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Daily Travel Dish

November 14, 2003 

(Updated 8:00 PM EST)
There's been a lot of bashing regarding cruise ships and the Norwalk Virus (NLV). Nevertheless, there are land-based outbreaks of viral infections that are proving far more deadly. Not far from where I reside in the Pittsburgh area the nation's worst ever outbreak of Hepatitis A is occurring. To date, 490 people have been infected with the Hepatitis A virus -- three have died. Ground zero is one small Chi-Chi's restaurant. It just goes to show how one sanitary slip in harvesting, processing and preparation of food can infect hundreds (in this case it could be thousands). Considering that 10 million people have cruised this year and only 0.01% (1600 passengers) have incurred any viral infections is a testament to how well cruise ships are maintained.

November 13, 2003 

Airline Dudes - Speaking at Citigroup/Smith Barney Transportation Conference in New York on Monday; US Airways CEO David Siegel joked about United's low-fare airline called "Ted." Siegel suggested that US Airways has a project code-named "Bill." "We would form the first low cost alliance -- Ted and Bill's Excellent Low Cost Alliance -- and I think that would be a nice extension of the existing successful partnership," joked Siegel. The airline's unions would more than likely "Kill Bill".

More Online Agent Fees In The Works - Industry executives note that service fees by the large online agencies Orbitz and Expedia (both charge $5 fees) are creating significant income for the companies. Insiders predict that more online agencies will follow to add fees and those that already charge fees may be raising them within the next six to twelve months.

November 12, 2003 

A US Airways' aircraft just back from major overhaul work done by an outside maintenance firm (meaning not the airline's own mechanics) was returned to the airline with major mechanical issues. According to the airline's mechanics, the aircraft had major problems with hydraulics, so bad that it had to declare an emergency landing in Richmond, Virginia on Monday (11/10/03). There were other issues with wiring, flight controls; the list was long. US Airways' mechanics note that this aircraft went to the contractor in Alabama without these problems. Currently, the aircraft in question is at the airline's Charlotte hangar being repaired by US Airways' very experienced mechanics. They have affectionately dubbed the wounded aircraft - "Alabama Slammer." An airline spokesman quoted in the Charlotte Observer says, "It is not unusual for an airplane, regardless of where it was maintained, to have a minor maintenance problem after it comes out of its heavy checks." Most US Airways mechanics and pilots beg to differ on that remark. Stay tuned...this is one topic that will get a lot of attention in the coming days and weeks.

November 11, 2003 

Who or what the heck is Ted? Can you believe Ted is the name of a new airline! Yes, United (UniTED..get it?) is calling their new airline Ted. The Rocky Mountain News reported that Ted stickers and signs were showing up in Denver, a United hub. Will Ted fly? Stay tuned…

The US Tour Operators Association (USTOA) received 600 consumer claims against bankrupt tour operator Far & Wide, which totaled approximately $2 million. The USTOA states that the total number of consumer defaults against Far & Wide were between $10 million and $15 million, much lower than the $30 million cited in court papers. The difference is due to many customers receiving their services from other tour operators who stepped in to rescue stranded passengers. Much of that will be covered by credit cards or insurance.

Last night the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) was graciously hosted by Universal Studios Orlando. Where else can you mingle with Sponge Bob Square Pants and Blues Brothers (Jake & Elwood)?! I will say this park along with riding The Hulk roller coaster and Spiderman virtual reality experience was the highlight of SATW's convention.

November 10, 2003 

Last Thursday, I had a nice flight on US Airways to Orlando. Employees went out of their way to entertain passengers (in a good way). Flight was packed and they appeared to run out of the onboard "for sale" meals. Full plane, meals sold, huge employee paycuts, why aren't they making money?

Hooters Air is expanding and we're not talking cup size. The airline announced they will be flying to Columbus, Ohio on December 18 -- just in time for Christmas. While Hooters Air's star is rising, one airline's star is falling. The Star Alliance, the world's largest air alliance, may be ending ties with Mexicana Airlines after that carrier terminated its code-share arrangement with United Airlines.

Over the past few days, I've had the chance to experience some of Orlando's newest attractions and all are amazing. However, Disney's new ride Mission: SPACE is just spectacular. This is virtual reality at its finest, stay tuned for an in-depth feature on this high-tech adventure.

Knee-Defender is getting a lot of attention on our boards, poll, and emails. The AnitaVacation poll (not scientific) is currently showing 74% against air travelers using Knee-Defender.

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