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Travel Log: October 2003 Archives

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NYT: Three Cheers for Travel Agents

We're pleased to see this article in the New York Times pointing out when it's still better to have a travel agent as opposed to trying to book all your own travel yourself online. The article writes:

"If you are going to a foreign destination, if your trip involves possible changes or if you need accurate, up-to-date information, the answer is that you are better off with an agent," said Alexander Anolik, a San Francisco travel lawyer and author of "Traveler's Rights." "That way, when things go wrong, you have someone to go to."

It also matters whether it is more important to save time or money. If money is the deciding factor, a computer may be the way to go. "The computer can give you rates," said Martin Rapp, vice president of Altour International in Manhattan. "But a computer won't tell you whether the hotel you just booked is in good shape or in a good location."

Rick Bruner | October 27, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

JetBlue Bails out of Atlanta Market

Six months after starting operations in Atlanta, discount airline JetBlue is pulling out of Georgia. The airline's last flight from Atlanta to Long Beach and Oakland, California, will be December 4. Executives cited intense price competition with Delta and AirTran as the reason for their retirement from the market. Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

In other JetBlue news, USA Today reports that the airline has the best record in terms of overbooking -- in the first half of this year, JetBlue bumped only 10 flyers, all of them volunteers, compared to 412,447 among the other 13 airlines combined.

Rick Bruner | October 27, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

Flights Delayed Across the Country by California Wildfires

Raging wildfires in Southern California have caused flight delays across the United States after fires caused the evacuation of a Federal Aviation Administration control center in San Diego. Southwest Airlines canceled 152 flights across Southern California, and Alaska Airlines and America West Airlines also canceled flights. A report by Associated Press did not make it clear whether delays were expected to continue into Tuesday.

Rick Bruner | October 27, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

Flying Hell: Trapped in First Class With Richard Simmons

Think you've had a terrible flight experience? Aside from something near-death, we bet this tops it (and maybe even some near-death experiences). New York Magazine's Intelligencer gossip column reports:

Just when you thought airports couldn’t get any scarier, along comes Richard Simmons. Our spy reports that on a Continental flight from Newark to Los Angeles last Thursday, the hyperactive aerobicizer played "greeter" in first class, bouncing around in tight Lycra shorts....and what appeared to be a deep spray-on tan. "He keeps introducing himself to people, and everyone's sort of avoiding his gaze," our source whispered via cell phone. "He’s acting like a lunatic." Whenever Simmons learned some unfortunate passenger’s name, he insisted on singing it to the tune of "The Name Game" (you know, "Nancy-Nancy-bo-bancy . . . "). He stopped to ask a group of military students what they were studying ("military-military-bo-bilitary . . . "). Simmons later called us to say, "I get on a plane and help serve the food and water! Throw pretzels! Get people going! Sometimes I do a little chair aerobics. I’m like the court jester of the sky!"

Anyone out there got a worse flying story than that?

Rick Bruner | October 25, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

Singapore-Los Angeles Direct to Become World's Longest Flight

Eighteen and a half hours. That's how long it will take to fly directly from Los Angeles to Singapore on Singapore Air's flight, due to start February 3rd, which will become the longest long-haul flight in the world. Passengers can while away the hours in social sections of the plane, or chose from among an extensive collection of CDs, games, movies and music on the entertainment system built into their seats. Reuters reports.

Andras Revesz | October 15, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

How to Get the Presidential Treatment

In American, we don't have kings and queens, but if you're a frequent traveler or just lucky, you may get to feel like minor royalty by staying in the penthouse suite of a skyscraper hotel. The NY Times has a piece on how to go about landing a night or more in the presidential suite at your favorite luxury hotel. One way is to spend half of your year on the road in nice hotels and rack up those loyalty points. Another is to have room service spill hot soup in your lap or otherwise have some grievance worth the manager's sympathy. Or try arriving in the middle of the night when all the other rooms are booked.

Rick Bruner | October 14, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

10 Ideas for Fall Travel

How does apple season in Washington or cranberry bogs in Wisconsin sound this time of year? If picking fruit isn't your bag, how about discount cruises, early-bird skiing or wine country in California? has Autumn Alternatives: 10 Great Escapes. Almost enough to make you happy that summer's over. (I said, "almost.")

Rick Bruner | October 14, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

Rating the Best of the Best

With the average price of a first-class ticket at $5,085, according to a study by American Express, business travelers expect to get pampered when they travel up front. True, most experienced business travels don't pay full fare for first class, but rather upgrade, but the good news is service in first and business classess just keeps getting better. Forbes reviews the first class accomodations frmo a dozen leading airlines, including American, British Airways, Cathaway, Emirates, Lufthansa, Qantas, Singapore, South African Airlines, Thai International and Virgin. What I want to know is how the journalist lucked out into that cushy assignment.

Rick Bruner | October 14, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

The Best Travel Blogs has a whole series of Best Blogs in 10 categories, voted on by its editors and readers, including one on the Best Travel Blogs. Sadly, BizNetTravel's blog does not make the list, but then the blogs selected are not travel news aggregation blogs, like ours, but rather personal journals by travelers.

The five blogs selected as the editors' and readers' favorites are: 5) Hobo Traveler, by globetrotting author Andy, whose recent travel destinations have include Iraq (Baghdad and Tikrit, during the war), Kurdistan and Turkey; 4) Four on Tour, which chronicles the adventures of four Brits traveling the world for more than six months so far by bus or train (currently in Cambodia); 3) Ed Goes South, following the motorcycle adventures of Ed Sullivan (no, not that Ed Sullivan), who has been touring South America since December 2002, with sponsorship from Santa Fe BMW; 2) Global Walk, chronicling the five-year, 15,000-mile walk around the world by Polly Letofsky to raise awareness and research money for breast cancer, and 1) Vagabonding, a weblog featuring photos, streaming photos and humorous writings from Michael Pugh, a former Internet copy writer, who updates the blog every day with tales of his travels to 14 countries including Mozambique, Tanzania and Cambodia.

Andras Revesz | October 5, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)

AmEx Introduces Prepaid TravelFunds Cards as E-Travelers Checks

For decades, American Express travelers checks were an essential part of international travel. In more recent years, many travelers have opted instead to just use debit cards and ATM machines in international locations instead of carrying the paper vouchers. Now, American Express, if somewhat belatedly, introduces what may be the best of both worlds: prepaid TravelFunds card, which let travelers elect to assign however much money they like to a plastic card that can then be used just like a debit card at any ATM machine or like a credit card at any merchant that accepts American Express. The advantage over using a normal credit or debit card is the additional level of security, in that if a traveler loses the card, one's bank account or normal credit account are not in jeopardy, backed by AmEx's usual level of customer service and travel expertise. The new cards are not a replacement for the paper travelers checks, at least not anytime soon.

The cards are available for free through the end of this year and will cost $14.95 after that, and can be filled with dollars, euros or British pounds. The cards can be purchased from American Express, as well as select travel partners, including Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Alamo and National Car Rental.

Read details on or on

Andras Revesz | October 5, 2003 | Permanent link | Comments (0)


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