Travel News: The Time is Now to Check Your Passport

festivals around the world (2)
Get your passport now
It’s now the busy season for passports. Take the time, at least 9 weeks before your departure date), to look at your passport and make certain that it is valid for six months past your return flight to the US. The US Passport offices are processing a multitude of renewals the closer we get to Spring and Summer peak travel seasons. 
 
Brazil Introduces e-Visa
The Brazilian Government has announced a new e-Visa for USA citizens for Tourist, Business, Transit and Artistic or Sports Activities travel purposes. The new visa type will be valid for 2 years, multi-entry with a max stay of up to 90 days per year. The new e-Visa is only currently offered to US, Australia, Canadian and Japanese citizens. The e-Visa processing time is excepted to be 7-8 business days. 
 
American Airlines suspends Smart Luggage with Lithium Batteries
In mid-January, American Airlines stopped allowing “Smart Luggage” that includes built in lithium batteries to be placed in the baggage compartment of the plane. But if you can remove the batteries you can put them in your carry-on. If they aren’t removable then either the TSA or AA will allow you to check the bag in the baggage hold where there is not access to the area from inside the plane on most planes today. So, think twice about taking a non-carry-on sized SMART BAG (more than 22 inches). The theory is that any fire that erupts from the battery in the cabin can be put out easily. Remember, if you can remove the lithium batteries from the suitcase you can check the bag and put the batteries in your carry-on.
 
First Exhibition Exploring ‘Golden Age’ Of Ocean Travel To Launch At Victoria & Albert Museum in London
Travelwire reports Ship design, groundbreaking engineering, architecture and lifestyle aboard the great vessels will all be explored in the exhibition which sees the V&A team up with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and Viking Cruises for their first major exhibition of 2018. Ocean Liners: Speed And Style showcases more than 250 objects, including a wooden panel fragment from an overdoor in the Titanic’s first-class lounge. It traces the revolution of sea travel from the mid-19th century with the emergence of the ocean liner. A precious diamond and pearl Cartier tiara rescued from the sinking Lusitania in 1915 is among the more luxurious items. Exclusive Maison Goyard luggage previously belonging to King Edward VIII. who became the Duke of Windsor after abdicating to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, will return to Europe for the first time since they were acquired from the Windsor Estate. The set of luggage was used by the couple as they traveled between their adoptive home in France and the US, with the duke’s personalized with his title and yellow and red stripes. Also included in the collection is a Christian Dior suit worn by German actress Marlene Dietrich as she arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary in 1950. As the largest machines of their age, ocean liners were powerful symbols of 20th-century modernity and the exhibition will also feature works from Modernist artists, designers and architects including Le Corbusier, Albert Gleizes, Charles Demuth, and Eileen Gray. Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, said: “This seminal show reveals hidden design stories of some of the world’s most luxurious liners, from the Titanic to the Normandie and QE2. “We have collected ship-related objects and ephemera for well over 100 years, and now have a startlingly brilliant collection of ocean liner material, making us uniquely placed to present this exhibition.” Ocean Liners: Speed And Style will run at the V&A from February 3 until June 17 2018.
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Madrid Prepares for Its Greenest Year Yet
The European city with the most ambitious plans to improve its air quality this year probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind. In fact, it’s Madrid, which is embarking on what, policy-wise, could be its greenest year yet. The country’s capital is actually getting down to business to improve its poor air quality, making the city altogether more healthy and livable. It’s doing so by introducing a host of air-cleaning measures under a 30-point plan entitled Plan A, “because there is no plan B,” Mayor Manuela Carmena says. The first major change actually started last month when Madrid closed its main drag, the broad, often car-filled avenue Gran Vía, to cars at the beginning of December. Cars returned on January 7, but the streets won’t be the same for long. Madrid plans to start doubling the street’s sidewalks, taking space from car lanes to give pedestrians an extra 58,000 square feet of space, plus a segregated bike lane down its busiest stretch. While this will reduce car space on a very busy thoroughfare, Gran Vía will soon be one of the few parts of central Madrid that admits non-local cars at all. In June, Madrid will debut its Zero Emissions Zone, which will only allow local residents, people with limited mobility, or zero-emissions vehicles to drive into most of the old city. 
 
Qantas 787 Dreamliner Makes Long-Haul Flight On Mustard Seed Biofuel
The aviation industry has been experimenting with cleaner-burning fuels to lower the carbon footprint of flights. We’re far from a complete switch to biofuels but work continues to make that a possibility at some point in the future. Case in point: the world’s first biofuel flight from the United States to Australia. A Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner made the long-haul flight from the Los Angeles to Melbourne with 24,000 kilograms of mustard seed based blended fuel. The QF96 flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne used biofuel extracted from the Brassica carinata mustard seed. The extraction process was developed by Agrisoma Bioscienses, an agri-tech company based in Canada. According to reports, the fuel from this mustard seed offers over 80% reduction in carbon emissions compared with conventional jet fuel across its life cycle. That blend that was used in the Dreamliner flight will see a 7% reduction in emissions on the route as 10% of its tank was filled with the biofuel. Qantas is planning on running flights regularly with biofuel by 2020. The company’s historic biofuel-powered flight comes after it was named the least efficient carrier in the region. Qantas was found to be the least efficient by the International Council on Clean Transportation and that it burnt the most carbon of all major airlines that fly across the Pacific.
 
In-Flight Wi-Fi Is About To Get A Lot Faster
Bloomberg reports in-flight Wi-Fi is finally emerging from its role as a punchline as the cost of buying and installing better hardware has fallen far enough that many airlines have begun upgrading to faster speeds, and smaller airlines are adopting Wi-Fi for the first time BUT what you’ll pay for it may be outrageous. Worldwide, 82 airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi, 12 more than last year, with the amenity now common enough that there’s a 43% percent chance your plane will have it, according to an annual airline report from New York-based Routehappy Inc. (And more than 80% in America.) Airbus SE and Boeing Co. also fit most of these newer systems onto new airplanes as part of the final assembly process. In terms of the most Wi-Fi access, Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and Emirates take the top three spots, with Delta and Emirates also among the 13 airlines that offer Wi-Fi on all of their long-haul flights, according to the report released last week. 
 
Holland America Expands Denali Experience
Travelwire reports Holland America Line has announced an expansion of the guest experience on its Alaska Land+Sea Journeys with the addition of new guest accommodations at its Denali operation. The 99-room addition will feature the first-ever junior suites at the resort and is expected to be open for the 2019 summer Alaska cruise season. The 55 new junior suites will showcase balconies, larger living areas and greater amenities for guests. The company said that the new rooms are an extension of its overland Alaska experience to Denali, which includes the McKinley Chalet Resort hotel and Denali Square, a gathering area to relax, shop, dine and for music and entertainment. The addition will be located just west of Denali Square with views of Mt. Healy and Denali National Park. According to a prepared statement, the three-story project will feature junior suites and standard rooms with “rustic-chic” décor. All junior suites have balconies offering views of the surrounding Alaska wilderness. Each floor will have a central, open-air lobby. The third floor has open public deck space with tables and loungers.
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Montreal Adding Capacity for More Demand From Cruise Lines
Montreal inaugurated a new cruise terminal in June, which will be joined by a second operational terminal in 2018, along with the existing alternate terminal located east of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. The trio of berth locations will help the iconic city accommodate extra ships during its peak fall season. The two new berths offer shorepower and a direct connection to black and grey water collection lines. As 2017 ended, the port was expected to report 52 international ship calls, according to a spokesperson, a 20,000 passenger increase year-over-year. 2018 will continue the surge, with 16 more calls on the books and a prediction of 130,000 passengers, up 50,000 year-over-year. New business includes summer cruises from AIDA, and the debut of Windstar Cruises in the Saint Lawrence. The Seabourn Quest is also offering a round-trip Montreal itinerary. More hopes lie in the winter, where the port city is working closely with the Cruise the Saint Lawrence group to develop a winter program to make the river a year-round destination. The port also recently joined the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition as it expects more river traffic and is developing a business plan for river cruising.
Heathrow Enhances Service For Passengers With Disabilities
Heathrow has announced a multi-million-pound package of investments and tools to improve the travel experience of passengers with disabilities and mobility restrictions at the airport. The number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising at approximately 8% annually, with over one million requests in 2017 alone, more than any other European airport. Following a report by the Civil Aviation Authority this year, Heathrow is taking proactive steps to transform its service for these passengers, backed by an investment of £23 million in a revamped, upgraded contract with its special assistance partner, OmniServ. Heathrow announced the introduction of a distinctive lanyard that will allow passengers that need tailored help and support to discreetly identify themselves to Heathrow staff. This lanyard is part of an established service initiated at Gatwick and rolled out in other UK airports, and is supported by leading UK charities including the Alzheimer’s Society, the National Autistic Society and Action on Hearing Loss.  Special assistance staff, security officers and passenger ambassadors at Heathrow have been trained to identify the lanyard so they can provide additional assistance, or allow passengers wearing it more time or space as they travel independently through the airport. 

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