Oil hits near record high at $71 after Katrina

Oil struck a high near $71 on Tuesday as oil companies raced to check their abandoned oil platforms and refineries for damage after Hurricane Katrina’s rampage through the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. crude hit a record $70.85 a barrel before settling at $69.81, up $2.61 a barrel, amid reports of drifting oil rigs and flooded refineries.

Double-booked at Days Inn

It happens all the time. You book a hotel room, only to find a better price later. But when Julia Rayan cancels her higher-priced room at Days Inn, she’s in for an unpleasant surprise: Turns out there is at least one other reservation that went uncancelled. Now she is being charged for a room she didn’t use. What’s going on here?

Katrina slams Gulf Coast, causing 55 deaths

Tropical storm Katrina left at least 55 people dead, more than a million people without power and caused severe flooding in four U.S. states after it slammed into the Gulf Coast yesterday with winds as high as 140 mph. Winds had slowed to 60 mph and the storm was moving toward the north-northeast at about 22 mph (35 kph) on a path that would take it across central Tennessee and Kentucky today. (Bloomberg)

Safety first, fondue later

My luck in Paris has not been what one would call great. I have had a bad case of poison ivy, suffered severely from food poisoning, and was a passenger in the worst car accident of my life—all in Paris. You’d think with my track record, I would try to avoid that region of the world. But I can’t. I’m a flight attendant.

New Orleans braces for monster hurricane

New Orleans braced for a catastrophic blow from Hurricane Katrina overnight, as forecasters predicted the Category 5 storm could drive a wall of water over the city’s levees. The huge storm, packing 160 mph winds, is expected to hit the northern Gulf Coast and make landfall as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane Monday morning.

The art of an airport

Art is making a comeback in airports and major metropolitan buildings. Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport is a wonderful example of how art can be integrated into the architecture of a massive public structure. Its presence is subtle. Sometimes one has to search for it. But its quiet beauty soothes the soul of the harried traveler.

Did somebody say “shark”?

After reeling in one fish after another – redfish, sea trout and catfish – Richard Stanczyk quietly announces that it’s time to go after “something bigger.” We’re a one-hour boat ride from Islamorada, Fla., drifting somewhere in the Florida Bay, and it’s difficult to imagine that our 16-foot vessel can accommodate anything much larger than the gamefish we’re catching and releasing.

Katrina hits Florida: 2 dead; 1 million in dark

Hurricane Katrina lumbered ashore Thursday evening with punishing winds and torrential rain in densely populated southeast Florida, leaving at least two people dead and more than 1 million without electricity.

Rescheduled flight, repriced ticket

When Tracey Crockett received an e-mail saying her flight had been rescheduled, she expected some minor adjustments. What she got instead was a four-hour change, an extra trip to the airport and two surprise surcharges. Did Expedia mess up? Oh, yeah.

Dozens walk away from Peru jet crash

Trudging through knee-deep mud in a hail storm, at least 58 people managed to escape a flaming Peruvian airliner that splintered as it crash-landed in the Amazon jungle, killing 37. One aviation expert called it a “miracle” that so many walked away.