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FAA Reconsiders Takeoff, Landing Policy On E-Readers, Other Devices

PaidContent.org  Welcome news from Nick Bilton: the FAA finally is revisiting the policy that keeps Kindles, iPads and the like turned off during takeoffs and landing.

The FAA told Bilton it will take a “fresh look” at whether some devices can be used safely and how a policy could be framed. Smartphones aren’t included in the review.

The current personal electronics rule dating back to 2006 (described in this FAA circular) canceled one that banned use of personal electronics and shifted responsibility completely to the operators.

It allows airlines to offer fliers the use of certain devices but only if the airline can prove each allowed device won’t interfere with the plane’s performance. As Bilton and the FAA point out, that hasn’t happened.

Why haven’t the airlines stepped up? To challenge the policy, each one has to test each device on each kind of plane it operates. (...)

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CEO Speaks Out on Costa Cruises Name Change

USA Today Travel  |  The head of Costa Cruises' parent company says he's confident the brand can make a comeback in the wake of the Costa Concordia accident, and he has no plans to scale it back or change its name.

"It is damaged. It will take some time (to rebound), but we'd be crazy to abandon such a powerful brand," Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison tells USA TODAY in one of his first interviews since the Jan. 13 accident.

The vote of confidence in Costa comes after Carnival Corp. on Friday revealed for the first time just how dramatically bookings have fallen at the line in the weeks since the accident. In a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings, Carnival Corp. COO Howard Frank told Wall Street analysts that Costa bookings plunged 80% to 90% as compared to a year earlier in the four weeks after the event, and bookings remain down 40% to 50% in recent weeks.

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Boeing Promises to Speed Up Construction of New 787 Dreamliners

USA Today Travel  |  Boeing has inspected five 787 Dreamliners for a flaw in the fuselage that the company recently discovered, the new head of the 787 program said Monday. Reuters reported that the company remains on schedule to build 10 planes per month by the end of next year.

The company is inspecting the first 55 787s built before it discovered the problem and will make any necessary repairs, Larry Loftis said before a groundbreaking ceremony for a new delivery center, according to Reuters.

The 787 is a more fuel-efficient plane. So far airlines have ordered about 870 of them, Reuters reported. But the plane is about three years behind its original schedule.

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Sneak Peek: New York's New Conrad Hotel

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It’s no surprise that watching a sunset in Manhattan (drink in hand, of course) is as elusive as finding street parking. But the island’s west side is lined with buildings that look out over the Hudson River—why haven’t more places taken advantage of this great view?

Fortunately, someone’s doing just that. One of Hilton’s luxury brands, the Conrad, is opening soon in NYC’s Financial District and will feature an outdoor bar on the 16th floor (pictured, above)—ideal for sunset gazing. Oh yeah, and they’re doing other cool stuff, too. The place used to be an Embassy Suites, and while I appreciate ES’s big rooms and free hot breakfast, accumulating stars isn’t their focus. So I was excited to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the transformation.

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London's Iconic Buses are Back!

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BBC Travel
  |  London's iconic double-decker buses have gotten an update that looks uncannily like the past.

Seven buses with an open hop-on hop-off platform at the rear hit downtown streets on 20 February, running on route 38, between Victoria Station and Hackney, an east London neighbourhood.

Between the 1950s and 2000s, royal red double deckers sported distinctive open platforms in the rear. But in 2005, authorities took that Routemaster model out of service, replacing it with versions that only have an entrance at the front.

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(Photo courtesy of Transport for London.)

Costa Cruise Ship Being Towed to Safety After Fire

The Costa Allegra is being towed toward Mahe in the Seychelles following an engine-room fire Monday that left the ship adrift. None of the 636 passengers and 413 crew members were injured, according to Costa. Food and communications gear are being sent to the ship via helicopter; the vessel is expected to reach land early Thursday.

“Guests onboard are continuously being informed and assisted by the captain and the staff,” Costa said in an emailed statement.

Passengers were sent to their muster stations as a precaution when the fire broke out, according to the company. The ship currently has no air conditioning and lighting is limited, but passengers were served a cold breakfast Tuesday, according to Costa. The seas has been struck in the past by Somalian pirates, but Costa officials have said  they have armed security on board.

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Find Your Inner Commando at Machine Guns Vegas

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MSNBC.com Travel
  |  Blam-blam-blam! Pa-pow-pow! Ber-t-t-t-t-t-t, ber-t-t-t-t-t-t!

If that sounds like a good time, you may want to set your sights on Las Vegas’ newest attraction, Machine Guns Vegas (MGV), which opened its doors Monday. Part gun range, part ultra-lounge, MGV invites visitors to grab the automatic weapon of their choice — Uzis, AK-47s and more — and get in touch with their inner gangster or SEAL Team Six commando.

“You’d be amazed at the number of people who come to Vegas and want to shoot a machine gun,” said co-owner Genghis Cohen. “It’s an experience you can’t have in a lot of places in the world.”

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Travelocity Tops Expedia in Annual Satisfaction Survey

MSNBC.com Travel  |  Squeezed between travel providers on one side and meta-search sites on the other, it seems online travel agencies (OTAs) have one ace in the hole: Consumers still like using them.

That’s the upshot of a new American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report released on Tuesday. Focusing on Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity, the report rated overall satisfaction with the sites at 78 on a 100-point scale last year, matching the record high set the year before.

“A score of 78 is good,” said Larry Freed, CEO and president at ForeSee, which helps produce the Index. “We consider 80 the threshold for a great performing site and they’re bumping up right against it.”

While the aggregate score was unchanged, individual results showed more fluctuation. After nine years in the top spot, Expedia slipped 3 percent, from 79 points to 77, losing its crown to Travelocity, which climbed from 77 to 79.

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New Vegas Museum Highlights Mob Bosses, Tommy Guns

Associated Press  |  In one room, a ghastly photo wall of bloody, uncensored images showcases the mob's greatest hits.

In another, visitors are taught to load a revolver. And for when a gun just won't do, an oddball collection of household items — a shovel, a hammer, a baseball bat and an icepick — show the creative side of some of America's most notorious killers.

On the 83rd anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Sin City honored one of its earliest relationships with the grand opening of a museum dedicated to the mobsters that made this desert town. There are tommy guns, money stacks and a bullet-riddled brick wall from the 1929 massacre that saw Al Capone seize control of the Chicago mob.


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Russian Scientists Reach Lake Under Antarctica

Associated Press |  After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, Russian scientists have reached the surface of a gigantic freshwater lake hidden under miles of ice for some 20 million years—a lake that may hold life from the distant past and clues to the search for life on other planets.

Reaching Lake Vostok is a major discovery avidly anticipated by scientists around the world hoping that it may allow a glimpse into microbial life forms, not visible to the naked eye, that existed before the Ice Age. (...)

"It's like exploring another planet, except this one is ours," Columbia University glaciologist Robin Bell told The Associated Press by email. (...) "There is no other place on Earth that has been in isolation for more than 20 million years," said Lev Savatyugin, a researcher with the AARI. "It's a meeting with the unknown."

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