Travel News: Delta brings some First Class touches to Main Cabins

WIT (3)

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa will move temporarily to Medici Gallery for 3 months

Just a heads-up for those of you planning to visit the Louvre this summer. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa will make a temporary move to the Medici Gallery on July 17 while her home gallery (La Salle des Etats) undergoes a 3-month renovation.

Paris trying to get tour buses out of the city center

CNN Travel reports that Paris’s deputy mayor has revealed the city is working to stop tourist buses causing “total anarchy” in the city. Emmanuel Gregoire said the town hall is working on regulations to limit bus traffic, and would introduce parking areas outside the city. “Buses are no longer welcome in the very heart of the city,” said Gregoire. While the problem has not reached the levels of Venice or Barcelona, Gregoire believes that Parisians are wary of issues caused by overcrowding. He emphasized that the capital is open to mass tourism, and has made great efforts to provide free public toilets, but claimed that “tourists can do what everyone else does and use public transport or switch to environmentally friendly mobility options” instead of buses. However, Gregoire acknowledged that group tours are useful for older visitors. And while restrictions on buses may make life more difficult for tour guides, Gregoire said that they must adapt and use cycling or walking tours.

Delta bringing some First Class touches to main cabin international flights

Main Cabin passengers traveling on international routes with Delta Air Lines will soon have an elevated experience as the airline is introducing a reinvented service with First Class touches starting in November. The experience is to begin from boarding, with flight attendants greeting guests both at the gate and at the boarding door before passengers receive a hot towel service and complimentary “Welcome Aboard” drinks shortly after departure. The drinks will include Bellinis made with sparkling wine and peach puree, while passengers will also have revamped dining options. As part of the refreshed menu, passengers will be able to select larger entrees featuring recipes inspired by Delta One dishes like grilled shrimp marinated in Harissa and served on a slaw of arugula and apples. Meals will be served on new custom-designed dinnerware and upgraded cutlery, with placemats available for each passenger, while dessert (which will be served after the meal service on most flights) will also include a choice between complimentary coffee, tea, wine, or water. Cabin crew will provide a second hot towel service after the meal service in addition to farewell chocolates, with the new changes coming after an extensive review and testing process involving both passengers and cabin crew. Delta also recently upgraded its amenity kit offerings across cabins, introducing cleansing towelettes (one of the items airline representatives said customers request most) in addition to a sleep mask, a dental kit, and earplugs to its Main Cabin kits.

pretty-woman-1509956_640

French Village Hits 114.6 Degrees, Setting New National Record

Last week Friday, the village of Gallargues-le-Montueux located in southern France outside of Montpellier topped 114.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest temperature ever recorded in continental France. That sweltering heat broke the previous record of 113.2 degrees, which was set just hours before in the village of Villevieille. And those weren’t the only hot spots. Brian Kahn at Earther reports that at least 12 weather stations in France detected temperatures above 111.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the previous hottest temperature set in 2003. According to Agence-France Presse, the temperature spike makes France the seventh European nation to ever break the 113-degree-Fahrenheit mark, joining Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece and North Macedonia. France was not the only nation dealing with extreme heat last week. Andorra, Luxembourg, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany all set record temperatures for the month of June.

Is This What Future Travel Looks Like? Face Scanners And The End FF Check-In

Check-in as we know it could become a thing of the past at New Zealand airports, according to an aviation expert. Check-in changes at Air New Zealand removed the straight-to-gate option for domestic travelers this week, led to a handful of furious customers missing their flights. But aviation expert Irene King told Stuff the move was likely just the start of what’s to come in the future as technology changes, and we could see traditional check-in counters dropped altogether. “I think it’s a prompt to get everyone to check-in electronically, rather than at the counter area,” said King of Air New Zealand’s move. “I think they’re trying to push them to pre-check-in because that obviously speeds up the boarding processes.” It had previously allowed domestic travelers without a bag to go directly to the boarding gate and check-in there by scanning the e-ticket barcode on their phone as they board (if they haven’t already checked in online or via the mobile app). Now, customers will have to check in online, via the airline’s app, or in person at a counter, at least 30 minutes before they fly. The move was a “generational thing” as more people become comfortable using smart phones to check-in and travel, King said. But as technology advances, King said there will likely be some more “pretty significant changes” at our borders. She predicts that current check-in processes will eventually be abandoned as more advanced biometric technology is able to be used in airports. “In 5 or 10 years time, I don’t think there will be any of that back-end process. You’ll just drop your bag at the gate, and you will be biometrically scanned.” The technology is currently being trialed in the US and King says once it’s up to speed, “you’ll see it move around the globe really quickly.” “What it’s doing is reducing airline operating costs by not having so many employees, and secondly by not having the large areas in the terminal that they may presently have to have. You may not actually ever see an airline employee until you’re on board the aircraft,” she said.

iceberg-404966_640

First Battery-Powered Cruise Ship Sails For The Arctic

The world’s first cruise ship propelled partially by battery power is set to head out from northern Norway on its maiden voyage, cruise operator Hurtigruten said on Monday. The hybrid expedition cruise ship, the Roald Amundsen, can take 500 passengers and is designed to sail in harsh climate waters. Named after the Norwegian explorer who navigated the Northwest Passage in 1903-1906 and was first to reach the South Pole in 1911, the ship heads for the Arctic from Tromsoe this week and will sail the Northwest Passage to Alaska before heading South, reaching Antarctica in October. Chief Executive Daniel Skjeldam: “It’s designed to take excessive energy from the engines and put into the battery when the ship doesn’t need it and put it back into the engine when the ship needs it, it is a way of reducing emissions significantly without having charging stations available,” Skjeldam said. The company, which operates scenic cruise lines along the country’s fjords and into the Arctic, was inspired by Norway’s fleet of hybrid ferries and also its growing fleet of electric cars, he said.

The Tsar Gold Arctic Train From St. Petersburg To Norway

Travelwirenews reports Russia has launched its first train service from St Petersburg through remote Arctic regions to Norway. The service made its debut journey last week with 91 passengers on board. German tour operator Lernidee Trains & Cruises are the company behind the venture, which they launched as no other operator were offering journeys through the Russian Arctic. The train is called “Zarengold” (“The Tsars gold” in German) and has two restaurant cars as well as sleeping cabins in three different classes. Tours officially start in Russia’s fascinating capital Moscow, where passengers can take in sights like the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral; then an express train takes you to the beautiful imperial capital St Petersburg for a few days’ exploration before the boarding the Zarengold north to the city of Petrozavodsk. Here passengers can visit the local star attraction of Kizhi Island, home to Russia’s iconic wooden Transfiguration Church. The last stop before the Arctic is Kem, from where passengers get a ferry to the Solovetsky Islands, the site of a Unesco-listed monastery. The next stop is the world’s largest Arctic city, Murmansk, an industrial but lively place surrounded by stunning scenery. The following morning passengers get off the train and continue by bus to Kirkenes over the border in Norway before flying to the waterfront Norwegian capital Oslo the next day. The 11-day tours cost from €3550 (US$4017) per person and include all accommodation, train tickets, internal flights, meals and excursions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Travel News: Europe Reaches Peak Temperatures

Europe reaches peak temperatures

The countries of Austria / Belgium / Czech Republic / Denmark / France / Germany / Hungary / Luxembourg / Netherlands / Switzerland / United Kingdom / Italy are expected to experience high temperatures as a heat wave sweeps across Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Temperatures are expected to rise to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) from central France to northern Spain, while temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius and above are expected across other European countries. Authorities have issued alerts across Western Europe and implemented measures, such as opening fountains, pools and mist machines, and limiting the circulation of vehicles in larger cities, as a means to combat the rise in temperatures. Bus and train operations in several countries have been disrupted due to malfunctioning air conditioning and due to the temperatures of the train tracks. Officials have warned of continued transportation disruptions and asked people to stay hydrated and avoid getting overheated. Hot air moving north from Africa caused the heat wave and is expected to continue to cause above average temperatures until 30 June.

Virgin Trains Break Ground On Orlando Track Expansion

Orlando Sentinal reports Virgin Trains, formerly Brightline, broke ground Monday to expand passenger rail service to Orlando in a $4bn effort, the nation’s largest privately funded infrastructure project. This will serve to transport travelers, including cruisers, between Orlando International Airport and South Florida. ‘Connecting Orlando and Miami, two of our nation’s greatest cities, will provide tremendous economic and environmental benefits that will be an asset to Florida for generations,’ Virgin Trains President Patrick Goddard said at a commemorative ceremony. Goddard noted the service will ‘effortlessly connect the “Tourism Capital of the World” to the “Cruise Capital of the World.”‘ Virgin Trains’ Virgin MiamiCentral hub is located near PortMiami, and the Miami-Dade County Commission is deliberating the feasibility of a station directly at PortMiami.

JetBlue Can Now Expand Europe Long-Haul Strategy With Airbus XLR Order

Skift reports JetBlue Airways’ European strategy became clearer when the airline committed to an airplane capable of flying not only from the US East Coast to London or Dublin but also from Boston and New York to south, central, and northern Europe. JetBlue became the third US carrier to say it plans to fly Airbus’ newest narrowbody jet, the A321XLR. Airbus introduced the single-aisle airplane, which should fly as far as 4,700 nautical miles,last week at the Paris Air Show. American Airlines committed to 50 earlier in the week, while Frontier Airlines said it would take 18. In April JetBlue announced it would fly from its Boston and New York focus cities to London by 2021. But JetBlue didn’t say where else in Europe it might fly, likely because it didn’t have the right aircraft for Continental Europe. For London JetBlue had committed to the A321LR, which has a 600-mile range gap compared to its XLR cousin. JetBlue said it will take 13 A321XLRs, with first delivery in 2023.

Emirates Is First Major Airline To Launch Basic Business Class Fare

Skift reports Emirates has fired the first salvo in the unbundling of business class fares. Now you can buy just the seat, with none of the other trimmings that travelers are used to with top-tier carriers. It’s a brilliant and pragmatic strategy, one that gives more choice to travelers. The tension will now be maintaining that great luxury brand halo and still letting the premium cabins do the marketing hard yards for the carrier. The airline industry has seen a lot in terms of unbundling of economy fares. For better or for worse, that segment of the market now has a ton of options for consumers. As Skift forecasted in our 2019 Megatrend that premium mediocre has gone mainstream, travel companies, hotels, tour operators, and yes, airlines too, are increasingly looking for new ways to sell average products at luxury prices. You can buy a deeply discounted, basic economy fare that doesn’t include any overhead space, or, if you want more perks, you can pay incrementally more for priority boarding and civil treatment. The same currently cannot be said for business class. Typically you’re all-in on the fare, sometimes as much as $7,000 from New York to Paris. In some cases it comes standard with extras, like chauffeur service and lounge access, and in other cases it comes with a sad meal in a preflight lounge and a non fully flat bed.

Tim Clark, CEO of Emirates, told Skift when asked of the prospect of discounting business class: “You might just say, ‘OK, I’ll give you a special price, just for the [business-class] bed. I won’t give you the incentives. I won’t give you ground. You’ll get the business product in the air only, and that’s it.’ No chauffeur drive, no business-class lounge, no expedited [security] search. No uplifting your baggage allowance, et cetera. You just pay for the bed. I’ll give you a price for that. Maybe, if you’ve got business class seats going begging, that’s the easy way to go, rather than create a completely new product, which is going to upend the distribution systems, upend service delivery, and upend the logistical management on the operational side.” Emirates has rolled out what they hinted at two years ago. With a new slate of fares, dubbed “special fares,” customers are essentially just buying the seat. There’s no lounge access (unless you qualify with status), there’s no chauffeur-driven car, there’s only selecting a seat when check-in opens, and predictably, there is reduced mileage earning. Not only has Emirates rolled out this basic business-class seat but in 2020 the airline will also launch premium economy, thereby offering two different stepping stones for flyers ready to upgrade. Emirates is testing out the special fares on select routes and appears to be rolling them out slowly.

Passport Agency Boosts Minimum Routine Application Wait Time By 50%
WaPo reports just after news broke about the possibility of longer lines at airport security checkpoints, information now emerges about longer waits for international travelers before they get to the airport. The State Department’s Passport Services agency has increased the processing time for routine service to six to eight weeks. Until May 31, the interval between application and delivery was four to six weeks, meaning the new timeline is a 50% increase for the minimum wait. For those who can’t wait, expedited service is available at a cost. “Customers who need their passports more urgently than our routine processing time allows may request expedited service for an additional $60,” said a State Department official who requested anonymity. “For expedited service, processing time remains two to three weeks door-to-door.” Once they get inside the airport door, international and domestic passengers could face longer security lines. Earlier this week we reported that the Trump administration requested a 2.5 percent increase in airport checkpoint screeners for fiscal 2020 but expects a 4.5 percent increase in airline passengers. That’s a recipe for long lines. The department official declined to answer several basic questions about the longer wait, including the reasons for it. But the department did provide information indicating short staffing is the cause. In each of the past two years, more than 21 million passports and passport cards were delivered, “all-time record numbers,” according to the State Department. About 18.6 million applications are expected this fiscal year. In fiscal 2018, 137.5 million citizens had valid passports, representing a growth of almost 100 percent over the past decade. “To address high passport workload levels this summer,” he said, “the Department is leveraging all available resources to ensure processing times do not rise further and that they return to lower levels by September.” Leveraging includes temporarily assigning employees to assist with increased demand and setting up two satellite passport units with employees from other parts of the department.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Canada, Emirates, Europe, Kenya, News

Travel News: Iceland, Jerusalem, Kilimanjaro

WIT.png

Jerusalem’s Old City Now Accessible For Wheelchair Users 

Jerusalem’s Old City is many things: sacred to three major faiths, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and now, wheelchair accessible. After a decade of work that involved multiple private and public organizations in Israel, the city unveiled a comprehensive effort to make the Old City’s narrow alleyways and steep inclines more friendly to visitors and locals with mobility issues. The city is home to several of the world’s most sacred religious sites, namely the Western Wall, Temple Mount and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. As a result, Jerusalem is high on the bucket list for many of the world’s faithful. A representative for the Ministry of Tourism said that 85% of visitors to Israel spend time in Jerusalem during their trip. Now, travelers to Jerusalem will be able to download an app, Accessible JLM, that outlines the most accessible routes around the city to plan their travel in real time. There are also physical accessibility maps posted around the city.

World Unites To Fight Against Cable Car On Mount Kilimanjaro 

ETN reports thousands of people across the globe have come together protesting against the potential building of a controversial cable car on Mount Kilimanjaro, a World’s Heritage Site. In March 2019 Tanzania’s deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Constantine Kanyasu announced plans to install a cable car on Africa’s highest mountain, as a strategy to attract more visitors and boost tourism numbers. The cable car would be aimed primarily at facilitating visits among older tourists, who may not physically fit enough to climb the mountain, which, at its peak, stands 5,895 meters tall. Instead of the familiar views of snow and ice, this cable car would offer a day trip safari with a bird’s eye view, contrary to the eight-day hiking trip. But reaction has been swift, with an online petition against the project on the key World heritage site, attracting nearly 400,000 protesters around the World who ask the Tanzania to keep Mount Kilimanjaro ‘cable car-free’. Online petition points out the economic impact to about 250,000 local porters who rely on tourism activities on Mount Kilimanjaro alone, for their livelihood. Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania’s major tourist attractions, drawing 50,000 climbers and earning the country $55 million annually.

Six Senses Hotels Unveils Iceland Property

Open Jaw reports with Iceland enjoying clean air, sustainable energy and high national happiness, it is no surprise that Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas is daydreaming about the country of fire and ice for its next development: Six Senses Össurá Valley. It will be a hub for people passionate about nature, wellness and adventure by day, and indulgent dining, comfortable beds and perhaps a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis by night. The rugged south-eastern coast of Viking country has an expansive and diverse natural environment. From glacier tongues, craggy volcanoes, ice-filled lagoons and geothermal lakes to untouched highlands and long black beaches; many of these natural wonders have become famed for their beauty and are visited throughout the year (via the single ring road). This is the mythical setting for Six Senses Össurá Valley, 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares) of privately-owned land in Svínhólar near Lóni. The flatland at the southern end is adjacent to the Lón Lagoon, which is separated from the North Atlantic Ocean by a beautiful black sand beach. This is the biggest gathering space for swans in the country and Six Senses will be involved in monitoring and protecting this Icelandic population. The first phase of the project will see the opening of a 70-guestroom resort and private cottages dotted on the surrounding land serving as an icon for sustainable living. Built using renewable and locally-sourced materials and adhering to high standards of energy and water efficiency, guest accommodation and residences will tread lightly on the earth while providing an uncompromising level of space and comfort.

Air Canada Named Best Airline In North America

Open Jaw reports this is the third consecutive year the airline has been chosen and recognized for the world’s Best Business Class Lounge Dining, Best Airline Staff in Canada, Best Business Class in North America and Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in North America at the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards. It is the eighth time in the past 10 years the carrier was selected as the Best in North America by the World Airline Awards, which are based on passenger satisfaction surveys of more than 21 million global travelers.

Emirates Is First Major Airline To Launch Basic Business Class Fare

Emirates has fired the first salvo in the unbundling of business class fares. Now you can buy just the seat, with none of the other trimmings that travelers are used to with top-tier carriers. It’s a brilliant and pragmatic strategy, one that gives more choice to travelers. The tension will now be maintaining that great luxury brand halo and still letting the premium cabins do the marketing hard yards for the carrier. The airline industry has seen a lot in terms of unbundling of economy fares. For better or for worse, that segment of the market now has a ton of options for consumers. As Skift forecasted in our 2019 Megatrend that premium mediocre has gone mainstream, travel companies, hotels, tour operators, and yes, airlines too, are increasingly looking for new ways to sell average products at luxury prices. You can buy a deeply discounted, basic economy fare that doesn’t include any overhead space, or, if you want more perks, you can pay incrementally more for priority board​ing and civil treatment.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Europe, Kenya

TRAVEL NEWS: AIRBUS CELEBRATES 50 YEARS


Swimmer Killed By Shark In Hawaii’s First Fatal Attack In 4 Years
Associated Press reports sharks can be dangerous, but a fatal shark attack is still a rarity. Over Memorial Day weekend, Hawaii saw its first shark death in four years when a man from California was attacked while swimming off the coast in Maui. According to reporting by The Associated Press, Thomas Smiley, a 65-year-old man who was a frequent visitor to the islands, was attacked by a shark on Saturday in the waters of Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach Park area. Smiley was swimming approximately 60 yards off the shore when he was pulled under, according to witness testimony given to the Maui police. A witness said that when rescuers pulled Smiley to the shore, he was missing a leg and died at the scene. Witness Allison Keller recounted the events to Hawaii News Now, “As we got closer, I saw some blood on his stomach and then I got looking a little bit more, and his wrist – it looked like the skin on his wrist was just torn off,” Keller said. “And then I got looking closer, and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing.” The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and lifeguards searched for a shark, but were unsuccessful. The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii was in 2015, when a snorkeler off Maui was killed.

US Airlines Commit To UN Carbon Emissions Cap

Travelmole reports that even though the Trump administration pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, almost all US airlines have voluntarily agreed to follow its reduced carbon emissions guidelines. They will adhere to the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), limits on emissions which caps them at 2020 levels. Compliancy is governed by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization. Airlines agreeing to the scheme include mainline carriers Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, and United Airlines. Regional carriers like Piedmont and Republic will also participate. The US pull-out from the agreement was announced in 2017 and takes effect from 2020. Aviation is one of the biggest emitters of carbon and the CORSIA scheme is expected to be mandatory after 2027. ICAO will set an official emissions cap based on 2020 emissions data. The Paris agreement calls for ‘each country to determine, plan, and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming.’

Disney Cruise Line Updates Navigator Mobile App To Ease Passenger Experience

Disney Cruise Line’s Navigator app has been updated to include new features, allowing more cruise planning to take place within the app itself. The Navigator app, which was mainly an organizational tool without any substantial action capabilities, will now allow cruisers to make payments, access online check-in and research and book all cruise activities, from dining reservations to spa services. Booking capabilities will be enabled once a passenger is within 130 days of their cruise. All of the Navigator app’s previous features will continue to be available. These include the pre-sailing “Countdown to Your Cruise” clock as well as a list of character meet-and-greet times, activities, dinner menus and ship maps. You can also still bookmark your favorites for easy reference and send free text messages to other people on the same ship via the app’s onboard chat feature. The app is free to download and available to cruisers on all four Disney ships. Before using your phone onboard, make sure to research your options to ensure maximum utility and minimal fees while cruising.

Americans Now Have Shorter Waits At British Airports
The UK now allows arriving US citizens to use ePassport gates for faster entry. At London airports last summer, international passengers waited in hours-long passport control lines to enter and exit the country. The lines were almost as bad as what foreign travelers must now endure at US airports. Last fall, the UK government said it would open up ePassport readers at its ports of entry to citizens of several more countries, including the US and that change has taken effect, making for speedier entry at major airports. The srvice is free, no extra fees are required. Previously, the ePassport gates were available only for UK and EU citizens. In addition to US citizens, the gates can now be used by citizens of Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand, all considered to be low-risk nations. (That’s about 10 million travelers per year.) The gates can be used by travelers age 18 and over who have a biometric or “chipped” passport (and travelers age 12 to 17 accompanying them). According to the U.K. government, “ePassport gates use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. The system is monitored by Border Force officers and anyone rejected by the gates will be sent to an alternative channel to have their passport checked.” The gates are in use at 14 U.K. ports of entry including major airports as well as the Eurostar high-speed rail terminals at Paris and Brussels.

New Proposed EU Aviation Fuel Tax Will Send Airfares Soaring

Travelwirenews reports the European Commission is considering aviation fuel tax that is supposed to reduce carbon emissions by 11% and have a “negligible” impact on jobs and the economy. But experts say that it will have far-reaching effects. According to a leaked EC report, taxing aviation kerosene sold in Europe would cut aviation emissions by 16.4 million metric tons of CO2 a year. It said that applying a tax of €330 per 1,000 liters of kerosene (which is the EU’s minimum excise duty rate for the fuel) would result in a ticket price increase of 10% and an 11% decrease in passenger numbers. It would also lead to an 11% fall in carbon emissions. Imposing the tax could certainly lead to a reduction of flights that will result in cuts of airlines’ staff, said Elmar Giemulla, a leading expert on air and traffic law at Berlin University of Technology’s Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He said that nobody, however, could calculate the exact numbers, saying “that’s just speculation.” Airlines are very sensitive to fuel price because it affects their entire operation, explained another aviation security expert Jacques Astre. He said that the level of the tax increase will indicate “whether they increase ticket prices which falls on the customers and will affect passenger transportation in terms of numbers.” “So, it really depends on how high the tax is because it has a far-reaching effect, not just on the airlines directly but on passengers as well,” Astre explained.

Vegas Escapes: New hotels, New team, New Stadium
LA Times reports Resorts World, which features two 60-story hotel towers, takes shape in Las Vegas. It will have more than 3,200 hotel rooms when it opens toward the end of 2020. That means there will be more to do and see in Vegas than ever. It’s not as though that’s not consistently true in many smaller or less visible ways. In the city that never sleeps, never even thinks of snoozing, we have new shows (think action and immersion), new attractions for adults and kids (and adults who act like kids), a new look coming soon to Fremont Street, and new discoveries on the Colorado River. Top it all off with the news of the return of free parking, plus Chris Erskine’s report on Nevada’s Electric Highway, and it’s Vegas for the win.

Airbus Celebrates 50 Years

Airlineratings reports Airbus has launched a global campaign celebrating the company’s 50 year anniversary, showcasing key moments of pioneering progress throughout the past five decades. The campaign began by marking 50 years since the French Minister of Transport, Jean Chamant and the German Minister of Economic Affairs, Karl Schiller, signed an agreement at the 1969 Paris Air Show for the joint-development of the A300 aircraft, a first European twin-aisle twin-engine jet for medium-haul air travel. Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus said: “Airbus’ story is one of ambition and progress, and has been a showcase of European integration. Over five decades, we have brought together civil and defense aviation businesses from throughout the continent. For 50 years, we have pioneered many firsts through our passion and innovation, transforming the industry and helping to move society forward. Airbus is a story of incredible men and women, a story of great achievements in the past and, above all, in the future.”

American Airlines Is Latest To Turn To Innovative Solutions For Overbooking

Dallas News reports ahead of an anticipated record summer travel season, American Airlines became the most recent company to implement technologythat could create smoother experiences at boarding time for travelers in an era where overbooking of flights remains inevitable. An update to the American Airlines app this month allows fliers to instantaneously volunteer to be bumped from oversold flights, and reap the benefits, before they even leave for the airport. “This helps our team members at the gate who are already having to deal with an oversold flight,” a spokesperson for American Airlines said. The app provides employees at the gate with a list of people willing to take another flight, which could simplify the boarding process.

Tanzanian government bans plastic bags
As of 01 June 2019, all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness, will be prohibited from import, export, manufacture, sale, storage, supply, or use in Mainland Tanzania.

We advise all of our clients to avoid the use of plastic carrier bags either in their suitcase, or as part of their hand luggage when visiting Tanzania. A special desk will be assigned at all entry points for the surrender of plastic carrier bags brought into Tanzania.

You CAN however still being Ziploc bags for your toiletries.

January Makamba, Tanzania’s environment minister, posted in a statement on Twitter: “Plastics carrier items known as “ziploc bags” that are specifically used to carry toiletries will be permitted as they are expected to remain in the permanent possession of visitors and are not expected to be disposed in the country.

Do check in the Tanzania government website for further details on what is permissible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Airlines, Europe, tanzania

Postcard from Inverness

1.png

This week, WIT Global Correspondent Wailana zipped over to Inverness! The Scottish Highlands have been receiving a lot of buzz lately, with mentions in Lonely Planet and Wanderlust – so she couldn’t wait to check what it was all about.

Inverness, “the capital of the Highlands,” is an ancient city with a lot of character. Founded as a Pict stronghold, the first fortifications were established in the Iron Age. Wailana was in town to join a bike and barge cruise – more gooey details on that later! But for two glorious days, Inverness was home.

Today, Inverness is largely a hidden gem, looked over by shining neighbors Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s most noteworthy as the eastern edge of the Great Glen Way (more on that later!), a 125-km long path that follows the canals and lochs from Inverness to Fort William.

Within its city limits, Inverness Castle is worth exploring, as are the Pictish stones are Inverness Museum & Art Gallery. Just outside, historical sites abound, from Culloden Battlefield to Clava Cairns, and beyond to Loch Ness of cryptozoology fame.

Here’s a quick guide on how to spend a day in Inverness well!

Breakfast: Grab a Scottish Breakfast at Girvans, the most popular brunch joint in town. Their menu is comprised of fresh pastries and savory dishes, and, like most restaurants in Scotland, offer the Scottish Breakfast. This unique highland dish is similar to the English Breakfast but with a twist: broiled tomatoes, bacon, tattie scone (made from potato), link sausage, sauteed mushrooms, baked beans, egg, and black pudding. Some even serve it with haggis. It’s filling, it’s delicious, and definitely a must-have!

Morning: The old center of Inverness is easy to walk around. There are the main thoroughfares, Church St. and Academy St., where you can pick up all that last-minute hiking shoes you forgot to pack. Look out for artisan goods at the old Victorian Market. During your wanderings, you shouldn’t miss out at lovely Leakey’s Bookshop, an old secondhand bookstore with all sorts of literary delights, and prints dating back 100 years and more.

Lunch: Pop into Comfort Foods for a real look into a traditional Scottish kitchen. The menu is exactly what it sounds like–heavy, delicious dishes of potatoes, cakes, seafood–yum! Just be prepared for hefty portions! This place definitely doesn’t want you to walk away unfulfilled.

Afternoon: Peek your head into Inverness Castle, with its old fortifications, and a tower that offers the best views of the town. Step inside the tower for a creative look into Inverness’ magical histories, mythologies, and folklore–including a cameo by ole Nessie of course.

Dinner: Johnny Foxes is a large, traditional Scottish pub popular with both tourists and locals right on the riverside. They have a great founding story about an Irish poacher forced to flee Irish shores and set up a pub here on this very spot – who knows if it’s true though. 😉 But as the proverb says, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

After dinner, join the crowd at the Hootananny, the best pub in town for traditional live music and ceilidh.

How to Get There: Inverness is best enjoyed as part of a tour of the Scottish Highlands. It’s an easy flight from Edinburgh or London, or by train via the 8-hour Caledonian Sleeper.

Short Cuts:

  • Inverness Castle: Open 11am-6pm daily
  • Culloden Battlefield: Culloden Moor, Open 24/7
  • Clava Cairns: Open 24/7
  • Girvans: 2-4 Stephens Brae, Open Mon-Wed 9am-6pm, Thu-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm
  • Victorian Market: Queensgate, Open weekdays 6am to 6:30pm, Saturday 6am-5:30pm, Sunday Closed.
  • Leakey’s Bookshop: Church St, Open Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm
  • Comfort Foods: 22 Church St, Open daily 9am-5pm
  • Johnny Foxes: 26 Bank St, Open daily 11am-3am (kitchen closes at 9pm)
  • Hootananny: 67 Church St, Open Mon-Thu 12pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12pm-3am, Sun 4pm-12am

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

WIT Agent Lindsay sails to Mexico on Princess Cruises

www.wittravel.com (2)

Last month, Lindsay boarded Princess Cruises and headed out from Los Angeles. Today we briefly chat about the three ports of call: Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. Are you missing the sun and sand yet?

cabo2

Cabo San Lucas

Located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas, or Cabo as it’s affectionally known, is one of the best resort destinations in Mexico. The wealth of marine life, white-sand beaches, and sport fishing draw thousands of vacationers each year.

  • El Arco & Lover’s Beach, a haven for sea lions
  • San José del Cabo, historical center with Spanish colonial charm
  • Médano Beach, lovely street vendors, restaurants beside a world-famous beach
  • Marine sanctuary wealth of gray whale, dolphins, and other sea life to explore on yachts or snorkeling

cabo3

Lindsay on Cabo: 

We went sail boating and because of the winds weren’t able to go into the bays, but we got 50% off and fewer people on the boat so it was even better. The food they served was really good and it was endless beverages of your choice. We went out and saw the arch, lovers and divorce beach and sailed around for a while (something we had never done before and was such a cool experience, nothing like I expected!).

I heard people got off and grabbed taxis up to resorts about 40 minutes away and they enjoyed it, also was lower cost.

mazatlan

Mazatlan

Sitting on a peninsula below the Sierra Madre, Mazatlan boasts markets, world-class sportfishing, famous Papantla dancers, fresh shrimp and excellent rocky and white sand beaches.

  • Gothic and Moorish inspired Cathedral Basilica & Plaza Revolución
  • Teatro Angela Peralta, 19th-century, Italian-style national landmark
  • Golden Zone, or Zona Dorada, with palm-lined beaches and private beaches
  • Stone Island, with less crowded beaches, crashing waves and gentle coconut palms
  • Pacifico Brewery, which produces one of the country’s finest premium brews, founded in 1900 by three German immigrants
  • High Divers, acrobatic divers take the plunge from a 59-foot high ledge
  • Copala-Concordia, twin colonial towns renowned for their craft furniture, cobblestones, red roof tiles and pottery
  • Outdoor Activities, from hiking to sportfishing to ziplining

mazatlan3

Lindsay on Mazatlan: 

Such a colorful town! We did ceviche and tequila tasting with a short city tour. It was a bit pricy but the food was SO good, 3 different types of ceviche–as much as we wanted as well as the tequila. I’m not big on tequila but it was a very clean finish, I enjoyed the repasado but didn’t dare the anejo or extra anejo, both of which were much smokier.

El Presidio is in the picture, the restaurant we went to and just the coolest vibe. It was basically the outdoors inside, very peaceful and had lights strung across so I am sure it is very beautiful and romantic at night. We had a private lunch before they opened so not sure how busy it can get, but it was a little bit hidden.

Saw cliff divers, WOW, jumped into the most narrow space twice no problem. This area was limited in what to do or reach, but it was a nice little walk along the beach.

PV

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic cosmopolitan destination straight on the water’s edge. Thousands of visitors are drawn each year to its excellent shopping, with excellent handicrafts and leather goods, as well as its palm-lined beaches.

The Malecon, a popular boardwalk made up of shops and artisanal wares. Start at the Los Milenos sculpture and head southward.

  • Las Caletas is a secluded cove in Banderas Bay surrounded by lush jungles. You can only reach it by boat!
  • The bird-friendly islands called Isla Marietas, off the coast of PV, offer kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling.
  • Tequila Hacienda, learn the art of tequila making from its humble origins of the blue agave cactus
  • The sleepy town of Yelapa is in a secluded cove south of Puerto Vallarta, only accessible by boat
  • Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a must for architecture buffs. Look for the gilded crown, a replica of one worn by Carlota, Empress of Mexico

PV2

Lindsay on Puerto Vallarta: 

We showed up on the day of the children so there was no school and have the city center was closed to traffic so we didn’t get to see that part of town as we drove down to the Hyatt Zive, a little bit isolated but really nice private beach. Our tour guide said Princess was the only cruise line that goes to this resort, and even with the guests from Princess the beach had plenty of space open.

Highly recommend this property to those who want to just go enjoy a beach and relax. The food was really good, they had a buffet that was surprisingly delicious, a bbq for lunch with fresh ceviche station and all was very good.

I believe they had shuttles, if not a quick 5-10 minute taxi will get you up to the nearby town that was very quaint and looked lovely to walk around. Colorful and casual.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mexico

Princess Cruises’ Ocean Medallion – What is it, and is it Worth It?

www.wittravel.com (1)

A few weeks ago, WIT Agent Lindsay embarked on a 7-Night Princess Cruise to Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

She set sail from Los Angeles on the Royal Princess down to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. She also had a chance to try out the new Ocean Medallion. Read on for her insider tips on how to use this new device.

The Royal Princess is a beautiful ship, voted the Most Popular Cruise Ship by Cruise Critic. Boasting more than 1300 crew and room for more than 3500 guests, the Royal Princess is a favorite among cruise veterans and newbies alike.

cruise2

Here’s what Lindsay had to say:

The ship was so GRAND, I couldn’t believe how massive it was. At every port we saw them doing maintenance on it as well. The ship staff were wonderful! Ryan Sarera in particular made our trip just amazing, he went over and beyond providing us with a special experience. Flowers, chocolates and strawberries, party invites and concierge services all helped make our trip extra enjoyable and that much more memorable. We really can’t thank him enough for taking such good care of us, along with our Cabin Attendant Mahdi for being so welcoming and making our stay comfortable.

cruise

The Ocean Medallion – What is it?

One of Lindsay’s main missions was to test out the new Ocean Medallions.

The complimentary OceanMedallion™ is your personalized access key onboard. Only as big as a quarter, this tiny accessory is available only on select cruises. It’s your key to Wifi onboard, shopping, drinks, online Concierge, original travel shows, and an OceanCompass that acts as a navigator so you can easily locate your friends and family onboard. The medallion can be delivered to you ahead of your cruise.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 1.06.16 PM

Its features include:

  • Fast ship boarding with OceanReady: Guests who arrive at the terminal with travel documents (i.e. passports) uploaded to their profile have a personalized check-in process. Personalization starts pre-cruise by guests becoming OceanReady while at home.
  • On-demand beverage delivery: Using smart devices, guests have the ability to order drinks using OceanNow and have them delivered directly to them throughout the ship and even in their stateroom.
  • Enhanced Wi-FiMedallionNet provides fast, unlimited Wi-Fi, allowing guests to stay connected from anywhere on the ship, including staterooms which are each equipped with a Wi-Fi access point, Princess said. With MedallionNet, guests can share vacation experiences with friends and family back home, stream TV shows, movies and sports events, and make voice and video calls.
  • Keyless Stateroom Entry: Each guest is securely validated and the door automatically unlocks with personalized greetings displayed on the door portal.
  • OceanCompass: OceanCompass leverages the Princess Medallion to enable point-to-point wayfinding throughout the ship. OceanCompass guides guests throughout their journey, providing directional information so they can seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest.
  • MedallionPay: An easy to use payment feature, enabling crew members to focus on meaningful guest interactions.
  • OceanCasino: On smart devices and select portals, guests can wager real money on games, including slots, poker, bingo, roulette, keno and lottery from anywhere on board.
  • OceanView: Guests can stream more than 100 hours of award-winning Ocean Original travel shows to their smart device anywhere on the ship at no cost – content which airs nationally on weekends on ABC and NBC.
  • PlayOcean: On portals located throughout the ship, guests play family games, including trivia, word jumble, a matching game and Ocean Treks Adventure – an interactive, ship-wide digital scavenger hunt. PlayOcean also transforms guests’ mobile devices into game controllers for interactive gaming on the Movies Under the Stars screen. And, guests can enjoy Games Under the Stars where players enjoy arcade and trivia fun on the cruise line’s Movies Under the Stars screen.

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 1.06.22 PM

Lindsay’s Insider Tips – How to Use the Ocean Medallion

  • Everyone gets a medallion on the ship, it’s just whether you do it on arrival or beforehand (not all ships have the technology yet but they are slowly expanding). It is best to do it in advance so you get through check-in quicker- we were on the boat in less than 15 minutes after our taxi dropped us off at the tier! Definitely get “Ocean Ready” by ordering the medallion delivery and by downloading the app ahead of time.
  • It is definitely worth it, but travelers need to be conscious of their spending. There is a machine that you can go to and print out your bill at any time, next to the front desk.
  • Payments are done by scanning the medallion but a lot of time the server’s technology will detect your medallion and the cashier will see your picture on their screen. The server then confirms your name and room #, this was how we knew we were being charged but there were plenty on the boat that had no idea when they were being charged for things.
  • Register for shore excursions before on ship, wait lines were a bit crazy the first day onboard and the morning of. This also gave us discounts at the spa.
  • Download apps beforehand and get to know them when you have free Wi-Fi, this way you have the apps before and don’t have to get internet just to download. There are 5 apps (yikes) but just pick the ones you need (drinks, map, gambling, etc.). We didn’t use the map, but those we met that were in a group loved it because they could easily find their friends on the ship.
  • The Medallions come with free lanyards, which are color-coded based on your standing with Princess (how much you have sailed with them). You can also buy some accessories to hold your medallions–watches, necklaces, etc.
  • We met another couple that was with a group of their family members and they loved the Compass App because they could find people from their party anytime which was really nice. You add people from your party by name and they pop up on your map. If you don’t mind location tracking, then it can be a real time saver.

cruise3

Tune in Next Time, when Lindsay’s Princess Cruise stops at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. She also visited Disneyland in California, to test out the new Disney MaxPass – so Stay Tuned!

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe