It has been 12 years since the air-passenger rights movement first got off the ground, but now it's positively soaring, thanks to a new set of consumer protections announced today by the Department of Transportation. Among other things, provisions in the new rule would close a loophole that exempted international flights from the tarmac delay limits enacted last year; require airlines to prominently list all fees a passenger might face on a flight; increase maximum compensation paid to involuntarily bumped passengers from a range of $400-$800 to $650-$1,300; allow passengers to cancel or change a reservation within 24 hours with no penalty (if the reservation is made at least a week before departure); and force airlines to refund baggage fees when they lose a customer's luggage. Most of the provisions will go into effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.
SFO's long-awaited Terminal 2 opened last week after a $383 million upgrade and renovation. Designed by global architecture powerhouse Gensler, the new terminal is home to American Airlines and Virgin America and is remarkable for its strong public art program and commitment to sustainability (it's anticipated to achieve LEED Gold Certification). It's also the first airport dining program in the country to have a 'slow food' food court: they recruited and prioritized vendors, like the Plant Cafe Organic, Pinkberry, and Lark Creek Grill, that offer healthy food from local, organic sources. Find more info here.
Jaime Gross is Travel + Leisure's San Francisco correspondent.
Image courtesy of Gensler. Photographer: Bruce Damonte
BBC News - Passport Blog | Starting 11 April, it will be illegal in France for any woman, citizen or tourist, to wear a full-faced veil.
That means no niqab in the Louvre, no niqab while shopping in the Marais, no niqab while walking the Champs-Élysées. Although the French law has gotten the most notice, Belgium was actually the first country to enact a ban last April. There are rumbles of similar laws in Italy, but other European countries have largely shot down similar attempts.
BBC.com News | While the situation in northern Japan is still facing numerous challenges, life in the rest of Japan is returning to normal faster than most would have expected.
As a result, the US State Department and other countries' foreign offices are adjusting previous advice to defer all trips to Japan.
For example, as of this morning, the US State Department advises citizens to defer non-essential trips to Tokyo and defer all travel to the evacuation zone around Fukushima. But it's given the green light to travel elsewhere in Japan.
There are views, and then there are v-i-e-w-s. Starting tomorrow, any guest checking into the brand new Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will get an eyeful of the latter—birds-eye panoramas of Victoria Harbour and the shiny HK skyline. As the world’s “highest” hotel, the record-breaking property now occupies floors 102 to 118 of the well-located International Commerce Center, with 312 rooms in all.
Last year Delta introduced the option for folks to purchase tickets through an app built into their Facebook page. This year, it's taking it a step further, and letting users access its boarding passes without ever leaving Facebook. (The same 24 hours pre-flight time limit that's used on the official Delta site still applies.)
What else can you do?
- Check flight status.
- View trip details.
- View what in-flight amenities will be available for your specific flight.
- Share your flight information with your Facebook contacts.
Pretty cool stuff. (And further proof that Facebook is soon destined to be your one stop spot for, well, everything.)
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis
Photo courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews.
Over the past week, we’ve heard about dozens of worthwhile ways to help the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, but one recent announcement caught our eyes—and nose.
Renegade perfumer Paris-based Louison Libertin, who produces his label, technique indiscrete, is giving back to the community of Kanku in Northeastern Japan—an area known for its lavender fields. Libertin had been working with a perfume factory there, and the town was hard hit by the recent disasters.
No less than 100 percent of the proceeds of his limited edition flacon "For Them" will go back to residents of Kanku. $52 for a 50ml bottle.
Events are moving quickly in Japan as engineers at a nuclear plant in Fukushima are trying to bring three stricken reactors under control. Tokyo is 170 miles south from Fukushima, and though prevailing winds are sweeping most of the radiation to the Pacific Ocean, residents say a feeling of anxiety pervades the capital. Aftershocks wake them up at night. Lines are long at supermarkets, where staples such as milk and rice are selling out quickly. “The streets are eerily quiet compared to the usual hustle and bustle of this massive city,” says Rachael White, an American teacher and blogger based in Tokyo. White and others, however, note that people remain calm—a reflection of Japanese fortitude.
As a traveler, the most you can do in the event of a nuclear meltdown is get as far away as possible or head for the basement. But there are steps you can take to increase your chances of survival in an earthquake and/or a tsunami. Japan is located in the world’s most seismically active regions—the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes the West Coast. About 90 percent of earthquakes happen here, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And Tokyo is still bracing for the Big One that experts say is long overdue. (Friday’s massive quake occurred along the northeastern fault line, rather than the southwest fault line that affects Tokyo more directly. It last ruptured in 1854.) The second most active region stretches from the Mediterranean into northern India.
BBC Travel | There is still more than a year to go before the Olympic Games light up London’s sky, but already, enthusiastic crowds can be found peering into the largest construction site in Europe. The city has come down with a widespread, and highly contagious, case of Olympic fever. (...)
On 27 July, 2012, when the torch is lit inside the main stadium, London will become the only three-time host of the event since the Olympics were revitalized in 1896. (...)
(Photo courtesy of David Allan)
Plane ticket: check.
Concert tickets: check.
Hotel room: whoops!
If you’ve spent your time agonizing over which showcases to attend in Austin next week during the South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film, and interactive festival, instead of searching for a place to crash, you can relax.
Brand new hotel collection, Travaasa Destinations, along with fashion website StyleCaster, is offering an all-inclusive preview package for a three night/four day stay from March 17-20 at the Travaasa Austin before it opens to the public in April.