Emirates lures Seattle travelers with low fares, bonus miles
Emirates is offering sweet deals for Seattle travelers looking for an inexpensive way to reach destinations such as Jordan or India.
Seattle Times travel writer
Emirates airline is kicking off new nonstop flights between Seattle and Dubai on March 1 with introductory offers as sweet as a thick slice of baklava: double miles for Alaska Airlines frequent fliers, and prices for connecting flights to the Middle East and India that beat some spring fares to Europe.
Execs from Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon likely will fill Emirates' private first-class suites and lie-flat business-class beds, but coach passengers looking for a way to visit the temples of India or explore the ancient city of Petra in Jordan will find some tempting deals.
Seattle/Dubai flights are aboard Emirates airline's Boeing 777-300ERs. A check for midweek April fares between Seattle and Mumbai, India, turned up a round-trip fare on Emirates of $1,158, taxes included, for the 14.5-hour nonstop to Dubai and the onward three-hour connection to India.
The catch: Since you don't leave Seattle until 5:55 p.m., you don't arrive in Dubai until 6:55 p.m. the following evening. Arrival in Mumbai is 2:55 a.m. the next morning.
Some of the best deals are going fast. Emirates offered what seemed to be a one-day sale on Jan. 23 on flights to Jordan. The round-trip fare was $589 for March, April and May dates, but anyone who hesitated lost out. The fare went up to $1,200 the next day.
That flight and many others require an overnight in Dubai in both directions, but for layovers of more than eight hours (six hours for business-class passengers), the airline provides a hotel at no extra charge.
If you can keep your eyes propped open, you'll get to sample the glittering nightlife in Dubai, the Las Vegas of the Middle East. No visas are required for U.S. citizens staying for less than one month in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates.
The double-miles offer is good for travel through May 31 on qualifying flights. Flying round trip between Seattle and Dubai would net an Alaska Airlines frequent flier 28,000 miles, enough for a free domestic ticket.
Airlines and online travel agencies are now displaying fares that include all taxes and fees, thanks to a federal rule that took effect in late January. While some have turned the mandate into a marketing opportunity, others are crying foul.
Expedia launched the changes on its website with an orange banner ad pointing out that "Now it's easier to find the best fare. Taxes and fees are now included in the total price."
Spirit Airlines, which is challenging the new rule in court, posted a red warning sign on its website claiming that "new government regulations require us to HIDE taxes in your fares." It's all part of a "hidden agenda," said Spirit, to quietly increase taxes without you knowing about it.
Wings on fire! There's nothing stopping airlines from showing what fares would be without taxes and fees. Alaska Airlines shows total fares in its low-fare calendars and other search areas. Then, when you place your mouse over the fare to select it, it shows what the price would be without taxes and fees.
Sen. Barbara Boxer was right when she told The Associated Press that Spirit's carping was a "deliberate attempt to deceive the flying public about a new rule that will improve the transparency of airfares for consumers."
A taste of Maui
Culinary walking tours combine every traveler's favorite activity — eating — with the chance to explore local neighborhoods and mingle with creative entrepreneurs.
Here's one I wished I knew about when I did some reporting on Maui a few months ago. Inspired by the cheeses, crab and chocolates she sampled on a walking tour with Savor Seattle (www.savorseattletours.com), former Seattleite Cindi Weldon started Local Tastes of Maui (http://localtastesofmaui.com), with food-focused walks through the historic island towns of Paia and Makawao. The two-hour tours are $45, with 10 percent of profits going to animal-welfare organizations.
Carol Pucci: cpucci@ seattletimes.com.
About Travel Wise
Travel Wise is aimed at helping people travel smart, especially independent travelers seeking good value. Drawing on her own experiences and readers', Carol Pucci covers everything from the best resources to how to tap into the local culture. Her column runs each Sunday in the Travel section.