6 Sweet Cyber Monday Sales (and 2 Crazy Ones)

It’s Cyber Monday, y’all! This is when your return to work after a long holiday doesn’t really feel like work because all you’re really doing is shopping online and Tweeting throughout the process. If you’re worried about your boss catching you (although I’m sure they’re doing the exact same thing in their office), here’s a handy fake spreadsheet to open on the fly. And if you’re not sure what sales are actually worth it, read on for a list of six sites to score big on, and two with some seriously zany deals.

OMG-worthy:

1. For the first time ever, blogger-favorite Brandy Melville is hooking up 30% off everything in their e-shop. The blogosphere is going crazy for this one, which is why the site has been crashing all morning. Keep refreshing the page and you’ll eventually get in. Once you’ve made it, don’t spend your time debating on items too long because there’s also a shopping cart waiting list that you’ll have to deal with. 

2. Another cult-favorite e-tailer, Nasty Gal is serving 25% off the entire site, including markdowns. They’ve also got some pretty cute swag in their gift guide.

3. Up to 50% off select items (and there are tons) on Net-a-Porter. This is a no-brainer. 

4. Want to be the most clever gifter ever this holiday season? The Fancy is offering 20% off their entire site today, which includes tons of unique gift items (keyboard contact lens case, anyone?). Just enter promo code CBRMON at checkout. 

6.  In honor of BeachMint’s super successful Black Friday sale, JewelMintShoeMintStyleMint and IntiMint are hosting a live interactive shopping event today at 10am PST. Hosted by WhoWhatWear’s Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, CyberMint will feature exclusive deals, new product releases and celebs appearances by the likes of Rachel Bilson and Brooke Burke.  

WTF-worthy:

1. Speaking of cyber, streetwear e-tailer Karmaloop is taking the holiday one step further and has hired a dozen actual "cam girls" to sell their swag. According to SacBee, the "Karmaloop CyberKam girls will chat live for 24 hours titillating customers, offering exclusive deals, on the spot contests, performing live karaoke and other crazy surprises!" This one is obviously NSFW.

2. Not nearly as controversial but just as curious, Gilt City hosted a sale this morning that offered wealthy geeks to book a private, roundtrip flight for 136 people from San Francisco to the 2013 CES trade show in Las Vegas. Virgin America’s "Nerd Bird" went for a whopping $49,000 and is now sold out.

NYE Sale, Virgin America

All right all you last minute travelers, if you want a chance to get out of town for NYE, Virgin America is throwing you a bone. For their final hurrah of 2009, Virgin America is having one last fire sale and has come up with fares that should go easy on your bank account, like $39 one-ways between Los Angeles and San Francisco, $59 one-ways between Los Angeles and Seattle, and the $99 one-ways cross country between Los Angeles and New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, and even between Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles.

The best part about this sale is that the fares are good with only a one-day advance purchase, so you can head out of town as early as tomorrow. You can also travel through the end of February on these seats. You’ve got to book by tonight and there are a few blackout dates — January 2 + 3, and February 12 and February 15. Happy New Year, courtesy of Virgin America. Book here.

Hilton Street Cred on the Rise

Hilton Hotels are not known for being cool, trendy or hip. They’re reliable and pretty standard as far as hotels go. But lately they’ve made some moves to change their rep. Though the company swears they didn’t pay for any kind of positioning in the new George Clooney film, Up in the Air, they’re sure promoting it. “As for helping to promote the film, the chain held the after-party for the Nov. 30 premiere at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, which included more than 1,000 guests (an event that Paramount and American Airlines also helped pay for),” reported the NY Times. “Hilton also is promoting the movie on its Web site, where, besides viewing a trailer, visitors can enter sweepstakes to win one million customer loyalty points and a trip for two to Paris. The company also is promoting the film on more than a million key cards internationally, a first for the chain, whose cards have never featured anything besides its own logos and amenities.”

So maybe they comped some rooms and printed up some key cards. That’s some good branding right there. And while Hilton is riding the PR wave from Up in the Air, they’ve quietly been putting together a partnership with the uber cool, Virgin America, offering up frequent flier points to eleVAte members on a per stay basis. Watch out for Hilton. Next thing you know they’re going to have Balenciaga uniforms and Louboutin shoes.

Virgin America Loves the Holidays

Virgin America is really stepping it up this year. First they went and offered up free holiday WiFi and now they’ve decided to gift holiday travelers with some in air swag. As of yesterday, running through the 26th there are eight golden ticket flights (they’re calling them “Holiday Cheer” flights) that will surprise passengers with an open bar (like, whoa), free eats and the opportunity to win some sweet swag.

The swag in question includes a free round-trip ticket and special gift. According to Jaunted, the special gift includes “an assortment of swag like wine-tasting tickets for two to Plumpjack wineries in Napa Valley, ‘Yes to Carrots’ amenity kits, Snowflake Blue Microphones, VeeV Açai Spirit and a complimentary one-night stay at Morgans Hotel Group’s luxury hotel, Clift, in San Francisco.” The way to get your hands on this lovely swag bag is to be a fast typer — once they announce it’s contest time the first person to tweet or post to the VA Facebook page wins! Maybe this is the time to pre-program your tweet/post now and be ready to just press publish. If you’re not quick enough on the draw, don’t worry, they’re going to pick an on board eleVAte member at random to win the prize as well. @jetblue, are you listening? I’d like this option on my flight tomorrow. Thanks.

Your Cash Is No Good At 20,000 Feet

Continental is the latest airline to convert completely to plastic-only, in-flight cabin services. Starting today, If you want to purchase alcohol, headsets or snacks on board, you have to hand over your credit card. The “cashless cabin” trend really gained traction this year, with nearly all the airlines going plastic: United in April, American Airlines in June, Delta in November and now Continental this December. JetBlue and Virgin America have been cashless for years now.

What’s up with this credit-only trend? People spend more when they pay with a card. When you don’t physically count out the dollars it’s much less painful to blow twenty bucks on booze and more booze. According to JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin, sales nearly doubled in the first few weeks after the company went cashless in 2007.

Cyber Monday Travel Deals

While Black Friday caters to those willing to wait in line at 4 am, Cyber Monday is the day for those who would prefer to click, surf and save — all from the comfort of their keyboard. The major players in this game are the airlines, though some hotels have gotten in on discounting too. First up is Virgin America. This is a sale I can get behind, with $39 one-way for short-hauls, like SFO to LAX, $69 for flights from LAX to SEA, and $109 for cross-country flights SFO/LAX to JFK. The best part about this sale is the timing. You can book from now until the 8th, and fly anytime from the 3rd through May 23rd. For those of you who’ve yet to book your holiday flights, or want to get out of town for New Year’s Eve, now’s the time to book on Virgin America. More deals after the jump.

JetBlue: Generally, JetBlue is pretty generous with their special sales, slashing fares across the country. This time, however, not so much. The sale is for one day only, and though fares are good, $39, $69 and $99 for one-way fares, the dates are not so great. You have to book by tonight and travel by December 17th. Great for those wanting to get away in the next two weeks, but not so great for anyone else.

There are also a few deals happening on the ground, like five-night cruises in the Bahamas for $399 here. Hotels.com is having a four-day sale with rates as low as 50% off, check it out here. Starwood Hotels is holding a 72-hour sale and Las Vegas is offering packages for ridiculous rates of $32 a person. These deals are running out within days, if not hours, so if you’ve got the travel itch, today is the day to scratch it.

One-Day Sale: JetBlue

JetBlue is at it again, with another one-day sale. This sale is hot on the heels of yesterday’s version courtesy of Virgin America, and it is full of great deals, so if you’ve got the inclination and a few extra bucks, get a seat while they’re hot.

Of course these sale dates are not valid on the days surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, but if you can think beyond those travel nightmares, you’re in the clear. If this was a contest between Virgin America and JetBlue, I call JetBlue as the clear winner if only due to the fact that JetBlue has several dozen more cities that they fly to than Virgin America.

Sample fares from JFK (one-way): * $89 to Austin * $49 to Chicago * $79 to San Francisco * $89 to Los Angeles * $99 to Las Vegas * 109 to Montego Bay, Jamaica

Expedia Drops Phone Fee

In an unprecedented move, Expedia has dropped their phone fee, which is great news for those of us with complicated flight booking needs, or those of us who just prefer to actually talk to someone instead of clicking through a website. As of yesterday, the $20 fee to speak with a real, live agent has been dropped completely. This gives Expedia an edge in both customer service and in cost. Not only can you talk to someone live, it’s now going to be cheaper to go through Expedia because most airlines charge ridiculous booking fees over the phone.

For example, Virgin America charges $15 per guest per itinerary. Delta charges $20 per person per ticket, and United charges $25 per person, per reservation. This also gives Expedia an advantage over direct competitors like Orbitz and Cheap Tickets because they both charge to the tune of $25 for a booking, and another ridiculous $30-$50 to change or cancel a reservation. Ideally this will spark similar moves across the industry, since no one wants to be labeled as the airline who makes their customers literally pay for customer service. In fact, Expedia should go ahead and roll out a YouTube video that calls out your competitors in that very way. Talk that smack!

Outlook Good for Free Wifi on Trains, Planes

The price of connectivity looks poised to plummet to zero as planes and trains experiment with offering free onboard wifi. So far, airlines have charged for hopping on the web, usually connected to the length of the flight. Costs range from a few bucks to over $10 a pop, and adoption has been on the slow side. Perhaps people are reluctant to let go of their last vestige of disconnection while in flight, or they just don’t want to pay another damn fee; whatever the reason, airlines are now trying to woo passengers by offering wifi as a free perk. We already told you that Virgin America and Google have a special holiday deal running from mid-November through January 15, but more airlines are following suit.

American Airlines has teamed up with Lexus to offer free wifi for a week on all its flights now through November 7th (code: 2010LEXUSLS), and AirTran has a BOGO deal going, which isn’t exactly free, but it still counts as free-ish. Amtrak is the real game changer, as it recently announced that all its fast Acela trains will feature free wifi by 2010, which finally might make the trains a better option than a flight. With airlines testing the free-wifi waters, and Amtrak going balls-to-the-wall free, charging for net access may soon go the same route to extinction as the pay-per-view in-flight movie.