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No Joke: Tiny Samoan Airline Will Charge Passengers By Weight

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We wouldn't blame your assuming that Samoa Air's recent announcement that it will be weighing customers and charging them based on their weight is a belated April Fools' Day stunt, but apparently, it's real.

Reports have been popping up everywhere since the announcement, and the tiny airline's official website confirms the new policy with a statement that reads: "We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air'fair', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple."

Is it so simple? Not everyone is pleased with this idea. The Guardian's Ally Fogg wrote that the new policy "panders to a particularly unpleasant trend in modern culture that legitimises and even celebrates fat-shaming and body fascism. At its most crude this is manifest in straightforward cruelty and discrimination."

Chris Langton, head of Samoa Air, defended the idea—and suggested it may be the start of an industry-wide trend—in an Australian radio interview quoted by the BBC: "People generally are bigger, wider and taller than they were 50 years ago… The industry will start looking at this."

Photo by iStockphoto

Tour Operator Goes Over the @#$% Line?

hipster backpacking

No doubt, the typical hipster might not be fired up to go on a backpacking tour after looking at a brochure with pictures of people who look like his Uncle Larry and Aunt Karen.
 
Geckos Adventures totally gets that, bro. The tour operator just released a new brochure that, to plenty of travelers, might seem refreshing: According to a post on Travel Mole, it uses photos taken by actual customers—like their target audience of ages 18 to 35—and speaks in a language that, Geckos assume, their clientele understands.
 
Actually, pretty much anyone can understand it. One part of the brochure reads, “may your heart be light, your step swift and your stories @#$%ing epic,” except, well, they didn’t use the funny symbols found on more family friendly travel sites.
 
While some industry folks are already raising eyebrows, the company defends its strategy: "We are not trying to be controversial for controversy's sake,” says the tour company’s managing director. “Our new branding has been carefully thought through to speak to our travelers openly and cutting out all the usual marketing fluff."
 
Fair enough, but the danger here—beyond offending a few Uncle Larrys and Aunt Karens out there—is that those coveted 18-to-35-years-old might just see it as a bit of calculated marketing... Hey, “just sayin.’”  (That is what the @#$%in' cool kids say, right?)
 
What do you think: Is this campaign smart, or will it f-bomb?

Photo by iStockphoto

Smile! There's a New Trend in Medical Tourism

smile

New evidence suggests dental tourism is skyrocketing, with a now estimated one million people traveling outside their home country for affordable dental treatments and enhancements. According to medical travel resource Patients Without Borders, most tooth tourists are from the U.S., with Europe a close second—with the majority seeking implants, crowns, root canals, and smile makeovers.

And while Hungary, Poland, Thailand, India, and Singapore are fast emerging as top spots for dental work, some are traveling to the U.S. for treatments. Call it Reverse Dental Tourism. And it makes sense, given Americans' worldwide reputation for flaunting mouthfuls of pearly whites. But these aren't your average bargain-hunting snaggle-toothed tourists.

Dr. Michael Apa, a partner in New York-based Rosenthal-Apa Group and pioneer in Facial Aesthetic Design, is one of the world's top cosmetic dentists. Beyond catering to celebrities such as Matt Dillon, Chloë Sevigny, and the Trumps, he also services many of the Middle East's royal families, who pay upwards of $30,000 for his mouth makeovers—and who decamp to New York City for weeks at a time. As a result, Dr. Apa not only helps people looks years younger with porcelain veneers and facial asymmetry adjustments, but his practice also acts as de facto concierge and travel advisor. He was recently honored with a Five-Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Science for being "One of the Finest Dentists Worldwide." Travel + Leisure recently caught up with the doctor in NYC:

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Food Trucks Arrive in London

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The food truck movement has officially made its way across the pond. In fact, some of London's best new restaurants—Pitt Cue Co., for example—started on wheels, while a number of brick-and-mortar spots—like Wahaca—are going mobile. Meanwhile, this summer saw the launch of Street Feast, a super-popular Friday night market in Dalston with a range of global vendors (Mama’s Jerk Station; Pop Up Barbados; Kimchi Cult; Bhangra Burger). It began as a 12-week pop-up, but it’s still around; in late September, it moved into an indoor spot farther east in Hackney, with live entertainment to boot.

Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

Travel Back in Time with Vintage Menus

Vintage Menus: Muse restaurant

While the pyrotechnics of Alinea’s molecular gastronomy and the tweezer-armed chefs at Noma fussing over strands of seaweed may garner all the accolades in the food world these days, other chefs are turning back the clock. They’re going back decades, even hundreds, of years.

Vintage-inspired menus—think Champagne-glazed Virginia hams, Waldorf pudding studded with nuggets of foie gras, poached salmon bathed in creamy French sauces—took off this year when restaurants across the country commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s demise.

At Prime Meats in Brooklyn, diners paid $150 in April to taste the last meal served on the British ship, supposedly crafted under the consultation of Georges-Auguste Escoffier and Cesar Ritz. A Hindenburg dinner may follow.

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Lonesome Rich Guy Seeks Hot Travel Companion?

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Hey, beautiful people, does the world owe you a free ride based on your good looks? Hooray, there’s a new website for you.

Or maybe you’re tired of being a lonely rich guy. Maybe you feel like the beautiful people of the world owe YOU a favor. Good news, you can use that same website.

MissTravel.com, a travel dating social network, will facilitate matches between its two types of members: the “attractive” members and the “generous” members. (Are you squirming yet?) How this differs from a high-flying escort service, except for the admonition “Escorts Are Not Allowed,” is unclear.

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London Pop-Up Offers Stylish Olympic Spectating

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For months T+L has been counting down to this summer in London, a city already pulsating with game-changing events and pioneering cultural festivals. Now, we’re adding another spot to your London itinerary: The Fringe 2012, a new pop-up members club that will offer ticket-holders some respite from all the Olympic buzz. Just a hundred yards from Olympic Stadium, The Fringe is housed in a converted Victorian stable house at Swan Wharf and will provide some of London’s finest food and drink (with Sweet&Chilli bringing their unique brand of creative cocktails to the experience). Olympic fans shouldn’t fret about missing any of the actionlarge LCD screens will broadcast all the main events.

The Fringe 2012 will officially pop-up on July 20th, a week before the Opening Ceremony, and operate through the Olympic and Paralympic Games until September 9th. Individual tickets start at $112 per day.

2012-hs-briana-fasone.jpg Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter @brifasone.



Photo courtesy of Nylon Communications Limited.

Pizza-on-Demand Coming to Airports (and Hotels and Malls) Near You

Equal parts genius and this seems so so wrong, there's a new vending machine trend about to sweep the country: Pizza, made from "scratch." That's right, fresh—not frozen—pies made to order at the push of a button.

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Digital Avatars to Guide Travelers at New York Airports

CNN |  First Tupac. Now this.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced this week that digital projections of "virtual customer care representatives" will appear this summer in three New York-area airports, guiding flyers to their gates and providing other logistical info.

The 2-D projections can't respond to travelers who ask them questions, said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the authority. But that kind of technology may be added if the 6-month pilot project goes well, he said in a phone interview. "We’ll see if it works, you know," he said. "If people keep walkin' by it, then we wouldn’t renew (the contract for the avatars)."

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World's Top Restaurant Noma to Launch Summer London Pop-Up

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Can't get a reservation at Noma until 2020? This summer, you have two other ways to work up an appetite for chef Rene Redzepi's wildly inventive New Nordic cooking, which just topped the Restaurant magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants list for a third consecutive year. On July 1-2, the second annual MAD Symposium (Copenhagen, $350) addresses "Appetite" as its theme; along with Redzepi, expect tasteful thinking from other culinary wild men like Wylie Dufresne, Fergus Henderson and Ferran Adria. Then Redzepi moves his team to London for "A Taste of Noma" pop-up at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair. (Five courses, $320, July 28-Aug. 6). To pre-register for reservations, click here now. First come, first serve!

Shane MitchellShane Mitchell is Travel + Leisure's special correspondent.


Photo (top) by Ditte Isager

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