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February 26, 2000

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Wheeling Around the World

The nice thing about driving in another country is that you can go at your own pace. If you come upon a charming fishing village you can see it at your own speed without worrying about a train, anyone else's schedule. And right now, there are a couple of great deals that provide both airfare and a rental car.

France Vacations, for example, will fly you from New York to either Amsterdam or Brussels on Continental Airlines and give you a car for seven days--with insurance--for as little as $359 per person, based on two people traveling together. This offer is good until mid-April. Call 800-332-5332 for details.

Or how about this: Rent your own motor home and cruise around New Zealand. You get round trip airfare between Los Angeles and Auckland, as well as the motor home with unlimited mileage for ten days, for only $840 per person -- also based on two people traveling. Book by March 13th,and you can travel between mid-April and the third week of August. Discover Wholesale Travel is offering the deal, you can reach them at 800-576-7770. Now, if a motor home isn't your style, the same company will get you the flight, a rental car, and lodging for only $875, still a big bargain.

Wheeling your way around the world for less -- that's my Deal of the Week!

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U.S. Air Flight Attendants Dispute
The clock is ticking in the showdown between U.S. Airways and its 10,000 flight attendants, who say if they can't reach a deal over pay and benefits by March 25th, they may walk off the job. Jeff Zack is a union spokesman.

Zack: "They haven't received a raise in over four years. The company already has an unfair pension system that penalizes married flight attendants and older workers."

U.S. Airways says it's negotiating in good faith, but if the 30 day cooling off period comes and goes with no resolution, it will shut down rather than operate under the threat of surprise strikes. But before you go canceling your flight, industry analyst Aaron Gellman of Northwestern University says the shut-down could be just big talk in hopes of scaring flight attendants.

Gellman: "It's not like a pilot's strike where it's hard to replace them, you've got a lot of government regulations, there's a substantial shortage of them anyway. That's not true where flight attendants are concerned."

This contract dispute has dragged on now for three years.

Airline Safety
German airline Deutsche Lufthansa has grounded 26 Boeing 747s after discovering cracks in lines that carry fire fighting agents to the turbine engines. Lufthansa says flight delays and suspensions are likely. Boeing says it hasn't received any other similar complaints, but it's recommending inspections.

Problems Plague America West
America West continues to struggle with one problem after another. Last week a computer glitch prompted the cancellation of at least 128 flights nationwide. This, after hefty fines from the FAA for maintenance and safety violations and consistent rankings as one of the country's worst airlines. Even so, the low-cost carrier is still turning record profits. It seems some travelers are willing to overlook safety concerns and less-than-stellar service if the price is right.

Hotel Cribs Found Unsafe
A new study finds eight of every ten hotel cribs are unsafe. Among the safety hazards spotted: loose hardware, unsecured mattress supports, dangerously soft bedding and oversized sheets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission spot checked about 90 hotels nationwide.

Lawsuit Demanding More Airline Legroom
You probably read all the hoopla a few weeks back about airlines adding more legroom to their seating arrangements, but one group is now going to extra lengths to ensure more room. The Tall Club of Silicon Valley is suing domestic airlines, demanding they reserve exit row and bulkhead seats for tall Californians. The Tall Club says cramming into smaller spaces isn't only uncomfortable, it's unhealthy.

Travel Advisory
with Rachel Myrow

Flooding in Austrialia
Heavy rains have caused flooding in large areas of Central and Northeastern Australia. Authorities are evacuating residents of the coastal area of Queensland.

Explosive Beer in China
If your travels always include the local bar, be extra careful in China. In the past year exploding beer bottles have killed one, disabled several dozen and injured hundreds. There was also nearly a quarter million U.S. dollars damage. The China Consumer Association says the problem is unscrupulous producers who are bottling beer in bottles originally made for soy sauce.

Traffic Crackdown in Tijuana
Travel to Mexico can be more expensive these days, now that Tijuana has begun strict enforcement of traffic laws in its often chaotic streets. Officials have more than tripled the number of traffic officers on the beat and they are keeping busy, averaging 600 citations a day, compared to 100 a day before the crack down. The average ticket is $50.00.


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