Category Archives: Africa

Escorted Culinary and Art Tour of Morocco with Caravan-Serai

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Caravan-Serai is one of our favorite outfits for the Middle East and North Africa. Long-time subscribers of our blog will remember that this tour operator tailors unique itineraries for small groups. If you’re looking for trustworthy guides to Jordan, Iran or Morocco, they are one of the best.

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Intricate Palatial Latticework

Today, we’re sharing one of their upcoming tours to Morocco. Though it’s right around the corner (April is fast approaching!), this Culinary and Art Tour is one that’s very unique and shouldn’t be missed. Call WIT to book your Moroccan escorted tour today. 

503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com

WIT Agent Gavi Piper returned from her trip to Morocco a few months ago, so we’re sure she’d love to tell you all about this colorful and delightful country. Attached are some of her photos from the journey!

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Moroccan Rugs

Escorted Culinary and Art Tour of Morocco

April 18 – 27, 2019

Accommodations will be in authentic Moroccan bed and breakfast riads. A riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard, and many have been converted to accommodations for travelers. Local chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations with all local ingredients in each of the four cities to showcase the diversity of Moroccan cuisine. Space will be limited on this special tour, so reserve your space early! 

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Arabesque Archways

Day 1 & Day 2: Arrival / Rabat

Welcome to Rabat, the capital of Morocco, also known as the White Imperial City. After assistance with airport formalities, we will be driven to a group welcome lunch. We will then check into a riad for the evening. Rabat has a rich, long history and we will learn about it in art guided tours of colonial architecture left behind, along with a culinary tour of coastal influences in a group cooking class. Local sights include Hassan tower, the splendid Mohamed V Mausoleum, the Kasbah of Oudayas and the Medina. Overnights at RIAD KALAA.

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Fes Dye Pools

Day 3 to Day 5: Fes

Three days are devoted to the sightseeing of Fez, the Medieval City, the most ancient cultural and spiritual city of Morocco. This medieval marvel has been frozen in a time capsule and houses the world’s oldest university, Karaouine Mosque, a World Heritage site. Art guided tours include a visit through the old medina to see different craftsmen still operating in the old oriental tradition Fes El Jdid & the Jewish district. We will also visit the historic Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts and Batha Museum to learn about geometric patterns that make this area unique. Hammam options will also be made available for anyone interested in experiencing a private treatment. We will have an evening cooking demonstration of Amazigh & Tunisian influences, as Fes cooks are considered the country’s most elegant and gifted. Overnights at PALAIS OMMEYAD.

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Gavi in Chefchaouen, the “Blue City”

Day 6 & Day 7: Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is called the Blue City and is tucked away high in the Rif mountains. It remained shut off from the world for almost 500 years, forbidden to Christians until 1920. Now its narrow, labyrinthine streets, decked in shades of blue buildings with red tile roofs, are open to all. Its relaxed easy atmosphere is a strong contrast to the bustling bigger city life. The art tour will include historical visits to the Medina to relax along the Plaza Uta Hammam. We will learn about the influences of the neighboring Andalucían in the unusual octagonal tower of the Grande Mosque, visit the Kasbah, & enjoy the Ethnographic Museum, stopping for a moment to enjoy the breathtaking views it offers. We will visit the falls of Ras El Maa, and delight in a cooking demonstration of Mediterranean influences. Overnight in PARADOR.

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Moroccan Zellij Tilework

Day 8 & Day 9: Tétouan

Tétouan, sometimes called the White City or The Daughter of Granada is also situated in the Rif Mountains and was built by Muslim refugees from Spain in the 15th century. It is one of only two Moroccan Mediterranean port cities and is known for its craftsmanship and musical gracefulness. We will tour the Hispano-Moorish influence in the architecture of the Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site. We will also explore Tétouan’s culinary influences from local Amazigh, Andalusian and Ottoman cuisine, brought by Algerian immigrants, in a cooking demonstration. Overnight in EL REDUCTO.

Day 10: Rabat / Depart

After breakfast, departure transfer to Rabat–Salé airport for return flight and assistance with boarding formalities. 

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Islamic Symmetrical Designs

Included:

  • 9 nights’ accommodation in bed & breakfast at selected hotels/riads
  • 4 cooking demonstrations showcasing the diversity of Moroccan food
  • A/C minibus with a qualified driver at disposal for the whole tour
  • English speaking art guide for the whole tour
  • Entrance fees to monuments with an exterior visit of Mosques
  • Taxes

Not included:

  • All personal extras, gifts, etc
  • Dinners and lunches, not included in cooking demos
  • Drinks during the meals, mini bar, etc
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Travel insurance
  • Airline tickets

Price per person in a double room is $2200

Single Supplement is $500

Take it from us, the price is incredible for 10 days in Morocco in excellent riads and a peek into the more unique sides of the country. 

Read More:

Conscientious Traveler: Caravan-Serai

Vendor of the Month: Caravan-Serai

Caravan-Serai Recipes: Persian Jeweled Rice

Recipes from Caravan-Serai

Caravan-Serai Sample Tour

Rice Pudding with Caravan-Serai

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Ramparts

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Filed under Africa, Morocco

Top Posts of 2018

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Another Year has come to a close, so for today we’re bringing you the WIT Blog’s Top Posts for 2018. 

It’s been a doozy of a year – January 2018 was our top month on the blog ever! Take a look and get inspired for your own upcoming adventures in 2019!

Posts that Played the Most

Where to Spot the Southern Cross: Letting the constellations guide your travel this year?

2018 Travel Trends from our Travel Agents: See if our predictions were right!

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Embark on an Incredible Voyage on the West Coast of South America: an older post from 2015, check out similar itineraries with G Adventures

A Drive through Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland: seabirds, basalt cliffs, mountain peaks, waterfalls, oh my!

Questions to Ask before you Book an All-Inclusive Resort: The Whats, Wheres and What ifs

Itinerary: 13 days on South Island, New Zealand: How would you spend your two precious weeks in New Zealand?

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A Closer Look: Ithumba Safari Camp in Kenya: Explore one of our favorite camps in beautiful East Africa

2018 Travel Trends: Walking Tours in and out of Town: Tours we recommend on the cobblestone and the trail

6 Hacks to Get Your Luggage through the Airport: A must-read for your sanity!

Where are you going in 2019? Let us know! Leave a comment or email us at inquiry@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Europe

Discovery of King Tut with Viking Cruises & WIT

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Text by WIT Agent Lindsay Nichols

On December 15th and 16th, Viking River Cruises and Willamette International Travel sponsored clients’ entry to “The Discovery of King Tut”, an exhibit displayed at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) with replicas of hundreds of items found in his tomb since the early 20th century. It began with a brief introduction of how King Tut’s tomb became discovered and had life size displays of a few of the rooms and how they were originally found. After an overview, there were replicas from each of the rooms in his tomb, each of which were so detailed it felt like you were seeing the originals!

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Photo by Cristabel Nichols

Below are three of the shrines that surrounded King Tut’s coffin, they were enclosed in each other just like Russian nesting dolls, leaving very little space between each shrine.

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Photo by Hannah Bown

Each of the shrines that encased King Tut’s body along with golden coffins were show in life size and made you wonder, “How did they do that?!”

The following photo shows King Tut’s gold coffins, which were laid inside each other, like a set of Russian nesting dolls.

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Photo by Kimberly Bown

A wonderful addition to the visual displays are the guided recordings provided to each guest, really bringing the entire story to life. If you plan on attending, a suggestion would be to bring a pair of headphones to plug into the guided recording device, this way you do not have to hold the device to your ear the entire time. There were a lot of details that I was unaware of, such as the unknowing of how he died or the discrepancy of whether he was murdered or died from health reasons.

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Replica throne, photo by Kimberly Bown

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Chariot replica found in King Tut’s tomb. Photo by Hannah Bown

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Engravings on shrines. Photo by Colleen Hoyt

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Anubis, protector of the gates to the Underworld. Photo by Colleen Hoyt

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King Tut’s golden mask that he was buried in. Photo by Hannah Bown

 

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Photo by Lindsay Nichols

This photograph shows the exact placement of items found in King Tut’s tomb. It was meticulously mapped by Howard Carter’s team which was a first for the time. 

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Filed under Africa, Egypt, Middle East

Thanksgiving with Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, Africa

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Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends and clients! Here at Willamette Intl Travel, we are so thankful for an amazing year of adventures and arranging dream trips for clients all around the world!

In this week of thanksgiving, we’d like to give a few sweet updates from our friends at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, Africa. 

What is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust?

This conservation project is dedicated to the protection and preservation of Africa’s Wilderness, particularly endangered species like elephants and the Black Rhino.

Willamette Intl Travel regularly organizes meaningful trips to Africa for clients, and 1-2 a year, the owners escort an exclusive group throughout Kenya, Namibia, South Africa or other African countries. It’s those meaningful connections with people and wildlife that make wild Africa one of our favorite destinations. 

Latest News from the Wildlife Trust

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photo courtesy of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

MEET MERRU

On September 1, a calf was discovered stuck down in a quarry. His finders were divided; some wanted to claim him for bushmeat, while others were sympathetic to his plight. The latter group prevailed and got word to the KWS, who rushed to keep the baby safe until we arrived.
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The road to recovery for Merru, as we named him, has been difficult. For his first week at the Nursery, he was unable to sleep, instead pacing in circles. We persevered and, thanks to round-the-clock care and the moral support of the other orphans, Merru at last seems to be putting his traumatic past behind him.
LUALENI BECOMES A MOTHER
It’s a girl! We’re delighted to announce the birth of Lulu, Lualeni’s first baby — and our 30th “grandcalf” born to wild-living orphan. The new mum arrived at our Ithumba stockades last week with her little one in tow, clearly brimming with pride and excited to introduce us to her.
We’ve known Lualeni since she was just four months old, when she was abandoned. Although she wasn’t able to grow up in the wild alongside her mother, we’re thrilled that now — 14 years later— things have come full circle and she has the opportunity to raise her own family in the wild.
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SAVING A SNARED CALF’S LIFE
Our five Mobile Veterinary Units save hundreds of wild lives each year. This calf, treated by the Mara team, is one such patient. He had become entangled in a snare, leaving it caught between his jaws, wrapping around his head and slicing into his ears. Not only did this cause excruciating pain, but it also restricted his ability to feed.
The Unit’s KWS veterinarian cut away the braided wire, treated the wounds, and sent the pint-sized patient back to his herd with a positive prognosis. He had been living with the snare for at least a week, so we can only imagine his relief at being freed at last.
Keep up to date with the goings-on with the Wildlife Trust at their website.

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Filed under Africa, Kenya

An Unsung Hero in Kenya

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Unsung Heroes in Tsavo West National Park…! What a great story from Kenya!

 

More Reading on Elephants & East Africa: 

8 Awesome Africa Accounts you should be following on Instagram

African Safari: Elephants at Tsavo East National Park

African Safari: Samburu Game Reserve Elephant Bedroom Camp

African Safari: Maasai Mara National Reserve

Conscientious Traveler: Iewa Wildlife Conservancy and Iewa Safari Camp

A Closer Look: Ithumba Safari Camp in Kenya

The Elephants that Came to Dinner

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Filed under Africa, Kenya

Travel News: Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 

 
Hapag-Lloyd Releases Statement Following Polar Bear Incident
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises released a statement on Sunday morning following a weekend incident that left a polar bear dead in Spitsbergen. ” This Saturday on a trip ashore in Spitsbergen during a BREMEN cruise an accident occurred: a polar bear guard, an expert employed by the cruise line, was attacked on land by a polar bear. The guard suffered head injuries, however, he was responsive after the attack and was airlifted. He is out of danger, with no threat to life. In an act of self-defence, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead. We very much regret this incident. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife. To prepare for a shore leave, the polar bear guards go ashore in advance after sighting the landing site as a group and without passengers. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight. As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately. The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave. One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person. The injured person was immediately provided with medical care and flown to a hospital with a rescue helicopter. We are in personal, direct contact with him. His condition is stable and he remains responsive. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has worked comprehensively and co-operatively with the Norwegian authorities to reconstruct and clarify the incident on the ground and will continue to do so.
Southwest Airlines Promises They Still Won’t Charge for Bags 
Condé Nast Traveler reports at least one airline has some good news about fees you don’t have to worry about. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in an earnings call on Thursday that the airline will continue with its policies of free checked bags, no change fees, and open seating for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that they’re potentially leaving billions of dollars on the table by doing so. I don’t think we need to change the essence of what Southwest Airlines is to still find opportunities to drive revenues,” Kelly said. While he said the company was exploring new ways to make money, he didn’t divulge details, only adding that they were “very handsome opportunities.” No need to sweat the small stuff: customers won’t see the changes for awhile, not in 2018, and perhaps not even in 2019, Kelly said. Southwest is largely fee-free, but it doesn’t assign seats; instead, passengers can shell out $15 for EarlyBird Check-In to improve their place in the boarding line so they can nab that precious window seat. They also can pay around $50 for each leg of their trip to board with the first group of passengers. The airline’s hands-off, free-bags-and-change-fees approach hits a note with travelers. The Dallas-based airline routinely bests JetBlue, Delta, United, and American when it comes to value for the money, credit card perks, and, uh, flight attendant friendliness. The airline even announced yesterday that despite rising fuel costs, its ticket prices were falling. 

Arizona Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 
Travelwirenews reports a Arizona startup plans to send tourists to the edge of space using high-altitude helium balloons, but tickets will definitely cost at least $75,000 each. World View Enterprises has plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. The firm will use high-altitude balloons for a ride proponents say will undoubtedly be a lot more peaceful than rocket-based systems. World View currently launches missions primarily for the government, with roughly 50 within the last year. For passenger flights, World View is rolling out a capsule dubbed Voyager, which includes windows on all sides. While it will not reach official boundary of space, passengers should be able to see Earth fall away beneath them. In just a couple of years, wealthy tourists could see themselves going for a relaxing visit to the edge of space, towed by way of a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon. World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system during the last couple of years before plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. World View has conducted over 50 flights within the last year. In 2015, a then-Google exec completed a record-breaking free fall from about 136,000 feet, counting on a suit and balloon developed by World View over the course of three years. At present the firm primarily conducts missions for the government, including a recently available effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico.
 
 
Inca Rail Upgrades Trains To Machu Picchu 
Travel Market Reports that Inca Rail in Peru was acquired by the Carlyle Groupsome two years ago and has now rebranded as Machu Picchu Trains by Inca Rail and significantly upgraded its product offering. With a $10 million investment from Carlyle, the company has refurbished its cars, enhanced the onboard experience, ratcheted up the amenities, added a 360-degree panoramic-view observation deck with an outdoor terrace, and offers a private charter service. The company expanded its first-class offering from 30 seats to 60 seats, adding a second 30-seat car, and adding an observatory lounge car between the two cars. The 360-degree observatory lounge is unique in the market, “not only because we have more panoramic windows, but it is the only train with an open terrace. It’s wonderful because since we want to deliver as full an experience as possible, this is the way the customer can experience the journey with the five senses, to see, to smell, to hear and to feel more of the journey. There are no windows so you can take pictures.” Inca Rail also upgraded the technology on the train to accommodate the needs of today’s wired travelers. “It’s also the first train that offers state-of-the-art technology, with a USB port for ISP to charge phones and iPads if you want to take pictures and don’t have batteries. It’s also the only train that has an entertainment system that lets passengers follow the trip with their phones. They can see where the train is going. There are many things to see along the way. They can hear the narration in different languages and find out what is outside, the Incan ruins or the Urubamba River. There is also music and video from the Andes. So, it’s a unique train. The company now offers four classes of service: private, first class, 360 Degree and the standard Voyager service. “For the top luxury class, we offer a private service on a chartered basis, it’s unique in market. You can charter the whole car and it’s at your disposal. You travel with a chef, staff and butler service. It includes upscale dining with a five-course meal, whisky, live music, a lounge and a bar. It’s for one to 10 people. It could be couples, families or friends. You charter the service and it’s completely private, the only private charter in the market.” Passengers can catch the train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo. From Cuzco, the train leaves from Poroy Station, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Cuzco. The trip to Machu Picchu is about three hours. From Ollantaytambo, passengers catch the train near the site itself and the trip takes about an hour and a half. The train drops passengers off at the Machu Pichu Pueblo Hotel, formerly known as Aguas Caliente, at the foot of the final climb to the Citadel. The final leg of the trip is taken by bus. With its new, upgraded service, Inca Rail is including a private bus for the final climb. The Peruvian government implemented some restrictions, last July. There are two shifts for visitation: in the morning between 6 a.m. and noon, or from noon to 5:30 p.m. In addition, the authorities mandated that visitors have to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide so they know where to walk without damaging the site.


 
Virgin Galactic Completes Rocket Powered Test Flight
CNN reports the race to put tourists into space seems to be a glacially slow one most of the time, and then it suddenly takes a supersonic leap forward. That is what happened with Richard Branson’s long-delayed Virgin Galactic project, which last Thursday completed a rocket-powered test flight at 2.47 times the speed of sound. Carried up to an altitude of 46,500 feet over the Mojave Desert in California, Virgin’s VSS Unity was released from its mother ship before blasting into the stratosphere. With rockets blazing for 42 seconds, it then entered a near-vertical climb to 170,800 feet, approximately halfway to the edge of space. The ship then glided back down to Earth, making a successful landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The third rocket-powered outing in less than four months was hailed as the most successful yet for the project, which eventually aims to carry passengers and commercial payloads into space. It was the first to reach the mesosphere, which Virgin Galactic describes as an “under-studied atmospheric layer” because it’s beyond the range of balloon flight. “This was a new altitude record for both of us in the cockpit, not to mention our mannequin in the back, and the views of Earth from the black sky were magnificent,” Mackay added. Branson predicted it would be up and running by December in an interview released on the eve of the latest test. If Virgin Galactic gets up and running, passengers paying north of $250,000 will experience a two-and-a-half-hour flight to the edge of space. The flight will culminate with several minutes of weightlessness during which they’ll be able to float from their seats.
 
 
 
Hawaii’s Honolulu Airport Will Run On Thousands Of Solar Panels
Hawaii is doing the most when it comes to environmental conservation. The state officially banned all chemical sunscreens, which contain coral-bleaching ingredients, in early July. A number of hotels across the islands have gotten rid of plastic straws and single-use plastics (read our full list of companies that are saying no to single-use plastics). And the state has pushed to use exclusively clean energy by 2045. Hawaii’s Department of Transportation took another step, announcing that Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will be outfitted with 4,260 solar panels by the end of November, with the aim to cut the airport’s electricity bill in half. Thousands of solar panels will cover the roof of Terminal 1’s parking garage to help capture the rays of Honolulu’s 270 days of sun a year. There also are plans to add more to Terminal 2’s parking garage in the coming years (and, ultimately, a whopping 21,000 across all of Hawaii’s airports). More than 98,000 light fixtures at Honolulu’s airport will be replaced with LEDs as well, the state’s DOT reports. Honolulu is far from the only airport trying to decrease its carbon footprint. George Airport (2,000 solar panels), between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and Cochin International Airport (46,000 panels) in India’s southwestern Kerala region are both run completely by solar energy. The South African airport hopes to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the Indian airport,-which serves nearly eight million passengers annually-hopes to reduce its carbon emissions by 330,000 tons over the next 25 years. Gatwick Airport in London is officially carbon neutral as of last summer, using 100 percent renewable energy, emphasizing electric car rentals, and building the world’s first airport waste management plant to turn cabin waste into energy on-site.
 
 
New TSA Scanners Could Allow Travelers to Keep Their Liquids and Laptops 
Open Jaw reports the TSA plans to have up to 40 units in place at 15 US airports by the end of this year, with plans for another 100 or so more by the end of the government’s fiscal year 2019. The Transportation Security Administration announced plans to expand testing of a new carry-on bag screening technology that it says could detect the kinds of materials that caused it to issue a ban on liquids and powders. The new checkpoint technology is expected to result in fewer bag checks. In the future, the agency said, “passengers may also be able to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.” The computed tomography scanners (CT) utilize 3-D technology similar to the kind doctors use to view and rotate images of the human body. “TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience. Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By leveraging strong partnerships with industry, we are able to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.” CT technology testing started in 2017 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport, with John F. Kennedy International Airport receiving the third such machine. Abroad, London’s Heathrow International Airport is among several international airports testing the 3D technology.

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Filed under Africa, Central America, Europe, News, North America, South America

Travel News: Snakes on a Plane?

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TSA Finds Python Hidden In Hard Drive

ABC News reports airport security agents stopped a woman from boarding a plane with a python wrapped in a nylon stocking concealed in a computer hard drive Sunday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said its agents stopped a real-life version of “Snakes on a Plane” from happening after an agent noticed the ball python. “A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories!” the TSA continued. “While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight,” the TSA added. “Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking.”

If You Owe The IRS It Could Cost You Your Passport

EtN reports if you have a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS can certify that debt to the State Department for action, and that department generally will not issue a US passport to a potential traveler after receiving certification from the IRS. This is all in plain print at the IRS website: “Upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny your passport application and/or may revoke your current passport. If your passport application is denied or your passport revoked, and you are overseas, the State Department may issue you a limited validity passport good only for direct return to the United States. Seriously delinquent tax debt is an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a Notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or seriously delinquent tax debt is limited to liabilities incurred under Title 26 of the United States Code and does not include debts collected by the IRS such as the FBAR Penalty and Child Support.

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Anguilla Retains Best Caribbean Island Ranking

Travel + Leisure reports the Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is pleased to announce that for an unprecedented second year in a row, Anguilla has been ranked #1 island in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, honoring the top travel destinations and companies around the globe as rated by its readers. Frangipani Beach Resort has been ranked #1 in the Top 25 Caribbean Resort Hotels category and #3 in the Top Hotels Overall category. The Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Anguilla has been ranked #12 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category; Zemi Beach House was ranked #15; and Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort was ranked #18 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category. The World’s Best Awards appear in the August 2018 issue of Travel + Leisure, on sale July 27, and online: travelandleisure.com/worlds-best.

Singapore Airlines To Launch Non-Stop Flights From LAX To Singapore

By Christmastime, Singapore Airlines will be flying ten times a week between LAX and Singapore. If you don’t mind sitting on a plane for 17 and a half hours, getting from the West Coast to Singapore will be a whole lot easier and faster, thanks to the elimination of a layover in Seoul. Starting November 2, Singapore Airlines will bring back its nonstop route from Los Angeles International to Singapore Changi. The airline will will fly the route three times a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) until November 9; service will go daily after that. From December 7, three more flights a week will be added for ten total non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore per week. The fall kickoff date is notable for many reasons: It’s two weeks after Singapore restarts its longest-flight-in-the-world Newark-Singapore route (clocking in at nearly 19 hours), and just a week after Star Alliance member United ends its LAX-Singapore route. 
 

Airlines Load Factor Hits All-Time High

Forbes reports that if you think that airline flights are much more crowded than they used to be, you’re not wrong. The passenger load factor of commercial airlines has risen significantly over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had an average load factor of 75.2%, so on average, just three out of every four seats were sold. The recession of 2007-2010 stopped load factor growth. But by 2018, the average airline load factor hit 81.7% worldwide. In the US load factor has increased on domestic flights from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% in 2018, while the number of domestic flights has stayed almost constant, from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline industry has clearly gotten better in filling seats as revenue passenger miles rose from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017. The days of having a whole row to stretch out in coach, or even an empty middle seat separating you from your neighbor, increasingly seem like a distant memory. The airlines are busy shrinking seats and cramming in additional rows into smaller, more fuel-efficient jets.

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Amtrak Service Declines As It Becomes An Airline On Rails

Travellers United reports Amtrak service is becoming more airline-like with a former airline executive in charge, former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. His Amtrak service changes bring the railroad closer to service practices in the airline industry. Some of the changes: – Hot dining car meals prepared on-board, included in the fare for first-class sleeping car passengers, are being replaced with cold pre-prepared meals served in-room on the Chicago-New York and Chicago-Washington routes starting June 1.

– Amtrak no longer offers discounts to veterans, students and AAA members, and the minimum age of eligibility for the senior discount (which is now 10% rather than 15% was raised to 65 from 62.

– The railroad’s cancellation policy is now more airline-like. There is now a 25% penalty for most reservations canceled more than 24 hours after booking, even if the value is credited to the passenger as an eVoucher (redeemable for future ticket purchases) rather than as a cash refund. Luckily, Amtrak still does not charge change fees.

– First Class amenities like a lounge car for sleeping car passengers have been removed from several routes, and two routes have lost Business Class seating.

– A number of stations have lost their Amtrak Customer Service Representative(s), employees who do everything from selling tickets to handling baggage and assisting passengers with special needs.

– Amtrak has stopped operating charter and special trains in partnership with rail museums and preservation nonprofits, tour groups, sports teams and others, jettisoning a source of revenue and public goodwill in the name of operational convenience.

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Ethiopia Launches New E-Visa Services

Ethiopia, a treasure trove of history and culture, has become easier to get to with an all in one new e-visa service launched by the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines. The new service brings the travelers closer to authentic travel experiences and enables them to travel to Ethiopia. All the visitors have to do is process their visa online on a single webpage where they apply, pay and secure their entry visa online. Give it a try and you will get authorized via email to secure your passport stamped with visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Call Willamette Intl Travel to discuss a unique holiday in Ethiopia – you’ll be sure to love this beautiful country and the warm-hearted hospitality of its people.  

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