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May 25, 2003|Times wires; Associated Press; Compiled by Jane Engle

America West slices food service

America West, which in January began selling food on some flights, took the big bite May 12 and ended free meal service on coach throughout its fleet.

First-class passengers flying from about a third of the 93 cities served by the airline are still getting free food.

Spokeswoman Janice Monahan said America West was trying to cut costs -- $2 million a day, it estimates, just on routes between its Phoenix hub and eight cities.

The airline as of last week hadn't decided whether to renew the "Buy on Board" program, which ended in March and sold snacks and meals to passengers for as much as $10 apiece, Monahan said. One of the issues is how much food to load on board because demand varies from flight to flight, she said.

Other major airlines have also reduced meal service this year. Among them is United, which last month said it was experimenting with on-board sales of food on routes that usually do not include meals.


Mobil offers Web

trip planning,

road service

The people who publish the venerable Mobil Travel Guide, which rates restaurants and hotels on a five-star scale, have created a members-only Internet site where visitors can generate and print route maps based on their preferences and the guide's data.

Members, charged $129 per year per family, also get discounts on hotels, airlines and restaurants; access to a 24-hour call center for route advice; and roadside service (with a cap of $50 per tow).

If this all sounds a bit like AAA membership, complete with TripTik planners, Mobil insists it's not. "Auto clubs are traditionally about the car," said Shane O'Flaherty, vice president of business development, whereas the new MobilCompanion is "about enhancing your auto travel experience."

Members can create user profiles specifying hotel brand, types of restaurants and attractions and have these pop up on the online trip planner. (877) 785-6785,


U.S. raises alert

level to orange

after attacks


The U.S. government last week raised its terror alert status to orange, the second-highest level. Such an alert typically prompts hotels and airports to tighten security. The FBI said recent suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco could be a prelude to an attack on the U.S., though it said it had no specific threat information.

Times wires


This Hammer Museum beats UCLA, literally


An unusual new museum in Haines, Alaska, about 20 miles south of Skagway and 90 miles northwest of Juneau, displays hundreds of hammers that date as far back as the American Colonial period.

The Hammer Museum, which reopened for the season this month, began modestly last summer in a small building just up Main Street from the Haines cruise dock.

"I guess I'm just an incurable collector," said Dave Pahl, who operates a sawmill and co-owns the museum with his wife, Carol.

Over the years he has acquired about 1,200 hammers: claw hammers, blacksmiths' hammers, hammers to lay railroad ties, farriers' hammers and cobblers' hammers.

The museum is open seasonally, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday only, through Sept. 15. Admission is $2; children 12 and younger are free. (907) 766-2374.

--Associated Press



LAX valet for $9.95 per day

The Parking Spot is offering all levels of parking, including valet serviced, for $9.95 per day through June 30 at its new 2,000-car facility a half-mile north of LAX at 9101 S. Sepulveda Blvd. After that date, the prices will be $9.95 per day for rooftop parking, $13.95 for covered and $14.95 for valet parking -- the same as at its older facility at 5701 W. Century Blvd. (866) 826-2509,



Airline guide

on disabilities

The "Accessible Air Travel" booklet gives advice on the rights of travelers with disabilities. A condensed version, the "Air Carrier Access Act Quick Guide," fits in an airline ticket jacket. Both are published by the nonprofit Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Assn. in Jackson Heights, N.Y. (800) 444-0120, (Click on "Free Publications.")

-- Compiled by

Jane Engle

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