Coming & Going
Cyber Monday deals, ISO opinions, happy hours, new ties
If all you want for Christmas is a cheap flight to Vegas or a discounted hotel room in Orlando, then prepare your credit cards for the e-shopping day of the year.
Established five years ago, Cyber Monday marks the start of the online gift-buying season, the virtual version of Black Friday. Traditionally, the tied-to-your-computer day featured retailers of goods that fit snugly under the tree, such as clothes, toys and electronics. But travel companies have recently been joining the frenzy, too.
"The travel industry has been leveraging Cyber Monday as well," said Ellen Davis, a National Retail Federation spokeswoman. "It makes sense, because travel is a high portion of online spending."
Davis said that last year, she started noticing hotels and airlines throwing their deals into the mix. The deep discounts typically last one day, though not always.
To find bargains, Jaymes Duke, founder of Creative Concierge 110, says to check the Web sites of major airlines and hotel chains. "They want to make a big impact, like the department stores," he said. Smaller properties on tighter budgets, he said, typically opt out of Cyber Monday.
As an example, Duke pointed to Southwest's Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, which discount vacation packages to Las Vegas, Orlando, Los Angeles/Anaheim and select ski locales. The promotion stretches its definition of Cyber Monday, with bookings accepted through Dec. 2.
For hundreds of deals under one URL, peruse CyberMonday.com, which is owned by Shop.org, the online division of the NRF. At press time, the site already listed a handful of travel-related deals, such as up to 20 percent off Holiday Inn properties.
Davis reminds shoppers to be smart and savvy and to do their research. Just because a flight or hotel room is listed on Cyber Monday does not mean it's the deal of a lifetime; it could just be the deal of the minute.
A place to vent
Got an opinion on the Transportation Security Administration's new airport screening procedures?
The U.S. Travel Association wants to hear it. After getting nearly 1,000 unsolicited comments from travelers, the association created a new Web site, www.yourtravelvoice.org , to solicit even more.
"We need to hear ideas and experiences from travelers to better inform our discussions with policymakers and build a screening process that maxi-mizes security while minimizing the burden on travelers," said Roger Dow, president and chief executive of U.S. Travel.
The association will consider the comments when it announces the final recommendations of its "Blue Ribbon Panel for Frictionless Aviation Security" on Feb. 1.
Drink and fly
Through December, American Airlines will toast its passengers with in-flight happy hour.
The 5@5 special runs from 5 to 5:59 p.m. on select flights (United States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) on American, American Eagle and American Connection. Cocktails cost $5 each, with a savings of $1 on beer and $2 on wine and spirits.
JetBlue Airways and Israel's El Al have joined forces. Customers will now be able to buy a single ticket and check luggage all the way through to Israel when connecting between JetBlue and El Al flights.
Speaking of partnerships, American Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines, India's leading carrier, will enter into a codeshare and frequent-flier relationship in 2011, subject to regulatory approvals.
Reporting: Andrea Sachs, Nancy Trejos.