Category Archives: Asia

Travel News: Archaeological Discovery In Egypt To Boost Tourism

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Archaeological Discovery In Egypt To Boost Tourism

Travelwirenews reports in a major archaeological discovery, Egypt on Saturday unveiled the tomb of a Fifth Dynasty official adorned with colourful reliefs and well preserved inscriptions. The tomb, near Saqqara, a vast necropolis south of Cairo, belongs to a senior official named Khuwy who is believed to have been a nobleman during the Fifth Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt about 4300 years ago. “The L-shaped Khuwy tomb starts with a small corridor heading downwards into an antechamber and from there a larger chamber with painted reliefs depicting the tomb owner seated at an offerings table,” said Mohamed Megahed, the excavation team’s head, in an antiquities ministry statement. Flanked by dozens of ambassadors, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enani said the tomb was discovered last month. It is mostly made of white limestone bricks. Ornate paintings boast a special green resin throughout and oils used in the burial process, the ministry said. The tomb’s north wall indicates that its design was inspired by the architectural blueprint of the dynasty’s royal pyramids, the statement added. The excavation team has unearthed several tombs related to the Fifth Dynasty. Archaeologists recently found an inscription on a granite column dedicated to Queen Setibhor, who is believed to have been the wife of King Djedkare Isesis, the eighth and penultimate king of the dynasty. Egypt has in recent years sought to promote archaeological discoveries across the country in a bid to revive tourism that took a hit from the turmoil that followed its 2011 uprising.

California Plans Ban On Single-Use Toiletry Bottles In Guest Bedrooms

Travelmole reports California could become one of the first places where hotels are banned from providing single-use mini plastic toiletry bottles in guest bedrooms. The US state’s lawmakers have proposed a bill to ban single-use plastic bottles in all guest accommodation to reduce unnecessary plastic waste. Instead, hotels would have to use re-fillable bulk dispensers. If the law is passed, it would take effect in 2023 and would ban plastic bottles under 12 ounces. “By not offering small bottles of personal care products, hotels, motels, and other lodging establishments can promote more sustainable business,” said assembly member Ash Kalra.

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Paris Restaurants To Charge Cancellation Fees & Fines To No-Show Clients 

RT .com reports cafes and restaurants in the French capital have opted to follow the lead of hotels and guest-houses, and start charging their customers with cash penalties for late cancellation of reservations or failing to appear in time. Hundreds of Paris eateries are currently adopting the system that is widely used in the hotel industry, the Times reports. Restaurants oblige clientele to leave details of their credit cards while making reservations, with big-name places warning customers over a potential charge in case of a no-show. The measure is reportedly connected to losses the restaurants have to suffer when people make several reservations for the same day and then cancel at least one of them. “Even in great restaurants, customers cancel without having the slightest idea of the economic impact of their action,” the managing director of Les Grandes Tables du Monde, an association of top restaurants Nicolas Chatenier told the media. Restaurants reportedly have to follow the trend due to French gastronomical habits, in particular, fondness for lengthy meals. 

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Singapore Changi Airport Opens Mega Mall

Changi airport on Wednesday opened a $1.7 billion retail and nature-themed complex that aims to give it a competitive edge as an air hub in the region. The 135,700 square meter, 10-story complex, named the Jewel Changi Airport, offers 280 retail and food outlets as well as a hotel and is linked to Changi’s Terminals 1, 2 and 3. It is more than just a shopping mall as it houses the world’s largest man-made indoor waterfall, surrounded by a lush artificially created rainforest to give shoppers a unique combination of both retail experience and leisure. Standing 40 meters tall, the gigantic circular water feature has become the main attraction for visitors with its water plunging from a height of about seven stories from an oculus in the huge glass roof of the building. The climate around the waterfall is controlled to appear cool and misty. The complex, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is aimed at turning the airport into a tourist destination and attracting more transit visitors. Taking advantage of Singapore’s abundant rainfall all-year round, the waterfall uses rainwater that has been funneled into it, with the water also diverted for irrigation of indoor plants. Changi airport was voted by air travelers as the world’s best airport for the seventh consecutive year this year, with Tokyo’s Haneda airport in second place and South Korea’s Incheon airport coming third. It is the world’s seventh busiest airport for international traffic, with a record 65.6 million passengers passing through last year.

More information here: www.Jewelchangiairport.com

Other attractions at the Jewel include: 

  • It will house SIN’s largest indoor garden; Forest Valley, Canopy Park, light and sound show at the Rain Vortex which is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall (5 stories)
  • Forest Valley is a 5-story garden, made up of around 3000 trees and palms with plant species from Australia, Brazil, China, Malaysia, Thailand, and US
  • Canopy Park is located at the top level of the complex. Spanning 14,000 sqm (approx.. 11 Olympic-size pools), it is the home of the play attractions, a topiary garden and all-day dining options set within a/c comfort.
  • There are 2 mazes, a hedge maze and a mind0boggling mirror maze — And if that’s not enough, there is a walking net, suspended over a 25meter void. 

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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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Singapore’s Kampong Glam Neighborhood: Glimpse of the Arab World in Asia

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For many travelers, Singapore is nothing more than a stopover to their way to Thailand, the Philippines, or Bali. But a fascinating country that just oozes the word multicultural, Singapore is definitely worth a second look. Thanks to airline codeshares, it’s easy to build 1-2 days extra onto your trip for a couple hours or days in this intriguing city-state. Sometimes these extra days are a merciful bonus, considering jet lag!

One of the best places to center yourself is Kampong Glam, Singapore’s oldest neighborhood and the former Arab Quarter. Arab influences are very much a part of the area–from rug shops to incense parlors to the grand Sultan Mosque. Yet it still has a very trendy, hip vibe that’s hard to miss. It’s a unique look into the Arab World, right in the heart of Asia.

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WIT Correspondent Wailana recently visited the neighborhood to check out everything it had to offer. Here are her best tips:

What to Do

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Malay Heritage Center

Be sure to drop by the former residence of the Sultan of Johor–Istana Kampong Glam (85 Sultan Gate). This complex is a merge between British colonial architecture and Malay landscaping. Today it serves as a home to the Malay Heritage Center, where you can learn about Malay culture, heritage, and crafts.

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Sultan Mosque

While in Kampong Glam, you can’t miss the golden-domed Sultan Mosque (3 Muscat St), an icon that dominates the skyline. Built in the 1820s, between its intricate latticework, salmon patterns and chaperone palm trees, you can’t miss it. Non-muslims should check out the indoors, open daily from 9am to 1pm, and 2pm to 4pm.

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Haji Lane

Where to Shop

Haji Lane is a picturesque street lined with boutiques, cafes, and street art, and while arguably a tourist trap, is definitely worth checking out. Pick up a delicious meal in one of the streets halal cafés, or pick up a designer dress from a market stall. Some of my favorites included Tangers (73 Haji Ln), which does Korean, Japanese, French, and local designs, and nearby Molkan Fabrics (72 Arab St), which specializes in traditional attire like Malay songket suits and the two-piece baju kurung.

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Carpet Sellers

Where to Eat

The multi-faceted history of Singapore means that there will always be fantastic places to eat. In Kampong Glam, you can savor a range of tasty Hainanese, Indian, Malay, Japanese, Indonesian, Middle Eastern, and Western flavors that no know limit. Grab your cash and visit Singapore Zam Zam (697-699 North Bridge Rd) first of all, an Indian Muslim restaurant that has been a corner staple since 1908. Popular dishes include the briyani, spiced rice dish, roti prata, South Indian flatbread, and murtabak, stuffed, fried pancake. For the Indonesian flair, try Warong Nasi Pariaman (738 North Bridge Rd), which since 1948 has been serving up succulent steaming dishes like nasi padang (steamed rice with meat dishes) and ayam goreng (chicken deep fried in coconut).

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Sultan Hotel

Where to Stay

The adorable, white Sultan Hotel (101 Jalan Sultan, #01-01) is colonial architecture at its finest, with archways and floral-inspired latticework. Located on the edge of Jalan Sultan street, it’s just a short walk to the nearest light rail station, a nearby Hawker complex, and Chinatown.

Or spoil yourself at the luxurious, 5-star Naumi Hotel Singapore (41 Seah St), which aims to spoil with avant-garde curves, oasis-themed decor, lavish rooftop pool and a contemporary call to minimalism.

See you in Singapore!

Willamette Intl Travel regularly books trips to our clients that may include a free stopover. Ask us about options to explore the glittering city-state of Singapore. 

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

 

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Silk Road of China with Art Tours by Amy, October 2019

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Amy Osaki from Art Tours by Amy has announced their most recent tour on the Silk Road!

It promises to be a spectacular, one-of-a-kind itinerary focusing on Art and History along China’s Silk Road.

Silk Road of China: Art, History and Archaeology

October 10-20, 2019

Join Art Tours by Amy’s third trip across China, and journey from Xi’an over two thousand miles west to Kashgar. For thousands of years, the Silk Road connected China with the Mediterranean Sea over four thousand miles distant. This route was already a thousand years old when Marco Polo made his journey in 1271.

Call Willamette Intl Travel to arrange your once-in-a-lifetime tour through ancient art and history of the Silk Road

503-224-0180  |  inquiry@wittravel.com

  • Traverses the eastern part of the route, including three Chinese provinces
  • Xi’an, home of the Terracotta warriors
  • Jiayuguan and westernmost part of the Great Wall
  • imposing sand dunes of the Gobi Desert
  • Dunhuang and Mogao Caves filled with a thousand years of Buddhist art
  • Silk Road city of Turpan
  • Bezeklik grottoes
  • alpine lake of Tianchi in the Tian Shan (Celestial Mountains)
  • Bazaar & mosques of Kashgar
  • Muztagh Ata and Kongur Mountains, the tallest peaks in the Pamir and Kunlun mountain ranges
  • Pre-Trip Tour Available: Oct 8 in Beijing

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Click here for the detailed trip itinerary.

View slide show from the previous Silk Road trips:

2013 Silk Road trip

2011 Silk Road trip

READ MORE:

Art Tour of Japan with Amy

Art Tours by Amy | Mountain Hiking Holidays

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WIT Agent in Thailand: Part 1, Bangkok & Ayutthaya

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WIT Travel Agent Lindsay went on a FAM trip to Thailand last month, in order to inspect various accommodations, tour guides, and tours. WIT only works with tour providers who offer the highest quality of service. Here is Lindsay’s report, Part 1. 

Call us to arrange your own unique tour to Thailand! 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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Photos from Lindsay’s Trip to Thailand

First Day

Our driver picked us up in mercifully air-conditioned vans, complete with leather seats and even a Nespresso machine. Our first stop was a restaurant by the river, where we dangled our feet over the water. We filled our bellies with a gigantic bowl of noodles, and a dozen small dishes served family-style. Still recovering from jet lag, my stomach wasn’t quite ready for Thai food–but the chicken satay and soup proved delicious and flavorful.

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Our hotel, Sala Ayutthaya, was just a few doors down from the restaurant. The staff greeted us with elegant flower pieces and butterfly pea tea, a sweet, vibrantly purple drink. Rooms here were open concept, with glass walls that divided the bathroom from the bedroom, and a bathtub enclosed with the shower.

That first day, we tried our hands on a local treat that was like a pancake wrapped around Thai version of cotton candy. I was quickly learning how much Thailand loves their sweets! We also learned to make fish mobiles from bamboo, before sitting down for the evening welcome meal, complete with delicate dancers.

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Rice Farm Tour

The next day, we started with a tour of a local organic rice farm, quite unique in that it was both organic and grew rose-colored grains. We learned about the history of rice farming, as well as the actual practice of growing rice. After the farm, we enjoyed a light meal of traditional Thai dishes–including succulent, freshly grilled river prawns–and after that, it was time to explore the ruins of Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand for 400 years.

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Bangkok

Next, it was off to Bangkok for a couple different river cruises. Our first stop was at Baan Dvara Prateeip, to a meditation retreat in Koh Kret, where we learned about meditation and traditional Thai flower arrangement techniques. Lunch was delicious and interactive, we learned to cook noodles and had a wide variety of Thai dishes and sweets. The second half of the river cruise included a Thai massage, before we finally arrived at Avani Riverside hotel, with its endless river views from each room. The rooftop bar had spectacular view of the night market across the street, a Ferris wheel and food carts. Our dinner was an international buffet at the Anatara resort: delicious grilled seafood, sushi, Mac and cheese for home’s sake and of course Thai dishes as well. They truly make you feel welcome here, with nightly dance performances (they even invite guests up to join them).

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Tune in Next Time, Lindsay’s Trip to Thailand, Part 2!

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WIT Agent in Thailand

WIT Agent Lindsay recently went on an investigative trip through Thailand. And she brought back her photos that we’d like to share with you post-holiday.

Tune in next time when we’ll hear her full report!

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Street food market in Yodse area

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24hour flower market

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Reclining Buddha at Wat Po (short name for full name, also known as Temple of the Reclining Buddha), next to Grand Palace

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Sitting Buddha from Wat Kanlayanamitr

Just wanted to let you know I made it safely and the welcome dinner was so beautiful. Dancers, music, activities, beautiful dishes and such lovely people. The farmer’s house was so special and they were very welcoming. It has been a great first day. Ayutthaya is very relaxed and peaceful right on the river. Looking forward to seeing the contrast of Bangkok!

More about Thailand on our Blog: 

Shopping in Thailand

Mekong Cruise

Ayutthaya

Mekhala Cruise on the Chao Praya

Thailand with Vexplore

Reading List: Thailand

Chinese New Year

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Filed under Asia, Thailand, Travel by Holiday, Travel by Taste

Travel News: African Tourism Board Created

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More American tourists heading to Switzerland
Switzerland Tourism reported the number of nights Americans spent in Swiss hotels in the summer season 2018, from May through September, was up 11.3 percent compared to the same period in 2017, based on data from the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics. The Bernese Oberland saw the biggest growth from the U.S.. Since 2010, Switzerland has reported an increase in overnights from the U.S. every year, for a total of almost 50 percent. “A good summer was to be expected, based on reports we received from tour operators, travel agents and other industry partners,” says Alex Herrmann, director North America of Switzerland Tourism. “But the actual growth rate of over 10 percent beats our expectations.”If this trend continues, Switzerland will most likely celebrate its best year in at least 25 years in terms of U.S. travel to Switzerland.” 
African Tourism Board created
A new, multinational body to promote the travel and tourism sector in Africa was unveiled during World Travel Market in London. Created by the International Coalition of Tourism Partners, itself based in Seychelles, Brussels, Bali, and Hawaii, the Africa Tourism Board will seek to enhance and promote the sustainable growth, value, and quality of travel on the African continent.With a steering committee formed, the African Tourism Board goal is to convert this initiative into a stand-alone organization by April 2019. The vision is to have ATB be based in every member destination and in every source market. This will create a global network for Africa, and enables every base to interact with every other base. Organizers made every effort to assure African countries that the Board does not intend to take over national tourism initiatives or policies. To learn more, see African Tourism Board


Delta begins flying Airbus A220 — with a window in some restrooms!
Delta airline’s new Airbus A220 aircraft is gearing up with some exciting new features. The airbus will start by flying LaGuardia to Boston and to Dallas Ft. Worth, then Detroit, Houston and JFK, among others. 
– three restrooms on each plane, one at the front and two at the rear, and there will be a window in one of the two rear bathrooms
– Gogo-powered 2Ku Wi-Fi
– each passenger will have personal power ports
– Economy class passengers will have 18.6-inch-wide main cabin seats, the widest among any narrowbody aircraft.
– overhead bins are a bit roomier, the windows are a bit larger, and there is ambient LED lighting throughout the plane as well. 
– Of the 109 seats on board, 12 will be in the First Class cabin and 15 will be designated Delta Comfort Plus seats. 
– First Class seats will benefit from extra-large seatback screens
– Delta Comfort Plus seats will have additional legroom compared to the main cabin. 
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European Capital of Smart Tourism Awards
The winners of the first edition of the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition were awarded on 07 November at a ceremony in Brussels. The occasion was European Tourism Day, the largest annual meeting on European tourism. Representatives of Helsinki and Lyon received trophies on behalf of their cities. The objective at EU level is to foster the sustainable development of tourism by showcasing innovative solutions from EU cities in tourism. In addition, four cities received 2019 European Smart Tourism Awards for their outstanding achievements in the four categories of the competition: Málaga (Accessibility), Ljubljana (Sustainability), Copenhagen (Digitalization) and Linz (Cultural Heritage & Creativity). In order to become a European Capital of Smart Tourism, a city needed to demonstrate exemplary achievements as a tourism destination in implementing innovative and intelligent solutions in all four award categories: accessibility, sustainability, digitalization, cultural heritage and creativity. Cities of more than 100.000 inhabitants were eligible in the first edition of this competition. 38 cities from 19 EU Member States applied, but Helsinki and Lyon stood out for their innovative tourism measures.
New FAA legislation could mean lower seat pitch, and more
At first glance, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Reauthorization Bill that was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week, looked like it was a win for travelers tired of being sandwiched into ever-shrinking airplane seats. But, according to consumer advocate groups and airline industry analysts, not only could the bill ultimately do little to change the status quo when it comes to the size of airplane seats, it could even result in seats getting more cramped. The bill’s primary purpose was to maintain the FAA’s funding, while at the same time establishing some new guidelines for airline regulations. One of the bill’s provisions requires the FAA to issue regulations that would establish minimum dimensions for passenger seats on aircraft, something it does not do currently. The concern is that the FAA could set a requirement for minimum seat pitches as low as 27 or 28 inches. 
App for checking LGBTQ safety in regions worldwide
The first-ever neighborhood-level LGBTQ Safety ratings category on a smartphone app was launched yesterday. LGBTQ travelers will for the first time have unlimited access to real-time safety ratings on more than 30,000 neighborhoods worldwide. The “Top 5 Safest Global Urban Neighborhoods for LGBTQ Travelers” app by GeoSure provides safety ratings ranging from 1-100 – the lower the score, the safer the neighborhood. Utilizing machine learning, AI, sentiment analysis, and predictive analytics, ratings are based on analysis of thousands of sources daily to provide and continuously update its suite of comprehensive travel safety solutions. The Top Five Safest Global Urban Neighborhoods for LGBTQ Travelers are named as The Castro District in SFO, Berlin’s Schoneberg area, Amsterdam’s Centrum neighborhood, Barcelona’s Eixample vicinity, and Tel Aviv’s City Center/Florentin region. GeoSure is available on the App Store and Google Play. The company defines its LGBTQ Safety category as rating “Likelihood of harm or discrimination against LGBTQ persons or groups and level of caution required at location.”
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Most travelers do not purchase travel insurance
More than half (54 percent) of consumers have never purchased travel insurance and two thirds (65 percent) of those who have never purchased it have never even considered it, according to a survey by TravelInsurance.com. This despite the fact that 76 percent of survey respondents have experienced a flight delay in the past, and nearly half 48 percent have had their luggage lost or stolen. Another 35 percent have experienced either getting sick or traveling with someone who has gotten sick during a trip. The survey also showed that 47 percent of respondents don’t know whether or not their health insurance provides coverage while traveling, especially when traveling abroad. Willamette Intl Travel agents always recommend travel insurance. We are happy to provide package options to you provided you have booked your travel arrangements with our agency. 
 
Singapore Airlines Is The World’s Best Airline For 2019
AirlineRatings.com chose the list. The flag carrier of Singapore ousted five-year champion Air New Zealand, which has held the coveted title since 2014 and which still claimed second place this year. In comparison, not a single European or North American carrier made it into the Top 10 roster. The Perth-based website stated that “Singapore Airlines came out number one in many of our audit criteria” during the AirlineRankings.com. Annual Excellence Awards Tuesday. The audit, annually conducted by the publication’s seven editors, involves a detailed process that evaluates 12 major factors including fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offerings and staff relations. This year, Singapore Airlines edged out runners-up Air New Zealand, Qantas Airways and Qatar Airways for its “industry-leading in-flight service” as well as its new fleet additions, such as the world’s first Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350-900 ULR. Singapore Air also earned praise for its updated interiors, for its commitment to operation safety, and for its relaunch of the longest commercial flight in the world: non-stop service between Singapore and New York.
 
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Two US airports allow non-travelers to go past security
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is introducing a new SEA Visitor Pass that will allow non-travelers past security for the first time since 2001. According to the Seattle Times, Sea-Tac is starting a trial of the program that will allow up to 50 non-travelers a pass to go through security in order to eat at one of the restaurants, shop in the terminal, or say goodbye to friends and family at their gates. The trial period will end Dec. 14. If all goes well, Sea-Tac will make the program permanent. Pittsburgh International Airport last year became the first major U.S. airport since 9/11 to allow non-travelers through its security gates with its myPitpass program. At each, non-travelers have to go through security checkpoints and meet all TSA requirements before heading through. Sea-Tac does not expect the new program to increase wait times at security – only 50 passes will be available and visiting hours will be restricted from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. All non-travelers wanting to participate in the program have to sign up online before 1:30 p.m. the day before they want to use the pass. Approved participants will get an email from the TSA, which will direct them to pick up their passes at Sea-Tac with a photo ID.

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