Mar052008

Spring Break or Spring Broke?

An article appeared today in PR Newswire for Journalists, Economy Foreclosing on Spring Break?, based on a survey by AccessAmerica, a travel insurance company. “Access America survey finds half of American families scaling back spring break plans…or forgoing their vacations altogether”

The not-so-surprising conclusion of the data is poorer families are cutting back on vacation spending this March 2008. The website says the full report is available upon request.

My observation, as someone who has traveled nearly every Easter to Europe for the past ten years, is airfare to Europe is dirt cheap right now for long-haul travel this Spring 2008. The fares are comparable or lower than commonly available fares at Easter time since 2000. Airfare is probably near a record low right now for purchasing trans-Atlantic travel in just 14 days or so from today.

I have seen fares from Monterey, San Francisco, and Los Angeles hovering around $500 all-in to Frankfurt and London. The fare was $541 Monterey to Frankfurt last week, 21 days before Easter travel. I think that airfare has to be near the record low over the past five years for a ticket purchase from Monterey this close to Easter. There were flights costing less from Monterey to Europe than San Francisco to Europe. The flights route from Monterey to San Francisco and then on to Europe. $100/barrel oil doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on airfare prices.

I commented a couple of months ago that trans-Atlantic travel was down 2006 to 2007 year-over-year. American Airlines reports February passenger loads have increased to Europe. The low prices are getting people across the ocean, but are you prepared for the $7.00 Coca-Cola and $18 fishs & chips pub tab?

Hotel Tips from the Loyalty Traveler –
Planning a Spring Break European hotel stay?

Here are links to some of the best hotel opportunities for a lower-cost trip. I provide a hotel sample, but there are many choices of hotels and locations offering these reduced hotel stay awards. And there is good news for those of you not banking enough points at the moment for a free hotel stay this Spring trip. Hotel points can be purchased and there is a possibility you can save money by just purchasing the hotel points you need to book a free hotel stay.

Hilton Point Stretchers and London.

Hilton London Canary Wharf has PointStretcher dates from March 16-28 and May 1-7. This 40,000 HHonors point/night Category 6 hotel can be booked for 24,000/points/night with an HHonors Point Stretcher reservation.

HHonors members can buy 40,000 HHonors points in a calendar year. Purchases of 10,000 points reduce the price to $10/1,000 points.

Hilton London Canary Wharf can be booked for 24,000 points. If you don’t already have the points, you can buy 24,000 points for $240.

March 20, 2008 rate check of Hilton London Canary Wharf
The nightly rate ranges from $454 low to $500+ for most rooms. This would be a high value use of a PointStretcher night, if you could get a reservation. In contrast, the Friday night rate at the London Canary Wharf is under $175/night.
S
ample trip for a couple: Each person purchase 24,000 Hilton HHonors points and redeem for one free Point Stretcher night ($480 total cost). Pay for two weekend nights when rates drop to about $175/night from the $400 to $500 midweek rates. Friday and Saturday night will cost $350. Four nights at the Hilton Canary Wharf London for a little over $200/night.

Other HHonors Point Stretcher hotel opportunities

Marriott PointSavers
Marriott has several UK hotel properties available for Spring break trips at reduced points rates.

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club PointBreaks

These awards are an unbeatable deal if you have a trip to a hotel location where IHG Priority Club is offering a PointBreaks award. The cost is only 5,000 points per night. Priority Club members can purchase 10,000 points for $100, up to 20,000 points per calendar year.

Sample Award night:
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Caserta, Italy (near Naples)
March 19-21, 2008 for 10,000 points (=$100 for 2-night stay)
Paid rate for a 2-night stay March 19-21, 2008 = 77EUR/night or $230 for 2-night stay.

Another incredible deal with IHG Priority Club is their Pay 2 Nights, Get 1 Free offer. Dozens of hotels in Europe are participating this Spring season. Check the link and search for a hotel.
Naples, Italy Holiday Inn for March 19-21 is only 45EUR/night. That is a budget saver.
If you are lucky you may save hundreds of dollars between this offer and a PointBreaks stay.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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