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June 5, 1999

Listen in on Tuesday, June 8 with Real Audio.

Half off at Starwood

You may have seen those racy television ads for the Starwood group of hotels with the line, "Who's he sleeping with?" Well, you don't have to sleep with anyone, but you do have to sleep at a Starwood property to take advantage of this week's deal. The Starwood family includes Sheraton, Westin, Four Points, St. Regis/Luxury Collection, Caesars and W, the new line of so-called boutique hotels.

Here's the deal: If you book a room at a Starwood hotel through Microsoft Expedia's online travel service by June 25th, you'll get 50 percent off up to five consecutive nights on a future stay. You don't have to actually check in before June 25th, just make your reservation. Then you have until the first day of September to stay a night. You have until the end of next year to collect on the 50 percent off.

Starwood is the 900-pound gorilla that's been buying up hotel chains. It has its own frequent guest program with an unusual benefit: No black-out dates. When you register on Expedia for this promotion, you're automatically enrolled in the Starwood program. For details, go to expedia.com and click on the "Starwood Preferred Guest" button on the left. Or go directly to the Preferred Guest Website at http://www.preferredguest.com/.

Half off a future stay at Starwood -- that's my Deal of the Week.

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Listen in on Tuesday, June 8 with Real Audio

American Airlines Crash

Officials are still investigating Tuesday night's American Airlines crash at Little Rock airport that killed at least nine of the 145 passengers and crew on board. There are some lessons to be learned from the aftermath. Passengers and crew cooperated to quickly evacuate the plane, certainly saving lives. But can we do better? Ira Furman, the former deputy director of the National Transportation Safety Board says planes need work.

Furman: "I don't believe that emergency exits on any aircraft are adequate for the task of dealing with an emergency evacutaion. The reality of it is that in many crashes there are many people who are injured; they make it more difficult for other people to evacuate, the overhead bins will break open, and there's smoke, and there's panic and sometimes not all of the emergency exits themselves will function."

This should be a reminder to blasé fliers who ignore safety announcements that at the very least you should always count the rows to the nearest emergency exit.

Airline Ticket Price Hike
You may have missed it but the major airlines raised their ticket prices by four percent earlier this week. Continental went first, followed by most of the other big guys. One company was happy about the increase... priceline.com, the online name-your-price ticket reseller, said the number of bids they received for tickets went up 33 percent right after the airline price hikes.

Opening the Door to Cuba
And there's some good news for fans of Cuba. The U.S. is now trying to promote more contact with its southern neighbor. New regulations will allow college students to apply for a two-year travel permit and raise the limit on dollars Americans can spend on the island. It will also be easier for Cubans to come to the U.S. for cultural and scientific exchanges.

Cleaning up the Himalaya
And once again, no good deed goes unpunished. A Spanish expedition to Mount Annapurna collected almost three thousand pounds of rubbish from the Himalayan mountain's base camps, in an effort to clean up the mess left by mountaineers. The final phase of the clean-up, however, has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare: Nepali government officials will not allow the rubbish to leave the country. Turns out that Nepali Customs needs clearance from the Department of Mines and Geology.

Travel Advisory
by Sarah Gardner

Global Strike Roundup
As you make your travel plans this first week of June, unhappy workers await. Here's a global strike roundup:

June 10th is the day TWA service could come to a halt if the airline doesn't reach a settlement with the machinists' union. Negotiations reached an impasse last month and a 30-day waiting period is set to expire, clearing the way for a strike by 16,000 machinists.

Cathay Pacific Airline
Dozens of Cathay Pacific Airline flights have been canceled in and out of Hong Kong this week, after pilots staged a sick-out over a pay dispute. Over 20,000 passengers have been affected. The airline and its pilots are supposed to be talking again this weekend.

Chunnel to France
Cars and trucks trying to get through the Chunnel from France to England were halted by French strikers near Calais this week. High speed trains however, have been able to continue chunneling...

Pirates in the Carribean
And, it isn't striking workers you need to worry about in Mexico -- it's pirates. Last week, six hooded men plundered a ferry near the Caribbean island of Cozumel. The men robbed passengers, threw two security guards overboard and beat a crew member before speeding off in another boat.


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