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 The Tactical Traveler

joe A BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR APRIL 19, 2000


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

This week: Airlines unveil family travel discount programs for U.S. and Canadian flights; some kids are now “adults” as Disneyland ups admission fees; Northwest and British Airways cut fares for adoptive parents; airline route changes; book after hours to save on these packages; and more.

COST-CUTTERS: Family Travel. Redefined.
The U.S. airlines haven’t launched a system-wide summer fare sale yet, but they are slicing prices for travelers willing to take their families along. At least four airlines are now promoting a family travel program for U.S. and Canadian flights through September 6.

At USAirways, (http://www.usairways.com) the “family discount” program offers the lowest fares when you fly with as many as two children. One example: an adult flying between Atlanta and Pittsburgh pays $251 roundtrip. But an adult and one child pay $195 each and an adult and two children pay just $176 each. At TWA, (http://www.twa.com) the offer is a bit less complicated. An example: the adult sale fare between St. Louis and Honolulu is $568, but as many as two children can tag along for $290 each. United (http://www.ual.com) and Northwest (http://www.nwa.com) have adopted family deals along the lines of TWA’s program.

Restrictions and fares for the family offers vary by carrier, so compare prices and rules carefully. Generally speaking, however, the family deals require a 14-day advance purchase and a child is considered anyone between 2 and 17 years old age. The last day to purchase the fares is April 28.

CONNECTIONS: Speaking of Kids…
Here’s a new way to raise prices: lower your definition of a child. Disneyland has been charging children aged 3 through 11 an admission price of $31. Last week, however, the magicians at Disney began classifying 10- and 11-year-olds as adults and they now must buy a $41 adult admission ticket. … Thankfully, however, at least two airlines like kids—or at least adopted children. Both Northwest Airlines (http://www.nwa.com) and British Airways (http://www.british-airways.com) have introduced special fares for parents headed overseas to complete an adoption. The BA deal offers parents 65 percent off unrestricted coach fares to virtually anywhere the airline flies. The Northwest deal is 65 percent off full coach and 50 percent off business class for parents headed to any one of about 100 international destinations. Northwest has even built a special Web page (http://www.nwa.com/features/adopt.shtml) to explain the offer. Adoption fares generally do not require an advance purchase or a specified return date. A special one-way fare is available for the child on the return flight.

ROUTE WATCH: April in Paris—and Lyon and Beyond
Who says airlines don’t have a song in their heart? USAirways http://www.usairways.com launched daily nonstop flights to Paris last week from its hub in Charlotte. It’s admittedly less musical, but the airline also plans to begin daily flights between Charlotte and Frankfurt next month. … And while no one writes about April in Lyon, Delta Air Lines http://www.delta-air.com last week launched daily nonstop service between New York and the commercial capital of the French Rhone-Alps region. … Meanwhile, Midway Airlines http://www.midwayairlines.com is shuffling off to Buffalo on May 22 when it begins three daily roundtrips from its hub in Raleigh-Durham. … And just so you know that everything’s up to date in Kansas City, please note that Frontier Airlines http://www.frontierairlines.com begins three daily nonstops from its Denver hub on June 15.

VACATION STATION: Timing Is Everything for These Package Deals
Here’s a weird—but valuable—offer from TWA Getaway Vacations (800-GETAWAY): “After Hours Specials,” which cut the price for holiday packages if you call the reservations office during off-peak hours. The gimmick: Call after 4PM Central Daylight Time on Wednesday through Friday, or anytime Saturday, and the vacations are available at reduced rates. Some examples: a 4-night deal in Orlando from St. Louis is usually $366 a person, but just $290 if you call during the “After Hours” period. A 3-night Paris holiday from New York is regularly $765, but just $709 “After Hours.” A 5-night package on the Big Island of Hawaiifrom Los Angeles is $754, but only $545 when you call during the specified times. “After Hour” sale packages all include roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and touring. Packages must be purchased by April 29, but travel is permitted May 1 through July 1 (for domestic vacations) or August 31 (for international trips).

This column originally appeared at skymalltravel.com.

Copyright © 1999-2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.