Travel e-Scapes Newsletter: November 22, 2010

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Travel Tips, Tidbits & Trivia

Orbitz recently announced its list of the nation’s 10 busiest airports during Thanksgiving. Are you prepared for long airport delays? Let your iPhone be your guide. In the event that you are forced to kill time, find something fun to do at or near the airport at goby.com, a mobile app for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device. From airport museums and other onsite activities to nearby parks or restaurants, you’re bound to find something else to do besides surf the web and pace the terminal. When a delay leaves you with more time on your hands than you’d planned, pull out your mobile device and let goby’s GPS search features help you find something fun to do nearby. Who knows, there may be something fun to do within the airport! BTW, the nation’s 10 busiest airports during Thanksgiving are (in order): Chicago O’Hare, LAX, Boston, New York LaGuardia, San Francisco, Denver, New York JFK, Newark, Atlanta and Washington National.

NYC bound? Mark your new 2011 calendars with important dates! Visitors can purchase two-for-one tickets to some of the New York City’s hottest Broadways shows during Broadway Week, January 24–February 10. Tickets go on sale January 3 at NYCGO. Additionally, save big on Manhattan hotel stays from January 2-February 28. Nearly 100 participating hotels are offering discounted rates, free cocktails, third night free, breakfast and other incentives. For example, a two-night stay at the Holiday Inn SoHo Downtown Manhattan includes a $50 food and beverage credit and breakfast for two at nightly rates from $171 (plus $57 tax). Book by February 28 .


Clark Said….

TSA’s new full body X-ray scanners upset the flying public.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continues deploying new X-ray full body scanners to airports around the country despite failing to communicate the importance of what the equipment does to the American people.

The TSA has been defiant and hostile to the flying public and to the media about the new devices and procedures in airports. If you’re not familiar with the situation, these full body scanners are being deployed at a rate of around two each week week around the country. By the end of 2011, these devices should become the principle form of screening in our airports.

The x-ray screening device is essentially Superman, with the ability to look right through your clothes to your naked body beneath. When it’s your turn to be scanned, you have to thrust your arms up in the air and clasp them above your head. The operator sits in a booth that’s supposed to be out of sight of the security checkpoint.

If you refuse the X-ray screening, you’re now subject to a new very aggressive pat down where you are groped, for lack of a better term.

There are already debates about the radiation level emitted by these devices, with one pilot leading a protest because of how frequently pilots and other airline staffers have to pass through these things.

In my opinion, the TSA has failed 100% at communicating the importance of the X-ray scanners to Homeland Security and its mission of protecting us from al-Qaeda. I favor that the TSA leader John Pistole be removed from his post.

If you don’t do security in a way that people understand and support, you are actually harming the nation. The X-ray machine has created anger, hostility and distrust between TSA workers and the flying public.

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This really speaks to the abject failure of our nation’s airport security to distinguish who’s a threat and who’s not. We need to assess that on an individual basis, not treat everyone like an al-Qaeda operative.


Postscript:  Last week, the U.S. Travel Association launched a new Web site empowering travelers to share their opinions on air travel security screening with the Obama Administration, Congress and the travel industry. The new site, YourTravelVoice.org, is in direct response to the emerging vigorous debate over the efficacy and appropriateness of various security policies and the fact that a free flow of air travel is critical to the American economy and job creation.

“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the difficult responsibility of securing and facilitating air travel for two million passengers daily,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel’s president and CEO. “In our recent conversations with Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and TSA Administrator Pistole, they stressed that they are always seeking ways to improve the air travel security screening process. We need to hear ideas and experiences from travelers to better inform our discussions with policymakers and build a screening process that maximizes security while minimizing the burden on travelers.”

U.S. Travel created YourTravelVoice.org after receiving nearly 1,000 unsolicited comments from travelers over the past week regarding new TSA techniques.

The website complements the “Blue Ribbon Panel for Frictionless Aviation Security” created by U.S. Travel in February to produce a long-term vision for America’s air travel security screening. The panel includes former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall, Sabre Inc. CEO Sam Gilliland, airport directors and a wide variety of security experts. Feedback received through YourTravelVoice.org will be considered in the panel’s final recommendations, expected to be released by February 1, 2011.

“Air travel is the gateway to commerce and job creation in the United States,” said Dow. “We look forward to working with Secretary Napolitano, Administrator Pistole and other government leaders to create a world-class passenger screening process that exceeds the expectations of the American public.”

SOURCE: U.S. Travel Association


Great Domestic & International Deals

The following rates have a ticket-by date which gives you a bit more breathing room to purchase tickets. However, these rates can also expired should an airline deem the offer sold-out — or a mistake!

Round-trip from Atlanta:
$270 Amsterdam, Netherlands
A 7-day advance purchase required
Depart by December 15 or December 24-March 31
Add $25 per direction for weekend travel
Stay a weekend to 30 days
Purchase by November 23
Valid on Continental, United, USAirways with connecting service
Inclusive rate: $710.80

Round-trip from Atlanta:
$270 Frankfurt, Germany
A 7-day advance purchase required
Depart by December 15 or December 24-March 31
Add $25 per direction for weekend travel
Stay a weekend to 30 days
Purchase by November 30
Valid on USAirways, via Charlotte
Inclusive rate: $764.90

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Round-trip from Atlanta:
$390 Bridgetown, Barbados
A 21-day advance purchase required
Travel south on Saturdays; north on Sundays
Complete travel by March 15
Stay up to 30 days
Blackouts: December 17-30 south; December 30-January 8 north
Purchase by November 24
Valid on Delta, nonstop
Inclusive rate: $472.70


Holiday Drivers: Stay Safe!

Two out of every five drivers or 41% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, with one in ten saying they’ve done so in the past year, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study. More than a quarter of those surveyed admitted they drove despite being so tired that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open in the previous month.

Eighty-five percent of drivers surveyed felt it was “completely unacceptable” for someone to drive if they are so tired they are having trouble keeping their eyes open. Unfortunately, drivers may not always be aware of the effects of fatigue resulting from a lack of sleep. AAA wants all drivers to recognize the seriousness of this dangerous, yet underestimated, driving practice.

“When you are behind the wheel of a car, being sleepy is very dangerous. Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time, and impairs judgment, just like drugs or alcohol, contributing to the possibility of a crash,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “We need to change the culture so that not only will drivers recognize the dangers of driving while drowsy but will stop doing it.”

A new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data estimates that approximately one in six deadly crashes (16.5%) involve a driver who is drowsy, while one in eight crashes result in occupant hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes results in a vehicle being towed. These percentages are substantially higher than most previous estimates, suggesting that the contribution of drowsy driving to motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths has not been fully appreciated.

“Many of us tend to underestimate the negative effects associated with fatigue and sleep deprivation and, conversely, overestimate our abilities to overcome them while driving,” said Kathleen Marvaso, vice president, AAA Public Affairs. “This data underscores the importance of educating drivers on the simple, yet effective steps they can take to prevent a possible tragedy. Unfortunately, too many drivers have adopted the ‘I’m tired, but I can make it’ mentality, often to their own peril or to the peril of others.”

To remain alert and avoid drowsiness, AAA suggests:

  • Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip
  • Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Traveling at times when you are normally awake, and staying overnight rather than driving straight through
  • Stop driving if you become sleepy – someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time

Symptoms of sleepiness include but are not limited to:

  • Having trouble keeping your eyes open and focused
  • The inability to keep your head up
  • Daydreaming or having wandering, disconnected thoughts
  • Drifting from your lane or off the road or tailgating

For more information about the drowsy driving study, including the full report and fact sheet, visit AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety


The Best Hotel & Resort Deals

A “Naughty or Nice” package is offered at the Mills House Hotel of Charleston on stays through December 24. Choose either attitude on your stay which includes a choice of a $50 gift card to Victoria’s Secret or Williams-Sonoma and a choice of a bottle of Napa Cabernet or milk and gourmet chocolates. Guests also enjoy complimentary eggnog and cookies daily. Rates start at $169 per night, based on a two-night minimum stay and on Sunday-Thursday arrivals (weekend rates are higher). This recently resorted Victorian hotel is the only hotel included in the city’s prestigious Museum Mile in the heart of the city. The Mills House is a 4-Diamond AAA property and a Conde’ Nast Traveler Gold List Hotel. The luxurious hotel has hosted former guests such as General Robert E. Lee and President Theodore Roosevelt.

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The renowned and luxurious Westin St. Francis of San Francisco is and ideal escape to create timeless memories with loved ones. Guests of the Union Square hotel will delight in the dazzling decorations, a magnificent 12-foot sugar castle, traditional holiday tea service and delicious meals and festive cocktails. The hotel is located directly on Union Square, right on the classic cable line and in the heart of glamorous shopping, nightlife and culture. The Holiday Ice Rink is just steps outside the door. A “Glide Into the Holidays” package is priced from $180 on one night stays or $166 on two-night stays now through January 8. Included is admission for two to the ice rink with complimentary skate rentals. A “Macy’s Shop ‘Til You Drop” package includes a $100 gift certificate to the West Coast’s largest Macy’s, located just across the street. Rates are from $250 for a one-night stay, $201 per night for a two-night stay, and from $187 per night for a three-night stay. Valid through January 7. Opened more than a century ago in 1904, The Westin St. Francis is renowned for luxury accommodations and excellent service. The hotel completed an extensive $40 million transformation in late 2009 that preserves its rich history and elegance.


Travel Quotation

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

Henry Miller, American novelist, painter (1891–1980)


Note: Unless otherwise stated above, follow these guidelines when booking special airfares from Clark Howard’s e-Scapes newsletter:

  • No expiration of travel means the rate is valid on trips taken over the next 331 days, or the advance booking window allowed on most airlines
  • International rates are based on mid-week travel days, or with most airlines Monday-Thursday. (one exception is Monday-Wednesday to London).
  • Economy class airfares to Europe require a minimum stay requirement of a Saturday night and a maximum stay of a month.
  • Economy class airfare to Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East typically require a 6-day minimum stay; 30-day maximum.
  • Most domestic coach class airfares, including Canada and Hawaii, are based on mid-week travel.
  • Weekend travel days are typically $10-$30 higher, per direction, for both domestic and international destinations.
  • All airfares shown on e-Scapes are exclusive of taxes, fees, unless noted otherwise.
  • Fuel surcharges on international trips can add from $180-$400 to base rates shown above, varying by continent.

Clark Howard’s Travel e-Scapes Team reminds you that the information in this newsletter is researched on the same day that you receive it. It can happen that by the time you read your copy a particular airfare may already have expired, especially the “HOT” deals listed. Airlines can publish and then ‘pull’, or discontinue sales without warning. Timing is everything!

Buy tickets at the offering airline or at your favorite travel Web site.

Get more of Clark’s best travel deals Mondays through Fridays here.




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