Extra Mile Awards 2005: Honorable Mentions

Close but no snow globe

Launched last spring, EasyCruise courts younger crowds with rock-bottom prices and lively port stops such as Cannes and St-Tropez. Why no award? EasyCruise is simply charging what's fair--lower prices for fewer amenities....

Hilton Hotels outfitted some 250,000 rooms with new alarm clocks that have clear instructions, preset stations with dummy-proof labels, and a jack for your MP3 player. Given the choice, we'd rather have satellite radio....

In theory, MetroNaps deserves an award for introducing a nap station where travelers need it: an airport. Customers at Vancouver International snuggle into egg-like pods and wear noise-canceling headphones. If MetroNaps had chosen an airport that could really use it--Dallas--Fort Worth, or Atlanta--the company might be shaking a snow globe right now....

Speaking of Vancouver International: If you're flying in to meet a cruise departing that day, you're now allowed to skip customs and head right to the boat. (But Vancouver's lines aren't all that long.)....

Aer Lingus, Air New Zealand, and Delta announced simplified fares--no more price-gouging for last-minute purchases, and no more Saturday-night-stay or round-trip-booking requirements. Innovation, or simply keeping up with the upstarts?....

Best Western promised to have virtual tours and at least eight photos online for all of its North American properties by the middle of 2006. Then again, it'd better: The Internet has made such images essential....

With its Ding! software, every time Southwest Airlines announces a sale with departures from your airport, your computer makes a "ding" sound. Airlines and sites such as smartertravel.com will e-mail you the same info, without the audio....

Last October, Holland America opened the Explorations Café on the MS Ryndam, with complimentary books, magazines, and music-listening stations, as well as access to The New York Times online. If they'd throw in free access to the entire Internet, we'd be hooked....

Capital One is now the only credit card company that doesn't tack on fees for purchases made abroad. But that's not really going the Extra Mile as much as holding firm (though we thank the company for it!).

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