Passportable Tue, 01 Aug 2017 04:01:00 GMT 8-Year-Old Becomes Youngest Female to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro Tue, 01 Aug 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> An 8-year-old Florida girl has made history as the <a href="" rel="nofollow">youngest female ever to climb Mount Kilimanjaro</a>.</p> <p> After a weeklong ascent, Roxy Getter reached the summit of the 19,341-foot Tanzanian peak alongside her 10-year-old brother, Ben, and their parents, Sarah and Bobby. The family trained by trudging up and down stairs at parking garages and sports stadiums near where they live. </p> <p> Temperatures at the top of the mountain were in the single digits and neither of the Getter kids had ever spent the night in a tent before. </p> <p> "It was hard because you had to go, like, up and down steep hills," Roxy explains in the video below. Perhaps she's also aiming to set a record for understatement. </p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> Of the 25,000 people who attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year, only about two thirds make it all the way to the top. The youngest ever to do so is Keats Boyd of Los Angeles. He made it in 2008 at the age of 7.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:57664144-d6da-43e5-8806-86f934134109 Nevada Clown Motel for Sale Mon, 31 Jul 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> A leading contender for the title of World's Creepiest Motel has just gone on the market. </p> <p> The Clown Motel is a 31-room accommodation in tiny Tonopah, Nevada, located about midway between Las Vegas and Reno. As you might have guessed/dreaded from the name, the place is stuffed with an enormous collection of clown paintings, prints, decor, and toys—some of which are suspended over beds.</p> <p> That's right: They dangle over your bed. Smiling menacingly. With a sinister little glint in their eyes. While you sleep.</p> <p> Just kidding—you will not sleep.</p> <p> Here's a photo that was taken in the lobby:</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(Photo by Will Keightley / Flickr)</em></p> <p> And now this nightmare factory can be all yours.</p> <p> After 22 years in charge of the motel, owner Bob Perchetti says that although business remains good, he's ready to retire and spend more time with his grandkids. We assume the whole family will cram themselves into a tiny clown car and ride off into the sunset. </p> <p> In any case, Perchetti is now <a href="" rel="nofollow">selling the property</a>, clowns and all. The asking price: $900,000.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:249de058-2385-4b41-8720-0ff5a8235ba4 Mud Festival Planned for New Zealand Fri, 28 Jul 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The mud in most places isn't worth celebrating.</p> <p> Then again, most places aren't Rotorua, New Zealand, where geothermal activity creates geysers, hot springs, and, yes, mud rich in restorative minerals useful in beauty and wellness treatments. </p> <p> This December, Rotorua will be celebrating that unique feature of the landscape with the first-ever <a href="" rel="nofollow">Mudtopia Festival</a>, a three-day event during which participants will have numerous chances to play and get pampered in the mud.</p> <p> There will be muddy pools to wallow in, muddy obstacle courses to take on, a mud run, and a muddy playground where you can try your hand at everything from wrestling to something called a "horizontal mud bungy" (leave it to New Zealanders to find a way to incorporate bungee jumping somehow). </p> <p> Those in search of a more relaxing experience can opt for mud massages, facials, and other treatments, or browse locally made, mud-infused beauty products.</p> <p> Live music acts and street food vendors will be on hand as well.</p> <p> Mudtopia is scheduled for December 1-3; that's in the late spring in the Southern Hemisphere. You can <a href="" rel="nofollow">purchase tickets here</a>.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:0848013a-0f1f-4efc-b005-ff923197274c Another Big Hotel Chain Makes Cancelling Costly Tue, 25 Jul 2017 17:19:00 GMT <p> In June, Marriott changed its rules about cancelling hotel reservations. Before then, customers usually could cancel a room all the way until the day of check-in, sometimes the day before, and suffer no penalty.</p> <p> But as of this summer, the new Marriott deadline is 48 hours in North America and Latin America. If you don't cancel your Marriott room at least two days before check-in, you must pay the equivalent of one night's rate.</p> <p> It was a nasty game-changer for those of us who like to shop for better deals. Often, the best prices surface within 48 hours, as hotels begin to realize how empty they might be and slash rates accordingly. If customers don't have the chance to re-book with a better deal, they're stuck a with higher price.</p> <p> And as it turns out, that is precisely why it instituted the new rule: to prevent you from finding something better. This is something that slams leisure travelers harder than business travelers, who tend to cancel at a lower rate.</p> <p> Now <a href="" rel="nofollow">Hilton has joined Marriott</a> in the 48-hour penalty rule. </p> <p> The new, ruder policy kicks in July 31 at hotels that Hilton owns in the United States and Canada. (At hotels that are owned by someone else but merely managed by the brand, the cancellation policy is up to the property manager.) If you don't cancel a reservation before the 48-hour deadline, you get charged a night.</p> <p> If the industry wants to impose harsher cancellation policies, perhaps customers should respond by imposing harsher requirements for their loyalty. What's the point of being loyal to a brand that punishes you for being a smart consumer?</p> <p> In fact, a Business Travel Coalition survey reported by Tnooz says exactly that is happening: Travel bookers <a href="" rel="nofollow">are leaning away from Marriott</a> for imposing harsher penalties. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d225b0e4-5636-4d28-92d7-82c20f6e4702 "Despacito" Could Be Driving More Interest in Puerto Rico—But Not Visits Tue, 25 Jul 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Chinese officials may want to rethink their recent decision to <a href="" rel="nofollow">bar Justin Bieber from performing in their country</a>. </p> <p> Turns out the pop heartthrob could be good for tourism. Just ask Puerto Rico.</p> <p> A Spanglish remix of the hit "Despacito" featuring Bieber and the song's original recording artists, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, debuted on April 17 and quickly rose to the top of the charts and streaming ubiquity, filling listeners' ears with lines praising Puerto Rico. </p> <p> Several travel sites have <a href="" rel="nofollow">reported an increase in interest in the island</a> after the remix came out.</p> <p> says Puerto Rico searches jumped 45% compared to the previous year, while TripAdvisor, Expedia, Kayak, and Hopper noticed lower but still double-digit spikes in hotel and airfare searches from April to June.</p> <p> But wait: Wasn't Puerto Rico, along with many other parts of the Caribbean, dealing with a highly publicized Zika outbreak last year? And couldn't the easing of that crisis be a more realistic explanation for the springtime resumption of interest in the island?</p> <p> Number crunchers at Kayak, for one, aren't so sure. They say that although there has been a 3.6% rise in Puerto Rico searches overall this year, the figures in the spring—post-"Despacito"—were up 25%. Further, interest in Puerto Rico had been on the decline in 2015, even before Zika became an issue. Which could mean that getting the disease under control has had less to do with the island's resurgence in popularity than you might expect.</p> <p> Even so, it's important to keep in mind that we're talking about hotel and airfare searches, not bookings. <a href="" rel="nofollow">As the Washington Post points out</a>, an analysis of the first six months of the year shows that interest has so far not translated into visits.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:351c20e2-7d54-412e-b6c4-8d4121ef80dd Selfie Sticks Banned in Milan Mon, 24 Jul 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The selfies you take in Milan this summer will have to be kept at arm's length.</p> <p> You certainly can't extend your reach with a selfie stick. Those devices have been officially <a href="" rel="nofollow">banned from the historic Italian city</a> as part of a crackdown on "anti-social behavior."</p> <p> Selfie sticks are definitely cumbersome and obtrusive, especially in spots clogged with tourists, which is why they've previously been banned everywhere from the Vatican to Beijing's Forbidden City. </p> <p> The regulation in Milan went into effect July 14 and expires on August 13, though it could be renewed.</p> <p> Cans, glass bottles, and food trucks have also been newly prohibited in order to cut down on garbage littering the streets during summer. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:0229eada-3212-4818-abb5-0125e3fa9f14 A New Airline "Aimed at Millennials" to Take Flight Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:04:00 GMT <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> Air France-KLM Group is launching a new airline, Joon, which will be "aimed at Millennials."</p> <p> In a press release that read like satire, or at best a cry for help—it was headlined "YOUNG AND CONNECTED… DISCOVER JOON!"—Air France-KLM Group and its executives dropped buzzwords marketers use to reach for the 18-to-35 set.</p> <p> The new carrier will offer "a global travel experience," proclaimed one VP, whatever that means. Another gave a backhanded compliment to her target market, describing them as "opportunistic in a positive sense."</p> <p> "Joon is a lifestyle brand and a state of mind," the release read. "Short, punchy and international, the name Joon is designed to address a worldwide audience."</p> <p> The airline will be distinguished by its "electric blue" logo and uniforms that "will be inspired by the new fashion codes, basic and chic." The CEO of Air France proclaimed the announcement "a historic moment."</p> <p> Not disclosed in the release: airfares or routes. </p> <p> Air France-KLM Group says it will reveal more in September, but given that the release claims Joon will cater to those "whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology," it's a safe bet that cabins will contain upgraded entertainment systems and outlets for charging devices. Which, it must be said, are things that every generation enjoys, not just millennials.</p> <p> So many questions.</p> <p> 1. Is Air France saying young people wouldn't enjoy flying Air France?</p> <p> 2. Exactly what, besides pretty colors and a one-syllable name, makes an airline uniquely millennial?</p> <p> 3. Will Joon loyalty miles be honored by Air France or KLM?</p> <p> 4. Is Air France being renamed Air France For Old People?</p> <p> 5. Will this airline go the way of Song, a similar "lifestyle brand" stab at pop culture (custom cocktails, in-flight workouts—but with an electric <em>green</em> logo) by Delta Air Lines that lasted only 36 months despite promotional tie-ins with NBC's <em>The Apprentice</em>? Its resources were ultimately absorbed back into the parent brand.</p> <p> Joon will start flying around Europe from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport starting this fall, and as-yet-unspecified long-haul flights will begin a year later, in the fall of 2018.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c2d0b119-a8e2-40b2-8994-f06ad2ce1aca Popular Hike to Rio's Christ the Redeemer Closed Following Robberies Thu, 20 Jul 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> A popular hiking trail to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro has been <a href="" rel="nofollow">closed following a spate of robberies</a>.</p> <p> In just 10 days, 58 people have become victims of the crime on the 2.5-mile path from Parque Lage to Corcovado. So far in 2017, a total of more than 150 hikers have been robbed on the trail, reportedly by men holding knives. One Polish tourist was stabbed earlier this month.</p> <p> Brazilian officials say the Corcovado route will remain closed until the police presence in the area can be beefed up.</p> <p> In the meantime, there are other, more challenging hikes to Christ the Redeemer through the Tijuca Forest. Or you could always take a train or taxi. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:0b25e1c8-607d-418d-b22b-657934c83d3b WATCH: British Airways's New Star-Studded Safety Video Wed, 19 Jul 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Here's the thing about cutesy airplane safety videos: They're pretty charming the first time you see them, and there's some residual enjoyment to be gained the second or even third time around. But with any viewings after that—especially if they come close together—you're ready to scream, "ENOUGH WITH THE JOKES! JUST TELL ME WHERE THE EXITS ARE!!"</p> <p> So if you fly British Airways a lot, you may not want to watch the carrier's <a href="" rel="nofollow">new safety video</a> below, lest you get burned out on it ahead of schedule. </p> <p> If you're willing to risk it, you'll be rewarded with appearances by a slew of celebrities pretending to audition for the clip. The famous faces include those belonging to Rowan Atkinson, Thandie Newton, Gillian Anderson, Gordon Ramsay (yes, he cusses), Jim Broadbent, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Ian McKellen, who somehow manages to make a straightforward description of overhead oxygen masks sound both beautiful and moving.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> In addition to the safety purposes of the video, it promotes <a href="" rel="nofollow">Flying Start</a>, a charity partnership between British Airways and Comic Relief that raises money to "help children living incredibly tough lives around the world."</p> <p> So it's all for a good cause.</p> <p> The video will start airing on British Airways flights in September.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:7125f877-38a1-41b9-8b22-3e679ad233c8 Wait Times at Disneyland Keep Going Up Mon, 17 Jul 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Despite rising ticket prices and efforts to fine-tune ride reservation systems, wait times at Disneyland keep going up. </p> <p> An extensive analysis of lines at the Anaheim, California theme park <a href="" rel="nofollow">conducted by the <em>Los Angeles Times</em></a> found that the average wait for the most popular rides in the first six months of the year was 24.4 minutes—a 28% increase over the same period in 2015. </p> <p> The longest average wait time at Disneyland was for Space Mountain at 65 minutes. Over at Disney's California Adventure Park next door, the <em>Cars</em>-themed Radiator Springs Racers ate up the most time: 86 minutes on average. </p> <p> Crowds have evidently not been deterred by the nearly 70% spike in one-day ticket prices since 2007. Those now cost $124 apiece on peak days. To address overcrowding, Disney recently introduced seasonal pricing, with tickets running $97 to $99 on low-demand days and $110 on "regular" days.</p> <p> Other upcoming line-reduction measures include MaxPass, an electronic version of the Fastpass system that lets you book an appointment ahead of time at 16 of the park's attractions. With MaxPass (which will cost $10 per day), you'll be able to use your smartphone instead of standing in line for a paper ticket at a Fastpass kiosk. </p> <p> Some other useful discoveries in the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> analysis: The day of the week with the shortest wait times is usually Thursday, while Saturday has the longest; you're most likely to encounter short lines in September and January, and really long ones in December, July, and May; and the only popular attraction where the lines were shorter in 2017 than 2015 was, for whatever reason, Splash Mountain.   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:3200f848-85c1-4167-a39d-71db095d7c8f Summer Ban on Late-Night Public Drinking in Rome Fri, 14 Jul 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Late-night drinking on the streets and piazzas of Rome is against the law this summer.</p> <p> Hoping to curb bad behavior by drunken locals and tourists alike, the city has enacted a <a href="" rel="nofollow">new rule banning the public consumption of alcoholic drinks</a> out of glass containers from 10pm to 7am daily; guzzling booze from any other type of container while you're on the street isn't allowed after midnight. </p> <p> Violators will be charged a fine of €150 (US$171). And the police aren't messing around—they issued at least 37 tickets last Saturday night. </p> <p> Warnings about the ban have been posted in four languages throughout the city. The ordinance will stay in effect through October 31. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:cfe9e3dd-2916-4f20-b1f2-d7846c2b4151 Spike in Price of Lifetime National Parks Pass for Seniors Wed, 12 Jul 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The price of a lifetime national parks pass for U.S. seniors is about to go way up.</p> <p> Since 1994, Americans aged 62 or older have been able to purchase access for just $10 to more than 2,000 sites managed by the National Park Service—a pass that remains valid for the rest of the purchaser's life.</p> <p> But on August 28, the <a href="" rel="nofollow">fee is jumping to $80</a>. </p> <p> Even with the steep increase, which was approved by Congress at the end of last year, Park Service officials argue that the pass remains a good deal, considering that admission at many sites is $30 for adults. A senior with a lifetime pass who goes to just three of those at any point past the age of 62 has still saved money.</p> <p> The National Park Service is also introducing a new $20 annual pass for seniors. If you buy four, you can get a lifetime pass for no additional charge.</p> <p> Also, anybody who holds a $10 lifetime pass before August 28 will be able to continue using it without having to pay extra—so if you're over 62 and don't have one yet, it's <a href="" rel="nofollow">time to get a move on</a>.</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f9b467ea-4f4e-4ac0-847b-435cd72d5c8d World's Biggest Indoor Ski Resort Opens in China Tue, 11 Jul 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> A city in China has a new must-visit spot for those who love skiing but could do without the fresh air and mountain scenery.</p> <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Harbin Wanda Indoor Ski and Winter Sports Resort</a> is being billed as the largest facility of its kind, extending across more than 860,000 square feet and six ski runs—all of them inside. There are slopes for winter athletes of all abilities, including beginners, as well as a snow play area and an indoor chairlift. </p> <p> The main run is 197 feet wide and 1,640 feet long—making it the world's fourth longest indoor ski slope (number one is in Dubai, of course).</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(Harbin Wanda Park; photo: Instagram / @<a href="" rel="nofollow">mandarinata</a>)</em></p> <p> The new complex—part of a project that also includes a theme park, shopping center, hotels, and live music venues—is located in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, famous for its very cold, very long winters and its annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, a showcase for enormous frozen castles, monuments, animals, and other elaborate creations. </p> <p> An adult ticket at the new indoor ski resort costs 488 yuan (US$72) for unlimited use of the slopes.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:0228bddb-ad12-4f93-b684-382426d550ca Mexican Mansion of Drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar Turned Into Luxury Hotel Mon, 10 Jul 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> A mansion that once belonged to '80s drug kingpin Pablo Escobar has been <a href="" rel="nofollow">turned into a luxury hotel in Tulum, Mexico</a>. </p> <p> After sitting vacant for the last 14 years, the 35-room property has been renovated and transformed into the Casa Malca, an elegant inn set next to a beach on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The place is filled with contemporary art from the collection of its new owner, Lio Lamca, an art dealer based in New York.'</p> <p> Other amenities include a pool, rooftop deck, and restaurant. </p> <p> It all sounds pretty chichi for a spot associated with Escobar, the "King of Cocaine" who ran the very violent and highly lucrative Colombian Medellin Cartel before he was killed in a shootout in 1993. His story has recently been dramatized in the Netflix series <em>Narcos</em>.</p> <p> A stay at Casa Malca will set you back €450 (US$513) per night. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:da64eacc-6839-4275-90e4-a3aa360f5889 Scaffolding to Cover Taj Mahal During Yearlong Restoration Thu, 06 Jul 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Taj Mahal in India is undergoing a large-scale restoration</a> that officials say will ultimately leave the marble beauty a brighter shade of white.</p> <p> In the meantime, however, the main dome and central structure of the building will be covered by scaffolding, as workers apply a mud-pack treatment designed to clean the surface, which has yellowed over time. </p> <p> The project is expected to be completed in April 2018—which is a bummer for the millions of tourists who will visit the site before then, particularly if they were hoping to capture some postcard-worthy photos.</p> <p> Though the site won't be seen again in all its highly Instagrammable glory for nearly a year, it will remain open to visitors throughout the restoration.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:992aeb42-b9b6-4686-ad1a-7e83046e68b4 Beer Prices Going up at Munich's Oktoberfest Wed, 05 Jul 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">price for a stein of beer is going up at Munich's Oktoberfest</a> this year.</p> <p> Scheduled for September 16 through October 3, the Bavarian festival famous for brews, sausages, lederhosen, and oompah bands will be charging €10.95 (US$12.44) for each liter of the beer made especially for the event. </p> <p> That's €0.25 more than the cost in 2016 and a whopping €4.65 more than a single stein was going for in 2003.</p> <p> You can opt for other beers at Oktoberfest, of course, but no liter being offered at any of the event's 14 tents will be cheaper than €10.60 (US$12.04).</p> <p> But the true outrages are reserved for soft drinks. The average price for a liter of bottled water and lemonade will be €8.73 (US$9.92) and €9.55 (US$10.85), respectively. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:61340270-4c4d-4a25-9a2b-c6e0c45aab26 Trump Robot Will Speak at Hall of Presidents, Says Disney Fri, 30 Jun 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Disney has refuted the notion that the Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando will take a different approach to incorporating the current occupant of the Oval Office.  </p> <p> In two stories published in May and June, Vice Media's Motherboard reported that in order to avoid giving an animatronic Trump speaking lines in the attraction, Disney would likely revert to the pre-1993 version of the Hall of Presidents, in which the only speakers were the robots representing Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.</p> <p> Citing factual errors and poor sourcing, <a href="" rel="nofollow">Motherboard has now retracted both of those stories</a>.</p> <p> What's more, Disney Parks editorial content director Thomas Smith <a href="" rel="nofollow">wrote in a blog post</a> that Pres. Trump will indeed have a speaking part in the updated attraction, "like every president since 1993."</p> <p> Trump's recording session has already been scheduled, according to Smith, and will be incorporated into the Hall of Presidents when it's expected to reopen late this year.</p> <p> The attraction is currently closed while it's being refurbished.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f4062a62-a6f8-45c3-a68e-7aa5f068253e New Island on North Carolina Coast Thu, 29 Jun 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> A <a href="" rel="nofollow">new island has appeared off the coast of North Carolina</a>—just in time for summer.</p> <p> Formed by powerful currents and storms over the past several months, the massive sandbar has emerged from the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Point on the state's Hatteras Island.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(Photo: Instagram / @<a href="" rel="nofollow">abcnews</a>) </em></p> <p> This newest addition to the Outer Banks has been dubbed Shelly Island—which is appropriate since its sands are said to be a goldmine for seashell collectors. </p> <p> It's possible that the island could eventually return to the sea or grow to connect with its larger neighbor.</p> <p> If you'd like to visit, local officials warn that you should definitely not swim here from Hatteras, lest you get swept away by the same riptides that helped make the island. There might be sharks in the waters, too.</p> <p> For safety's sake, only attempt a crossing with an experienced boater.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e53e8b10-ae5b-4b44-8227-293fe499fe5b Vegas Taco Bell Now Offering Wedding Ceremonies Wed, 28 Jun 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Here's a destination wedding idea for couples who think outside the box—or outside the bun, as the case may be. </p> <p> Starting on August 7, you can <a href="" rel="nofollow">get married at a Taco Bell on the Las Vegas Strip</a>.</p> <p> All you and your betrothed have to do is walk up to the counter at the Taco Bell Cantina at 3717 Las Vegas Blvd. S., and order a $600 wedding package that includes the ceremony, champagne flutes emblazoned with the fast food chain's logo, a bouquet made from hot sauce packets, and food for up to 15 guests. </p> <p> We think that instead of throwing rice, restaurant employees should pelt the happy couple with ground beef from those meat guns used to fill the tacos. </p> <p> There are a couple things you should know before you tie the knot at the Bell. First, you'll already need to have a marriage license when you show up to order your nuptials from the cashier. And second, you may have to wait up to four hours for an officiant to arrive from a pop-up wedding company called Flora Pop. </p> <p> A four-hour wait? You call this fast food?!</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:db37d028-3b91-40f3-9b19-d265423beb49 How Much Is the Great Barrier Reef Worth? Tue, 27 Jun 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> You can't really put a price on the world's great natural marvels—or can you?</p> <p> A report issued by the accounting firm Deloitte Access Economics has <a href="" rel="nofollow">assigned an estimated monetary value to Australia's Great Barrier Reef</a>, the 1,400-mile (2,300 km) stretch of coral that supports more than 1,700 different marine species and is currently the title holder for World's Largest Living Thing.</p> <p> Altogether, the reef was found to be worth $42.5 billion (A$56 billion).  </p> <p> The report, which was commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, tallies the vast ecosystem's economic impact in the forms of tourist dollars spent and Australian jobs supported (over 64,000 of them, either directly or indirectly). But the final figure also attempts to account for the reef's cultural and environmental importance, both to Australia and the world.</p> <p> Assigning a dollar figure to the Great Barrier Reef is a way of illustrating how devastating its loss would be—an urgent reminder in a time of widespread coral bleaching and climate change. <a href="" rel="nofollow">According to a recent UNESCO study</a>, all 29 of the planet's significant coral reef systems will be gone by the end of the century without dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.</p> <p> As the Deloitte report puts it, the Great Barrier Reef is "too big to fail."  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:150eacae-8545-42f8-a002-6b89b6394f00 Italian Airport Relaxes Liquid Ban—for Pesto Only Mon, 26 Jun 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Each year, hundreds of jars of pesto are confiscated at airport security checkpoints in the Italian city of Genoa, where the sauce made from basil, pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil is a local specialty.</p> <p> Apparently, the ban on flying with liquids of more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) even applies to the most delicious liquids. </p> <p> Until now.</p> <p> Thanks to the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Genoa airport's new "pesto is good" program</a> (that's "il pesto è buono" in Italian), passengers can now bring jars of pesto with them through security, in exchange for a small donation to Flying Angels, a charitable organization that arranges international flights for sick kids seeking treatment. </p> <p> You can only bring in one jar up to 500 grams (18 oz) in size or two jars up to 250 grams (9 oz) apiece. You must be flying directly from Genoa and the pesto has to be locally made.</p> <p> Also, before you can proceed to your gate, your carry-on pesto will need to be separately x-rayed. </p> <p>   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:334f1eff-3e8b-4f61-b30c-0df0a34c3185 Tokyo's Famous Fish Market Could Become a Food Theme Park Fri, 23 Jun 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> A <a href="" rel="nofollow">food theme park could soon occupy the site of the famous Tsukiji Fish Market</a> in Tokyo. </p> <p> What's a food theme park? Beats us—and Japanese officials aren't providing many details either, saying only that the new attraction could be up and running within the next five years.</p> <p> After more than eight decades in central Tokyo, the fish market—a major tourist attraction for its lively tuna auctions and eateries selling fresh seafood—is being relocated to Toyosu on the outskirts of the city.</p> <p> That was supposed to happen in November, but the move was delayed when toxic substances were found in the soil and groundwater at the new site. </p> <p> Officials say the market will still end up in Toyosu some day soon, though they have not announced a target date.</p> <p> Initial plans called for the original Tsukiji Fish Market to be closed and sold, but that idea has been dropped and replaced with the prospective theme-park project. </p> <p> Either way, the place won't be the same.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:6d964afb-fa42-4caf-99bd-d628aa2f5dd0 New Visiting Restrictions at Machu Picchu Thu, 22 Jun 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Starting in July, if you want to see Machu Picchu in Peru, you're going to have to see it during either a morning or afternoon tour.</p> <p> Up to now, visitors were allowed to spend an entire day exploring the famed Incan citadel.</p> <p> But officials worried about the effects of a constant stream of tourists have <a href="" rel="nofollow">imposed the new restrictions</a> as a means of conserving the site and its one-of-a-kind architecture.</p> <p> Under the new rules, around 3,600 people will be let in from 6am to noon each day. Then, about 2,700 afternoon visitors will be allowed to take a look around after the morning group leaves.</p> <p> Additionally, each and every one of those people will need to be on a tour led by a licensed guide.   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:6a85a496-5a2f-4dc7-b351-95c53a9f8255 Too Hot to Fly in Phoenix Wed, 21 Jun 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Did you know that it can be too hot to fly?</p> <p> Extreme heat causes changes in air density that make it difficult for planes—especially small ones—to take off. </p> <p> Travelers are learning that little science lesson this week in Arizona, where a heat wave with temperatures that could reach 120 degrees forced <a href="" rel="nofollow">American Airlines to cancel about 50 flights</a> at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Tuesday.</p> <p> Small regional jets were affected by the decision. Their maximum operating temperatures are slightly lower than those of full-size aircraft.</p> <p> As temperatures around the globe are expected to continue climbing in upcoming decades, these sorts of travel disruptions could become increasingly common. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:683c7f10-e8ea-4f94-a553-75b7654993b2 A Hotel Without Walls or Ceilings in the Swiss Alps Tue, 20 Jun 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> There's no such thing as a partial or obstructed view at the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Null Stern Hotel</a> in the Swiss Alps. </p> <p> That's because there are no such things as walls or ceilings here.</p> <p> Dreamed up by conceptual artists Frank and Patrik Riklin and Daniel Charbonnier, the hotel's single "room" is actually just a double bed, incongruously set out in the open air, atop a 3,900-foot (1,200 m) peak in Switzerland's Appenzellerland region. </p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(Photo by Claudio Baeggli)</em></p> <p> As bare-bones as the experience is, it does come with butler service, as well as transportation to and from a nearby train station. The nightly rate is 295 Swiss francs (US$302). </p> <p> The project is a follow-up to a similar Null Stern endeavor from last summer that made our list of the <a href="">world's weirdest hotel rooms</a> (though that one was on a different mountain).</p> <p> For more information on this year's edition or to book a stay, visit the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Null Stern website</a>. Because there's only one bed and you can only sleep in it during the warm-weather months, availability is extremely limited.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ad2c10dc-498a-4994-9398-62696cabe5b4 Cheese Tour of Philly and Nearby Farmland Mon, 19 Jun 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> If you're going to plan a vacation around a food item, you could do worse than cheese. </p> <p> For one thing, it's objectively delicious (except blue cheese, which is objectively gross). For another, it's associated with some lovely destinations in France, Italy, and elsewhere.</p> <p> Crafting cheese-centric itineraries is the whole point of <a href="" rel="nofollow">Cheese Journeys</a>, a culinary tour operator that takes groups on cheddar odysseys through England and swiss-sampling trips in the Alps, not to mention visits to French farms, Tuscan villas, and Oregon vineyards.</p> <p> In September, the company is setting out on its first East Coast tour, highlighting the artisanal cheese scene in <a href="" rel="nofollow">Philadelphia and nearby Chester County</a>, Pennsylvania. </p> <p> Led by Cheese Journeys founder Anna Juhl and expert Tenaya Darlington—otherwise known as <a href="" rel="nofollow">Madame Fromage</a>—the 4-day, 3-night experience includes a private tour of Philly's historic Italian Market and, in the rolling farmland of Chester County, visits to cheesemakers, cooking demos, vineyard tours, and a dinner at the acclaimed Talula's Table restaurant, where reservations are notoriously hard to come by.</p> <p> The tour, which will take place September 1-4, costs $2,150 per person for single occupancy, $1,950 per person for double. That covers all of the above, plus lodging, meals, all classes and tours, and so many cheese samples you'll feel like a walking Kraft Single. Airfare, however, is not included.</p> <p> For more information, check out the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Cheese Journeys website</a>.  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ee183587-56bc-4737-8d15-8966c65cc06c The Airbnb of Rental Cars Comes to L.A. Fri, 16 Jun 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> A car-sharing service aimed at travelers has come to Los Angeles.</p> <p> With <a href="" rel="nofollow">TravelCar</a>, which originated in France in 2012 and has since expanded to 30 countries, users get free parking at LAX, in exchange for letting out-of-towners rent their cars while they're away.</p> <p> The vehicle's owner is paid for every mile driven, and parking is still free even if nobody rents the car (and yes, it's insured against theft and damage). The company says its rates are up to 70% lower than those of conventional car rental companies such as Hertz and Avis.</p> <p> So basically, the service is like Airbnb, only instead of letting a stranger stay in your home, you let a stranger drive your car around.</p> <p> If that idea makes you nervous, you can still sign up with TravelCar to get discounted airport parking.</p> <p> After L.A., the company plans to move into San Francisco and eight more U.S. destinations by the end of the year.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c89b6eb9-4d30-4dba-a421-0f0e9ecb2363 Coming Soon: First Nonstop Flights Between U.S. Mainland and British Virgin Islands Thu, 15 Jun 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">first nonstop commercial flights between the U.S. mainland and the British Virgin Islands</a> (BVI) are expected to begin operating sometime this summer.</p> <p> Up to now, most U.S. travelers have reached this floating Caribbean paradise by catching a connecting flight in San Juan, Puerto Rico, or taking a plane to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and riding a ferry.</p> <p> But if all goes as planned, British Virgin Island Airways will soon be offering service between Miami and the BVI's largest island, Tortola. The carrier is still awaiting final clearance from the FAA.</p> <p> A more convenient way of reaching the BVI from the U.S. could increase the islands' tourism numbers. Last year the territory received 406,000 overnight visitors, according to the tourism board, and 70% of those guests were Americans.</p> <p> British Virgin Island Airways is also looking into operating flights from New York and Orlando. </p> <p>   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a5e9627c-23bb-46b0-8e7a-635da87ad420 New Hostel in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Wed, 14 Jun 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> You can now stay at a hostel in one of the most radioactive places on earth. </p> <p> Backed by the Ukrainian government and housed in a former Soviet dormitory, the 50-bed <a href="" rel="nofollow">accommodation is located in the Chernobyl exclusion zone</a>, a 1,000-square-mile area contaminated in the 1986 nuclear power-plant disaster. </p> <p> Access to the region remains restricted to this day—visitors have to be on organized tours, submit to screenings, and can stay for only short periods. </p> <p> Still, tours of the region, which set out from Kiev, are gaining in popularity for the chance they offer tourists to see ghost towns frozen in time from before the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the abandoned city of Pripyat, for instance, empty streets go past forsaken office buildings and a never-used amusement park that was supposed to open four days after the Chernobyl accident.</p> <p> The new hostel, which is located just 9 miles from the site of the disaster, is not your only option for an overnight stay in the area. It joins several no-frills establishments occupying Soviet-era buildings in the exclusion zone.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:9b3a74a0-a266-4d78-a699-67ebd207a28e Oldest Structure on National Mall in Washington Being Restored Tue, 13 Jun 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> In 2018, the newest attraction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will also be the oldest. </p> <p> The Lockkeeper's House, which was built in 1835—before any of its more famous neighbors—at what is now 17th St. and Constitution Ave. NW, is being <a href="" rel="nofollow">restored and moved</a> back a bit from the street. If all goes as planned, it will soon be accessible to the public for the first time in decades. </p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(Photo: Jonathunder [GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons)</em></p> <p> The building dates from the period when the Washington City Canal ran through the heart of the nation's capital, connecting the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. The lockkeeper who lived here until 1855 managed the canal's traffic and kept its records. </p> <p> City planners had hoped that the canal would help make D.C. a commercial hub. But the waterway was dirty, smelly, and frequently flooded. In 1872 it was filled in and became Constitution Ave.</p> <p> The house fell into disrepair while federal offices, gardens, museums, and monuments went up around it.</p> <p> Now it's getting an inviting new outdoor plaza and, inside, digital displays recounting the history of both the building and the Mall.</p> <p> Renovations are expected to be finished by early next year.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a258fd58-3d1b-4778-af6a-f3b3c4e32b05 Hotel News: A Mid-Priced Trump Chain and the First West Elm Hotel Location Fri, 09 Jun 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Two widely known brands have recently made announcements that could have a big impact on the American hotel industry.</p> <p> First, the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Trump Organization is launching a new chain of three-star hotels</a> that will have much more affordable rates than those of the luxury properties the company has previously offered. </p> <p> Called American Idea, the chain is expected to feature patriotic decor and bric-a-brac. The first three properties will be in small-town Mississippi—another break from the Trump Organization's previous way of doing things, with its focus on well-known, glamorous locales.</p> <p> Critics have questioned whether the move is an attempt by the Trump family to cash in on red states, like Mississippi, where Pres. Trump garnered support during the 2016 election. Company executives, however, dismiss the idea that the electoral map plays any part in the plan, contending that an expansion was in the works well before the brand's namesake ran for office.</p> <p> Despite the concerns of ethics experts and other politicians, Pres. Trump remains financially involved with the business.</p> <p> And in less controversial news: The <a href="" rel="nofollow">first hotel from furniture and housewares retailer West Elm will open next year in Detroit</a>, the company has announced.</p> <p> The 120-room property, described as a "millennial brand" by executives, will be located in the city's Midtown neighborhood, and about 70% of the furnishings in guest rooms will be West Elm products. </p> <p> There are also West Elm hotels on the way in Charlotte, North Carolina; Indianapolis; Minneapolis; and Oakland, California. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:dd4d78e4-9233-4c9a-9a0d-3fa5ea63e572 JetBlue Testing Facial-Recognition Boarding in Boston Wed, 07 Jun 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Starting this month, it will be possible to use your face as a boarding pass at Logan International Airport in Boston.</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">JetBlue Airways is testing a facial-recognition system</a> on its Boston-Aruba route, making it the first airline to try out the futuristic technology—a sci-fi staple—in real life.</p> <p> Here's how it will work for passengers:</p> <p> Instead of checking in with a boarding pass, you'll have the option to be photographed at the gate. That image will be checked against passport and visa files kept by Customs and Border Patrol. If the images match, you'll be allowed to board—without showing a ticket or an ID.</p> <p> JetBlue officials say the Boston test, which begins June 12, could be the first step toward introducing facial-recognition technology throughout every airport system, from security checkpoints to baggage claim.</p> <p> Which sounds cool and all, but what are you supposed to do when a homicidal Nicolas Cage steals your likeness, a la the 1997 thriller <em>Face/Off?</em></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:aaa81bc6-037b-43a1-93ab-2c31a38a4002 USA to Barcelona for $150 on a New Budget Airline Mon, 05 Jun 2017 14:13:00 GMT <p> Last week, without much fanfare, a new airline began shuttling passengers between Barcelona, Spain, and the West Coast of the United States.</p> <p> It's called Level, a joint British-Spanish venture, and it was encouraged by the success of Norwegian and WOW, which sell no-frills seats across the Atlantic with prices as low as $99 with extreme advance purchase.</p> <p> It flies between Barcelona and Los Angeles twice a week and from Oakland three times a week. Mid-June, it also starts flying between Spain and Buenos Aires and Punta Cana.</p> <p> Level uses A330 aircraft, and 293 of its seats fall in the Economy category—just 30 inches of pitch—where meals, checked baggage, and Wi-Fi are charged extra. The airline does have seat-back entertainment screens.</p> <p> Level has been claiming that it sold some 52,000 tickets on its first day. That seems like an awful lot, but there's no doubt the line has some powerful backers: It's owned by IAG, which also controls Iberia (whose planes are used by Level), British Airways, and Aer Lingus. Based on its early success, Level is considering adding Rome and Paris to its European destinations.</p> <p> Level is at <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:87e9bb6b-8973-4879-85f2-66d9889ab7a0 No Laptop Ban on Flights from Europe to U.S.—For Now Thu, 01 Jun 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> For the time being, a ban on in-cabin laptops will not be extended to flights from Europe to the United States, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to the Department of Homeland Security</a>. </p> <p> However, a spokesperson for DHS secretary John Kelly said that the option is "still on the table."</p> <p> The announcement was made on Tuesday following a discussion between Kelly and European officials. </p> <p> For security reasons, carry-on laptops and other large personal electronic devices are already not allowed on flights to the U.S. from several airports in the Middle East and North Africa. The government had been reportedly close to adding Europe to the list.</p> <p> Many travel experts warned that the move could have a negative effect on U.S. tourism. The expanded ban would certainly impact a large number of passengers—according to estimates, more than 60% of travelers on U.S.-bound flights from Europe carry large personal electronic devices with them. </p> <p> The question now is: Does this latest announcement signal an inconvenience averted or an inconvenience deferred?</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a6990cbf-06d3-4af1-a032-2fdb42b73da7 A Second Airport for Seattle? Wed, 31 May 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> The Seattle area could soon get a second commercial airport. </p> <p> Alaska Airlines, which is based in the city, would like to begin offering <a href="" rel="nofollow">flights from Paine Field</a> in Everett, Washington, located about 25 miles north of Seattle. </p> <p> At present, that facility is used primarily by Boeing, whose biggest jet-making assembly plant is nearby.</p> <p> But by fall 2018, Alaska Airlines could be flying in and out of Paine Field, too, depending on government approvals and the construction of a passenger terminal. The carrier could eventually have as many as nine round-trip flights from the airport.</p> <p> The plan would offer a northern alternative to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which sits on the city's south side.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:43940c06-dfa5-4300-8d12-f997bb829cd2 10 Best U.S. Beaches in 2017, According to Dr. Beach Tue, 30 May 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida, is the best beach in the United States, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to this year's rankings</a> compiled by sand and surf expert Dr. Beach.</p> <p> The good doctor knows what he's talking about. His real name is Stephen P. Leatherman, and he's the director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University in Miami. He rates beaches according to how soft the sand is, how clear the water, how clean the environmental conditions, and other factors. </p> <p> After coming in second place last year, Siesta Beach takes top honors in 2017, in part for its fine, white sand made of powdered quartz. Last year's winner, Hapuna Beach State Park on the big island of Hawaii, fell to number eight in the most recent rankings. </p> <p> With seven sites in the top 10, the eastern U.S. fared far better than the west on Dr. Beach's list. Florida is the only state that shows up three times. </p> <p> Here's the full top 10 for 2017:</p> <p> 1. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida</p> <p> 2. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii</p> <p> 3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina</p> <p> 4. Grayton Beach State Park, Walton County, Florida</p> <p> 5. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York</p> <p> 6. Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, Massachusetts</p> <p> 7. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida</p> <p> 8. Hapuna State Beach Park, Hawaii (Big Island)</p> <p> 9. Coronado Beach, San Diego</p> <p> 10. Beachwalker State Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b1a15817-ba36-4a1c-ae69-09be3376bcab New Virtual Gallery Lets You Explore Underwater Marvels from Dry Land Fri, 26 May 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> The underwater wonders just off America's coasts can't be seen firsthand—to state the obvious—except by divers and snorkelers.</p> <p> But a <a href="" rel="nofollow">project launched this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a> (NOAA) gives you the next best thing, and you don't even have to wear a wetsuit.</p> <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Virtual Dive Gallery</a> features beautiful, 360-degree images of five of the country's national marine sanctuaries: American Samoa, the Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico, Gray's Reef near Georgia, and Thunder Bay in Lake Huron.</p> <p> Using your smartphone, computer, or tablet, you can explore from every angle sites containing colorful fish, coral, shipwrecks, and other fascinating denizens of the deep. If you have virtual reality goggles, the experience is even more immersive.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>("Christ of the Abyss" statue in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; photo by Sebastian Carlosena [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)</em></p> <p> In addition to inspiring awe, the gallery's images let viewers witness the devastating effects of climate change, pollution, and other environmental problems via before-and-after photos of, say, coral bleaching and the arrival of invasive species.  </p> <p> A virtual dive or two might also inspire you to book a snorkeling or diving excursion in real life. </p> <p> Eventually, the NOAA hopes to have images available for all 13 U.S. marine sanctuaries. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:8bee24a6-c020-459c-aa8e-bf62c0751c9f Trump's Proposed Budget Would Cut U.S. Tourism Organization Wed, 24 May 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Among the cuts in President Donald Trump's proposed budget, which is being delivered to Congress this week: <a href="" rel="nofollow">funding for Brand USA</a>, a public-private organization dedicated to marketing the United States as a tourism destination.</p> <p> Eliminating that program, the president's plan would shift revenue toward Customs and Border Protection instead.</p> <p> The proposal would have to be approved by Congress, where authority for setting the federal budget ultimately lies. In the meantime, several lawmakers and travel industry leaders have stated their disapproval.</p> <p> In a statement, Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association said, "With international visitation being the country's No. 2 export supporting 15 million American jobs, we're struggling to understand how cutting Brand USA squares with this administration's stated priorities."</p> <p> It certainly seems like the U.S. could use all the tourism-boosting help it can get, what with Trump's anti-travel policies and rhetoric, including a ban on visitors from several Muslim-majority nations and calls to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.</p> <p> Cutting Brand USA to pay for more border protection sends a clear message that the administration prioritizes keeping people out of the country over welcoming them in.  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:61d4cc7a-237e-4d4d-9d6b-3b135379f0cb Ibiza Airport Overrun with Garbage Tue, 23 May 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The airport in Ibiza is a mess.</p> <p> The popular Mediterranean destination off the east coast of Spain is famous—especially among European vacationers—for its beautiful beaches and wild nightlife. But judging from the social media accounts of numerous grossed-out air travelers in recent days, Ibiza is quickly gaining notoriety for an <a href="" rel="nofollow">airport with overflowing garbage cans and unspeakably filthy bathrooms</a>.  </p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(Photo: Instagram / @<a href="" rel="nofollow">carlesbonnin</a>)</em></p> <p> The airport's cleaning staff went on strike over a pay dispute on May 17. It only took a few days for the place to transform into a dump.</p> <p> The worst part: The strike is scheduled to last another three months. </p> <p> July should be a lot of fun. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:45443f04-baaa-4c6f-a024-4cabdbe61212 Private Luxury Terminal Opens at LAX Mon, 22 May 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> The rich and famous can now make use of their own <a href="" rel="nofollow">private luxury terminal at Los Angeles International Airport</a>. </p> <p> Dubbed the Private Suite ("Let-Them-Eat-Cake Terminal" must have been too long for the signs), the facility, which opened last week, has an exclusive entrance blocked by gates to keep paparazzi at bay, a no-lines security screening process, and lounges with daybeds, private bathrooms, TVs, and refrigerators stocked with snacks.</p> <p> When it's time to board, BMW sedans whisk Private Suite passengers to their planes on the tarmac. Shouldn't they be carried on litters, Cleopatra-style, while economy-class passengers feed them peeled grapes?</p> <p> The star treatment is available for all arriving and departing commercial flights at LAX for $3,500 per flight to domestic destinations and $4,000 for international ones. The fee covers up to four passengers.</p> <p> Built entirely with private funds—no taxpayer money was used—the new LAX terminal is the first of its kind in the United States. But there are similar facilities in London, Dubai, Munich, and elsewhere. New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport could get one soon, too.</p> <p> If you need us, meanwhile, we'll be in the plebeian terminal, seated on pleather and sandwiched between someone wolfing down a Cinnabon and someone else holding a screaming baby. We're guessing all of the phone-charging outlets will be already taken. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:9a4612d7-b2e9-49c2-908d-badd984034c9 Australia Tourism Boost in 2016 Fri, 19 May 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Travel to Australia was big in 2016.</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">According to Tourism Australia officials</a>, the country received an estimated 8.3 million international visitors last year—an increase of 11%. Arrivals from the United States rose by 16%.</p> <p> The most tourists came from nearby New Zealand, followed by China, the U.K., and the U.S., in that order. </p> <p> If we were going to speculate on reasons for the spike in visits—at least the ones from Americans—we'd guess it has something to do with Australia's reputation for stability and security, which would appeal especially to travelers concerned about terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere. Australia's exciting cities, friendly populace, and unparalleled natural attractions certainly don't hurt either.</p> <p> At Sydney's Australia Tourism Exchange event this week, officials said their efforts to keep the visits coming will focus on the country's coastal attractions and culinary scene.   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:90023667-3fcf-4213-8974-f08354ce6f61 Meet Ozzie, the Only Giraffe in Nevada—And a Painter, Too Thu, 18 May 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Travelers with overlapping interests in art and animals may want to add the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Lion Habitat Ranch</a> to their itineraries for any upcoming trips to Las Vegas. </p> <p> The animal sanctuary, which is actually located in suburban Henderson, is home to Ozzie, who holds the distinctions of being the only giraffe in Nevada and a prolific artist. </p> <p> With the help of trainers and an artist from local gallery Art de Vignettes, 3-year-old Ozzie has learned to <a href="" rel="nofollow">paint by holding a brush in his teeth</a>.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(Photo: Instagram / @<a href="" rel="nofollow">blairmosberg</a>)</em></p> <p> Ozzie has turned out a slew of original abstract works, which are available for sale (starting at $40) at the ranch and via an <a href="" rel="nofollow">online gallery</a>. A portion of the proceeds goes to support the animal sanctuary, a nonprofit where several big cats live, too. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:6637dff1-380a-4409-9176-30aa5d83c9a0 If You're Traveling to Australia from Asia, Beware Stowaway Toads Wed, 17 May 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> An Indonesian toad's wild ride had an unhappy ending in Australia last week.</p> <p> At Cairns Airport in the country's northeast, a sniffer dog brought a biosecurity officer's attention to a shoe being worn by a man who had just arrived from Indonesia.</p> <p> Discovered inside the shoe was a <a href="" rel="nofollow">dead black-spined toad</a>. And get this: Officials believe that the stowaway amphibian had only recently died and was probably alive when the man put on the shoe before his flight.</p> <p> Is it just us, or does this story raise as many questions as it answers?</p> <p> In any case, Australia takes incidents like this very seriously, owing to the country's sensitive eco-system that can easily be harmed by invading species. And this isn't the only Asian toad found lately: Three Australian airports have reported unwanted visits from creatures originating in Thailand as well as Indonesia.</p> <p> In response, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has <a href="" rel="nofollow">issued a warning</a> calling on anyone traveling to Australia from Asia to make sure they're not unwittingly carrying around toads in their luggage and other belongings. </p> <p> Evidently, only the motorcar-loving Mr. Toad in <em>The Wind in the Willows</em> can secure his own transportation. The rest of his kind have to hitch a ride. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d99b6146-c26b-4f82-9d61-bfe9fcf0229f In Development: A Supersonic Jet That Zips Between London and NYC in About Three Hours Tue, 16 May 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Supersonic commercial air travel between London and New York—which has been on pause ever since the demise of Concorde in 2003—could resume in the not too distant future.</p> <p> Billionaire Richard Branson of Virgin Group has partnered with a startup called Boom Technology to <a href="" rel="nofollow">develop a passenger jet that travels at more than double the speed of sound</a>. </p> <p> That means you could cross the pond in only about 3.5 hours. Which doesn't even give you enough time to watch all of <em>Lawrence of Arabia</em>. </p> <p> A conventional transatlantic flight, by contrast, lasts just under 7 hours—time enough to watch all of <em>Lawrence of Arabia</em> and most of <em>Gone with the Wind</em> (though you'd miss the swear word at the end). </p> <p> The speedy aircraft from Boom and Branson would carry 55 passengers, and a round-trip ticket will cost you an estimated $5,000.</p> <p> Wow, whoever said time is money wasn't kidding. </p> <p> Developers of the jet hope to have reached the testing phase by 2020.</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:623c055f-2967-4dfe-80b0-caeaa6052871 Widest-Ever European River Cruise Ship Coming in 2019 Mon, 15 May 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> River cruise line <a href="" rel="nofollow">AmaWaterways has released details</a> of the innovative design for the company's newest ship, the AmaMagna.</p> <p> Set to begin plying European waterways in 2019, the ship will be the widest cruising vessel on the continent—in fact, it will be twice as wide as the typical European river ship. </p> <p> All that space will allow AmaWaterways to throw a bunch of restaurants on deck as well as the design's most intriguing feature: a first-of-its-kind watersports platform that will give passengers access to canoes, inflatable boats, and other equipment that can be used in the river.</p> <p> The ship will be able to accommodate up to 194 guests in 97 staterooms, most of which have more than 300 square feet of space. Other features include a sundeck swimming pool, a spa, and a large fitness center.</p> <p> AmaWaterways president Rudi Schreiner calls the design "a game-changer." </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:df48a9a3-5780-4a29-8a18-1a3fde93299e American Writers Museum Opening Soon in Chicago Thu, 11 May 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> The first museum celebrating the collective achievements of the country's wordsmiths <a href="" rel="nofollow">opens next week in Chicago</a>.</p> <p> The privately funded <a href="" rel="nofollow">American Writers Museum</a>—which is located on the second floor of a building along the city's busy North Michigan Avenue—has a "populist, D.I.Y. spirit," according to the New York Times's preview of the facility. Instead of stuffy libraries full of yellowing letters and dusty manuscripts, guests will find interactive exhibits and high-tech installations, including a "Word Waterfall," in which literary quotes emerge from a projection of seemingly random words, and a "Surprise Bookshelf" with quick takes on 100 memorable texts, from Tupac Shakur's "Dear Mama" to Julia Child's <em>Mastering the Art of French Cooking</em>.</p> <p> An 85-foot timeline showcases 100 significant authors, literary critics weigh in via video commentaries, and touch-screen tables let you explore in depth aspects of works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, and about two dozen others.</p> <p> To spark your own creativity, there's a dialogue generator, a grid that matches your habits to those of great writers (do you drink a distillery's worth of booze every day? Congrats—you're a Hemingway!), and other features.</p> <p> What the place doesn't have is many original artifacts. Its most noteworthy display at the moment—the 120-foot scroll on which Jack Kerouac famously typed his manuscript of <em>On the Road—</em>is only on loan to the museum for the next six months.</p> <p> There will, however, be temporary exhibits and other special events in the future, when more writerly relics might be put on view. Living writers will only be represented there, by the way. The permanent exhibition is for the dead alone.</p> <p> The museum opens to the public on May 16.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:22073c26-1dc0-473f-ae91-3ac5df6cb4b2 Incredibly Steep Aerial Tram Soon to Open in Norway Wed, 10 May 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> What's being billed as the world's steepest aerial tram is set to open in Norway later this month. </p> <p> Dubbed the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Loen Skylift</a> after the village where it originates, the cable car climbs 3,300 feet up Mount Hoven in only about five minutes. Along the way, passengers get a spectacular view of the Nordfjord region's peaks and waterways.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> (<em>Photo by Bard Basberg</em>)</p> <p> Before heading back down the mountain, you can visit the Gjolmunnebrua suspension bridge, hike along marked trails, or, in the winter, go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. There's also a cliffside restaurant up there.</p> <p> Scheduled to open to the public on May 20, the Loen Skylift will operate year-round and is expected to draw 40,000 annual visitors.</p> <p> To see the tram in action, check out the slightly horrifying promotional video below.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e4901a29-042a-4618-81d9-940c28255310 False Alarm: EU Drops Threat to Require Visa of Americans Mon, 08 May 2017 17:12:00 GMT <p> Europe is backing down. The European Commission has decided not to require Americans to obtain visas to travel to Europe—for now.</p> <p> The proposal to force Americans to secure paperwork for their visits has been kicking around the EU bureaucracy since late winter, a non-binding resolution was aired in the EU Parliament, but it <a href="" rel="nofollow">failed to clear all the hurdles</a>.</p> <p> Proponents of the visa were miffed that America requires visas of eastern EU members like Bulgaria and Poland, while opponents warned of drastic damage to the tourism industry should it pass.</p> <p> Technically, EU law requires the visa to be imposed as a way of forcing nations to treat all its members equally. But in practice, the market force of the United States (and of Canada, which also requires visas for Bulgaria and Romania, but plans to ease that soon) proved too powerful to contradict. </p> <p> The situation may ignite again as politicians in the EU watch the Trump Administration's policy changes.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:07c0b826-d839-401f-a27f-7c42e6bfa84a American Airlines Reducing Legroom in Economy Class Fri, 05 May 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">American Airlines is taking away some more legroom</a> in the economy cabin. </p> <p> The carrier's new Boeing 737 Max jets, which are set to begin arriving later this year, will have a "seat pitch"—the space between the same spot on two seats—of 30 inches instead of the current 31 in most rows. Unlucky passengers seated in the last two rows on the aircraft and another closer to the front will have to deal with a reduction to 29 inches.</p> <p> The tighter seating configuration will allow the airline to fit 170 passengers onto each plane, as opposed to the 160 currently accommodated on American's 737-800 jets.</p> <p> As <a href="" rel="nofollow">CNN points out</a>, the change makes American the first of the three major U.S. airlines (the others are Delta and United) to offer legroom on par with budget carriers like Spirit and Frontier, where seats are only 28 inches apart. </p> <p> United is said to be considering following American's lead.</p> <p> It seems a strange time to be putting the literal squeeze on customers, given that the airline industry has been raking in record profits while falling under intense scrutiny for how flyers are treated, following <a href="">United's rough ejection of a passenger</a> last month. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:1f5c8ceb-765f-432c-a49b-192afe6dfbc4 U.S. Government Issues Travel Alert for Europe in Wake of Terror Attacks Thu, 04 May 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for Europe</a>, following recent terror attacks in France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Russia. </p> <p> The alert, which went into effect May 1 and expires September 1, <a href="" rel="nofollow">warns U.S. citizens</a> that "extremists continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets."</p> <p> A State Department <em>travel alert</em> isn't as severe or as long-lasting as a <em>travel warning, </em>but shouldn't be taken lightly if you're planning a European vacation this summer. For U.S. citizens traveling in Europe, the government recommends the following:</p> <p> * Check the website of the U.S. embassy in your destination city for recent security messages.</p> <p> * Follow the instructions of local authorities, monitor media and local information sources, and factor updated information into your travel plans.</p> <p> * Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.</p> <p> * Stay in touch with your family members back home and make sure they know how to reach you in case of an emergency.</p> <p> * Have an emergency plan of action ready.</p> <p> * And register in the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Smart Traveler Enrollment Program</a> (STEP) to receive email alerts with safety and security information during your trip. All you have to do is enter trip details like your passport number, flight info, and destination. It only takes a few minutes.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:2919a934-8fce-40aa-aab8-0cfc144cb933 First Cruise Ship Crosses New Panama Canal Locks Wed, 03 May 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> A new, wider set of locks is open for business at the Panama Canal, and over the weekend the first cruise ship passed through them.</p> <p> Disney Cruise Line's 2,713-passenger Wonder vessel did the honors, crossing the new locks during a 14-night voyage from Port Canaveral, Florida, to San Diego.</p> <p> Here's what the big moment looked like:</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p> The more than $5 billion Panama Canal expansion project was originally scheduled to be finished in time for the engineering marvel's 100th birthday in 2014. But construction delays, cost overruns, and other setbacks nixed that plan.</p> <p> Now that cruise lines have begun making use of the locks, however, they'll be offering new opportunities for travelers to experience Panama's rich natural and cultural attractions via shore excursions.</p> <p> That's one reason we listed the canal and its environs among the <a href="">top places to travel in 2017</a>.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a2592be2-0947-4166-96b3-e40b7a5b73e1 Non-New Yorkers Could Soon Have to Pay to Visit the Met Tue, 02 May 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Admission at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art has been free since it was established in 1870—though a "suggested" entrance fee has been, well, suggested since the early 1970s (the current recommendation is $25 for adults).</p> <p> Soon, however, an entrance fee could become mandatory for a large chunk of the museum's visitors: those who aren't residents of New York City.</p> <p> For about a year, representatives of the venerable institution have been in behind-the-scenes talks with city officials about charging out-of-towners, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to the New York Times</a>. Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed the idea. He called a mandatory entrance fee "fair" so long as it affected "non-city residents," who make up 63% of the 7 million annual visitors checking out the Met's enormous collection of Egyptian antiquities, European masterworks, East Asian statues, masks from Africa, and numerous other treasures.</p> <p> "I'm a big fan of Russian oligarchs paying more to get into the Met," said de Blasio. </p> <p> But foreign billionaires wouldn't be the only ones required to pay the fee—so would plenty of ordinary tourists from near and far, as well as visitors from the state of New York and even, potentially, people who live in the suburbs and commute into Manhattan every day for work. And keep in mind we're talking about a museum that receives taxpayer funding.</p> <p> There are of course many examples of required entrance fees at publicly funded museums throughout the world.</p> <p> But before this one follows suit, a few remaining questions should be answered. Like: How are they going to verify that someone's a real New Yorker? (By the way the visitor holds a pizza slice?) What will the fee be? Are tourists being asked to pay the consequences for managerial missteps that have led to the Met's current budget deficit of $15 million? </p> <p> And does that sound fair?</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:69d26407-c7e3-42f2-b3d3-ad07bd22b7be United Announces Customer Service Changes Fri, 28 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> This week <a href="" rel="nofollow">United Airlines released its Review and Action Report</a> relating to the violent removal of passenger David Dao from an overbooked flight in Chicago on April 9 (you've definitely seen <a href="" rel="nofollow">the videos</a>).</p> <p> In addition to a recap of what went down and where the airline failed, the report lists 10 new or updated customer service policies designed to prevent something like this ever happening again. Here are the changes the carrier has come up with, <a href="" rel="nofollow">lifted directly from the report</a>: </p> <p> 1. <strong>United will limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.</strong></p> <p> United will not ask law enforcement to remove customers from flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. United implemented this policy on April 12. </p> <p> <strong> <span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;">2. United will not require customers already seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.</span></strong></p> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="2" id="rebelltitem2" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> United implemented this policy on April 27.</p> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> <strong>3. United will increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000.</strong></p> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> United's policy will be revised to increase the compensation levels up to $10,000 for customers willing to volunteer to take a later flight. This will go into effect on April 28.</p> </div> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="4" id="rebelltitem4" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <h3 style="margin:0px;"> 4. United will establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions.</h3> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;">  </p> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> United will create a team to proactively identify and provide gate agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers and crews to their final destinations. Separately, the team also will work to provide solutions to help get crews to their final destinations. United expects the team to be operational by June. Examples include:</p> <ul style="margin:1em 0px;padding-right:0px;"> <li> Suggest flights to close-by airports and then provide transportation to the customer's preferred destination.</li> <li> If a customer's travel includes a connecting flight, provide options that would eliminate the connection and still get the customer to the destination.</li> <li> Offer ground transportation where practical.</li> </ul> </div> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="5" id="rebelltitem5" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <h3 style="margin:0px;"> 5. United will ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.</h3> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> Unless there are open seats, all crew members traveling for work on our aircraft must be booked at least 60 minutes before departure. This policy was implemented on April 14.</p> </div> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="6" id="rebelltitem6" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <h3 style="margin:0px;"> 6. United will provide agents with additional annual training.</h3> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> United will provide annual training for frontline employees to enhance their skills on an ongoing basis that will equip them to handle the most difficult of situations. This training will begin in August.</p> </div> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="7" id="rebelltitem7" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <h3 style="margin:0px;"> 7. United will create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.</h3> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> Later this year, United will introduce a new automated check-in process, both at the airport and via the United app, that will gauge a customer's interest in giving up his or her seat on overbooked flights in exchange for compensation. If selected, that customer will receive their requested compensation and be booked on a later United flight.</p> </div> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="8" id="rebelltitem8" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <h3 style="margin:0px;"> 8. United will reduce its amount of overbooking.</h3> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> United has evaluated its overbooking policy. As a result, adjustments have been made to reduce overbookings on flights that historically have experienced lower volunteer rates, particularly flights on smaller aircraft and the last flights of the day to a particular destination.</p> </div> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="9" id="rebelltitem9" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <h3 style="margin:0px;"> 9. United will empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.</h3> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> Rolling out later this year, United will launch a new "in the moment" app for our employees to handle customer issues. This will enable flight attendants (by July) and gate agents (later this year) to compensate customers proactively (with mileage, credit for future flights or other forms of compensation) when a disservice occurs.</p> </div> <div class="rebellt-item" data-id="10" id="rebelltitem10" style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:"font-size:16px;"> <h3 style="margin:0px;"> 10. United will eliminate the red tape on lost bags.</h3> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> United will adopt a new no-questions-asked policy on permanently lost bags. In these instances, United will pay a customer $1,500 for the value of the bag and its contents. For claims or reimbursement over $1,500, additional documentation may be required. This process is expected to be in place in June.</p> <p style="line-height:28px;word-wrap:break-word;margin:0px 0px 20px !important;"> Concludes the report, "This is how we begin to earn back your trust."</p> </div> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f5198b3b-c42c-4adc-9bf0-add361c2ecdf United's Ongoing PR Nightmare Thu, 27 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> United Airlines continues to have nightmarish PR troubles.</p> <p> The carrier's barrage of bad press began earlier this month, when cell phone footage of physician David Dao being <a href="">violently dragged from an overbooked flight</a> at Chicago O'Hare surfaced online, sparking worldwide outrage. To make matters worse, United CEO Oscar Munoz bungled the apology—in fact, it took him three tries to get it right.</p> <p> The brand has quite a ways to go toward winning the public back, if a New York City film festival audience's reaction to a pre-movie United ad is any indication.</p> <p> Before the opening screening of this year's Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall this week, a 30-second commercial for United's business class prompted widespread derisive laughter from the audience, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to many people who were there</a>.</p> <p> The airline has been a sponsor of the festival since 2014, and organizers of the event issued a statement of support. Nonetheless, the ad has been pulled from the festival's remaining screenings.</p> <p> In another development, meanwhile, things took a turn for the surreal.</p> <p> A <a href="" rel="nofollow">giant rabbit named Simon died while in United's care</a> somewhere between London's Heathrow Airport and Chicago's O'Hare.</p> <p> Simon was the offspring of the world's largest rabbit—the 4-foot, 4-inch, 33-pound Darius, though the 10-month-old Simon was expected to surpass his dad in size.</p> <p> Simon was being flown to the United States to be delivered to his new owner, who had paid £2,000 (USD 2,600) for him. But the big bunny didn't make it.</p> <p> United claims he survived the flight but was later found dead in a storage room in Chicago. The animal's breeder, Annette Edwards, suspects that he died in the plane's cargo hold.</p> <p> But either outcome isn't great from Simon's point of view.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:2208419b-1b3a-4b6b-81a5-53933e151fc1 In Hawaii, an Increase in Rare Brain Parasite Disease Wed, 26 Apr 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> In Hawaii so far this year there have been <a href="" rel="nofollow">11 confirmed cases of rat lungworm disease</a>, which is caused by a potentially deadly brain parasite with one of the ugliest names in creation.</p> <p> Victims include a California couple honeymooning on Maui and two people who might have caught the disease by drinking a homemade herbal beverage.</p> <p> Tourism officials would like for you to keep in mind that the parasite is very rare and there's no cause for canceling vacation plans.</p> <p> Still, the 11 diagnoses in the first four months of 2017 are about equal to how many people usually get the disease over the course of the entire year.</p> <p> State health experts don't have a definite explanation for the increase, but they say it could have been caused by an influx of a semi-slug that can carry the parasite. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:2a5cd76c-fd92-4b5f-b042-ce99b0ca27b3 Celebrate John Wayne's Birthday in His Iowa Hometown Tue, 25 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> You probably associate John Wayne with the American West. But the film legend was actually born in Iowa. His hometown, Winterset, is the site of the <a href="" rel="nofollow">John Wayne Birthplace Museum</a>, which organizes an annual celebration around the Duke's birthday at the end of May (born in Winterset on May 26, 1907, he died in 1979).</p> <p> This year marks the <a href="" rel="nofollow">10th anniversary of the event</a>. On May 26-27, the town will host screenings of Wayne's movies at the recently restored Iowa Theater, an all-horse parade featuring a Wells Fargo stagecoach, a barn dance, and other good old-fashioned <a href="" rel="nofollow">activities</a> you don't have to be a diehard fan of movie westerns to enjoy.</p> <p> The guest of honor is Johnny Crawford, a cast member of the late '50s/early '60s TV show <em>The Rifleman</em>, who also appeared with Wayne in Howard Hawks's <em>El Dorado</em>.</p> <p> In the movie, Wayne shot him dead.     </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a02bc193-05ff-4cba-99cc-214a49b5dd98 Bangkok's Famous Street Food Stalls Targeted for Removal Mon, 24 Apr 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The days appear to be numbered for Bangkok's storied street-food scene.</p> <p> In an effort to clean up the city's thoroughfares, Thailand's government has begun <a href="" rel="nofollow">removing the beloved food stalls</a> where locals and tourists alike fill up on cheap but tasty rice dishes, noodles, and sweets—the <a href="" rel="nofollow">best street food in the world</a>, according to a recent CNN ranking. </p> <p> The first wave of the cleanup affected Bangkok's major roads only, but government officials say they won't rest until they've de-cluttered all 50 of the city's districts.</p> <p> You might be able to find the occasional pushcart vendor, but they won't be allowed to linger—any stall obstructing the sidewalk has got to go.    </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:3a9e3b03-0dca-4778-9b5a-edaf78e8f98a The Latest Trend Aboard Cruise Ships: Lifeguards Fri, 21 Apr 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Something that might surprise you if you're not a regular cruiser: As recently as five years ago, lifeguards were nowhere to be found at the pool areas of the major lines' ships. There were caution signs posted, but passengers swam at their own risk.</p> <p> Disney Cruise Line was the first to add lifeguards in 2013. Royal Caribbean International followed suit earlier this year.</p> <p> Now another big player in the industry, <a href="" rel="nofollow">Norwegian Cruise Line, has announced that lifeguards will soon be on its ships</a>, too. </p> <p> Trained and certified by the American Red Cross, Norwegian's on-staff life savers will monitor family pools during scheduled hours. They'll appear this summer on Norwegian's four biggest ships—<em>Escape</em>, <em>Getaway</em>, <em>Breakaway</em>, and <em>Epic</em>. The rest of the fleet will have lifeguards by early 2018.</p> <p> The move follows several instances of children coming to harm in cruise ship pools in recent years, including the 2015 drowning death of a 10-year-old girl aboard the <em>Norwegian Gem</em>. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:19fd6b91-1e39-4236-aab6-9e562f4660b3 Emirates Cuts Flights to U.S., Citing Drop in Demand Thu, 20 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> The Dubai-based <a href="" rel="nofollow">Emirates airline is reducing the number of flights it offers to the United States</a>. </p> <p> As a reason for the change, the carrier cited a drop in demand among consumers following "recent actions taken by the U.S. government," including a ban on carry-on electronics affecting flights from certain Middle Eastern and Northern African nations, as well as efforts by the Trump administration to block travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries.</p> <p> Emirates didn't mention Pres. Trump in the announcement, presenting the reduction in service as a strictly economic decision based on where the airline's customers are traveling—i.e., not to the U.S., at least not at the level before Trump took office in January.</p> <p> Emirates will continue to fly to the same 12 U.S. destinations as before: Boston, Chicago (O'Hare), Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. (Dulles).</p> <p> But it's trimming the number of flights on routes between Dubai and Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando. The first cuts, affecting Fort Lauderdale, go into effect May 1, with the other cities following shortly thereafter. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:0d3ab251-4ce4-4f3c-86f4-fe1b55f224d4 The World's Safest Country for Tourists Wed, 19 Apr 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Finland has been named the world's safest country for travelers in this year's edition of the highly regarded <a href="" rel="nofollow">Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report</a> from the World Economic Forum. </p> <p> The annual study rates 136 nations according to a variety of factors, including natural resources, transportation infrastructure, environmental sustainability, and several others. Overall, Spain was found to be the most tourist-friendly country for 2017. </p> <p> But when it comes to safety and security, measured in the report by the extent to which a country exposes tourists to risks of violence and terrorism, Finland took top honors, followed by the United Arab Emirates and Iceland. A country's rate of petty crime is not taken into account.</p> <p> Though the United States ranked sixth overall in travel competitiveness, it came in a dismal 84th place in the safety category, between the West African nation of Benin and South America's Ecuador.</p> <p> The least safe country, according to the report, is Colombia, followed by Yemen and El Salvador.    </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e25baa86-c57e-46e3-9f9c-cacbd2ef6194 Plan to Build Trump Hotel in Dallas Falls Through Tue, 18 Apr 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Dallas won't be getting a hotel under the Trump Organization's new Scion brand</a> after all.</p> <p> Through a spokesperson, the president's company announced that the project's developer, Mike Sarimsakci, has been told not to pursue work on the plan with the city council. </p> <p> Initially slated for an area of downtown Dallas undergoing redevelopment, the hotel was going to be funded in part by unidentified foreign investors. Media reports, ethics watchdogs, and local politicians and activists questioned whether that meant outsiders might do business with the president's company as a way of gaining influence with him—a violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause.</p> <p> Though the Trump Organization didn't give specific reasons for dropping the deal, the company's spokesperson did mention the publicity generated by Sarimsakci, so maybe that had something to do with the project's demise. </p> <p> The Scion brand, introduced in fall 2016, is meant to be more affordable than other Trump Hotels and appeal to younger travelers. No Scion properties have opened to the public yet. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ebad6f2e-288e-4cff-835a-ae8ced7693f4 Spirit Airlines Ending Flights to Cuba Mon, 17 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Spirit Airlines is ending its flights to Cuba</a>, the carrier announced last week.</p> <p> That makes it the third U.S. airline to halt service to the island, after <a href="">Frontier and Silver Airways called it quits</a> in March.</p> <p> As in those two cases, Spirit cited overcapacity as the reason for abandoning its Havana-Fort Lauderdale route. Put simply, there are too many flights to Cuba and not enough passenger demand.</p> <p> Regular commercial flights from the U.S. to the island resumed last fall for the first time since the start of the Cuban embargo more than 50 years ago. Ten airlines swooped in to offer numerous routes to the island—maybe too many airlines and too many routes.</p> <p> Spirit's flights between Havana and Fort Lauderdale will end May 31. </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e7b57045-209a-4b06-b26c-08b6db7ea04f Ban on In-Flight Phone Calls Here to Stay Fri, 14 Apr 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> A proposal to relax the ban on in-flight phone calls has been <a href="" rel="nofollow">dropped by the Federal Communications Commission</a>, which since 2013 had been mulling over the idea of allowing more cell-phone chatter on planes. </p> <p> In a statement, FCC chairman Ajit Pai called the abandoned plan—introduced by a previous occupant of his job—"ill-conceived" and said that "taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet."</p> <p> Still, the FCC's ban doesn't apply to Wi-Fi and other frequencies on which phone calls can now be made. A separate proposal from the Department of Transportation would require airlines and ticket agents to let passengers know at the start of the sales process if in-flight phone calls are allowed. </p> <p> That rule is still under consideration. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:56b2ee4e-2fe1-49bb-b2bc-767cb608b779 How to View Sea Turtles in Florida—Without Disturbing Them Thu, 13 Apr 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Spring is the season when <a href="" rel="nofollow">sea turtles start showing up on Florida beaches</a> to nest and lay eggs at night—an annual ritual that carries into the fall. Baby turtles hatch after 60 days or so, whereupon they totter adorably to the sea.</p> <p> Much can go wrong: Nesting requires darkness and quiet, and many of the little ones won't be strong enough to make it to the water or they'll get picked off by predators. </p> <p> For those reasons, it's a crime to disturb nests or harass turtles. Humans are advised to keep their distance and avoid shining lights of any kind near the animals—and that includes flashes from cell phones and cameras. </p> <p> There is, however, a non-disruptive way to observe nesting areas in Florida.  </p> <p> You can sign up for a public turtle watch led by an expert guide with a permit for this very purpose. Tours take place in the evenings at beaches along the state's Atlantic coast, from Canaveral National Seashore to the Miami area.</p> <p> You'll want to register in advance because tours tend to fill up quickly. See the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website</a> for more info.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:4a054311-2941-4a84-9cf1-3f5887747587 Britney Spears Ending Vegas Run Wed, 12 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> After four years almost to the day, pop star <a href="" rel="nofollow">Britney Spears will end her show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas</a>. </p> <p> Launched in December 2013, <em>Britney: Piece of Me</em> features more than 20 of the singer's hits, performed (lip synching is a kind of performing, okay?) amid a host of dancers and the collective goodwill of audience members who weathered the highs of "Toxic" and the lows of the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.  </p> <p> After grossing more than $100 million in ticket sales and appearing before roughly 700,000 guests, Spears will call it quits on New Year's Eve, following a final batch of 18 shows scheduled to start in the fall.</p> <p> Tickets, ranging from $59 to $229, <a href="" rel="nofollow">go on sale Friday at 10am</a>. </p> <p> We'll leave you with the music video for "Toxic," since Spears plays a futuristic flight attendant in it and that counts as a travel angle. </p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e836baa7-b071-4cec-aa99-103ff2b4ce09 VIDEO: United Passenger Forcibly Removed from Overbooked Flight Tue, 11 Apr 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> What started as a routine flight overbooking turned ugly on Sunday, when United Airlines sought four volunteers to give up their seats in order to accommodate crew members who needed to travel from Chicago to Louisville for a flight the next day.</p> <p> No one accepted the offer of $800 in compensation for a seat, so United selected four unlucky passengers to remove from the flight. When one of the four refused to leave his seat, police physically removed him in a rather disturbing manner as other horrified passengers looked on. The man appeared to be injured and disoriented from the incident.</p> <p> Passengers seated near the man used cell phones to record the dramatic scene, and subsequently posted the videos to social media. This video uploaded to Twitter has been retweeted more than 100,000 times.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> All airlines sell more seats than there are available, a practice allowed under the law to minimize empty seats on commercial flghts. When there are too many passengers, gate agents typically ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for compensation.</p> <p> The situation that arose Sunday differed from a typical overbooking scenario in a couple of ways. First, passengers were already on the plane when they were forced to leave. Second, United had miscalculated how it would transport its own employees to Louisville, forcing paying customers to suffer the consequences.</p> <p> United could have offered more compensation to drum up volunteers. <a href="" rel="nofollow">Under the law</a>, passengers who are bumped involuntarily and accommodated on a departing flight the next day are entitled to 400% of their one-way fare, up to $1,350. But United kept its offer at $800. </p> <p> The backlash in the court of public opinion may end up costing the airline far more. In a statement, United initially appeared to blame the passenger, citing his refusal to leave the aircraft.</p> <p> <strong>UPDATE</strong>: After video of the incident went viral, the carrier's CEO, Oscar Munoz <a href="" rel="nofollow">apologized</a> for having to "re-accommodate these customers." Later, however, Munoz defended the actions of United staff, calling the passenger "<a href="" rel="nofollow">disruptive and belligerent</a>." As public outrage over the incident continued to swell, United issued a <a href="" rel="nofollow">third statement</a> from Munoz, calling the incident "truly horrific" and promising a full investigation of the incident and the company's policies for incentivizing volunteers.</p> <p> We will continue to watch this story as it develops. To learn more about what to expect if your flight is oversold and how to avoid being bumped, read our <a href="">passenger's guide to airline overbooking</a>. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a21b65e7-24a3-4a81-ac02-2d40e0532358 VIDEO: Europe's Fastest Roller Coaster Debuts at Ferrari Land in Spain Mon, 10 Apr 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Ferrari Land, a theme park dedicated to celebrating the iconic Italian sports car, has opened within the larger PortAventura World in northeastern Spain.</p> <p> Visitors can get behind the wheel of racecar simulators and walk through an interactive exhibit recounting the Ferrari's history. But the main draw is <a href="" rel="nofollow">Red Force, Europe's tallest, fastest roller coaster</a>.</p> <p> Designed to give passengers a feel for what it's like to be in a Formula One car, the ride reaches a speed of 110 miles per hour in just five seconds and zooms to a height of 112 meters (367 ft.). The whole thing's over in half a minute. </p> <p> Check out the (somewhat nauseating) video below for a rider's-eye view.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p> Though Red Force is now the speediest roller coaster in Europe, the world record holder is at the similarly branded Ferrari World in the United Arab Emirates. That park's Formula Rossa reaches a lightning-fast 149 miles per hour. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e171fe81-f6fa-483e-98ce-f5f6f44ab391 Hamilton Tours at Thomas Jefferson's House Fri, 07 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit Broadway musical, Alexander Hamilton has stolen the spotlight from his fellow Founding Fathers. Now the ten-dollar Federalist is even making inroads at the home of his archrival, Thomas Jefferson.</p> <p> Monticello, the third U.S. president's neoclassical mansion in Charlottesville, Virginia, has begun hosting an <a href="" rel="nofollow">after-hours Hamilton Tour Takeover on select Fridays and Saturdays</a>. </p> <p> Though Hamilton never actually stepped foot on the grounds, he certainly played a big role in the career of Jefferson, with whom he sparred over issues like states' rights (Jefferson's pet cause) and a strong federal government (Hamilton's)—a debate the country has been having ever since.</p> <p> During Monticello's Hamilton tour, guides use stick puppets, Q&As, and songs from the musical to illuminate the men's complicated rivalry, while ushering guests through relevant parts of the house. Yes, of course "The Room Where It Happens" is sung.</p> <p> The tours last about 90 minutes and cost $40 per person. You can book or get more info at <a href="" rel="nofollow">Monticello's website</a>.  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:5ea57732-b361-407d-9d4b-e4f4cf44d1b6 Grand Canyon Celebrates 6 Million Visitors—Then Takes It Back Thu, 06 Apr 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Back in December, officials at the Grand Canyon in Arizona honored a family of four from Las Vegas as the national park's record-breaking 6 millionth guests of the year. </p> <p> How can four people be one number? They can't. The park relies on traffic counters, permits, concessions records, and other figures to calculate visitor numbers. But since those who do the calculating determined that the 6 million mark would definitely be passed on December 12, park officials figured the Johnson family—James and Abigail and their kids Sophia and Elijah—were as good a group as any to receive the honor. </p> <p> Trouble is, when the <a href="" rel="nofollow">final tally of Grand Canyon visitors was estimated for 2016</a>, the number that came in was 5,969,811.</p> <p> According to a park spokesperson, the premature celebration was caused by a slight miscalculation.</p> <p> Those 5.96 million visits still set a record, and amounted to an 8% increase over the previous year.</p> <p> But it kind of feels like running out of gas just before the odometer turns over, doesn't it?  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:93d4b44d-739e-42ab-96c8-872858f00e26 Parts of California's Highway 1 Remain Closed Following Landslides Wed, 05 Apr 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Significant portions of California's Highway 1 between Monterey and San Simeon—a stretch that recently made our list of <a href="">the country's most scenic drives</a> for the way it showcases Big Sur's rugged coastal beauty—<a href="" rel="nofollow">remain closed following landslides</a> brought on by late-winter rains. </p> <p> State transportation officials don't expect the full route to be reopened for another four to six weeks. </p> <p> Closure sites are at Paul's Slide, near the town of Lucia; Mud Creek near Gorda; Ragged Point, north of Cambria; and the spot where Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge stood, before it sustained heavy damage and had to be demolished last month. </p> <p> The nearby Post Ranch Inn has had to close temporarily, too, because it has become so difficult to access.</p> <p> A small section of Highway 1 between Gorda and Limekiln State Park has reopened to travelers, but many other areas are restricted to residents only—no road trippers for the time being.</p> <p> Keep tabs on <a href="" rel="nofollow">California's Department of Transportation website</a> for closure updates if you're planning a visit.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:7f91225b-3824-4cb4-8278-f1239a286346 Qatar Airways Loaning Out Laptops for Free in Business Class Tue, 04 Apr 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> The Trump administration won't let airline passengers carry their own laptops onto flights from Qatar to the United States, so <a href="" rel="nofollow">Qatar Airways has begun loaning out free laptops</a> to every passenger in business class on those flights.</p> <p> Qatar is one of eight Middle Eastern and North African countries subject to the ban, which the Department of Homeland Security began enforcing on March 25, vaguely citing efforts by terrorist groups to bring explosives onto planes by hiding them in electronics. The ban covers any such device bigger than a cell phone, including laptops, tablets, and cameras. The U.K. soon followed suit with a similar ban covering six countries (interestingly enough, Qatar isn't one of them).</p> <p> Other airlines affected by the rule, such as Emirates, have adapted by letting passengers hold onto their devices until they reach the gate. But Qatar's PC-loaning program goes further, letting those in business class borrow a laptop for the duration of the flight and then upload material onto a USB.</p> <p> The program is only for business class, though. If you're in economy, you're out of luck.</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:65ee2981-f8b5-4bd4-b57b-340c6c4b7935 Bob Dylan Archive Opens in Tulsa, Oklahoma Mon, 03 Apr 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Fans of music legend and Nobel laureate Bob Dylan will soon have another pilgrimage site to visit, alongside Hibbing, Minnesota, where he grew up; New York City's Greenwich Village, where his career began; and <a href="" rel="nofollow">Mobile, where he repeatedly got stuck with the Memphis blues</a>.</p> <p> The newest stop is Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a big chunk of Dylan's 6,000-piece archive has been made <a href="" rel="nofollow">available for scholarly research</a> at that city's Gilcrease Museum.</p> <p> Among the treasures in the musician's trove: handwritten lyrics, correspondence from everybody from Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones to former first lady Michelle Obama, and hours and hours of audio recordings and film reels.</p> <p> At the moment, the archive is only available to scholars. But the public will get to have a look at many items, too, when the Bob Dylan Center opens in Tulsa—something that's expected to take place in two years or so.</p> <p> The new facility will be housed in the same building where you'll find the Woody Guthrie Center, honoring one of Dylan's idols.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:9288c900-7bea-4a29-8590-644e3c032bc2 Delta Air Lines Most Likely to Pay Volunteers on Oversold Flights Thu, 30 Mar 2017 18:16:00 GMT <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">For many airline passengers, an oversold flight creates anxiety over the potential for delays, a hectic boarding process, or even—worst-case scenario—getting bumped to a later departure time.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">But where some see uncertainty, others see opportunity. Passengers with flexible schedules who are willing to give up their seats for later flights are sometimes offered hundreds of dollars in vouchers to spend during their extra time at the airport.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">Though all airlines oversell seats, your chances of getting compensated for volunteering are greater on some carriers than others, according to a new study.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s2"><a data-saferedirecturl="" href="" rel="nofollow" style="color:rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank"></a> </span><span class="m_3674301341516340511s3">crunched recently released 2016 <a data-saferedirecturl="" href="" rel="nofollow" style="color:rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank"><span class="m_3674301341516340511s2">Department of Transportation data</span></a></span><span class="m_3674301341516340511s1"> ranking major airlines on how often they pay volunteers to give up confirmed seats on oversold flights.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">The results show that on average, across all airlines, 6.6 of every 10,000 passengers became volunteers for compensation—either for flying later or not flying at all.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">The most likely to pay volunteers? Delta Air Lines, which was well above the average with 10 out of every 10,000 passengers being compensated for their trouble. In second place, with a rate of 7.2 per 10,000 passengers, is United Airlines. And much further behind is American, with only 4.1 per 10,000 passengers.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1"><a href="" style="font-family:Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:12px;" target="_blank"><img align="left" src="" /></a></span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">Besides being the most frequent to offer compensation to volunteers, Delta is often generous in what it gives, doling out vouchers and gift cards—sometimes valued as high as $800—that can be used anywhere. Delta occasionally engages in <a href="" rel="nofollow">reverse auction bids</a> at the gate, too.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">Least likely to pay volunteers are JetBlue and Hawaiian. But that has less to do with stinginess than those airlines’ tendency not to overbook flights.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">Most likely to bump passengers are regional airlines, which have smaller aircraft and therefore fuller flights. Last year 14.7 of every 10,000 passengers on those carriers volunteered their seats in exchange for compensation.</span></p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p class="m_3674301341516340511p1" style="font-family:arial;margin:0px;padding:0px;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span class="m_3674301341516340511s1">The study also shows a decline in involuntary bumping since 2010. There has been less need for it as airlines have improved methods of accurately forecasting demand.</span></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:abe029a5-d93a-4942-87de-cfcc150561ee How to Find a Seder if You're Traveling During Passover Thu, 30 Mar 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> The Jewish holiday of Passover starts at sundown on April 10 and continues for eight days. If you happen to be traveling during that time, you should be able to <a href="" rel="nofollow">find a Seder near you</a>, thanks to Chabad-Lubavitch, a Jewish organization renowned for its outreach efforts.</p> <p> Chabad is hosting hundreds of Seders on the first two nights of the holiday at locations around the world, including spring vacation hotspots in the Caribbean, Central America, Florida, and Southern California.  </p> <p> Altogether, the planned events span six continents and more than two dozen countries, from Canada to Cambodia. The Seders are free and open to the public, though you should let hosts know ahead of time that you're planning to attend so they can make food arrangements.</p> <p> You can search an international directory of Seders at <a href="" rel="nofollow">Chabad's website</a>.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:051df947-5d3f-450f-9f32-64e387ca8bf0 Royal Caribbean Launches Tour-Booking Site for Cruisers and Landlubbers Alike Wed, 29 Mar 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> Cruise companies have been organizing shore excursions for decades in scores of locations across the globe. Now one of those lines is offering tours and activities to everybody—not just cruise passengers.</p> <p> Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has launched <a href="" rel="nofollow">GoBe</a>, an online service selling thousands of travel experiences in nearly 900 cities across nearly 100 countries. </p> <p> You can book a whale-watching tour in Alaska, a private helicopter ride in Rome, a culinary adventure in Shanghai, and a surfing class in Brazil—among many, many other options.</p> <p> Activities can be searched by destination or interest—family, romance, adventure, and so on. You can opt for group tours, private excursions, or "Travel Creations" customized to suit your specific tastes.</p> <p> If you do happen to be a cruiser, you can use GoBe to search for your itinerary and find activities at ports along the way.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a5ec251a-dc28-4018-9a85-aa7156622e9c Interest in Travel to U.S. Down Overall—but Up in Asia Tue, 28 Mar 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> The overall number of international travelers planning to visit the United States has declined slightly over the past year as a result of the political climate, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to an analysis conducted by Brand USA</a>, a public-private organization created by Congress to promote U.S. tourism.</p> <p> Twenty-seven percent of travelers were planning a U.S. trip in March 2016, the group says. That number is at 25% today. Brand USA began tracking the effect of politics on inbound travelers last summer.</p> <p> Some travel experts, <a href="">our own Arthur Frommer among them</a>, have commented on a perceived drop in interest in travel to the U.S. as a result of President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, including temporary bans (since struck down in the courts) on travelers from select predominantly Muslim countries and promises to crack down on undocumented immigrants from Mexico.</p> <p> Consequently, Brand USA's study found that the percentage of Mexicans planning visits to the U.S. has dropped about 15 points. Canadians are less likely to visit, too, though that could have as much to do with the current weakness of their currency against the U.S. dollar.</p> <p> The number of Asians planning trips to the U.S., on the other hand, is on the rise. As a matter of fact, a majority of travelers from the following countries say the current political situation makes them <em>more </em>likely to visit the U.S.: China, Japan, India, Korea, and—a South American outlier—Brazil.</p> <p> Of course, it's too soon to gauge the long-term impact of Trump on foreign travel—especially in the case of a White House this volatile.   </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:90f4040b-11bb-47de-85cb-769ba991ab9f Airline Rules on Checked Bags and Wheelchairs Delayed Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:37:00 GMT <p> If you've ever been separated from your checked luggage—or worse, your checked wheelchair—you might wish the government would do something about the problem.</p> <p> Last year, the government did, finalizing a new rule that would shed some light on how well airlines handle checked bags and wheelchairs. And this year, the Department of Transportation, at the request of the major U.S. airlines, undid it—at least for now.</p> <p> The consumer protection rules will eventually require airlines to report new information on mishandled bags and wheelchairs. They were set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.</p> <p> But Airlines for America, the trade association representing most U.S. airlines, contends that more time is needed to comply with the law. With agreement from new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the rule will instead go into effect Jan. 1, 2019, giving airlines an additional year to implement it.</p> <p> <strong>WHAT THE RULES MEAN</strong></p> <p> Airlines now report the number of mishandled bags for every 1,000 passengers, an inaccurate measure since many passengers don't check bags at all. The rule will change the reporting standard to the number of mishandled bags<em> out of the total number checked</em>, a clearer measure of airline performance.</p> <p> Data on mishandled wheelchairs, which are sometimes severely damaged in the plane's cargo hold, is currently reported to the Department of Transportation in the same category with checked luggage. This lack of transparency gives wheelchair users no way of determining the level of confidence they should have when turning over expensive mobility equipment to the airlines. Once the new rule takes effect, airlines will be required to report damage to wheelchairs in a separate category for the first time.</p> <p> These consumer-friendly rules are designed to provide transparency to passengers. Now it looks like things will remain murky for another year.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b4a74893-884e-404b-9432-72d89bf5c5a1 Alaska Airlines Is Doing Away with Virgin America Fri, 24 Mar 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The highly regarded, much-beloved <a href="" rel="nofollow">Virgin America is getting the ax</a>. </p> <p> Alaska Airlines, which acquired the carrier in a $2.6-billion merger in December, has announced plans to fully absorb the Virgin America brand by the end of 2019. </p> <p> Seattle-based Alaska Airlines made the purchase in a bid to become the dominant carrier on the West Coast. Though Alaska has been known primarily for its affordability and reliable service, the company says it plans to keep the stylish touches and passenger perks that have won Virgin America such a devoted following, including the airline's trademark mood lighting, boarding music, and superior (and free) in-flight entertainment options. The airline is also expanding its first-class and premium seating to cater to Virgin America's business travelers and well-to-do trendsetters. </p> <p> The popularity of the Virgin brand notwithstanding, Alaska has chosen to drop it for the sake of efficiency, consistency, and, last but certainly not least, expensive licensing fees, which Alaska will no longer have to pay to London's Virgin Group.</p> <p> That conglomerate's billionaire founder, Richard Branson, sent a heartfelt message to Virgin America's employees and fans in a <a href="" rel="nofollow">blog post</a>. "Many tears are shed today," he wrote, calling the brand's demise "sad (and some would say baffling)." </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a991505e-9435-4adb-bb0b-338e1c62d47e Underwater Tours of Titanic Shipwreck Coming in 2018 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Underwater tours of the <em>Titanic</em></a> shipwreck site will begin heading beneath the waves in May 2018. And just like a first-class ticket aboard the doomed ship's first and only sailing in 1912, the price is obscenely high.</p> <p> Operated by UK tour company <a href="" rel="nofollow">Blue Marble Private</a>, the eight-day voyage—which takes passengers from Newfoundland to 2 miles below the Atlantic Ocean and back—costs an incredible $105,129 per person.</p> <p> For that small fortune you'll get several chances to board a titanium-and-carbon submersible and explore the sunken ship's deck, bow, bridge, and the spot where the grand staircase used to be. You'll also get to see cool bioluminescent marine life down there.</p> <p> As we learned from Billy Zane in James Cameron's 1997 movie, however, your wealth does not purchase the right to say stuff like this:</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> Despite the price—which is nearly double what Deep Ocean Expeditions was charging in 2012, the last time tourists were brought to the site—Blue Marble Private says the 2018 trip is already fully booked, and the company is already planning more for 2019.  </p> <p> If you adjust for inflation, the more than $100k cost of the experience translates roughly to the price of first-class passage on the ship in 1912.</p> <p> Another luxury company called Bluefish is also currently planning a trip to the wreck site, but no dates or prices have been announced. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:cc48be88-9598-41e8-9768-8c3af68ef59a Alabama Offering Free Statewide Walking Tours in April Wed, 22 Mar 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> For 14 years, Alabama has been offering a unique way to get to know that state and enjoy the spring weather at the same time: Saturday morning walking tours held throughout the month of April at numerous locations statewide.</p> <p> This year's batch of weekly hourlong tours begins at 10am on April 1 in 28 participating towns, and will continue each Saturday morning in the month, ending on April 29. </p> <p> Organized by the Alabama Tourism Department, the tours are free and will be guided by "community leaders" through the state's historic districts and courthouse squares. </p> <p> Among the noteworthy places you can learn more about: Mobile, which has a rich maritime history; the state capital of Montgomery; and civil-rights flash points Birmingham and Selma.</p> <p> You can learn more about the tours at the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alabama Tourism Department's website</a>.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:8dc47317-f18d-4087-a985-cd631bbde2fe Teenager Finds Big Diamond at Arkansas State Park Tue, 21 Mar 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> A <a href="" rel="nofollow">14-year-old found a 7.44-carat diamond</a> last week at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park, where visitors can look around for gems and keep whatever they find. </p> <p> The shiny, dark brown rock discovered by Kalel Langford turned out to be the seventh-largest diamond found at the park since it opened in 1972. </p> <p> Langford, who was visiting the site with his parents, had only been there for about 30 minutes when he spotted the gem. It's about the size of a pinto bean and worth around $500,000.</p> <p> Not bad for half an hour of work.</p> <p> Langford named his find Superman's Diamond because he's a fan of comic books. His parents must be, too, since his first name, Kalel, is almost identical to the Man of Steel's birth name (Kal-El) back on Krypton.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:936a14d2-23ef-4301-96d4-b2187a036b70 Dates for Summer's Cheapest Airfares Mon, 20 Mar 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> As you plan your summer travels, here's a day to circle on your calendar: June 6.</p> <p> That's when airfares should be at their lowest during the period from June through September, according to an analysis of thousands of flights, conducted by <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>.  </p> <p> The company's CEO, Jeff Klee, <a href="" rel="nofollow">told <em>Condé Nast Traveler</em></a> that flights throughout the summer are expected to be less expensive than last year. Said Klee: "The data clearly shows the best value for summer travel can be found the first half of June"—never more so than on the 6th.</p> <p> The most expensive month to travel, by contrast, will be July; the 9th day of that month will have the summer's highest airfares.</p> <p> CheapAir found that the least expensive days to fly in August and September are the 22nd and the 12th, respectively. Book during the middle of the week—Tuesday and Wednesday—and you'll save an average of $62. Avoid Sundays if at all possible; that's when fares are at their highest.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b18e4dcf-9c25-4663-9826-c5e950d70286 Trump's Budget Calls for Privatizing Air Traffic Control Fri, 17 Mar 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> One of the travel-related items in President Donald Trump's budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 is a provision to <a href="" rel="nofollow">privatize the U.S. air traffic control system</a>. </p> <p> Right now, air traffic control is one of the functions of the Federal Aviation Administration. Trump would like to turn that duty over to an "independent, non-governmental organization." </p> <p> Privatization has the approval of the major U.S. airlines as well as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents 14,000 members. They say the FAA's project to upgrade how the skies are organized is going too slowly because it requires yearly reauthorization from Congress.</p> <p> Many congressional legislators, however, oppose putting a private business in charge of directing air traffic, primarily for safety concerns. Small airports are also against the move, for fear that major airlines would dominate the system and force them to pay more to be a part of it. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:052caf8d-a15c-4eb8-985a-770f16ac81a5 Historic Philadelphia Sites Close Due to Trump's Federal Hiring Freeze Thu, 16 Mar 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Seven historical attractions in Philadelphia have been closed</a> as a result of President Donald Trump's hiring freeze on federal jobs. </p> <p> The sites affected include two notable landmarks, both in the Old City, relating to U.S. Founders: the house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and the home and print shop of Benjamin Franklin.</p> <p> Presumably caused by understaffing, the closures were announced by officials with the union that represents employees of Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park. The National Park Service has been approved to hire seasonal workers, but it's unclear what those positions will be or whether any of them will be in Philadelphia.</p> <p> Adding further uncertainty: Trump's looming budget plan is expected to call for significant cuts to the National Park Service, among many other federal agencies. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:03c244bf-2c77-4147-bd06-c2c73eee65ee Two U.S. Airlines Halting Flights to Cuba Wed, 15 Mar 2017 04:01:00 GMT <p> Frontier Airlines and Silver Airways are both stopping their flights to Cuba, <a href="" rel="nofollow">the carriers announced this week</a>. </p> <p> Frontier, which has been operating one daily flight between Miami and Havana since December 1, 2016, will halt service to the island on June 4. The company cites lack of customer demand as the reason.</p> <p> Silver currently flies to nine Cuban cities from Fort Lauderdale, and the airline reports that the planes have been about as full as expected. But larger carriers including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue have also been offering service to Cuban destinations outside of Havana, and Silver has concluded there's not enough business to go around for it to turn a profit.</p> <p> U.S. airlines began flying to Cuba last year for the first time since the start of the American embargo against the island more than 50 years ago. With Frontier and Silver halting flights, that leaves eight U.S. carriers offering service to Cuba: Alaska Airlines, American, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Southwest, Sun Country Airlines, and United Airlines. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ca527823-bbf4-47ad-bbe9-f16c846349ef A Commercial Ski Trip to . . . Iraq? Tue, 14 Mar 2017 04:03:00 GMT <p> Would you go skiing in Iraq? </p> <p> On the one hand, the northeastern part of the country is home to an imposing mountain range—the Zagros—with elevations reaching more than 14,000 feet. On the other, the U.S. <a href="" rel="nofollow">State Department warns against all travel</a> in the war-torn country due to the threat of violence.</p> <p> Nevertheless, a U.K.-based adventure travel company called Untamed Borders recently returned from what was possibly the <a href="" rel="nofollow">first ever commercial ski trip</a> in Iraq, where six travelers skied Mount Halgurd in Iraqi Kurdistan, about 300 miles north of Baghdad. The group stayed with a local family and also attended the annual Snow Festival on Korek Mountain, which has a gondola for skiers.</p> <p> Specializing in trips to uncommon destinations like Afghanistan and Somalia, Untamed Borders partners with local guides and uses GPS technology to avoid especially dangerous areas. But risks remain, including the safety concerns that come with hitting the slopes in remote wilderness.</p> <p> And needless to say, the après-ski scene doesn't exactly give Vail a run for its money.</p> <p> If you're still interested, Untamed Borders will soon announce details on <a href="" rel="nofollow">its website</a> for a 2018 return trip. The cost of this year's edition was $2,400, not counting airfare.</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:46ef09c1-d5ba-4a90-a874-e45a672d57f3 Most Visited U.S. National Parks in a Record-Setting Year Mon, 13 Mar 2017 04:02:00 GMT <p> The National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday in 2016, and a record number of guests joined the party.</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">The agency logged 331 million visits</a> at the sites it manages, including 59 national parks as well as hundreds of monuments, memorials, scenic drives, historical landmarks, and nature preserves across the United States. The numbers for 2016 were 7.7% higher than the previous year's figure, which was itself a record. </p> <p> The park service's centennial was highly touted, with campaigns encouraging everybody to "Find Your Park" and the launching of a program that gives every U.S. fourth grader a one-year parks pass for free. Also creating intrest in federally owned lands: Former President Barack Obama, who in his last year in office designated 12 new national monuments, for a total of 34 throughout his two terms in office.</p> <p> The most popular National Park Service site was San Francisco Bay's Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which received 15.6 million visits. The Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina and Virginia was close behind with 15.2 million. The nearby Great Smoky Mountains were the most popular of the agency's 59 national parks, logging more than 11 million visits.   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ee9712e5-cf9d-497c-9d5b-230105435333 Beer Hotel Planned for Columbus, Ohio Fri, 10 Mar 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> If Duff devotee Homer Simpson designed a hotel, it might look something like the one that's being planned for Columbus, Ohio by Scottish beer makers BrewDog. </p> <p> Billed as the <a href="" rel="nofollow">world's first beer hotel</a>, the project's crowdfunding campaign at <a href="" rel="nofollow">Indiegogo</a> promises an IPA hot tub, in-shower mini bars, brews on tap in every guest room, and beer pairings with every meal.</p> <p> Frankly, we're feeling a little buzzed—and a little bloated—just thinking about it. </p> <p> Having exceeded their $75,000 fundraising goal, the hotel's developers hope to have the place open sometime in 2018. </p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e6fb65b8-6649-4634-8e0a-bbf91e38251c Trump Wants TSA Cuts to Pay for Immigration Crackdown Thu, 09 Mar 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> President Donald Trump's proposed crackdown on undocumented immigrants could wind up leading to more headaches at airports. </p> <p> According to internal documents <a href="" rel="nofollow">reviewed by Politico</a>, the administration wants to pay for more border agents and the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in part by significantly cutting the budgets of the Coast Guard (by 14%), the Transportation Security Administration (by 11%), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (also by 11%).</p> <p> Needless to say, those first two—the Coast Guard and TSA—play pretty big roles when it comes to securing the nation's waterways, skies, and railroads.</p> <p> So let us see if we have this right: We're going to stop terrorists and undocumented foreigners from entering the country by . . . slashing the resources of the people who stop terrorists and undocumented foreigners from entering the country.</p> <p> Got it.</p> <p> Security threats and lapses in logic aside, fewer resources where the TSA is concerned could easily lead to a lengthier and more chaotic airport screening process of t<a href="">he sort seen last spring</a>, before Congress approved extra funding. </p> <p> Congress will also have to decide whether to approve Trump's budget when it's submitted in the upcoming weeks. </p> <p>    </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ffa58c8e-d483-4223-a858-c08090ae0398 TSA Introducing More Invasive Pat-Downs at Airports Wed, 08 Mar 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> The Transportation Security Administration is adopting a <a href="" rel="nofollow">new, more "comprehensive" (read: invasive) pat-down procedure</a> at the nation's airports. </p> <p> How comprehensive?</p> <p> The agency is warning local police departments that they may receive an increase in allegations of inappropriate touching against TSA agents. </p> <p> The new, more rigorous friskings will be given to those passengers chosen for private, secondary screenings. Though the government hasn't provided many details about what the new method involves, one new rule, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to Bloomberg</a>, is that TSA agents will have wider scope to use the front of their hands, instead of the back, to pat down so-called "sensitive areas."   </p> <p> Whatever the screening involves, if the TSA has to warn the police ahead of time that some passengers who've gone through it are liable to feel as though they've been sexually assaulted, it must be pretty darn thorough (h/t <a href="" rel="nofollow">Boing Boing</a>).</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e8e650fd-45af-4c02-8e3f-1ace1f844090 Cyprus Expecting Record Tourism Numbers for the Second Year in a Row Tue, 07 Mar 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> For the second year in a row, the eastern Mediterranean island of <a href="" rel="nofollow">Cyprus is expecting a record number of international visitors</a> in 2017.</p> <p> Cyprus tourism officials say the island is on track to increase by 5% the nearly 3.2 million visits last year—a number that was itself 17% higher than the figure for 2015. </p> <p> The tourism office attributes the surge to an overhauled marketing campaign launched three years ago. </p> <p> Since then, Cyprus has been presented to tour operators and travelers as an upscale spot with significant religious sites, soccer teams in training during the pleasant winter months, and plenty of good options for a destination wedding. Not to mention the island's abundant sun, sand, and surf.</p> <p> Security concerns over traveling to nearby Turkey and Egypt might have also contributed to the rise in visits to Cyprus, as tourists seek an alternative Mediterranean destination. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:131fee83-c0cc-438e-a635-a22f910690cd Mexico Resort Now Selling a $25,000 Taco Mon, 06 Mar 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> For those of you who find the idea of paying $10 for a taco beyond the pale, prepare to be about 2,500 times more outraged.</p> <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Grand Velas Los Cabos</a> resort in Mexico has created a <a href="" rel="nofollow">taco going for the truly obscene price of $25,000</a>.  </p> <p> The tortilla comes stuffed with Kobe beef, caviar, gold leaf, lobster, and brie infused with black truffles—an orgy of expensive ingredients that, frankly, doesn't even sound all that appetizing when thrown together.</p> <p> The pricey monstrosity is garnished with a salsa flavored by tequila and civet coffee, made from partly digested coffee berries munched by wild civet cats (speaking of unappetizing). </p> <p> The taco is being served at the resort's Frida restaurant—proud home of a leading contender for the title of World's Most Ridiculous Foodstuff.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:7cb54c67-06c0-4eca-b218-78bcb8eea7c9 U.S. Airports with the Best and Worst On-Time Performance in 2016 Fri, 03 Mar 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> The numbers are in and it turns out <a href="" rel="nofollow">airports in the New York City area had the worst on-time performance</a> in the nation last year. Believe us: We're just as shocked as you are.</p> <p> According to a <a href="" rel="nofollow">report from the Global Gateway Alliance</a> analyzing data from the top 29 airports, LaGuardia came in last place for arrivals while Newark brought up the rear in departures. Nearly one third of flights showed up late at LaGuardia in 2016; passengers who flew out of Newark, meanwhile, had a one in four chance of being delayed.</p> <p> The situation was only slightly better at the other nearby airport, JFK, which had the fifth worst record for arrivals and eighth worst for departures. Other slowpokes included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago-O'Hare.</p> <p> With both arrival and departure rates of 87%, Salt Lake City had the best on-time record. Airports in Portland, Oregon; Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Detroit; and Atlanta (home of the world's busiest airport) all managed to avoid delays more than 80% of the time as well.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ddd289e1-059f-4430-9689-9ad24794c707 Rock Climbing Cliffs at Zion National Park Closed to Protect Nesting Falcons Thu, 02 Mar 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> Rock climbers will have fewer options in the American West this spring.</p> <p> More than a dozen <a href="" rel="nofollow">cliff climbing routes in Utah's Zion National Park were temporarily closed</a> this week in an effort to protect peregrine falcons.</p> <p> The routes made inaccessible are on cliffs where the endangered birds of prey have nested in the past. If no nests are found on the closed sites by late April or early May, they'll be reopened then, according to park officials. Sites where nests are found will be monitored until chicks leave them, which usually happens toward the end of July.</p> <p> Closed trails include those on Angels Landing (pictured above), Mountain of the Sun, North Twin Brother, and others. See <a href="" rel="nofollow">Zion's website</a> for a full list of closures. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:0f927155-09e3-4ed2-a631-1bfc406bb0bb Faulting Trump Slump, New York Now Expects Fewer Tourists This Year Wed, 01 Mar 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> An estimated 300,000 fewer international visitors than initially expected will travel to New York this year, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to NYC & Company</a>, the city's official tourism marketing organization.</p> <p> The revised forecast, updated from a previous report in October 2016, takes into account "changing attitudes about travel and access to the U.S.," NYC & Company said in a statement, following "the recent travel ban and related rhetoric."</p> <p> In other words, it's the Trump Administration's fault—a seeming trend in the travel world that some are dubbing the <a href="">Trump Slump</a>.  </p> <p> Despite the dip in international travelers, New York anticipates a rise in domestic visitors, which could actually increase the number of tourists overall.</p> <p> But, as NYC & Company's statement points out, "It's important to note that it takes the spending power of four domestic visitors to equal what a single international visitor spends."</p> <p> To counter the potential tourism loss, the organization is launching a new international marketing campaign called "New York City — Welcoming the World."</p> <p> Whether it's true or not.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d716bfc6-eff8-4a0e-901b-19c479d47889 India Is Getting an Underwater Bullet Train Tue, 28 Feb 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> A few years from now, a <a href="" rel="nofollow">high-speed bullet train</a> will be zipping along the rails in India—and here's the really cool part: It will go underwater.</p> <p> Part of India's efforts to modernize its railway network, the train is planned for service between the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad; along the way, it would pass through a 13-mile undersea tunnel connecting Thane and Virar.</p> <p> At the moment, the entire journey takes about seven hours. The new train, traveling at a speedy 350 kilometers per hour (217 mph), would reduce that to two hours.  </p> <p> The bullet train will be similar to the sleek <a href=""><em>Shinkansen </em>of Japan</a>—in fact, that country's government has agreed to cover 80% of the estimated $14.5 billion the project will cost. <a href="" rel="nofollow">Analysts surmise</a> that Japan is trying to counteract some of the infrastructure investments made in the region by rival China. </p> <p> Construction is scheduled to begin next year and be finished by 2023.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:28ba37a6-fa1d-4399-8411-54e891f8b329 Amid Conflict, New Trump International Hotel and Tower Opening in Vancouver Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> A new <a href="" rel="nofollow">Trump International Hotel and Tower is opening in Vancouver</a>, and many in this proudly diverse and progressive British Columbia city aren't exactly what you'd call thrilled.  </p> <p> The 69-story building—the second-tallest in Vancouver—boasts a gleaming, twisty design by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. Owing to the structure's height and prime downtown location, its luxury condos and hotel rooms (which start at US$228/CA$300 per night) are said to have incredible views of the ocean and nearby mountains.</p> <p> But the name out front, on the silver and gold blocks of chocolate in the minibars, and stamped elsewhere throughout the building rankles a number of Vancouverites who object to U.S. President Donald Trump's politics, particularly his stances on Muslim and Mexican immigration. As in many other parts of Canada, Vancouver prides itself on its multiculturalism; in fact, 48% of residents are foreign born.</p> <p> Mayor Gregor Robertson, who won't be attending the tower's official opening, wants the Trump name removed from the project. The building's Malaysian developers say that's not possible for legal reasons.</p> <p> Other city officials, meanwhile, argue that the tower's glitz and glamor have no place in laid-back Vancouver. And still other critics worry that Trump's overseas business interests, though now officially overseen by his sons Donald, Jr. and Eric, violate ethics standards. The Vancouver property is the second Trump-branded site to open since the president took office; the first was a golf course in Dubai.</p> <p> The Vancouver opening is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28. Pres. Trump isn't expected to attend, but Donald, Jr. and Eric will be there. A protest is planned, too. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d4a5dc2d-4f40-4f28-a7d4-53d5d566e4a1 Safety Harness for Buckling Up Dogs on Car Trips Fri, 24 Feb 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Your mental picture of a dog in a car likely involves a canine head sticking out of a passenger window—jowls flapping, tongue lolling, and drool flying. </p> <p> But in the event of a sudden stop or auto accident, an unrestrained pet is in as much danger as a human rider not wearing a seat belt. </p> <p> One solution is to keep the animal in a travel crate. But members of the four-legged community are liable to find that setup a drag, especially on long road trips.</p> <p> That's why pet-gear makers <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ruffwear have come up with a sturdy new harness</a> that goes onto your dog then clicks into any seat belt via one secure loop in the back. </p> <p> The crash-tested harness is heavily padded to keep dogs comfortable, has strong metal hardware for safety's sake, and can be adjusted with straps to fit dogs from 13 to 42 inches in girth.</p> <p> Once loaded in, dogs can sit or lie down while wearing the harness, remaining securely buckled in the whole time. The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ruffwear Load Up Harness</a> comes in five sizes and costs $79.95.</p> <p> The video below shows you how to put it on your dog and into your car.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:6254cfde-9748-4a4b-990a-7b8bdc7ad82a Tourists Can Take Martial Arts Classes from Local Police in Japan Thu, 23 Feb 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> A novel activity will soon be on offer for English-speaking tourists in Japan: They can take a <a href="" rel="nofollow">martial arts class led by local police officers</a>. </p> <p> Starting in March, hourlong beginner-level classes will take place in the city of Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, and will be taught by members of the police force who have black belts in judo and kendo, which involves bamboo swords. After class, you can stick around to watch the sunset over nearby Lake Shinji. </p> <p> The goals of the program are to improve Matsue's tourism numbers, foster good relations between the police and the public, and help the officers work on their English.</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">According to the city's website</a>, class attendees can borrow all the necessary equipment from the police station, but they'll have to show proof of accident insurance in case of injury.   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:7d438187-034a-4cd5-9e8c-148d277ab495 Toll Proposed for San Francisco's Crooked Lombard Street Wed, 22 Feb 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> A San Francisco city supervisor has proposed a <a href="" rel="nofollow">toll for cars traveling on the city's famously crooked Lombard Street</a> in order to ease the 600-foot thoroughfare's overwhelming congestion.</p> <p> About two million tourists visit the hilly zigzag each year, and the traffic can be maddening for residents, especially during the summer, when as many as 17,000 drivers and pedestrians come to Lombard Street each weekend.</p> <p> Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district includes the street, thinks the city should adopt a plan similar to one envisioned by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Drivers would have to make reservations to travel Lombard Street ahead of time, and then an electronic system would collect tolls. Driving on the street without a reservation would cost more, and residents who live there would be exempt.</p> <p> Before the toll could become law, it would have to pass muster with California state legislators and Governor Jerry Brown. According to the transportation authority, it would likely be the first street toll ever assessed by a U.S. city.    </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f24d3afa-3155-4364-983d-d04644a7e540 WATCH: At Ancient Roman Site, Virtual Reality Transports Visitors Back in Time Tue, 21 Feb 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Virtual reality is often presented as a way of going to cool or made-up places without actually leaving the sofa, museum, or shopping mall kiosk where you don the VR headset.</p> <p> But in Rome, the technology is being used to enhance rather than replace visits to ancient sites, revealing how they looked in their long-ago heyday.</p> <p> At the Domus Aurea, an enormous cavern that was once a palace belonging to Emperor Nero (back when it was aboveground), you can now put on a virtual-reality headset to see how the place looked when it was filled with light, color, and intricate frescoes that inspired Renaissance painters after the palace was rediscovered in the 15th century.</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">CBS News took the tour</a> and talked with some of the digital artists whose painstaking work transports visitors to ancient Rome. Check it out below.</p> <p> <embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" background="#000000" flashvars="pType=embed&si=254&pid=W_0GRLxZD31K&uuid=4058ef44-b56f-4c26-99b0-fcada2e1d1be&url=" height="387" salign="lt" scale="noscale" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d8f3372a-c516-4b3a-97f8-266dc24b4d58 White House Tours to Resume in March Mon, 20 Feb 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> The White House will soon be open for tours again. </p> <p> First lady Melania Trump announced in a statement that the <a href="" rel="nofollow">tours will resume on March 7</a>. They've been on hold since her husband took office because the Administration has yet to appoint someone to run the White House Visitors Office—something that has reportedly <a href="" rel="nofollow">annoyed members of Congress</a> fielding tour reqests from constituents.</p> <p> But now it looks like the Washington landmark will once again be accessible to its ostensible owners (you) in time for spring.</p> <p> Tours are free but you do have to request one through your congressional representative. Consult the <a href="" rel="nofollow">White House website</a> for more information.  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:fccfdb00-9ad4-4b35-91e0-2833dcfbea0b TSA May Soon Stop Accepting Driver’s Licenses from These Nine States Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Some airline passengers may be in for a rude awakening next January if they live in one of the nine states where driver’s licenses do not comply with the REAL ID Act, a federal mandate to establish minimum security standards for state-issued IDs.</p> <p> Starting in January 2018, non-compliant<a href="" rel="nofollow"> driver’s licenses</a> from Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington will no longer be accepted as identification at TSA checkpoints, including for domestic flights.</p> <p> Unless these states update the protocol for issuing driver’s licenses to comply with the law, residents who want to board a commercial flight will have to present <a href="" rel="nofollow">alternative ID</a>, such as a passport, Global Entry card, or military ID.</p> <p> The REAL ID Act was established in 2005 following recommendations by the 9/11 Commission to improve aviation security. The 9/11 hijackers used Virginia and Florida driver’s licenses to pass through airport security before boarding commercial airplanes.</p> <p> States have had years to comply, but some refused, even going so far as to create laws to make compliance illegal. The REAL ID Act requires personal data from driver’s license applications to be archived in a database for 10 years, which some say encroaches on the privacy rights of citizens.</p> <p> Lawmakers from some states are working feverishly to address the deficiencies, while others have proposed a less robust version of the act.</p> <p> For its part, the Department of Homeland Security has already posted notices in airports to remind passengers that they will need to be REAL ID compliant by January 2018.</p> <p> Visit the Department of Homeland Security <a href="" rel="nofollow">FAQ page</a> to check the status of your driver’s license. If you live in one of the non-compliant states, consider getting a passport now to help you avoid the significant inconvenience of being turned away by TSA.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e35562ea-68ec-47fb-9184-d25a0db050e9 New Airport Puts More Caribbean Islands in Play Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:28:00 GMT <p> St. Vincent and the Grenadines are some of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean. They're lightly developed, bucolic-feeling, famous for countless empty beaches and chill village nightlife. That's because up to now, their primary airport couldn't handle long-haul flights, so the best way to reach them has pretty much been by yacht or small ship. Limited access has a way of keeping a place quaint.</p> <p> But this country no longer wants to be quaint. It wants tourism to match its island rivals—the nearest ones being the St. Lucia, Grenada, and Barbados. To catch up with its neighbors, <a href="">St. Vincent and the Grenadines</a> has just opened a new airport capable of accepting big jets on a runway that's 9,000 feet long and 250 feet wide.</p> <p> Major airlines haven't announced regular flights there yet, partly because the road has been fraught with political problems and partly because they wanted to make sure the new airport was really going to happen.</p> <p> It took eight years and a comical number of delays (the original opening was supposed to be in 2011), but on February 13, local officials <a href="" rel="nofollow">finally cut the ribbon</a>. It required cash from all around the planet. Taiwan funded the terminal building, while other help came from Austria, Mexico, Turkey, Libya, Georgia, and Iran.</p> <p> So if you start hearing more about <a href="">St. Vincent and the Grenadines</a> and its jewel, Bequia, you'll know why: The big vacation sellers can finally get tourists there in numbers and they'll want to start selling it to you. And if the destination does pick up, you'll want to go soon, before those hordes spur development that destroys the lost-in-time vibe.</p> <p> Preview these marvelous little islands with our slideshow <a href=""><strong>Islands of Eden: Discovering St. Vincent and the Grenadines</strong></a>.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:75378979-2281-4cb2-891e-abe67404c4e0 Why You Should Renew Your Passport ASAP Wed, 15 Feb 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> Getting a <a href="" rel="nofollow">new or renewed passport could take longer than normal</a> this year.</p> <p> U.S. government officials are anticipating a higher volume of renewals in 2017 because a whole bunch of travelers got new passports in 2007, and now those documents are reaching their 10-year expiration dates. Processing all of those renewals will take some time.</p> <p> What was so special about 2007? That was when a law went into effect that requires U.S. citizens to have passports in order to travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. (Before that, you could get in with a driver's license or any other government-issued ID.)</p> <p> What this all means for those planning to travel outside the U.S. by the end of 2017: If you need to renew your passport or get your first one, do it now. The State Department takes about six weeks to process an application in a good year, and that's without the influx of renewals they're expecting in this one. Not to mention that many countries now require a passport to be valid for six months prior to travel.</p> <p> For more information or to get started on your application, visit the <a href="" rel="nofollow">State Department's website</a>.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b5d50a6d-9435-493b-ba56-c62e07ed646d Bulletproof Wall Soon to Surround Base of Eiffel Tower Tue, 14 Feb 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> A <a href="" rel="nofollow">wall is being put up around the base of the Eiffel Tower</a>, Paris officials have announced.</p> <p> The "aesthetic perimeter," as it's being euphemistically called, will be made of bulletproof glass and will stand 2.5 meters (8 feet) high. It's expected to cost €20 million ($21 million) and be finished sometime this fall.</p> <p> The move is being made in response to security concerns. France has been the target of a number of terrorist acts in recent months; earlier in February, a man wielding a machete tried to attack a group of soldiers in a shopping mall near the Louvre. </p> <p> In addition to encountering a new wall, the Eiffel Tower's nearly 7 million annual visitors will also have to pass through security checkpoints, even if they don't intend to go to the top. Additionally, the walkways around the tower will be reconfigured so that crowd traffic can be monitored more easily.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:51af94fc-3ec1-4cf9-90da-46f12f4164ad Trump's Travel Ban Appears to Have Caused Drop in Flight Bookings to U.S. Mon, 13 Feb 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> President Donald Trump wanted to ban travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, but it looks like his executive order to that effect dissuaded international travelers from a whole bunch of other places from visiting the United States as well.</p> <p> From January 27, when the president signed the 90-day ban on nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria, to February 4, when a federal judge halted the order, international <a href="" rel="nofollow">flight reservations to the U.S. dropped by 6.5%</a> compared to the same eight-day period last year, according to travel-data trackers ForwardKeys.</p> <p> The company calls that a significant decrease and "not good news for the U.S. economy"—though it's too soon to say whether there has been any lasting effect or whether the lifting of the ban, which has been upheld by a federal appeals court, will cause a reversal.</p> <p> During the eight days the ban was in effect, flight bookings from the Middle East were down 38%, while bookings from Western Europe and Asia were both down 14%. Bookings from Central and Eastern Europe actually went up during the period, by 16% and 2%, respectively. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b1fd8cf9-28b2-4c0d-9346-ca41b997e2c2 Win a Stay in a Castle Worthy of "Beauty and the Beast," Courtesy of HomeAway Thu, 09 Feb 2017 19:51:00 GMT <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> (photo courtesy of HomeAway)</p> <p> For those of you longing for more than this provincial life, a la Belle from <em>Beauty and the Beast</em>, vacation-rental site HomeAway is dispensing some storybook magic via a new contest. </p> <p> To celebrate the eagerly anticipated release of Disney's new live-action version of <em>Beauty and the Beast</em> (starring Emma Watson as the book-loving beauty in the yellow dress), HomeAway is sending one lucky winner and up to 20 friends on a fairy-tale trip to the Scottish countryside, where the whole gang will spend 5 nights in an honest-to-goodness castle (pictured above) in the town of Duns.</p> <p> All travel arrangements will be taken care of by HomeAway, and during their stay the group will have the run of the 14th-century castle's 1,200 acres as well as access to activities including archery, falconry, and, presumably, elaborate musical numbers with the furniture.</p> <p> You can enter the contest at <a href="" rel="nofollow">HomeAway's website</a>. You have until March 31.</p> <p> Disney's<em> Beauty and the Beast</em> will be in theaters March 17.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:191abb3e-47ec-4b5b-91c1-5c68cecbbd20 NYC Airbnb Hosts Fined for Illegal Rentals Thu, 09 Feb 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> Two New York City Airbnb hosts have been <a href="" rel="nofollow">slapped with fines for listing illegal short-term rentals</a>—making them the city's first individuals punished under a law signed last fall by New York Governer Andrew Cuomo.  </p> <p> That measure made it <a href="">illegal to rent a residence for fewer than 30 days</a>. For violating the law, Tatiana Cames and Hank Freid now owe the city a combined $17,000.</p> <p> It's worth noting that neither of the fined folks was renting out a place of primary residence. Cames is a licensed real estate broker who's charged with renting the units in a Brooklyn building she owns, while Freid, who says he plans to fight the fine, was allegedly listing some of the rooms in his Manhattan hotel on Airbnb and other similar sites.</p> <p> At the moment, then, it appears that the city is going after those who own entire buildings, not the comparatively small-time Airbnb hosts who rent out their own rooms and apartments. </p> <p> But they could be next.</p> <p> Many other localities, from New Orleans to Anaheim, California, have considered or enacted laws cracking down on short-term rentals. But New York City is by far one of the biggest and most profitable markets. How cases fare there could have a huge impact on Airbnb's future. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:7855e092-ff21-40c8-a137-c4217410755b Trump's Regulation Orders Have Stalled FAA Safety Notices Wed, 08 Feb 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> Even if you think the federal government should stay out of most things, you're probably glad somebody's keeping an eye on airplane safety.</p> <p> Too bad the guy in the White House is making that harder to do.  </p> <p> President Donald Trump has moved swiftly to roll back federal regulations on businesses, signing an executive order that put all new and pending regulations on hold for 60 days (a fairly standard move for new presidents), and another that blocked federal agencies from introducing rules that would cost businesses or members of the public more money than they're currently spending. Additionally, the President's order says that every time an agency creates a new regulation, it has to get rid of at least two old ones. </p> <p> The orders come with exceptions for regulations affecting health, safety, and national security. </p> <p> And yet, as <a href="" rel="nofollow">CNNMoney reports</a>, the White House's rush to remove regulations has hindered the Federal Aviation Administration's ability to issue safety orders relating to aircraft. </p> <p> The FAA's frequently released "airworthiness directives" are the agency's way of formalizing instructions to get a plane inspected or make changes to correct unsafe conditions. </p> <p> The most recent finalized directive came out on January 18, two days before Pres. Trump's inauguration.</p> <p> In the meantime, a backlog of 15 to 20 directives have not yet been finalized, thanks to the freeze on federal regulations.</p> <p> According to aviation experts, that doesn't mean that airlines are unaware of safety concerns. Aircraft operators typically receive bulletins from manufacturers about potential problems, and the FAA says it's working to ensure that no safety orders are being withheld.</p> <p> Still, industry officials told CNNMoney that before taking required safety actions, aircraft operators sometimes wait for final notices from the FAA—notices that aren't going out at present.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e694feb6-1d35-48b2-932a-8ae0b2b9f5ad The New World's Longest Flight Tue, 07 Feb 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> If aviation were an endurance sport, there'd be a new reigning champ. </p> <p> As of this week, the longest flight in the world is now operated by Qatar Airways, whose new 9,032-mile service between the carrier's hometown of Doha and New Zealand takes 16 hours and 10 minutes to reach Auckland, and a tush-mushifying 17 hours and 30 minutes to come back. </p> <p> That beats the previous record-holder, Emirates, which flies from Auckland to Dubai in a mere 17 hours and 20 minutes.</p> <p> The new ultra-long haul fits in with the ongoing push to position Doha as a travel hub—an effort that recently helped the city earn a spot on our list of the <a href="">best places to visit in 2017</a>. (Of course, <a href="">New Zealand has plenty of charms</a> in its own right.)</p> <p> Spending more than 17 hours on a plane wouldn't be so bad if you could be ensconced in one of the posh apartments in first class that Middle East carriers are known for. If you book a seat in economy for a marathon flight, you might want to follow our <a href="">guide to surviving the experience</a> with both your sanity and circulatory system in full working order. </p> <p>  </p> <p>   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:df2337d5-8535-4744-8fff-c74528cf2447 Bowling Green Strikes Back Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:07:00 GMT <p> <img src="" /></p> <p>  </p> <p> Today we received a topical press release from the people who promote Bowling Green, Kentucky.</p> <p> It seems they've read the same headlines that we have about terrible things that never happened there.</p> <p> Cleverly, they're seizing the hashtag moment to remind Americans of all the great things that truly are actually, really, <em>honestly</em> happening in Bowling Green. </p> <p> We won't act as factual gatekeepers for this one because the truth is the truth: Bowling Green has a lot of cool things to recommend it. They deserve to have their entire release out there, just the way they wrote it, no alternative facts inserted:</p> <p>  </p> <p> <em>"With all the recent buzz surrounding Bowling Green, Kentucky, I thought you might be interested to get to know the real Bowling Green and all that it has to offer for families, adventure-seekers, car enthusiasts and foodies.</em></p> <div> <em>Located an hour north of Nashville, Bowling Green is the perfect road trip destination, and while there may not have been a massacre (#alternativefacts), there are quite a few secrets in this vibrant destination that are ready to be discovered:</em></div> <div>  </div> <div> <em>• Bowling Green’s <a href="">Mammoth Cave National Park</a> is known to be the longest cave system in the world, putting it at the center of the outdoor recreational activities that make south central Kentucky’s cave country an adventure destination</em></div> <div>  </div> <div> <em>• A local favorite, Chaney’s Dairy Barn is a real working family-owned dairy farm that also happens to make the best ice cream in Kentucky according to USA Today’s “The USA’s Best Ice Cream: Top Parlors in 50 States”</em></div> <div>  </div> <div> <em>• Every Corvette made in the world today is produced in Bowling Green. At the GM Corvette Assembly Plant, visitors can see the step by step production of America's favorite sports car</em></div> <div>  </div> <div> <em>• Bowling Green’s local natural wonder is Lost River Cave, a seven-mile cave system with a river running through it. Kentucky's only underground boat tour takes visitors on a river that Ripley's Believe It or Not claims is the shortest and deepest in the world."</em></div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div> Way to go, Bowling Green, for turning a political negative into a tourism positive. Gotta say—you really <em>did</em> kill it.</div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div> <em>Photo credit:</em></div> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e1af03ad-12c5-468e-9361-2292d9882931 Best Hotels in North America Rankings Mon, 06 Feb 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> The best hotels in North America have been named in <a href="" rel="nofollow"><em>U.S. News & World Report</em></a>'s seventh annual rankings. </p> <p> Taking top honors: <a href="" rel="nofollow">Chicago's posh the Langham</a>, which opened in 2013 in a 52-story modernist tower alongside the Chicago River. Runners-up include two hotels in Hawaii—the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (#2) and the Montage Kapalua Bay (#4)—as well as the Jefferson in Washington, D.C. (#3) and Georgia's the Lodge at Sea Island, which came in first place last year.</p> <p> Based on evaluations of more than 3,000 luxury hotels with ratings of four stars and higher, the list also ranks hotels in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. </p> <p> According to <em>U.S. News</em>, the One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos is the best hotel in Mexico, Eden Rock-St. Barths is tops in the Caribbean, and, garnering its fourth consecutive win, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal is numero uno in Canada. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:4b09ee01-1b3f-4dfe-ad7b-722337902765 Two New Reasons to Join TSA PreCheck Fri, 03 Feb 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> There are several good reasons for enrolling in the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program. </p> <p> If accepted, you get to take advantage of an expedited screening process at airports, during which you don't have to remove your shoes, belt, or jacket, and you can keep your laptop in its bag.</p> <p> Recently, <a href="" rel="nofollow">two more incentives</a> have been added: </p> <p> First, 11 airlines serving more than 180 U.S. airports have just joined the program—bringing the grand total of participating carriers to 30.</p> <p> And second, starting this month, the TSA will let fewer non-PreCheck passengers into expedited PreCheck lines. Up to now, airports have occasionally allowed wider access to the shorter lanes on a flight-by-flight basis. </p> <p> Enrolling in PreCheck does have its hurdles. You have to fill out an <a href="" rel="nofollow">application</a>, complete an interview, and pay an $85 fee (which can be split into five annual payments of $17).</p> <p> But if you hate long lines (and who likes them?), it's probably worth the trouble.</p> <p> Here's the complete list of carriers with PreCheck:</p> <p> Aeromexico</p> <p> Air Canada</p> <p> Alaska Airlines</p> <p> Allegiant</p> <p> American Airlines</p> <p> Aruba Airlines</p> <p> Avianca</p> <p> Boutique Airlines</p> <p> Cape Air</p> <p> Delta Air Lines</p> <p> Emirates</p> <p> Etihad Airways</p> <p> Frontier Airlines</p> <p> Hawaiian Airlines</p> <p> JetBlue Airways</p> <p> Key Lime Air</p> <p> Lufthansa</p> <p> Miami Air International</p> <p> OneJet</p> <p> Seaborne Airlines</p> <p> Southern Airways Express</p> <p> Southwest Airlines</p> <p> Spirit Airlines</p> <p> Sun Country Airlines</p> <p> Sunwing</p> <p> United Airlines</p> <p> Virgin America</p> <p> Virgin Atlantic</p> <p> WestJet</p> <p> Xtra Airways</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:3412eebd-d4ae-4e7b-b9dc-2076222e3e6e Best Days in 2017 to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan Thu, 02 Feb 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> Spring will get here before you know it—and in Japan, that season means cherry blossoms decorating the country in shades of pink and white. </p> <p> Travelers who'd like to see those beautiful displays in person now have a <a href="" rel="nofollow">handy resource for timing their visits</a> to coincide with the days when trees are in peak bloom.  </p> <p> The Japan Meteorological Corporation has put together an <a href="" rel="nofollow">online forecast</a> with projections for when trees will begin to flower and when they'll reach full bloom in more than a thousand locations throughout the country.</p> <p> The forecast, which will be updated as conditions change, takes into account weather patterns, temperatures, tree growth, historical data, and other factors. If you're a true cherry blossom fanatic, you can also track trees' "awakening," "growth," and "full bloom" levels.</p> <p> According to the site's most recent forecast, here are the best days in 2017 to see cherry blossoms in several noteworthy locales:</p> <p> * <em>Tokyo</em>: flowering March 22, full bloom March 30</p> <p> * <em>Fukuoka</em>: flowering March 23, full bloom April 1</p> <p> * <em>Osaka</em>: flowering March 28, full bloom April 4</p> <p> * <em>Kyoto</em>: flowering March 27, full bloom April 11</p> <p> * <em>Kanazawa</em>: flowering April 6, full boom April 12</p> <p> * <em>Nagano</em>: flowering April 9, full bloom April 14</p> <p> * <em>Muroran</em> (Hokkaido): flowering May 6, full bloom May 11</p> <p> Part of the beauty of the spectacle is its ephemerality. From the blossoms' first flowering to when they fall from the trees only takes about two weeks.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:4a1d8b42-7d5a-4e8a-a513-ab511e37ccec Small Colorado Ski Resort Offers $700 Lift Ticket Wed, 01 Feb 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Long overshadowed by bigger, glitzier Colorado ski resorts like Aspen Snowmass and Vail, the small, usually understated Sunlight Mountain in Glenwood Springs is making a bid for attention this season with a new <a href="" rel="nofollow">lift ticket going for an astronomical $700</a>. </p> <p> By comparison, peak-season, walk-up lift tickets cost $189 at Vail and $159 at Aspen Snowmass.</p> <p> In fact, the standard price for hitting the slopes at Sunlight is only $63, in keeping with the place's modest proportions: 680 skiable acres and three chairlifts, as opposed to Aspen Snowmass's more than 5,000 acres and 41 lifts. </p> <p> So why the so-called "Sunny 700"? For starters, you get more than a ride on the lifts. The package also comes with a pair of handmade Meier skis bearing graphics commemorating Sunlight's 50th anniversary, which the resort is celebrating this season. A soak at Iron Mountain Hot Springs is included, too. </p> <p> In addition to upstaging the big resorts (and lightly satirizing their exorbitant prices), Sunlight's management hopes the lift-ticket stunt draws vacationers' attention to winter-sports options in Colorado that are more laid-back, local-oriented, and affordable (most of the time).</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:021ad992-5690-4d62-843e-98581a844cbc New Ideas from Marriott: Communal Rooms and Automatic Booze Dispensers Tue, 31 Jan 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> Last week Marriott International gave the public a preview of some of the <a href="" rel="nofollow">ideas the hotel megachain is considering</a> for rollout in the coming months.</p> <p> The sneak peek was given to attendees of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in downtown Los Angeles.</p> <p> One of the most talked-about concepts had to do with hotel layout; another had to do with booze.</p> <p> The layout idea, which is being considered for the Element brand, calls to mind the suites in some college dorms. Under the configuration, a communal living room would be surrounded by a kitchen and four bedrooms. Marriott execs say the rooms could be rented by business colleagues traveling together or groups of friends attending bachelor parties and the like. If Marriott decides to move forward with the concept, there could be one such grouping of rooms on each floor of every Element Hotel. </p> <p> Another project in the works: an automatic wine and beer dispenser that can be controlled via smartphone. Guests would simply go to a website and press a drink icon, paying by credit card or redeeming a complimentary offering from the hotel. Within a minute, the machines would oblige.  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:def7618d-f4fd-4671-9d88-ff3bdcd207fd American Airlines Begins Phasing Out Seat-Back Entertainment Mon, 30 Jan 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> Given that the vast majority of airline passengers now fly with one or more portable smart devices (phones, tablets, laptops), it has become clear that the days are numbered for those little screens embedded in the backs of airplane seats.</p> <p> And sure enough, a new batch of 100 Boeing 737s that will be entering service for American Airlines by the end of the year <a href="" rel="nofollow">will not have seat-back entertainment</a>. </p> <p> Installing the systems is expensive and the bulky seats and wiring they require make the plane heavier, thus increasing fuel costs. If customers are going to be glued to their own iPads anyway, what's the use?</p> <p> The carrier says that customers will be allowed to download movies and TV shows from American's online library for free—though there is a charge of $16 per day for logging onto the Wi-Fi. </p> <p> Of course, since we're talking about an airline, there's no telling how long it'll be before you start getting nickel-and-dimed with fees for accessing premium content or renting tablets if you don't have one or who knows what else.</p> <p> Then there's the matter of airplane Wi-Fi, which is pretty slow and unreliable across the board. American says it's working to address that issue by dropping current internet provider Gogo for a new one, Viasat, that uses satellite connectivity.</p> <p> There's an easy way to get around paywalls and buffering on flights, however: Simply download your preferred movies and TV shows to your device before leaving for the airport.</p> <p> But even if you go that route, one thing you're definitely going to need, especially on long flights, is a place to plug in your charger. Are airlines going to outfit planes with more of those? </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d0c29e09-7850-4636-98d6-6dec753d6ce4 Free Admission at L.A. Museums on Sunday, January 29 Fri, 27 Jan 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Here's some incentive for appreciating art, culture, history, nature, or science if you happen to be in Los Angeles this weekend: More than 30 museums in and around that city will be letting visitors enter at no charge on Sunday, January 29—otherwise known as SoCal Museums' <a href="" rel="nofollow">Free-for-All Day</a>. </p> <p> Participating institutions include some of L.A.'s best and most popular attractions: the Getty Center and Villa, the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the California Science Center, and about two dozen more.</p> <p> Take note: Though general admission at all of these museums will be free that day, you'll still have to pay for certain special exhibits and other ticketed events. </p> <p> Because the free-admission day is being offered in partnership with Los Angeles Metro, visitors with valid transit passes will receive discounts on select museum memberships and gift shop merchandise. </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:7a7d2871-a436-4a8b-996f-6dc43d68d925 Time-Lapse Video of Northern Lights Shot from Airplane's Window Seat Thu, 26 Jan 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> This is the best time of year to catch sight of the Northern Lights—when nights in the Arctic Circle are at their longest and darkest. </p> <p> Photographer Aryeh Nirenberg was treated to a particularly <a href="" rel="nofollow">spectacular display on a New Year's Eve flight</a> from New York City to Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik. And fortunately for all of us, he had a window seat. </p> <p> Check out Nirenberg's time-lapse video of his flight alongside the aurora borealis below.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:4e3a39bf-014e-4a8b-ac81-a6a34366bdd5 Senator Promises to Fight New Airline Fees Wed, 25 Jan 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> Following an example set earlier by United Airlines, <a href="">American Airlines announced last week</a> that use of overhead bins on flights will no longer be free for every passenger.</p> <p> A condition of the carriers' new "basic economy" fares is that customers who opt for those low rates will be allowed only one carry-on bag—and it has to fit underneath the seats. Under United's basic economy system, which starts next month, use of overhead bins for those passengers comes with a $25 fee (one of numerous fees basic economy customers are subject to, for services once considered obligatory).</p> <p> At least one U.S. lawmaker has decided enough is enough. New York Sen. Charles Schumer said on Sunday that he intends to <a href="" rel="nofollow">push for an expansion of air passengers' rights</a> to combat overhead-bin fees and other new charges.</p> <p> Pointing out that fuel prices are low and competition is scant thanks to the low number of airlines left, Schumer discarded the notion that major carriers are hard up for cash.</p> <p> Instead, he said, "they continue a relentless march to monetize every atom of the airline, nickel and diming travelers with fee after fee to maximize their profits. What's next? Are we going to pay per peanut?"</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:518569bb-152f-4206-86ee-5d1681d77b02 No-Tourist Zone Around Newly Restored Colosseum Proposed Tue, 24 Jan 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> After almost three years, the Colosseum in Rome has finished undergoing a restoration financed by high-end leather-goods maker Tod's.</p> <p> Now some local officials want to make the historic site less accessible to visitors.</p> <p> The idea of a <a href="" rel="nofollow">"no-go zone" around the Colosseum</a> has been raised in response to recent incidents involving tourists behaving badly. The latest: On January 14, two Brazilian visitors tried breaking into the ancient amphitheater after hours; while trying to climb over an access gate, one of them fell nearly 13 feet, fracturing a hip in the process.</p> <p> Now the Colosseum's special superintendant, Francesco Prosperetti, says he's thinking about establishing a 49-foot ring around the structure, using chains to separate it from other traffic and installing video surveillance to safeguard the spot in the evenings after it closes to visitors. </p> <p> Similar proposals relating to another Roman landmark were bandied about last fall, when Bulgari, the luxury jewelry brand, paid to have the city's <a href="">Spanish Steps cleaned</a>.</p> <p> In both cases, city officials are struggling to strike a balance between preserving priceless landmarks and making them accessible to the public.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:1be8ce9f-c101-4218-9ea3-fe6a281f6d0c Amtrak's Winter Park Express Offers Affordable Day Trips Between Denver and Ski Resort Mon, 23 Jan 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Attention, budget-conscious winter sports enthusiasts: After a seven-year break, Amtrak has brought back the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Winter Park Express</a>, which travels between Denver's Union Station and the base of the Winter Park ski resort.</p> <p> On Saturdays and Sundays until March 26, trains depart Denver at 7am, arriving at Winter Park two hours later. The return trip starts from the mountain resort at 4:30pm.</p> <p> That means you can go skiing and snowboarding during the day, but spend the night in Denver, where hotel rates are liable to be considerably cheaper than at the resorts in the Colorado Rockies.  </p> <p> Plus, you'll have easy access to the Mile High City's vibrant dining and nightlife scenes.</p> <p> After all, there's only so much hot cocoa you can drink at a mountain lodge before you start craving some urban excitement.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:43c0a97e-bf58-4fbd-8b61-1c6eb425443f Days When You Can Visit U.S. National Parks for Free in 2017 Fri, 20 Jan 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> The first of <a href="" rel="nofollow">2017's free-admission days at U.S. national parks</a> is already behind us—it was Martin Luther King Day. </p> <p> But before the year is over you'll have nine more chances to enjoy at no charge all the sites maintained by the National Park Service—from all-time faves like Yosemite and Yellowstone to <a href="">overlooked gems</a> such as Big Bend in Texas and Crater Lake in Oregon.</p> <p> Here are the remaining dates when you can experience all that natural splendor for free:</p> <p> February 20, Presidents' Day</p> <p> April 15-16 and 22-23, the weekends of National Park Week</p> <p> August 25, the National Park Service's 101st birthday</p> <p> September 30, National Public Lands Day</p> <p> November 11-12, Veterans Day weekend</p> <p> Finally, these visitors will get in for free every day the parks are open: active-duty military service members, citizens with permanent disabilities, and kids in fourth grade who sign up for the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Every Kid in a Park</a> program (their families aren't charged admission, either). </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f15a6f3c-cb85-468e-8604-d58f251a0db6 American Airlines Announces No-Frills Basic Economy Fares Thu, 19 Jan 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> Joining other major carriers including Delta and United, American Airlines has announced that it too will soon begin offering low, no-frills "basic economy" fares on certain flights. </p> <p> Customers can expect to start seeing the new rates—which will be cheaper than those for any other seats in the cabin—in February, when the company will introduce them in 10 cities, with more locations expected to be added soon. </p> <p> As with these types of budget rates elsewhere, the catch is that the no-frills part of the deal is no joke. With American's basic economy fares, you can't pick out your own seat, you're not eligible for any upgrades, and you can only carry on one bag that will fit underneath the seats—no overhead bin storage for you. Additionally, you won't be able to get a refund or make any changes to your ticket, and you'll be among the last to board the plane.</p> <p> You're lucky they don't stash you in the cargo hold. </p> <p> To get any of the main cabin perks and services, basic economy customers will have to pay a fee for each. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c5a13cfb-58ee-45ef-8556-4d984483c2dd Fort Lauderdale Launches Ads to Attract Transgender Travelers Wed, 18 Jan 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> (<em>photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau</em>)</p> <p> Doing its part to attract GLBT travelers and anybody else who prizes diversity and inclusiveness, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has launched a <a href="" rel="nofollow">marketing campaign featuring transgender models</a>.</p> <p> Starting this month, the tourism ads, which can be seen above, are appearing in media outlets aimed at GLBT readers as well as national publications and internet streaming services targeting the population at large. These include the <em>New York Times</em>, <em>USA Today, </em>Hulu, and Spotify.  </p> <p> In a <a href="" rel="nofollow">press rel<span style="display:none;"> </span>ease</a>, tourism officials tout the South Florida city's new campaign as the world's first "to use transgender models in mainstream destination advertising."</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c86aff9d-2d1a-4c69-b265-9caa414c7c10 In Final Days in Office, Obama Designates Five New National Monuments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> On Thursday, during Barack Obama's last full week in office, the president did for the (probably) last time something he's done more than anybody else who's occupied the White House: He <a href="" rel="nofollow">designated some new national monuments</a>.</p> <p> Five of them, to be exact.  </p> <p> Exercising his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act to preserve sites of historic, cultural, and ecological importance, Obama added three civil rights landmarks and two natural areas to his monument roster.</p> <p> Of the three places commemorating African Americans' struggle for equality, two are in Alabama. The new Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Monument includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, where a racially motivated bombing in 1963 killed four girls and injured 22 other people. And in Anniston, Alabama, the Freedom Riders National Monument encompasses a Greyhound bus station where an interracial group of men and women challenging the segregation of public transportation was attacked by a mob in 1961. </p> <p> The Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort, South Carolina, commemorates the period immediately following the Civil War, when freed slaves began asserting their autonomy—before Jim Crow segregation came along in the 1890s. Protected buildings include the home of Robert Smalls, the first black U.S. congressperson.</p> <p> On the environmental side, Obama expanded the California Coastal National Monument and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by 5,000 acres and 42,000 acres, respectively.</p> <p> While the sites in Alabama and South Carolina have bipartisan support, the natural ones are more controversial—particularly in Oregon. Scientists say that expanding the protected areas will help flora and fauna (especially fish species) endangered by climate change. But the possibility of new restrictions on cattle grazing and logging has drawn opposition from some industry goups.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:02aec7e2-f509-4dce-b33c-f08b08a6d46d JetBlue Now Offers Free Wi-Fi for All on Every Flight Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> JetBlue has good news for passengers terrified of spending a single solitary second away from the internet: The carrier now offers <a href="" rel="nofollow">free high-speed Wi-Fi at every seat on every flight</a> within the contiguous United States. </p> <p> Introduced in 2013, the airline's Fly-Fi network has finally been expanded to the entire fleet of aircraft. What's more, you don't have to wait until the plane reaches a cruising altitude before you can start clicking and swiping. Now you can stay connected from the moment you step onboard to when you arrive at your destination.</p> <p> Play your cards right and you may never have to make eye contact again.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a5efa408-f927-4320-b6ac-62ea9d98c0e1 Los Angeles Chosen As Site of George Lucas Museum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Los Angeles has been chosen by <em>Star Wars</em> creator George Lucas as the site of his upcoming <a href="" rel="nofollow">Museum of Narrative Art</a>.  </p> <p> The facility, which will house the film director's collection of popular art and movie memorabilia (from his own work as well as others'), was previously planned for San Francisco and then Chicago, but community activists in both of those cities objected to proposed building sites along their historic waterfronts. </p> <p> When those plans fell through, two competing California-based proposals emerged—one for constructing the museum on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, the other for putting it in L.A.'s Exposition Park. </p> <p> This week Lucas and company announced they're going with the latter spot, which, unlike the San Francisco location, is easy to get to via public transit; is situated near Lucas's alma mater, the University of Southern California; and is already home to several museums, including the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California African American Museum. </p> <p> Lucas plans to pump $1 billion into the museum, covering building costs and a $400 million endowment. In addition to potential tourism dollars, the city stands to gain tens of thousands of construction jobs and about a thousand permanent jobs once the place opens. </p> <p> Plans call for an appropriately space-ship-like, 275,000-square-foot building designed by Chinese architect Ma Yansong. Inside, guests will be able to look at items from Lucas's 10,000-piece art collection, which includes paintings and illustrations by Norman Rockwell and R. Crumb, as well as mementos from Hollywood classics like <em>Star Wars</em> and <em>The Ten Commandments</em>.</p> <p> Provided the L.A. proposal doesn't spark the same kind of negative community response as in Chicago and San Francisco, officials hope to break ground on the project by the end of the year and have the museum up and running in 2021.   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:95549ea0-7e93-4d48-9e17-f67f7ce2e666 Airlines with the Best and Worst On-Time Performance in 2016 Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> FlightStats, an aviation insights company, has released its highly regarded annual analysis of <a href="" rel="nofollow">international airlines' on-time performance records</a>.</p> <p> Topping the rankings for 2016: Dutch-based carrier KLM. Book a flight with that airline and your chances of being delayed are only about 11%.</p> <p> Contrast that with the airline with the worst on-time record, Israel's El Al, whose passengers are likely to be delayed a dispiriting 56% of the time.  </p> <p> As for U.S. carriers, none of them landed among the 10 worst airlines, timewise. But one did manage to crack the top 10. That would be Delta, named the 8th most on-time airline in the world—even when taking into account a computer outage last summer that grounded flights for days. </p> <p> FlightStats compiles the rankings based on 500 different data sources, including tracking services, airport runway times, airline records, and government info. Here are the carriers with the five best and five worst on-time records:</p> <p> <strong>INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES WITH BEST ON-TIME RECORDS IN 2016:</strong></p> <p> 1. KLM</p> <p> 2. Iberia</p> <p> 3. JAL</p> <p> 4. Qatar Airways</p> <p> 5. Austrian</p> <p> <strong>INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES WITH WORST ON-TIME RECORDS IN 2016:</strong></p> <p> 1. El Al</p> <p> 2. Icelandair</p> <p> 3. Air India</p> <p> 4. Philippine Airlines</p> <p> 5. Asiana Airlines</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:5919e503-eda2-4a97-b7ed-eb08181726bc City of Ice Opens in China Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(photo: @<a href="" rel="nofollow">theeconomist</a> / Instagram)</em></p> <p> If you take your vacation cues from Elsa in <em>Frozen</em>, you'll want to make your way immediately to northern China, where the 33rd annual <a href="" rel="nofollow">Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival has officially launched</a>.  </p> <p> The yearly event is best known for its enormous illuminated sculptures, built this year with 180,000 cubic meters of ice—all of which came from the nearby Songhua River.</p> <p> You still have time to book a trip to see the ice city; it usually stays intact until the end of February.</p> <p> Of course, there's a reason the place stays frozen so long: Daytime temperatures in Harbin around this time of year typically range from a high of -13 Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) to a low of -24 C (-11 F).    </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:fef245d6-54cb-460f-b66d-ed3234c08688 Famous Sequoia "Tunnel Tree" Toppled Mon, 09 Jan 2017 21:25:00 GMT <p> <img src="" /></p> <p> <em>The tree in 1899</em></p> <p>  </p> <p> The Pioneer Cabin Tree, a historic tourist attraction carved out of a giant sequoia in the 1880s, <a href="" rel="nofollow">was felled by a winter storm</a> in Northern California this week. </p> <p> The 150-foot-tall tree, a part of Calaveras State Park's "Big Tree Trail" near Arnold, California, had been leaning badly over the past few years. For some of its history, cars were permitted to drive through it, although in recent years, only hikers were permitted to pass through the hollowed-out trunk, where graffiti from the late 19th century was still visible.</p> <p> No one heard it fall, but it definitely happened. The tree, which is thought to have toppled mid-day on Sunday, shattered when it hit the raid-sodden forest floor.</p> <p> The tree was part of a grove of sequoias estimated to be over 1,000 years old. Who would have thought that carving a vehicle-sized passageway through a living thing would weaken it?</p> <p> A similar tree, the <a href="">Wawona Tunnel Tree</a> in Yosemite National Park (to the south of the Pioneer Cabin Tree), still stands, as does the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Underwood Park, north of San Francisco.</p> <p>  </p> <p> <em>Photo credit: Singley, B. L. (Benjamin Lloyd), The New York Public Library</em></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:47aa402e-6b29-485e-83af-ebdd268f1e16 New Travel Trend: Camping in Medieval Churches in England Mon, 09 Jan 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> Camping in churches—or "<a href="" rel="nofollow">champing</a>"—is an increasingly popular activity in southeastern England. Possibly because adherents don't call it "churmping." </p> <p> The growing trend dates to 2014, when the Churches Conservation Trust opened the medieval All Saints' Church in Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, to overnight guests willing to pay a relatively small fee (it's currently £55/US$68 per night). </p> <p> The following year, the organization expanded champing to four churches, and three more were added in 2016. This year you can choose from 12 historic houses of worship spread all across England. Champing season starts in May.</p> <p> The appeal for visitors has to do with sleeping in a truly unique, historic space—which you'll have all to yourself overnight (sounds pretty spooky, now that we think of it). You'll also be close to quaint English villages and plenty of natural beauty. And you'll be helping to pay for the upkeep of centuries-old churches (you do not have to be religious to participate).</p> <p> Keep in mind, however, that the experience is closer to camping than staying at a hotel—in other words, the buildings are unheated and don't have running water. Still, local volunteers set the churches up before guests' arrival with snacks, electic candles, sleeping bags, and pillows. So if you're traveling from another country, you don't have to lug those bulky items onto the plane.</p> <p> For more information or to book a champing stay, visit the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Churches Conversation Trust website</a>.</p> <p> And for more delightfully unusual travel ideas, check out <a href="" rel="nofollow">Atlas Obscura</a>, where we learned about champing in the first place. The site's book version recently made <a href="">our annual travel gift guide</a>. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d12a47ce-4b61-496d-b048-29efe05d8bf3 $7 Billion Renovation Planned for NYC's JFK Airport Fri, 06 Jan 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> New York City's <a href="" rel="nofollow">John F. Kennedy International Airport is getting a makeover</a>. </p> <p> New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans for a $7 billion renovation of the facility, which served 60 million passengers in 2016.  </p> <p> A big part of the project involves making the airport's various pieces better connected. Under the proposal, newer terminals would be expanded and older ones would be relocated so that all six terminals are linked up. Also, the 30 miles of roadways currently twisting throughout the campus would be reduced to a single, simplified ring road with direct access to the terminals and parking garages.</p> <p> An additional $1.5 billion to $2 billion would be used toward making it easier to travel between the airport and the city. This would involve adding more lanes to the Van Wyck Expressway and increasing the frequency and capacity of the AirTrain—or, possibly, connecting that train with the subway so that passengers wouldn't have to transfer.  </p> <p> The plan also includes improvements to the airport's dining and retail offerings, as well as expanded runways (allowing for more daily flights) and security upgrades incorporating facial-recognition technology.  </p> <p> No timeline for the project has been announced. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e9db4015-1a0a-4e11-aff7-27e7b96e2cc3 New, Lower Train Fare Between UK and Continental Europe for Eurail Pass Holders Thu, 05 Jan 2017 05:03:00 GMT <p> Britain isn't always keen on linking up with the rest of Europe, but here's a rare exception that could benefit budget-conscious travelers. </p> <p> Eurostar, which offers high-speed passenger service between the UK and the European continent via the Channel Tunnel, has been added to Eurail, a network connecting 28 different member countries, each of them accessible with one of Eurail's passes.</p> <p> From now on, those Eurail pass holders traveling on Eurostar between London and Paris or Brussels will get a lower rate than before—starting at €30 (US$32) for one way in standard class, compared to the old Eurostar rate of £45 (€53/US$56) for the same ticket.</p> <p> For more information or to make a booking, visit <a href="" rel="nofollow">Eurail's website</a>.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f70f7d40-473e-472a-ad79-43baac098107 Computer Outage at Airport Customs Caused by Software Update, Not Hackers Wed, 04 Jan 2017 05:02:00 GMT <p> Holiday travelers returning to the United States from international locations on Monday were greeted with enormous lines and long waits at airports, thanks to a four-hour computer outage affecting U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  </p> <p> On the bright side, hackers were not involved. Instead, agency officials say that a <a href="" rel="nofollow">software update initiated on December 28 caused the trouble</a>, which lasted from 5pm EDT to about 9pm—just as hordes of U.S. tourists were returning from New Year's Day travels. </p> <p> Many analysts argue that such glitches are inevitable, given the antiquated technology systems used by customs officers—and, for that matter, by the entire federal government. Since 2010, government spending for modernizing computers across the board has decreased by $7.3 billion, resulting in woefully outdated equipment.</p> <p> Some in the Defense Department still use floppy disks, for heaven's sake.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d2c941a5-f756-4cd4-a38b-44d165a3a6d2 Berlin's Long-Delayed New Airport Probably Won't Open in 2017 Tue, 03 Jan 2017 05:01:00 GMT <p> Currently five years overdue and counting, Berlin's new international airport is scheduled to open at last in late 2017.</p> <p> Then again, maybe not.</p> <p> The project's chief executive, Karsten Muehlenfeld, has told a German newspaper that the <a href="" rel="nofollow">chance of winding things up in 2017</a> is "only very small now."  </p> <p> Originally planned for a 2012 opening, the airport, which has been under construction since 2006, has faced seemingly endless red tape and technical trouble. The latest delay has to do with problems with the electical systems, poky regulatory approval, and a still not fully built passenger terminal.</p> <p> Muehlenfeld says everything could finally be up and running by late March of 2018. But we wouldn't count on it.   </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:6d5af8a0-a7ab-4aa0-8003-54d95c3d88b6 Bid for the Chance to Ride in Alaska's Iditarod Race Fri, 30 Dec 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> Here's a winter travel idea for those of you with a sense of adventure: Until January 20, you can bid for the chance to <a href="" rel="nofollow">ride in the basket of a musher's sled</a> in the 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. </p> <p> Winners of the <a href="" rel="nofollow">auction</a> will get an 11-mile ride at the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage. That's just a tiny fraction of the full route, which stretches across more than 1,000 miles and usually takes teams at least nine days to cover. </p> <p> Bids are currently in the $750-$900 range, but could go for quite a bit more than that. The race is scheduled to start on March 4. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b376a3ac-9153-407d-b535-88e24f2a1198 U.S. Now Asking Visitors to Divulge Social Media Info Thu, 29 Dec 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> The United States government is now asking <a href="" rel="nofollow">foreign visitors to supply links to their social media accounts</a> when they arrive in the country. </p> <p> The change applies to those entering the U.S. by way of the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 nations to travel in the country for up to 90 days without a visa. </p> <p> Those travelers can opt not to answer the question, but that hasn't forestalled strong criticism of the change from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology. </p> <p> When the new question was proposed last summer, the latter organization argued in a statement that asking about visitors' social media presence would "invade individual privacy, burden free expression, and expose particular communities to the risk of undue surveillance or ideological exclusion."</p> <p> Officials with Customs and Border Protection counter that collecting social media data will help the Department of Homeland Security better investigate threats and dangerous connections.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:6d9234b1-e148-4bac-85bd-7da6e73ecbef Obama Protects Two New National Monuments Thu, 29 Dec 2016 00:17:00 GMT <p> <img src="" /></p> <p> <em>Cedar Mesa, Bear Ears Buttes National Monument</em></p> <p>  </p> <p> President Obama has set aside another 1.65 million acres for public use and future vacations <a href="" rel="nofollow">by declaring them National Monuments</a>.</p> <p> Federal land surrounding Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte northeast of Las Vegas are desert areas that include crucial Native American petroglyphs of archeological and historic importance going back as far as 5,000 years, as well as wildlife habitats for hiking and hunting.</p> <p> The move protects the land from profiteering and ensures they will be maintained in public trust for future generations. </p> <p> The move <a href="" rel="nofollow">has been hailed</a> by members of Congress, the heads of the departments of Interior and Agriculture, and Native American groups, which consider some of the land sacred, but one Republican politician pounced on the move, calling it <a href="" rel="nofollow">"a travesty."</a></p> <p> “The Antiquities Act gives the authority to create monuments and does not give explicit authority to undo them,” said Christy Goldfuss, the managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, when asked about the designation by <em>The New York Times</em>. No president has unraveled his predecessor's designations since the Antiquities Act was enacted in 1906.</p> <p> Bears Ears Buttes has been on the list for proposed National Monument protection since way back during the F.D.R. administration. This year, Obama set aside other pristine American areas for protection by National Monument designation, including Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine—qualifying it as one of Frommer's' choices for the <a href="">Best Places to Go in 2017</a>.</p> <p> The White House proclamation for the desert lands singled out some of the species that will be protected by the designations:</p> <p style="margin-left:40px;"> "Raptors such as the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, northern harrier, northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, ferruginous hawk, American kestrel, flammulated owl, and great horned owl hunt their prey on the mesa tops with deadly speed and accuracy. The largest contiguous critical habitat for the threatened Mexican spotted owl is on the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Other bird species found in the area include Merriam's turkey, Williamson's sapsucker, common nighthawk, white-throated swift, ash-throated flycatcher, violet-green swallow, cliff swallow, mourning dove, pinyon jay, sagebrush sparrow, canyon towhee, rock wren, sage thrasher, and the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. As the skies darken in the evenings, visitors may catch a glimpse of some the area's at least 15 species of bats, including the big free-tailed bat, pallid bat, Townsend's big-eared bat, spotted bat, and silver-haired bat. Tinajas, rock depressions filled with rainwater, provide habitat for many specialized aquatic species, including pothole beetles and freshwater shrimp. Eucosma navajoensis, an endemic moth that has only been described near Valley of the Gods, is unique to this area."</p> <p style="margin-left:40px;">  </p> <p> <em>Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management</em></p> <div>  </div> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b5700b90-4441-41d0-bdfc-0f1795ea7347 Flight Attendants Union Files Grievance Over New American Airlines Uniforms Wed, 28 Dec 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> At least 300 American Airlines flight attendants say that their <a href="" rel="nofollow">new uniforms—issued by the carrier in September—are making them sick</a>.  </p> <p> The flight attendants' union filed a grievance letter with the company last week, asserting that the new duds, which have been rolled out to 70,000 employees, have caused health problems ranging from skin irritation to headaches. The union wants American to stop issuing the uniforms or let employees go back to wearing the old ones. </p> <p> Responding to the grievance, officials at the airline say the company will run another safety test of the garments, which have passed three earlier in-house trials. </p> <p> Additionally, American has set up a call center to take complaints from flight attendants, and vows that any employee who has a reaction to the new uniforms will be allowed to wear the former set. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b79c8840-b6e2-4700-b1a6-aa64619f8736 Disney World Lets Annual Pass Holders Cut in Line Tue, 27 Dec 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is giving certain devoted fans a big thank-you gift to kick off the new year. </p> <p> The company has announced that <a href="" rel="nofollow">guests who've purchased an annual pass will be allowed to bypass the normal entrance</a> line and get into the resort through an excusive gateway. </p> <p> A special entrance for annual pass holders will be available at all four Disney World parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom.</p> <p> Which begs the question: Why on earth are there lines to get into Epcot?</p> <p> No expiration date on the new perk has been announced yet, but those with annual passes can expect to get cutsies at least through January. They will, however, still have to go through the security checkpoint with everybody else.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:0dfa1c2f-4d57-46ef-8341-f341660a815d Airline Starts Charging for Hot Water Fri, 23 Dec 2016 18:37:00 GMT <p> <img p="" src="" /></p> <p> If you're a business owner, you know there are certain lines your customers will not allow you to cross, even if they make you more money. </p> <p> If you run an airline, though, you are bred without shame.</p> <p> This is why British Airways is now <a href="" rel="nofollow">charging for hot water</a> aboard its flights.</p> <p> Yes, you read that correctly—an airline is finally charging for water. It will also charge for empty cups "at the retail price."</p> <p> Standard-temperature water will apparently still be free, since the consumption of that is vital for human life.</p> <p> You'd never think it would be British Airways, which many people associate with its bygone dignified image. But the halcyon days of the British Overseas Airways Corporation are truly dead. In fact, British Airways' <a href="" rel="nofollow">approval rating is tumbling</a> with disastrous speed—largely because of hostile customer service decisions like this one.</p> <p> It adopted the practice of paid seat reservations a few years ago, enraging families that need to sit together, and it recently announced that it will <a href="" rel="nofollow">end meal service</a> on many flights and sharply curtail it on flights as long as eight and a half hours. Before that, on continental flights it was only serving tiny dried-out plastic sandwiches in a box anyway—when a service indignity represents a net gain for customers, your business may be adrift.</p> <p> Three years ago, the influential <em>Which?</em> survey logged passengers who rated British Airways as a four-star airline, but by 2016, it was earning just two stars.</p> <p> Customers needn't be surprised their flights stink now. British Airways' new CEO used to work at American Airlines.</p> <p> Don't expect British Airways' service to improve anytime soon. This week it announced that being cheap is its new business strategy, and it is <a href="" rel="nofollow">creating a new budget offshoot</a> to compete with <a href="">Norwegian Air</a> and Iceland's WOW for transatlantic routes.</p> <p> Last year, British Airways reported a profit of £2.5 billion. That's a lot of hot water. Hope the airline likes it—because it's in hot water with its customers, too.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ed8a7de2-8f81-4f6d-94df-39595c62df91 After Facebook Flap, Delta Air Lines Changes Policy for Dealing with Medical Emergencies Fri, 23 Dec 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> Responding to public pressure, Delta Air Lines has announced a policy change in <a href="" rel="nofollow">how flight crews deal with medical emergencies</a>.</p> <p> As of this month, flight attendants are no longer required to verify the credentials of physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals who volunteer to help passengers having sudden health problems in the cabin.</p> <p> The move comes two months after a Delta-related Facebook post by Dr. Tamika Cross went viral. In the posting, Cross, who is black, alleges that when she raised her hand to assist an ill passenger on a Delta flight from Detroit to Houston, she was rebuffed by a flight attendant who doubted that she was a doctor. But according to Cross, when a white male came forward and presented his credentials, he was allowed to help.</p> <p> Wrote Cross: "Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it's not right."</p> <p> The post has gotten more than 20,000 comments and 150,000 likes—and has now resulted in a significant change at the airline. </p> <p> "Delta found that there is no legal or regulatory requirement to view medical professional credentials," the company said in its statement. "And, as it becomes more and more common for medical licenses to be verified online, physicians and nurses often do not carry a license with them and some states no longer issue wallet versions." </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ed209ecc-31d5-4483-a052-ad29686fe731 The Weirdest Things Passengers Tried to Carry Onto Airplanes in 2016 Thu, 22 Dec 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> The Transportation Security Administration has released its annual list of the <a href="" rel="nofollow">strangest items officers encountered at the nation's airports</a> this year. </p> <p> As you might expect, nearly all the objects in the top 10 are weapons or at least weapon-adjacent. They include a bright pink Hello Kitty firearm, a bullet-adorned gas mask, and a scary-looking knife/whip combo called a "five-bladed flogger" that we can't even begin to imagine a use for.  </p> <p> Top honors went to a comparatively harmless full-size prop corpse from <em>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre</em>, which passed through an x-ray machine at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport back in May.</p> <p> To see the full list, go to the <a href="" rel="nofollow">TSA's blog</a> or watch the video below.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:12b09f41-075d-43f0-b242-6133b863707d Innovative Wheeled Luggage You Push Instead of Pull Wed, 21 Dec 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> Having cornered the market on fancy baby buggies, Bugaboo has turned its attention to wheeled luggage.</p> <p> The Dutch company's new creation, the Boxer, is a four-wheeled trolley onto which a combination of suitcases can be clicked for convenient toting around airports and hotel lobbies.</p> <p> But that's not the innovative part. Because the trolley tilts in a way that distributes the luggage's weight over the wheels, the Boxer can be effortlessly pushed instead of pulled. The design is supposed to accommodate propelling the thing forward with just one hand, even when it's fully loaded. Like so:</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(photo: @<a href="" rel="nofollow">bugaboohq</a>, via Instagram) </em></p> <p> After a test run, <a href="" rel="nofollow">CNN thinks the Boxer could be the next big thing</a> at airports, calling it "a breeze to move around."</p> <p> The price is a little on the heavy side, though. A complete set, including a hardshell check-in bag, a carry-on, and a laptop organizer, costs about $1,500.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:bfddcadb-b619-411e-9cd0-384b51afd7d8 Mississippi River Towns Plan Events for Annual Bald Eagle Migration Tue, 20 Dec 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> Spotting a bald eagle along the Mississippi River—what could possibly be more all-American than that? Maybe eating a triple cheeseburger while attending a NASCAR race with the ghost of John Wayne would qualify. But an eagle is more majestic, don't you think?</p> <p> The best months for catching sight of the iconic birds alongside the Upper Mississippi are January and February, when they migrate south by the thousands, keeping close to the water to feed on fish and roost in the surrounding bluffs. </p> <p> Illinois and Iowa river towns along the route are hosting <a href="" rel="nofollow">special events to mark the annual occasion</a>. </p> <p> You can attend informational sessions, demonstrations, watch parties, photo exhibits, bus tours, Native American activities, and more at events including Bald Eagle Days in Rock Island, Illinois (January 6-8) and Iowa's Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch (January 21).</p> <p> For a full list of eagle-related offerings, <a href="" rel="nofollow">click here</a>.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:56236944-6882-45bc-a0f3-a988741513eb Brighter, More Colorful Lighting System Now in Place at Niagara Falls Sat, 17 Dec 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> A new lighting system at Niagara Falls should make for brighter, more colorful nighttime displays than was previously possible at the beloved brink on the U.S.-Canada border.</p> <p> In the first significant upgrade to Niagara lighting in 20 years, more than 1,400 LED luminaires have been installed along the shoreline on the Canadian side to illuminate the American and Horseshoe Falls. The new system can be programmed for 1,800 different color combinations, and it's expected to cut energy costs by more than half.</p> <p> Funding for the $4 million upgrade was split equally between the U.S. and Canada.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:9d8808a3-76e5-49ba-9372-510baa923f0c Priceline Adds Road Trip Deal Map Tool Fri, 16 Dec 2016 18:37:00 GMT <p style="text-align:center;"> <img src="" /></p> <p> Until now, if you were on a road trip and you wanted to scout nearby hotel deals where you could crash, you had to figure out the name of the nearest town so you could plug it into an app.</p> <p> Priceline has moved ahead a step—it's a wonder it took until 2016. Now, when you open the Priceline app, you can tell it you're "On a Road Trip," and it will sense your location and allow you to enter an endpoint. The app then maps the route and gives you hotel deals found along the way. </p> <p> The search results, which can be filtered by budget and star rating, include "Express" deals, which don't tell you the name of the property until you have paid the discounted rate. If you don't want to have the app detect your location, the tool also allows you to manually enter a start point. Priceline has said that about 70 percent of the deals shown are exclusive to the company.</p> <p> Priceline reps said they ordered the <a href="" rel="nofollow">"Road Deals" improvement</a> because internal data told them that 43 percent of its customers reported booking same-day hotel reservations en route to their destination.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:89c629d5-98a0-4083-aa2e-67200f153989 Zippier Wi-Fi Coming to Your Next Hotel Thu, 15 Dec 2016 20:23:00 GMT <p> Though you might not see much difference in the bedroom decor from a Marriott Hotel in one city to another one city over, each is likely to have a different owner. That's because the major hotel chains are actually franchises.</p> <p> Why should you, the consumer, care? Because with so many chefs in the "lodgings soup", needed changes can come more slowly to franchised operations than non-franchised ones.</p> <p> Unless travelers yell like hell, that is. And in the case of slow hotel Wi-Fi, the shouting has been a steady roar in recent years.</p> <p> The good news is: the hoteliers are listening. According to a recent article by <a href="" rel="nofollow">USA Today</a> many chains are now requiring that their franchisees to better their bandwidth and upgrade their technology. For the biggest Marriott hotels (those that can house 1500 or more) that will now mean a minimum of 600 megabytes per second. Wingate by Wyndham guests will see an improvement by next summer, with hotels required to provide a minimum of 100 megabytes per second for free; Microtel (also part of that company) will be offering 50 megabytes free by June. Choice Hotels, IHG and Hyatt Hotels will also be tweaking their standards, and some are implementing instant recognition features for loyalty program members' devices. Across the board, many hotels are adding access points, meaning that in some properties there will be one per room (rather than four rooms having to share the same bandwidth).</p> <p> Bottom line: you'll soon be surfing faster. Hey, who says there's rarely any good news anymore?</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:528d4ae2-ed9a-4c89-8bd7-945c46ce945f Homesick Hotline Plays Iconic U.S. Sounds for Americans Abroad Thu, 15 Dec 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> If you're an American on an extended vacation overseas—or if you're planning a permanent relocation in response to the outcome of last month's presidential election—World Nomads has set up a service to cheer you up whenever homesickness strikes. </p> <p> Simply call the travel insurance company's <a href="" rel="nofollow">Homesick Hotline</a> at 1-844-IMissUS (+001 844 464-7787; international rates apply), and you can listen to recordings of iconic American sounds, including a college football game, a sizzling burger, a summer night in the country, Fourth of July fireworks, a revving lawnmower, and even a hold message from a cable company.</p> <p> It's like an aural hug from the Land of the Free.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:e73e3fd3-d9d2-4602-b5f4-dfcfbd569d16 More Vegas Casinos End Free Parking Wed, 14 Dec 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> Following a precedent set earlier this year by MGM Resorts, numerous Las Vegas casinos will soon begin charging <a href="" rel="nofollow">fees for valet and self-parking</a> at their properties. </p> <p> Beginning later this month, you'll have to pay to park at resorts owned by Caesars Entertainment, including Linq, Harrah's, Bally's, Flamingo, Caesars Palace, the Cromwell, Paris, and Planet Hollywood—all of the company's properties except the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino, where parking will remain free. Wynn (which also owns Encore) and Cosmopolitan have announced new parking fees as well.</p> <p> Throw in MGM's 12 Vegas properties, and suddenly it looks like finding a free parking space on the Strip is a jackpot virtually no one will be lucky enough to hit.</p> <p> Despite a good deal of protest—particularly on social media—when MGM rolled out its parking fees, they haven't hurt Sin City's tourism numbers, which are on pace this year to top 2015's record 42.3 million guests.</p> <p> So even if you're willing to pay for a spot to stash your rental car, you might not be able to find one.</p> <p> In short, you can't win. The house on the other hand . . .  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c3507495-6e38-498f-8cc3-4b1bcbcead20 2016's "Most Interesting Webcams" Announced Tue, 13 Dec 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> If you're looking for vacation inspiration, a way to explore the world without leaving your home, or simply a way to waste an hour or 12, EarthCam, a company specializing in webcam services and technology, has released its list of the 25 Most Interesting Webcams of 2016. </p> <p> The list was chosen by a panel of judges led by, of all people, comedian Paul Reubens—better known as Pee-wee Herman. No word on whether Cowboy Curtis and Miss Yvonne also provided input.</p> <p> The winning cams are set up at sites all over the world, including the Acropolis in Athens, a polar bear habitat in Canada, the kitchen of a Creole restaurant in Alabama, a flower shop in Switzerland, and an animal shelter in Estonia. </p> <p> To see the full list of winners go to <a href="" rel="nofollow">EarthCam's website</a>, where you can also follow links to check some of them out in real time. Watch the following promotional video for a quick look at each feed.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d2aef1f2-aeed-46cd-a831-6dd376dfeceb Delta Might Bring Back Free Meals in Economy Fri, 09 Dec 2016 22:26:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Delta Air Lines might bring back free meals</a> for passengers in the economy section on some transatlantic flights.</p> <p> Since November 1, the Atlanta-based carrier has been testing complimentary breakfast and lunch for people in coach on certain trips between New York and Los Angeles. The test period ends on December 15, at which point the airline will take a close look at customer satisfaction, budgetary feasibility, and other factors.</p> <p> If Delta reinstates free meals in the economy cabin, it would be the first major airline to do so since 2010, when Continental did away with the service while merging with United.</p> <p> No matter what, though, Delta is upgrading its snack offerings—which have always been free, even when United and American discontinued their complimentary snacks during the lean years after 9/11 (both have since resumed giving out pretzels and such gratis).  </p> <p> Starting on December 15, flight crews will be doling out Snyder's of Hanover pretzels, Squirrel Brand honey-roasted peanuts, and NatureBox apple cinnamon yogurt bars, in addition to the Biscoff cookies they're already giving out. Additionally, the new snack portions will be bigger than the current ones. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:18e943fa-bc3f-4570-a3cf-ee1c505ddfdb Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cleared to Begin Cruising to Cuba Fri, 09 Dec 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> Americans will soon have the chance to travel to Cuba with a major cruise line—which means Cubans will soon have the chance to see more rum-swilling Midwesterners than they could have ever wished to see. </p> <p> Cruising titans <a href="" rel="nofollow">Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have each received permission from the Cuban government</a> to sail to the Caribbean island nation from Florida. </p> <p> Royal Caribbean says both its namesake brand and its smaller Azamara Club Cruises have been approved; the company didn't release a start date or itineraries, but they should be announced soon.</p> <p> As for Norwegian, all three of that line's brands—the eponymous flagship, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises—have been cleared to begin sailing to Havana starting in March. The first call will be made by Oceania's upscale <em>Marina</em> ship. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c9634d63-5304-4f65-b811-adcd845b8e0a 30-Person Gaming Theater Opens in NJ Mall Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:58:00 GMT <div> <a href="" rel="nofollow">ESC Games</a> has developed a new avenue of group entertainment.</div> <div>  </div> <div> The New York City-based company has opened a multiplayer video game theater in New Jersey's largest shopping mall, the Westfield Garden State Plaza. The ESC Game Theater allows up to 30 people to compete against each other—individually or in teams—using handheld touchscreen controllers and a movie theater-size screen. A live host provides instructions and commentary. </div> <div>  </div> <div> Video game tournaments, like those held by <a href="" rel="nofollow">Electronic Sports World Cup</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow">Major League Gaming</a>, can draw thousands of visitors, and ESC Games hasn’t wasted time in organizing its own competition. The theater's inaugural tournament, the Robot Basketball Season 1 Championship, will be held on December 17. </div> <div>  </div> <div> Gamers or anyone else curious about this new attraction can visit the theater three days a week. It's <a href="" rel="nofollow">open</a> Thursday and Friday 4pm-9pm and Saturday 2pm-9pm. Tickets are $5 per game session, which usually lasts 10 minutes.</div> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f7b29bb4-0bb0-4bb1-a66b-57ed19359529 Britain's 'Ghost Stations' Offer Quiet Alternatives to Bustling London Stops Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:39:00 GMT <div> If you go sightseeing in Central London, at some point you'll almost certainly pass through the Waterloo or Victoria rail station—those are the closest stops to attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye. It's no surprise, then, that Waterloo and Victoria are the busiest stations in Britain's complex rail network, with a combined 180 million passenger exits and entries in 2015-2016, according to a <a href="" rel="nofollow">report</a> by the Office of Rail and Road. </div> <div>  </div> <div> But for those who would like to get away from London and take the rails less traveled, Britain has a number of "ghost stations" that receive less than 200 annual exits and entries.  </div> <div>  </div> <div> Stations like Shippea Hill in Cambridgeshire, which averaged <a href="" rel="nofollow">one passenger</a> per month in the last year, and Reddish South in Greater Manchester, which averaged three, are serviced infrequently by overwhelmingly empty trains.  </div> <div>  </div> <div> Of course, these ghost stations don't serve booming metropolises, but the quaintness of the towns they do serve is part of the appeal. Ely, the cathedral city that Shippea Hill serves, is home to a history museum inside a 13th-century jail. And a trip to Denton station in Greater Manchester, which averaged six passengers per month, will allow travelers to pop into Fletchers Arms, a family pub less than two miles from the station.</div> <div>  </div> <div> Since service can be as limited as one round-trip per day to a single one-way trip per week, travelers will have to stick to strict schedules to make it to these deserted stations. And it can be difficult to even find <a href="" rel="nofollow">schedules</a> for some of the more obscure "parliamentary ghost trains"—so named because the trains are still running due largely to the cost, not to mention the time and paperwork, involved in closing a line.  </div> <div>  </div> <div> For travelers willing to make the trip to Coombe Junction Halt, Barry Links, or another of Britain's quietest stations, getting to the stop is just the first leg of the adventure; getting to nearby accommodations or attractions is the second. </div> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:eb0cd91b-d56f-4cef-9c0c-5155b1c5b7e1 Harper Lee's Alabama Hometown Wants to Be a Tourist Attraction Now Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:55:00 GMT <p> <em>To Kill a Mockingbird</em> author Harper Lee lived a quiet life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, eschewing the limelight and resisting efforts to turn her into a tourist attraction. </p> <p> But Lee died last February at the age of 89, and so local officials and chamber-of-commerce types have launched a big plan to make Monroeville—inspiration for the fictional Macomb in Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel—a kind of Harper Lee theme park, whether Lee would have liked it or not (we're going to go with not). </p> <p> The multiyear project would include a new museum dedicated to the author as well as a "<a href="" rel="nofollow">Harper Lee Trail</a>" linking several properties associated with her and her writings, such as the home she shared with her sister in their later years and replicas of several buildings (long since torn down) that inspired settings in <em>To Kill a Mockingbird</em>.</p> <p> We're all for honoring a beloved writer who has inspired millions of readers. But isn't there something to be said for paying tribute in a way that stays faithful to the disposition, wishes, and spirit of the actual writer?</p> <p>  </p> <p>    </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ffceab1b-d9ba-4c57-8d2f-8e1b6253ab33 TSA Fighting Holiday Airport Lines with More Officers, Social Media Wed, 07 Dec 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> We're about a week into December, which means the <a href="" rel="nofollow">holiday travel season</a> is underway. That can mean long lines at the airport, but Transportation Security Administration officials say they're ready for the challenge.</p> <p> Thousands of new officers have been hired, many part-time screeners have been upgraded to full-time, and a bunch of new K9 teams will be sniffing around airports—all in an attempt to improve security while getting you to your gate in a relatively speedy manner.</p> <p> Additionally, you can now use Twitter or Facebook to ask the agency about what you can carry onto planes. If you've got a question about an item, tweet <a href="" rel="nofollow">@AskTSA</a> or visit the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ask TSA</a> Facebook page, and post a photo or description of the thing in question. You should have an answer about its carry-on-ability in minutes. </p> <p> Passenger preparation can be key to getting through security on time—so pack light and show up at the airport early. The TSA recommends arriving two hours before a domestic flight, or three hours for an international one.</p> <p> Unless, of course, you're enrolled in the agency's Pre-Check program; those pre-cleared passengers (who have paid an $85 fee) usually spend on average about 10 minutes in line. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:123da8bf-1ba1-4fd4-ab67-2631b320da62 Following Wildfires, Eastern Tennessee Officials Urge Tourists to Return Tue, 06 Dec 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> Following the devastating wildfires in eastern Tennessee that started last week in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, local officials in the nearby resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are <a href="" rel="nofollow">urging visitors to return to the region</a>, where tourism is a major industry.   </p> <p> While the fires raged last week, thousands had to flee the area, hundreds of buildings were damaged, and 13 people died.</p> <p> But according to tourism officials, most of the attractions, theaters, restaurants, and hotels surrounding the park continue to operate as usual.</p> <p> Pigeon Forge's Winterfest is continuing as scheduled, and Dollywood—which is also in Pigeon Forge—has resumed normal operations after closing briefly when scores of guests had to be evacuated.</p> <p> Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner has a message for those looking for a way to help those in the area. "If you really want to do something for Gatlinburg," he said in a statement, "come back and visit us." </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d735e108-f028-4d98-afaf-ed6cb595ac08 Maker of the Liberty Bell to Call it Quits Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:15:00 GMT <p> <img src="" /></p> <p> 2016, you terrible year, now you have claimed the sound of liberty itself.</p> <p> London's Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which has been casting bells for the world since 1570, announced this weekend that it can no longer keep its doors open. The oldest manufacturing company in Britain has said its own bell will toll in May.</p> <p> Its current home, in which it has been operating since 1738, was established before the United States. Jack the Ripper and Joseph "Elephant Man" Merrick were both neighbors when its neighborhood was poor and filthy. And it has already been sold—nearly 300 years of heritage will soon be wiped away. If the company itself (which makes church bells, hand bells, and great big gongers) finds a buyer, it will likely not be able to afford to remain in East London, where real estate prices have skyrocketed over the last 15 years.</p> <p> The Foundry is one of the most interesting tours available in London. Its Saturday events, which bring visitors close to the furnaces and molds that have created everything from Philadelphia's Liberty Bell to Big Ben itself, sell out months ahead of time. The owner plans to retire in May, and with his unsettling announcement that half a millenium of heritage is at risk of ending, the last few tour slots are bound to sell out rapidly.</p> <p> America had better act fast it wants to return its cracked bell for repairs.</p> <p> Read <a href="">our review of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry tour here</a>.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:1ed9e672-b0ca-4bdf-88a6-b1ad5431f591 Princess Cruise Lines Slapped with Record Fine for Deliberate Pollution Fri, 02 Dec 2016 21:10:00 GMT <p> The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Department of Justice has fined Princess Cruise Lines</a> a whopping $40 million for deliberately polluting oceans and then trying to cover it up. The fine is the largest criminal penalty ever given for such actions. </p> <p> In a statement, the Justice Department says that Princess—a subsidiary of Carnival Corp.—illegally dumped contaminated waste and oil from its <em>Caribbean Princess</em> ship for a period lasting eight years. The practice was eventually brought to the attention of the government by a former Princess engineer in 2013. </p> <p> The Justice Department's investigation found illegal dumping practices on four other Princess ships as well—most of them likely undertaken to cut costs.</p> <p> "The pollution in this case was the result of more than just bad actors on one ship," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden. "It reflects very poorly on Princess's culture and management."</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:238e6629-419f-4bc4-8ca5-e37e21e037b1 This Year's Loss of Great Barrier Reef Corals Is the Worst on Record Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:37:00 GMT <div barrier="" be="" bucket="" div="" great="" it="" might="" move="" of="" reef="" span="" style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);font-family:wf_segoe-ui_normal,;" the="" time="" to="" top="" your=""> <span style="font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;color:rgb(34, 34, 34);">It might be time to move the Great Barrier Reef to the top of your bucket list.</span></div> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span style="font-size:10pt;">The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies </span><span style="font-size:10pt;">has <a href="" rel="nofollow">reported</a> that about 67% of the corals in the northern section of the reef died in 2016 due to bleaching, a result of prolonged exposure to warm water temperatures.</span></p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> Fortunately for the thousands of species living in the 1,430-mile reef, coral in the central and southern regions received significantly less damage. The central region lost 6% of its corals, while the southern region lost 1%.</p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> But if you're planning a visit to the northern end of the reef, which aligns with the Cooktown and Cairns area of the Queensland coast, it might already be too late.</p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> After this year’s loss of corals—the worst on record—scientists estimate that it will take 10-15 years for the northern region to recoup its losses, and that’s only if further widespread bleaching doesn’t delay recovery.</p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;"> <span style="font-size:10pt;">As well as housing some 600 species of coral, the <a href="">Great Barrier Reef</a> supports a $5 billion tourism industry. Every year, about two million people travel to see the world’s largest coral reef system up close.</span></p> <p style="margin:0px;padding:0px;font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;word-wrap:break-word;">  </p> <div a="" about="" arc="" centre="" coral="" corals="" died="" div="" due="" excellence="" exposure="" face="Arial" font="" for="" has="" href="" in="" northern="" of="" prolonged="" reef="" rel="nofollow" result="" section="" size="2" span="" style="color:rgb(33, 33, 33);font-family:wf_segoe-ui_normal,;" that="" the="" to="" warm="" water=""> <span style="font-family:arial;font-size:10pt;color:rgb(34, 34, 34);">So for those who haven't yet snorkeled around Agincourt Reef or gone diving off the coast of Cairns, maybe you should take the plunge while there’s still something to see.</span></div> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:b78beaad-38c5-4070-8591-911fc655d4b1 Watching the Sunrise at Maui's Haleakala Volcano Will Soon Require a Reservation Thu, 01 Dec 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> One of the most unforgettable—and most popular—sights in Maui is about to get a little more difficult to experience. </p> <p> Starting February 1, <a href="" rel="nofollow">you'll need a reservation</a> to hike to the top of the Hawaiian island's Haleakala volcano to watch the sunrise.</p> <p> Citing large crowds and safety concerns, Haleakala National Park officials say that those who want to reach the top of the 10,000-foot peak between 3am and 7am will need a parking reservation that's only available in advance and online. </p> <p> The four parking lots at the top of Haleakala can only hold 150 vehicles. When more cars than that show up, visitors often park dangerously along the nearby winding road, which can damage the ecosystem and block access for emergency vehicles. Additionally, pedestrians face risks when navigating all that traffic in the dark pre-dawn hours.</p> <p> Permits—which are not required for visits after 7am—cost $1.50 per car, in addition to the $20 you have to pay to get into the park. Book your reservation at <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:374dd704-7d9e-4f2c-a3ba-fffa5f26dc47 You Can Now Download Netflix to Watch Later Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:07:00 GMT <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p>  </p> <p> Hooray! Tedious airplane trips just got a lot sweeter.</p> <p> Netflix is finally—<em>finally!</em>—rolling out <a href="" rel="nofollow">the ability to download shows</a> to your device to watch later, which means that soon, you will not require a high-speed internet connection if you want to be entertained. For many people, this could spell doom for the lousy or overpriced entertainment options on flights, and for many other people, it means they no longer have to shell out for terrible in-flight Wi-Fi in a futile effort to amuse themselves. </p> <p> Bus trips, rainy days stuck in the hotel—all of travel's more desultory moments can now be enlivened with a binge if Netflix members are smart enough to download shows to their phones or tablets ahead of time. (Amazon Prime has allowed downloading since 2015.)</p> <p> Not everything on Neflix's roster is available to download yet, but the company is working on expanding its offline library. As long as you have the latest version of its app, if a show is available for download, an icon will appear on its details page—look for an arrow pointing downward toward a short line. When you're finished watching the show, you just delete it.</p> <p> What's already available? So far, original series including <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>, <em>House of Cards</em>, <em>Stranger Things</em>, <em>Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt</em>, <em>Master of None,</em> and <em>The Crown</em> are available now. Other titles available for offline viewing include TV shows <em>Supernatural</em>, <em>The Office</em>, <em>The Flash</em>, <em>The 100</em>, and some animated movies. The list will only grow.</p> <p> Now, if you only had enough space on your phone.</p> <div>  </div> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:caf1daa4-c5c5-41f4-b4f3-50c4fabbce40 Japan Plans Spa-Themed Amusement Park with Hot-Tub Roller Coaster Wed, 30 Nov 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> If you've ever taken a relaxing soak in a hot spring and said, "Gosh, this is nice, but I wish there were some way to throw in the heart-racing thrills of a roller coaster ride," we'd think you were being completely ridiculous. There's a time for everything, we'd tell you, and the time for speeding along a track with sharp turns and sudden drops is not while you're sitting in a pool of steaming water. What's wrong with you? we would continue. Somebody's going to get hurt.</p> <p> But hey, what do we know? </p> <p> The Japanese resort city of Beppu—located amid the famous hot springs of Kyushu island—has announced plans to build the world's first <a href="" rel="nofollow">spa-themed amusement park</a>. You can watch a 100% insane promotional video released last week to get an idea of what that might be like. Filled with visitors of all ages wearing only towels, the clip shows smiling parkgoers riding a carousel, Ferris wheel, cable cars, and a roller coaster—all while sitting in built-in tubs bubbling with spring water.</p> <p> Beppu's mayor, Yasuhiro Nagano, also appears, promising that the city will build the park if the video reaches one million views.</p> <p> When it reached 1.8 million views four days after it was posted (it's gotten more than 2 million on YouTube as of this writing), the mayor's office released a statement thanking the public for its support and confirming that the plans will move forward. </p> <p> No completion date has been announced, and it's unclear whether the finished product will look at all like what's shown in the video.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:5684b08d-27c7-4eac-8bc1-b9b1a430c13f Trump Still Threatening to Reverse Obama's Cuba Policy Wed, 30 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> President-elect Donald <a href="" rel="nofollow">Trump continues to threaten</a> that he'll undo President Barack Obama's 2014 deal to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.</p> <p> Following the November 25 death of Fidel Castro, <a href="" rel="nofollow">Trump tweeted</a> on Monday, "If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban-American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal."</p> <p> Trump used similar rhetoric on the campaign trail. As our own <a href="">Arthur Frommer has pointed out</a>, a reversal of Obama's policy would almost certainly curtail Americans' ability to travel to Cuba.</p> <p> As it happens, Trump renewed his threat on the very day that American Airlines and JetBlue became the first commercial carriers to operate flights between the U.S. and Havana in more than 50 years.</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f6c0673f-e453-4cce-91c6-6312d4ae0ec2 Carnival Nixes Social-Impact Cruises in the Caribbean Tue, 29 Nov 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> Carnival Corporation has announced that the company is <a href="" rel="nofollow">pulling the plug on Fathom cruises</a>, a one-ship line introduced just last year.</p> <p> The point of the brand was to offer "social-impact cruises," incorporating sightseeing as well as volunteer projects and cultural exchange, with stops in the Dominican Republic and Cuba.</p> <p> Carnival was hoping to capitalize on the possibly overhyped voluntourism trend, while also meeting the "people-to-people" travel rules that require Americans visiting Cuba to engage in activities that fit into one of 12 categories promoting cultural exchange, education, or charitable assistance.  </p> <p> As a matter of fact, Fathom became the first cruise line regularly traveling between the U.S. and Cuba in more than 50 years. </p> <p> Demand for the line's Dominican sailings, however, was low, which might have contributed to Carnival's decision to scrap it. </p> <p> The company has requested approval from Cuba to cruise to the island with other brands, and says the "Fathom experience" will live on as a slate of socially conscious shoreside excursions.</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:a8b12bdc-c137-42d4-ad76-d08b0f19e6e2 You Can Now Use Airbnb to Book Experiences Wed, 23 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Airbnb has launched a new service called Trips</a>, allowing users to book experiences in addition to the company's core short-term vacation rentals.</p> <p> The new feature is a section of the site where you can browse listings for stuff like cooking classes, guided tours, and pub crawls, all offered by locals in whatever destination you're visiting.</p> <p> Additionally, Airbnb users can now recommend specific restaurants, arts venues, bars, and other attractions for out-of-towners.</p> <p> The idea is to provide customers the chance to immerse themselves fully in the place they're visiting, so that they experience it like a local.</p> <p> Trips is currently available in Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Cape Town, Florence, Havana, London, Nairobi, Paris, Seoul, and Tokyo. The company plans to roll the feature out to 50 more cities next year. </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ef3f6fd4-44c6-4def-b5ba-582013562348 Melania Trump's Native Country, Slovenia, Anticipates New Interest After Election Tue, 22 Nov 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> The small Central European nation of <a href="" rel="nofollow">Slovenia could be an unexpected beneficiary</a> of the 2016 presidential election.</p> <p> It's the native country of Melania Trump, who will be the first foreign-born first lady in 191 years (the last was John Quincy Adams's British wife, Louisa). </p> <p> Slovenia's tourism officials clearly think that the Melania link might bring some new interest and new visitors to the country, which is situated southeast of Austria. Slovenia's official tourism website already has a <a href="" rel="nofollow">section dedicated to Sevnica</a>, billed as the "birth place of USA's future first lady." </p> <p> Whatever your politics, it's hard to resist Slovenia's charms—a land of mountains, lakes, caves, and castles. Vienna, Venice, and the Croatian capital of Zagreb are all just a few hours away by car or train. </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:5f2c8844-112f-411b-9d23-d3117d82289b Ruin of Chariot-Racing Stadium in Rome Now Open to the Public Mon, 21 Nov 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> Rome's newest tourist attraction opened to the public last week. And as with so many sites worth seeing in this ancient city, it's actually not new at all.</p> <p> For centuries a huge muddy field, the spot known as <a href="" rel="nofollow">Circus Maximus</a> was once used as a stadium for chariot races, religious ceremonies, processions, and other big public events in the days of ancient Rome. </p> <p> Six years of excavations have turned the site into an archaeological ruin where you can see very old latrines, what remains of a triumphal arch, and equine artifacts recovered from the dig. Climb a restored medieval tower for a better view of the scene. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:46211d21-0f84-4f38-a0c5-941178242c75 Over-the-Top Holiday Offerings at Luxury Hotels Fri, 18 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> For travelers with deep pockets and an overabundance of holiday spirit, several luxury hotels across the country are offering over-the-top Yule-themed packages. Here are three of the most ridiculously extravagant options we've come across so far (we'll update the list as we encounter more):</p> <p> * At the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Schofield Hotel</a> in Cleveland, you can stay in a suite designed to look just like Ralphie's home in the classic holiday comedy <em>A Christmas Story</em>. In addition to holiday decor, the room will have bunny-suit robes, a decoder ring, Lifebuoy soap, and, of course, a sexy leg lamp. Don't expect to find a Red Ryder BB gun, however, because, well . . . </p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> Rates for the Ralphie Suite start at $679 per night.</p> <p> * The <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain</a> near Tucson will soon unveil a lifesize gingerbread house where up to six guests at a time can have lunch or dinner. The edible structure will be constructed from 400 pounds of honey, 856 pounds of sugar, 350 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of ginger powder, 50 pounds of cinnamon, 10 pounds of nutmeg, and 250 eggs. There will be a working fireplace inside, too.</p> <p> * Finally, there's the borderline-appalling Christmas State of Mind Package at <a href="" rel="nofollow">Langham Place</a> in New York City. For an astronomical $150,000, you get accommodations in a brand-new penthouse, use of a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, an eight-course tasting menu served in your suite by a James Beard Award-winning chef, four seats at the New York theatrical production of your choice, four VIP tickets to the top of the Empire State Building, two in-room massages, and a fully decorated Christmas tree in your room—<em>with wrapped gifts for you to open</em>. </p> <p> It's billed as a Christmas package, but the money-to-burn, let-them-eat-cake feel of it makes us think more of Bastille Day. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:fe1a3c5e-9e34-4421-8c0f-127257b499fd One Year After Paris Terror Attacks, French Tourism Still Struggling Thu, 17 Nov 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> November 13 was the first anniversary of the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people—and <a href="" rel="nofollow">France's tourism industry is still struggling to recover</a>. </p> <p> After a promising start to the year, incoming flights to the country dropped a little over 1% in the second quarter, while flights to Paris were down about 4%. Though final figures for the third quarter aren't available yet, analysts estimate that the Bastille Day attacks in Nice only worsened the situation. They expect a significant decline in the number of Americans visiting France during the holiday season as well.</p> <p> But French tourism officials are optimistic about the prospect of a rebound in 2017. They point to a number of upcoming hotel openings in Paris and new museums and cultural events throughout the country.</p> <p> While the numbers are down in Paris and Nice, cities such as Lyon, Marseille, and Bordeaux—where the wine shrine Cité du Vin opened this year—have actually experienced increases in tourism recently.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:9928e25c-58ec-4540-b0f6-ef2c792bb702 Fewer Human Beings Will Be Manning Security Lines At Airports Soon Wed, 16 Nov 2016 05:10:00 GMT <p> So the question becomes: is that a good or a bad thing?</p> <p> Sure, it's fashionable, and even bi-partisan, to hate TSA Agents. They've been accused of everything from feeling up grandmothers to stealing Iphones to allowing weapons to float right by them and onto planes. Sometimes these complaints are fantasy, and sometimes they're dead on.</p> <p> But as someone who's noticed that we haven't been hit with a major airplane attack since 9/11, I have to give a tip of the hat to these hardworking, woefully underpaid men and women: they're obviously doing something right. And we, the public, would only know when something major went wrong, which hasn't happened.</p> <p> So it's was with slightly mixed feelings that I read that at Chicago's O'Hare Airport American Airlines and United Airlines have added automated lanes to the security area. They don't replace the human who stares at the screen, looking for contraband and weapons. But they will automatically re-stack the bins that travelers use and feed those bins into the machine (so no longer will customers have to push their bags along the rollers). The automated system also has cameras taking photos of the outside of the bags, which can then be matched with the X-ray of the interior of the bag. And each bin has a tracking device on it, so the system knows where it, and its contents, are throughout the process.</p> <p> Some TSA Agents, one must assume, have lost their jobs this week in the Windy City.</p> <p> For more information the new system, which could be coming to an airport near you soon, <a href="" rel="nofollow">click here.</a></p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:1d94acec-a707-4f6a-ba3d-e0df044dea84 Luxury Tour of "Outlander" Locations in Scotland Wed, 16 Nov 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> We can't help you follow in the exact footsteps of <em>Outlander</em>'s Claire Randall Fraser. After all, she toggles between the 20th and the 18th centuries on that hit Starz show, and, unfortunately, time travel is the one type of travel Frommer's hasn't mastered yet.</p> <p> But for superfans of the series drawn to the beauty of its Scottish filming locations, luxury travel company Artisans of Leisure has the next best thing: a 10-day <a href="" rel="nofollow"><em>Outlander</em>-themed vacation in Scotland</a>.  </p> <p> The private tour includes the services of an expert guide, accommodations at opulent hotels and resorts, and stops at numerous locales featured in <em>Outlander</em>—both the TV series and the novels by Diana Gabaldon. Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, Fort William, Inverness, and the Perthshire countryside are all on the itinerary. </p> <p> The focus might be on the 18th century, but the prices have been adjusted for the present—and then some. The trip will set you back $12,650.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:91d6f2bc-beaf-4b31-bb24-07c3d9c88946 Basic Fares Come to United Airlines: You Must Pay to Use Overhead Bins Tue, 15 Nov 2016 23:30:00 GMT <p> Hello Middle Seat!</p> <p> United Airlines announced today that they were following Delta's lead and would be offerring so-called "Basic Economy Fares". When Delta started offering similar fares in the summer of 2015, they offerred a savings of between $10 and $25 per flight, on average. So they're definitely cheaper, but boy can they be ugly.</p> <p> Buy one and you'll be assigned a seat, with no choice whatsoever (and that will also go for parents traveling with children, apparently). You won't get points that you can use towards upping your status with the airline, though you will get some other form of points. (How the points will differ is unclear). You'll be the last one allowed to board. But that won't matter because roll-aboard suitcases will be verboten for those with basic fare tickets.</p> <p> Buy this most affordable seat and you'll only be allowed one carry on, and it will have to be of the small sort that fits under the seat—the overhead bins will be unavailable to you.</p> <p> That last point is important as it means that you'll likely have to check a bag, so do check what happens to the overall fare once you factor in the fee for baggage. On most airlines, the baggage fees alone are $25, which could wipe out any savings on the final cost of the flight.</p> <p> This new class of seats will go on sale beginning in January, for flights that start in March. Read the Associated Press' <a href="" rel="nofollow">take here</a>.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:7f91868f-c910-41ab-ac01-d57a9915e657 Venice Protests Dwindling Population Amid Tourist Congestion Tue, 15 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> Venice might be one of the world's most beautiful places, but you wouldn't want to live there, according to the Venetians who staged a <a href="" rel="nofollow">demonstration in the Italian lagoon city</a> on Saturday. </p> <p> Waving maroon and yellow flags and carrying empty suitcases, dozens of residents participated in a symbolic procession out of the city—otherwise known as "Venexodus"—meant to draw attention to Venice's falling population.</p> <p> The trouble is the more than 20 million tourists who pour into the city each year, clogging narrow streets and making it difficult to complete daily tasks like food shopping. </p> <p> The protesters argue that city officials have done too much to accommodate visitors and not enough to help overburdened residents, who face not only congestion but also inflated housing costs brought on, they say, by short-term vacation rentals. </p> <p> As a consequence, the city's population of permanent residents has been steadily decreasing, some say by as much as 1,000 people per year.</p> <p> Many would like to see tourism limited by a booking system. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:94a7816d-c3cb-41d3-8854-428b9f33b106 Artist Paints Portrait on Rapidly Melting Arctic Ice Floe Mon, 14 Nov 2016 13:17:00 GMT <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> (<em>photo: Instagram / @<a href="" rel="nofollow">the_hula</a></em>)</p> <p> For his latest work, Hawaiian-born <a href="" rel="nofollow">artist Sean Yoro</a> traveled to the Canadian Arctic to paint the portrait of a local Inuit girl on a rapidly melting ice floe. </p> <p> Titled "What if You Fly," the project was documented by photographer and filmmaker Renan Ozturk—whose work will be the only lasting record of the piece, due to the speed with which the ice floes in the region are disappearing. </p> <p> In fact, Yoro wasn't able to complete the portrait because his canvas ultimately proved too fragile to support his weight. </p> <p> Beyond the goal of creating something hauntingly beautiful, the artist told CNN that he wanted to raise awareness about climate change.</p> <p> "I think just visually it's important that people can see how quickly that ice is melting," he says. "You know there's hundreds of articles on climate change, but I want to be that little visual voice that people can actually, hopefully have more of a connection with."</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:ea934287-e782-4602-9c58-23f7d6fa8548 Canada's Capital City Planning Yearlong Celebration of Country's 150th Birthday Mon, 14 Nov 2016 12:58:00 GMT <p> Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday next year, and the country's capital city is going all out. </p> <p> A yearlong event dubbed <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ottawa 2017</a> will feature a slew of concerts, museum exhibits, sports tournaments, and fireworks shows—including a showstopping display on Canada Day, July 1. </p> <p> The city's Canadian Museum of History and the National Gallery of Canada are both getting upgrades for the occasion, and throughout the year, 17 "epic stunts and gatherings" will be staged designed to highlight unconventional spaces. Among the ones already announced: a sunset yoga session held on a barge floating down a local waterway and accompanied by a live orchestra.</p> <p> For more information on all the stuff that's planned, check out the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Ottawa 2017 website</a>.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f84513f5-a70d-4aae-a46f-9eff74317556 Turkey Issues U.S. Travel Warning Following Anti-Trump Protests Mon, 14 Nov 2016 12:30:00 GMT <p> Turkey—a frequent subject of travel advisories issued by the U.S. government—<a href="" rel="nofollow">has released a warning</a> of its own, alerting Turkish citizens to the dangers of visiting the United States. </p> <p> In a statement, the Foreign Ministry cited a wave of anti-Donald Trump demonstrations following the presidential election last week as a reason for the warning. The agency noted that the protests "occasionally featured acts of crime and violence."</p> <p> Additionally, the warning mentioned increasing "racist" and "anti-immigrant" verbal and physical attacks in the United States.  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:fac2c0ac-c327-4f60-958e-8e83fcf014c1 Have Joint, Will Travel....And Travel...And Travel Thu, 10 Nov 2016 22:54:00 GMT <p> Though the election was a buzz kill for many, there was a silver lining for some: a growing haze of pot smoke.</p> <p> California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine all legalized recreational marijuana, which led industry magazine <a href="" rel="nofollow">Travel Weekly</a> to wonder if this is now the golden age of "cannabis tourism"?</p> <p> As the magazine noted, both Colorado and Washington State, which legalized bud several years ago, have thriving hotels and tours devoted to marijuana use. Now that biggies California and Nevada have joined the party (each get well over 40 million visitors a year), will they too create specialized tourist facilities for the enjoyment of drugs?</p> <p> It's an open question. We may see more people scarfing down five lobster rolls in one sitting in Maine. Or standing around and giggling in Yosemite, on the Freedom Trail in Boston or in front of the slots of Sin City. But with so many states now legal, will folks still be traveling to puff? Or will this development have the opposite effect? After all, it can be hard to get off the couch, never mind get to an airport, when you've smoked several bowls....or so we've heard.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:05269b11-d994-41d2-a035-4adbb36d18ff Free Admission at U.S. National Parks on November 11 Thu, 10 Nov 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> All of us could probably use some fresh air after the contentious election season that finally came to a close this week.</p> <p> Fortunately, the <a href="" rel="nofollow">National Park Service's last free-admission day of the year</a> is tomorrow, November 11. </p> <p> The occasion is Veterans Day, but you don't have to have served in the military to get in free at any National Park Service site. Keep in mind, however, that we're talking about admission fees only; charges for camping, tours, and other extras still apply. </p> <p> Next year's free-fee dates haven't been announced yet, but you can expect to get word soon. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:2cf6cc4a-f9f8-4b17-bb4d-66232c4fd166 Amtrak Vacations Introduces New Trip Packages Thu, 10 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Amtrak Vacations has announced 25 new rail-based vacation packages</a>, bringing the grand total of its itineraries to about 350.</p> <p> The packages can be purchased in a bundle or customized to get you to scores of locations in the 46 states where Amtrak operates.</p> <p> The marquee offering of the new additions is called Grand National Parks. It's a round-trip journey between Chicago and three of the country's most popular national parks: Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. </p> <p> The trip takes 13 days and includes eight nights of hotel accommodations and four nights on Amtrak trains. Prices start at $2,849. Visit <a href="" rel="nofollow">Amtrak Vacations's website</a> for more info. </p> <p> </p> <p class="p1">  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:709212b0-70a4-4b79-aaaa-41a0adbc26b8 White Cliffs of Dover and Other Tourist Sites Facing Extinction Thu, 10 Nov 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> Scientists revealed this week that the famous White Cliffs of Dover in England are eroding at a rate of 12 inches per year—10 times faster than they were losing ground before humankind began making changes to the coastline in the last 150 years. </p> <p> In case that piece of bad news has you hankering for more, Britain's <a href="" rel="nofollow"><em>Daily Mail</em> has rounded up</a> several more priceless world treasures facing extinction due to "climate change, deforestation, tourism, and industry." They include:</p> <p> Venice, which is sinking;</p> <p> the Great Wall of China, which is crumbling;</p> <p> the Dead Sea, which is drying up;</p> <p> the Maldives, which are being swallowed up by rising ocean levels;</p> <p> and Montana's Glacier National Park, which is melting.</p> <p> The future looks a little dimmer now, doesn't it?</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c8e4df9b-8d9b-472b-a461-3664f1ffc19f Survey Finds Top Houseguest Pet Peeves Wed, 09 Nov 2016 05:05:00 GMT <p> Snooping around and staying for an indefinite period are the two most annoying things you can do as a houseguest, according to a <a href="" rel="nofollow">survey conducted by HomeAdvisor</a>. </p> <p> The house-services listings site polled 2,000 Americans to find out their biggest pet peeves related to hosting friends and family members during visits. Other top responses included showing up unannounced, bringing another guest along, and criticizing the free accommodations. </p> <p> Yup, all of those sound pretty irritating. </p> <p> Not bringing a gift or sending a thank-you note afterward rated low on the list of peeves. And it's a good thing, because according to the survey, 70% of us don't do the former and 60% don't do the latter.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:1970a15f-d2c0-4e1b-b98a-678d74db3278 Australian Tourism Campaign Adopts Unfortunate Slogan Wed, 09 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> A new <a href="" rel="nofollow">tourism ad campaign</a> has been launched for Australia's Northern Territory (the NT), a desert region best known as the home of red sandstone monolith Ayers Rock (or Uluru). </p> <p> The marketing push has caused a stir on social media because of the slogan, which looks like this:</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" /></a></p> <p> <em>(photo: Facebook / <a href="" rel="nofollow">CU in the NT</a>)</em></p> <p> In case you can't see the image on your device, allow us to spell it out for you (so to speak):</p> <p> "CU in the NT"</p> <p> Charming.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:2c83a654-3fe9-411c-8043-fc171034519d Tourism Numbers Up in Greece Wed, 09 Nov 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Tourism in Greece</a> appears to have benefited this year from a period of relative political stabiilty and a reluctance on the part of international travelers to visit nearby destinations like Turkey and Egypt due to security concerns. </p> <p> Officials in Greece's tourism ministry announced this week that international arrivals were up 7% in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2015. By the end of this year, more than 27 million foreign visitors are expected to have spent time in the country—a new record. </p> <p> The tourism numbers are a rare economic bright spot for Greece, which has been stuck since 2008 in a debt crisis that has resulted in three huge international bailouts and strict austerity measures on the country's budget.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c38f8158-684b-443b-ae86-5e5bc5933a9e More and More Business Travelers Using Uber Instead of Taxis Tue, 08 Nov 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> An increasing number of business travelers are making the switch from taxis and rental cars to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, <a href="" rel="nofollow">according to a report from Certify</a>, a company that makes software for managing travel expenses. </p> <p> Analyzing more than 10 million receipts for ground transportation from the third quarter of this year, Certify found that Uber and Lyft accounted for the majority of those expenses (52%) for the first time ever.</p> <p> Taxi use, meanwhile, is down 63% from the beginning of 2014.</p> <p> "We continue to see interest in the ride-sharing economy," said Certify CEO Robert Neveu. "Small to medium businesses were the early adopters. Now, more Fortune 500 companies are adding them to approved vendor lists." </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:d2708073-07c1-4211-8b77-f45ecf1548ef Antigovernment Violence Threatens Ethiopia's Tourism Gains Tue, 08 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Until this month, Ethiopian tourism had been on the upswing. </span></p> <p class="p2">  </p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">The European Council on Tourism and Trade named the country the world’s top travel destination in 2015, and it was on track to receive more than a million tourists this year for the first time ever. </span></p> <p class="p2">  </p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Then, violent antigovernment protests erupted all across the country, causing the government to declare a six-month state of emergency. Both the U.S. and the U.K. have issued warnings advising against any nonessential travel there.</span></p> <p class="p2">  </p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">The violence and the advisories could have a <a href="" rel="nofollow">dire impact on Ethiopia’s fledgling travel industry</a>, even though the primary tourism draws—including archaeological sites, national parks, and mountain ranges—are far from the areas experiencing unrest. </span></p> <p class="p2">  </p> <p class="p2"> <span style="-webkit-text-stroke-width:initial;">The country’s optimists are hoping that the state of emergency will be lifted earlier than planned, before the tourism boom goes bust. </span></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:cc6b1ef4-b1cc-4bae-bff6-fe027d1e1155 Trump Tower a Delicate Matter for Chicago Tour Guides Tue, 08 Nov 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">You can add Chicago tour guides to the list of people made miserable by the 2016 presidential election. </span></p> <p class="p2"> The city’s popular architecture cruises drift past a number of pioneering buildings flanking the Chicago River. And one unavoidable skyscraper on the itinerary happens to bear the name of a certain polarizing presidential nominee spelled out in giant letters on its side. </p> <p class="p2"> “It is stressful going by Trump tower,” a riverboat docent named Charlie Vergos told the <a href="" rel="nofollow"><em>Chicago Sun-Times</em></a>. “You have to kind of calm everybody down preemptively.”</p> <p class="p2"> Some passengers clap, he says. Others boo. Everybody tenses up. </p> <p class="p2"> In more extreme cases, people have been known to give the building the finger, chant “build the wall,” and ask about burning the place down. One guy gave it a Nazi salute.</p> <p class="p2"> Other guides who spoke with the <em>Sun-Times</em> said they’ve tried to defuse the tension with humor, stay above the fray by focusing on the architecture, or flat out plead with passengers to leave their politics at the dock.</p> <p class="p2"> What’ll happen on the tours after the election?</p> <p class="p2"> <span style="-webkit-text-stroke-width:initial;">Says guide Billy Dean: “If [Trump] wins, [the tower] becomes political forever. If he loses, I’m going to make fun of it. I don’t know what it is about the American spirit, but the second someone’s a loser they’re totally fair game.”</span></p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:599050cf-8bd3-40f6-8b03-74115376d6f7 New Mobile App Helps You Find Workspace Anywhere in the World Mon, 07 Nov 2016 05:03:00 GMT <p> Generally, we recommend using travel as a chance to unplug from the workaday world. But when something important comes up and that becomes simply unfeasible, there's a <a href="" rel="nofollow">handy new mobile app</a> that'll help you get work done no matter where you are in the world. </p> <p> Launched in October, <a href="" rel="nofollow">Workfrom</a> recommends crowd-sourced public and private workspaces based on the reviews of other users. All you have to do is enter your location and preferences, such as type of space (public library, coffee shop, what have you), noise level, outlet availability, and Wi-Fi situation. </p> <p> At the moment, there are listings for locations in 1,200 cities across the globe.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:2d781367-c9d9-4bee-ae1d-71f4aed71a0c New Details About Universal's Planned Water Park—Including Wearable Tech to Cut Wait Times Mon, 07 Nov 2016 05:02:00 GMT <p> Universal Orlando Resort released new details last week about its upcoming Volcano Bay water park, which is set to open at the central Florida amusement complex next summer.</p> <p> We now know that the park's centerpiece, a 200-foot artificial volcano, will be a state-of-the-art "aqua coaster" with caves, waterfalls, twists, turns, and drops that riders will experience while seated in a specially designed canoe that can go uphill as well as down. </p> <p> Perhaps even more intriguing, when you arrive at Volcano Bay you'll receive a bracelet that lets you wait in a virtual line at one attraction while busy with another; then the bracelet alerts you when it's time to return to the first spot—a system designed to keep you from standing in line all day.</p> <p> The bracelets are also equipped with technology that allows you to trigger special effects—shooting water cannons, lighting up images in caverns—with the tap of a finger, similar to the mischief you can make with an interactive wand at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.   </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:bd181b60-a0c6-4cbf-8048-3749110cc88a The Best Time to Buy Holiday Flights? It's Now. DO IT NOW. Mon, 07 Nov 2016 05:01:00 GMT <p> There are exactly 48 days 'til Christmas. If you plan to travel for the end-of-year holidays, now might be a good time to buy your plane tickets, according to a <a href="" rel="nofollow">study released by travel search engine Momondo</a>. </p> <p> Analyzing 13.2 billion airfares across the 100 routes most frequently searched by American users of the site, Momondo's study found that you can save an average of 28% on Christmas and New Year's flights by booking them in early November.</p> <p> In other words, GO RIGHT NOW.</p> <p> Other insights gleaned from the study: Tuesday is usually the cheapest day of the week to fly, Saturday is the most expensive, morning departures cost more than evening ones, and London is the most popular international destination for American travelers.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:aa0aee02-f5da-4b33-b967-e282111e888a How Veep Nominee Mike Pence's Plane Was Stopped When It Overshot the Runway Fri, 04 Nov 2016 04:03:00 GMT <p> When a campaign plane carrying Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence skidded off the runway during a rainy landing at New York's LaGuardia Airport last week, no one on board was injured.</p> <p> And for that, they can thank the airport's "<a href="" rel="nofollow">arrestor bed</a>," a block of lightweight, crushable cement designed to collapse under the weight of a plane in order to slow it down after it overshoots the runway.</p> <p> You can find arrestor beds at the ends of more than 100 runways at U.S. airports including Boston Logan, Chicago Midway, and San Diego International. </p> <p> Federal Aviation Administration guidelines call for safety areas that extend 1,000 feet beyond the end of each runway, but in airports—like LaGuardia—built before the standards were implemented, other solutions had to be found.</p> <p> Hence Pence's rescue by crushable concrete. </p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:68763c29-eded-4a30-adeb-5da33a515623 Following Earthquakes, Is Italy Travel Still Safe? Fri, 04 Nov 2016 04:02:00 GMT <p> The 6.6-magnitude earthquake that hit central Italy on Sunday—the country's largest since 1980—was only the latest in a series of <a href="" rel="nofollow">tremors that have shaken Italy since summer</a>. </p> <p> Just days before the quake in Norcia destroyed historic buildings, left thousands of people homeless, and injured more than a dozen (though no deaths were reported), there were back-to-back earthquakes in Macerata, each with a magnitude higher than 5 on the Richter scale. And in August, a quake in Amatrice killed 300.</p> <p> Seismologists blame the recent activity on stresses in the Apennine Mountains' fault system, which can cause a ripple effect and aftershocks for years to come.  </p> <p> Does this mean it's no longer safe to travel in Italy?  </p> <p> Well, it's important to remember that, owing to the two tectonic plates pushing against one another in the southern part of the country, earthquakes here are nothing new. Over the centuries, the big cities and major tourist attractions have figured out ways to minimize the damage (though smaller towns might be less prepared).</p> <p> What's more, the seismic activity has not as of yet prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a Travel Alert or Warning about visiting the country.</p> <p> For now, that Roman holiday should still be a go. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:c2330a1c-4114-4bae-8904-3e33660e3a9d Hyatt Revamps Loyalty Program, Rewarding Spending Instead of Stays Fri, 04 Nov 2016 04:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Hyatt Hotels Corporation plans to revamp its loyalty program</a> next year. </p> <p> On March 1, the Hyatt Gold Passport will be replaced by the World of Hyatt program, which will have three tiers of membership instead of the Gold Passport's two. </p> <p> But the main difference has to do with how loyalty points will be rewarded. Rather than basing status on the number of stays, World of Hyatt members will accrue perks (room upgrades, expedited check-in, and so on) according to the number of nights and the amount of money spent at Hyatt hotels. </p> <p> So, for example, whereas you reached Hyatt Gold Passport's lowest tier after five stays or 15 nights per calendar year, qualification for World of Hyatt's bottom tier requires 10 nights or 25,000 points per calendar year, with 5 points given for each dollar spent at the property.</p> <p> In other words, you'll earn those membership perks faster the more stuff you buy at the hotel—which might be fine for, say, business travelers, who can often charge hotel meals and other services to their companies.  </p> <p> But budget-conscious guests paying their own way are liable to earn rewards points at a slower clip, even if they stay at Hyatt hotels every time they travel.</p> <p> Which makes the program less a reward for loyalty than for having deep pockets. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:f0db9419-2c5f-4b2c-9126-7e2e91b8e6ce Jane Goodall-Approved Wildlife Tours Announced Thu, 03 Nov 2016 04:03:00 GMT <p> For travelers who want close encounters with wildlife but also want to respect animals' freedom, <a href="" rel="nofollow">G Adventures has introduced the Jane Goodall Collection</a> of vacations.  </p> <p> It's a selection of 20 critter-centric tours endorsed by the renowned primatologist. Options include safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, river cruises in the Amazon, island hopping in the Galápagos, kayaking in Costa Rica, and chilly adventures in the Arctic Circle. Among the animals (humanely) featured: polar bears, big cats, marine life, and, this being Goodall, apes galore.</p> <p> Prices range from $699 for a journey into the jungles of Ecuador to $6,000 for a polar bear experience in Canada.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:fcf7c796-e332-4a55-a0cf-082da305bdbb New England Ski Resorts Improving Snowmaking Capacity After Disappointing 2015-16 Season Thu, 03 Nov 2016 04:02:00 GMT <p> The winter of 2015-16 was the warmest on record for many parts of New England, according to the National Weather Service.</p> <p> For the region's ski resorts, that meant a marked lack of natural snowfall. Vermont's Killington Mountain Resort, for instance, only got 81 inches all season (way down from an average of 250 inches), while Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts received a pitiful 28 inches. </p> <p> That, in turn, resulted in a disappointing year for business. After an estimated 13.3 million skiers and snowboarders poured into the Northeast in 2014-15, last year got 9.3 million visitors—the lowest number in 35 years.</p> <p> In case Old Man Winter turns out to be stingy again in 2016-17, many <a href="" rel="nofollow">New England resorts have spent the intervening months ramping up their snowmaking systems</a>.</p> <p> After multimillion-dollar improvements, Maine's Sunday River Resort now has 2,000 snow guns. The new owners of Vermont's Magic Mountain rushed to make artificial precipitation a priority almost immediately after acquiring the ski area in August. And Wachusett's management has invested $2 million in doubling the mountain's pumping capacity in order to make powder faster.</p> <p> The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a colder than usual winter with above-average precipitation. But after last year, these ski resorts aren't taking any chances. </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:68ce7a02-e826-4590-8201-004cf399a78c Study: Tarmac-Delay Rule Has Not Led to More Canceled Flights Thu, 03 Nov 2016 04:01:00 GMT <p> It's been six years now since the Department of Transportation introduced a rule that penalizes airlines with hefty fines every time they leave passengers sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours before departure or after landing on domestic flights.</p> <p> At the time of the rule's 2010 implementation, airline executives warned that it would result in an increase in canceled flights, as carriers would simply call off delayed departures to avoid penalties. </p> <p> Sure enough, studies found that in the first three years that the rule was in effect, airlines did indeed cancel more flights—especially on routes prone to delays. </p> <p> But according to an <a href="" rel="nofollow">audit by the Office of the Inspector General</a>, the situation improved so much in the following 12 months that the agency was able to conclude, ultimately, that the tarmac-delay rule did not lead to an increase in canceled flights in the long term. </p> <p> Not surprisingly, the rule did, however, help to speed up departures. The percentage of flights with tarmac delays of an hour or more fell by almost half after the rule was established; waits of more than two hours decreased by 70%.</p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:364dcc5b-95ce-479c-8d9b-a7ab718a5d00 The Only Cruise Ship That Welcomes Dogs and Cats Wed, 02 Nov 2016 12:15:00 GMT <p> Reflecting the growing trend of traveling with pets, there are tons of dog- and cat-friendly hotels and vacation rentals to choose from. But when it comes to taking your fur ball on a cruise, you have exactly one option: Cunard's freshly renovated Queen Mary 2, the <a href="" rel="nofollow">only passenger vessel at sea that allows dogs and cats</a> (other than service animals, of course).</p> <p> Even then, they're only allowed on Deck 12, which has a newly expanded kennel area, thanks to the ship's recent multimillion-dollar overhaul; up to 24 animals can be accommodated. The space features indoor and outdoor areas for play and exercise, and the decor includes a fire hydrant and original, pet-themed artwork.</p> <p> Each pooch and kitty gets freshly baked treats as well as a fleece coat emblazoned with the Queen Mary 2 logo. </p> <p> A full-time kennel master is on board to take care of feeding and walking and such, but you can hang out with your pet as much as you want during the day.</p> <p> Prices range from $800-$1,000 per sailing.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:823abb8f-d641-47eb-8379-53b4692a284ePost:8bb748fc-ae31-4cc7-88b6-b8495d44d15c