Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by Kel Varnsen, Mar 10, 2006.
I'm off to Bermuda!
In August, that is. Should be hot and humid
Travel deals to Beruit right now
TRAVEL ADVANCE (R)
Volume XVI, Number 141
Monday, July 24, 2006
PROTESTORS DRIVE TOURISTS FROM MEXICAN RESORT. Protestors have taken over the center of Oaxaca, making tourists show identification at makeshift checkpoints, smashing the windows of quaint hotels and spray-painting revolutionary slogans. Police are nowhere in sight. Gunmen attacked Oaxaca's university radio station over the weekend, the latest in a wave of confrontations and protests that have driven many tourists out of the historic Mexican city. No one was hurt in the attack. Oaxaca is not the tranquil cultural gem beloved by tourists from the U.S. and Europe. A month of protests to try to oust the governor have forced authorities to cancel many events, including the Guelaguetza dance festival, Most tourists are staying away, costing the city millions of dollars. The protests have reduced tourism by 75%, costing the city more than $45 million, according to a business lobby. (Chicago Tribune.com; AP; Denver Post.com, 7/22; Page 14A, Miami Herald, 7/22)
BIG DIG TUNNEL OPENED TO BUSES. The eastbound side of the Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston reopened to bus traffic on Friday morning, a day after it was closed because of fears that ceiling panels might fall. For the time being, state police cruisers will escort the buses at low speeds to ensure they do not knock into barriers protecting the scaffolding that props up the panels. The westbound side of the tunnel is open to all traffic. The tunnel, which runs under Boston Harbor, connects downtown Boston to Logan International Airport. Travelers waiting for buses to the airport on Friday said they were worried about the tunnel and the Big Dig highway system in general, but not enough to keep they from taking a bus through it. (Page A24, New York Times, 7/22)
INVESTIGATORS TO EXAMINE CRUISE SHIP'S "BLACK BOX" DATA. Investigators looking into what caused the Crown Princess to suddenly list to one side shortly after leaving Port Canaveral, Fla., on July 18 will gather data from the ship's "black box." Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said a team will examine the information on the ship's data recorder, including the speed, steering and direction of the vessel. Unlike airplanes, cruise ships do not also have voice recorders in the ship's bridge or engine rooms. The ship's captain, Andrew Proctor, and the crew that operates the ship were administered drug and alcohol tests as part of the investigation, Holloway said, adding that this is standard with any accident investigation. The results of those tests have not been announced. However, inspectors found that the ship was mechanically safe and cleared it to return to service, according to the Coast Guard. The Crown Princess sailed Saturday evening for a shortened cruise to the Turks and Caicos islands. Passengers sailing on the abbreviated trip will get a 50% refund of their fare, Princess Cruises said. (AP; CayCompass.com; 7/23; Travel Weekly.com, 7/21)
GAS PRICES HIT ALL-TIME HIGH. Nationwide gasoline prices hit an all-time high in the last two weeks, rising nearly 2 cents to just over $3 a gallon, according to a survey released Sunday. The national average for self-serve regular stood at $3.0150 a gallon Friday, up 1.98 cents in the last two weeks, according to the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations across the country. The price exceeded the previous high of $3.0117 set in September last year, analyst Trilby Lundberg said. (AP; Fort Worth Star-Telegram.com/Business)
*AAA reports that rising gasoline prices have triggered an increase in visits to its Fuel Finder Web site, which allows travelers to find gas stations selling low-cost fuel. AAA said visits to the site, which is available on local AAA club Web sites, jumped nearly 168% in the past year. During the same period the average price of fuel rose from $2.16 a gallon to $2.91. AAA's Fuel Cost Calculator uses current gasoline prices from AAA's Fuel Gauge Report and latest highway fuel economy ratings to estimate the amount and cost of gasoline needed to complete a trip based on the make and model of the car. (TravelAgent Central.com, 7/21; Special to TA)
*Travel experts predicted that $3-a-gallon gasoline would not keep Americans home this summer. So far, they seem to be right. Local tourist attractions in Texas are still attracting large crowds. Hotel rooms are booked with convention goers and out-of-state visitors. From January to June, more than 256,000 people stopped at the Texas Travel Information Center on Interstate 35 in Gainesville on their way into Texas. That's up 41% from the same period last year, officials said. With summer about half over, the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau said attendance for local conventions has been strong. Bureau president Doug Harman projects that 100,000 people will have visited Fort Worth for a convention or meeting from June through August, up 15% from the same period in 2005. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram.com/Business)
DRIVING MAY PLACE TOLL ON PRIVACY. Imagine a database that tracks your driving for miles. Or a car that records every inch you drive, everywhere. Or high-tech cameras that look in your car, analyze and record what they see. All are serious government initiatives, responding in part to a national transportation funding crunch. Many states and counties have thrown up their hands at the ability of traditional road budgets to maintain, much less build, the roads they need. They are turning to other sources of money, including toll roads, often jump--started with private investment. And these roads will be wired. Planners and scientists are working on a range of high-tech scanners they hope will save money, run roads more efficiently and help pay for road projects. They say privacy will be protected. Privacy advocates, however, aren't so sure. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution.com)
CZECH REPUBLIC TAPPING INTO BEER TOURISM. The Czechs drink more beer per capita than anyone else in the world, the equivalent of about a bottle a day for every person in the country. That meshes nicely with the broader boom in beer culture and connoisseurship. Now, Czech entrepreneurs are busy trying to match the wine tourism of France, Italy or Napa Valley--spas and all. Beer tourism--stopping at microbreweries to taste the beer and meet the families that own them, as opposed to taking the big commercial tours at major breweries is still so much in its infancy in the Czech Republic that there are no statistics on the number of people doing it, although last year this country of 10 million people had 6 million visitors. Many of the breweries have only recently opened tourist facilities. (Page P1, Wall Street Journal, 7/22)
FLIGHT PLANS. Today, USA Today introduces a new weekly column, called "Flight Plans," which looks at the week in airports. Today's column reports on the start of a modernization project at Los Angeles International Airport, the completion of renovations to Phoenix's Terminal 4, the availability of airport podcasts at Dallas/Fort Worth International and how to catch some zzz's at Vancouver International (Page 3B, USA Today)
*The Wall Street Journal's "Weekend Journal" taste-tests airline snack boxes. United Airlines' Rite Bite was rated the best snack box, while ATA's was rated worst. Air Canada had the best muffin and best sandwich, and American Airlines had the worst muffin. (Page P8, Wall Street Journal, 7/22)
RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION SHOW TO REMAIN IN CHICAGO. The National Restaurant Association's annual trade show, a major event that this year drew 74,000 people and 2,080 exhibiting companies, will remain at Chicago's McCormick Place at least through 2011. A new five-year contract, announced Friday, stanches a loss of group business that has reduced Chicago from the number-one convention and trade show destination in the country to number three, behind Las Vegas and Orlando, numbers one and two, respectively. "NRA's commitment to Chicago is welcome news for the 130,000 Chicagoans who work for hotels, restaurants, attractions and other businesses that serve our visitors," said Mayor Richard M. Daley, who appeared at a press conference with NRA CEO Steven Anderson to announce the deal. (MiMegasite.com, 7/21)
<<<<<<< News and Trends from the Sunday Papers >>>>>>>
THE CONFLICT between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah has many travelers putting off trips to the region. Travel companies are mainly accommodating those requests and waiving penalties. "We've been through this before," said Eileen Hart, vice president of marketing for Isram World, one of the largest American operators of tours to Israel. As of July 17, about 25% of its scheduled travelers to Israel had canceled and 90 clients already in Israel were rerouted. Arie Sommer, Israel's commissioner of tourism to north America, said he was recommending that travelers avoid northern Israel and instead visit places like Eilat and Jerusalem. The high-end tour operator Travcoa canceled its October trip to Israel altogether and is letting guests rebook without penalty for travel to Israel or other destinations through 2007. El Al is waiving change fees, but said it has seen only a few cancellations.
Delta, which flies nonstop between Atlanta and Tel Aviv, is waiving change fees for those flights through July. (Sect. 5, Page 2, New York Times)
DESPITE higher air fares and an unfavorable exchange rate, Americans continue to flock to Europe. In fact, the European Travel Commission expects the number of American visitors this year to surpass the record 13.12 million that traveled to Europe in 2000. Airlines are responding with more flights. Back Aviation Solutions, an industry consulting firm, said that the number of departures to Europe for June, July and August is up about 7% over last year, to 35,223. (Sect. 5, Page 2, New York Times)
MOST historic tourist sites on the Indonesian island of Java appeared to be been unaffected by last week's tsunami that swamped Pangandaran beach near Ciamis town and other nearby resorts and fishing villages on the southern coast, killing hundreds. Some 379 deaths were reported from the giant waves, which were caused by an undersea earthquake. Tourism officials in Jakarta said most beach resorts in the affected area were "extremely damaged," including hotels and other facilities. The airport in Ciamis appeared undamaged, a local newspaper reported. So far, no Americans were reported among the dead. Nearly all the victims were Indonesians, although a Pakistani, Swede and a Dutch citizen were among those killed, the AP said. (Los Angeles Times.com/Travel)
ACCESS America, a travel insurance company based in Richmond, Va., has added optional coverage for trips that are canceled because of work. The program, called BizPack, reimburses travelers for deposits and other expenses when they cancel or interrupt trips because they are required to work. For $19 per adult, customers can add the provision to the company's "classic" and "deluxe" plans, which also pay if they cancel because of illness or other emergencies and, under certain circumstances, if they are laid off from their jobs. (Los Angeles Times.com/Travel)
RECENT incidents aboard cruise ships, including last week's steering system malfunction on Princess Cruises' Crown Princess, have once again raised questions of cruise safety, says Houston Chronicle travel editor Harry Shattuck. There is no real pattern to any of these incidents--and cruising's overall safety record is commendable--but it's understandable if travelers, especially potential first-time passengers, are concerned, says Shattuck. The industry almost certainly will recover from the latest highly publicized misfortunes. The reality is that millions of people sail every year without a glitch. But it's evident that cruising's reputation has been tarnished, and some serious damage control is advisable, Shattuck said. (Houston Chronicle.com/Travel)
A FAILED deal with ATA Airlines that would have given America West Airlines a major hub in Chicago at Midway Airport was the best thing that happened to the company, Chief Executive Douglas Parker said. That failure left America West open to buying US Airways a few months later, a marriage that created the nation's fifth-largest carrier and one of its most financially healthy. And although he's still working on knitting together the two airlines' fleets, crews and cultures, Parker's interest in growing further has not waned. His airline has been mentioned as a possible partner for Northwest Airlines or Delta Air Lines, both of which have filed for bankruptcy. While such discussion is conjecture, it makes sense, Parker said. (Chicago Tribune.com/Business).
TRAVEL ADVANCE (R)
Volume XVI, Number 157
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
DELAYS CONTINUE TO BOG AIRPORTS. Passengers huddled in the rain outside Heathrow Airport and struggled to endure interminable waits Monday, as delays, cancellations and heightened security continued despite Britain's decision to lower the terror threat level (TA, 8/14). At Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, 68 flights were canceled as airlines and the airport operator struggled to restore normal service. Officials predicted that fewer flights would be affected today. But that did not mollify the thousands of passengers who were trying to fly home or go on vacation. (AP; Pages 14A, Miami Herald; A11, New York Times; 2A, USA Today)
*Beginning today, passengers flying from London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports to all destinations will be allowed to carry one item of baggage onto aircraft. Air travel restrictions that had banned most carry-on baggage were eased after the nation's terrorism alert was downgraded one notch from "critical" to "severe" on Sunday. Laptop computers, iPods, cellphones and other electronic devices are again permitted in carry-on baggage. However, passengers flying from Britain to the U.S. will be subjected to more stringent restrictions, including a secondary screening at the gate. (Pages 1A, 2A, USA Today; A11, New York Times)
*Long lines, widespread delays, cancellations, chaos and uncertainty have been the order of the day at airports across the Caribbean since the U.S. imposed new travel restrictions last week. Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands have been greatly affected by the new restrictions in the wake of the foiled terrorist plot in London. All airlines operating from the Caribbean to England and the U.S. have been forced to implement security measures that have led to delays. The move has forced the cancellations of several flights and widespread delays. (Page 10A, Miami Herald)
*With federal officials saying there are no plans to lift the ban on carrying liquids onto airplanes, a handling system already groaning under a surge in checked baggage is likely to remain a chokepoint. Airlines and airports over the weekend scrambled to beef up a fractured and straining baggage-handling system struggling with sudden 10% to 40% increases. While flight schedules returned to normal, baggage handlers were working overtime to alleviate waits of more than an hour at busy airport carousels. If the ban on liquids continues, industry experts see more flight delays, lost luggage and increased costs for airlines. But U.S. airlines say there hasn't been a drop in bookings since British authorities last week foiled the terrorist plot involving liquid explosives. (Page A1, Wall Street Journal)
*As British citizens , the 24 terror suspects arrested in England last week could have boarded planes bound for the U.S. without undergoing an American government background check or obtaining a visa, part of what officials say is a broader security gap they are now trying to close. Britain is among 27 Visa Waiver Program countries whose citizens are not required to obtain visas before traveling to the U.S., meaning that the American authorities do not have an opportunity to screen them in advance. Since Thursday, the day the plot was disclosed in London, Homeland Security officials have required that passenger data be provided before plans leave Britain for the U.S., part of a widening of temporary security measures. But because of airline concerns about flight delays and the difficulty of squaring the access to information with European privacy laws, the department's efforts to permanently require advance information on all passengers are unresolved, industry and government officials said. (Page A11, New York Times)
*With Thursday's heightened security on air travel, more companies are likely to consider videoconferencing as a business tool and alternative to travel for business meetings. The timing is propitious. Videoconferencing technology has improved dramatically and costs have plunged in recent years. In some cases--when voice, images and data are sent across the Internet instead of traditional phone lines--use is virtually free. Indeed, even before the latest aviation scare, companies were turning more to videoconferencing to save on higher costs for fuel--from the local commute by car to an international airline trip. (Page 1D, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel)
TUESDAY BUSINESS TRAVEL REPORTS.
--There's opportunity in this travel crisis, says Wall Street Journal columnist Scott McCartney. It's time for airlines and hotels to act, he says. With the new rules on air travel changed--maybe just temporarily or maybe longer--airlines and hotels need to step up quickly, to take some of the hassle out of business travel. Those that do it well could see customers shift their way. The need to check baggage, even for one-night business trips, and the time and uncertainty involved, will likely discourage some business travelers who can drive or ride trains to destinations, or get by with conference calls or e-mail. (Page D5, Wall Street Journal)
--New travel restrictions demand new travel strategies. The latest hassles don't end with carry-on restrictions. Flyers are being advised to arrive as much as two hours early for their flights to make sure they have enough time for security. They may get searched twice, because of new random checks at boarding gates. It's not clear how long travelers will have to abide the restrictions. (Page 9B, USA Today)
--Last week's disruptions in air travel gave a sharp boost to a small but fast-growing segment of the private jet market--a niche for customers who purchase time cards that allow them to fly a certain model jet by the hour. The surge in demand for flights-by-the-hour surprised some of the companies that operate these planes. They cater primarily to people who fly most of the time on commercial airlines but use the private-jet cards for special occasions, including emergencies. Most jet cards are sold in hourly increments--providing from 10 to 100 hours of on-demand flying in a specific type of plane. Other plans require a payment that works like a bank account, and is drawn down as passengers book flights in various models of jets. (Page C7, New York Times)
MAYBE THE TOUGHEST JOB ALOFT. Flight attendants, whose profession was once considered glamorous, may have one of the toughest jobs in the airline industry these days, Even before last week's terror threat came to light, they were contending with doing more with less, and for less: plans are packed fuller than they have been in decades, there are fewer perks to provide comfort and distraction for passengers, and flight attendants have seen their pay and benefits cut at many airlines. And now travelers are increasingly confused and agitated about the new restrictions and the long lines to get through security. The security threats and warnings that other plots may be in the works, have given many flight attendants a new fear of flying. (Page C1, New York Times)
GAS PRICES DROP NEARLY 4 CENTS. The average price U.S. drivers paid for gasoline fell nearly 4 cents to average $3 a gallon last week, the government said Monday. The national price for regular unleaded gasoline was 45 cents higher than a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of service stations. Separately, AAA reported the average gas price Monday was $3.004, down a penny from the day before. (Page 1B, USA Today)
HOOVER DAM VISITOR CENTER REOPENS. The Hoover Dam visitor center in Nevada reopened while authorities continue to investigate the weekend discovery of an explosive blasting cap in a construction tunnel. The visitors center was closed as a precaution after the blasting cap was found on Sunday. Authorities said there was no indication of terrorism. (AP; Page A11, New York Times)
--Condo hotels may be the hottest thing in hospitality right now, but a market study released Monday predicts that investor demand for the units will drop and a number of announced projects may not be built. Lodging Econometrics, which monitors hotel real estate trends, said in its latest forecast that demand for condo-hotel units in Orlando and other resort markets will soon soften. That could mean cancellations of projects that haven't started construction or that are still searching for financing. The study added, however, that condo-hotel construction will surge before it wanes. Four cities--Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale--account for 56% of all U.S. condo-hotel units in the pipeline as either new construction or conversions of existing hotels, the study found. (Orlando Sentinel.com/Business)
--Choice Hotels International announced the expansion of its Cambria Suites brand team in the areas of brand management and brand design and construction. The company has hired Phil Beike from Hilton Hotels and the Embassy Suites brand as a senior director, Cambria Suites brand management. Cathy Poinsett, currently a senior director, marketing communications at Choice, will now assume the role of senior director Cambria Suits brand management. And Donald Griner, will transition from Choice's senior director, product development, to senior director, Cambria Suites design and construction. (Special to TA)
--Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and SunCor Development Co. announced that a Le Meridien hotel is the latest addition to the mixed-use, master-planned project, Hayden Ferry Lakeside, in Tempe, Ariz. The 183-room, 14-story Le Meridien is the brand's first new-build property since it was acquired by Starwood in November 2005, and follows the May 26 opening of Le Meridien San Francisco. (ModernAgent.com, 8/10)
--Doubletree Hotels announced the opening of an all-suite, full-service hotel on Florida's Space Coast. The Doubletree Guest Suites Melbourne Beach Oceanfront is located one hour from Orlando and minutes from the Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral, Andretti Thrill Park and other local attractions. Two years ago, the 207-suite hotel was closed from the devastation caused by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. (Special to TA)
<<<<<<< From the Weekly News Magazines >>>>>>>
HOW MUCH RISK ARE WE WILLING TO TAKE? We should be feeling safer right now. British officials appear to have foiled a plot to blow up as many as 10 U.S.-bound passenger jets with liquid explosives hidden in carry-on luggage. So why do we feel so bad? In a world where every successful antiterrorism operation serves only to highlight another vulnerability, trying to stop the next attack can seem line an exercise in futility. Meanwhile, the airline industry, which has just reported its best quarterly profits in six years, faces a new cataclysm. London's Heathrow Airport came to a strandstill, and one of aviation's most lucrative routes, between New York City and London, suddenly seems fraught with risk. (Time.com, 8/21)
WHY HAVEN'T WE MADE AIR TRAVEL SAFER BY NOW? First the terrorists turn airplanes into missiles, now they plan to blow us up with hair gel and toothpaste. What's next? That's the problem. No one knows, says Newsweek. Because 9/11 was a breach in airport security, air travel was supposed to be fixed first. But since 2002, more than 100 media reports have documented security breaches involving knives, explosives and even handguns. The focus may be wrong. Aviation consultant Michael Boyd calls the Transportation Security Administration "the gang that can't screen straight." Boyd thinks the new restrictions will inconvenience travelers--without stopping terrorists, (Newsweek.com, 8/21)
well, it's official. i have tickets and hotels booked for london and dublin. woo hoo!
Aer Lingus Flight From New York Evacuated at Shannon (Update1)
By Fergal O'Brien and Louisa Nesbitt
Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- An Aer Lingus flight from New York was evacuated at Shannon Airport in Ireland after police received a telephone call from an unidentified person.
``There has been a security alert onboard Aer Lingus Flight EI 112 from New York to Shannon as a result of a phone call '' at about 4 a.m. local time, Dublin-based Aer Lingus said today in an e-mailed statement. The flight was from John F. Kennedy Airport.
The 239 passengers were evacuated after the Airbus A330-200 landed at the airfield in western Ireland and were being interviewed in the terminal, the carrier said. Officers were searching the plane, said a police spokesman who declined to give information on the nature of the phone call. The Irish Army said the force's bomb-disposal unit wasn't called to the scene.
Aviation security has been stepped up since U.K. authorities on Aug. 10 said intelligence services had foiled a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners using liquid explosives. The investigation prompted chaos at U.K. airports, with more than 2,380 flights from London canceled in the week following the arrest of two dozen people in England. Four of the suspects have been released.
The flight from New York was scheduled to make a stopover in Shannon and then continue to Dublin, said Aer Lingus spokeswoman Gillian Culhane. Sky News initially reported that the flight was bound for New York from Dublin and had been diverted to Shannon.
Wow, are you going to take a ride on the London Eye?
maybe. i was there in november of '99 and they hadn't quite finished it yet.
Does anyone know if its still possible to look way in advance at international fares if you don't have specific dates? Up until recently I always could go to Travelocity or other sites, put in to and from airports, broad range of dates -- like Jan-June 2007 -- and it would pull up rates and restrictions. Then I could plan my trips around good airfares. Worked great for Japan, Italy, and Israel -- typically I saved $200-$500 over rates when I tried listing specific dates.
I want to go back to Israel sometime between Nov and June, and a friend wants to plan a Spain trip sometime next Spring, and we can't locate the advance rate/booking listings anywhere.
You can do it for some domestic flights, but if you look international, you now have to put in specific dates and airlines and not so far in advance. Does anyone know about this? Any way to still look at broad chunks of time? Is this something a travel agent would still have access to?
A travel agent can do a 'fare shop' for you with a range of dates. Gives a listing of fares (from lowest to highest) along with all the yada-yada restrictions. Then you just have to find a flight that actually has that fare available!
Just got back from Bermuda last night. Last time I was there was in 1989, but it was a short flight from NY. Next time, I'll book a non stop flight to Charlotte to cut travel time.
Didn't exactly start off on the right foot - we had 3 plane changes and had to be up at 3am for a 5.20am flight to DFW, then JFK, then onto Bermuda. At 4.20am we were at the AA counter for check in when we realized we had left our passports at home!
The ticket agent found us alternate flights that would still connect us to our orignal flight JFK-BDA while hubby speeded home to get the passports. After a 14 hour day we finally arrived at 10pm only to discover our luggage was lost (I had predicted that would happen, tho).
We were staying at a bed & breakfast and they could not even provide us with a toothbrush. Next morning had to go out and buy toiletries, some clothing and underwear. Let me tell ya, Bermuda IS EXPENSIVE!! We spent almost $100 on just those things and, of course, the airlines will only reimburse you if your luggage is not returned within 24 hrs (which it was).
Overall, it's a gorgeous island. Unlike other Caribbean islands, everything runs efficiently and it's clean. The beaches are gorgeous and clean. Not even mosquitoes - and I am a mosquito magnet!
I learned today that if you plan to use a voucher from an airline to pay for a flight, you have to do it by mail more than 14 days before you want to fly.
Otherwise, you literally have to take the voucher to the airport and have it done there. How weird.
This is how American Airlines does it. Not sure if it's industry standard or not.
i've been to malaysia taiwan singapore japan france england caribbean
Good for you
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