DUBAI—I've just arrived here for a conference, and everyone is talking about the city's new Metro, a futuristic elevated train that soars high above the desert floor as smoothly as a magic carpet over the Arabian sands.
Opened in September, the state-of-the-art system (the photo, left, was taken with my less-than-state-of-the-art phone camera) links Dubai airport with the Jebel Ali district on the far side of town, a distance of 31 miles. For much of its length, the line runs alongside busy busy busy Shaikh Zayed Road, one of the main thoroughfares. It's satisfying to be on one of the trains, clipping along at 55 mph, while below you Zayed Road is illuminated with thousands of brake lights as traffic crawls to a stop, which tends to happen more and more often these days.
The Dubai Metro is the longest automated driverless metro in the world—a source of pride in the United Arab Emirates but also a potential problem.
This week, American, Continental, Delta/Northwest, Southwest, United, and US Airways announced fare increases that range from $5-10 for short hops to $8-16 for flights farther than 751 miles—a move that will result in millions in profit for the beleaguered airline industry.
In the plus column, the airlines haven’t ascribed new fare hikes to “amenities” like those HandiWipe headrest covers or, you know, lighting and oxygen in the cabins, but FareCompare.com, a site that tracks ticket pricing, reports that airlines are ganging up to raise fares nonetheless.
A few weeks ago we reported on airlines cutting flights to match falling demand and save money. Another way the shrinking industry is offsetting losses is by introducing new fees.
It’s no secret that airlines, both here and abroad, have been sticking it to passengers, charging us for everything from checked baggage to blankets—even water. (A recent report from the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics reveals airlines made an incredible 3.8 billion on such fees in the first six months of this year alone.)
Next week, however, the airline industry will hit a new low in its quest to separate travelers from their hard-earned dollars.
Tomorrow, September 22—besides being the first day of fall—also marks the 10th annual World Carfree Day! It’s not that we’re anti-driving (far from it), but it’s a great moment to consider using public transportation when you’re on a trip. The bonuses: you travel like a local, save money, and usually get there faster. Here are some tips to get you started:
Ready to ditch the humid summer heat of the East Coast? Hankering to go on a foodie tour of San Francisco’s North Bay or dine at some of the World’s Best Oyster Bars in the Bay Area or Seattle?
Good news, because West Coast airfares from New York City on Virgin America airlines (voted “Best Domestic Airline” in T+L’s 2009 World’s Best Awards) just dropped to $109 each way. Offers are good to these West Coast cities, and more:
The $109 fare is available for travel on Monday-Thursday and Saturdays between Aug. 28-Nov.18, Dec. 2-16 and Jan. 6- Feb. 10 (Friday and Sunday flights cost an extra $25). Tickets are on sale through September 8, but book quickly as certain flights may sell out.
For more information or to book, visit Virgin America.
Lyndsey Matthews is an editorial intern at Travelandleisure.com
Photo courtesy of Lyndsey Matthews
Attention would-be jetsetters, adventurers, vagabonds, and nomads: It’s time to call in that month-long sabbatical you've been due at work!
JetBlue has just announced an unprecedented deal aimed at people with a serious case of wanderlust. Through August 21, the airline is selling a month-long “All-You-Can-Jet” pass for $599 that offers travelers unlimited flights between September 8 and October 8, 2009 to any of the airline’s 56 destinations.
I admit it: I may the only Brooklynite left who hasn’t jumped on the bicycle trend. (Blame my Minnesota roots: I remain loyal to the birthplace of the Rollerblade.) But though I don’t own a bike at home, I do love to hop on two wheels to explore a city while on vacation, and am pleased report that more and more hotels are pedaling to, well, urban pedalers.
Have you visited Bing.com yet? I mentioned it briefly on Weekend Today a few weeks ago, but if you’re unfamiliar, Bing.com is Microsoft’s new search site—and its travel section is my current obsession.
I’m not sure about you, but when it comes to booking a flight, I get a little anxious. Is this the best fare possible? Am I going to get an Airfarewatchdog deals email and see that my $357 round-trip to Miami is now $275? Don’t fret: Help is on the way.
What is being touted as the most luxurious train in the world is now accepting bookings for its first season. And trust me, this ain’t Amtrak.
The Maharajas’ Express has four itineraries of six and seven nights and takes passengers to some of the most exotic destinations on the subcontinent, including Jaipur, Agra (home to the Taj Mahal), Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai, and Udaipur (voted the best city in the known universe in the 2009 World’s Best Awards), among many others.