United hikes Mileage Plus fees, miles


UNITED Airlines is raising mileage requirements for some tickets, adding fees and making other changes to its Mileage Plus frequent-flier program.

For example, starting Oct. 16, members will need 50,000 miles, instead of 40,000, for an economy standard award, which is not subject to capacity controls.

Also starting then, a $75 fee will be assessed for award travel booked six days or fewer before departure, and $50 for ticketing seven to 13 days in advance. For other changes in mileage requirements, go to


United is also offering, through the end of the year, short-haul saver tickets for 15,000 miles versus the usual 25,000 miles for domestic award tickets.

American Airlines also plans to renew its short-hop awards program in September and may make the program permanent, said Kurt Stache, president of AAdvantage marketing programs.


European river trips: Easy does it

EASYCRUISE, a London-based budget cruise line run by EasyJet entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, will add a second ship, a new look and new river trips in Europe this summer.

Weeklong cruises will start July 14 along rivers and canals of the Netherlands and Belgium, from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. The vessel, a refurbished riverboat with 50 twin cabins, will sail in the early morning, arrive at noon and stay in port into the night.

Fares will start at $12 per person, per night, double occupancy, said Paul Ellerby, the line’s sales and marketing director. Bookings are expected to open by May 19. Fares exclude meals and housekeeping, available at extra charge.

The new ship will offer an expanded, upscale menu and a new color scheme that uses less of the line’s trademark orange, both inside and out, Ellerby said. Information: 011-44-1895-651-191,


Hilton kiosks expedite flying

YOU can now check in for flights, change seats and print out your boarding pass at kiosks in the lobbies of Hilton hotels. The program includes 40 Hilitons and up to 20 airlines, and the chain plans to install it in all its full-service hotels in North America by the end of the year, says Thomas Spitler, vice president for front office operations and systems for Hilton Hotels Corp.

Jane Engle


Longtime travel store will close

THE Internet has claimed another casualty in the book trade. California Map and Travel Center, a Santa Monica store, will close May 31, after more than 55 years in business.

“People go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble,” said Jon Eckstrom, who co-owns the shop with his wife, Denise. “They use us as a resource to touch the book, then they go online to buy it cheaper.”

Terrorism and wars haven’t helped the shop or the travel business, Eckstrom said. The couple bought the shop in late 2000, and their first year of business was “gangbusters,” he said.

Then came Sept. 11, when travel, particularly overseas trips, tumbled. Other factors have hurt too. With global positioning systems standard in more vehicles, customers are buying fewer maps.

A going-out-of-business sale is underway, with globes at a 35% discount and everything else 20% off. California Map and Travel Center, 3312 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 396-6277.

-- Martha Groves