"I honestly believe that the stock market is psychologically affecting everyone, except those people who are so rich that it doesn't make a difference," Tanzman said. "I don't think I've had a client I've talked to in the last two weeks who hasn't mentioned the stock market."
Among the signs of uncertainty elsewhere:
* Worries over foot-and-mouth disease prompted Maupintour of Lawrence, Kan., to cancel May 12 and June 9 departures of its Cotswolds walking tours in England.
* At Cosmos & Globus tours based in Littleton, Colo., which sends about 40,000 Americans a year to Britain, vice president for marketing Scott Nisbet estimated that fewer than 5% of customers holding reservations have rescheduled or rerouted their bookings, with an even smaller percentage canceling. But Nisbet noted that since early March, the company has seen a "slower booking pace [among new customers], probably related to all three of these things': the economy, restrictions in Britain and doubts about the airline labor situation.
From his office in Minneapolis, Terry Trippler, a 20-year travel agent affiliated with the Web site OneTravel.com and an expert on air fares, says his greatest worry isn't recession or disease or even airline strikes, because he expects the Bush administration to block any formal strike action. But he does fear the mess that airline worker sickouts and work slowdowns could bring.
Trippler tells travelers that for the weeks to come, "you buy a ticket on American, Delta, Northwest or United at your own risk, understanding that there may be problems."
It will pay to be vigilant. Most flight cancellations occur four days or less ahead of the departure date, sending ticket-holders into a scramble to rebook their travel. Those who act fastest are most likely to salvage their travel plans.
Christopher Reynolds welcomes comments, but he cannot respond individually to letters and telephone calls. Address your comments to Travel Insider, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, or send e-mail to chris.reynolds@latimes .com.