March 24, 2009

A Flight, a Hotel and a Rental Car for Under 10 Bucks - myth steals?

We’ve all heard someone’s friend of a friend’s telling about a great travel deal. I’ve always thought it’s an urban legend. Having traveled to more than 100 cities, worldwide, I hardly had any special deals; maybe a 20-dollar off here and there, but not a deal-to-die-for. I’m not saying that they do not exist, but mostly they come at our own surprise, when we least expected – like a business class upgrade on a flight from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles (a 15 min. flight), or something of the sort. Nonetheless, every time I hear of some travel service provider’s offering a deal to “get while it’s hot,” I go and check if it is actually a legitimate true one that is worth my attention. Often, it is not.

For example, just recently one of my friends, knowing that I’m searching for a good airfare from Washington, DC to Houston, TX, sends me a link from Travelocity.com. The link said “a round-trip from DC to Houston, only $129”, or something similar in the nature. Again, I was very skeptical of it from the beginning, but I clicked on the link anyway. It did take me to the Travelocity.com page, and there was a deal, only it was not from DC to Houston, it was one-way from Houston to DC. So, I wondered, is it a typo on the travelocity’s part, or it’s a done-on-purpose promo to attract to the company’s site?
The question is still open; that’s why I decided to look around and explore those “super-duper” and “super-cheap” travel deals that lure us into believing we are getting something of a great value, when, in truth, what we get is a promo page with a regular travel fare. Are these juicy travel promotions too good to be true? Or is it just another scam? In today’s hard times, I’m sure travel providers are willing to give away and decrease prices on travel accommodations. However, they are still minimal, and if they do offer a big discount, most likely it comes with very big restrictions that would not work for you any way.

The best, most effective, fastest and cheapest way to find out how many of those “special deals” are being offered to us on a daily basis, is to Google “special travel deals” and/or “cheap travel deals.” Thousands of Internet entry results will come up, and Travelzoo is always a part of that “list.” With Travelzoo I, and many other people I know, have a love-hate relationship. We love learning about cheap deals, but we hate to learn about all the restrictions that apply. Two days ago, one could fly awesome Virgin Atlantic airlines from DC to London for $169 one-way fare, which still comes to a fare much cheaper than usually. However, the deal lasted only two days with days and times restrictions.

Obviously, we will question super cheap travel promotions, because most of the times they sound too good to be true.


MegaBus: $1 one-way tickets
Truth or Dare: True - if you buy these tickets way in advance, you get them for a dollar, which many do anyway, because even if you buy for every weekend for a month, you are still much better off than getting a $25 one-way ticket a night before. There is hardly anything negative to say about the bus. According to my friends who use it on a regular basis, they are clean, comfortable, free Wi-Fi and usually make it in time promised (From DC to New York – 4 hrs. ride, with traffic can be six – but so is by car.)
Bolt Bus: $1 one-way tickets
Truth or Dare: True – as with MegaBus, one needs to book one-dollar tickets weeks in advance, because there are very few seats at this price on each bus. It also offers free Wi-Fi and enough of legroom for your comfort.
Spirit Airlines: $9 one-way flights Truth or Dare: True – they do offer it. Dare – one must join Spirit Airlines’ $9 Fare Club to get exclusive access to low, member-only fares at spiritair.com, which costs $39.95 per year. The only people I know this deals is a jewel are the ones who often fly to/from Fort Lauderdale, a Spirit’s gateway. For other destinations, it’s hard to find. The $9 Fare Club members also receive at least $9 off each way on any flight.

EasyCruise: $50 per-night cruises
Truth or Dare: Dare – this is one of the deals we all hear about and come to face from numerous online and offline promotions – travel providers that offer ridiculously low rates for a cruise. What it all comes down to is that what you are paying for is for a place to sleep – often small, on the bottom of a ship (which means – no windows.) But, what we buy into is not just the price, it’s the promo that comes with it: “the perfect holiday for independently minded people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s," screams the easyCruise website.

EasyCruise says that even though the cabins may be small and no frills of any kind comes with it, the base price is low and the cruise ship will drop you off at a different island each day with plenty of time to see the sights and enjoy the nightlife. And while on a ship, who cares about standing in a room, there are plenty of activities: from hot-tubbing, pooling, and drinking to dancing.

Here is what you get for this rate in reality: tiny cabins (only 65 square feet), no windows, $20 meals, sound-NOT-proof and non-user-friendly bathrooms, flat pillows, a few hooks and hangers for clothing and towels, and some shelf space for your baggage. It’s a very modest cruise (amenities- and accommodations-wise) and not a very modest cruise (bathroom translucency-wise.)

Ryanair: $19.99 round-trip flights
Truth or Dare: for the most part, it’s true – you can fly from one European city to the other for a mere $19.99; however, in most instances these airports, like Paris’ Beauvais (BVA) and Rome’s Ciampino (CIA), are located very far from the city (farther than any other city’s airports), which comes at disadvantage as often public transportation, carter buses, and taxi are limited to the destination. One would have to rely either on someone who can pick them up (a family member and/or a friend) or make a pick-up reservation before the flight.

Dare: if you don’t mind either a very early-bird flight or a very late-owl flight, and you have someone with a car to meet you at an airport, Ryanair then might be one of the best European airfare sites there for you that would allow you to book as close to a departure day as a night before. You should also be willing to accept Ryanair’s terms: only one carry-on, including your purse, without paying for checked baggage; a fee for airport check-in if you don't have an E.U. passport, the deal can be fabulous, especially when you hit the sales.

Enterprise: $10 per day car rentals
Truth or Dare: Dare - pickups are at non-airport locations, and the rental has to include a Friday to Monday only. The $10 rate is also mostly restricted to small cities. Same on Alamo: if I rent a car in College Station, TX – it’d cost me 10 bucks, if I rent a car in Philadelphia, it’s already 26 bucks. True - still, the deal is very easy to get where it's available.

The Hoxton Hotel: £1 rooms (or approximately $1.50)
Truth or Dare: Starting October 31, 2008, at 12 noon (7am New York Time), 500 rooms at £1 and 500 rooms £29 rates at the Hoxton were up for grabs on their website. The £1 deal was only available for 3 months: between November 1, 2008 – January 31, 2009.

Dare: this is not the first time The Hoxton Hotel offered the deal. Last July, when it offered the promotion, all 1,000 rooms were sold within 11 minutes. Moreover, to be fare, they only allowed to book one room for one night at a £1 deal. And that makes sense since the London hotel's rooms normally cost up to $300 a night.
I am also looking for a great deal. I'm not a coupon collector, so I won't be checking coupons online for Costco or Whole Foods, but if you hear anything on travel deals, please let me know at: lisusha@yahoo.com

1 comment:

ken said...

Anyone know a good coupon from enterprise.com?