UPRIGHT AND LOCKED

When Kids Fly Solo

If your summer plans include waving goodbye to your kids at the airport, be aware that some airlines have changed their unaccompanied minor rules since last summer.

Rules vary, so check details at your airline's Web site or with an agent. A few tips:

* All six major U.S. carriers -- American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways -- charge an extra $40 to $90 each way for an unaccompanied minor. The highest charge is for international flights -- and whether Mexico, Canada and U.S. territories are considered international flights depends on the airline.

* Most airlines require that children ages 5 to 14 be escorted by airline personnel, and thus pay extra. United requires the extra fee only for ages 5 to 11. (Some discount carriers, including Southwest and Jet Blue, do not charge extra for minors flying alone.)

* Most airlines will provide optional supervision for children up to age 17, for the same fee required for younger kids.

* Some flights are forbidden. For example, children ages 5 to 7 are banned from flights that require a change of planes on many airlines. A few ban connecting flights for kids as old as 11. Most airlines restrict late flights, particularly the last connecting flight of the day.

* Don't buy tickets online for minors flying alone. Most won't allow you to anyway. But if they do, you could be in for unpleasant surprises at the airport.

HURRICANE WATCH

Brace Yourself

The National Hurricane Center predicts six to eight hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin during the season that runs from now through October -- a "likely continuation of above-normal activity" that began in 1995.

Of course, one hurricane is enough to threaten your vacation and your life. Some advice:

* If you're visiting a Caribbean island between mid-August and late October, plan ahead, says Frank Lepore of NHC. When booking, ask what provisions are made for guests in the event of a hurricane. "Some will allow you to ride out the storm; others will toss you out like you were Typhoon Mary," says Lepore.

* Keep abreast of weather news. The NHC issues five-day tropical storm forecasts that are updated every six hours if something is brewing at www.nhc.noaa.gov.

* Your worst odds are in September, when 36.3 percent of Atlantic hurricanes occur. August is second (29 percent), October third (18 percent). Hurricanes are unlikely near the equator, so your safest geographical bets are Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. The Turks and Caicos also brag that they've long been hurricane-free.

TRAVEL TICKER

Las Vegas tomorrow will unveil the world's largest high-definition TV -- 1,500 feet long and 90 feet high. Light and sound shows will play on the massive outdoor theater on Fremont Street. Details: www.vegasexperience.com . . . Free gasoline is being offered by about 100 B&Bs countrywide. For details on who's offering what, go to www.bedandbreakfast.com; from Advanced Search, click Special Packages, then choose Free Gas Promotion from the drop-down menu . . . Go to Israel to support the Christian community there, Pope John Paul II urged in a recent Vatican address . . . Hyatt Hotels has begun installing wireless Internet service in lobbies, public areas and some guest rooms. The service will be operative at more than 200 properties within a year.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

It's Now or Nevis

A newly renovated resort on the West Indies island has a deal on rooms. Details: "What's the Deal?," Page 3.

Reporting: Cindy Loose.

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