen there? One London newspaper headline reads, "Commuters Endure Travel Chaos as Snow Falls."...

By Carol Sottili | February 8, 2007; 02:35 PM ET | Comments (11)

Two Short-Lived Airfare Deals

Here are two deals that expire before we can get them into the paper: * JetBlue has a coast-to-coast sale: $99 each way (about $219 round trip with taxes) from Washington Dulles to three cities in California: San Diego, Oakland and Long Beach. But you have to buy no later...

By Carol Sottili | February 7, 2007; 03:21 PM ET | Comments (0)

Pecked to Death by a Duck

Will airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and the like ever run out of creative ways to squeeze another dollar out of us? The latest is Spirit Airlines: The discount carrier announced that, starting Feb. 10, each passenger will be allowed only one piece of checked luggage; a second bag will...

By Carol Sottili | February 6, 2007; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (7)

Deals to Go

Deals with short shelf lives include: * Cheapcaribbean.com has a deal on a five-night all-inclusive vacation to the Dominican Republic. Price starts at $577 per person double including airfare from Washington for travel April 10-Dec. 22. But you have to book it by Feb. 7. Deal includes travel insurance. Priced...

By Carol Sottili | February 1, 2007; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

Chardonnay Anyone?

I called Carnival recently about booking a Caribbean cruise, and the reservationist told me I could bring my own wine aboard. Wow. Those really are Fun Ships. I'd always thought carting any of your own spirits onboard ship was verboten, but she assured me that a "reasonable" amount of wine...

By Carol Sottili | January 29, 2007; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (14)

Spirit Air Strikes Again

Spirit Airlines announced its third new destination from Fort Lauderdale in the last week -- San Jose, Costa Rica (Haiti and St. Maarten earlier this week). It's offering 8-cent fares each way on certain dates, but they sell out within a few hours. Plus fares out are good April...

By Carol Sottili | January 24, 2007; 03:36 PM ET | Comments (7)

Now You See Them....

Two 48-hour airline sales to take a look at. Airtran's systemwide sale ended Jan. 18, but it's back for an encore. You have until midnight tomorrow to book the sale; fares start at $39 each way (plus taxes) from Baltimore to Boston or Rochester. You have to travel by March...

By Carol Sottili | January 24, 2007; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (7)

New Kid on the Block

Two items to discuss today. First, Farecast.com, one of those beta sites that not only searches airline ticket prices, but also predicts whether price is going up, down or staying the same over the next week, launched a new product today called Fareguard. Basically, you search for your flight (not...

By Carol Sottili | January 22, 2007; 01:11 PM ET | Comments (5)

Haitian Vacation?

Spirit Air announced Thursday that it's going to start flying to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from Fort Lauderdale starting March 22. And to sweeten the pot, it's offering 5-cent fares. It's a bit of a tease, because only a few dates are available at those rates. And when you add the taxes,...

By Carol Sottili | January 19, 2007; 03:02 PM ET | Comments (3)

Get 'Em While They're Hot

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...

By Carol Sottili | January 17, 2007; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

Blogger Profile: Carol Sottili

Deals maven Carol Sottili, aka "Our Fare Lady," has turned pale and squinty-eyed from spending too many hours working the computer, the phones and a calculator in search of true travel bargains. When she manages to wrest her fingers from the keyboard, Carol concentrates her research skills on birding and...

By | December 8, 2006; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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