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Travel Watch | August 2005

SURFING IN THE SKY Once United receives approval from the FAA, the airline will begin installing Wi-Fi equipment on its entire North American fleet, becoming the first domestic carrier to have high-speed wireless connections for laptops and PDA's. United must also wait for the FCC to auction off the wireless frequency to a service provider, a move that is expected late this year. Wi-Fi service should be up and running by mid to late 2006.

BAGGING THE PRETZELS The cost cutting at Northwest Airlines has taken a particularly miserly turn. In May, the airline eliminated glossy magazines from domestic and international airplanes (both classes) and club lounges; in June, they stopped serving pretzels on domestic coach flights. The canceled subscriptions will save all of $565,000 a year; skimping on pretzels, the airline calculates, will save $2 million a year. (It remains to be seen how much Northwest will make selling $1 packets of raisin-nut mix.)

VROOM VROOM Orbitz has joined with EagleRider, the world's largest motorcycle-rental company, to provide Harley-Davidsons as part of its vacation packages. Motorcycle rentals include unlimited mileage, helmets, and scenic road maps and are available in 24 U.S. cities.

PUTTING ON THE RITZ In mid 2006, Ritz-Carlton will open its first property in Russia—a 332-room hotel just off Moscow's Red Square. The hotel will be within walking distance of the Kremlin, St. Basil's Cathedral, Lenin's Mausoleum, and the Bolshoi Theater.

THE 'ZONES' DIET What do the CIA, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have in common?They've all used the anti-jet lag diet developed by biologists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. The diet—which requires that you alternate feasting and fasting, among other things—is now accessible at www.antijetlagdiet.com. Ordering a customized diet is just $17 for a round-trip flight.

WHAT COMES AFTER W? Starwood Hotels is planning to launch a stylish limited-service chain, currently dubbed Project XYZ. The properties are aimed at budget travelers; the company expects to break ground next year. Rooms will not exceed $150 a night.

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