NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Late spring is the time to seal the deal on summer travel plans and quick getaways. Specials and new services abound. Here are some of them.
Deals and Getaways:
is offering a sale on flights between New York City and Toronto, with fares starting at $128 one-way for travel through Sept. 9. As per usual with airfare sales, the lowest prices are available for midweek travel. Book by tomorrow.
There are hot deals on trans-Atlantic routes to Europe this summer, too. On
all-business-class boutique unit
, fly in flatbed seats from New York to Paris from $1,029 each way with a round-trip ticket purchase. Paris-bound flights from Washington D.C. start at $1,079 each way. Book by June 30 for travel between July 30 and Sept. 10. Note: BA says the recurring cabin-crew strikes against the parent carrier aren't affecting Open Skies.
Prefer to stay on terra firma? The
plans to waive general admission fees at hundreds of parks nationwide on Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25 and Nov. 11. The NPS offered the same deal last year. Other fees for goods and services will still apply.
New Airline Routes and Airport Services:
Summer is peak travel season, up there with the end-of-the-year holidays. Accordingly, airlines are introducing new routes, some aimed at high-flying, high-yield business and corporate travelers. Among them:
nonstop, six-day-a-week service between San Francisco and Zurich. The idea, Swiss CEO Harry Hohmeister said in an interview, is to link Silicon Valley's high-tech engineers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to Swiss pharmaceutical giants like
, and tech and green energy startups in Switzerland's largest city.
More broadly, Swiss has installed a newly reconfigured business class (think more personal space, fully flat beds) on Airbus A340 planes to San Francisco and New York, with plans to roll out the new service across its fleet this year and next.
In the gloomy, confusing days after 9/11, serial entrepreneur Steve Brill launched a registered-traveler program called Clear. It was designed to offer road warriors who'd undergone voluntary background checks (and paid $100 a year) fast-track passage through tangled airport security. Clear, citing funding woes, closed last year, but embryonic programs with similar goals are busy being born.
While they're more go-to-the-front-of-the-line concierge plays than security measures, new programs will be tested at Denver (AlClear) and Indianapolis (iQueue) airports, with yearly fees projected at $150 to $180 if the new programs fly with consumers. Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service's
registered-traveler program, which carries a fee of $100 for five years, is operating in about 20 major U.S. international airports, according to the
New York Times.
Two Good Sites:
Beijing's moment in the Olympic spotlight may have passed, but the Chinese capital of nearly 20 million is still an exciting, churning travel destination. Its sheer size can make the metropolis tough to navigate, though. For insights and help, check out
, an English-language site that offers frequently updated takes on cool bars, interesting restaurants, cutting-edge art galleries and new music.
The new online auction site
offers the chance to bid on deeply discounted luxury suites at 4- and 5-star hotels. According to the site, "bids cost $1 each and are purchased in bid packs of 10, 20, 50 and 100." If you win, the suite must be booked within 24 hours.
David Armstrong is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer. He covers airlines and airports, hotels and resorts, food and wine, and writes travel destination features.