The Brancatelli File By Joe Brancatelli
HOME    E-MAIL JOE    PRINT    SEND A LINK     2014 COLUMNS     JOE'S ARCHIVES     SEARCH
Forget the Turkey, It's Travel Bargains Time
November 27, 2014 -- We should all be relaxing, thinking about a turkey sandwich and maybe spending some quality time with friends and family.

But, no-o-o-o-o-o-o! Retailers desperate to get the jump on holiday shoppers are luring Americans to malls and big-box stores around the nation. So Black Friday (November 28) has morphed into Thursday-Night Something-Or-Other. And on Monday (December 1), online retailers will chime in with their Cyber Monday deals.

The travel industry is slowly getting into the holiday-marketing game, too. That's why I'm here and(I hope) you are reading. Airlines, hotels, car-rental firms and other travel markets are offering a raft of supposed deals between now and the day after Cyber Monday. Some of the deals are quite good, some are not too good, some are ridiculously complicated and some others remain unknown as of 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

But here's a list of some of the more interesting bargains I've found (or expect to see) in the next few days. Some are already available to book, some require you wait until at least 12:01 a.m. tomorrow and still others won't be unveiled until Cyber Monday.

So make yourself a sandwich or grab another slice of pie, get your mouse (or your finger) primed, and see if there's something worth booking from the list below. I'll keep updating this page as more deals come in. (This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, at 11:30 a.m. ET.)

LODGING
ACCOR HOTELS
Accor's offer for its members of its (free) LeClub frequency plan: 40 percent off room rates and free breakfast at 2,200 hotels between December 15 and February 8. Some properties in Europe allow stays until as late as April 13. Reservations must be prepaid, are nonrefundable and must be booked no later than Black Friday, November 28. All the relevant details are here.

DIVI RESORTS
The seven Divi Resorts in the Caribbean are offering 40-55 percent off nightly rates if you book by December 1. The travel windows are April 18-June 30 and August 15-December 15. Rates require prepayment and there are blackout dates and capacity controls. Full details are here.

HILTON HOTELS
Hilton properties in Latin America and the Caribbean offer rates as low as $89 a night. They are also offering a folio credit of $50 for food, beverage and other expenses for each night stayed. In typical Hilton fashion, however, there seems to be no information about the travel window or the required booking date. There is a list of participating properties, but approach this one with more than the usual caution. Check carefully against other available rates. More information is here.

HOWARD JOHNSON HOTELS
This one stretches the bounds of common sense--not to mention raising the question of whether you even want to bother with Howard Johnson. The chain claims it will offer 50 percent off rooms rates on "Orange Wednesday" (December 3), but only if you call one of the 40 participating hotels directly and only if you are one of the first five to call each property. Stays must be completed by March 3 and there are blackout days, too. Click here for details--if you're still interested.

KIMPTON HOTELS
The boutique chain is promising "up to 20 percent off at participating hotels" if you book by December 2. Kimpton will also donate $5 to The Trevor Project for each booking. The travel window is open until March 1, but reservations must be prepaid and are nonrefundable. Full information is here.

LOEWS HOTELS
With the exception of its Orlando properties, Loews Hotels is offering 20 percent off any available room when you book on Cyber Monday. Click here for details.

MARRIOTT HOTELS
Hundreds of Marriott-affiliated hotels and resorts in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America are offering 30 percent off rates when you book on Cyber Monday. Rates are discounted by as much as 50 percent on some hotels and as much as 60 percent at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. A two-night, nonrefundable stay is required. The travel window is January 1 to February 28 and must include a Friday- or Saturday-night stay at hotels. Details and the extensive fine print are here.

OMNI HOTELS
Omni hotels around the nation are offering reduced rates (from $89-$199 a night) when you book by December 1. The travel window for the so-called Season of Savings sale extends until January 31. Blackout dates apply. Surf to here for details.

PACIFICA HOTELS
Pacifica Hotels, a chain of 18 beachside properties in California, is offering 40 percent off room rates booked on Cyber Monday. Rates start as low as $75 a night for stays until March 12. There are blackout dates and exclusions. Surf here for details.

RED ROOF INN
On its Facebook page, Red Roof says it will be offering rooms discounted by as much as 30 percent if you book on Cyber Monday. The travel dates are December 1 to March 31. Click here for details.

SONESTA HOTELS
On Cyber Monday, Sonesta Hotels will offer 15-25 percent off two-day stays at eight of its traditional hotels and all of its ES Suites extended-stay properties. The travel window is December 1 to March 31. More details are here.

STARWOOD HOTELS
Several hundreds Starwood properties in North and Latin America are offering as much as 30 percent off the prevailing lowest prepaid rate when you complete reservations by December 7. The travel window is open until February 1 for hotels and April 15 for resorts. The prepaid rates are nonrefundable and reservations can't be changed after booking. Blackout dates and capacity controls apply. Click here for details.

TRUMP HOTELS
Trump Hotels Collection is offering 30 percent off suite accommodations between January 1 and March 31 if you book between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Click here for the details.

OMNIBUS LODGINGS
AMERICAN EXPRESS
American Express' travel-agent division is posting three days of what it claims are exclusive deals at affiliated hotels. The prevailing offers seem to be in the 10-20 percent range. The deals you can book on Monday are already posted, but not those that will be available to book on Tuesday (December 2) and Wednesday (December 3). It seems that the deals are valid for travel until January 31. Click here for details.

'DIAMOND' HOTELS
A Miami-based public relations firm has lashed together the deals offered by nearly two dozen of its lodging clients for Cyber Monday booking. The clients are mostly in Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean, but there are several in Europe, too. Some properties are branded, some are independents. Ignore the claim of "up to 75 percent off" and concentrate on the specifics of each property's deal. Further information is here.

STASH REWARDS
Stash Rewards, an independent lodging loyalty program, is promoting the deals offered by 30 of its participating properties. Although we know the names of hotels and resorts involved, there are no details of the sales until Cyber Monday, however. Click here for information.

CAR RENTAL
HERTZ
The Hertz holiday deals are bookable now through December 1. The promise is 20 percent off weekly or weekend rentals and 25 percent off prepaid rentals. The travel window, albeit with undisclosed date and location blackouts, is December 1 through January 15. The discount is valid in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Click here for complete details.

AIRLINES
AIR BERLIN
Air Berlin's Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale prices start at $499 roundtrip for coach flights to Copenhagen or Stockholm (from New York) and Berlin (from Chicago). Other fares include $599 (New York to Berlin), $699 (Chicago to Copenhagen) and $799 (Miami to Zurich or Dusseldorf). The travel window is January 12 to March 22. A Saturday-night stay is required. Tickets must be booked by December 2. Complete details are here.

AIR CANADA
Air Canada has posted a wide range of fares that it says represent a "better than Black Friday" sale. Travel dates are January 5 to February 12 when you fly Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Sample one-way fares: Toronto-Winnipeg for C$204 one way; Vancouver-Ottawa for C$290 one-way; and Montreal-Calgary for C$281 one-way. Tickets must be purchased by the end of the day on Black Friday. More fares and conditions are here.

AIR NEW ZEALAND
Air New Zealand is almost sure to have some holiday offers, but we don't even know if it'll be Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You might check with the airline's U.S. Twitter feed for details.

ALASKA AIRLINES
Alaska Airlines promises a spread of Cyber Monday deals, but there are no details until the sale goes live. Click here for details.

CATHAY PACIFIC
This year's most notable offer: Roundtrip coach fares to Hong Kong for as little as $829 from all of Cathay Pacific's U.S. gateways. Flights to destinations around Asia are available for about $100-$200 more. The travel window is February 25 to May 14 when you purchase seats by December 5. Click here for details.

FIJI AIRWAYS
If you thought you'd like to go to Fiji, this might be the time. (Although, beware: the place is nowhere as good as your imagination and it's a military dictatorship for most of the last decade, too.) Still, Cyber Monday deals knock coach fares from Los Angeles down to $899 roundtrip for many dates in February and March. It's $100 less from Honolulu. Surf here for details.

LAN
LAN pricing in the Latin American market is always a mystery during regular times, so it's ridiculous to try to guess at what will be on offer on Cyber Monday. And there are no details until then, either. Click here for details.

PORTER AIRLINES
Porter Airlines, based at Toronto/City Island, promises Black Friday discounts of as much as 60 percent--and then promptly takes most of the offer back in the terms and conditions. Transborder flights may be exempt, there are blackout dates and a laundry list of exclusions and exemptions. The travel period is wide enough (until February 26), but you must book on Black Friday. Complete details are here.

VIRGIN AMERICA
Virgin America has posted Black Friday sale fares as low as $49 one-way for California Corridor flights and $149 one-way for transcontinental flights. Tickets must be purchased by 5 p.m. Pacific time on Black Friday (November 28). Travel is permitted midweek between December 16 and March 4. However, the fares don't look that much better than "standard" sales for Jan/February travel, so book accordingly. Click here for complete details.

WESTJET
Although the fares don't seem eye-poppingly great, WestJet has put huge chunks of its network on sale until December 1. Travel is permitted between January 5 and February 12 although there are restrictions. Sample fares: C$220.63 one-way between Calgary and Toronto; C$199.58 between Montreal and Fort Lauderdale; and C$152.66 between Toronto and Bermuda. Click here for full details.

RAILROAD
RAIL EUROPE
A U.S. based marketer of European rail tickets and passes, Rail Europe is promising both Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Word's out that the best bargain will be $100 off a Eurail Global Pass. But you'll have to join the mailing list to get the Friday offers. The Monday offers will probably appear on the Rail Europe site.

This column is Copyright 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.