For a nearly immediate getaway -- from two weeks to two months -- there are several airlines and packagers that are offering special rates to Germany as winter struggles to turn to spring and bulbs force their green fronds up through the melting snow.
Continental (tel. 800/231-0856; www.continental.com) has a last-minute fare sale to select cities in Germany priced from $189 one-way. In terms of restrictions, there's a seven-day advance purchase requirement and your travel must start by March 30 and include a Saturday night stay. Travel must be completed by May 23. Sample prices include Newark to Frankfurt, Berlin or Hamburg from $189 one way; Ft. Lauderdale to Cologne from $266; San Diego to Cologne from $316; Providence to Berlin from $241; Chicago to Cologne from $266; and Las Vegas or Los Angeles to Cologne from $318. There are no blackout dates, but the fares are only valid based on round-trip purchases.
Emirates Airlines (tel. 800/777-3999; www.emirates.com/usa) has round-trip airfare available to Hamburg form New York for under $400 from New York-JFK for a limited time. You must purchase by tomorrow, March 13 for travel. The outbound travel must start by March 30, and there is a minimum stay requirement of one Sunday night but you can stay no longer than a month. The actual fare is $198 but with taxes and fuel surcharges it totals about $387. The airline is the only one to offer nonstop service to Hamburg from New York, and the flight includes meals, complimentary wine and spirits, and over 600 channels of in-flight entertainment.
Intratours (tel. 866/952-0660; www.intratours.com) has a special on round-trip airfare to Europe, including Frankfurt from $309, Munich from $369, Berlin from $353. It's important, however, to note that the company's prices are dynamic and frequently change to reflect the lowest price airfare possible. For example, when assembling this story the lowest price of airfare to Frankfurt was from Boston, New York or Washington, D.C., for $309. Berlin was priced from $353 from Boston and New York and Munich from $369 from all of the aforementioned U.S. departure dates, but also including L.A. The prices are good for travel through March 31, during low season and include all fees and fuel surcharges; taxes are additional. The prices are also based on midweek round-trip fares with a minimum stay of Saturday night. If you can't go immediately, the mid-range price bracket starts April 1 and runs through May 17.
United (tel. 800/UNITED: www.united.com) is running a sale to Frankfurt and Munich, but you must book by March 14 for departures April 1 through May 10; all travel must be complete by May 17 and must take place during off-peak days of the week (Monday through Thursdays). There are some blackout dates, and some restrictions, but sample one-way fares include New York to Frankfurt from $219; Houston to Frankfurt $275; Washington, D.C. to Munich $322; Boston to Munich from $317.
For a long weekend, Picasso Tours (tel. 800/995-7997; www.picassotours.com) has a sale on Munich, for a three-night, four-day getaway with airfare, starting from $474 for economy airfare from New York-JFK. The promotion is based on midweek Thursday departures through March 31. Accommodations are at the three-star Germania Hotel. Or select a fly-drive special that departs from New York-JFK or Boston to Frankfurt from $479 -- a price that does not include air taxes of up to $289 per person. You get a week with a rental car and economy airfare. The price is based on midweek departures, valid for travel through March 31. Other dates might be available but the prices will be higher. Depart from Philadelphia for an additional $30, Atlanta for $80 more, or L.A. for $125 additional.
Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has an independent special to Munich for five days, starting from $849 for travel April 5 and May 10; departures in the summer fetch much higher prices. As usual, for European specials it is based on New York departures. The price includes daily breakfast, four nights' accommodations in a four-star hotel and airline fuel surcharges; taxes and fees are not included.
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