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Good News for Travelers: Congress Passes Bill to Restore Air Service

Well, that was fast. After a week of frustrating airport delays brought on by furloughed F.A.A. workers, Congress speedily passed a bill to return air traffic to normal today. As The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman reports, the bill prevents "further furloughs through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year."

What does that mean for you? Well, as an air traveler it means fewer delays for your next trip. As a taxpayer? That all depends on what you think about the budget crisis that created those furloughs in the first place.

Trip Doctor: How to Fill a Prescription Abroad

prescription medicine

Pharmaceutical regulations are different in each country, so getting a new supply of meds on foreign soil isn’t as simple as it sounds. First, visit the U.S. State Department website to ensure your pills are legal: narcotics, psychotropics, and stimulants are banned in some destinations. Next, you’ll usually have to get a local prescription (you’ll need to know both the generic name and dosage for your medication). To find an accredited, English-speaking physician, check with the local consulate or the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers, whose doctors often make house calls to hotels. Be sure to fill your prescription at a pharmacy recommended by the doctor or attached to a clinic or hospital—counterfeit drugs have become increasingly common abroad.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Photo © Andrew Brookes/Corbis

Tech Thursday: Ventev Rapid Two-Way Chargers

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We’ve all been there: only one outlet free in the airport terminal and you've got both a dead laptop and a dying phone. Or in the hotel, with one adapter and too many gadgets to charge.

Enter Ventev, whose tiny two-way wallport acts like a power strip for juice-hungry road warriors. It has one standard US electrical plug (a converter is still necessary abroad; we love this one) and two USB inputs at the bottom. They charge gadgets up particularly fast, and the eye-catching colors on the tangle-free connectors have us ditching our standard issue cables.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Ventev

Trip Doctor: How to Make a Tight Flight Connection

tight flight connection

Do...

Ask to be moved closer to the front of the cabin just before landing, so you can make a quick exit.

Run straight to the gate for your connection—even if it’s past your departure time.

Don’t...

Despair. A flight won’t wait for one passenger, but system-wide delays might result in a lucky break.

Book tight connections through large airports. Anything less than a 90-minute window is unrealistic.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Illustration by Paul Windle

"The Great Gatsby" Inspires Retro Holidays

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In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel, Gatsby refutes Nick Carraway’s assertion you cannot repeat the past: "Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can.”

Hoteliers seem to agree with Gatsby, as evidenced by a slew of promotions tied in with the upcoming release of Baz Lurhman’s new film, The Great Gatsby.

New York’s Plaza Hotel, which features prominently in the novel, has announced its “The Great Gatsby Getaway Contest.” Anyone who snaps a 1920’s themed picture of themselves and posts it on Instagram with the hashtag #theplazapremiere has a chance to win seats at the New York premiere of the film, along with a night at the iconic property. Hurry though, the contest ends April 24th.

Nearby, the Trump International Hotel & Tower is offering the Trump ‘Great Gatsby’ Package. Guests spend three nights in suites overlooking Central Park, enjoying some top-notch perks. Men receive a custom-tailored suit and shirt from Bergdorf Goodman and Art Deco cufflinks, while women will go home with an Ivanka Trump Art Deco jewelry and a personalized note from Ivanka herself. Dinner at Three-Michelin-Star restaurant Jean Georges, a magnum of champagne, and chauffeured car-service are also included. This Roaring Twenties extravaganza comes with a roaring price tag… $14,999.

And while not directly related to the classic novel, these other properties do their best to bring back some of that Gatsby glamour:

°  The SLS Hotel South Beach: Opened this past June, the Philippe Starck-designed waterfront hotel brings a 1940 property back to its former glory. Trompe l’oeil walls, murals, and a gigantic rubber ducky by the pool add a touch of whimsy to this art-deco gem.
° Hotel Shangrila, Santa Monica: Another art-deco property, this 1939 building has recently undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation. The 71 rooms and suites feature period furnishings and decorations. This year, there are two promotional packages celebrating the renovation.

Then again, if hotel suites don’t do it for you, why not be like Gatsby and throw a party at your own private mansion? With water frontage, a grand pool, and lots of vintage charm, the Luxury Retreats villa Locusts on Hudson, in the Hudson Valley, lets you feel like you’re living in West Egg, if only for a week.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: The Fitzgerald Suite at The Plaza, a Fairmont managed hotel, designed by Catherine Martin

Trip Doctor: Airbus Announces Wider Seats for Some, Narrow Seats for Most

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At last week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Airbus announced that it would soon offer airlines the option of extra-wide seats in coach on its A320 fleet. Good news? Debatable.

Yes, the aisle seats in the new configuration would be a spacious 20” wide (two inches wider than the current 18” seats). But to make room for the extra width, the middle and window seats would each shrink by an inch.

As Dominic Perry from Flight Daily News reported, the new configuration plans are based on airline, not passenger, feedback, and are meant to increase revenue, not comfort.

Airbus aircraft interiors marketing manager Stefanie Von Linstow explained at the Expo that airline feedback has shown preference for the aisle seat to be the widest. "Passengers in the window seat are already happy, and those in the centre seat might not be willing to pay as much for the extra width," Perry quotes her as saying.

Von Linstow admits that the new configuration is a response to what she politely labels a "growing population," and that it would be a "revenue-boosting solution that keeps a lot passengers happy."

No doubt, passengers paying a premium to be in an aisle seat would be content. As for the two-thirds of "growing" coach passengers sitting in the narrowing seats, it remains to be seen just how happy they'd be.

Photo credit: Reuters/Corbis

Trip Doctor: Foldable Carry-On Bag

carry-on bag

Q: I refuse to check bags. Can you recommend a favorite carry-on? —Kaito Tsunashima, via e-mail

A: If you can take only one suitcase, consider the new four-wheeled Biaggi Contempo roll-aboard ($219). It weighs just seven pounds and folds for easy storage (perfect for under your hotel bed). It’s not as roomy as checkable versions, but you can always have your clothes laundered by the hotel. A fresh feel is often well worth the nominal fee.

Mimi Lombardo Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's style director. Packing is rarely easy-we're here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @TLTripDoctor on Twitter.

Photo by Sam Kaplan

FAA Approves Boeing 787 Dreamliner Battery Modifications

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On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration officially announced its approval of Boeing’s re-design for the 787 Dreamliner. Nearly four months after a series of alarming battery fires caused the FAA to the ground the aircraft, Boeing is eager to put its fuel-efficient fleet back in the air.

Modifications to the lithium-ion battery system include extra insulation around each of the battery’s eight cells to prevent short circuit fires from spreading, enhanced venting to move smoke from inside the battery to outside of the plane, and a strengthened box to further contain fires.

These changes, according to transportation secretary Ray LaHood, "will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers."

While many airlines—including All Nippon Airways and Japan Airways—are also awaiting the 787’s release, any return to service will have to wait until the FAA accepts Boeing’s completed work.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: Just How Clean is Your Hotel Bedspread?

hotel bedspreads

In the past few years, nearly all major hotel brands have phased out their polyester bedspreads in favor of duvets with easy-to-clean covers. Westin, Marriott, and Hilton, along with Four Seasons, Le Méridien, Ritz-Carlton, and St. Regis, all wash duvet covers between each stay. Some hotels simply use sheets to shield you from duvets. Make sure to sleep under the third sheet in these instances.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Photo © Louis Laurent Grandadam/Corbis

TripAdvisor Launches GreenLeaders, Just in Time for Earth Day

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How green is your getaway? To determine exactly how evironmentally responsible your destination is, TripAdvisor has lauched its GreenLeaders program. In the works for over a year, GreenLeaders rates green hotels and B&B’s on a scale of five levels, and broadcasts the exact details of what each of those properties is doing to operate on an energy budget.

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