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L.A. Passport Agency Having a Wait Problem

June 28, 1992|KIM UPTON

Recent discounting of international air fares, combined with the normal increase in summer travel, are prompting long lines and waits of up to six hours, particularly at the beginning of the week, at the Los Angeles Passport Agency at the Federal Building in Westwood, and officials are warning travelers that at the end of each day, some 40-50 people are being turned away. U.S. citizens who are not departing on overseas trips within the next two months should avoid the office and apply for passports through post offices or wait until fall or winter when passport lines are generally shorter. Post offices in Los Angeles that issue passports include facilities at: 505 S. Flower St.; 200 Barrington Place; 3585 S. Vermont Ave.; 7435 N. Figueroa St.; 975 S. Atlantic Blvd.; 300 N. Los Angeles St.; 1615 N. Wilcox Ave.; 7001 S. Central Ave.; 3751 Motor Ave.; 900 N. Alameda St.; 4960 W. Washington Blvd. and 5800 W. Century Blvd. Main post offices in many other areas--including Bakersfield, Burbank, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, La Jolla, Oceanside, Ontario, Pasadena, Santa Ana and Simi Valley--also issue passports. Many county courthouses also accept passport applications. Travelers who simply need to renew their passport may be eligible to do so by mail. Call (310) 575-7070 for automated passport information.

Travel Quiz: Which Southwestern city contains the world's largest urban park?

New Ferry to Vancouver Island: Starting July 19, a new high-speed passenger ferry will begin service between the city of Vancouver, in British Columbia on the Canadian mainland, and the city of Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island. There will be four sailings daily in each direction--making travel much easier between downtown Vancouver and Nanaimo, a city that is the jumping-off point for travel to the Inside Passage and the Alaska Highway, as well as home to a variety of sport-fishing fleets. The 296-passenger, water-jet propelled vessel will take 65 minutes to cover 40 miles of water. Fares will be approximately $16 one way ($26 round trip) for adults, $13 ($23) round trip for seniors, and $12 ($22) for children. The Nanaimo Express operation is owned by Vancouver-based Royal Sealink Express, which also runs a high-speed ferry between Vancouver and Victoria, B.C.

What's Up: On Wednesday, two airlines will begin new service to Southern California. A new airline--Reno Air--will debut with flights between Los Angeles and Seattle, via Reno, Nev., and is offering bargain tickets as an incentive to fly. LAX to Seattle will be as low as $200 round trip; LAX to Reno will be as low as $100. There will be two departures daily.

Aeromexico will begin daily scheduled service to and from San Diego on Wednesday, with daily nonstop flights between San Diego and Puerto Vallarta, from San Diego to Guadalajara, and daily direct flights, with one stop, from San Diego to Mexico City. To promote the new flights, special fares have been instituted good for July 1-31. From San Diego to Puerto Vallarta, the round-trip fare will be $250, rising to $340 Aug. 1; round trip to Guadalajara, the fare will be $310, rising to $340 Aug. 1, and round trip to Mexico City, the fare will be $298, rising to $359 Aug. 1.

Nonprofit Travel Agencies: A new study, conducted by Louis Harris & Assoc. for Travel Weekly, a magazine that covers the travel industry, shows that 2 out of 5 retail travel agencies lost money in 1991, dramatically higher than the 24% of agencies reporting losses in 1990. Factors cited for the poor performance were the deep recession that began to affect the travel industry in the summer of 1990, continuing throughout last year, and the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War in January, 1991. Since this spring's restructuring of airline fares and the half-price sale that followed, agencies have experienced substantial increases in transactions but without corresponding increases in revenues, according to Alan Fredericks, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly. "I think that the financially weaker agencies are going to have a difficult time unless a surge in business makes up for it," he said.

Quick Fact: Number of hotel rooms in Laughlin, Nev., in 1983 (before city water and sewer were installed): 450. Number as of December, 1991: 8,150. (Source: Laughlin Chamber of Commerce.)

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