New York now offers one-stop shopping for Broadway tickets
Today in Times Square, the new Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center opened, offering access to advance and same-day Broadway tickets, and free weekly performances by your favorite singers.
Although ticket prices won't beat the half-price deals at the nearby TKTS booth, you'll pay the same as you would at the theater box office. If you're not sure which show to see, the one-stop center means you won't have to schlep to each theater to check availability for the hottest shows, including Wicked, Mamma Mia!, and The Lion King. If you buy a ticket, you'll also receive restaurant suggestions and hotel reservations.
UPDATE Sept. 19: The center charges the same base price as the theater box office, but tacks on a $6.50 service fee -- 50 cents less than Ticketmaster's $7 convenience charge. You won't pay a service fee if you buy directly at the box office.
The center will also host SIRIUS Live on Broadway, a new one-hour broadcast that showcases interviews and live performances by Broadway stars, followed by 15 minutes of photo ops and autograph signings. Seats are limited, so arrive early if you don't want to stand. Next Wednesday (Sept. 24) features cast members from Spring Awakening. For a list of scheduled guests, check out broadwayleague.com. (12 p.m. Wednesdays, free).
The Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center is located in the Times Square Information Center at 1560 Broadway between 46th and 47th streets. Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays.
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What's new at CheapTickets.com?
If you haven't used the online travel agency CheapTickets in a while—or ever—then you may be interested in the following Q&A; with the company's officials. What’s the biggest misconception people have about CheapTickets? Because of the name, some consumers assume that CheapTickets only provides airline tickets when in fact the site is a leading seller of leisure travel products that also includes hotels, cruises, rental cars, vacation packages, condo rentals and Last Minute Trips. We now also offer a variety of attractions, services and event tickets in most destinations through our “Event Tickets and More” tab. What are a couple of the features you’ve added to the site in 2008 that our readers may not be aware of? CheapTickets’ Last Minute Trips tab now highlights budget-friendly travel ideas by theme, including Sunny, Romance, Luxury, Vegas/Casinos, Big Cities and Cruise. Within each theme, we recommend five destinations that will appeal to travelers’ interests and offer value. We now have a more robust Cruise tab with last minute cruise deals. The CheapTickets blog offers travel tips on a variety of topics such as strategies for planning on a budget and finding the best off-season deals. In addition, the blog contains an online video component featuring budget travel advice from our team of travel experts. Each Tuesday a new video debuts, highlighting key travel deals and sales available on CheapTickets. CheapTickets.com launched the Share Your Cheap promotion (www.cheapticket.com/yourstory) which runs through December 31, 2008, that invites travelers to share their best vacation photo and budget travel tips. Each month, CheapTickets.com will award one entrant with roundtrip airfare for two, for travel anywhere in the continental United States, and may feature the winner’s photograph and travel tips on CheapTickets.com. CheapTickets also launched an Urban Traveler microsite that provides the top urban destinations accompanied by travel options and discounts. To enhance the user experience, featured content is provided by EbonyJet.com, an online journal by the publishers of Ebony and Jet. What’s the most powerful tool on CheapTickets that people ought to know about but may not be using yet? This is not a tool but without a doubt customers should take a look at the Cheap of the Week page. CheapTickets’ Market Managers, who are stationed throughout the U.S. and the world, secure deeply discounted hotel deals for CheapTickets’ customers. Each Tuesday morning, the page is updated to feature new deals and a new destination, providing a limited-time opportunity to visit and save. Any advice about using CheapTickets to avoid fees—or to avoid surprise fees? People concerned about additional airline fees, for example, can check out the break down of new baggage fees in the FAQ section of the CheapTickets site. 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Webcast: Best places you haven't heard of
Today Budget Travel's very own Laura MacNeil chatted today with CNN anchor Melissa Long about our September issue's cover story, Scouting Report 2008. Take a look at the CNN.com/live video:
Coming soon: Free admission to Disney on your birthday
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced today that in 2009 it will offer free admission on your birthday to its theme parks in California or Florida. "Birthdays are the one occasion that we all share every year. We thought a free birthday ticket would be the icing on the cake," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney parks and Resorts at a press conference today. The new policy follows up on 2008's popular "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion. Disney wants to focus on guests and the special occasions they're celebrating on their trips. ("Celebration vacation" is their term for these trips.) Guests will need to provide a valid ID showing their date of birth. For more details, visit disneyparks.com.
Alitalia deal falls apart! Liquidation is possible
UPDATED Sept. 18, 11:24 ET: The only consortium willing to buy Alitalia has withdrawn its offer, as unions remain unable to agree to a deal, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Chaos is possible. If you're flying Alitalia, flights may be disrupted or canceled. Alitalia's home page is listing which flights were canceled yesterday. Transatlantic flights between the U.S. and Italy are not affected so far. If you've already booked your ticket, what can you do? If you're flying Alitalia this month, be sure to check with FlightStats.com before you depart to the airport to make sure your flight has not been re-scheduled or otherwise changed. Consider shipping your luggage. For details on how to do this, see our luggage-shipping report. Bring the airline's phone number with you (800/223-5730). If you're at the airport when your flight is canceled, call the number while you're walking to the airline counter (and stay on while in line). This two-pronged strategy increases your chance of getting on the next flight. If flights are canceled and you're unable to rebook an another Alitalia flight, contact a rival airline to see if they are offering any discounted fares for Alitalia ticketholders. You may want to consider hiring the services of a travel agent to identify what deals are available for you, or else call the reservations line of a few major international carriers. If your flight is canceled, be sure to get proof in writing by paper (at the gate) or by email (at home). If you don't have proof of a cancellation, you're facing an uphill battle if the charge eventually shows up on your credit card bill and you need to dispute it. Now that you've made a purchase, you're better off relying on your credit card company as back-up protection. If Alitalia shuts down, file a dispute with your credit card company immediately, to get reimbursed. Don't attempt to cancel your tickets now. If Alitalia is reorganized or liquidated, it may take so long for Alitalia to process your refund that your paperwork may be lost. A credit card company will have more leverage to press your case for reimbursement. Be wary of tight connections. Many international flights between the U.S. and Italy involve connections that need to be made in less than an hour's time. If your itinerary requires you to change planes, you risk being unable to make your onward connection because your first flight may be delayed or canceled due to Alitalia's troubles. Be attentive to the layover time between flights and consider paying a fee to re-book an itinerary with additional time to make any connections.