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Strict New Regulations Set for Cruise Ships

201007-b-cruiseillojpgTravel Agent Central |  A new U.S. bill aimed at increasing safety on cruise ships is set to become law. The Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act will require cruise lines to install peepholes on cabin doors, ensure rails are no lower than 42 inches and provide passengers with information on how to report crimes. The law means business: non-compliance can result in denial of entry into U.S. ports, civil penalties up to $50,000 per violation and criminal penalties up to $250,000 and/or one year’s imprisonment. (Image credit: Ryan Heshka)

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Europe Without Hotels

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New York Times
|  In the middle of a cool, cloudless Parisian afternoon, light was pouring into my guest room from a turn-of-the-century courtyard in the 10th Arrondissement. I clambered up to the loft bed, suspended above dark oak floors, and stared at the textiles shop sign swinging in the courtyard through the large, almost floor-to-ceiling windows.

A bottle of Bordeaux was breathing; other amenities included a pantry stocked with cereal, milk and yogurt. I also had a phone number to call if I needed dinner recommendations or, perhaps, extra shower gel. But I was happy sitting at the window, nodding at my new neighbors as they wheeled their bikes onto the street and headed into the cafe-lined Marais.

Hotel guests pay handsomely for such perks, but I wasn’t in a hotel. Nor was I in some vacation rental. I was in the home of Julien Szeps, a 26-year-old chef whom I met through a new kind of short-term rental service called AirBnB.com. And the studio apartment was only 65 euros a night, about $80 at $1.23 to the euro. Not bad for an entire apartment with a full kitchen and bathroom, less than 10 minutes by foot from the Louvre. (Image credit: AirBnB.com)

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Paris Cracks Down on Pied-à-Terre Rentals

201006-b-paris-1jpgNew York Times (PARIS) — Many people buy a pied-à-terre in Paris to use for a few weeks a year and to rent the rest of the time. Most of them don’t realize, however, that they are breaking the law. Now, the city government is trying to address the problem with a more direct approach to enforcement.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoë ordered an agency last year to warn property owners that renting out residential apartments for less than a year at a time violated French law. The move was intended to address the lack of affordable housing in the city center. Those who ignored the warning, he said, would be prosecuted. (...)

But the rental industry in this most-visited city in the world is concerned and, as more owners slowly become aware of the issue, confusion is growing. A few have pulled their properties off the market, others have deleted addresses or other identifying details from Internet listings. And dozens of rental agencies have banded together to try to save their lucrative business.

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Airline Fees Can Make Fare Jump 50%

CNN |  That airfare you booked because it looked like a great deal can actually end up costing you 50 percent more because of extra airline fees, a watchdog group has found.

The Consumer Travel Alliance analyzed the base fares and extra charges for nine major airlines on four popular domestic routes.

It found that a traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags would have to pay an average of 54 percent more than the base price of the ticket shown on a popular online travel site at time of purchase.

For a family trying to book a trip, the fees can mean hundreds of dollars in unanticipated expenses, said Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance.

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Airline Complaints? The D.O.T. Wants to Hear from You

The Washington Post |  Tell the government what you think of its proposed new passenger rights rules. You can do it right now, thanks to a new project called Regulation Room.

There's a lot to comment about. The rules cover everything from tarmac delays to peanuts. If adopted, they could change the way Americans fly more than any single regulation since the airline industry was deregulated in 1978.

Administrative rulemaking, for those of you who snoozed through your civics class, is the process by which agencies adopt regulations that have the force of law. In this case, it's the Department of Transportation making the rules. The agency is at a critical step during which the traveling public vets these important regulations.

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Ryanair: A Stand-Up Airline—Run by A Bunch of Fruitcakes

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The British media are all atwitter about the supposed plans by Ryanair to install vertical seats—that is, standing-room-only seats—in the last 10 rows of its Boeing 737-800s. Price of airfare in one of those seats? Just 4 pounds sterling (about U.S.$6). And how, you ask, can they afford to do this? Why, by charging you to use the toilet.

Wait a minute… Didn’t they already float (and later flush) the idea of a loo fee only to be publicly remonstrated, humiliated, and pilloried? Yeah, kinda—except that Ryanair doesn’t know the meaning of the word humiliation. On the other hand, it seems not to know the meaning of a lot of words, like “safety,” “concern for our passengers,” and “common sense.”

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India Opens Massive Airport Terminal

New Delhi, India (CNN) — A massive new terminal at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is being touted as a testament to India's economic prowess.

The sprawling five million square foot building was officially opened Saturday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

Complete with imported granite floors, huge white columns fitted with expensive speakers, 63 elevators, 95 immigration counters and a state of the art security and baggage system, Terminal 3 is also home to India's first transit hotel.

Officials say the new nine-level hub will be able to handle 34 million passengers per year, making it one of the biggest in the world.

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State Department To Hike Passport, Visa Fees

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Business Travel News
|  The U.S. State Department on July 13 will raise the price for visas, passports and other consular services—some by more than $300—to reflect what the department determined is the true cost to provide such services.

For an adult passport, the State Department will begin charging $110—$35 more than the current price—plus a $25 execution fee, which is not retained by the department. Meanwhile, the cost for some visas will jump by even greater amount. For example, an employment-based immigrant visa will cost $720 under the new pricing scheme, compared with the previous $355. (Photo credit: Lyndsey Matthews)

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Preventing (and Coping With) Lost Luggage Blues

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Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you're standing by the carousel at the airport, watching suitcase after suitcase pass by—none of them yours—until finally, the carousel, now empty, turns off? It's a wretched feeling, especially at the start of a vacation.

One way to avoid this situation altogether is to ship your belongings ahead of time. The UPS Store just announced its new Luggage Boxes—and the cost is pretty reasonable. Shipping between NYC and L.A. costs about $66 for the small box or about $92 for the large. Just be sure to ship far enough in advance, and give your hotel the heads up! For a price comparison, here are the checked bag fees from five major domestic airlines:

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FDA Report Reveals Airline Food Could Pose Health Threat

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USA Today
|  Many meals served to passengers on major airlines are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions that could lead to illness, government documents examined by USA TODAY show.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors have cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food for suspected health and sanitation violations following inspections of their kitchens this year and last, according to inspection reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The inspections were at U.S. facilities of two of the world's biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and another large caterer, Flying Food Group. The three caterers operate 91 kitchens that provide more than 100 million meals annually to U.S. and foreign airlines at U.S. airports. They provide meals for nearly all big airlines, including Delta, American, United, US Airways and Continental. (Photo credit: iStock)

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