WASHINGTON Barack Obama is heading back to his home state for the first time as president.
The White House says Obama will travel to Springfield, Ill., on Feb. 12 in honor of one of his heroes, Abraham Lincoln.
Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that Obama will attend the commemoration of Lincoln's 200th birthday and speak at a banquet in Springfield. The spokesman says Obama is returning to Illinois for the festivities at the request of Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin. American adds customer-recognition technology
FORT WORTH, Texas -- American Airlines says customers who call for flight information will get it faster because of speech-recognition technology that it is adding to its service for frequent travelers.
The technology is designed to save the airline money by reducing the need for employees to handle customer calls, although American spokesman Charley Wilson said the intent was to improve customer service, not cut jobs.
American said Thursday that the "Remember Me" system will recognize phone numbers and greet customers by name if they've signed up under American's frequent-flier program, AAdvantage. They can list up to three phone numbers from which they'll call the airline.
If the customer is booked on a flight that day, the system will offer gate and flight information without prompting, the airline said.
The technology is provided by Tellme, a company that Microsoft Corp. bought last year.
Tellme executive Jamie Bertasi told The Associated Press that in the recession companies are more concerned with keeping customers happy while also cutting costs -- and much of the cost of a call center comes from training people. The technology saves money by cutting the number of calls that require handling by an employee, she said.
Bertasi said American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp., is the first major carrier to use Tellme's technology, which has been sold to other types of businesses, including Domino's Pizza.
Bertasi said the technology won't help customers find a seat on a fully booked plane.
"Perhaps we'll add that feature," she joked.
Universal Orlando "Fear Factor Live" shuts for now
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Universal Orlando's "Fear Factor Live" attraction was temporarily closed Thursday amid a factor of fear and uncertainty about the economy.
The attraction, which challenges park guests to gross-out stunts like the ones on the NBC television show, will reopen in the spring. Universal spokesman Tom Schroder wouldn't say how many months the attraction would be shuttered but said it was a result of changes in seasonal demand and the business forecast for the rest of the year.
"What we know is that 2009 is going to have its share of challenges and so we're managing our business as best as we can so we can meet those challenges," Schroder said.
A limited number of other rides and attractions at the two-theme park resort will have their hours reduced, but visitors shouldn't notice the changes, Schroder said. The resort is home to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
"We're changing schedules based on guest demand," Schroder said. "Our visitors will be able to experience the shows and rides they want to."