Someone asked me recently what was the best travel deal I have ever had. That made me think and I realized I have been the fortunate recipient of many great travel deals. So, I figured I would list some of the best travel deals I have enjoyed over the years and that this will hopefully help you to jump on the great opportunities when they come up. I know for sure that many people have received better travel deals than I have, so please feel free to add your best travel deals as well!
There are two main type of travel deals – actual sales/offers made by the travel provider and mistake fares or deals. My different deals have come from both categories.
Best Travel Deals: JFK and Ritz Carlton
The Travel Deal (Mistake?)
A few years ago, Expedia.ca ran an offer that was a $300 discount if used towards a trip – that is, a flight and hotel package – to New York City, Las Vegas, Cancun, andRiviera Maya. Travel providers run deals like this all the time – mostly because they are able to negotiate great rates on hotels for themselves to resell to the customer. However, these deals mostly have requirements that must be met, such as minimum of 5 nights at the hotel. This time, Expedia.ca apparently forgot to put that clause in the terms and condition. As a result, anyone could book a reservation with air and hotel and make the hotel for only one night!
I believe this would be classified as a mistake but it may have been on purpose since it only worked for 4 cities and most people are not going to travel to any of those cities for one night. By making it only require one night, they may have been counting on getting more traffic since people are more willing to book a three day stay in December than a week (unless visiting family or something like that). Some people also figured that, in the case of Las Vegas, the city’s tourism board may have been assisting in the deal to bring more people to the area in a somewhat slower time of year.
Here is how it worked for us – as soon as I saw the deal post (on Flyertalk), I immediately thought of NYC (Manhattan hotel is actually what the deal required). NYC is only a 1 hour flight from our hometown and we typically see tickets costing right around the $100 mark. So, with $100 for flight, that left us $200 we had to spend on a hotel (the deal required a minimum of $300 to get the discount). There were many options in Manhattan! While there were some that would involve us not having to pay anything, we thought that since we were essentially getting a $200 voucher that we would stay at someplace a bit nicer.
We decided on the Ritz Carlton Battery Park which required $30 over the $300 (so the hotel itself was $230 for the night). Now, the trick with the travel deal was that it would only take $300 off of the whole package price – meaning if my wife and I were going together and booked together, we would still get stuck for the cost of her ticket. So we booked two separate tickets and hotels. Stupid me, in my haste to get it done before it disappeared and I was going on the trip by myself :), I just copied the same details of my reservation for my wife – including another room for the same night at the Ritz-Carlton. Had I spent a few moments to think about it, I would have booked each of us a ticket for two nights (only paying one night at the hotel, which was allowed) and had each of us book the Ritz for consecutive nights. Or, I would have had her get a throwaway hotel that was a break-even price. Oh well!
It worked out well anyway because we invited our best friends to go down with us and have the other room and they booked throwaway hotel rooms as a part of their package. So, the four of us had plane tickets and hotel rooms for one night for a total out of pocket of $60 (with Expedia.ca graciously picking up $1,200 for us:) )
We had an absolutely wonderful trip. The Ritz Carlton was not in a busier section of town (down near the bottom of Manhattan) and on a Sunday night, that made for very empty streets! We were only planning on sleeping in the hotel and then heading out in the morning so we didn’t really get a chance to check out the hotel too much. What little we did see, though, made for a very nice impression. I don’t often stay in Ritz hotels (I think only once or twice before) but it is a very nice brand and the Ritz Carlton Battery Park was a wonderful hotel, especially for our purposes.
One More Trip
That year was the first year that I reached Diamond Medallion status with Delta. As a result, I was open to getting some extra flights for the extra 25% of award miles that a Diamond earns over the typical 100% of the higher elites. So, I grabbed a Las Vegas deal to get an extra 11,000 award miles (almost half of a domestic award ticket with Delta). The funny part was that the hotel I was going to use as a throwaway in Henderson, NV was actually completely booked! This hotel was never completely booked – it was booked this time because of the Las Vegas deal. I am sure it worked out very good for the hotel since most of the reservations in the month of December were going to be no-shows on a prepaid rate that they were still getting paid for. Win-win for everyone! So, instead I grabbed another $12 hotel (there are quite a few of them in existence in Las Vegas). I ended up paying $1 for the whole trip.
Here was another best travel deal that I had experienced. It was a great time to spend with friends and enjoy Manhattan in December. You can find these deals as well by reading the various blogs and Flyertalk and be ready to jump! In this case, not going on the trip would have cost me nothing so it is always to buy first and check later.