As cold weather gives way to warm, rental car companies have a problem. They have too many cars in places like Florida and Arizona where high season is over. And they’ll give you a great deal if you’ll help them get lots of those vehicles back to where the demand is.
It’s the semi-annual migration of rental cars. Until the end of this month, you can get a deal when you rent a car one way from, say, Florida, to the Northeast. Alamo, Avis, Budget, and National will only charge $10 a day for cars, about $20 for SUVs and maybe $25 for minivans. And you can keep a car for 7, 14, and sometimes 21 days so you don’t have to rush to turn it in.
Arizona rental offices need their cars moved to California and other places. The same deals apply.
Many airlines now allow you to get a one-way, award flight by cashing in half the number of miles you’d need for a round trip. So fly in, grab a car, and enjoy a leisurely drive somewhere without putting any wear or tear on the family car. Or wait until this fall when rental companies will make the same offer to get cars back to vacation spots.
In yesterday’s “Travel Minute” I mentioned a number of airports around the world whose managers have made a serious effort to bring in recognized chefs to operate serious restaurants.
Like “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio. He has a branch of his gourmet sandwich bar at the Los Angeles’ Airport. Global celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal runs Perfectionist Café at London’s Heathrow airport in Terminal 2. And you’ll find dry-aged steaks at LaGuardia’s Delta terminal at Prime Tavern.
But it’s not all celebrity chefs. At my hometown airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sudryk’s–a local wine store with a side deli—has a cozy eatery in the airport’s main terminal where you can grab a terrific Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwich with chicken to take on your trip. Or you can be seated for a great, freshly made salad and a nice bottle of wine from their retail selection that lines one wall.
So shop around before you settle for a fast-food offering on your next trip.
It’s taken way too long, but airports have finally figured out that people who fly often like to eat something other than an Auntie Anne’s pretzel or a Subway sandwich. Some airports are seriously upgrading their food offerings, and even airport shops that sell newspapers and gum are adding fresh fruit to their shelves.
The Airbräu Brauhaus at Munich’s airport is Europe’s only restaurant with an on-site brewery. At Altitude restaurant at Geneva’s airport, there’s actually a Michelin-starred restaurant called Dupont & Byrne—don’t miss the ravioli stuffed with foie gras and morel mushrooms. Television chef and restaurateur Cat Cora has eateries serving organic, seasonal California cuisine at three US airports: San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Houston.
Tomorrow I’ll mention a few more airport dining options. I actually go early to my hometown airport—Minneapolis-St. Paul— so I can dine before flying on the new, locally inspired restaurants on Concourse G (pictured).
Add up all the money wagered in Las Vegas in a week, and you’ll only equal a day’s worth of gambling in Macau. Where’s Macau? It’s on China’s southern coast just an hour or so by ferry from Hong Kong. And it’s the only place in China where gambling is legal.
When I first visited Macau decades ago, it was a sleepy Portuguese colony with not much to see and a single casino where it took blackjack dealers five minutes to deal every hand because dealers liked to pause to chat with each other. There were spittoons everywhere, and a big meter on the wall measured the strength of monsoons; when it hit the number seven, it was time for everyone to rush out to catch the ferry safely back to Hong Kong.
Portugal has returned Macau to the Chinese. Now there are 35 casinos crammed into 11 square miles with more huge resort casino projects under construction, and the government has decreed that there be more emphasis on fine dining and entertainment. As Atlantic City prays that this November’s introduction of legal, on-line gambling will rescue it, and as Vegas slowly returns from the recession, Macau’s GNP leaps 14% a year.
Check out the bright lights next time you’re in Hong Kong.
Some airlines let you put award tickets on hold for a day or more that allows you to cancel without penalty. Know your airline’s rules.
So why would you want to put an award ticket on hold?
There are a couple of reasons. Most important is this: If you see an award ticket you want but don’t have enough miles to buy it, you might need time to transfer, say, some American Express points to top off your airline account. Putting that ticket on hold means you won’t lose it. The solution is to lock it in so no one else gets it while your extra miles or points drop into the right account. You might also want to check with someone else’s schedule or simply consider the idea for a few hours before committing.
But not all airlines are created equally in this regard, points out Scott Grimmer of MileValue.com.
American, for example, gives you five days before you have to commit. US Airways gives you three days. But Delta and United are a bit trickier. It’s too complicated to explain on the radio, but here are links to Scott’s columns on Delta and United.