Suffering air-travel industry offers discounts

Sunday, October 21, 2001

While many Americans are choosing not to travel, Susan Wieske will be taking her two young sons to visit their grandparents. Her plans are being spurred by the cheap air fare that she found from Portland, Ore., to Indianapolis.

"Because of the recent events, I really wanted and needed to see my mom and dad and I needed for them to see their grandkids," she said. "But, admittedly, if it wasn't a good air fare I wouldn't be able to go."

Whether by plane, train, ship or automobile, Americans who want to travel can choose from a variety of discounts being offered by an industry suffering in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

By late September, some coast-to-coast air fares were as low as $100 round-trip, with many of the advance purchase and Saturday night-stay restrictions waived.

Extended bargain rates

For those afraid of flying, Amtrak had decided before the attacks to extend a summertime 30 percent off promotion through mid-December; Dollar Rent A Car, which started offering cars for as little as $20 a day to help travelers stranded when the airlines were grounded, is continuing those rates through Dec. 21.

Cruise lines, such as Carnival, are offering some seven-day Caribbean trips for $400 instead of the usual $900.

What is bad news for the industry may be good news for travelers.

Samantha Thomas, a hair stylist in Portland, Ore., spent the weekend of Sept. 22 in Las Vegas with friends. She was thrilled to find out that her room at the Paris Hotel had dropped from $190 per night to just $70.

"We were talking about whether to cancel, but we said, 'We really need to go fill those slot machines with our quarters"' to help out the ailing economy, she said.

Thomas will have even more money to spend on her next trip; her travel agent just informed her that the air fare for a trip to Hawaii will cost just $320, instead of $600.

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