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January 29, 2000

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Hot Valentine's Airfare

I've got a bumper crop of great overseas airfares, so listen carefully. Our old favorite, Cathay Pacific's (http://www.cathay-usa.com/), $999, all-Asia pass that allows you to fly from the U.S. to Hong Kong plus 16 other cities -- is back. It's good for travel until mid-May and then again from mid-August until mid-December. But there are some other hot contenders for good airfares. Continental (http://www.continental.com/) will fly you from many U.S. cities to Japan for as little as $525 if you fly Monday through Thursday! Only $20 more for weekend travel. But you're on a tight deadline: Book by the last day of this month, and you have to travel by February 17th.

Now, if you make your purchase by February 10th, Air Maroc (http://www.royalairmaroc.com/) will wing you between New York and Morocco for only $444. Doesn't Casablanca sound pretty good right now? Stay at least seven days and travel by the first week of March. And here's a deal that's great for a family: SAS (http://www.flysas.com/) will fly you, another adult, and a child under 12 from Newark to Europe for as little as $558. From Chicago, it's only about $80 more. And from Seattle, that'll be only $770. Think of it as a family Valentine's gift. Depart between February 7th and the 11th and return between February 14th and the 17th.

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Unpredictable Weather
Okay, does anyone know where that East Coast blizzard came from last week? What was supposed to be a light dusting of flurries, caught everyone off guard. The airlines delayed and canceled thousands of flights all over the country. I was in Colorado for a conference and ended up having to fly back to Washington, D.C. via Los Angeles.

Now, just a couple of weeks ago, it was warm, almost spring-like on the East Coast. Then, suddenly, it turns cold ... and then, this huge storm. Is it just me, or does the weather seem to be getting, well, more unpredictable?

I asked the expert: Paul Douglas. He's a meteorologist up in chilly Minneapolis. He told me, yes, in fact, for the last 20 years or so, the weather's been getting even more wild and extreme.

Douglas: "But the question is, are those extremes, are those swings of the pendulum becoming even greater over time. And there's a fair amount of evidence that, yeah, something is going on. And we're not exactly sure why, but the atmosphere does seem to have more a tendency to throw a tantrum."

Last week's storm is a great example of one of those tantrums. But what we got, they need out West. Yeah, for a while it was looking like the Jefferson Memorial would have more snow than Snowmass, Colorado. But Paul told me that's changing too. The wind patterns that usually shift south and bring snow to the big ski resorts are finally arriving...just a little late.

Douglas: "I have tickets for a big Colorado ski vacation in early March. And I am not worried in the least. I think we're getting a late start, but based on the maps I'm looking at, the storm track's taking a more southern route, I think I'm going to be skiing in fresh powder."

Snow's predicted to fall this weekend in Colorado and Utah. So, I'm with Paul...and heading out there the first chance I get.

Fuel Surcharge Abounds
But here's the bad news, the price we pay to get there -- or anywhere in the U.S., really -- just went up. By now most every U.S. airline has adopted this new "fuel surcharge" on domestic flights. And now, United and American are raising international rates as well. The tricky thing to remember about this surcharge is that it's not listed in the fare. So when you go to book your flight, be sure to ask the total before you buy.

Obscenity on Brazil's Beaches
Of course, most everyone knows the beaches of Brazil...Copacabana, Ipanema .... and most everyone also knows Rio is home to the thong and the even tinier fio dental -- that's Portugese for "dental floss." But now, police are cracking down on those bathers who bare all to mother nature. That's right, nude sunbathers face heavy fines and even jail time for their, well, what the police are calling obscene behavior.

Travel Advisory
with Cheryl Glaser

Oil in Brazil
A huge oil slick in Rio's scenic Guanara Bay is threatening, but has so far drifted clear of popular Brazilian tourist beaches, though it has blackened miles of nature preserves. Environmentalists are calling it Brazil's worst ecological disaster in 25 years.

Not So Grand Opening in London
Meanwhile in London, a high-tech disaster has art lovers fuming. The famed Royal Opera House at Covent Gardens re-opened last December ... and now some say it should close again until major computer glitches are fixed. So far, nine performances have been canceled due to the break downs. It's worth a call if you've booked tickets.

Paris Metro Strikes
Finally, Paris Metro workers have announced a strike for this Tuesday. If it goes as planned, the city's subway and bus systems will be crippled.


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