January 16, 2003 -- Whether you're a beachcomber or an ice queen, there's an international deal out there for you right now. We understand why Ireland, Iceland and Scandinavia would be looking for travelers during these frigid months -- but the great fare we found to Australia is as surprising as a February heat wave.
Quantify This: NYC-Australia For $1,198, LA-Australia for $898
We expect this deal to sell out very, very quickly. As we write this in New York, the current temperature is 11°F with a wind chill around -5°F. Today's weather in Sydney, meanwhile, is a balmy 81°. Where would you rather be?
Qantas says their current $1,198 (plus tax) special joining the two cities is almost 50% off their usual winter fares; we think anything below $1,500 for this route is a fabulous deal, especially during high season. To get this fare, you must fly on a Wednesday, Friday or Sunday between Jan. 28 and Feb. 29, and book as soon as you humanly can. There's a seven-day minimum stay and a one-month maximum stay, and no changes are permitted, period. Look good? Buy it online at www.qantasusa.com/webDeals/137.
West Coasters have it pretty good, too, with Qantas' $898 LA-Sydney sale fare. Once more, this applies to flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays; other flights are $998 roundtrip. This fare is excellent. You must book by Jan. 23 for travel between Jan. 28 and Feb. 29. There's a seven-day minimum stay and a one-month maximum stay, and no changes are permitted. Buy this fare online at www.qantasusa.com/webDeals/101.
Erin Go Cheaply to Ireland
Ireland is cold and wet right now (about 40°F), but the way we see it, that makes winter a perfect time to test the Emerald Isle's welcoming pub culture. Down a few Guinness, and you'll be treated like family from Wexford to Limerick.
Aer Lingus has excellent fares for trips between now and Feb. 29. Flights from Baltimore, Boston, Chicago or New York to either Shannon or Dublin are $198 roundtrip; flights from LA are $298 roundtrip. (Add $100 or so tax to all of those figures for the final price you'll pay.)
For all of these flights, you must stay either at least four days or over a Saturday night, but stay no more than a month. Expect fares on weekends to be at least $40 more than the above. If you like what you see, you must book your fares online by going to www.aerlingus.com, clicking on "From the USA" and then "Promotions."
One Free, Freezing Hotel Night in Iceland
We love Iceland, but it's pretty cold and dark there right now. Still, there's a mystical romance to immersing yourself in the steaming waters of the Blue Lagoon when the mercury hovers around freezing, to bundling yourself up before a thundering waterfall, and to raging against the dying of the light with tens of thousands of partying Reykjavikers on a weekend.
Right now, Icelandair is offering a "free" night in Iceland for hardy souls willing to stop over there on a trip to Europe before the end of February -- as long as you book by the end of January. There are catches to this deal, of course: you have to pay $26 for the roundtrip bus to and from the airport, the hotel they put you in (while pleasant) isn't in downtown Reykjavik, and you can't get the deal with Icelandair's lowest Web fares. Still, this might come in handy, especially if the lowest Web fares are sold out. Additional nights (up to a total of seven) are a reasonable $80 per two-person room. If you want the free hotel deal, book your ticket over the phone at 800/223-5500 x 2.
Even lower fares are available through Icelandair's "Share the Air" companion fare deal. If you're two people traveling together, you can shrink the per-person price to Reykjavik down to $214 (plus the usual $100 tax), the price from Boston, Minneapolis and Orlando to other destinations listed below to $222 (plus tax) and the price from Baltimore to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, London or Glasgow to $222 (plus tax). You must book this fare by phone at (800) 223-5500 x 2. Book by Jan. 30, fly by Feb. 29, and stay over a Saturday night for these fares. You can stop over in Iceland for up to seven days (without the free hotel deal) on these fares or on the Web fares below.
Compare all of those prices, though, with other airlines and with Icelandair's own Web fares. The airline's current "lucky fares" are on sale through Tuesday, January 20 and are a flat $249 plus tax roundtrip to and from the following US and European cities:
- Flights depart out of: Baltimore, Boston, Minneapolis, Orlando
And fly to: Reykjavik, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Glasgow, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo
You'll need to fly by Feb. 29 and stay over a Saturday night, but no longer than 30 days. The fares look great to us. If they look just as good to you, book them online at www.icelandair.com. You'll need to sign up for the Lucky Fares mailings to see and book at these prices; but don't worry, that doesn't cost a dime.