Jittery Travelers, Cont'd
More airlines, travel providers and resorts are promising travelers they can change bookings without penalty if frightened by war, terrorism or, in some cases, a Code Red security alert.
Whether it's a tour of Europe, a cruise or a trip to the Caribbean, you should be able to find a penalty-free option. Among the companies that have announced new policies: Crystal Cruises, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, Superclubs, Trafalgar Tours, Uniworld, Ritz Tours and Seabourn Cruise Line.
Delta, US Airways and Continental announced flexible new rules last week, and other major U.S. carriers said they were developing or considering new guidelines. You'll need to study each airline's Web site to see which policy fits your needs. Delta, for example, has rescinded penalties on all transatlantic tickets purchased between March 5-31, for travel prior to May 31. US Airways will allow passengers to change any ticket if war starts in the Middle East or if the government issues a Code Red alert.
Parts of the Caribbean became penalty-free last week after the Caribbean Tourism Organization urged its members to create flexible policies. Resorts participating are listed at www.onecaribbean.org; click Response Center.
In a typical response, Sandals, with 17 resorts in the Caribbean, said travelers could postpone a trip for a year if there is war or "terrorist activity." And if air service is disrupted for guests in mid-vacation, Sandals will provide three free hotel nights.
The first new cruise line to launch in the new millennium has installed a high-tech system to insure that employees have clean hands.
Personnel on Oceania Cruises will wear an electronic badge that chirps and turns from green to amber if hands are not washed at preset intervals. The employee has five minutes to get to the sink, or the badge turns red and alerts a supervisor.
A monitor above the sink uses a low-frequency radio wave to recognize the employee. A dispenser squirts water and soap, and waits at least 20 seconds before dispensing water for rinsing. Every wash gets logged in a computer.
"Pro-Giene," the Big Brother hand-washing verification and reporting system, also counts among its customers numerous hotels and restaurants. Paris Las Vegas spokesman Robert Stewart says the hotel tested the system in its butcher department and plans to expand the system's use.Another customer, said Pro-Giene spokesman Mike McCaffrey, is Sodexho, the giant U.S. vendor with 6,000 food service contracts.
CoGo is hoping they can extend the technology to children's toothbrushes.
Get a business-class seat on Amtrak's Acela Express from D.C. to New York for less than half-price if you take the last train of the day, at 8:30 p.m. One-way fare: $59, through April 25. Amtrak also has a 25 percent-off sale on many trains for tickets bought by March 14, and trips through Aug. 28. Details: 800-USA-RAIL, www.amtrak.com . . . British Airways as of July 1 will award only one-fourth of a frequent-flier mile for every mile flown on a discounted economy ticket . . . Hooters Air, the little airline with the big-breasted women, made its maiden flight Thursday between Atlanta and Myrtle Beach . . . The Red Lion hotel chain is offering a free night for each stay through April 30. You can also earn a free night by volunteering for a day in a community service project. Details: 800-RED-LION, www.redlion.com.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
South Africa for $999
To kick off the launch of its U.S. Web site, South African Airways is offering a $999 round-trip sale fare to Johannesburg or Cape Town. The deal includes direct flights from New York, or one connection from Washington. With taxes, tickets start at about $1,100 from any of the three area airports. Book by March 31; travel through April, with seven-day minimum stay. You must book online at www.flysaa.com.
Reporting: Cindy Loose, Andrea Sachs
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