Southwest Airlines just announced the 40%-off Big Winter Sale today, so I’d like to take this opportunity to go over a few reasons why I LUV Southwest (as promised) and how you could start to do so as well. To thank you for your loyalty and continued support, TravelWhimsy and I also would like to give away 8 Southwest drink coupons (beer, wine, cocktail). Check out the giveaway details at the end of this post.
A bit of background before I start. We are both fairly new to Southwest. Prior to our South America trip, we had only flown Southwest once or twice (many many years ago). We don’t travel for business, but will both have achieved United Airlines’ Premier Platinum status at the end of the year with over 75,000 actual miles flown on United just for leisure weekend travel (more on this in a separate post – another promise). I’m afraid that my loyalty to United (started on August 13, 1998) is waning…
Well, a second chance has surfaced, if you are still looking to top off your frequent flyer accounts. Back then, a 16,000-point package cost $55 (or $50 with the Amex discount); now, it is around $64 and you get a hotel night to use if you want to!
For this trip (not our first time in DC), we decided to book and pay for one night at the Park Hyatt Washington DC, which normally goes for $400+/night. After the 14.5% tax, our hotel bill came in at $227.85; all the benefits we received for booking through American Express FHR (Fine Hotels & Resorts) made this stay practically free. I am going to talk about how you can do this, too, even if you don’t have the American Express Platinum card required for an FHR booking (I’ve cancelled my card already).
Daily Getaways 2012 deals for Week 5 (May 7 – 11, 2012) have been posted. (You can see my thoughts on Week 1 & 2 deals here, Week 3 here, Week 4 Choice Hotels & Hertz points here.) There are no screaming bargains like the Wyndham or Choice points offers, but you might still find something that works for your upcoming hotel stays (I checked all offers for airline transfer redemption possibilities, but nothing attractive came up – cheapest transfer comes at a cost of ~2 cents/mile).
My personal favorite of the week 5 deals is the Hyatt points offer. You can buy Hyatt points for about $0.01 each (about 58% off the regular purchase price of 2.4 cents). A top Hyatt category-6 hotel requires 22,000 points, so you can stay at the Park Hyatt Paris, Park Hyatt Milan, or Park Hyatt Maldives, for about $220 all-in. Hyatt points do NOT expire; however, the official terms & conditions state that accounts inactive for more than 12 months are subject to closure (but in reality, accounts don’t get closed easily, and Hyatt offers outstanding customer service and will usually help you out).
Week 4 has some hidden gems for those of you planning to travel outside of the US. Examples include hotels in Paris, Rome, or Venice for as low as $30 a night (including breakfast!), or a one-week Hertz car rental in Europe for $124.
Key Difference from Last Year: some merchants offer a pre-sale that starts at noon ET (1 hour before the normal sale starts at 1pm ET). All you have to do is to like the merchants’ Facebook pages, and find a code posted on their wall on the morning of the sale for access to the presale from Noon to 1 PM ET.
Additional 10% off Published Prices: use an American Express card (prepaid or gift cards work as well).
Limited Quantities: hot deals can sell out within minutes, so be ready to jump on them.
Validity: for deals you are interested in, make sure you check the validity/expiration dates and any other restrictions.
Update (10:45am PST, March 29, 2012): Just got a tweet a few minutes ago regarding this year’s Daily Getaways – “Love #travel loyalty points? #SneakPeek: This year’sDailyGetaways will offer unprecented point sales!”
Some of you may have heard of the “Discover America” promotion, jointly offered by American Express and U.S. Travel Association in 2010 and 2011. This year, the same promotion is coming back, and I just received an email notification this morning.