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Monthly Archives: February 2006

Business Travelers Told to Avoid Heathrow

It looks like the  security issues and discomfort we  have experiencing in the United States are being felt over in England. Heathrow International Airport in London is adding additional security measures and it is annoying both business travelers and travel agents with the additional time it is taking to get through security. So much so that the travel agents are recommending to the business traveler to use different airports that have lighter security.

“Some passengers are getting very annoyed indeed,” one airline told Times Online. “It is taking them a lot longer to get through security than they have been accustomed to.” According to airline sources, queues to pass through security are taking as long as one hour at peak times. Times Online.

Questions on the Airbus A380 Tests and Delivery Dates

A380The Airbus A380 completed its “to destruction” test of its wings and all indications are that it passed, but reports are varied and issues were raised whether the structural integrity is sufficient. The size and weight of the A380 has analysts thinking that it needs to be closer to the top end of the test results and not the bottom where it is presently. The first delivery of the supersized A380 is due at  the end of December  to Singapore Airlines.

The wings in the static test had ruptured within 3 per cent of the target of the load tests and had bent by 7.4m (24.3ft) in the so-called “ultimate load test” before rupturing at a point between the inboard and outboard engines.

Initial news of the rupture in the wings caused shares in EADS, the Airbus parent company, to fall sharply in after-hours trading in Frankfurt with a drop of €3.23, or 10 per cent, to €28.

Airbus said, however, that the “satisfactory results” achieved so far should enable it “fully to demonstrate compliance with the certification requirements” of the aviation safety regulators in order to achieve the crucial “type certification” for the A380 later this year.

Alain Garcia, Airbus executive vice president engineering, told Air Transport Intelligence, the aviation news agency, yesterday that the wing rupture had occurred at between 1.45 and 1.5 times the limit load, which was itself the maximum load likely to be experienced by the aircraft during normal service.via MSNBC.com.

Oprah Fans Ripped Off in Travel Scam

OprahAn unscrupulous travel agent stole from elderly woman promising a trip to see the Oprah Winfrey show by changing $500 and never delivering. The Temple Hills, Maryland man faces up to 15 years in jail and 17 counts of theft for faking the tour to see Oprah and absconding with the money from these ladies. Investigators say that additional charges may be coming as there may be as more victims may appear.

Prosecutors said Terrance Hawkins, 44, of Temple Hills, charged $500 per person for a bus trip to Chicago and tickets to see a taping of Winfrey’s talk show, but that he never delivered. They said he ran a business known both as Royal Travel and Royal Stages Travel Group, and booked the trips between December 2004 and April 2005.

Investigators believe there may be as many as 70 alleged victims, many of them elderly women. “I can’t say that these ladies did anything that demonstrated a lack of caution, but you do want to make sure you check on the business license of people if you can, if you’re going to send them a large amount of money,” Prince George’s County State’s Atty. Glenn Ivey told WTOP Radio. via the Chicago Tribune

Disneyland Offers New Podcast

DisneyDisneyland now has available a new podcast filled with special hints and behind the scenes information for the park. Podcasting is a audio recording that can be downloaded to your computer and played back on the computer or portable mp3 player such as an IPod. 

 The Walt Disney Company yesterday announced that they’d made available the first 2006 episode of the “Official Disneyland Resort Podcast” series available for download from either the Apple Itunes Directory or an official Disneyland site.

The monthly Disneyland podcast, said Disney, focuses this time around on the opening of the all-new attraction “Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!” at Disney’s California Adventure Park and then goes backstage for a peek at the workings of the Matterhorn Bobsleds ride. Both segments include interviews with those who are involved with the attractions. The podcast is hosted by Michael Geoghegan. via Designtechnica

Mardi Gras Goes On In New Orleans

Mardigras_2006With the damage of Hurricane Katrina still evident, a condensed Mardi Gras is going on in New Orleans this week as the tradition continues. The people of New Orleans decided that they must maintain the traditions of the city even after the calamity that occurred, and by  having an abbreviated Mardi Gras in 2006 they are able to show the resolve of the city.

Streets once filled with downed trees drummed to the sound of marching bands and children crying “Here! Here!” as masked revelers tossed beads, plastic cups, toys and trinkets from colorful floats.
“Cool! An American football!” Simone Cohen said as her four-year old daughter Olivia handed over her latest catch of party favors on historic St Charles Avenue in Uptown.
Many of the floats had satirical themes, like a Spartan float titled “Mandatory Evacuation: the places we should have gone,” decorated with a replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Another titled “Your levee system: a real life fairy tale” had a massive Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall. But while the mood was festive, the parades, like New Orleans, were just a shadow of their former self.
With more than half of the city`s residents still scattered across the country, the crowds were painfully thin.
And with the cash-strapped city still unsure how it will pay the $2.7m cost of Mardi gras clean-up and extra policing, the parades were shortened and condensed onto a single route.
In a normal year, it would take all day for five parades to march from Uptown to the French Quarter. On Saturday, it took less than 90 minutes. via GG2.net.

Las Vegas and Other Airports Have Successful 2005

While the  airlines are seeing losses with high fuel prices and intense competition, individual airports are doing very well in traffic volume. Since the airports charge revenue by passenger arrivals and departures and gate fees, it means that the airports revenues are not dependent on the airlines success, but just the passenger volume. Las Vegas has had a particularly good year on 2005.  

“We are seeing tremendous volume of passengers into our airport,” McCarran Airport spokeswoman Elaine Sanchez said. “It is a good thing for our community.”  McCarran saw 44.3 million passengers come through its gates last year, a 6.8 percent increase from the previous year and a 22 percent jump from 2003.

These large increases follow a few years of flat growth following the terrorist attacks in 2001. After a few months of double-digit declines following 9/11, the airport rebounded to post only a .5 percent decline in 2002, followed by a 3.6 percent increase in 2003 before the two years of record-setting growth. Via Las Vegas Business Press

Trump Looking to Expand Casino Business Into Rhode Island

TrumpIt looks like the state governments are not all that thrilled that Indian Casino’s are generating huge returns without  paying state taxes. So they are slowly starting to allow gaming licenses in their states. Rhode Island has opened the doors by allowing a single gaming license originally aimed at getting Harrah’s Casino to build a property. Now Donald Trump is in the mix as he is looking to attain the license.

 “Donald Trump wants to ‘put Johnston, R.I., on the map’ with a resort-casino to rival what Harrah’s Entertainment has proposed for West Warwick. For the last several years, state lawmakers have been negotiating terms and tax rates for an exclusive casino-operating license with Harrah’s alone.

“Yesterday, James B. Perry, president and CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, came to town to launch what he described as a campaign to persuade Rhode Island lawmakers to set the terms and tax rate themselves and then allow competitive bidding for a single casino-operating license.

“…He said the Trump organization — and its Rhode Island development partner, David H. Nunes — also took their cue from recent comments by high-placed lawmakers that led them to believe the legislature is again open to the recommendation made in 2003 by a House gambling study commission for competitive bidding…”

Why is it so Hard to Determine the Real Air Fare When Purchasing Tickets?

When trying to compare airfares on the internet, do not be lured in by the first fare you find. Many time comparing what the fare between airlines and sites is impossible because different sites add the taxes imposed at different times in the ticket buying process.

The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates how airlines and travel agencies advertise fares in print and online.

“The [advertised] fare must be the full fare with the exception of those government-imposed fees calculated on a per-passenger basis,” said department spokesman Bill Mosley. “It’s the same for Internet ads.”

The “base fare” includes the actual price of the ticket as charged by the airline plus a 7.5% federal tax. Because percentages are more difficult for passengers to calculate, any taxes that are a percentage of the fare must be included in the base fare, Mosley said.

Per-passenger taxes that can be excluded from the base fare include airport-imposed taxes (also known as airport passenger facility charges), 9/11 security taxes of up to $10 per round-trip ticket and a government excise tax of $3.20 on each flight segment.

“We do get taxed a lot as an industry,” said American Airlines spokesman Billy Sanez. via the Los Angeles Times

Penn National Plans to Reopen 2 Mississippi Casinos – Biloxi and Bay St. Louis

The rebuilding of the Mississippi Casino business continues in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devestation to the region. In addition to the 2 casinos reopening, the Penn National is also looking to buy some land and build an inland casino in Biloxi in the near future. New legislation passes will allow casinos to be built on dry land as opposed to barges in the past.

“Penn National Gaming Inc. hopes to reopen its two Mississippi casinos destroyed by Hurricane Katrina before the end of the year.

“The company said Wednesday it plans to open a 30,000-square-foot temporary casino in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and reopen its barge in Biloxi, Miss., during the fourth quarter. Both casinos have been closed since Katrina came ashore last August.

“Insurance proceeds are expected to cover the costs of reopening both casinos.

“Peter M. Carlino, Penn National chairman and CEO, said the Biloxi barge is in transit for repairs. He said the goal is to return the barge to operation at the same location.

College Spring Break in Cancun – Think Again.

If you are planning your Spring Break travel this year, you may want to reconsider Cancun, or at least be very selective in the  hotel you chose. Even though the prices are presently discounted in Cancun as it recovers from the Hurricane damage from last fall, they are not rolling out the welcome mat for College Spring Break visitors.

Several resort owners said Cancun should not make the same mistake that it did in 1988, when Hurricane Gilberto struck and hotels lowered rates to bring the tourists back. The bargain prices, combined with the drinking age of 18, combined to make Cancun the spring-break capital of North America.

Most resorts are offering deals as they come back on-line, but the welcome mat may not be out for spring breakers at the new, improved Cancun.

“I must admit, we don’t take spring breakers in our hotels,” Schmid said of Riu. “The spring breakers don’t match with our normal clients.”

Rodriguez, of Lomas Travel, said travel agents and big tour operators such as Funjet, Worry-Free and Apple Vacations know which hotels will accept spring-break groups. Traditionally, that had been the Oasis hotels, the Flamingo Cancun and the Barcelo Tucancun, among others.

But the past antics of kids-gone-crazy during spring break may cause some of the renovated hotels to rethink their open-door policy, Rodriguez said.

“I picked one group of 28 up at the airport at 10:30 in the morning, and they already had tequila bottles in their hands,” he recalled. “The hotel called me at 1 p.m. and said, `Come get these guys. We’re going to call the police.’ They were puking in the pool, some older guys were fighting, and one had fallen off the balcony.”

Mention spring break to Francisco Cordova and he rolls his eyes and says, “Oh my god – please!” via the Times Leader