something to declare

A likely story

"Incredibly low-cost fares to some of the most action-packed, exciting cities in the world" - press release from STA Travel.

A flight from London to Los Angeles, returning from New York, for a mere pounds 192 looks a real bargain. The weary traveller, or journalist, used to playing a game of "spot the asterisk" - where the added cost of taxes is revealed only in the small print -will be delighted to see that this deal from STA Travel (0171-361 6262), appears to have no such condition.

The trip involves flying from Heathrow to Los Angeles on Air New Zealand, and from New York back to London on Kuwait Airways - both airlines recommended in these pages for their low-cost transatlantic flights.

But when you phone up to book this deal (which expires at the end of May and is open only to under-26s and students), you find taxes load an extra pounds 26 to the deal. At pounds 218 the deal is still attractive, but not quite the bargain that the press, and the public, would be led to believe.

Trouble spots

Advice from our woman in the Foreign Office:

Malaysia: There is currently an outbreak of cholera in Malaysia centred in Penang. Visitors to Penang and other affected areas are advised to avoid tap water and ice.

Belarus: Be alert to the possibility of mugging, theft and pickpocketing, particularly at the [Polish] border crossing at Brest if travelling by road. When travelling by train, do not leave the compartment unattended and ensure that the door is secured from the inside.

Rwanda: We advise against all but essential travel to Rwanda. Security remains fragile. The police and judicial systems have yet to be fully restored. Many military roadblocks exist on all major roads. Do not travel off asphalt roads because of undetected land mines.

Bargain of the week

Budget travellers have cause to be grateful for the collapse of the Soviet Union. After Turkmenistan Airlines and Air Azerbaijan came up with some silly prices to the Indian sub-continent, Uzbekistan Airways is getting in on the act with a cheap deal to Bangkok: pounds 295 plus tax of pounds 10, around pounds 150 less than the market rate to the Thai capital (and a lot less than the normal fare as far as Tashkent, where you change planes). You can book it through the airline's General Sales Agent in the UK, HY Travel (0171-935 4775).

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