Pandas are ALWAYS news. Here, Circa News reports on the birth of a rare giant panda in Vienna's Schönbrunn Zoo. (Adrien Glover)
Also from Circa News, scientists in western Nevada have discovered petroglyphs from as many as 14,800 years ago, making them the oldest rock out found in North America. (A.G.)
In tech travel news, Sky News reveals that New Zealand aviation authorities have given jetpack developers a flying permit, allowing the company to run test flights. (A.G)
The Boston Globe's Christopher Muther meets with the general manager of Forum, the restaurant at the epicenter of Boston's Marathon Bombings that is reopening today four months after the attacks. (Peter Schlesinger)
This week's Economist investigates how doping scandals are affecting travel trends at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (P.S)
Want to visit Sicily but can't foot the bill yet? Beverage company San Pelligrino let Facebook users this week control robots for three-minute virtual tours. But hurry, the experiences ends on Saturday! (P.S.)
Scott Mayerwitz from the Associated Press shares his view on the American-US Airways merger, finding that Department of Justice's suit is too little too late for consumers. (Amy Farley)
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Disney became the third cruise line this week to announce new smoking bans on private balconies, following similar moves from Cunard and P&O.
Photo by iStockphoto
In a move that many might see as either Orwellian or plain-old useful, Google has just launched a new feature that lets you canvass all your personal information—appointments, bookings, photos—simply by asking spoken questions. It’s a bit like Siri, but smarter: ask Google to show you all the pictures you took in London, and those will pop right up. Ask whether your flight is delayed, and it will cross check your confirmation email with the airline’s most current information. Want to figure out how to get to your hotel? It won’t just show you the booking record—it’ll find the address and pop it into your Google Maps. Naturally, it works best if you use all of Google’s organizational tools, from Gmail to Google Calendar. But those on Apple devices reap the same benefits as long as they’re signed into their Google accounts. Importantly, all the information is kept private and secure, and the feature can be disabled for those who find it creepy. But why would you? This is smart technology at its best.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Photo by istockphoto
The Department of Justice, joined by six states and Washington, D.C., filed an antitrust suit this morning in efforts to halt the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways.
The lawsuit comes as a shock to many in the industry, given that airline analysts had not foreseen major complications to the merger when it was announced in February. The T+L Trip Doctor team reported then that the formation of the world’s largest airline would inherently decrease competition and increase ticket prices, specifically to destinations such as Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia. Experts also predicted possible cuts in service to Phoenix, although aviation analysts did not foresee any major objections. This belief was cemented when the merger gained approval from European regulators just last week.
The much-awaited news is in: Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has unveiled details about his supersonic “Hyperloop,” which promises to transport passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in thirty minutes flat.
For weeks, speculators have tried to crack the code on how Musk’s ultra-high speed network could work, and skeptics have been quick to point out that travelling at roughly 800 miles per hour would nothing short of stomach-churning, if it’s even safe at all. At long last, the answers have arrived:
It’s normal for visitors to Walt Disney World to worry about falling from the sky—the Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain, and other rides all feature nausea-inducing drops. But last night, the worry was of plummeting into the earth below.
Late Sunday, a 40-foot wide sinkhole opened at Summer Bay Resort, a condominium vacation complex located just minutes from Walt Disney World. Guests first became alarmed when their lights went off, but creaking noises and large cracks forming on the wall signified something grimmer than a mere power outage.
A security guard ran through the complex telling the roughly 35 guests in the affected buildings to evacuate. Within minutes, the hole had swallowed about a third of two buildings. Just fifteen feet deep, the shallow sinkhole totally destroyed 48 condo units, and no injuries were reported.
You know you have a broken entry process when there’s an entire website devoted to complaining about the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) system—and that’s exactly what the U.S. Travel Association launched this month in an effort to voice the concerns of our unhappy visitors.
Included on the travelersvoice.org are spotlights from dozens of travelers—foreign and domestic—whose concerns range from long lines to missed connections. The most common gripes? Customs queues are understaffed, with too many checkout lanes closed during peak periods, and with no automated technology to ease the process, our methods appear utterly outdated.
Don’t you hate it when this happens? An American man accidentally snapped a finger off a 600-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary at a museum in Florence. Oh yeah, and he’s a surgeon. [Daily Mail] (Amy Farley)
A new skyscraper in Spain's resort town Benidorm is almost finished, except they forgot to build an elevator…Jamie Condliffe from Gimodo shares the bizarre story. (Peter Schlesinger)
"Bucharest not Budapest" is the Romanian capital's new tourism campaign, highlighting that the city, dubbed the Paris of the East, should not be compared to similarly-named Hungarian capital. Feargus O'Sullivan from The Atlantic Cities reports. (P.S.)
This week Silversea Cruises announced that for the first time in its 20-year history, one of their ships will have a female captain. Swiss-citizen Margrith Ettlin will be taking the helm of 132-guest Silver Explorer expedition ship.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of our planet, and its countless different cultures,” Ettlin says. “I thought that spending a life at sea would be the perfect way to explore the world.” Her first stops as captain? The worlds tough-to-navigate, ice floe-filled polar regions.
How many people does it take to run a hotel’s front desk? Soon enough, the answer will be zero. Just last month, Marriott Hotels debuted a new app that lets guests check in from their smart phone starting at 4PM the day before their arrival. As it stands, these guests still need the help of a front desk clerk—if only to pick up their room key.
But Marriott isn’t alone. InterContinental Hotels Group (which owns the flagship InterContinental brand as well as Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn) has recently debuted a similar technology, letting guests at select properties check in via a mobile app. With theirs, a machine in the lobby can dispense your room key upon arrival, so long as you can supply some basic identifying information. (Can you hear the collective weeping of receptionists around the globe?) We’re also hearing rumblings that some clever hoteliers are attempting to take mobile check-in to a whole new level—perhaps even eliminating the need for a room key overall.