Boston airport opens counterterrorism office (AP)

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

BOSTON – Logan International Airport is now home to the nation’s first airport-based counterterrorism office aimed at improving communication and collaboration between federal and local agencies.

Eight agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration, will work at the FBI’s newly opened Joint Terrorism Task Force offices at Logan. Officials hope the multiagency office will aid the airport’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches.

“No one agency can accomplish this important task alone,” Richard DesLauriers, FBI special agent in charge of the Boston office, said at a news conference Tuesday announcing the opening of the office. The FBI, with the U.S. Department of Justice, has task forces in 106 cities nationwide, but this is the first to be located at an airport.

The office will allow agencies to share information and work together with state and local police on investigations and research. It also will allow officials to share access to databases and collaborate quickly if there is a terrorist attack at or originating from the airport.

“One of the things that stands out about (Sept. 11) is the cooperation and assistance that we received from other state and local and federal agencies that are here with us today,” said Edward Freni, aviation director for the Massachusetts Port Authority, the state agency that runs the airport.

The two planes flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York on Sept. 11 were hijacked from Logan. Freni, director of aviation operations at the time, said MassPort has felt a need to be the forefront of security procedures, technologies and communication.

“There is no question that if anything good came from that horrible tragedy 10 years ago next month it was the spirit of cooperation and respect that pervades everyone who attends our early 8:30 morning (meetings) every day,” Freni said.

Since the attacks, MassPort has changed security and surveillance procedures and has worked to improve communication by holding daily meetings with security and airline staff, state police and federal agencies at the airport. Officials say the new on-site office will keep those officials in contact throughout the day.

“As a criminal element transforms and adapts, so should law enforcement and its investigative method. And we are continuously faced, especially after 9/11, with numerous challenges that we need to work together to collaborate and meet those challenges on,” said U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, who called the on-site task force “groundbreaking.”

The new office’s work is not expected to affect customers flying to and from Logan, and officials hope much of their work will go unnoticed.

“There’s an awful lot of work that gets done that the public will never see … and in many ways that’s a good thing,” Ortiz said.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110830/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_boston_airport_counterterrorism

Fun travel deals for your holiday weekend – ABC15.com (KNXV

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Labor Day weekend is right around the corner… have you made your travel plans yet?

This week’s best online deals will get you on your way without breaking your budget.

Travel-Ticker is offering up their top picks for weekend fun that will get you big discounts on a Virgin Islands vacation, Orlando adventure or Washington, D.C. getaway.

Itching for a stay on the sea?

Score an all-inclusive trip to St. Thomas for just $649, including airfare!

Enjoy a relaxing weekend at the 4-star Sugar Bay Resort Spa, surrounded by views of the Caribbean Sea and nearby islands. Visitors can also take advantage of complimentary SCUBA lessons.

Looking to stay in the states?

Grab the family and hop a flight to Orlando, where guests can get 65 percent off regular rates at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.

Travelers can also get four days at Universal Studios for the price of two, making it a perfect family-friendly getaway for the weekend.

If you’re feeling more like a trip to our nation’s capital, you’re in luck.

Travel-Ticker has an exclusive deal at Washington, D.C.’s upscale Churchill Hotel in Dupont Circle, with stays for as low as $99 .

The elegant hotel is just minutes from shopping, fine dining, museums and monuments, perfect for adventurous travelers.

Looking for more of this week’s top deals? Visit Travel-Ticker .

 

Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Article source: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/lifestyle/travel/fun-travel-deals-for-your-holiday-weekend

On East Coast, Post-Irene Labor Day travel forecast is unsettled

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Faced with a flood of cancellations during Irene’s march up the Eastern Seaboard last weekend – and national surveys already predicting a slowdown in Labor Day travel – a few area vacation spots are responding with last-minute “hurrication” deals to get storm-weary travelers on the road for the three-day weekend.

But others in Irene’s path say the coast is clear both literally and economically, and expect good weather, strong crowds and sold-out rooms for summer’s last hurrah.

In North Carolina’s hard-hit Outer Banks, the string of barrier islands where Irene slammed ashore Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane, road washouts have cut off Hatteras and Ocracoke island from visitor access. About 80 miles north of Hatteras, the Sanderling Resort Spa in Duck reopened Tuesday after a mandatory evacuation, and is offering a Labor Day weekend special of $259 per night, down from a regular rate of $410-$435. September weekday rates start at $179, versus $350.

As Irene headed up the East Coast, hotels in northeast Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains were jammed with fleeing New York and New Jersey residents. But the storm caused flooding and power outages in the Poconos as well, forcing some hotels and attractions to close or curtail operations. Most will be back in business by Friday, however, and some are floating discounts: The Inn at Jim Thorpe, for example, is offering 20% off on mini-suites and waiving a tw0-night minimum.

Several East Coast members of Select Registry Inns are advertising post-storm deals as well. Among them: A three-night “Goodnight Irene” package at Jackson, N.H.’s Inn at Ellis River for $539 per couple that includes room and a dinner for two or $50 off the third night.

The surrounding White Mountains also reported some damage from Irene, most notably road closures along Route 302 (Crawford Notch to Bartlett) and Route 112 (Kancamagus Highway). Major highways are accessible, however, and many attractions and businesses have reopened, says Charyl Reardon of White Mountains Attractions.

RELATED:  Vermont assessing tourist damage; leaves look good to go

RELATED:  Many East Coast beaches back in business after Irene

Along the Jersey Shore, meanwhile, “nobody is doing any ‘Irene specials.’ The beaches are open, it’s supposed to be a gorgeous weekend, and the majority of hotels are sold out,” says Bob Hilton of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, which includes Seaside Heights of Snooki and “The Situation” reality TV fame.

The Press of Atlantic City reported that the city’s 11 casino hotels lost an estimated $40 million to $45 million in gaming revenue because of the three-day, Irene-related shutdown.”It’s horrible,” says Don Marrandino, president of the Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s Resort, and Showboat casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

But while casinos offered fire sale rates midweek, the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority tells my colleague Kitty Bean Yancey that hotel bookings are strong starting Thursday and running through the weekend.

And on Block Island, R.I., tourism spokeswoman Jessica Willi says “we had zero impact from the storm on infrastructure, and hotels are very nearly full” for Labor Day.

Article source: http://travel.usatoday.com/destinations/dispatches/post/2011/08/irene-beaches-labor-day-travel-deals/545232/1

Weekly Travel Deals on VEGAS.com and Mexico.com

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

http://bit.ly/hBIY12

LAS VEGAS, NV, Aug 30, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) –
The travel experts at VEGAS.com, the world’s number one city travel
website with the top Las Vegas Hotels and Las Vegas Shows, and
Mexico.com, the full-service site that helps travelers with booking
Mexico vacations, have outlined some of this week’s exclusive and
limited-time only travel deals.

VEGAS.com



        
        --  Vegas Vacation Special -- Includes Free Buffet
             Book a room or flight
            and hotel package at select MGM Resorts properties for a minimum of
            two nights between now and Sept. 23, 2011, for stay dates between Aug.
            28, 2011 and Feb. 12, 2012, and receive up to two free buffet entries
            per day during your stay.
             Details at VEGAS.com.
        
        
        --  The Venetian Las Vegas -- Includes $100 in Resort Extras
             Book a room
            marked with the Includes $100 in Resort Extras offer at Venetian
            between now and Dec. 30, 2011, for stay dates between now and Dec. 30,
            2011, and receive up to $100 in resort extras.
             Details at VEGAS.com.
        
        
        --  Jersey Boys -- Dinner and Ticket Special
             For a limited time only,
            receive dinner at FIRST Food  Bar and Loge or Front Orchestra
            seating to Jersey Boys when you book select Jersey Boys tickets on
            VEGAS.com.
             Details at VEGAS.com.
        
        


Mexico.com



        
        --  Limited Time Sale: $50 Off Any Mexico.com properties
             Book a vacation
            to any Mexico.com property between now and Sept. 30, 2011, for travel
            dates between now and Dec. 30, 2011, and receive $50 off any package
            of $500 or more. Guests simply use promo code MEXICO50 at checkout.
        
            Details at Mexico.com.
        
        


About Mexico.com
Mexico.com offers a large selection of Mexico hotels
and air hotel packages to the top Mexico destinations. The site
provides extensive destination specific content about everything
Mexico has to offer including great deals on the top Cancun hotels
including Cancun All Inclusive Hotels. Other top destinations include
Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, and Riviera Maya. Also
find detailed information on Mexico activities, nightlife, and golf.
A state-of-the-art contact center provides bilingual customer
support, expert information and sales 24 hours a day, seven days a
week, 365 days a year to complement the information and travel
booking capabilities.

About VEGAS.com
VEGAS.com is the largest city destination travel
website in the world with extensive, constantly updated information
and a full range of travel products including Las Vegas hotel rooms,
Las Vegas Air Hotel Packages, Las Vegas show tickets, tours and
golf. A state-of-the-art contact center provides customer support,
expert information and sales 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365
days a year to complement the information on
www.VEGAS.com .
VEGAS.com, through its Casino Travel Tours unit, operates retail
and concierge desks at more than 50 locations including the Palms,
Paris, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Excalibur, New York-New York, Luxor and
more. The company also offers a variety of excursions including city
tours, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. VEGAS.com is a member of
the Greenspun Family of Companies, privately owned and operating in
Southern Nevada for more than 60 years.

SOURCE: VEGAS.com; Mexico.com

Copyright 2011 Marketwire, Inc., All rights reserved.

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/weekly-travel-deals-on-vegascom-and-mexicocom-2011-08-30

Pa.-based firm gets concession to Va. rest areas (AP)

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration has awarded a contract to a Pennsylvania-based catering company to sell food, drinks and merchandise at Virginia highway rest areas.

CRH Catering of Connellsville, Pa., will pay the Virginia Department of Transportation about $2 million a year for vending and advertising rights at the state’s 42 rest areas and welcome centers. Most are along interstate highways.

The new program means travelers will soon see ATM machines and interactive kiosks at the rest stops, as well as more choices for food, souvenirs and on-the-road needs.

Joe Cordaro, president of CRH, told The Associated Press the changes won’t be immediate after his company takes over starting Thursday. CRH has 120 days to get things up and running. The company also manages vending and advertising at some rest areas in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“There will be a greater selection of food. We’d like to get into (selling) ice cream, `Virginia is for Lovers’ merchandise in some locations — where the space will allow,” Cordaro said.

For the state, it means an additional $1 million over three years to help defray the costs of operating the rest stops which were closed in budget-cutting moves in late 2009. The state currently makes about $1.7 million per year from vending and advertising at the rest stops

The initial contract with CRH is for three years with an option to renew for up to four years. As part of the contract, the transportation agency will receive a share of the revenue from sponsorship, advertising and vending operations.

McDonnell’s efforts to cut costs of running Virginia’s rest stops and make them produce more revenue for their upkeep arises from one of his first actions as governor: reopening 19 rest areas across the state that had been closed in late 2009 by his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, in a budget-cutting move.

VDOT began soliciting bids for operating the rest stops in March as part of an initiative to make the state’s rest stops more self-sustaining.

CRH already provides limited vending services at 30 Virginia rest stops.

In its expanded role, CRH will take on several business partners including SPC, an ATM provider based in Woodstock, Va.; sponsorship and marketing manager Travelers Marketing of Wellesley, Mass., and HI Media of Ashland, Va., which will supply and manage the touch-screen information kiosks.

___

Online:

Virginia’s highway rest stops: http://bit.ly/OQpXV

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110830/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_for_profit_rest_stops

Alaska Airlines to expand Lihue, Kona service (AP)

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

HONOLULU – Alaska Airlines is doubling its service from California’s Bay Area to Kauai and the Big Island with flights seven days a week.

The Seattle-based airline announced Tuesday it plans to begin daily, nonstop service from Oakland and San Jose, Calif. to Lihue and Kona.

The expanded service is to begin March 12, 2012 with introductory one-way fares of $179. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 3 for travel from March 12 through June 9.

Alaska Airlines added Lihue service last year with three flights a week from San Jose and four flights a week from Oakland.

There are currently three flights a week between Kona and Oakland and four flights a week between Kona and San Jose.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110830/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_alaska_airlines_hawaii

Trenton flood puts chokehold on busy Amtrak line (AP)

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

TRENTON, N.J. – As transportation systems around the Northeast restarted after Hurricane Irene, one major, frustrating exception remained: Amtrak trains between Philadelphia and New York were canceled indefinitely because of a flood that buried the Trenton station under several feet of water.

In a region where commuters depend on trains, New Jersey Transit and the Philadelphia transit system also could not get their trains into Trenton.

The flooding left commuters to work from home, business travelers to hope they could make their meetings and many people scrambling for seats on buses.

Gillean Denny, 27, who is working on a Ph.D. in architecture at the University of Cambridge in England, was trying to get from her parents’ home in Philadelphia to New York in time for a job interview.

At midday, it wasn’t promising. Trains weren’t running. She had a ticket on Megabus, which has a stop across the street from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, but she wasn’t sure it would get her there in time.

Denny, wearing a suit for the interview, worried about a bus breakdown — something she’s experienced before.

“It’ll add to the humor of the day,” she said.

The chokehold on one of the busiest parts of the nation’s passenger rail service was caused by the Assunpink Creek, a waterway so small you might not notice it under normal conditions. On Sunday, it spilled out of its banks and turned the station into a pond, partly submerging trains parked there.

The water receded and was off the tracks by Tuesday morning, but Amtrak spokeswoman Danelle Hunter said service would not immediately resume. She said officials at the federally subsidized train service hoped that by later Tuesday, they would at least have a sense of what repair work needed.

Sean Jeans-Gail, vice president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, said his group did not fret about disruptions caused by flooding on the Assunpink before Irene and was not especially worried about it after. Since most service suspensions are caused by equipment failures, Jeans-Gail said Amtrak has higher priority projects that would keep the trains running reliably.

But he said this week’s problems may be a wake-up call.

“If climate change is going to affect the kind of storms we get in the Northeast, it certainly is something transit officials need to look at,” he said.

In the meantime, more than 17,000 passengers who usually hop on New Jersey Transit and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority trains in Trenton and two nearby stations needed to change their plans, along with many more whose Amtrak travels take them between New York and Philadelphia.

Amtrak was only able to run trains between New York City and Boston and between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., leaving an approximately 90-mile hole in the middle of its popular Northeast Corridor routes.

Officials at the discount bus lines Megabus.com, owned by Coach USA, and BoltBus, a division of Greyhound Lines, said they had more riders than usual over the last few days. But the train outages were seen as just one reason. There was also pent-up traffic from when Irene shut down roads and people who evacuated as Irene approached were trying to get back home.

Rob Gonci, 45, of Akron, Ohio, needed to get from New York City to Philadelphia for a business meeting, so he was on a sidewalk with his briefcase, trying to figure out how to purchase a bus ticket. His train had been canceled Tuesday morning after he flew in the night before.

“Do you book a hotel another night, and then tomorrow the trains still aren’t going?” he wondered. “Or do you just cut your losses?”

For Raleane Fisher, the frustration ran deep. The 43-year-old police officer from Perth, Australia, is touring the U.S. and had a lot of headaches after she learned her train to Philadelphia was canceled. She was on the phone Tuesday trying to get a refund from Amtrak while waiting for a BoltBus to show up.

“Now we’ve got a bus which is half an hour late,” she said, “and we don’t even know if we’re getting on that.”

Washington attorney Betty Sinowitz was at New York’s Penn Station on Tuesday afternoon coming to grips with the limited options available to her. She thought she might take a bus, but couldn’t get a through for a phone reservation.

“I’m a game player, and I like to find strategies, but there’s no game left to play here,” she said.

___

Associated Press writers Patrick Walters in Philadelphia; Meghan Barr and Verena Dobnik in New York; and Josh Lederman in Trenton contributed.

___

Contact Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110830/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_irene_amtrak

Travel Bargain: Repositioning Cruises Offer Great Deals

August 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

PHOTO: An ocean liner leaves the seaport in Miami, FL.

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Could you use a little pampering at sea? A nice, long, luxurious time afloat? Then you’re in luck. Fall is the perfect time to book a so-called repositioning cruise, and thereby bag one of the biggest bargains in the travel industry.

Every fall and every spring, the major cruise lines move their ships around the globe like chess pieces, repositioning them to take advantage of the changing seasons. Starting in September, when travelers’ fancies turn to warmer climes, ships begin to migrate from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, from Alaska to Mexico or to the South Pacific. The reverse occurs in spring.

These are voyages, says Robert Sharak, executive vice president of marketing for the Cruise Lines International Association, tend to be both longer and significantly cheaper than a standard cruise.

A 16-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona, Spain, to Galveston, Texas, onboard Carnival Cruises’ newest ship, the Magic, costs (drum roll here, please) $864. Not $864 a day. That’s a total of $864,inclusive of all fees. That’s $54 a day. Ports of call include Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; and Grand Turk, Turks Caicos.

Why so cheap? The trips occur off-season, says travel expert Aaron Saunders, who writes about cruising at FromTheDeckChair.com. “How do you fill a ship in late September or mid-October?” he asks. “You price it so that people can’t say no.”


PHOTO: An ocean liner leaves the seaport in Miami, FL.

PHOTO: An ocean liner leaves the seaport in Miami, FL.

Because the cruise lines are shifting their fleets, passengers also have the opportunity to visit ports that might otherwise not be accessible.

“Travelers can really get a fantastic deal,” said Emerson Hankamer, president and COO of travel website VacationsToGo.com, “especially if they’re willing to begin and end their trip in an atypical port.”

He cites a 14-night trip on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas departing from Mallorca, Spain, and finishing at Colon, Panama. Price: $36.92 a day.

Because of the low price, there’s sometimes a misconception, says Saunders, that these trips are somehow “lesser cruises.” The reverse is true. The low price doesn’t denote second-rate service or reduced amenities. If anything, travelers may find that extra services and enhancements have been added to keep them happy and amused during the extra-long voyage.

“What’s great about this trip,” Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said of Carnival’s Barcelona-to-Galveston crossing, “is that it’s our newest ship, with extra activities scheduled.”

Carnival will offer two other repositioning cruises this season, both 14-day ocean-to-ocean transits of the Panama Canal: One departs from Long Beach to Tampa Nov. 28; the other from Tampa to Long Beach Dec. 17. Ports of call on these cruises include Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Cartagena, Columbia; and George Town, Grand Cayman.

It used to be that repositioning cruises went begging for passengers, but that’s changing.

“Until recently, people didn’t take advantage of these cruises,” said Jeffrey Laign, editorial director of Porthole magazine, which covers the consumer cruise industry. “But now repositioning cruises have started to catch on.”

The Carnival Paradise has only 50 cabins still available (at the bargain rate) for its November sailing.

“The per diems are often half of what you’d pay for a regular cruise,” Laign said, “and they tend to have itineraries with ports of call not regularly visited.”

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/cruise-bargains-fall-spring-repositioning-cruises/story?id=14406352

September Reader Travel Deals

August 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

—–

SOUTHERN CHARM
Charleston Place Hotel

205 Meeting St., Charleston, S.C.; 888-635-2350

What’s special: The hotel is in downtown historic Charleston, within walking distance of major attractions including antebellum mansions and a waterfront park. Part of the Orient-Express collection, the charming hotel is a blend of 17th-century style and 21st-century comfort. You can enjoy the indoor/outdoor pool, the spa, and the fitness center. While in Charleston, you can take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city’s narrow streets, lined with beautifully preserved buildings from the Colonial and antebellum periods; visit famous plantations and gardens; and see Cabbage Row, the inspiration for what’s often called America’s first great opera, Porgy and Bess. 

The deal: Washingtonian readers will receive 20 percent off the hotel’s club rate, plus free dessert for two and two glasses of Muscato wine when you have dinner at the Charleston Grill. The discounted room rate is $288. The club level occupies the top two floors and includes all-day complimentary beverage service, deluxe continental breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and after-dinner cordials with desserts in the club lounge. To get this deal, use this link.[http://www.charlestonplace.com/washingtonian]

When: Valid in September 2011.

—–

ITALY WITH A VIEW
Palazzo Manfredi (Rome) and Hotel Punta Tragara (Capri)

What’s special: Enjoy extraordinary views of Italy from both hotels. Palazzo Manfredi is in the heart of ancient Rome, directly across from the Coliseum. Built atop what were gladiator training grounds, the five-star deluxe hotel was recently renovated.

The Punta Tragara, also recently renovated, is perched cliffside above the famed Faraglioni sea stacks on the Isle of Capri.

The Manfredi Fine Hotel Collection, composed of small and intimate properties, is owned by third-generation Italian counts. Amenities include access to a private beach club at Hotel Punta Tragara and the use (for a fee) of a Lamborghini Gallardo at Palazzo Manfredi.

The deal: The Rome Capri Dream Escape features two nights at Palazzo Manfredi and two at Punta Tragara in a double room, plus special welcome gifts. Included is a gourmet dinner for two at the rooftop Mediterranean restaurant Aroma in Rome, with front-row views of the Coliseum, and dinner for two at Manzù, with a table overlooking the Bay of Marina Piccola; a coastal boat tour of the isle of Capri; and either a one-way transfer to the Rome hotel from the airport or railway station or a round-trip hydrofoil transfer to the Capri hotel from the airport or railway station. The price is 2,200 euros plus taxes (approximately $3,150), a 25-percent savings. Mention The  Washingtonian to also receive a free lunch for two at both properties, a total value of 440 euros, or about $630. To book the Rome Capri Dream Escape, visit http://www.manfrediproperties.it or call +39 081 8370844.  

When: Valid September 16 through October 31, 2011.

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Article source: http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarticles/travel/getaways/20699.html

Airfare Expert: Finding flight deals to the 2012 London Olympics

August 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

When can I buy airline tickets to the London Games? 

The opening ceremonies for the Games of the XXX Olympiad will take place on Friday, July 27, 2012, with closing ceremonies set for Sunday, August 12, 2012. This is important for planning purposes because most carriers that fly trans-Atlantic routes allow you to purchase tickets 330 days in advance, so you could shop starting at the end of this week. But at that point you won’t be able to get the return ticket for another two weeks, assuming you intend to stay for the entire Games. So you will have to wait to buy a round-trip ticket, unless you follow my recommended buying strategy below.

The Olympics will draw tourists from all over the world and I anticipate tickets will go fast, so the smart traveler should start making plans now.

What will I pay for tickets to London? 

Some prices to shoot for: from the East Coast, about $1,400 round-trip; from the West Coast, about $1,600 round-trip.

While these prices reflect a historical premium of a few hundred dollars above airfare prices for the past few summers, I can’t caution enough against delaying as I would not be surprised to see coach tickets costing about $2,000 a pop or more as we get closer to the Olympics especially for the convenience of arriving in Heathrow.

For those of you traveling from the West Coast, I suggest you first look at prices from New York and other eastern cities, and see if you can find a cheap flight to that hub the day before. By breaking up your trip in the manner, you could save a few bucks.

What’s the best way to find deals to London? 

The recommended strategy is for loyalty-miles program members only:

• Start early: Everyone will try to use miles, so there will be tons of competition for available seats; be prepared to redeem the “any time” rate for your tickets.

• Redeem one-way: If your airline allows this, jump in and book a one-way loyalty award departure ticket now, and book your return when available. You’ll get a jump on those who wait to book a complete round-trip ticket.

• Use upgrades: This is an ideal opportunity for elite travelers to use system-wide upgrades from coach to business class.

• Caution: Seats and upgrades are “capacity controlled” so don’t be surprised if you run headlong into an un-bookable wall.

Short on miles? Buy some, borrow some (family members can often share theirs) or you might want to investigate the pros and cons of credit card offers that include big miles bonuses.

What are my other options for buying tickets? 

Think of the London 2012 games as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving on steroids — the priciest times of the year. It will be all about finding a better bad deal.

The good news is that you don’t have to fly to the UK to make the Games; there are several cities in Europe you can use as your main destination and then take a low cost airline or train to get into London.

Summer in Europe is typically pricey outside of major events, so procrastination is not likely to be your friend. This is one of the few times (like the holidays) you’ll need to shop early and lock in regardless of where fuel prices end up next year.

What else do I need to know? 

London Heathrow (LHR) is the city’s international gateway and a major hub for both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic (it’s also served by numerous U.S. carriers). You’ll find plenty of taxis and buses to London proper plus fast train service into Paddington Station, but the cheapest transit is the London Underground.

If you plan on visiting other parts of Europe (or the UK) during your visit, you may have to wait to book those tickets. Discount carriers like EasyJet generally allow bookings ten months from departure, while Ryanair opens bookings 5 to 6 months ahead.

And don’t forget rail, but note that advance bookings for train service can vary by country.

Read previous columns

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney is an airline industry insider and top media air travel resource. Follow Rick (@rickseaney) and never overpay for airfare again.

Article source: http://travel.usatoday.com/experts/seaney/story/2011-08-30/Airfare-Expert-Finding-flight-deals-to-the-2012-London-Olympics/50190778/1

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