Correction to This Article
A July 29 Travel item misstated the price of a room at the Yotel, a hotel in London's Gatwick Airport. Prices begin at about $50 for four hours.
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Sunday, July 29, 2007

FLOOD WATCH

Drying Out in England

England is recovering from the worst flooding to hit there in 60 years. But with more rain forecast at press time and some areas still without fresh water and electricity, check your itinerary if you're traveling across the pond anytime soon.

London is mostly back to normal from deluge-caused disruptions to its underground rail system and to its airports (141 flights out of Heathrow were canceled on July 20 at the height of the storm). But other regions are still reeling:

· Worst hit was the county of Gloucestershire in the Cotswolds region on the Severn River , about 112 miles northwest of London. At least 300,000 people were without fresh water there late last week, and tourism officials were advising travelers to avoid the towns of Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester. Tourist spots in Gloucestershire include Tewkesbury Abbey, which flooded for the first time since 1760; Gloucester Cathedral, which dates to 1089 and is the backdrop for several "Harry Potter" movie scenes; and spas in Cheltenham.

· The so-called "heart of England," specifically Warwickshire and Worcestershire, also experienced severe flooding, which included disruptions to rail and road systems, but the area is recovering. Local officials immediately launched an advertising campaign -- slogan: "Always open, whatever the weather" -- designed to reassure nervous visitors ( http://www.visittheheart.co.uk).

Rain is expected to continue throughout England, at least for the next week or so. The good news? Drier-than-normal conditions are forecast for the latter part of August. For current flood updates: http://www.enjoyengland.com/tourist-information/flood-update.aspx.

UPRIGHT AND LOCKED

Hurry Up and Wait

More than a third of all flights in the United States were either late or canceled last month. In fact, the first five months of this year were the worst on record for delays, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which began keeping such stats in 1995.

While there is no magic method for avoiding delays and cancellations, you can improve your odds:

· Whenever possible, fly nonstop.

· Avoid summer thunderstorms, which create havoc in the air and on the ground, by flying early in the day.

· Check your odds before booking. Say, for example, you're flying from Reagan National to New York. Assuming history repeats itself, your odds of getting there on time if you fly USAirways Flight 2158 to New York's LaGuardia: 96.7 percent. Choose Comair's Flight 5297 to New York's JFK and your odds drop to 17.8 percent. Those two flights had the best and worst on-time records, respectively, of any flights out of National in the first part of the year, according to the BTS.

Does that mean you should always choose USAirways and always avoid Comair? Hardly. In fact, a USAirways flight -- Flight 656 to Phoenix, to be exact -- had the second-worst on-time record out of National during the same period. It arrived when it was supposed to just 19.6 percent of the time.

Find the on-time record of flights you're considering at http://www.flightstats.com(click on Historical Ontime Flight Rating ), or get even more detailed info at the original source: http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company


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