January 2005

It soon could cost more to buy, own and rent a motor vehicle in Florida if state legislators adopt a proposal. Saying Florida desperately needs more money to maintain and build roads, Floridians for Better Transportation is proposing large increases – doubling or tripling, in some cases – in vehicle registration, title and impact fees, and rental-car surcharges.

Blizzard stalls travel

by Jon Surmacz on January 24, 2005

A howling blizzard slammed the Northeast on Sunday with more than 2 feet of snow and hurricane-strength wind gusts, halting air travel for thousands of people, keeping others off slippery highways and burying parked cars under deep drifts. Up to 31 inches of snow fell north of Boston.

5 secret Caribbean bargains

by Jon Surmacz on January 21, 2005

The Caribbean has become a second home to the mega-rich including the likes of Mick Jagger (Mustique), Richard Branson (Necker Island) and Donald Trump (Canouan). But with a bit of careful planning, your jaunt to the sunny shores of some obscure island does not need to break the bank.

Delta posts record loss

by Jon Surmacz on January 21, 2005

The Christmas week storm and subsequent shutdown of Comair, after a malfunctioning computer, cost Delta Air Lines $20 million, the company disclosed while reporting a record $2.2 billion fourth quarter loss. The report capped a year where the carrier lost $5.2 billion, the largest one-year loss in airline history.

Plane water still unsafe

by Jon Surmacz on January 20, 2005

The U.S. government has found for the second time in recent months that water from a sampling of commercial aircraft galleys and bathrooms was not safe for use, regulators said on Wednesday. Tests last November and December by the Environmental Protection Agency on a fraction of the thousands of planes in the domestic and international commercial fleet found samples failed to meet government drinking water standards.

David Zerbian’s flight to Norfolk, Va., is canceled because of mechanical problems. So American Airlines sends him from Little Rock, Ark., to Dallas on a bus but neglects to tell airport officials about the plan. He ends up in Texas after midnight with no place to stay for the night. What does the airline owe him for the inconvenience?

Domestic airlines this week begin reporting 2004 losses expected to top $5 billion, pushing the total since 2000 to almost $33 billion. The expansion of “simplified” fare structures featuring lower business-travel prices could cost the carriers an extra $2.1 billion.

How to save a canned flight

by James Wysong on January 18, 2005

What should you do when your flight is canceled? Do you wait in agony while watching the next flight leave? And the next one? Take if from this insider, you don’t have to. Here are five options that will put you on the next flight out, give you the compensation you deserve, and leave you feeling saner (and better) about your air travel experience.

Virtual agents no more

by Jon Surmacz on January 18, 2005

Virtual travel agents are virtual no more. After years as online-only brands, Expedia and Travelocity.com will begin selling vacation activities the old-fashioned way. Both companies are opening kiosks and small retail shops in major tourist areas this month. The companies said the change would help them reach customers who had not yet purchased travel services online.

Crackdown on cruise priests

by Jon Surmacz on January 17, 2005

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has started screening priests who celebrate Mass aboard cruise ships to prevent unqualified clergy from ministering to Catholic passengers. The bishops have approved more than 650 priests to work on cruise lines in a process designed to weed out unsuitable candidates such as clergy who were suspended in the church’s sex abuse scandal.