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February 5, 2000

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Last Chance--Europe for Less

In a few days, winter sales to Europe will disappear. This week could be your last chance to fly from the East Coast to Europe for only $225.

"What?" you say. "Only $225?" That's right. Icelandic will fly you from Baltimore/Washington, Boston, New York, Minneapolis, or Orlando to London, Paris, and three other European cities for only $225 round trip. But move fast you have to buy your ticket via e-mail by this Tuesday, the eighth. Go to icelandair.com, click on "Hot Deals" and register for so-called "Lucky Fares."

You have a bit more time to scoop up some bargain-basement American Airlines tickets to Europe. Until Friday, February 11th, you can get a fare that takes you from the East Coast to Europe for only $239. From the West Coast, only 299. And you can travel through March 7th. There are the usual disclaimer: You must travel Monday through Thursday and stay over a Saturday night. But you only have to book three days ahead. It took me some time to find these fares at aa.com. Go to "Specials" and find the headline "Web Only--Make a Love Connection In Europe." I don't know what the love connection thing is all about, but that's where the deals are hidden.

Across the Atlantic for less--that's my Deal of the Week!

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Airline Safety Issues
The tragic crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261 off the California Coast cast a very dark shadow over this week. We talk at length about airline accidents and what you as a traveler should know in this week's Travelers' Aid segment.

Of course airplane crashes always make everyone nervous -- and it makes us here at The Savvy Traveler all that more aware of important safety news. There were two big items this week.

First, the F.A.A. is giving "serious consideration" to blocking America West airlines from flying any new planes. In a letter to the airline last week, an F.A.A. supervisor said America West's maintenance resources are close to tapped out -- adding planes to its fleet could have grave safety concerns. For its part, America West executives disagree with the F.A.A. They say they're working with the government to fix the problems.

Meanwhile, from American Airlines, it was "mea culpa" and big changes to its policies on severe weather landings and pilot fatigue. All this comes after an accident last June, when a flight skidded off the runway in Little Rock, Arkansas and eleven people died. Two pilots flying that plane were thirteen hours into their shift. So, American has implemented a new "no fault" policy for tired pilots. They can now beg off their flight if they're tired and need to go home to get some rest.

American Removes Two Rows
And if you've ever been hit by a reclining seat or poked in the eye by an outstretched arm, then maybe this too is safety news. American Airlines also announced it's removing two entire rows from the coach sections of all its aircraft. The net effect is anywhere from three to five inches of extra room per coach seat.

American Airlines C.E.O. Don Carty announced the change.

Carty: "As airlines have become more full in recent years, coach passengers have been asking and asking for more living space in the coach cabin. Well, my colleagues and I are here today to announce that American Airlines has heard those complaints. We heard them loud and clear and we're going to do something about it."

Now three to five inches may not sound like a lot of extra space, but think of it this way. American has cut in half the difference between coach and first class. And just try to imagine what life would be like if that fully reclined Rip Van Winkle in front of you were an extra five inches away. Keep your eye on this. If the other airlines want to compete, they're going to have to follow American's lead here. Maybe customer service will one day be a reality.

Amtrak's High Speed Acela
Amtrak's long awaited Acela rolled out of Boston last week. This is the high speed train from Boston to New York and Washington, D-C. I hope Acela's maiden voyage doesn't tell a tale of things to come: the very first one left the station in Boston . . . 20 minutes late.

Travel Advisory
with Cheryl Glaser

Dengue Fever in Indonesia
Travelers to Indonesia should be extra careful about Dengue Fever. The mosquito-borne illness has infected over 400 people since November, mostly in the diving town Manado. Now, there's no vaccine for Dengue Fever -- no shots to take before you leave. The Centers for Disease Control recommend only plenty of bug repellent as well as long sleeves and pants.

Car-less Sunday in Rome
And in Rome, the going could get tough this weekend. The city sponsors its first "Car-less Sunday" to encourage mass transit. It will take place once a month. But there is relief for tangled travel nerves. To take the bite out of commuting, all museums will be free, as are all bus, tram and subway lines.


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