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Feb 18th
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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Latest News, Deals & Savings for Nov. 24

Latest News, Deals & Savings for Nov. 24

This week: St. Louis finally opens a rail-bus transportation hub, SoCal’s Mission Inn readies its Festival of Lights, United Airlines offers door-to-door baggage service and Travelocity is offering a holoday bonus sale

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St. Louis Opens $26.4 Million Transportation Hub

Thirty years after St. Louis' Union Station closed to passenger trains, the city on Nov. 21, 2008, finally opened a new $26.4 million multimodal hub for Amtrak trains, Greyhound buses, MetroLink and Metro Bus service.

A ribbon-cutting celebration officially opened the St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center located in the heart of downtown St. Louis at 430 South 15th Street.

The Gateway Transportation Center is just south of the Scottrade Center, and a short, light-rail ride or walk to Busch Stadium, America's Center/Edward Jones Dome convention center, the Gateway Arch and riverfront casinos.

One of the biggest gripes about train service in and out of St. Louis has been about the small, Spartan-like Amtrak building that traingoers nicknamed "Amshack." A common complaint was the bad smell.

The new Gateway Transportation Center now offers passengers a large, clean, safe and friendly transportation facility featuring 24-hour operations staff, security and food service.

Amtrak said it plans to convert the temporary passenger facility into an operations base for its train, engine and maintenance crews.

While the center is a major improvement for passengers and commuters, an issue that remains concerns parking.

Partially-covered short-term parking is available in front of the station at a lot operated by the City of St. Louis for $1 an hour (coins only), with a 12-hour limit. Long-term parking is available at the Hyatt Regency Union Station, approximately three blocks away.

During the opening ceremonies, St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green (the comptroller's office operates the center) was asked about the limited parking.

She responded by saying that the city wants to add more capacity, including overnight parking, which currently is not available. "It (the issue) is being worked on as we speak," she said.

But, without a doubt, the new center is a major improvement, a project that has been in the works for 20 years, and a significant change for Amtrak and Greyhound passengers.

In addition to easier intermodal connections, the new Amtrak St. Louis station has free WiFi access, a Metropolitan Lounge for Texas Eagle sleeping car passengers and a food court offering deli sandwiches, snacks and other foods and beverages. The Amtrak ticket office is open from 3:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. Amtrak said it transported 272,000 St. Louis passengers in 2007.

Greyhound actually began operating from the center in August 2008. The old terminal is about two and a half miles from the new facility.

"Greyhound is excited to be a part of this new intermodal facility in St. Louis," said Larry Kinsella, district manager, Greyhound Lines, Inc. "The move allows our passengers easy connectivity to Amtrak and St. Louis Regional Transit."

Greyhound has been serving the St. Louis area for nearly 80 years.

Mission Inn Hotel Hosts Annual Festival of Lights

Riverside, Calif.'s historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, built at the turn of the 20th Century, will kick off its 16th annual Festival of Lights on Friday, Nov. 28, for both local residents and visitors who want to experience a Southern California holiday tradition.

Starting at sundown on Nov. 28, Mission Inn Owner Duane Roberts will "flip the switch" on more than three and a half million holiday lights, followed by a brilliant fireworks display over top the city of Riverside.

This year's Festival of Lights will run through Jan. 4, with the promise to be a memorable event for the whole family. It offers free nightly holiday entertainment from more than 60 local community groups, schools and professional entertainers; an elaborately decorated Christmas tree; and Dickens Carolers singing cheerful holiday tunes and strolling through the hotel.

More than 350 animated holiday characters, some dressed in 17th Century costumes, will entertain the crowds to evoke the spirit of the season. Spectators can also purchase tickets for authentic horse-drawn Cinderella carriage rides around the hotel, as well as hot cocoa, eggnog, and a selection of holiday sweets available at the festival. For more information call (951)784-0300 or visit the web site at

United Airlines Unveils Door-to-Door Baggage Service

United Airlines is offering overnight baggage shipping service via an overnight courier that will provide its customers with a more convenient and easy way to travel - without their luggage.

United's new service, Door-to-Door Baggage, enables customers in the continental U.S. to conveniently ship their suitcases, or other travel items such as skis or golf clubs, overnight from a home or office directly to their destination within the 48 contiguous United States.

At $149 one way for flights less than 1,000 miles, or $179 for longer flights, United says its prices are simple and more economical than similar overnight services offered by other luggage shipping services. Door-to-Door Baggage may be purchased on united.com and shipments can be easily tracked online.

Up to 10 days prior to travel, customers may visit
www.united.com/doortodoor where they select their appropriate trip and then schedule and pay for their shipment. Next, customers print their shipping documents that will be attached to the bags by the courier service.

On the scheduled pickup day, the bags are picked up at a home or office - generally between noon and 6 p.m. - or dropped off at any of the courier's authorized shipping centers. By 4:30 p.m. the next day, the bags are delivered to the customer's final destination.

More information about United's new Door-to-Door Baggage service and other Travel Options by United(SM) offerings is available at

Travelocity Offering Bonus Sale

Travelocity, a leading provider of consumer-direct travel services for the leisure and business traveler, is offering a holiday bonus sale where travelers can save $75 on three-night stays. Click on the banner below for more information.