By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
If you are one of those travelers who leaves no rewards-earning stone unturned, you might want to consider signing up for the loyalty program at Burbank Bob Hope Airport. Southwest Airlines just joined the list of partners for the program that's the first of its kind in the state, the airport announced Monday.
Here's how it works: Members earn one airline mile or two hotel points for every dollar spent shopping, eating or parking at the airport and at 170 participating airport vendors nationwide. Existing partners in the Thanks Again Customer Loyalty program include Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, United and US Airways as well as Hilton Hotels and Hotel Amarano Burbank.
Currently there are about 500 to 600 members enrolled in the reward program that began in July, an airport spokesman said. Travelers may enroll free at www.thanksagain.com/BUR or by texting FLYBUR to 82257 by using a credit or debit card.
Even if you're already earning points on American Express, MasterCard or Visa...
Small Ship Safaris has added Hawaii to its list of destinations, with nature and cultural cruises of the islands.
The seven-night Hawaii Seascapes journey begins with passengers boarding the 36-passenger Safari Explorer on Molokai or at Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Stops on the itinerary include Honomalino Bay on the Big Island, West Maui, Lanai and Molokai, where visitors explore Hawaiian culture and get a lesson in poi making.
Other activities include snorkeling with giant manta rays and sea turtles, exploring coral gardens and cruising through the Humpback National Marine Sanctuary, one of the world’s most important whale habitats.
Dates: Select dates through April 12 and in November and December.
Price:From $3,595 per person, double occupancy. Availability may be limited. Includes entry fees to national parks and preserves, round-trip transfers and baggage handling fees between the airport and the boat, and all meals, refreshments and onboard activities. Airfare is not...
How do Hawaiians get in the Christmas spirit? With a festive parade, a gift fair, a gingerbread creation and a colorful tree.
In December, at least 17 Oahu communities will celebrate with parades, and visitors are welcome to join in.
Saturday will mark the return of the West Oahu Holiday Electric Light Parade to Kapolei, about 25 miles northwest of Waikiki. The procession, which will include 40 units -- two marching bands will take part too -- begins at 6 p.m. at the Kapolei Fairgrounds and travels to the Kapolei Hale (city hall) for a 7 p.m. tree-lighting ceremony. Live entertainment, fireworks and food vendors round out the activities.
On Dec. 21, the Manoa Community Christmas Parade kicks off at 5 p.m. Four bands and 800 marchers are expected, along with floats and vehicles. The starting point is the Noelani School, 2655 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, just 15 minutes from Waikiki.
Question: At the L.A. Times Travel show in February, I won a round-trip ticket on EVA Air for travel to Taiwan. I lost the award letter, and EVA tells me it can't be replaced. I'd like to use it. Can anyone help?
Answer: Alas, like many things in life, this one apparently can't be solved but will serve as a lesson in our personal book of hard-won knowledge.
I asked EVA to help Acosta, and here was the response from spokesperson Mary Graybill: "With sincere apologies to Ms. Acosta, EVA cannot issue a ticket without that certificate. Everyone at EVA sincerely hopes that Ms. Acosta put it in a safe place and that she finds it before it expires in February….
"The certificate is like a gift card. Whoever has the gift card in hand can use it. Someone else could have Ms. Acosta's certificate and use it. It's like a Starbucks gift card…. (though, obviously, of greater value). Starbucks can't replace it because, more than likely, someone used it."
Catalina’s iconic Casino theater will offer a free holiday concert on Friday by an ensemble of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.
The 7 p.m. concert, presented by Catalina Island Museum, will be one of the first classical events staged in Avalon’s landmark Art Deco theater, the site of thousands of Big Band concerts since it opened 84 years ago,
The concert will be open to Avalon visitors as well as islanders.
“Due to our remote location, there is little opportunity for people on Catalina Island to experience something like classical music,” said Michael De Marsche, executive director of the museum. “As the island’s only institution dedicated to art and culture, the museum is proud to provide our community the opportunity to experience a live symphony orchestra.”
Members of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Anna Wittstruck, the assistant conductor of Stanford University’s orchestral...
A steadily improving economy has led to a flurry (yes, I meant that) of upgrades and new building at ski areas throughout the West. Here are three to watch:
• The Snow King Hotel at the Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., reopened Dec. 6, after a year-long $17-million renovation. As part of the updating of the 36-year-old property, all 203 guestrooms were refurbished with new beds, furniture, carpet, flat-screen TVs and updated bathrooms.
New guest amenities include a year-round Activity Center, which offers ski, snowboard, mountain bike and other rentals, as well as information on trails, hikes and other activities. The pool area has been enhanced with additional seating and fire pits. Also new is a fitness center and, for those who just can't leave work behind, a business center.
The revamp includes a new restaurant, Hayden's Post, which offers regional cuisine in a dining room fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows providing a 240-degree view of the mountains.
Airline fees can certainly take some of the joy out of the holidays. Travel, already difficult because of decreased capacity and increased ticket prices (about 2% higher this year, according to Rick Seaney, the founder of FareCompare.com), becomes even more so when you're confronted with having to make changes or check a bag.
Change fees: Certainly one of the most onerous airline fees is the change or cancellation fee, which now costs up to $200 for each change on American, Delta and United. It's $100 on Virgin America and Frontier; $75-$150 on JetBlue; $125 on Alaska.
Among the solutions:
• A "bundled fare" on American. American's Choice Plus and Essential fares aren't exactly "avoiding" fees, but they are bundled in a way that makes them valuable in some instances. For $68 more round trip, Choice Essential fares include a checked bag round trip, plus no change fee. It's sort of like an insurance policy if there's a chance you may change your travel dates. You also get priority...
By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
What's Carnival time in Venice without a fabulous costume? Don't bother cramming one into your rollerbag because you won't need it. ItalyVacations offers a four-day trip in February that starts with a traditional costume fitting, ends with a grand gala and squeezes in sightseeing too.
The trip begins with a costume fitting at an atelier so you'll be ready for an event that's been a tradition in the Italian port city since the 13th century. The second day includes a walking tour of the city and a boat tour along the Grand Canal.
Expect to see plenty of masks (and mask stores) as well as daily parades throughout the city. Then it's off to party at a grand gala at the five-star Luna Hotel Baglioni, not far from San Marco Square, which includes cocktails, dinner, opera skits and dance music.
When: Feb. 27-March 2
Price: $1,995 per person, double occupancy. It includes hotel, tours, costume rental and gala, and daily breakfast. International airfare is extra.
The Tactical Chef Apron from Think Geek is designed to equip specialist forces on the outdoor grilling front, making it a great gift for chefs on the go.
Think of it as a kind of wearable case for the tools of combating cookout challenges. Playing on the look of a military Kevlar vest, with the word “CHEF” emblazoned in white on giant Velcro patches, the black cotton apron is fitted with hanging cloth loops for holding spatulas, knives, tongs and other tools; metal utility clips; and a variety of pockets, pouches and modular webbing, front and back, for toting a variety of stuff, from condiments to cans of beer or soda.
The manufacturer jokingly suggests accessorizing the Tactical Chef Apron with a full riot suit, but producing a tender steak should suffice.
Info: Tactical Chef Apron costs $34.99 and is available through ThinkGeek.
What it does: Highlights activities and tours in 17 U.S. destinations, London and Paris. You can explore activities based on themes first-time travelers might be interested in, such as Sightseeing, Food and Drink, Walking Tours, Off the Beaten Path and What to Do When it Rains, as well as topics that locals and returning travelers could use, such as Day Trips, Romantic, What to Do With Kids and more.
What's hot:It's an instantly inviting, well-designed site. You can quickly access activities that are available this week, if you don't have time to book tours in advance. There's even an under-$50 category for bargain hunters. Make sure you search beyond the Most Popular Activities within a city and check out the Perfect Days section, where you can find celebrity itineraries. I agreed with Piers Morgan's Family Travel picks for San Diego. Not currently on a trip? Sign up free and...
Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger Mary Forgione likes to hit the dirt when she's on vacation. An avid hiker and runner, Mary likes speed-touring cities on foot and sightseeing by running marathons.