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December 18, 1999

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Winter Travel on Sale

The winter airfare sales have begun! Vanguard Airlines out of Kansas City offers round trip fares like $118 between Chicago and Cincinnati, or Atlanta and Kansas City. $158 between Dallas and Denver or Chicago and Dallas. Just buy your tickets and finish up by January 8th.

ATA offers "take along a companion" fares. Fly between New York and L.A. for $298 and your companion pays only $118. Chicago and San Juan, $398, only $118 for a friend. These fares are good after New Years -- between January fifth and mid-February. Book by midnight this Wednesday.

Or how about flying Qantas from L.A. to Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane in Australia...how about Auckland, New Zealand? Get this: Savvy Traveler listeners get an additional five per cent off already-low fares. Call Anzac Travel in Redmond, Washington, tell 'em the Savvy Traveler sent you, and you'll snare a fare of $844. Travel from New York City costs an additional $270. You can fly between February first through mid-April. But you have to buy your ticket by the day before Christmas.

Call Anzac at 800-388-1828.

Winter travel on sale -- especially for Savvy Traveler listeners -- that's my Deal of the Week!

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with David Brancaccio

Customer Service?
This week was the deadline for the airlines to have their new, voluntary, customer service plans up and running ... So, how'd it start? With a price hike. Business fares rose as much as three percent. Then on Thursday, American Airlines pleaded guilty to the illegal storage of hazardous waste on its passenger jets. Apparently, they've been transporting noxious chemicals and people on the some of the planes for years.

But regardless, there is this new "Customer Service Commitment." And with it the airlines say they'll tell you ahead of time when a flight's been canceled, keep you better informed about delays at the gate. Northwest says they'll even let you get off the plane when it looks like you'll be stuck on a runway for a while.

Impressed? Paul Hudson is not. He heads the Consumer Aviation Action Project, a Ralph Nader group.

Hudson: "The vast majority of things in the Customer Service Promises are either already in their contracts or required by regulation."

But, some airlines are taking extra steps. Delta, for instance, says you'll get a call when it cancels your flight.

New Rules Affect Air Travel
The F.A.A. says it's going to require child seats for kids under two when they fly. While it could be a year before the rule comes into effect, the fact that the littlest travelers will no longer be able to fly free on their parents' laps could radically change family travel patterns. And the Department of Transportation this week doubled to $2,500 the minimum amount airlines must pay for lost, damaged or delayed baggage on domestic flights. Of course, that change doesn't take effect until after the holidays.

Civil Right Infraction in Florida
The Justice Department has filed suit against luxury hotel chain Adam's Mark. The Justice Department alleges the chain violated a black fraternity's civil rights when it singled them out as security risks at a hotel in Florida.

Venice's Toilet Tax
Venice is one of the top Italian tourist destinations -- over 10 million visit the town of 70,000 every year. The locals are always looking for a way to raise money off the invading armies of travelers. What's the latest? The city is now charging tourists just to use the loo. The new toilet tax runs about 52 cents per visit to a public rest stop. They're also considering another new fee -- some want to charge admission to St. Mark's Square...as much as five bucks a head.

Innovative Airport Concession
And finally, a Dutch company is trying to bring a whole new level of customer service to Amsterdam's airport. Put it this way: the company is applying for permission to bring Amsterdam's Red Light district...to the airport. Schipol Airport is currently being expanded and the innovative airport concession won't get the formal green-light for the red light until construction is finished.

Travel Advisory
with Cheryl Glaser

Terrorism Warnings for Y2K Celebrations
The State Department issued a worldwide caution to travelers last weekend, following the arrest of 13 suspected terrorists in Jordan. But their advice to "avoid large crowds and gatherings" on New Year's Eve doesn't make sense if you're planning to party at the Pyramids or the Eiffel Tower.

Neil Livingston's with the security company Global Options. He has more practical hints for those planning to party big.

Livingston: "Stay on the periphery of the crowd if you're going to be at the large gatherings. So that if something does happen you'll have somewhere to run to. You won't be trampled if the crowd stampedes. Be aware if things seem out of place. Don't call attention to the fact that you're an American."

Neil's recommending you avoid travel on New Year's Day...just to be on the safe side of this whole Y2K computer bug. And like we needed to hear this: the State Department's saying to make back-up plans, just in case things do get messy.


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