(Some) drinks are on US Airways

US Airways, which was the sole major air carrier charging customers for non-alcoholic beverages, bowed to industry and consumer pressure and will rescind the charges as of March 1.

According to a memo to airline employes from upper management, " .... We (are) returning complimentary sodas, juices, tea, water and coffee to US Airways. The free beverage service will resume on March 1. This change reverses part of the a la carte business model we believe is right for our business ... .

"When we launched the beverage purchase program in 2008 we knew it would generate additional revenue. From this perspective the program was very successful. What we didn't know at the time, but later experienced, was that the cabin atmosphere would also improve with fewer carts in the aisles and shorter lines to the lavatories.

"Today, while we remain firmly committed to the a la carte strategy -- we also know it is a work in progress. We know customers don't buy an airline ticket based on whether or not they will get a free soda onboard, but with US Airways being the only large network carrier to charge for drinks, we are at a disadvantage. More importantly, this difference in our service has become a focal point that detracts from all of the outstanding improvements in on-time performance and baggage handling that all of us have worked so hard to achieve over the past year."

That means no more $1 charges for tea or coffee or $2 charges for soft drinks, juices and water.

Very nice. Buh-bye.
Dowd's Guides

Thailand temporarily dropping visa fee

Exploring the financial aspects of Asian travel? You may want to take into account a change in Thailand.

The Royal Thai government has decided to exempt the fee for tourist visa applications for a three-month period, March 5 through June 4.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is personally spearheading efforts to revive the nation's tourism industry and boost the country’s competitive position to offset the impact of the global financial crisis.

Thailand presently gives a "visa on arrival" for citizens of 20 countries for a stay not exceeding 15 days. Citizens of another 42 countries are allowed a visa-free stay of not more than 30 days. To stay longer, visitors to apply for visas at Thai embassies or diplomatic missions abroad before their arrival in the country.

Thailand this year is expecting 14 million foreign visitors, with tourism revenue projected at US$14.46 billion.


• Tourism Thailand
Dowd's Guides

Historic schooner on summer cycle

William M. Dowd photo

CHRISTIANSTED, St. Croix -- It rose above the smaller sailing craft in the calm harbor waters like a giant reddish cloud. The schooner Roseway wasn't even at full sail, yet its dark canvases dwarfed all around it.

It was a genuine sighting of a floating U.S. National Historic Landmark, something I hadn't anticipated when I plopped down on a boardwalk bench in this small main city of St. Croix to relax and let my eye wander over one of the prettier spots on this down-at-the-heels Virgin Island.

The Roseway was built in 1925, and before it was completely restored two years ago it had served as a racing yacht, a fishing vessel and a pilot boat guiding Allied vessels through minefields and anti-submarine nets during World War II.

The Roseway was the last sail-powered pilot boat in the U.S. when put into retirement in 1972. It segued into use as a charter sailing ship off the Maine coast before falling into disrepair.

When the ship was donated to the World Ocean School in 2002, it was the start of a whole new life. The Roseway makes Massachusetts its warm-weather home and St. Croix its winter home. Each location is home to a World Ocean School office.

Massachusetts was an easy decision. The schooner was built in Essex on Cape Ann just north of Boston.

The 137-foot tall ship has tanbark sails, and its 14 cabins can accommodate up to 32 guests who utilize not only deck space but a large main saloon for dining and socializing.

The World Ocean School is based aboard the Roseway, which it uses as a floating classroom for adults and children. Visitors can take part in extended programs, or just summer daytrips right now departing from the Port Authority Dock at Gallows Bay. For a 2½-hour sail, adults pay $45 ($40 for seniors), kids $30.
• World Ocean School
Visiting St. Croix
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