Virus strikes Veendam again


veendam1.gifVirus strikes Veendam again — About 230 people on a Holland America cruise ship came down with a gastrointestinal illness on a Caribbean voyage, forcing the trip to end early. About 200 of the 1,220 passengers and 30 of the 572 crew members aboard the Veendam got sick on the trip, which ended in Tampa on Friday evening about 13 hours early. Sick passengers were quarantined to their rooms, passengers and officials said.

Bad news, and worse news, for United — On Thursday, United Airlines got bad news: a huge loss of $644 million for the fourth quarter of 2004. On Friday, the bad news got worse: Members of the bankrupt airline’s mechanics union voted down a tentative labor agreement with United’s parent company UAL Corp. and threatened to strike.

Airlines to agents: how about an upgrade? — After being beaten up on all fronts, the airlines are starting to take it out on their computers. In a move that is expected to save the carriers millions of dollars annually, some airlines have begun to persuade travel agents to shift to Web-based services from the mainframe systems they have used for 30 years.

Atlanta airport re-opens after ice storm — About 102,000 customers had no electricity Sunday in Georgia while crews worked to repair power lines snapped by an ice storm, and the city’s airport reopened all its runways as temperatures rose above freezing. Two traffic deaths in Georgia and one in South Carolina were blamed on the storm that spread sleet and freezing rain across parts of the Southeast on Saturday.

Was US Airways Philadelphia move a mistake? — Fred Testa had a feeling that Philadelphia might haunt US Airways. The former director of the Philadelphia International Airport had witnessed first-hand the delays, bureaucracy, irate passengers and unhappy employees while there in 1999 and 2000. It was only a matter of time, he thought, until the airport’s weaknesses punctured the operations of the nation’s seventh-largest carrier.

Confused by online ratings? So are hotels
— Hotels are no strangers to scrutiny. For years they’ve been ranked — and occasionally rankled — by a host of travel authorities. Thanks to the Internet, however, the number of microscopes hotels labor under has multiplied dramatically with the emergence of online travel services — each of which employs its own rating system and in some cases publishes guest reviews.