The Tactical Traveler



This week: USAirways launches a rare East Coast Shuttle sale; Rail Europe’s “Spring Special” cuts fares on Eurostar bookings; Austrian Airlines drops Vienna code-share with Delta Air Lines; the St. Regis Grand debuts in Rome; parks and party packages around the world; visit the Mir Space Station for $20 million; and more.

COST-CUTTERS: A Rare Sale on the East Coast Shuttle
USAirways has launched the rarest of the rare: a sale on the hourly Shuttle service that links New York/LaGuardia, Boston/Logan, Washington/National and Washington/Dulles airports. The promotion [] isn't available on the costliest weekday rides ($198 one way), only on Saturday service and Sunday flights before 2:45 p.m. Still, the fare is extraordinarily good--$69 roundtrip--compared to the usual unrestricted weekend fare of $172. Better hurry, though. Tickets for travel through May 14 must purchased by Friday, February 25, at the USAirways website [].

BEST OF THE WEB: Riding the Rails on the Internet
Europe's crowded airspace is prone to maddeningly routine delays--30 percent of all flights operate late--so smart Europeans rely on the railroads for timely transportation. For Americans unfamiliar with Europe's extensive rail system, the Rail Europe site ( is a terrific primer. It offers extensive schedule and fare information and sells a wide range of rail-pass products. There are programs that allow travel within one country or across several nations, plans that combine railroad itineraries with rental cars, and Eurail, the continent-wide scheme that allows unlimited train-hopping in 17 countries. Rail Europe even handles Eurostar, the train that uses the Channel tunnel to connect London, Paris and Brussels. At the moment, Rail Europe is promoting a "Spring Special" (, which knocks about 40 percent off Eurostar fares through April 15.

VACATION STATION: Parks and Parties Around the World
Five lodges in Yellowstone National Park [] offer "Early Bird Specials" ( for accommodations between May 5 and June 1. Prices range from $25 a night (for a room without a bath) to $149 (for a suite at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel). Travel must be booked by April 1; call 307-344-7311 for more information. … St. Thomas [] in the U.S. Virgin Islands has scheduled its annual Carnival for April 8 to May 6. The month-long party of food, parades, feasts and Caribbean music has its own website []. All the really useful information--including the schedule of events and shows--is buried; click the "Join Us" button for access. … Club Med [] is waiving the "single supplement" at some of its vacation villages during May, June, September and October. The onerous extra charge usually applied to solo travelers will not be levied at selected clubs in the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas and Moorea, French Polynesia. Call 800-CLUB-MED for prices and restrictions.

ON THE FLY: News You Need to Know
U.S. investors and the privatized Russian company that now operates the Mir space station have unveiled a plan to allow travelers to visit the aging and abandoned orbital platform. Although the deal to rescue the 14-year-old space station primarily envisions commercial and industrial uses, investors say curious visitors would be welcome, too. The estimated cost of an all-inclusive visit? About $20 million. … Back on Earth, The Grand Hotel in Rome has reopened as the St. Regis Grand [] after a $35 million renovation. Housed in a palazzo originally converted by Cesar Ritz, the 106-year-old hotel is a favorite of the diplomatic corps and a few steps from the Via Venato and Rome's passenger rail terminal. … Airlines now receive between 3 and 20 percent of their ticket bookings from the Internet, according to a Wall Street analyst. Southwest Airlines [] is at the top end of the scale: 15 percent of its ticket sales are booked at its own site and 5 percent more are booked through other web channels. Continental [] has the lowest Internet percentage, with a total of just 3.3 percent of its tickets booked via the net.

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