Travel: Something To Declare

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Bargain of the week: the freedom of Canada for less than pounds 200

You have just two months left to take advantage of one of the best travel deals ever. The stand-by air pass scheme offered by the airline Canadian Regional ends on New Year's Eve.

It works like this. A NationalPass, costing pounds 199 for a week, pounds 249 for two weeks or pounds 299 for three weeks, allows unlimited travel on the Canadian regional network. This stretches right across the world's second-largest country, from Newfoundland in the east to the Queen Charlotte islands in British Columbia in the west.

The pass also allows travel to some destinations in the US, such as New York and Seattle. Flights are on a standby basis, but in the experience of writers for The Independent the chances of getting on a desired flight are excellent.

The pass must be bought in advance from AirPass Sales (01737 555300), and travel must start no later than 31 December 1998. Beyond that date, the best bet to cover large amounts of ground in western Canada, the Rocky Mountains and the US west coast is on a Horizon Air stand-by pass, sold by the same company, or a stand-by fare on Air 3000 between Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

Latin lava threat

The US Embassy in Quito has reported that the Guagua Pichincha volcano could erupt between about 15 October and 15 December. According to geologists, the volcano, located just west of Quito, exhibited a significantly increased number of tremors and steam emissions during September, with an accompanying rise in the magma level. Experts conclude that the city of Quito is protected from possible lava flows, avalanches and lateral explosions by the bulk of Pichincha Mountain, which stands between the city and the volcano's crater.

Parts of Quito could be affected by secondary mud flows caused by the heavy rains that usually accompany an eruption. The entire city could also be affected by slight to significant ash falls and an interruption of the water supply.

Lava flows, lateral explosions and avalanches would almost certainly head west and south west from the volcano, in the direction of the communities of Lloa, Mindo, and Nono - popular destinations for birdwatchers.

A likely story

"The cheapest-ever scheduled flights across the Atlantic" - so says a press release from Continental Airlines.

The fares war that is raging between the UK and the US has brought many benefits to travellers, with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic driving fares down in their battle to fill seats in the lowest of low seasons. It happens every winter, with November a superb month for transatlantic travellers.

Yet the claim from Continental is extraordinary. A London-New York fare of pounds 178.40 is good, but a lot more expensive than the pounds 159 returns that were around at the start of the year. As these pages stress repeatedly, fares quoted by airlines when you call them direct tend to be higher than if you use a discount travel agent.