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Monthly Archives: April 2006

Mavericks and American Airlines Give Out Free Tickets

AmericanThe fans attending the last game of the season for  the Dallas Mavericks got a great surprise. Arena sponsor American Airlines gave every one at the game a voucher for a free flight. out of Love Field where American is going head to head with Southwest Airlines.

What a great PR move.

Fans jumped to their feet and cheered when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and American executive Dan Garton announced the giveaway to an estimated 19,000 people Wednesday night. The vouchers are for American flights at Love Field, where American recently began direct competition with Southwest Airlines Co.

If every fan at the game, plus 1,000 watching at home redeem their vouchers, they could have a face value of more than $3 million, based on the average $79 one-way fare on American’s Love flights. via CNN.com

Pride of Hawaii Cruise Ship Ready For Maiden Voyage

PrideOfAmericaThe Pride of Hawaii is ready for it’s maiden voyage from the Dutch city of Eemshaven. The ship was delayed when the builders had trouble with The Pride Of Hawaii’s propulsion system. With some minor modifications the ship was ready to sail. The ships owners, Norwegian Cruise Lines, had the ship built at the Meyer Werft yards and has two more ships, the Norwegian Pearl and the Norwegian Gem, being built in the same yards.

The ship, built by Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany at a cost of more than $500 million, can carry 2,400 passengers. It will employ 1,000 people, pushing the company’s total Hawaii work force to 4,000. “We are proud to take delivery of this beautiful new ship not only because she is our newest and largest U.S.-flagged vessel but because she features the innovative design and tremendous consumer appeal,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Star Cruises, which owns NCL Corp.

Nationally, Pride of Hawaii is the ninth in a series of 11 ships that will be part of NCL’s North American fleet. The company undertook a $5 billion expansion project here in 1998 to create a niche in the casual, freestyle cruising market.
Just in Hawaii, NCL will have about 500,000 passengers sailing the seas on its three vessels annually.

The Pride of Hawaii will begin its voyage to Hawaii, reaching Baltimore at the end of this month, then traveling to San Francisco and Los Angeles en route to the Islands. The ship will offer interisland hops and leave Honolulu every Monday. It will spend a day each in Hilo and Kona and two days each in Kahului and Nawiliwili before heading back to Honolulu. via the Pacific Business News (Honolulu):.

Driving In India – Not For The Faint Of Heart

We tend to forget how different things are in other countries. We all know that British countries drive on the left, but look at this video on YouTube and tell me you would feel comfortable driving on these roads, with no signs or traffic lights.

Driving_In_India

Click the image to see the video.

Vacation and Travel Costs Rise 5.4 Percent for 2006

AAA_LogoAAA Annual Vacation Cost survey has come out and it says vacation and travel costs will increase by 5.4 percent over last year. The increases are across the board as lodging and transportation are facing the same pressures, higher energy and labor costs. Hawaii leads the way  as the most expensive state with North Dakota and Nebraska pulling up the rear as the least expensive states to travel in. One would think the law of supply and demand are in force.

Rate increases for lodgings are mostly a result of supply and demand, especially in major markets,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development, which oversees the popular AAA Diamond Ratings. “For both lodgings and restaurants, rising energy costs as well as salary and benefit costs are certainly having an impact.”

AAA’s survey shows that a family of two adults and two children can expect to pay an average $261 per day for food and lodging. Lodging rates will average $141 a night, up nearly 9 percent from last year. Meals will cost $120, up nearly 2 percent from 2005.

The most expensive state for vacationers remains Hawaii where the daily cost of food and lodging for a family of four will average $559 per day. Other destinations with a high average daily cost include the District of Columbia at $518; Nevada, $348; Rhode Island, $329; and New York, $329.

Travelers looking for bargains should look at these least expensive states: North Dakota and Nebraska, with an average daily cost of $191; Kansas, $193; Iowa, $196; and Oklahoma, $200. via the AAA Newsroom.

Delta Increase New York Flights After Labor Settlement

DeltaDelta Airlines having come to an tentative accord with its Pilots union now is continuing its re-alignment of flights by increasing those coming out of the New York Metropolitan region. Delta is using this period under bankruptcy to redefine the airline into more of a longer haul and potentially higher margin carrier while reducing costs to the level of the low cost airlines.

On June 10, Delta plans to launch Saturday-only nonstop flights from close-in LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Las Vegas (LAS) and Los Angeles International (LAX). A Boeing 757, Flight 1663, will leave LaGuardia at 9:00am on Saturdays and get to the gate at Las Vegas McCarran International at 11:30am. The return flight, DL 1662, departs Las Vegas at 12:30pm and gets back to New York LaGuardia at 8:20 pm.
The LaGuardia to Los Angeles flight, DL 1643, departs New York at 8:45am and arrives at Los Angeles at 11:40am, just in time for lunch. It too is a narrowbody 757. The return circuit is DL 1644, which pushes back from the gate at Los Angeles at 12:35pm, and arrives at New York LaGuardia at 9:05pm.
Out on Long Island, at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Delta’s prime East Coast international launchpad, Delta Connection plans to operate two daily nonstops to Burlington, Vermont (BTV) from July 5. Canadair Regional Jets will make the trip.
When all of Delta’s new activity out of New York is totaled up, the carrier will offer travelers more than 260 peak daily flights from LaGuardia and JFK to some 81 destinations. Via Cheap Flights.

Royal Caribbeans Freedom of the Seas Prepares for Maiden Voyage

FreedomoftheseasFreedom of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever built, is about to head out on it’s maiden voyage and enter service for Royal Caribbean International as it’s Flagship. The Freedom of the Seas is a spectacular vessel, with such amenities as a surfing pool, a skating rink, and a rock climbing wall. The picture on the left is the ship in Hamburg, Germany as the Freedom of the Seas finishes getting outfitted for its maiden crossing.

The Finnish-built vessel – flagship of Royal Caribbean International – will have a thorough check and final polish at Germany’s Blohm and Voss shipyard.
It boasts the world’s first on-board surfing pool, called “Flow Rider”, a skating rink and a rock-climbing wall.
It will take up to 4,375 passengers at a time on Caribbean cruises.
The 160,000-ton ship is 339 metres (1,112 ft) long, 56m (184 ft) wide and has a cruising speed of 21.6 knots.
The crew had to carry out a tricky manoeuvre in Hamburg, as the ship’s berth was only three metres wider and 12m longer than the ship.
The ocean liner Queen Mary II is six metres longer but 15m narrower than the Freedom of the Seas, which will be based in Miami, Florida.
The Freedom of the Seas will leave Hamburg on 25 April for a stopover in Oslo before crossing the Atlantic and starting Caribbean cruises in June. via BBC NEWS

Princess Cruise Lines Initiates Balcony Fire Monitoring Systems

Star_princess_fireAfter the horrific fire aboard the Star Princess that killed 1 and injured 11 that started aboard a passengers balcony, Princess cruises has initiated a policy to address balcony fires. The cruise industry has been under tremendous scrutiny this past year and the Star Princess fire was one of many instances that caused the industry a black eye.

Princess said that as a result of their findings they are immediately implementing precautions designed to prevent such a fire from happening again, and if a fire were to happen on a balcony, “to quickly detect and extinguish” it.

This includes 24-hour fire watch of balconies; specific training and fire response procedures for the crew, especially for handling fires on balconies; enhanced communication to passengers regarding fire safety; and changing housekeeping procedures on balconies. via Travel Weekly

United Hires NASCAR Pit Crews To Improve Turn Times

Nascar_pit_crewWhen truth is stranger than fiction. United Airlines is hiring NASCAR Pit Crews to train it’s ramp crews on how to improve the turn times between flights. The airline is trying to get the maximum flight time out of it’s aircraft.

The hiring of NASCAR pit crews has got to be one of the crazier ideas I have heard though. NASCAR pit crews can fuel the race car, change the  tires, clean the windows, and make minor adjustments in about 15 seconds during a race. My question is how will this help United Airlines? Do they really think that an airline ramp will have the same dynamics as a NASCAR race?

Chief Operating Officer Peter McDonald said in a speech Tuesday evening at Northwestern University that the company has hired NASCAR pit crews to train ramp workers in order to reduce turnaround time at airports.

McDonald said improving aircraft turns, refueling, cleaning and loading and unloading planes on layover will add 125 flights to United’s schedule without putting more planes in the air.

Increasing efficiency is part of the company’s plan to return to profitability after being forced into bankruptcy by a surge of low-cost carriers, high labor costs, and ever-rising fuel prices. The key to its strategy, McDonald said, is United’s “most important asset”–its people.via cbs2chicago.com

Delta Pilots Reach Tentative Agreement

Delta40sDelta management and it’s pilots union ALPA have reached a last minute tentative agreement to avoid a company ending strike just hours ago. The details of the agreement have not been announced and the 5,930 pilots will have to affirm it.

The deal reached by negotiators will first be presented to the union’s Master Executive Council next week, according to a memo to pilots from Lee Moak, chairman of the council. If the council approves the deal it would be sent out for a ratification vote, which typically takes several weeks.
“We will not hurry,” said Moak. “We will proceed in an unrushed, methodical manner.”
Delta confirmed that negotiators reached a deal but, like the union, didn’t disclose details of the agreement that had been hammered out during a marathon series of meetings in Washington and New York.
“We are going to respect the [union leadership’s] review process,” Delta financial chief Ed Bastian said in a written statement. “We have worked hard together as a team to forge an agreement that is good for Delta and all of its constituents.”
Delta, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in September, said the agreement is also subject to approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. via ajc.com.

Kayak Announces “Virgin Territory” Promotion

Kayak_logoKayak, one of my favorite sites for travel information as they understand Web 2.0, announced a new promotion that seems pretty cool Normally I do not write off a press release that I receive, but this one is worth mentioning.

We are learning that one the coolest parts of the web is the interaction it provides. Instead of just the conversation going one way as television does, the web provides you the opportunity to read and learn how your peers are traveling.

Kayak does this very well and has created a promotion that promotes this. Their “Virgin Territory Contest” is offering a trip to London if you complete a wish list telling them where you want to visit.

What a great way to get people to develop a community on your site.