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August 14, 1999

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Summer Airfare Bargains

Who says you can't find bargain fares out of the country in the heart of the summer? AirEurope is an Italian airline that's just begun flying between New York and Venice or Pisa. It's offering a promotional fare through September of $425 round trip if you book by the end of this month.

And Icelandair is offering what it calls its mother-in-law fares -- but don't worry, you don't have to really take your mother-in-law. It's a two-for-one sale on full-fare economy tickets purchase by the last day of August. So two of you can hop over to Paris from the East Coast for $408 round trip per person, or to Copenhagen, Oslo or Stockholm for $378. And check out Swissair's Newark to Basel flight. Only $330 round trip if you buy your ticket by August 27th for travel 'til mid-December.

Want something exotic but closer to home? How about Puerto Rico? Book by the 20th of this month, and ATA will fly you between San Juan and New York for as little as $200 round trip. $300 from Chicago. And you can travel all the way through mid-December.

Deals like these are unusual during the summer. AirEurope to Italy, Swissair to Basel, and ATA to San Juan. Get 'em while they're hot.

Great fares around the world--that's my Deal of the Week!

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No Labor Day Pilot Strike
Pilots for American Airlines say "don't worry" about your Labor Day travel plans. Even though talks reached an impasse this week over pilots' wages following the American-Reno Air merger, the Allied Pilots Association says its members won't repeat their February sick-out. Now, talks have stalled again. But the pilots say the differences can be worked out and they're meeting with the airline next week.

New F.A.A. Bad Weather Policy
Labor strife is one reason for delay, but this summer it's mostly bad weather holding up flights. And this week, the F.A.A. took action...it's changing parts of their bad weather policy to help planes get up and down more quickly. What's the biggest difference you're likely to see? Well, from now on, air traffic control will give passengers estimated departure times when a flight's held on the ground. That's expected to start happening over the next several weeks.

Ozone Alert
Remember when getting away from it all meant leaving that polluted city behind? Well, not anymore. According to environmental groups, many vacation spots have worse ozone problems than nearby cities. Take Cape Cod. Midway through the summer, the Cape had 11 dirty air days...but Boston tallied only four. Nevertheless, Jayne Mardock of the Clean Air Network says, this shouldn't keep you at home.

Mardock: "The message is not 'don't go on vacation,' the message is, you know, we have a pretty national problem here and we need to have national solutions to clean up the air. Because we should be able to go to the Cape Cod and have it be clean and pristine and it isn't right now."

You can link to the dirty air report at www.cleanair.net. Mardock also recommends www.epa.gov/airnow for real-time ozone reports across the United States and www.nescaum.org for detailed information on the northeast U.S.

Frequent Flyer News
And there's more good news for frequent flyers this week. United Airlines is removing most expirations dates on miles for its Milage Plus members. American recently did the same for its customers. But with United...if you take two domestic flights or one international trip by the end of the year, they'll reinstate all your expired miles from last year. But don't forget to call United first and let them know what you're up to.

Cell Phones on Planes?
And finally, just weeks after a British Airways passenger was arrested in England for using his cell phone, American Airlines has decided it's okay...sometimes. Now, you can use a cell phone or two-way pager...but only while the plane is parked at the gate. And that's this week's Travel Update.

Travel Advisory
by Cheryl Glaser

Hepatitis A Alert
Hundreds of motorists on the East Coast may have been exposed to hepatitis A. An infected worker at the Texas Steakhouse on Interstate 95 near Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina handled food and may have passed the disease on to as many as 2000 travelers over the weekends of July 31st and August 7th.

Customs Delay Relief
International travelers know delays are routine at customs checks...and for those pulled out of line and searched, the wait can last many hours. But starting October first, agents must first convince a federal magistrate in order to hold a traveler more than four hours. If you're cleared of suspicion, customs officials promise to help you back on your way.

New Baggage Scanners
And while suspicious people are getting new treatment, the Federal Aviation Administration is worried that suspicious luggage is not. A new technology designed to scan baggage is going unused at major airports. Airlines say the equipment is too slow. But the F.A.A. wants the machines to scan as much as 20 percent of all airport luggage.


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