Travelers interested in Asia, take heed. For its deal of the month for July, Cathay Pacific Airways (tel. 888/962-6688; www.cathaypacific.com/us) is offering round-trip flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York to either Bangkok or Singapore, starting from $926. The lowest advertised price reflects departures Monday-Thursday from Los Angeles or San Francisco to either Bangkok or Singapore; flights from New York on those same departure days start from $976.
The price is valid for outbound travel from September 1 through November 30 for economy class fares and do not include government taxes, surcharges and fees of approximately an additional $84-$115; they do, however, include fuel surcharges. The booking deadline is July 31, unless the flights sell out before that point. Departures from San Francisco or Los Angeles on Friday through Sunday start from $976, whereas New York departures on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays start from $1,026. The promotion also includes unlimited free stopovers in Hong Kong and requires no minimum stay; the maximum stay is 30 days.
Why might one travel to either of these destinations? Despite its increasing Westernization, which is something you could probably say about many populous Asian destinations, Singapore is complex and unique, with architecture that blends different cultures and a hybridized language locals use that incorporates Chinese grammar, the English language, Malay phrases, and Hokkein slang. Forts, cathedrals, mosques, museums, gardens, and other cultural attractions to keep you busy. Bangkok is teeming with 10 million people, and it's home to growth, pollution, monorails, new, large buildings and condos. Beyond the influx of West into the East, Bangkok is rife with temples, museums, great cuisine, and examples of Buddhist life.
Cathay Pacific does not have any new or oppressive rules about baggage. Like most airlines in recent years, Cathay Pacific imposes weight limits of 50 pounds per bag per two bags for economy class flights. But the seats for all three classes have recently been redesigned with more room, better spinal support, and are now equipped with a nine-inch personal television screen, among other amenities. The airline prides itself on having the "Best Chinese Food in the Sky," but let's face it, if it's edible and tastes halfway decent, most passengers are happy.
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