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December 4, 1999

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Millennium Airfare

Remember way back...oh, last week...when Delta and other major airlines raised fares by three percent? Well, this week, the airlines retreated when two competitors, Northwest and USAirways, wouldn't play. So now, Delta is offering -- get this -- five percent off ticket prices if you book online by midnight Sunday, December fifth. That's like, right now.

You have to use those tickets in the U.S. by January 1. And the discount is good on any fare that has an advance purchase requirement of three days or more. America West is going even further: five percent off through the end of January on travel booked on the Internet.

These deals show two things: First, the airlines want you to buy tickets on their Web sites. And, second, millennium business isn't as good as the airlines expected. A year ago, airlines thought seats would be sold out for New Years by now. We showed them. Go to delta-air.com or americawest.com.

Book that millennium trip for five percent off -- that's my Deal of the Week!

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Hurricane Lenny Affects Caribbean Travel Options
Hurricane season ended last week, but not before Hurricane Lenny stormed the Caribbean and damaged four popular winter getaways. The islands of Nevis, Saint Maarten, Antigua and Anguilla are all reporting very serious wind and water damage. Some resorts there, like the Four Seasons in Nevis, will be closed all winter.

See, most hurricanes come early in the season, like in August or September. That gives hotels and resorts all fall to clean up and get ready for the winter rush. Lenny's late arrival and extreme winds and rains are leaving many vacationers wondering where to turn.

So we asked Susie Fisch. She books Caribbean vacations for the big New York agency McCord Travel. She told us what she's telling her clients.

Susie Fisch: "They must be open to other suggestions and we are talking about some of the southern islands in the Caribbean. So if they had never thought about Barbados, Barbados would be an option this year. Also, they may never ever have considered Mexico."

Susie says that if you are planning a winter holiday, you should make some calls and check up on your destination. If your resort is damaged, there's a good chance it will be ready by Christmas and New Years. But if it won't be, there's at least a little good news. The airlines are refunding many tickets. Hotels are returning deposits. But if you can stand the cold for a few more months, you might want to postpone your trip until spring. That's when even the most damaged hotels should be back and ready for business.

Driving to Mexico
You know, one place Susie mentioned as a good alternative to the Caribbean is Mexico. And earlier this week, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo called off a new $800 deposit for people driving cars over the border. In the law's short two days, car traffic fell off ninety percent at some border crossings.

Airport Security Under Scrutiny
Well, speaking of security, the Department of Transportation issued a report last week severely criticizing procedures at major U.S. airports. In one five month period early this year, inspectors simply walked into secure areas nearly 120 times. The testers posed as airport workers and then drove through unguarded airport gates, walked through security checkpoints and even took seats on planes about to depart.

The study focused on eight airports: Washington's Reagan Airport, New York's J.F.K., Chicago's O'Hare, as well as the major airports in Miami, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Honolulu. The Department of Transportation fingered the F.A.A. for the security lapses.

Washington Monument Closed
Meanwhile, one place they're fixing problems is the Washington Monument. It's going to be closed for renovation until at least next June.

Travel Advisory
with Cheryl Glaser

Turkey Faces Power Shortage
Turkey's government is turning out the lights and cutting power to Ankara for two hours every day. There's not enough natural gas to keep power generators going and the shortage is affecting both electricity and water supplies in the capital. Full power will resume only after the government gets more gas delivered.

Warnings in Spain
And in Spain, Basque separatists broke a 14-month truce and have announced a new terrorist campaign, planned to start this weekend. Bombings in the Pyrenees and Madrid haven't targeted tourists in the past, but travelers should be ready for heightened security and increased travel times all over Spain.


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