Virgin America launches SFO/LAX to Orlando! (Update: Photos)

For all you West Coasters still wondering where California’s summer went, now’s your chance to break out the sunscreen, fanny packs, and suit up in your classiest tourist garb. This morning, Virgin America officially launched its latest routes from San Francisco and Los Angeles to the ‘fun capital’ of America; Orlando.

To kick off the route, Virgin America has teamed up with Awkward Family Photos to encourage families to upload their “most awkward” vacation photos for a chance to win a lavish family getaway. Anyone that votes before midnight tonight gets a 33% discount off their next family booking on flights to Orlando. So, if you’ve been meaning to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or the new Amway Arena – now’s your chance.


Gadling is onboard the inaugural flight & will be uploading photos from the reception (hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer) as it unfolds. The airline has had a whirlwind couple of months, winning Best Domestic Airline in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards & announcing further expansion to Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and Dallas Fort Worth. We’ll be interested to see just how they plan to follow up on this rapid expansion.

Have questions for Sir Richard Branson or Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer? Leave them in the comments below!

Uganda hotels to charge less for locals

Uganda’s hotels are facing tough times. Despite their country having top attractions such as Nile rafting trips, the Great Rift Valley, and safaris in the many national parks filled with wildlife, the average hotel is running at only 50 percent capacity. Adding to this problem is that wealthy Ugandans don’t go for internal tourism, preferring to jet off to more exotic destinations like Europe. Well, exotic to the Ugandans anyway.

Hoteliers in Uganda have decided to change that by offering a 40 percent discount to Ugandan citizens at certain times of the year. So if you decide to head on over to East Africa to see Lake Victoria, elephants, mountain gorillas, and all the other sights Uganda has to offer, you’ll have a chance to meet more locals than ever. Travelers to Africa tell me the capital Kampala is a lush town full of energy and interest, and it even made it into the list of 15 green cities. Uganda has a lot to offer, and they deserve a healthy tourism industry after they thumbed their collective noses at the terrorists.

[Photo courtesy K. Stefanova via Wikimedia Commons]

Like Cheapflights, get $50 in airfare credit

Interested in selling your Facebook soul for $50 off of your next flight? I am! The marketing folks over at Cheapflights and Vayama launched a campaign soliciting “likes” and shares late last month, in an effort to spread the word about their fare booking site across the web.

All that you have to do to earn $50 worth of credit redeemable from September 8 through October 5 is navigate over to their Facebook page, like the promotion and share it with your friends.

For the increased exposure that they get on the web, you’ll receive a $50 credit towards any purchased flight through the month of September — and from what we can tell, that applies to any flight that they pull up through their GDS.

This means that straight off the shelf, that $200 fare from Chicago to New York that you buy on American Airlines should be $150 after applying this voucher. Not bad for a small slice of your Facebook feed.

Who says money can’t buy friends?

[photo via Egil Fujikawa Nes on flickr]

Get an ISIC card – International travel tip

If you’re a full-time student, teacher or under age 26, there’s a bevy of discounts — museums, food, transportation and more — available to you overseas if you get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) or International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC).

The ID cards generally cost about $20 and pay for themselves within a week’s worth of travel, even quicker if you’re savvy about using the discount finder.

[Photo: Flickr | Ken_Mayer]

SkyMall St. Patrick’s Day Sale

SkyMall knows it’s St. Patrick’s Day. They also know that it’s Wednesday thanks to their Day Clock. And they’re celebrating with a St. Patrick’s Day Sale offering 25% off your total order.

What better way to celebrate your Irish heritage (or love of all things green) than with a green Slanket, an inspirational faux emerald or just a plain old green duffel bag to store all of your lucky charms. Perhaps you’d like to start walking through the office with a Handmade Irish Shillelagh. Today’s the day to make that dream come true.

Not all of the merchants on SkyMall are participating in the sale and there’s some other fine print worth scanning. But if you’ve had your eye on a piece of SkyMall swag – perhaps something you’ve read about in SkyMall Monday – then today’s the day to pull the trigger.