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Deal of the Week: Find the Deals (9/28/2001)

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D: Our travel expert in residence, Rudy Maxa, is working on Italy's Amalfi Coast-at least he SAYS he's working-but he's been keeping an eye on deals Stateside in the wake of the slowdown in travel. Rudy, first of all is it still summer on the southern coast of Italy?

R: Yes, it is. About 80 and sunny during the day, nice and cool at night. Day in and day out.

D: And have you encountered many American tourists?

R: Nowhere near the number I'd expect. There's no question a kind of travel paralysis has set in back home. The massive layoffs by airlines are proof of that.

D: No question. Let's talk about what the travel industry is doing to try to bring back business. Are the airlines cutting fares significantly?

R: Not yet as much as you might expect, Diana. Southwest, National - the Vegas-based airline - and Northwest are the only three offering big, across-the-board deals. Some airlines have extended sales 'til the end of the month, but those three are already offering sales in October. Northwest's sale is good through December 19th on US flights. Its sale to Europe is good for departures up to the end of October for travel ending the last day of November. Most fares have to be bought in the next day or so-the end of September. But you have until October 17th to buy European tickets on Northwest.

D: So the rules are complicated?

R: As always. Southwest, as usual, has the most simple offer: Until October 11th, you can fly anywhere Southwest flies for between $68 and $178 round trip if you buy your tickets three days in advance. Orange County, California, and Houston, however, are not part of that deal. Now, you'll find some major airlines matching those fares, so shopping around - as always - is a good deal. Bestfares.com, for example, says it has round-trip tickets between London and New York for about $219 right now. You usually don't see fares like that until the dead of January.

D: What about hotels?

R: Many have already cut nightly rates, and those that haven't-from B&Bs to luxury resorts - soon will if business doesn't pick up soon. Here are some examples: the Best Western Roundhouse Suites in Boston is offering a 20 per cent discount. In Richmond, Va., you'll pay $59 a night in the Best Western Tower Inn - $20 less than you'd pay normally. New York City hotels that are usually full now are not, so you'll find some deals there, too. Go with a tour company, and you can find airfare from the East Coast and six nights in a Paris hotel for as little as $449 in November total.

D: No! Who's offering six nights in Paris plus airfare for $449?

R: A tour company called Go-Today Travel. And that's for a weekend departure and arrival no less.

D: And how about cruises?

R: Deals from US ports of departure to the Caribbean for the winter have never been cheaper. Check with any cruise line or cruise travel agent.

D: Rudy, thank you so much.

R: Talk to you next week, Diana.

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