Once upon a time at Thanksgiving — not too long ago — we flew to St. Thomas to catch the shoulder season, rum, fun, seafood, sand, sun and surf on St. John, USVI. Though quickly being weaned from stateside food, on our day of national feasting we searched for and found adequate sliced turkey with dressing and mashed potatoes, served from a disposable aluminum pan.
Stretched to a little over a week and divided between St. John’s wonderful beaches, Thanksgiving was a nice break before plunging into the hectic Christmas season. I was tanned. I was rested. I was not five pounds heavier.
The following year, we escalated to something really weird. This time, totally passing up the traditional turkey, we went to Madrid at Thanksgiving when, with no fanfare, Delta posted a $1910 roundtrip business class fare. The sale broke my “$2000 Business Class fare barrier,” and I couldn’t refuse.
We loved the clear, crisp days; the fabulous food, both large and small (tapas) plates; the wonderful museums when it drizzled; and a couple “finds” at el Rastro flea market. We were hooked on Thanksgiving week travel.
Each year since, I’ve been on the lookout for a Thanksgiving giveaway/getaway.
Early last year, airlines began discounting seats to Turkey. I started reading about Istanbul. There was a lot to read. I prepared for an adventure. After nearly jumping on a rare $399 roundtrip fare from D.C. to Istanbul in March, I was ultimately hooked by a $532 fare out of Chicago at Thanksgiving.
I did the sour grapes thing to make myself feel better: after all, the “super deal” was in coach. Sure, you can self-medicate and fly non-stop from Newark, but it’s still a long, long flight. And speaking of rest, how about some Istanbul unrest? But I was still sad about missing the trip.
Another year, another direction
Times change. Three years ago, Delta had surreptitiously offered a low fare. This year I’ve been bombarded with Thanksgiving week specials. Airlines no longer seem to care when we see how deep they’re willing to discount fares to fill planes. It’s Priceline gone public.
An email this week from American Airlines stood out from the rest. Was it the brightly colored “South American turkey” in the picture? Or was it Lima, Peru?
Even though we’re not an AA “featured city,” I found roundtrip coach fares from CVG for $1054. 7200 miles with a stop in Dallas or Miami didn’t sound too bad. It’s south. It’s in the other hemisphere where November is very different — and that’s better!
Business class for only slightly more than coach
Glancing to the right on the AA flight listing, I was shocked to find roundtrip Business Class fares were just $700 more than Coach — $1729 to $1754. Not exactly a mileage run bargain, but still a tempting option. After a short coach commuter jet, I can choose a 757 or 767 out of MIA or DFW with a recliner or angle-flat bed and a decent meal (and extra mileage credit) for the 7 hours to Lima.
Delta is showing $1524 with lie-flat business class roundtrip from Atlanta, $1936 for those of us originating in Cincinnati.
Machu Picchu anyone?
November marks the “official” start of the Peruvian rainy season, but as I write this I’m looking at a forecast for the next 10 days in October that shows showers every day at Machu Picchu. Who can outguess the weather? Pack an umbrella. Wear boots and a raincoat. Enjoy the view. It won’t be as crowded as my local supermarket at Thanksgiving, and in Lima the turkeys have those wonderful orange beaks.