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Fares rise with oil prices

NEWS, TIPS & BARGAINS | TRAVEL LOG

August 21, 2005|Jane Engle

AS oil reaches record prices, travel suppliers, citing higher fuel costs, are charging more.

Airlines have increased fares more than 10 times this year. This month's increases include Southwest ($2 to $4 each way, depending on flight length); other major carriers, including American, Delta and Northwest (as much as $20 per round trip); and international flights, including American ($20 per round trip); and on foreign carriers.

Getting to and from the airport may cost you more too. Among cities with recent or proposed fare increases for taxis:

* Los Angeles: A rate increase of 10.2% was passed July 21 by the Board of Taxicab Commissioners; approval is pending before the City Council.

A fuel surcharge of 50 cents per trip is already in effect.

If the average local gas price stays at $2.68 per gallon or higher for a month, the surcharge would increase to $1, said Taxicab Administrator Tom Drischler.

"I hear from drivers every day," Drischler said. "They're really hurting."

* Baltimore: Cab fares last month went up about 20%, depending on the trip, in the city and county. A run between Baltimore/Washington International Airport and downtown Baltimore is now $23, up from $19.

"Fuel was one of many factors" in the increase, said Christine Nizer, spokeswoman for the Maryland Public Service Commission.

* Seattle: A temporary fuel surcharge of 50 cents per trip was imposed July 27.

From Times staff and wire reports

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Towering addition to Vegas

CAESARS Palace, a stalwart of the Las Vegas Strip, this month expanded its empire by nearly 40%, adding 949 guestrooms at the new Augustus Tower.

The new rooms start at 650 square feet, compared with Caesars' other rooms, which start at 430 square feet. They're outfitted with plush beds and flat-screen TVs in the main room and bath.

Augustus Tower rooms start at $220 per night, nearly double the starting rate for Caesars' other rooms; rates vary by date. Spa suites, which measure 1,470 square feet, start at $2,500 per night.

For information: (877) 427-7243, www.caesars.com/caesars/lasvegas.

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Legroom: Is it worth $299 a year?

HOW much would you pay for a few more inches of legroom in coach?

United Airlines is hoping you'll shell out $299. That's the annual fee for its new Economy Plus Access program, which "gives customers access to United's preferred seats, subject to availability, when they book tickets," it announced.

The airline's Economy Plus seats, which offer as much as 5 inches of additional legroom, usually go to high-mileage frequent fliers and full-fare customers.

Two caveats: Even with a membership, United says, you're not guaranteed an Economy Plus seat. And on some transcontinental flights, all coach seats are Economy Plus.

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Lower age for car rental

AVIS and Budget on Aug. 3 lowered the minimum age for renting a car from 25 to 21.

There is a daily surcharge of $25 for these younger drivers. The policy may not be available in certain areas because of local laws.

Alamo and National also rent to drivers 21 and older. Hertz's usual minimum age is 25.

-- Jane Engle

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