Travel

Arthur Frommer: Don't get up in the air about turbulence

Air turbulence in the course of a flight — is there anything we can do about it? According to John Cox, a retired senior pilot of the big jets, the area of turbulence often is several hundred square miles in size, making it impossible to fly around. Simply fasten your seat belts and keep them fastened throughout the flight, he advises. But banish fear, he goes on — there's never been an example of a current passenger jet being broken up or suffering serious damage because of air turbulence.

More fees ahead?

What new airline fees are expected in the coming year? According to George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, charges for the use of a credit card are the most probable, followed by fees for carry-on luggage (already imposed by Spirit Airlines).

Gyms a draw

How do people choose their hotels? Andrea Sachs of The Washington Post says the three chief criteria are (1) location, (2) price and (3) whether the hotel has a gym. More and more, travelers are demanding to work out during the course of their stay.

Budget safari

A new air-and-land package for undertaking an African safari has just been introduced, for departures throughout March and early April, by Lion World Travel (lionworldtravel.com, phone 800-387-2706), at the precedent-shattering price of only $2,199 per person, including round-trip airfare to Kenya from Washington, D.C., and six nights of all-inclusive arrangements at various game lodges in the Masai Mara. What enables the long-established tour operator to lower the price that much is the use of Ethiopian Airways for air transportation. When I recently named that carrier's ability to cut its price as the reason for the inexpensive package, I was immediately told by several readers that Ethiopian Airlines is a fine carrier with an excellent safety record. So here's a low-price opportunity to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime travel adventure.

Iceland Express picking up speed

It's becoming more and more evident that the new Iceland Express airline (not to be confused with the older and larger Icelandair) has become the chief safety valve for ultra-cost-conscious travelers wanting to cross the Atlantic at the lowest possible cost.

Throughout the current winter, Iceland Express will be charging only $496 round trip, including all taxes and fees, for the flight between New York and London. And if you join a mailing list for notification of occasional sales (by subscribing to the newsletter offered on the Iceland Express website), you'll periodically be advised of dates when you can make the same round-trip crossing for $399.

Cruise cheaply

When cruise lines began offering one-week sailings of the Caribbean from Florida ports for as little as $349 per person in inside cabins, it was explained by industry representatives that such distress fares were no reflection of a general falloff in business, but were offered only because of the customary decline in cruise business during November, early December and January. Lo and behold, if you'll consult a comprehensive review of cruise prices, such as the one at VacationstoGo.com, you'll discover that one-week, peak-season sailings from Miami currently are being offered for as little as $479 to $499 per person for departures during February and March (see sailings of the Carnival Liberty, Carnival Glory and Carnival Valor for those distress prices). It's obvious that the 90,000 cruise-ship berths each week currently offered from Florida ports by the big cruise lines have caused an immense glut in capacity. If you've ever yearned for a cheap one-week vacation at sea, now is your chance.

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