Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mexico :: Good to Go or No?

Winter 2001-2002 saw Mexico as a newly-attractive destination for North american holidayers, and the prices went up accordingly. Since I am not one who endorses profit from the misfortune of others, I decided to leave Mexico alone until prices improved. Canadians too, as recently as last year, had concerns with security issues in the Mayan Riviera. I won't go into detail on the latter, as its being handled by various parties. As recently as this week, there's been civil issues in the capital and ongoing ones in Oaxaca. That adverse conditons affect pricing is perhaps best shown in the travel packages and great hotel prices advertised in today's Toronto Star. Prices are back to where they they were about 6 years ago, and more in line with pricing for the typical Mexican holiday vis a vis the exchange rate etc. So what's a traveler to do? Take advantage of the good prices and ignore these other issues?

I'd say check for government advisories, read your newspapers and online news reports before booking your Mexican holiday. Mexico is a lovely holiday sun destination. Just avoid those areas. (Photo :: The beach at the Ritz-Carlton, Cancun)

Zoom Seat Sale Toronto to London Good Deal or Not?

Today's Toronto Star newspaper has an ad for Zoom Airlines for a seat sale for 'selected departures' from Canada to the U.K. and France from January 10-February 28, 2007, for bookings made now to November 24, 2006.

Zoom's home page does not mention this sale, so I went through the reservation process to see where these low fares kicked in. For a flight from Toronto (YYZ) to London Stansted (located 30 miles/48 kms north of London, for January 10/07, the cheapest fare is a flight leaving at 6:15 p.m. for $179 CAD. There was a return flight for January 18 (one day later than my hoped-for January 17 return), at 9:25 a..m., for $149 CAD. Taxes, fuel surcharges etc were an additional $114.15 outbound and $156.25 inbound, totallling $270.40. Total ticket price :: $598.40 CAD.

The low fares in this test flight were on the U.K. to Canada leg, which makes sense, as this is the depths of winter in Canada, and not a popular time for U.K. visitors to come calling. And although it is winter in London, too, with short hours of daylight, it's a good time to sightsee without the crowds, to take in some plays and enjoy the milder-than-Canada climate.

I spent a week in London in mid-January two years ago, and although the weather was chilly, I was comfortable enough to take a boat ride to Greenwich, and to walk through the parks, enjoy the blooming pansies and tulips, and explore Kensington. It was easier and less expensive to find good hotels and to make my way through the museums.

Is this seat sale a good deal? Overall, I'd say yes. For Canadian travelers, this fare is about 40 percent lower compared to the high season, summer fares.