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Trip Doctor: Airlines Cautiously Optimistic About Dreamliner's Return to the Skies

Even though Boeing’s beleaguered 787 Dreamliner has yet to get FAA approval for its proposed battery improvements, multiple airlines have included the new plane in updated flight schedules, as USA Today's Ben Mutzabaugh reports.

Qatar Airways, for example, plans to resume Dreamliner service between Doha and London on May 15th, while United Airlines hopes to use the troubled jet for some Houston-Denver flights by May 31, five days earlier than the company had previously announced. Spokespeople are quick to clarify that these schedule changes are tentative, and entirely dependent on the FAA’s clearing the Dreamliner to fly.

Still, the news that airlines are adding Dreamliners back into their schedules at all suggests restored confidence that Boeing’s fix to the lithium batteries will be enacted and approved soon.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Trip Doctor: Air Turbulence Set To Increase by 2050

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Better sit down and buckle your safety belt for this one: According to a new study cited by Reuters' Nina Chestney, turbulent flights may become the new normal in the coming decades. If you've flown over the Atlantic Ocean, you've probably experienced the occasional bumpy ride caused by atmospheric conditions like jet streams and weather fronts, but joint findings from Reading and East Anglia, two English universities, predict air turbulence will grow in both  strength and frequency as carbon dioxide emissions increase. In other words: More CO2 in the air, the rougher we can expect our flights to be.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, posits that by 2050, chances of encountering significant turbulence in the North Atlantic flight corridor will jump by between 40 and 170 percent. On top of that, the average strength of the turbulence will increase by between 10 and 40 percent.

The aviation industry already spends an estimated $150 million annually to repair damage caused by turbulence. The increased risks will likely lead to route detours, which will in turn bump up fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and airport delays. Can't wait.
 

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by istockphoto

Watch: What Does the New Airline Performance Report Mean?

Travel + Leisure's Mark Orwoll appeared on NBC's TODAY Show this morning to discuss the airline performance report released this week. How will it impact you? Watch the clip (above) and find out.

SFO Moves to Block Car Sharing Services

Here today, gone tomorrow: FlightCar, that quirky car-sharing company we recently told you about, has been shut down by SFO.

And it's not alone: Also on the airport's cease-and-desist list are five other ride sharing companies, from UberX to InstantCab, according to The Huffington Post's Aaron Sankin. Why the sudden crackdown on automotive sharing startups? Apparently the tech-forward companies have been getting an easy break thanks to legal loopholes that don't require them to hold licenses from the California Public Utilities Commission, and taxi drivers—who not only need the licenses but pay fees for each airport ride—aren't too happy about it. But that doesn't mean it's game over for the six companies at stake, as a hearing is scheduled to determine their future later this month.

Our prediction? FlightCar will live on, sans curbside pickup service. As for the companies whose core premise includes a driver? They may not be so lucky.

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

Trip Doctor Series: Cooking Schools (England)

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If your apron is the first thing you pack in your suitcase, you’ll want to tune into this month’s weekly series on immersive cooking programs, where we’ll highlight a standout program from our April food issue’s Global Guide to Cooking Schools.

The School: School of Artisan Food, the Cotswolds, England

You’re in good hands at this respected program in the heart of Sherwood Forest, which teaches half- and multi-day courses that focus on traditional English cookery, from wild game butchery to fruit preserves.

The Class: For all you Downton Abbey fanatics (you know who you are), we recommend celebrated food scholar Ivan Day’s hands-on class on historic baking techniques—lumber pie, anyone?—which takes its inspiration from historic cooking methods.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo courtesy of The School of Artisan Food

The Doctor Recommends: Must Reads for the Week Ending April 5, 2013

We all know airport food isn't what it used to be—and that's a good thing. CNN's Beth Kaufman takes things a step further by ranking the best bites at terminals across the country, from FLL to LAX. (Nikki Ekstein)

Calling all futurists! Each year, the Crystal Cabin Awards highlight the best ideas for in-flight innovation. You might not see any of them at 35,000 feet just yet, but Skift picks out the most viable (and interesting) finalists before the winners are announced next week. (N.E.)

No outlet? No problem. These eight solar-powered mobile chargers presented by Mashable's Matt Petronzio make sure you don't miss a tweet. (Maria Pedone)

Coming soon to Colorado: My 420 Tours, vacation packages for marijuana tourists. Bloomberg Businessweek's Eric Sptiznagel talks to Matt Brown and James Walker, 420's founders. (Matt Haber)

Ever wonder what all the different lights atop The Empire State Building signify? New York's Emma Whitford explains all. (M.H.)

What does it really mean when someone shouts "Is there a doctor on the plane?!" The Atlantic's Celine Gounder looks at Medical Emergencies at 40,000 Feet. (M.H.)

Troy Knapp, aka, the Mountan Man who lived—and robbed cabins—in the wilds of southern Utah was finally caught by the authorities this week after nearly a decade off the grid and on the lam. Men's Journal's Jacob Bayham was already profiling the wilderness-savvy fugitive for the magazine. (M.H.)

"I always drink to world peace." The New York Times Magazine has a nice interactive map of Times reporters' favorite places to drink worldwide. (M.H.)

Smarter Travel's Caroline Costello muses on the pros and cons of tipping. (Peter Schlesinger)

Arthur Frommer reacquires the rights to his namesake brand from Google. Skift's Jason Clampet has some details. (P.S.)

Got a recommendation of your own? Share it in the comments.

Trip Doctor: Sri Lankan Scientists ID New, Massive Spider

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Disclaimer: I'm an arachnophobe. When I plan my next vacation, the first thing I do is an online image search to see what the spiders are like there. (Example, brace yourself: Australia). I've known for a while that Sri Lanka, with its Huntsman spiders, was probably too scary for me. But with the news that there's another big spider on the island, you can definitely scratch the tropical paradise off my bucket list.

Scientists at the country's Biodiversity Education & Research organization have discovered a ginormous spider, dubbed the Poecilotheria rajaei. And by ginormous, I mean it has a leg-span of 8 inches – larger than the average human skull. Oh, and it’s super hairy too. And fast. And poisonous. And did I mention it’s ginormous?

Part of the genus Poecilotheria (lovingly called “Pokies” by those in-the-know), the rajaei has enough distinctive markings to constitute its own species, although no DNA samples have confirmed this. Specimens were found mostly in the island’s northern forests, although some were found in a hospital too. Extra creepy.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by istockphoto

That Sinking Feeling: Passengers Rescued from Liverpool Duck Bus

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When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip rode the amphibious tour bus, the Yellow Duckmarine, for a tour of Liverpool last year, they may have elevated this rather conspicuous mode of tourism to a slightly more dignified position.

This week, the image of these tours has sunk again—rather literally. Over Easter weekend, a lunchtime run by the Beatlemania-tinged tour—which passes by several local landmarks, including the Cavern Club where the Fab Four got their start—ended abruptly when the boat began to sink in the River Mersey. Luckily, as The Daily Mail's Becky Evans reports, all of the passengers were evacuated safely to a pontoon.  (Beatles nerds might note that "Ferry Cross the Mersey" was not a Beatles song, but a hit for Gerry & The Pacemakers.) From the shore, many passengers watched (and documented) the Duckmarine sinking, not unlike Pete Best’s star potential back in the day.

Read More

Visiting The World Trade Center's Observation Deck

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Exactly 40 years ago on April 4, 1973, the original World Trade Center opened in New York City’s financial district. Now, with construction of One World Trade Center to be completed in 2014, the first views from its panoramic observation deck have been revealed.

The observatory, which will occupy floors 100 through 102 of the tower, will feature 360-degree views. Just one stroll around the deck offers sights of the entire island of Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey ports, and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Not bad for the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

As Randy Levine of Legends Hospitality, the company that will run the observatory, said, the tower will “fit the grandeur and the stature of what this [building] is about…[it] means moving forward without ever forgetting…the days of 9/11.”

The 1,776-ft. high observatory will be open to the public in 2015. While ticket prices are not set, discounts to local school and community groups will be available.

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

Photo by Tobias Hutzler

Tech Thursday: NowCation and the Rise of the Destination Agnostic

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We’re noticing a funny trend around here. From GetGoing, the site that surprises you with one of two affordable vacation choices, to mystery vacation deals at numerous airlines and travel agencies, all fingers point to the rise of the Destination Agnostic: A traveler who cares not where she goes, so long as she goes somewhere without breaking a budget.

Into this trend falls NowCation, a site that offers "getaway deals" at rock-bottom prices—if you’re willing to leave the dates and destination up to the computer. Just plug in your departure city and the program gets to work, instantly suggesting where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. This morning, deals from New York’s JFK included ten nights in New Orleans (hotel and air included) for $802 and San Juan, Puerto Rico for four nights for $467 (also inclusive of hotel and air). Package deals like these offer the best value, but those who prefer to choose their own accommodations can purchase airfare alone.

The deals don’t always make sense—we’ve seen suggestions for vacations whose departure date was in the past, or for 2-day stints in Europe where you’d barely get settled in before checking out. But that’s what happens when you let an algorithm—not a human—tell you where to go.

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 Nowcation

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