December 3, 2003 -- Don't have any vacation days between now and Christmas? You can still get in a quick visit to New York during the city's glittery holiday festivities -- and save a chunk on your holiday shopping.
The quickie weekend fares come from US Airways, and they're an oddball bunch. You must fly to New York on a Saturday in December and fly back either that day or the next day. Fortunately, the fares are into LaGuardia, New York's smallest and closest-to-Manhattan airport. Fares include (roundtrip, before $20 or so in taxes):
- From Boston or Washington Reagan: $98
- From Albany, Norfolk or Pittsburgh: $138
- From Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale or Raleigh/Durham: $158
- From Dallas or Kansas City: $198
To sweeten the deal, they'll give you a 15 percent discount on purchases at Macy's if you present your ticket at the Macy's Visitor Center in the "world's largest department store" on 34th Street in Manhattan.
These fares are a terrific deal for folks from Boston, Washington, Norfolk, Raleigh and Pittsburgh; they beat train fares (the Chinatown buses are still much cheaper) and the flights are short enough to make the fly-by visit worthwhile.
Make sure to check other airlines' Web sites before buying, though. We found slightly lower fares from Newport News (for Norfolk) on AirTran (www.airtran.com) and from Fort Lauderdale on Spirit (www.spiritair.com) -- though those airlines don't offer the 15-percent-off gift certificate at Macy's.
To get these fares, buy them by Friday, December 5 at www.usairways.com/nycholiday.
More, More, More NYC Discounts!
If you're flying into NYC to shop -- or if you live in the Big Apple -- you'll want to print out NYC and Company's Paint The Town Savings Card at www.nycvisit.com/content/index.cfm?pagePkey=836. Combined with an American Express credit card, it gives you discounts on literally dozens of New York shops and attractions from Dec. 15 all the way through March. Some of the tastier deals include:
- A free tote bag if you spend $50 at Macy's (yes, this is combinable with the US Airways 15-percent-off deal)
- "Complimentary gifts" for spending $50 at B&H Photo, J&R Music and Computer World, or Century 21, which is where you should be shopping for cameras, computer equipment and discount designer clothing anyway.
- Two-for-one Circle Line cruises around Manhattan. Bring earmuffs, because it'll be cold, but it'll still be beautiful.
- 15-20% discounts on a slew of other tours, from trips around Harlem to tours of sites where well-known movies and TV shows were filmed
- Two-for-one admissions at the notoriously expensive Guggenheim Museum
What's best is, this is all free! You just have to bring a printout of the discount card and use an American Express card to buy your stuff. Get the card and look at the long, long list of discounts at www.nycvisit.com/content/index.cfm?pagepkey=647.