USAirways Building New Mini-Hub at Ft. Lauderdale

USAirways is establishing a mini-hub at Ft. Lauderdale. Some of the cities they’ll be serving will be Cancun, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Panama City; Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic; Kingston, Jamaica; and San Salvador Long-term this makes strategic sense: they’re serving a growing market. They’re going up against American, which dominates the region, but little else. Ft. Lauderdale is a good alternative to Miami, and Miami lost its major United service. USAirways has been building up its Carribean operations across the board, so their branding is strong as are their operations on the ground.The problem is that USAirways hardly has time to operate a route until it gets profitable. And new routes generally start off slowly. So this could be an initial money-loser that USAirways can’t afford, even if the routes are in its long-term…

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Passed along without comment

Via Chris Elliott, Priceline and Ramada have settled with New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer and agreed to invest in making their websites accessible to the blind. In one of the first enforcement actions of the Americans with Disabilities Act on the Internet, two major travel services have agreed to make sites more accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Priceline.com and Ramada.com have agreed to changes that will allow users with “screen reader software” and other technology to navigate and listen to the text throughout their Web sites, according to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Although the software and other devices, including a vibrating mouse that lets the blind “feel” boxes and images on the computer screen, have been available for years, Web sites must have specific coding that allows the equipment to…

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Ted Kennedy on No-Fly List

Big news over the last couple of days is that Ted Kennedy faced substantial scrutiny boarding flights because of a similar name on the government’s no-fly list. It took three weeks to clear the matter up, but Homeland Security (the agency name still gives me the willies) Secretary Tom Ridge personally called to apologize. Or was it a mistake considering his criminal activities. And since they involve alcohol, perhaps he was considered a risk for air rage? [Tongue Planted Firmly In Cheek, For Those Lacking Imagination.]

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First restaurants, then an airline, and now a Las Vegas Hotel

Hooters has taken over and is renovating the old San Remo hotel just off the strip in Las Vegas. Hooters Casino Hotel will appeal to a decidedly down- to-earth crowd, the partners promise. Hooters girls, in trademark orange and white, will stride the casino’s floors serving cocktails. Outside, at the resort’s poolside Hooters Beach Club, Hooters girls in slightly sexier outfits will serve customers to the sounds of reggae in a Key West setting, Droste said. Other entertainment concepts inside the resort will include a traditional Hooters restaurant and a Pete & Shorty’s grill restaurant, which is a small restaurant concept the Hooters founders also developed. Hooters Casino Hotel will have one upscale restaurant, Dan Marino’s Fine Food and Spirits. However, in general, “We’re not going after the rich guys, the high-end guys,” Hessling said.…

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Hotel Price Gouging in the Aftermath of Hurricane Charley

Via Chris Elliott, Florida’s attorney general filed complaints against two hotels for price gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley. The attorney general has issued a press release to let voters know he’s fighting evil, greedy corporations. “Hurricane Charley is the worst natural disaster to befall our state in a dozen years, and it is unthinkable that anyone would try to take advantage of neighbors at a time like this. We are taking a two-pronged approach to fight this egregious behavior, ” said Crist. “Families putting their lives back together should not have to worry about price gouging.” The conduct in question is a Days Inn charging $109 for a room when a billboard advertised $50 rooms, and a Crossroads Motor Lodge charging $61.27 (including all taxes and fees) rather than $44.79.My blood doesn’t really…

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ATA Introduces Elite Level

American Trans Air announced yesterday that it’s introducing an elite level to its frequent flyer program. Information in the press release and on the ATA website is still a little sketchy. ATA is starting to offer business class seating. The elite level doesn’t specify anything about upgrades, just “preferred, front-of-aircraft seating.” But it’s a promising start.ATA joins Airtran in offering both business class and an elite frequent flyer program, further eroding the differences between the major carriers and the discounters. And frequent flyers who follow a contrarian strategy, seeking upgrades where the lines are shorter, should keep an eye out for further developments with this one.

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Continental’s Website Marketing Gimmick

Continental is taking a page from the hotel website, offering a pseudo best-price guarantee. There’s very little behind it, but check it out anyway. If you search for travel on Continental.com and find a lower price for the same city pair and travel dates somewhere else, they’ll send you a 10% electronic discount certificate. Fortunately you don’t have to buy the itinerary from Continental. Just search for the fare. And a good chunk of the time Continental is not going to have the lowest fare – another airline might for any given city pair, and another website might have a lower fare for the same flights. It’s just a way to get publicity for the website, implying that they’re confident it’s the way to get the best prices. Here’s a hint: the offer is so…

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