Don't get too excited (or angry, exasperated, what have you) about all the blog posts today about stand-up seats in airplanes. Everyone is riffing on today's USA Today article about the proposed Skyrider seats from an Italian design company called Aviointeriors. The goal of these seats? To cram as many passengers into planes as possible. But there's no news here. The company actually announced their intention to create such seats back in July, right around the time I wrote about plans by low-budget Ryanair to install similar seats in their planes if they could get government approval.
Yeah, probably not gonna happen for a number of reasons, not least of all seething, frothing-at-the-mouth passenger outrage.
FAA rules on pilot fatigue have changed little since the heyday of the DC-3, despite the increased strains on pilots due to terrorism, advanced technology, and the greater potential for jet lag when crossing multiple time zones in a relatively short period. In his Fast Lane blog this morning, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said his department would propose new rules today requiring that pilots have an opportunity for at least nine hours of rest before a flight (an hour longer than current rules), at least 30 consecutive hours off duty every week (a 25 percent increase), and new weekly and monthly duty limits.
The U.S. State Department has just issued a worldwide travel alert based on the planned burning of Qurans by a Florida-based fringe religious group on Saturday, September 11, the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. The Qu'ran is the holy book of Islam. The planned anti-Islam event by Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, has already resulted in violent demonstrations in Afghanistan and Indonesia. "We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation, and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place," said the State Department.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also the international editor of Travel + Leisure.
Yesterday morning, at I had the pleasure of meeting Spain’s most celebrated chef, Ferran Adrià. Since I’ll probably never get the chance to eat at El Bulli—his widely adored Catalunya restaurant-turned-culinary-institute, (which now no longer accepts reservations, though they were near impossible to get even when it did)—I consider it an accomplishment just to shake the man’s hand. Though, alas, I suspect that his was not the hand that prepared the cookies and Starbuck’s coffee on offer during the break...
While Labor Day may serve as a sad reminder that the summer is coming to an end, who cares if the days are about to start getting cooler? Don’t let that stop you from booking a fantastic retreat! With that in mind, we’d like to bring your attention to the three new fab getaways being offered at Vacationist.com:
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's right to search the contents of laptop computers at border crossings when the owner is not suspected of criminal activity. According to the ACLU, more than 6,500 electronic devices were seized and their contents examined at U.S. border crossings between October 8, 2008, and June 2, 2010. Nearly half of those seizures were made against American citizens.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old graduate student who holds dual U.S. and French citizenship. Returning to his New York home by train from Montreal, Abidor was interrogated and detained by U.S. border guards. His laptop computer was taken from him; when it was finally returned 11 days later, according to the lawsuit, there was evidence that authorities had searched his personal files, including online chats with his girlfriend. No charges were ever leveled.
You may have seen some of my rants here or in the print edition of T+L about the outrageous fees and surcharges the airlines tack onto their base airfares. The airline industry says the surcharges allow consumers to pick and choose the additional services they want rather than forcing them to pay for perks they don't need. I say baloney. They're doing it out of greed. The base airfares they advertise are deceptively low, and can increase by 30 percent or more when you tack on all the extras, like fees for carry-on baggage, checked baggage, telephone reservations, select seat assignments, meals, et al ad nauseam. What's worse, it's often difficult to find out about these charges until a consumer pays for the tickets or, in some cases, until he arrives at the airport.
Now some big guns are marshaling their cumulative power to challenge the airlines on these hidden fees by creating a new website called madashellabouthiddenfees.com.
Travel Pulse | Air France-KLM is considering starting a low-cost domestic carrier in order to compete with low-cost rivals, according to press reports. The company would not comment, but the French news agency AF reported that the airline is considering setting up a new entity within the airline that could compete with low-cost carriers that are eating into the airline’s market share.
The Jersey Shore has received a ton of press lately—be it MTV’s cringe-worthy guilty pleasure of the same name or Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey (they taped their explosive reunion in Atlantic City). On September 19th, HBO is hoping to add some highbrow coverage to A.C.’s lowbrow past with the premier of the new series, Boardwalk Empire at 9 p.m.
Honestly, when you check out this video you will think it is a fake commercial from Saturday Night Live circa 1983. But no, the Snazzy Napper is a real product, an odd cross between a Snuggie and a burkha—and the video is so hilariously bad that it is going viral.
As of 2pm, the National Weather Service had issued a hurricane watch for the North Carolina coast. The state is currently evacuating visitors from Hatteras Island and the rest of the Outer Banks.
Virginia and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware, and the Jersey Shore (batten down the Situation!) are all under hurricane warnings, and small craft advisories extend into New England, and all the way south to the Florida Keys.
After a long, indulgent summer, a carefree respite may be just what the travel doctor orders. That's why this week’s Vacationist deals promise serene surroundings and quiet luxury. But if you’re truly looking for a serious cleanse, we prescribe Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita. Read on for the details.
Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita – up to 30% off Puerto Morelos, Mexico Wellness is so integral to this 14-acre Riviera Maya property that its signature Endless Privileges experience includes Hydrothalasso pool and cold plunge access, anti-aging diagnostics, in-room massages, and nutrition consultations. Two bars and three restaurants offer specialties like the Water Cellar... (5 days left)
USA TODAY | Will Royal Caribbean's much-awaited new ship, Allure of the Seas, be ready for its late November unveiling? It's looking more and more like a sure thing.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman and CEO Richard Fain—just back from touring the 5,400-passenger vessel at the shipyard in Finland where it is under construction—writes on his blog this week that he doesn't think he's ever seen a ship at this stage of construction so ready.
"Despite regular status reports and photographs from the newbuilding team, I was astounded by how far along she was," Fain says.
Fain goes on to hint things are going so well at the shipyard the company might even rethink inaugural activities planned for November.
Styling and producing a fashion shoot in Paris takes hard work, resourcefulness, and a lot of praying that the rain will stop. Here are snippets of my 3 days spent shooting in Paris for T+L's September Style And Culture issue.
CNN | Grupo Mexicana suspended operations at its three airlines Saturday "until further notice," citing the financial problems inherited when the group changed owners a week ago.
The company's three airlines—Mexicana Airlines, MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink—stopped all flights at midday Saturday, according to a statement from the group.
"Today's decision is a painful one for the 8,000-strong Grupo Mexicana family, but we will continue seeking out ways of securing the company's long-term financial viability, so our passengers can once again enjoy the quality services they are accustomed to," the statement said. "We hope to be back in the air soon and would like to thank everyone involved in this process for their support and understanding."
The area's tourism promoters say they wanted to offer one-stop shopping on the site, VisitOrlando.com, which draws millions of potential visitors a year. The agency said that, after it talked with various online travel operators and other companies, Travelocity brought the "best total package" to the table.
The bureau site currently provides information about local attractions and hotels, but online visitors have to switch to other websites to act on their plans. (...) When the newly redesigned website launches early next year, the booking engine for flights, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages will not only make it easier for guests but will generate added revenue for the CVB through advertising and a share of any sales.
Wall Street Journal | On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, tourism in New Orleans is growing at one of the fastest paces in the U.S., but it remains a fraction of its pre-hurricane levels.
In 2004, New Orleans saw a record 10.1 million visitors; in 2006, post-Katrina, the number had dropped to 3.7 million. But 7.9 million tourists visited New Orleans in 2009, and of the 25 top U.S. destinations, New Orleans had the second-highest growth of revenue per available room in the first half of 2010, according to a report from hotel-industry research and consulting firm Smith Travel Research Inc. (...)
Kelly Schulz, a spokeswoman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, a nonprofit that promotes tourism in the region, says next to rebuilding infrastructure, the biggest challenge the tourism industry faced post-Katrina was "convincing people that it was safe to come back." Photo credit: Philip Scalia / Alamy.
This past week Tibi, an upscale boutique clothing line, joined thousands of e-retailers by re-launching its website to include an online shop.
Amy Smilovic is the mastermind behind Tibi’s polished Manhattan brand, her main source of inspiration? Travel. In 1997 Amy moved to Hong Kong with her husband upon his relocation and there is where it all began.
After teaming with Octavia Hyland, she traveled frequently to the island of Java, working with small textile printers to create unique patterns (think batiks and ikats) in vibrant colors. These travels resulted in unusually perfect pieces that still define the collection today.
Apparently China's 10-day, 62-mile-long traffic jam between Beijing and Inner Mongolia is over. The heavily trafficked highway grew even more crowded than normal starting on August 14 because of several major road construction projects. Then, at a certain point, everything came to a complete halt. Drivers?including hundreds of coal-carrying commercial truckers—lounged around the side of the road, killing time and looking for bathrooms. Locals seized upon the opportunity to sell food and water to the stranded travelers at 10 times the normal price. (Who says capitalism can't succeed in China!) Raw video from the Associated Press (above) shows the scene just before the jam freed up today.
Take note, travelers: Sometimes it just doesn't pay to cheap out and take the free road. By all accounts the toll road that parallels the stalled highway was moving along rather nicely all week. This can be helpful advice to remember whether you're driving near Beijing during the Mongolian coal harvest or tooling through France at the end of August when everyone returns to work from vacation.
This week it’s a mix of preppy and modern on Vacationist, and both hotels are offering big discounts off their standard room rates. So, if an East Coast getaway is what you’re after now, Vacationist delivers.
Built with the modern yacht-owning crowd in mind, this chic boutique hotel, opened in 2010 on Narragansett Bay, has its own marina with parking for super-sized conveyances. But even if you don't know bow from stern, the bobbing masts make for great views from the rooms, as well as picturesque dining.
Sounds like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken a big step to keep us safer from terrorists in the sky. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today that 100 percent of passengers on domestic and international flights by U.S. airlines are now being matched against government watchlists through the Secure Flight program run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Previously, individual airlines were responsible for matching passenger names against terrorist watchlists.
That’s all well and good. But here’s a remaining security gap:
CNN News | The majestic views overlooking the Grand Canyon make it one of America's favorite destinations, but a new report finds several man-made threats are contributing to the deterioration of Grand Canyon National Park.
Scientists and park staff working on the "State of the Parks" Grand Canyon report highlight areas and resources in the park that are threatened, the history of those threats and what can be done to correct them.
What they found is a national park that continues to decline from factors ranging from climate change to mining to aircraft flyovers as well as management of the Colorado River upstream from the canyon.
Wall Street Journal | Cities and states across the nation are selling and leasing everything from airports to zoos—a fire sale that could help plug budget holes now but worsen their financial woes over the long run.
California is looking to shed state office buildings. Milwaukee has proposed selling its water supply; in Chicago and New Haven, Conn., it's parking meters. In Louisiana and Georgia, airports are up for grabs.
About 35 deals now are in the pipeline in the U.S., according to research by Royal Bank of Scotland's RBS Global Banking & Markets. Those assets have a market value of about $45 billion—more than ten times the $4 billion or so two years ago, estimates Dana Levenson, head of infrastructure banking at RBS. Hundreds more deals are being considered, analysts say.
Let's face it, we've had a long, hot summer. Still, you find yourself thinking "but where has the summer gone?" To stretch out the remaining weeks and re-charge psychic batteries, head to a performance outdoors. There's still time and there's lots to see and hear—music, theater, dance—at festivals across the country. Here are my top picks:
Tanglewood Music Festival (Massachusett) Located in the Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts, Tanglewood (through Sept. 5), the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, offers a mini-jazz festival (Sept. 1-5), a performance by Crosby, Stills & Nash (Sept. 1), and conductor David Zinman leading the BSO in Gustav Holst's sweeping The Planets (Aug. 27), among a range of orchestral and chamber music concerts.
The sun may be setting on summer, but a true Vacationist knows the art of getting away anytime—be it slipping off before Labor Day, or planning a proper getaway as fall rushes in. Fortunately, there are plenty of hotel offers and experiences this week to choose, from a posh dalliance on the French Riviera or a retro-chic retreat right in Santa Monica:
I recently returned from a low-key weekend excursion to nearby Philadelphia—a city near and dear to me, as the site of my first on-my-own apartment—to visit friends. Since I somehow managed to let nearly a year lapse between visits, I had the urge to wander around my first morning. My friend/host Rob and I (with his short-haired lhasa apso, Rufus, in tow), strayed from his Rittenhouse Square abode east into Center City, where we stumbled upon Garces Trading Company.