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November 20, 1999

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Two Asian Cities on Sale

The winter airfare sales are beginning. Air Lingus will fly you round trip between L.A. and Ireland for less than $300. Sabena will wing you between Chicago and Brussels for $330 round trip. But one deal that hit my desk this week is so incredible, I had to read it twice to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me.

Northwest's World Vacations division is offering three nights each in two of some of the continent's most interesting cities, such as Hong Kong and Bangkok. You get airfare from most U.S. destinations plus three hotel nights in both Asian cities for...hold on to your chopsticks...$899, not including taxes. Heck, you could pay that for the hotels or airfare alone! That price is good until the middle of December, but for travel from Christmas until mid-March, just add $12. For a couple of hundred bucks more, you can do Beijing and Shanghai or other combos.

Click on to nwa.com, choose "Vacation Packages," and take a look at Asia. Here's a nice footnote: You only have to book a week in advance!

Double your pleasure by visiting two great Asian cities at a great price -- that's my Deal of the Week.

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Development in Egypt Air Case
The investigation in to the crash of Egypt Air flight 990 continues. Now there's speculation about the reserve co-pilot's mental health. It got me thinking, you know, I get references on my doctors, my kids' teachers, even my mechanic. But I'm entrusting my life to a pilot...and I don't know anything about him.

I spoke with Bill Waldock, an air crash investigator and teacher at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I asked Bill, how can I be sure I can trust the guy doing the flying?

Waldock: "If you had anybody who had really serious problems, I think they'd be able to pick most of those up. Between a combination of the medical certification, the recurrent medical examinations and the informal structures at the airlines through the pilot's associations. And there's also a great deal of help available."

Now, there aren't any regular psychological tests for pilots. But given how few actual incidents there are -- not even a half dozen over the last twenty years -- Bill's telling his friends not to worry. This crash is a tragic event, but not one that should make us wary of pilots.

On-Line Travel
And, since I'm staying in the air, you know I'm going to keep looking for those deals. There's a lot's changing in the world of on-line travel.

First, United, Delta, Northwest and Continental announced a brand new web venture expected to launch early next year. You'll be able to book flights, compare schedules and even comparison shop between just about any airline in the world ... all from your home computer.

And, American, United and U.S. Airways now have joined Priceline.com. That's the Internet auction site where you decide how much to bid on tickets, and then the airlines decide if they'll sell them to you. These new airlines will almost double the number of flights available on Priceline.

Worried you're going to miss your travel agent? You don't have to. Just log on to Uniglobe.com or Biztravel.com. Both Web sites are adding real, live travel agents in chat rooms on-line.

Carry-on Sizers
Well, here's something sure to elict a few groans. American Airlines announced this week they're adding those carry-on luggage sizers at ten of their busiest airports...just in time for the December holidays.

You know what I'm talking about, right? The big metal gates on the x-ray machines. If your bag doesn't fit through, then the airline makes you check it. United started using them a couple of years ago and now American says it'll speed up boarding and get you to your destination faster.

United Goes Online at the Airport
Here's another United initiative ...beginning early next year, United's going to start putting Internet terminals at its United Shuttle gates. You'll be able to surf the Web and check your email, even change your flight reservations through United's Web site. And the best part...it's all free.

Travel Advisory
with Sarah Gardner

Hurricane Lenny Hits Caribbean
Hurricane Lenny whipped through the Caribbean this week ... bringing 145-mile-an-hour winds to the islands of St. Croix, St. Maarten and Anguilla. Now, if you're planning a winter trip to the Caribbean, be warned: many buildings, ships and homes on these islands are wrecked. Officials there are still assessing the damage.

Wild Boars in Berlin
And, here's news to make you happy you're at home...unless, of course, your home's in Berlin. Wild boars, apparently, are running unchecked through the Berlin suburbs. A population explosion in the countryside has created, well, a real porcine plague. Now, residents report packs of pigs up to 30 strong, running rampant down city streets.


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