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Monthly Archives: October 2005

Traveling to Dallas Texas – A NY Times Planner

Dallas, Texas. Home of the big hair, big oil, and big egos. A town so big ever Bill Parcells could fit in. The New York Times has a round up on Dallas that has a great deal of information on this fine city. I have to admit, growing up a NY Giants fan, I have always been biased against Dallas, but it may be worth a field trip on of these days. Here are a few reasons to go now to Dallas.

WHY GO NOW With the unveiling of the Nasher Sculpture Center in 2003, this year’s eyebrow-raising bequest of three major private collections to the Dallas Museum of Art and the announcement of plans for a Rem Koolhaas-designed Center for the Performing Arts, Dallas finally has cultural draws to eclipse Southfork and the Kennedy assassination for good. Long a shopping and foodie draw for Southwestern visitors, Dallas is now attracting international art connoisseurs, who formerly bypassed Big D’s offerings in favor of Fort Worth and Marfa. The Dallas Arts District has created a focal city center out of a once-decrepit downtown. And gallery openings have become high-profile social events. Yet Dallas maintains an equal appreciation for high and low: getting a “Howdy” from Big Tex, the Texas State Fair’s 52-foot talking cowboy mascot, has been a popular pastime every fall since he appeared in 1952.

So round em up cowboys, and head on over to Dallas. You may have a great time.

Online Phishers Target Frequent Flyer’s

The email scam of phishing has a new target. Members of Frequent Flyer Programs. Phishing is the act of sending out an email in the name of a company you have an account with. The emails typically inform you of a supposed problem with your account, and then redirect you to a fake site. There they try to extract information out of you so they can steal from either your account or steal you identity.

These attacks previously had targeted banks and paypal accounts. Now these thieves have set their sites on frequent traveler accounts.

Anywhere [consumers]strong> might have a stored profile might present the same risk,” said Eric Olson, a vice president at Cyveillance, an Arlington, Va., company that specializes in tracking Internet risk and fraud.

It may be especially risky for the Internet-savvy frequent traveler.

“Super-platinum members of hotel chains spend a great deal of money on travel. That is a perfect target for a scammer.”

Two of the largest hotel frequent-guest programs appear to have been targeted by phishers, the hotels’ websites suggest: the Hilton HHonors program and the Starwood Preferred Guest program. Neither Starwood nor Hilton returned phone calls asking for comment about phishing.

Delta Song Will Stop on May 2006

Delta announced today that their discount carrier Song will stop flying as of May 2006. The reason for this announcement is to incorporate the fleet of 757’s into Deltas regular service.

Delta will reintroduce first class service to the 48 planes. This will be beneficial for the business traveler and bring the planes into line with the existing fleet.

When Song was created, the staff was brought from Delta and became employees of the subsidiary, not Delta. I wonder what the fate of these employees will be?

Bloomberg: Delta Will End Song Discount Flights, Retain Elements

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) — Delta Air Lines Inc. will close its low-fare Song service, created two years ago to take on discount carriers, as part of a bankruptcy reorganization. The airline will adopt features of the unit, such as leather seats and seat-back televisions, on some of its most-traveled routes.

AP: Delta to Discontinue Song by May 2006

Delta officials said there will be no layoffs directly from Song’s elimination. Any reductions that do occur are part of the 7,000 to 9,000 job cuts Delta announced last month as part of its bankruptcy restructuring, a spokeswoman said.

Delta expects to cut marketing and other costs as a result of closing Song, but the company did not release estimates.

United Is Having a 99 Dollar Airfare Sale

Some great deals on United Airlines offered today. Via Sherman Travel.

United has just posted a phenomenal Pack N’ Fly Fall and Winter Sale sale, featuring particularly attractive rates on coast-to-coast U.S. travel from just $99 each-way. Highlights of this sale include fares between Los Angeles and West Palm Beach or between New York and San Diego for $99 one-way. There are also some great fares available for travel from Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco to several top U.S. cities, like Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, and more.

Travel is valid through February 3, 2006, but you’ll have to hurry up and book – no expiration date has been posted for this deal, so it could disappear at any time.

United.com lists the following sample one-way fares:

  • Baltimore–Los Angeles: $99
  • Baltimore–Portland, OR: $99
  • Baltimore–San Diego: $99
  • Chicago–Albuquerque: $109
  • Chicago–Burbank: $99
  • Chicago–Oklahoma City: $99
  • Denver–Fort Lauderdale: $99
  • Denver–Las Vegas: $99
  • Denver–Orlando: $99
  • Los Angeles–Hartford: $99
  • Los Angeles–Manchester: $99
  • Los Angeles–West Palm Beach: $99
  • New York City–Las Vegas: $99
  • New York City–Phoenix: $99
  • New York City–San Diego: $99
  • San Francisco–Fort Lauderdale: $99
  • San Francisco–Nashville: $99
  • San Francisco–Tampa: $99
  • And more!

Terms and Conditions

A 14-day advance purchase is required. Minimum stay requirements vary by market. Off-peak travel days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Some blackout days apply. Taxes and fees are additional.

Yahoo Announces New Travel Planner Beta

Yahoo announces a new tool for the traveler, Trip Planner Beta, provides a toolkit that can make your travel planning better and more efficient.

From Information Week.

Trip Planner Beta, available through Yahoo Travel, can create, print and share with others personalized trip itineraries, officials with the Sunnyvale, Calif., Web portal said. Information is drawn from Yahoo, as well as from anywhere else on the Web.

Other new features include travel photos from Flickr, Yahoo’s photo-sharing service, and a database of vacation home rentals from owners. The user-contributed photos complement the 300,000 existing photos in Yahoo Travel, the company said.

Other features currently available on Yahoo Travel are message boards to discuss destinations with other travelers, consumer ratings and reviews on various locations, hotels, restaurants and activities; and listings for vacation rentals and points of interest.

Outsourcing Flight Attendants and Pilots? Northwest Airlines Runs Big Risks

Northwest Airlines has decided to put outsourcing Pilots and Flight Attendants on the table in their labor negotiations. There is one lesson when outsourcing that is being learned by large companies. Outsource manufacturing and distribution. Do Not Outsouce CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Dell and many other vendors are learning this lesson the hard way. Even airlines such as Delta have learned that customer service is a function that needs to be kept in house.

Can you imagine a flight with people who do not understand English to save my family in a crisis.

Well, the Wall Street Journal has an article on this up, and Jared Blank for the the Online Travel review has this to say.

The airline is seeking to replace American flight attendants on 75% of its trans-Atlantic routes, eliminate them entirely on its Indian routes, and drop them by half on intra-Asia flights.  The flight attendants would be replaced by locally-based workers who are, you have already guessed, paid much less.  If this move is made, it would put competitors at a significant disadvantage, and it would just be a matter of time before others make similar moves.  You can probably expect foreign pilots in the cockpit in a few years as well…

Holland America Adds Third Ship For Mexico Sailings including the Oosterdam, Zaandam, and Ryndam

Holland America adds a third ship to allow a better selection for their Mexico sailings, Cruises will specialize in providing trips to the Mexican Riviera and the Sea of Cortez. The Holland America Line ships include the Oosterdam, Zaandam, and Ryndam as vessels that will provide service to Mexico.

In 2007 Holland America Line will continue to be the only major cruise
line sailing the pristine Sea of Cortez on 10-day, roundtrip San Diego
cruises. The Ryndam will feature 11 such departures in winter/spring and fall,
providing a wide range of dates. The Oosterdam continues to sail the popular
seven-day Mexican Riviera itinerary, offering 28 cruises. The Zaandam will add
two 10-day Mexican Riviera cruises — and the Ryndam will sail one — in the
fall for guests who have more time to explore as far south as Acapulco.

 “From vibrant Mexican Riviera ports to amazing wildlife in the Sea of
Cortez, and with several hundreds of exciting shore activities to choose from,
Holland America Line continues to offer more diverse premium cruise choices
for Mexico travelers,” said Richard D, Meadows, CTC, senior vice president,
marketing and sales.  “In addition, Holland America Line’s Mexico cruises
offer the convenience of sailing from San Diego’s cruise port, just minutes
from the city’s airport, and a popular city for pre- and post-cruise options.”

 

George Blanc, Michelin Three Star Chef, signs with Carnival Cruise Lines

The “Georges Blanc Signature Selections” will be a new addition to the fine cuisine found aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines. This renowned chef, one of the best culinary artists in the world will work with Carnivals top chef and some of his own, to develop recipes that will be prepared on board Carnival’s Eight Spirit and Conquest class vessels.

To develop this program, several of the top chefs from Carnival have gone to train at Blanc’s restaurant in Vonnas in France. They have undergone an intense 2 week training program that will develop their skills and provide a foundation in the techniques the distinguish Blanc’s dishes.

Travel Daily News reports:

Two culinary development teams, comprised of chefs from Carnival and Georges Blanc’s restaurants and under the direction of Carnival’s Corporate Executive Chef Peter Leypold and Executive Chef – Culinary Development Sanjay Dhall, will also travel to the line’s ships to introduce the “Georges Blanc Signature Selections” fleetwide.

The “Georges Blanc Signature Selections” complement the wide range of culinary offerings aboard Carnival ships, which include elaborate, multi-course meals in the main dining rooms, a more intimate dining experience in the “steakhouse-style” supper clubs, and a variety of casual breakfast, lunch and dinner alternatives in the poolside Lido restaurants. Many Carnival ships feature patisseries and sushi bars, and complimentary 24-hour stateroom service is available fleetwide.

Read More »

Cendant to Split into 4 Companies

Cendants attempt to be all things to all people, has failed, and in its place will be 4 different companies specializing in their different segments of the marketplace; travel bookings, hotel properties, real estate, and rental cars. This will allow the different companies to concentrate on their core competencies, and allow the different segments to explore opportunities that are unique unto themselves.

From the Boston Herald:  One will take over Cendant’s hospitality businesses, including the Ramada, Howard Johnson and Days Inns hotel brands. The other three also will focus on a single area: real estate, including the Century 21 and Coldwell Banker brands; travel booking, including Orbitz, Galileo and Cheap Tickets brands; and the Avis and Budget car-rentals businesses.

      Of the four companies to be created from Cendant’s holdings, the real-estate services company will take with it the largest share of the conglomerate’s revenue – about 40 percent.

      That company, which will include the Century 21 and Coldwell Banker brands, will be headed by Richard A. Smith, who already leads Cendant’s real-estate services division, as CEO. Silverman, 65, will serve as non-executive chairman.

      Cendant has been working for more than a year to shed holdings that did not fit easily into real estate and travel categories – divesting itself of its tax preparation, mortgage and fleet management businesses, among others.

Snorkeling In St John, United States Virgin Islands

Part of me hates writing this. My family has been visiting the island of St. John in the USVI for over 20 years. We have enjoyed the rustic island, devoid of an airport or Cruise dock that keeps tourism down to a loud roar. But I have to admit it publicly, the beaches and snorkeling is some of the best in the Caribbean if not the world. We have snorkeled at Francis Bay where exotic and interesting fish are 10 feet from the shore, and our young sons could float and view the fish where they felt safe. Or making the trip to the farthest reaches of the island at Lamashur Beach where huge schools of fish have you swimming in a cloud, until the neighborhood barracuda scatters them to the nether reaches.

Famous beaches such as Trunk Bay have a world wide reputation as one of the top beaches in the world and get heavily trafficked. Hawks nest Bay was featured in Alan Alda’s Four Seasons movie as the ideal getaway.

So, as the New York Times has stated, St John does have some of the best snorkeling around

The smallest of the three main United States Virgin Islands at 20 square miles, St. John stands out among Caribbean snorkeling destinations because of the variety and quality of spots accessible either straight off the beach, like at Gibney, or by hiking the island’s extensive trails. It is possible to hopscotch the coast for a week or more, snorkeling at one place in the morning and at another in the afternoon, without duplicating experiences.

I trolled beginner-to-intermediate spots on a shorter stay, but there are deep-water arches, tunnels and caves for advanced snorkelers who can free dive. On Princess Bay, baby fish of many species congregate among the tangled roots of a mangrove forest.

The island is also a more rustic alternative to the duty-free shopping hub of nearby St. Thomas. More than half of St. John is national park land, much of it donated by the philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller in the mid-1950’s, and the government’s protection extends out to and embraces offshore reefs, restricting boating and fishing. All beaches are public to the vegetation line.