Dulles Flyer: What is the #icelanDChase?

Icelandair Ticket Giveaway Washington DC to Europe
Icelandair Reps Will be Giving Away Freebies on the Streets of Washington, DC

Icelandair is celebrating its new year-round service from Washington D.C. by giving away round-trip tickets for two to any of Icelandair’s more than 20 destinations in Europe!

Icelandair representatives will be hitting the streets of the nation’s capital to give away one pair of tickets each day from Thursday, June 12, 2014 through Saturday, June 14, 2014.

Additional prizes include thirty $100 gift certificates for travel, tee shirts, Icelandic music CDs, and cool merchandise.

How can Washingtonians join the #icelanDChase?

You can search for the location of each day’s tickets, by finding clues and a password on Icelandair’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

  • Follow #icelanDChase on Twitter for clues
  • Clues will be given at various times of the day until the tickets are found
  • The first person to arrive at the location and reveal the password to the Icelandair representatives will win tickets for two to any one of more than 20 destinations in Europe
  • For further information, see the Terms and Conditions

    Where can you Fly on Icelandair?
    Where can you Fly on Icelandair?

You can find Icelandair on Facebook (facebook.com/Icelandair) or Twitter (@Icelandair).

Note the blackout dates, which exclude travel during the summer, or over the Christmas holiday:  May 21, 2014 through September 5, 2014; and December 15, 2014 through January 6, 2015.  

If You Don’t Live in Washington, Here are Two  Other Contests to Iceland

1.  Icelandic Fourmula is giving away a trip for two to Iceland!  This online giveaway includes:

  • Roundtrip coach class airfare for two
  • room accommodations for three nights/ four days at a luxury hotel in Reykjavik
  • City of Reykjavik Welcome Card
  • VIP room for 2 at the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa.
Icelandair Launches Year Round Service from IAD
Icelandair Launches Year Round Service from IAD

Fill out the entry form online to enter for a chance to win this Iceland getaway!  Enter by December 31, 2014.

Click here for sweepstakes rules and conditions.

2.  X-Men X-Treme Adventure

This contest is for a trip to Iceland, or weekly packs of Flipz, X-Men memorabilia, Schick razors and cash.  Enter before October 31, 2014.  

The Grand Prize Winner will receive a trip for two to Iceland and $2,274 in cash for personal expenses.  The trip must be taken between October 31, 2014 and March 31, 2015, but cannot be taken over Christmas, New Years or public holidays in the U.S. or Iceland.  The official rules are here.  

Family Travel for Real Life: The Do

Family Travel for Real Life
August 23, 2014 in Sterling, Virginia

Is it a seminar or is it a movement?  The Deal Mommy is organizing a “do” for deal mongers with a passion for family travel.

Family Travel for Real Life will be held August 23, 2014 at the Hyatt House Dulles Airport in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Sterling, Virginia, right near IAD.

This hotel has reasonable weekend prices, so why not plan to stay the weekend and take in the sites.  If you’d rather not go downtown, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center is just down the street.

Family Travel for Real Life Will Cover These Topics

  • Scheduling around a school calendar
  • Saving money without relying only on credit card bonuses
  • Condo rentals and hotel rooms for families traveling overseas
  • Booking award tickets when you need more than two
  • Destination planning for families
  • Camp Mom:  traveling with your kids for less than the cost of camp
  • How to save on theme park vacations

Several top notch speakers are already lined up, with more to be added:

  • Carolina Travel Girl:  Where to stay when a hotel room won’t cut it
  • Jason Steele:  Booking award travel for families
  • Shawn of Miles to Memories:  Booking loo00ong summer vacations

Follow this hashtag on Twitter to stay in the loop:  #FT4RL

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and sessions will run from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (possibly 5:00).  Lunch and an afternoon snack break are included in admission.

Sign up early because the first 25 registrants can get tickets for $49.  After that, tickets are going for $59.  Here’s the link to register!

Dulles Flyer: See Air China’s Inaugural Flight into IAD

Inaugural Air China Flight to Dulles June 10, 2014
Inaugural Air China Flight to Dulles June 10, 2014

Dulles International Airport (IAD) in will welcome Air China’s inaugural arrival from Beijing to Washington, DC on Tuesday June 10, 2014 with a special ceremony.

Twenty-five lucky members of the public will be invited to view the aircraft landing and the ceremonial water arch of Air China’s first flight into IAD. 

In addition to viewing the landing of Air China’s first flight, guests will attend a VIP Ceremony and ribbon cutting at the Main Terminal.

Would you like to be a part of this exciting event?

Click here to enter for a chance at an invitation.  Entries must be received by 10:00 a.m. Friday, June 6, 2014.

Participants will be transported via mobile lounge to the airfield.  Upon conclusion of the landing and aircraft parking, the mobile lounge will return to the Main Terminal where participants are invited to attend the Air China Inaugural Ceremony.

Air China will offer four nonstop flights per week to Beijing beginning June 10, 2014.

Frontier Airlines to Link Washington Dulles with 14 Cities; $39 Intro Fares on Tap

Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Jim, Joe, Jay and Gary the Penguins

As a Reston, Virginia local, I was pretty psyched about the news this week that Frontier Airlines will be flying a regular schedule of flights to 14 popular destinations out of Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, DC.

Grab Introductory Fares on Frontier Airlines Now!

Frontier is a low-cost airline and they capped their announcement with a 12 hour sale with fares as low as $15 one way!  I didn’t get in on the sale — I heard the website was pretty overwhelmed — but there is still a chance for introductory fares as low as $39 if you buy your tickets by May 17, 2014. 

Beginning August 19, 2014, Frontier will offer nonstop service to:

Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Foxy the Fox
  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Orlando, FL
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Tampa, FL

Beginning September 8, 2014, Frontier will begin nonstop service to:

  • Chicago-O’Hare
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Las Vegas
  • Memphis, TN
  • Fort Myers, FL
  • St. Louis
  • St. Augustine/Jacksonville, FL
Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Buddy the Badger

Frontier’s  service from Washington-Dulles will operate on 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

Cranky Flyer has a great analysis today about the tortured history of low cost airlines at Dulles Airport and it’s not a pretty story.  Hopefully, Frontier’s entry into this market will create some price competition.

Frontier Credit Card Sign Up Good for Two Free Round Trips

Frontier Airlines has a pretty generous standard award chart, with 20,000 miles required for a roundtrip for travel within the U.S., including Alaska.  The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 90 days.

So the current credit card offer is good for two round trips, and then some.  That’s because you can travel with a companion for just 15,000 per round trip.

That’s a pretty generous bonus for a very low spend requirement!

There is a $69 annual fee which is not waived in the first year.  Note that Barclay’s advertises this offer as a 50,000 mile bonus, but that includes the balance transfer provision, which is never a good deal because of the fees charged.

What’s more, look at all the cute animals that you can get on your credit card!

Frontier Airlines Credit Card Offer
Frontier Airlines Credit Card Offer

Here are the specifics:

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Mexico in May, Maybe?

Roundtrip to Mexico City for 28K Miles
Roundtrip to Mexico City for 28K Miles

United Airlines has announced a 20 percent off sale on “saver” award tickets to Mexico City.  Tickets must be purchased by April 29, 2014, for travel in May 2014.

Roundtrip saver awards between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii and Guam) or Canada and Mexico City, Mexico normally cost 35,000 miles.  For the month of May 2014, the price is 28,000 Mileage Plus miles, plus taxes and fees.

There was plenty of saver award availability when I checked flights from and to IAD.

Here’s the link to the full terms and conditions.

Why Diversification in Frequent Flyer Programs is a Bad Idea for Budget Travelers

Frequent Flyer ProgramsIt seems obvious to the casual observer.

Diversification is a good idea in the stock market, but it is a bad idea as far as frequent flyer programs go.

In order to maximize award travel, you need to concentrate your earning strategy on one or maybe two frequent flyer programs.

Miles and points have no value if they are not used.  Zilch.  So there is little value in gathering a few miles here and a few miles there unless you will have enough to redeem for an award ticket or hotel room.

Miles and Points Programs Are Loyalty Programs

Frequent flyer and hotel programs are loyalty programs so it stands to reason that they reward loyalty.  If you spread your spending around, the less likely you are to accrue enough points in any one program to redeem an award, or to benefit from elite status.  Now I am not one for elite status, but if you are doing a lot of traveling, and can arrange your travel to concentrate on a particular airline or hotel chain, you may accelerate your points earning as you move up the loyalty program ladder.

35,000 Miles Won’t Get Me Where I Want to Go

Let me give an example.  Last year, I opened a The US Airways Premier World MasterCard® for a bonus of 35K miles.  I thought this was a great deal because the miles were awarded after making my first purchase — there was no minimum spend requirement.  Free miles, I thought.  (The offer now is for $30K miles after your first purchase, with an annual fee of $89.)

US Airways fit into our family’s travel plans, because they had a lot of flights from Washington National (DCA) to Hartford (BDL).  The US Airways card came with two $99 companion passes, so I thought it would be a good way for our family of three to save on travel expenses.  Furthermore, it allowed award redemptions for 5,000 fewer points. (Economy awards on US Airways normally cost 25K miles, but if you have The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®, they cost only 20K miles.)

When it came time to book our travel, there was ready award availability at the “economy” level for flights from DC to Hartford.

So what’s the problem?

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Washington’s Airports: Pretty in Pink

MWAA Cherry Blossom FestivalWashington DC’s airports are getting in the spirit of the National Cherry Blossom Festival with pink lighting to greet visitors flying in for the event.  This year, peak bloom is forecast for April 8-12, 2014.

Check out some spectacular photographs of Dulles International Airport (IAD) decked out in pink by photographer J. David Buerk.

At both Reagan (DCA) and Dulles airports, food and retail concessioners will feature specials such as pink cocktails. donuts and apparel, through April 13, 2014.

The most interesting offering looks to be the Pink Hana Roll with salmon and avocado at Matsutake Sushi, at Gate A18.  You can find a complete list of specials at IAD shops and restaurants here.

Family Days at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Open House at the Udvar-Hazy Center
Open House at the Udvar-Hazy Center

Residents of  Washington, DC and visitors alike have access to the vast cultural opportunities of the Smithsonian Institution, most of which are free.  Last month, we took part in the first ever open house of the restoration hangar at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

This was a really fun event that is likely to be repeated every January henceforth.  Not only did we get to see areas of the museum that are normally off-limits to visitors, but we also got to catch up on newer features of the museum like the space hangar.

My favorite part was going up in the control tower, which offers a fantastic view of the runways at Dulles International Airport (IAD).  It was a blast!

The second Saturday of each month at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center from 10 am – 3 pm. is Super Science Saturday!

African American Pioneers in Aviation Family Day

 

The museum has also scheduled a series of Heritage Family Days at their downtown location on the National Mall, as well as at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.   Family Days offer a wide variety of hands-on activities, presentations, and opportunities to meet pilots, astronauts, and scientists.

Here is the line-up of upcoming programs:

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Behind-the-Scenes at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: The Udvar-Hazy Open House

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

I love behind-the-scenes tours at museums and was lucky enough to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland many years ago.

Specialists were in the process of preparing the Enola Gay for exhibit and it was really fascinating to hear their take on the controversial exhibit and to observe them working.

Much of the museum’s restoration work has now moved to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, near Dulles International Airport.

This Saturday, January 25, 2014, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, there will be the first ever open house.

The highlight of the open house will be a tour of the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hanger, where the Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver, flown in World War II, is undergoing restoration.

Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar
Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar

Museum curators and other specialists will offer a behind-the scenes look at the Udvar-Hazy Center through presentations, hands-on activities, stories, and special tours about the collection and restoration projects.

The open house will showcase historic artifacts, documents, and works of art that are not on public display.  You will have the chance to see what it takes to collect, preserve, and restore historic aircraft and spaceships.

Here are the details:

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How I Saved $1200 on a Roundtrip Ticket

Last week, I needed to book a roundtrip flight from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Washington, DC (IAD) in a big hurry and airfares were through the roof:  $1297 on United Airlines to be precise.

No way, Jose!  Instead, I purchased the “economy” class ticket for 37,500 United Mileage Plus miles, a $7.50 fee, and a $75 close-in booking charge.

I “earned” the miles by opening a United Mileage Plus credit card with Chase Bank, by   accumulating some frequent flyer miles from a few long-distance flights.

Dulles International Airport Image by Metropolitan Washington  Airport Authority
Dulles International Airport
Image by Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority

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