Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tibet Building World's Highest Altitude Airport

Tibet will start construction on the world's highest-altitude airport next year. The airport will be built at an altitude of 4,436 meters above sea level.

It is going to be in Nagqu prefecture, and will be 102 meters higher than Bamda Airport in Tibet's Qamdo prefecture, which is currently the worlds’ highest. The airport will cover an area of up to 267 hectares. The airport is expected to cost $285 million with a three-year construction period.

Regional aviation authorities will add more flights next year to connect major cities in Tibet and also link the plateau region with other major cities nationwide.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next trip to China.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

FAA's New Rules to Help With Pilot Fatigue

The FAA has updated airline pilots work rules, some of which go back to the 1960's. The new rules came out after a crash at Buffalo nearly three years ago, and an investigation that found the two pilots were exhausted and shouldn't have been flying.

The new rules reflect the need for rest and how night shifts and traveling through time zones can increase errors. Carriers have two years to adapt to the new rules.

The new rules limit the maximum time a pilot can be scheduled to be on duty, including wait time before flights and administrative duties, to between nine and 14 hours. The total depends on the time of day pilots begin their first flight and the number of time zones crossed. The maximum amount of time pilots can be scheduled to fly is limited to eight or nine hours, and pilots would get a minimum of 10 hours to rest between duty periods, a two-hour increase over the old rules. The minimum amount of time off between work weeks will be increased 25 percent, and there will be new limits on how many hours per month pilots can fly. Pilots flying overnight would be allowed fewer hours than pilots flying during the day.

It is interesting that cargo pilots are not included in the new rulings. The FAA said forcing cargo carriers to reduce the number of hours their pilots can fly would be too costly when compared with the safety benefits. Those companies that contract for military charters are included in the new rules. The rule will require pilots to sign a statement before each flight stating that they are rested and fit for duty.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Italy's New High-Speed Train Coming Next Year

Europe's first privately owned high-speed rail operator has introduced its Italo AGV train, which will compete early next year against the Italian state-owned network.

Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori(NTV)has ordered 25 trains from France's Alstom of the latest AGV generation, which has set a speed record of 575 kph and will run at up to 300 kph between Rome and Milan. Services will later be extended to take in Naples and Salerno in the south, as well as Turin and Venice in the north.

The 11-carriage trains offer three classes, with constant Wi-Fi throughout provided by satellite transmission. One carriage is a dedicated 39-seat cinema. All carriages also offer satellite TV through Internet provided by 21 Net, an Anglo-Belgian company.

“This is the most modern train in Europe. We are the first to use this train,” said Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of NTV, at the unveiling ceremony at Nola.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next Europe vacation!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

World's Oldest Commissioned Warship to Get $25M Restoration

HMS Victory, the world's oldest commissioned warship will undergo a restoration to restore the iconic battleship. It will be the most extensive restoration to HMS Victory in more than 200 years, when she underwent repairs following the Battle of Trafalgar.

BAE Systems has been contracted to carry out the works for five years with an option to extend the work for a further five years. HMS Victory was commissioned in 1778 and during three decades of service she saw some of the most legendary clashes. She's the only surviving warship from the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic wars. But it’s the Battle of Trafalgar in the Napoleonic Wars for which she is most well-known. As Lord Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory served at the front of the battle on the Spanish coast.

Only 20% remains of the original ship that is currently located in Portsmouth, England. The structure of the 246-year-old warship still marvels modern day experts. The outside of the hull will be re-planked, repairs will be made to the masts and work will be carried out on the interior. Much of the restoration will be done by hand using traditional specialist skills, particularly when it comes to carving and shaping the wood. They hope to be able to train new apprentices so that the art of repairing these types of ships is not lost.

This historic beauty can be seen at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard,open everyday throughout the year, except on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Australia to Create World's Largest Marine Reserve

Australia's Environment Ministry says it will create the world's largest marine reserve in the Coral Sea. The Ministry says the area has shallow reefs that support tropical ecosystems with sharks, coral, sponges and many fish species.

The proposal includes seas beyond the already protected Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off northeast Australia. The reserve would cover almost 400,000 square miles. Fishing would be allowed in parts of the reserve. The proposal announced in a ministry statement last Friday is now open for a 90-day comment period.

The protected zone would cover an area more than one-and-a-half times the size of France. New fishing limits would be imposed and exploration for oil and gas banned. The sea off the Queensland coast in north-east Australia is also the resting place of three US navy ships that sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

Currently the world's largest marine reserve is a 545,000-sq-km area established by the UK around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. The Coral Sea reserve, if approved, would be approximately 989,842 sq km.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Technology for Hotel Check-Ins

Holiday Inn has been testing its Mobile Room Key program at it's properties in Houston and Chicago, and plans to expand it at other locations soon.

The program allows guests to bypass the front desk entirely and use their mobile phones as keys. Guests get an email or text prior to arrival that provides them with a room number and a toll-free number. Dialing the number produces an audio chirp that unlocks the door via an audio reader on the lock. Because it's audio and not visual, any phone, smartphone or otherwise, works.

There are other companies working of new ways to streamline the check-in process. One company has developed a registration process where front desk personnel can scan a guest's ID that can will fill in forms and minimize manual entry. The company is working with Accor to implement the technology in Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties across North America.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Visiting The Great Barrier Reef

If you’re planning a trip to the land down under, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-see! The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s single largest coral system. With the broad, shallow continental shelf of tropical northeastern Australia providing an ideal pedestal for growth, this coral complex reaches as far as 160 miles offshore and more than 1,250 miles from north to south. The Great Barrier Reef covers 135,000 square miles and is home to more than 400 types of coral reef, colorful fish and sea life. It can be viewed by boat, plane, helicopter, or underwater observatories.

There are hundreds of tour options available for viewing and experiencing the Great Barrier Reef, something for everyone!

These are some of the Great Barrier Reef Tour options to available:

·Diving. There are several different tours available daily for divers, departing from Cairns and Port Douglas. Tours are typically between 6 – 9 hours, include lunch and the vessels range from small high speed luxury catamarans, to large catamarans that have their own platforms on the outer reef.

·Snorkeling. These tours are very similar to the dive tours, except that you don’t have to know how to dive. They also depart from Cairns and Port Douglas, are usually between 6-9 hours, and have a variety of vessel types to choose from. Many of the snorkel tours can be combined with the dive tours.

·Fishing. While one-third of the Great Barrier Reef park is a no-fishing zone, there are many tours available daily for the other 2-thirds.

·Sightseeing. If you prefer to just relax and stay dry, there are plenty of sightseeing tours available, including semi-submersible boats to platforms featuring underwater observatories.

·Helicopter Tours. Experience a bird’s eye view of the reef with a flight tour! These tours are usually between 30-60 minutes long, and operate year round, subject to weather conditions.

·Great Barrier Reef Cruises. If you want to spend more than just one day on the reef, there are cruise options ranging from 2-7 nights, on sail boats that only hold 10 passengers, or small cruise ships that hold up to 50 passengers.

Contact an Australia Specialist to start planning your dream vacation to Australia today!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Zealand Deconsecrated Christchurch Cathedral

New Zealanders attended an emotional ceremony yesterday deconsecrating Christchurch
Cathedral, which was destroyed in February's earthquake.

The ceremony paves the way for the building to be partially demolished, and for a new cathedral to be built. The city's shattered cathedral with its broken spire became one of the most striking images after the quake struck.

The city has been sectioned off into color-coded zones, with the red zone, including the cathedral, still being largely off-limits. Officials say it is likely to cost NZ$4m to demolish the parts of the cathedral that cannot be saved, and another NZ$30m to build a new structure. Church leaders said they hoped to have a temporary cathedral in place in time for next Easter.

Even with the devastating earthquake in February, New Zealand is still an amazing place to visit, as most of the country was not affected. Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your New Zealand vacation today!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dutch Ban Tourists from Cannabis-Selling Coffee Shops

A new policy by the Dutch government will ban tourists from coffee shops selling cannabis. Only residents will be allowed to get a "cannabis card" to be used when visiting one of the country's 670 licensed coffee shops. Non-Dutch residents will be banned from cannabis-selling coffee shops in southern Netherlands beginning January 1to "spare locals from the nuisance of drug tourism", the justice ministry said Tuesday.

The measure will come into force for the (southern) provinces of Limburg, North-Brabant and Zeeland, the provinces most affected by drug tourism. Under the new policy licensed coffee shops will be considered private clubs with a maximum of 2,000 members limited to Dutch residents who are older than 18. The measures will come into force in the rest of the country in January 2013.

The policy aims to cut down traffic jams, nocturnal disturbances, and the abundance of drug pushers catering to the millions of foreign tourists drawn to the Netherlands by its relaxed marijuana laws. The Dutch government also plans to introduce a policy, coming into force in January 2014, requiring coffee shops to be at least 350 meters away from schools, to keep drug consumption away from children.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

10 Luxury Islands You Probably Haven't Heard Of

Original article by By Suzanne Weinstock,

Tried-and-true island favorites such as St. Barths and Capri have long been wooing fashionable travelers. But these days, the new prestige in globetrotting lies in exploring far-flung destinations the masses have yet to invade. Even better: a vacation spot so exotic that no one has even heard of it.

"We've been seeing strong interest in remote, off-the-beaten-path destinations," says Scott Wiseman, president of luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent USA.

Enter a new set of islands in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Caribbean and beyond.

"Private and reassuringly hard-to-get, these islands entice diehard fans to get off the grid," says James Lohan, CEO and co-founder of the boutique hotel website Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

They let vacationers "be the ruler of their own domain and feel like they have discovered someplace unique."

So transition into being a trendsetter by picking a destination that bears some similarities to a familiar favorite. Then prepare to tack on extra travel time, since being an early adopter usually means adding an extra leg of travel. It's the moderate difficulty in getting there that keeps these places exclusive. Are you ready for an island less ordinary?

The entire article can be found here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Floating Golf Course to be Built in Maldives

A Dutch company has announced plans to build a $500 million floating golf course in the Maldives. The course will feature 18 holes connected by underwater tunnels. The course will be made up of several islands floating in the Indian Ocean, which will
contain two or three holes each.

The floating islands will also be linked to a series of hotels by more underwater tunnels, which will overlook the golf course and surrounding coral reefs. The project will be powered by solar energy with sustainable desalination and water cooling techniques, and will work in co-operation with the Maldives' rising sea levels.

The project is expected to be completed by 2015. The course will be located five minutes from the airport to attract stop-over golfers. There is no word yet on how much a round of golf will cost.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your Maldives vacation!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Some of the World's Creepiest Places

The world is full of places where the restless spirits of the night linger. Paranormal activity knows no borders and they manifest as eerie voices and creep out of the shadows as apparitions. We have omitted the more familiar sights, like the Tower of London, the Catacombs in Paris and various places throughout New Orleans and Edinburgh, not because their tales of strange and terrifying experiences with the phantom world are any less spooky, but because we simply wanted to share some lesser known places that have a truly unnerving reputation.

Read entire article here.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next vacation!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Online Baggage Fee Calculator

Farelogix has unveiled, a new interactive, online baggage calculator.

This new baggage calculator provides travelers with instant access to up-to-date airline checked baggage allowances and fees based on the specific traveler, number and weight of planned checked bags/items, and airline-itinerary specific information.

Users simply enter a basic itinerary and bag details into the iflybags web site and it instantly calculates baggage allowances and fees for travelers. It will also evaluate, optimize and present the best combination of checked bags for multiple travelers on a single itinerary, taking into account traveler frequent flyer status.

The goal with iflybags is to ensure that no traveler arrives at an airport without knowing what their checked baggage allowance and fees will be. The new baggage calculator accesses baggage data from over 300 of the world's airlines, with new carriers being added all the time. To ensure travelers have access to the most up-to-date baggage allowance and fee information, iflybags is updated every hour. Iflybags uses industry-standard data from the Airline Tariff Publishing Company to calculate baggage allowances and fees.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next vacation!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Americans Traveling to Europe Might Consider Getting "Smart Card"

It may come as a surprise to many Americans that many businesses in Western Europe are no longer accepting traditional magnetic strip credit cards. They have moved on to the more secure "chip cards", or "smart cards".

These computer-chip-embedded cards transmit encrypted data stored in the card's chip to an electronic processing device. In addition, the cards typically require a PIN code to complete a transaction. Such features make the chip cards much less vulnerable to credit card fraud, which is the main reason they were developed in Western Europe in the first place.

Many automatic machines including train ticket machines and even some restaurants will now only accept the new chip cards. A Travel Team agent found out the hard way during her recent trip to Nice, France, when she tried purchasing a train ticket in the morning before the ticket windows were open, and she was unable to with her magnetic strip card.

If you are planning on traveling to Europe, you might want to consider getting one of these cards before you go. Currently US Bank, Wells Fargo and Chase are offering cards with a smart chip option. Other banks will hopefully folllow soon.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next European vacation!

Virgin America Voted Best US Airline Again

Virgin America, took top honors as "Best U.S. Airline" in the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler's 2011 Readers' Choice Awards. The airline has won the award for the fourth consecutive year for its innovative low-fare service. The results of this year's Readers' Choice Awards will be reported in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler.

The survey is unique for both its size and unfiltered results and reflects the opinions of nearly 30,000 Conde Nast Traveler readers. To thank guests for voting the airline best in America for the fourth year in a row, Virgin America today launches the "You Win Some, You Win Some More" fare sale.

The best foreign airline was Singapore Airlines and the best small airline was OpenSkies. From 1 to 10 here, these are the best US Airlines: Virgin America, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United, Alaska and American.

The best foreign carriers from 1 to 10 are: Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, Etihad, Korean, Asiana and All Nippon Airways. The est small carriers from 1 to 10 are; Open Skies, Porter Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui, Volaris, SilkAir, WestJet and Air Pacific.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next vacation!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A Travel Team Agent Recounts Her Recent Trip to New Zealand

New Zealand Highlights

Queenstown part I

BROWNS BOUTIQUE B&B. Hotel is perched a couple blocks from the center – about a 7 minute walk to town. Front facing rooms have a great view of the town, back rooms look up to the Gondola/ Bob’s Peak. Very friendly staff provides cozy evening fire in the lounge (also with a great view of the city).
Restaurant recommendation: Solera Vino French restaurant – really good

Doubtful Sound

This isn’t as far from Queenstown as one might think, and connections are seamless. Absolutely stunning snow-capped fjords – fewer people visit Doubtful Sound than Milford –50,000 visitors per year to Doubtful Sound versus 500,000 per year to Milford. Also included on the Doubtful Sound tour is a visit to Manapouri Power Station, where you travel down a 2km spiral tunnel to view the underground machine hall. The Power Station utilizes the difference in lake altitude between Lake Manapouri and Doubtful sound (approx. 170 meters) to generate hydro power for the country, and it is considered one of the country’s greatest engineering achievements.

Te Anau

DISTINCTION LUXMORE HOTEL – decent property and location with a terrific full breakfast, and friendly staff. Te Anau is a good stopover point for folks who wish to visit both Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound (i.e. one day for each tour). My purpose in visiting Te Anau was to see the Glowworm Caves. The boat trip to the caves is beautiful, however, when you enter the caves, the walkway slopes down to 4’ of clearance at times (like to do the limbo anyone?) and there is a giant gushing river adjacent to the walkway. It is cold and wet. Not for the faint of heart! Although the venue is quite family friendly and there were a lot of kids present that day.

The Caves tour is from 2:00pm to 4:15pm, and the InterCity coach departs Te Anau at 5:00pm, and arrives Queenstown about 7:45pm

Queenstown part II

Coronet Ski Park (my equipment was rented from Kiwi Discovery Shop in Queenstown). This is a good ski area for both beginner and advanced levels, only a 45 minute drive from Queenstown, and subsequently quite popular. Other ski areas include Remarkables, Treble Cone and Cardrona, which are apparently less crowded than Coronet, where I dodged snow board kamikazes and advanced-level kiddies on school holiday. Frequent buses serve all four ski areas from Queenstown, they are quite convenient.

Queenstown – Wanaka – Haast – Franz Josef

The InterCity Coach driver from Queenstown was friendly and professional, and he made stops about once an hour en route. Wanaka is sort of a Queenstown “light” – a popular resort amongst New Zealanders without the glitterati and glamour of Queentown.

When you reach the town of Haast about 3 hours later, you can see the Tasman Sea, and the road climbs precipitously up the hill with panoramic views.

Our driver stopped at a lovely fish farm near Paringa (one hour north of Haast), and it was like being in a rainforest. The West Coast is truly remote – and driving distances are longer than elsewhere in NZ because of the winding roads. Still it is well worth the trip if clients have the time to explore.

In Franz Josef it is possible to walk to the glacier independently to view it. If you wish to climb the glacier, however, it is necessary to go with a tour guide. I stayed at PUNGA GROVE Lodge – friendly property, close to restaurants and the Glacier Hot Pools.

Franz Josef – Greymouth - Christchurch

The coach trip from Franz Josef to Greymouth is through more rainforest country. The stop in Hokitika is well worth it – you can dip your toes in the Tasman Sea or visit the New World grocery story to stock up on goodies. And in March Hokitika hosts the Wild Foods festival – with such delights as jellied grasshopper and pigs eyes, alongside traditional New Zealand specialties (not mentioned above)!

Arrival in Greymouth and the transfer to the TranzAlpine train is straightforward and easy. Leaving the coastal area of Greymouth, you ascend through the Otira Tunnel (8.5 kilometers rising at a 3% grade – climbing 250 meters from one end of the tunnel to the other) finally reaching Arthurs Pass at 737 meters above sea level. Commentary on board the TranzAlpine is informative and entertaining.


TERRA VIVE MOTOR LODGE – Only stayed one night, served as a good stopover point from the TranzAlpine train. Spacious room with washer/ dryer in the unit. Proximity to good restaurants as well as the InterCity bus departure to Picton - 5 minute walk. The continental breakfast was exceptional, and the staff at reception were most welcoming.

The central area of Christchurch is unfortunately not open at this time. The city has an eerie quietness to it, and there wasn’t a soul out the evening I was there. Many houses have red notices taped to the front door, meaning the premises are uninhabitable. Walking along I happened to come across the house below, half of which is still standing.

Christchurch – Kaikoura – Picton

Early departure from Christchurch at 7:00 to catch the InterCity bus to Picton. We stopped in Kaikoura for 30 minutes. Kaikoura is a lovely little coastal town.

Inter-Islander Ferry

I splurged and bought the Kaitaki Plus class on the Inter-Islander Fery. Totally worth it – a quiet lounge with comfortable sitting room furniture. Complementary lunch and refreshments, it’s an ideal reprieve in which to relax. The ferry crossing was lovely as we cruised through the Queen Charlotte Sound from Picton. However - the open sea of the Cook Strait is a different story! The stabilizers were working overtime, so the voyage was still pleasant, but I went up on the top deck to get a better view, and heard a fierce howl such that I’ve never heard on a boat before. I didn’t have the courage to stay up top for long!


NOVOTEL WELLINGTON on the Terrace, with elevator access to Lambton Quay - the main shopping and dining area. Seventh floor room, it was nice to get a view of the city. Wellington is, in my opinion, the most interesting city in New Zealand. The topography is not unlike San Francisco or Monte Carlo. Due to an earthquake in 1855, half of the waterfront territory that was previously underwater surfaced above ground and become the new waterfront line at Lambton Quay.

Also met with management at Carter Observatory – this is on the Cable Car line near the botanical gardens. Anyone who is interested in the southern night sky would find this fascinating. They also had displays on black holes and expanding universes.

Restaurant recommendation: Great India – authentic and elegant

Contact a New Zealand Specialist today to start planning your next vacation!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Queen Mary Now a Historical Hotel

The Queen Mary ship, a former ocean liner, has become a member of the Historical Hotels of America. The liner operated from 1936 to 1967, and is now a dockside attraction and historical hotel in Long Beach, California.

To become a member of the Historical Hotels of America, a hotel must be at least 50 years old and listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized locally as having historic significance.

She is a grand old ship and if you haven't had the pleasure of an overnight stay on her, you should consider it. The hotel has 314 guest rooms, which includes 9 suites. All rooms include modern amenities, such as iPod clock radios and flat-panel televisions.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next vacation!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Chocolate Dream Park Opens December 16

The World Chocolate Wonderland opens in Shanghai December 16 through February 19. This is the second location for the Chocolate Wonderland.

It first opened in Beijing in 2010. It will be located on the 3rd floor of Himalayan Center in Pudong District and consists of four areas: World Chocolate Pavilion, Dream Park Theme Pavilion, Pavilion of Chocolate Life and Square of Chocolate and Happiness. Visitors can browse the famous architectural complex, made entirely of chocolate, in Pudong District and Puxi District following the Huangpu River made of chocolate. There will be many chocolate art works referring to Old Shanghai in early 20 century that will be exhibited.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vampire Themed Cruise Planned for Next Year

A week-long vampire convention on a cruise ship that will feature a vampire ball and costume contest is planned for scenic Southeast Alaska next summer.

KINY ( ) says the ship will make stops in Juneau, Glacier Bay, Skagway and Ketchikan after it departs from Vancouver, B.C.

Vampire scholar John Edgar Browning is scheduled to host a vampire movie festival. Also scheduled to join the cruise is Dacre Stoker, a great-grandnephew of "Dracula" author Bram Stoker and a co-author of a sequel, "Dracula: The Un-Dead."

Original article at

Contact a Cruise Specialist for more information, or to book your next cruise!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Virtual Staff Now at Paris Airport

Orly Airport in Paris is experimenting with virtual boarding staff to make things look more high tech. The virtual boarding staff member is always smiling, never takes a break and will not strike.

The project is being tested at Orly and over the past month the virtual staff have received a mixed reception from travelers. The images materialise seemingly out of thin air when a boarding agent - a real live human - presses a button to signal the start of boarding.
They are actually being rear-projected onto a human shaped silhouette made of plexiglass. Three real-life airport boarding agents were filmed in a studio to create the illusion, which the airport hopes will be more eye-catching and easier for passengers to understand than traditional electronic display terminals.

As you walk to your boarding gate, the virtual person says "Bonjour! I invite you to go to your boarding gate. Paris Airport wishes you a bon voyage."

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next trip to Paris!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DOT to Postpone Some Consumer Protection Laws

The Department of Transportation is postponing some consumer protections scheduled to take effect on August 23. The airlines said it would take more time to implement the changes. The rules that are being delayed until January 24 are:

  • Airlines must prominently disclose all potential fees on their websites, including fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, and advanced or upgraded seating.

  • Also, airlines and ticket agents must include all taxes and fees in every advertised price.

  • Airlines must disclose baggage fees on e-ticket confirmations. Airlines must apply the same baggage allowances and fees through a passenger's journey, including segments with interline and code share partners.

  • Airlines are banned from raising prices after the purchase; unless they are due to government-imposed taxes or fees, and only if the passenger is notified and agrees to the potential increase at the time of sale.

  • Airlines are required to provide passengers timely notice of flight delays and cancellations.

  • Airlines must allow reservations to be held at the quoted fare without payment, or cancelled without penalty, for at least 24 hours after the reservation is made if the reservation is made one week or more before a flight's departure date.

    The Laws that will take effect on August 23 are:

  • Passengers that are involuntarily bumped from flights will be eligible for increased compensation. Under the new rule, bumped passengers can get up to $650 or $1,300 respectively. Inflation adjustments will be made to those compensation limits every two years.

  • International flights delayed on U.S. airport tarmacs more than four hours must allow passengers to deplane, with exceptions allowed for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons.

  • Foreign airlines must post contingency plans for lengthy delays, customer service plans and contracts of carriage on their websites.

  • Airlines must refund any baggage fee if the bag is lost.

  • Airlines must post changes in baggage fees on their websites for three months.

  • Airlines must prominently disclose all fees for optional aviation services on their websites.

  • Where refunds are due, airlines must provide prompt refunds of fares and optional fees.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Possibly the World's Messiest Festival

The Spanish town of Buñol, located in the Valencia region will host its annual celebration of the tomato on August 31.

The festival takes place on the last Wednesday in August. Some 40,000 people come from round the world to take part in the festival. More than 100 tons of tomatoes are used in the battle. The festival lasts a week but the major day is the Tomato Fight day.

At 11 am a water rocket is shot off and trucks release tons of tomatoes onto the street. The hurling of tomatoes begins. Participants are instructed to crush the tomatoes in their hands before launching them through the air to reduce the impact of a successful hit. Everyone and everything is stained red as participants wade through a tide of tomato pulp.

An hour later, another water rocket is shot off signaling the end of the tomato throwing. The tomato mush is hosed off the streets, leaving the cobblestones bleached and disinfected thanks to the acids of the tomatoes. Participants also get a rinse.

The festival dates back to 1944 when a street fight broke out during one of the parades celebrating the town's patron saints. During the street fight, tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall were used as ammunition and the tradition began.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your vacation to Spain!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

First Trans Atlantic Flight Using Biofuel

Yesterday an Aero Mexico, Boeing 777 made the first commercial Trans Atlantic flight using biofuel on a flight from Mexico City to Madrid. The flight was just over 11 hours and had more than 250 passengers on board.

The biofuel mix was 30% biofuel and 70% conventional fuel. The flight consumed some 26,000 liters of biofuel. The biofuel was made from the jatropha curcas plant, which is native to Mexico. Airlines have been increasingly investigating the potential of biofuels made from waste or energy crops which are then mixed with kerosene. Advocates of the technology claim that it can help to curb greenhouse gas emissions from aviation while also providing an alternative for airlines struggling with soaring oil prices.

Aero Mexico said it will begin flights to Costa Rica using the jatropha fuel from next year.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next flight!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Italy Issues New Driver License Requirements

The new driver license rules in Italy apply to all visitors renting cars, who come from non-
European countries.

An International Driving License is now mandatory in Italy for all renters with non-European driving licenses. The International Driving License must be accompanied by a renter's original driving license from their home country. Rental cars will no longer be delivered without the required documents.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent for more information!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Makepeace Island Now Available for Rent

Beautiful Makepeace Island is one of two very private islands owned by Sir Richard Branson, the other being Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Makepeace Island, which is located 20 minutes from Noosa in Queensland, is now available to rent. The once muddy patch of land floating in the Noosa River has been transformed into an ultra-luxurious Balinese-style retreat. The property features a main long house with a giant bar, a four-bedroom guest house, several two-bedroom villas, a boat house and a lagoon pool with a lap lane, dive spots and a 15-person spa. It can accommodate up to 22 guests.

The island, once called Pig Island, has its own riverboat to transfer guests, full-sized tennis court, outdoor cinema, two-story open-air Balinese wantilan "for relaxing and gatherings", a game room and office facilities.

Makepeace is available for whole of island rental only. It costs $7900 a night for between one and eight guests and up to $14,990 a night for between 20 and 22 guests.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Norwegian Cruise Line Releases Details of "Project Breakaway"

NCL announced the exclusive suite complex on the two Project Breakaway ships will be named "The Haven by Norwegian" and that name will be carried over to five other ships.

The Haven will offer extra services, including a butler certification and a Courtyard pool valet will also be added. The suite complexes on five vessels-Norwegian Epic, Gem, Pearl, Jade and Jewel will also be named The Haven by Norwegian. On the new builds, The Haven, consisting of 42 suites on Decks 15 and 16 forward, includes a private restaurant, a cocktail lounge and a concierge desk where passengers can relax, have a drink and make dining, entertainment and spa reservations through the dedicated concierge.

There is a two-story courtyard area with a pool that has a deep end for swimming and a shallow area for relaxing, two whirlpools and a private sun deck, along with two private massage rooms, changing areas and a sauna. The Haven guests also have direct, private access to the ship's spa and fitness center.

The 21 Two-Bedroom Family Villas feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The separate living room and dining area includes a single sofa bed, writing desk and bar. The master bedroom has a king-size bed, floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony. The master bath includes an oversize oval tub that looks out to the sea. The second bedroom includes a double sofa bed and bathroom.

There are 17 Courtyard Penthouses which feature a king-size bed, living and dining area, a single sofa bed, writing desk and ample storage spaces. There are 16 Spa Suites on each new build that have easy access to the spa and fitness center, and free access to the thermal spa suite.

Contact a Cruise Specialist today to book your next cruise vacation!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Shantytown in Rio to Become Tourist Area

The President of Brazil announced plans to turn Rio's Complexo do Alemao shantytown into a tourism spot as recent police operations significantly reduced crime there.

The government is carrying out a major facelift of the shantytown and improving living conditions with the construction of a cable car line, a state-of-the-art 3D movie theater, a family clinic, a school, and several other renovations. The new cable car line was inaugurated last week. It connects to a neighboring train station and will facilitate travel to and from the remotest corner of the shantytown on a hill.

Rio has several tourist attractions in shantytowns. Some hotels located in slums near the beach offer beautiful views of the city.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your vacation to Brazil!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Royal Caribbean Behind the Scenes Tour

Last week Royal Caribbean announced it's plans for elaborate behind-the-scenes tours for passengers on their ships.

For $150, the three and a half hour guided tour will take guests through the shipboard areas such as the bridge, engine control room, the galley, and even behind the scenes look at the main theater. Royal Caribbean says it's responding to a growing demand from passengers to see behind-the-scenes. These tours will be available to purchase onboard beginning this month.

Carnival and Princess Cruises have already added such tours on their cruises in recent years.

Contact a Cruise Specialist today to book your next cruise!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Travel to Cuba Now an Option for Americans

Now available for Americans; small group tours to Cuba, where participants take part in people-to-people educational programs. The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has approved tours to take Americans to Cuba.

The program operated from 2000 to 2003, when it was discontinued because of new travel regulations. The programs will now be allowed to resume as those regulations have been revised.

Now anyone can reserve a spot on one of the company's six programs with more than 130 departures through September. Each trip will be limited to 16 participants and led by a host/escort. Prices, starting around $1,700 USD will cover all meals, accommodations in four and five-star hotels (double occupancy), ground transportation, domestic flights within Cuba if required, all entry fees, guide services, travel insurance and U.S. Treasury Department license and letter of authorization.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent for more information!

World's Longest Bridge Opens in China

China has opened the world's longest cross-sea bridge, which stretches five miles further than the distance between Dover and Calais.

The Jiaozhou Bay bridge is 26.4 miles long and 110 ft wide, and links China's eastern port city of Qingdao to the offshore island Huangdao. Chinese TV reports said the bridge passed construction appraisals on Monday and it, along with an undersea tunnel, would be opened for traffic today.

It took four years to build the massive bridge, which is supported by more than 5,000 pillars across the bay. It is almost three miles longer than the previous record-holder; the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. At a cost of 1 billion pounds, two separate groups of workers have been building it from different ends of the structure since 2006.

Contact a Travel Agent to book your next trip to China!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Airline Bans Infants from Cabin

Malaysia Airlines has banned babies in the first-class sections of its Boeing 747-400 jets. It also plans to do the same in its soon-to-be-delivered Airbus A380 superjumbo jets, according to the Australian Business Traveler.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Tengku Azmil says the carrier is responding to its many complaints from first-class passengers about crying infants. When asked to clarify if this meant the "no babies in first class policy – so no bassinets in 1st on MAS A380?" Azmil replied "Yup!".

Earlier this month Azmil used Twitter to defend MAS' decision not to install bassinets in the first class cabin of its Boeing 747-400 fleet, as a result of which parents with infants are not permitted to travel in first class, and will have to book in the bassinet-equipped business or economy sections instead.

Azmil said that the airline has received several complaints about crying infants from first class passengers that they "spend money on 1st class yet can't sleep due to crying infants", following this with the admission that it was possible for MAS to fit bassinets to the pointy end of its 747-400s "but many people complain about it."

These 747-400s fly between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, KL and London, and KL and Amsterdam, with the Airbus A380s due to take over those routes next year.

Sydney and Melbourne are on the shortlist for the MAS Airbus A380 once the first flights from KL to London and Amsterdam are bedded down and MAS builds up what will eventually be a six-strong superjumbo fleet.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next international flight!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Spend Less on International Travel

Many of us are working with reduced budgets in today’s economy. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t still travel internationally. These simple tips can help make your travel dollars go further.

Travel During Off Season.

This is pretty simple and often the biggest money saver. Do a little research as to when the off season is where you are traveling to before making travel plans. Summer and holiday travel will almost always be the most expensive, while travel during Spring or Fall will often be substantially lower.

Book Your Ticket Early.

If you want to get the best deal on airfare, make sure to purchase your ticket at least a few months in advance. If you have to travel over the holidays, book 3-5 months prior to travel to get the best rates. Last minute tickets often come with hefty price tags.

Use Public Transportation.

Forgo renting a car or booking private transfers. If you are traveling to a big city, most offer various public transportation options and can save you lots in the long run.

Consider Spending some Time in a Hostel.

Hostels aren’t for everyone, but many people do opt to stay in them, especially in Europe. Hostels aren’t just for college students anymore. These days’ people of all ages can be found staying in them, and many offer private or semi-private rooms. Since they cost substantially less then hotels, sometimes spending just a few nights in a hostel and out of the hotel can make your trip more affordable.

Eat Cheap.

The amount of money you spend on food can vary greatly, and can ultimately end up costing you a small fortune if you’re eating at restaurants three times a day. Instead, consider eating just one meal a day at a restaurant, like breakfast or lunch, which is always cheaper than dinner prices. Order the soup from the menu, which is almost always inexpensive, yet healthy and filling. Consider buying some meals from a local supermarket. Often, the deli at a local market can provide you with sandwiches, salads, chips, and beverages for half of what you'd pay if you bought the same meal at a restaurant.

Check on Your Cell Phone Plan.
Many people are not aware that all cellular plans are domestic, and using them internationally can rack up thousands of dollars in fees unknowingly! Make sure to check with your cell phone carrier prior to traveling abroad if you plan on bringing your phone, and find out what kind of international plans they offer.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your next International Vacation!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Civil War Theme Cruises

American Cruise Lines will offer Civil War theme cruises aboard its new sternwheeler, Queen of the Mississippi, which is currently under construction in Salisbury.

The ship will enter service next summer. Passengers will be invited to retrace the steps of the Civil War, discovering famous museums, such as Vicksburg's National Military Park and New Orleans' Civil War Museum, the oldest museum in Louisiana. Memorial monuments such as the 60 foot-tall statue of Robert E. Lee, also in New Orleans can be seen, and famous historic battle fields, including those of Vicksburg and Nashville.

On board, passengers will enjoy era-inspired cuisine, music and entertainment, while sharing war theories along the way with onboard Civil War historians. Dependent on the itinerary, each theme cruise will feature elements specific to each destination, making for a truly remarkable experience.

Details about these and other theme cruise will be available later this summer. Contact a Cruise Specialist today for more information, or to book your next cruise!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lahaina Noon

Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. where the sun stands directly overhead at high noon, but only twice each year.

This astonomical phenomenon is known as the "Lahaina Noon". For that brief moment, you have no shadow. The next occurence will be between July 11-24, depending on the location within the state.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Princess Cruises Now Offering Zumba Classes

Zumba Fitness classes, the exhilarating dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music and contagious choreography, is rolling out to the entire Princess Cruise fleet.

Since December, passengers on many Princess ships have been joining in the hip-shaking fun with complimentary classes taught by licensed Zumba instructors. The classes quickly became among the most popular activities on board, and now additional staff members will complete the official training to become licensed Zumba instructors as the program expands fleetwide.

On land, there are more than 110,000 Zumba classes held in gyms, fitness studios and even nightclubs, attracting millions of enthusiasts around the world. At sea, Princess ships offer the complimentary workouts once or twice per cruise, transforming venues such as Club Fusion, the Piazza or the outside decks adjacent to Movies Under the Stars into a high-energy Zumba fitness party.

Contact a Cruise Specialist today to book your next Cruise Vacation!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Lounge for Venice Cruise Passengers

Venice is opening a new lounge for passengers coming and going from cruise ships. The new lounge will be available beginning July 2 at Venice Cruise Terminal for those passengers waiting for transfers to the airport.

It is located on the first floor in Terminal 103 and will be open from 8 am to 5 pm during the peak days of July, August, September and October. Called the Comfort Lounge, it will feature a bar serving food and beverages, have air conditioning, comfortable seats, shatzu massaging armchairs, screens broadcasting news, tourist information, and information on flight departures, a reading room with international papers, free internet points and a printer for web check-in, a free Wi-Fi area and hostesses offering general assistance and information.

Also a special room for kids will be fitted with a colorful playground suitable from toddlers to pre-teens, with games, table and seats, blackboards and pencils. The admittance ticket is €6 including a free soft drink. Accompanied children under the age of 12 will have free access. This is a good deal if you have a couple of hours or more to wait.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next Cruise Vacation!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Resort Fit for Royalty

The wedding of Prince William and Kate last month drew more viewers than any other wedding in history. Of course the public was also very curious about the royal honeymoon. It recently came out that the newlyweds spent two weeks in the island paradise of the Seychelles, a beautiful island country made up of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 932 miles east of mainland Africa.

William and Kate stayed at the breathtaking North Island Resort while there, a luxurious lodge located on a secluded island, dotted with pristine white sand beaches and surrounded by clear turquoise waters.

The North Island has just 11 villas total, each approximately 4,890 square feet in size, offering ample privacy and space to relax and rejuvenate. Each villa has been individually hand crafted, and each features 2 bedrooms, a changing room, a large bathroom with marble bathtub, and indoor and outdoor shower, and fully retracting sliding doors which open to a view of the sea.

The amenities feature satellite TV, DVD/CD systems, internet access, kitchen, lounge, a huge private patio and private plunge pool. Each villa also has its own Island Buggy, to explore the island at leisure.

The resort also has a spa/wellness center, air-conditioned gym and swimming pool, and exceptional world class dining. Optional island activities include; diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, fly fishing, private boat tours and more!

Prices at this amazing resort start at around $2,900 per person, per night. Contact a Professional Travel Agent today if money is not an issue & you want a vacation or honeymoon that is like heaven on Earth!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NCL Norwegian Epic Offers Single Cabins

Solo travelers are becoming more common every year, and Norwegian Cruise Lines newest ship, the Norwegian Epic, is appealing to those travelers, as the first cruise ship with single cabins. In the history of cruising, single cruisers have had to pay a pricy surcharge for having their own cabin.

The Epic features six different types of staterooms, enough to accommodate 4,200 passengers, there are 128 Studio cabins, designed for single travelers. Each studio cabin features a full size bed, innovative bathroom design with a separate sink and shower, one way window into the corridor (you can see out, but others can’t see in), flat screen TV and desk.

Every passenger staying in a Studio cabin also has access to the Studio Lounge, a private, two-story lounge where you can grab a cup of coffee in the morning, or a cocktail in the evening and meet up with fellow solo cruisers. This lounge is exclusively for guests staying in the Studios.
The Norwegian Epic also features many entertainment options, thirteen restaurants, several lounges and dance clubs, a world-class spa and fitness center, and a huge aqua/pool complex.

The ship offers 7-14 day cruises in Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and Transatlantic. Contact a Cruise Specialist today for more information, or to book your next cruise!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

American First Airline to Test Streaming In-Flight Entertainment

American Airlines is the first US airline to test streaming in flight entertainment. Aircell's new product will allow customers to wirelessly stream content such as movies and TV shows from an in-flight library to their personal Wi-Fi enabled devices during flight.

American is starting the new in-flight video testing early this summer on two Boeing 767-200 aircraft used in transcontinental flights. Pending FAA certifications, the airline's goal is to roll out this product on Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft starting this fall. American is working with Aircell to enhance onboard connectivity by expanding in flight Wi-Fi to its narrow body fleet, including additional MD-80's and domestic Boeing 757-200 aircraft, so all of its domestic aircraft will offer the service within the continental United States.

Installation will begin this summer and continue through 2012. In addition, American continues to install Wi-Fi service on its entire fleet of 737-800 aircraft. Aircell uses an air-to-ground system with three small antennas installed outside the aircraft that connect to Aircell's exclusive nationwide mobile broadband network. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date and after the testing period.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next trip!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Space Trips Launching in January 2014

The Dutch Aviation Company, Space Expedition Curacao (SXC) will begin suborbital space trips for private individuals, beginning January 1, 2014. The one-man flights taking off from Curacao will last about 35 minutes and cost US$ 95,000 dollars.

Pilot Rick Searfoss will pilot the flights to a height of around 100 kilometers. Searfoss, a threefold Space Shuttle astronaut and one-time Space Shuttle commander, currently works as a test pilot for XCOR, the US company which builds the Lynx2, the two-seater space ship figuring so prominently in SXC’s plans. The developers said Curaçao was selected because of the nice weather and because it is a relatively quiet area in the region’s air space.

The company plans to offer four one-passenger flights each day. Those who have made the flight can officially call themselves astronauts, according to the company. For more information, visit or contact a professional travel agent today!

Monday, April 18, 2011

World's First In-Flight Duty Free Store

Korean Airlines will be the first airline to have the world's first in-flight duty free store on its A380 aircraft. The store, designed by UK firm AIM Aviation and Lancome, will be located at the back of the lower deck measuring 11.9 sqm, which is the equivalent of 13 economy seats.

The airline believes it will take in more in sales at the store then they would by selling the 13 economy seats, by selling higher branded products. They will also sell advertising space. The duty free store will consist of five units. Unit 1 is a "video wall" displaying advertisements while the other units will showcase cosmetics, fragrances, accessories and a limited selection of liquor. The store is intended to serve as a "physical catalogue."

The airline is also the first to devote the entire upper deck to business class with 94 "Prestige Class" seats. The lower deck will have 12 first class seats and 301 economy class seats. Their first A380 will be delivered at the end of next month.

Contact a professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your next trip!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Electric Limo "Superbus"

The first of it's kind, a fully electric-powered 'Superbus', looking like something between the bat mobile and a limo, has made its public debut in Dubai.

The eco-friendly limo bus offers comfortable and luxurious transport for up to 23 passengers. Measuring 15 meters in length, 2.5 meters wide, and 1.65 meters high and boasting eight gull wing style doors, the new super limo is hoping to offer the discerning residents of the United Arab Emirates a convenient and luxurious travel experience.

With a top speed of 250 km per hour, and with plans to create a dedicated road for the limo super-bus running parallel to the main motorway route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the service will reduce travel times between the two major cities dramatically which will be especially appealing to corporate clients.

The Superbus project is supported by the Dutch government who have invested $7m Euros.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DOT Wants Airlines to Refund Baggage Fees for Lost Bags

The Department of Transportation is working on new rules that would require airlines to refund baggage fees if a bag is lost or not delivered in a timely manner.

Under the existing rules, if a bag is lost or damaged, passengers can ask for a refund of the fee as part of their claim for lost property. If the bag is just delayed there is no recourse for the passenger, even if he has to purchase necessities.

We will be hearing details of the new rules later this month. The rules will address baggage as well as other proposed changes, including payments to bumped passengers, no-penalty cancelations and improved fee disclosure. The DOT wants to make airlines pay passengers more when they're bumped off their flight, allow passengers to cancel reservations within 24 hours of booking with no penalty and require better disclosure of fees and surcharges.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

United Celebrates 85 Years of Flying

United's first flight took place on April 6, 1926 in Nevada. Walter Varney was the pilot of the small swallow biplane, and completed the first airmail delivery. Varney founded Varney Air service in 1926 after he was given an airmail contract. He later sold the company to United Aircraft and Transport, which changed its name to United Air Lines in 1933. In 1934, Varney and his business partner Louis Mueller founded Varney Speed Lines, which was sold in 1937 and renamed Continental Airlines.

In 1926, fewer than 6,000 Americans paid to travel by plane. By 1930, that number had gone up to about 170,000 paying passengers each year. Boeing's tri-motored Model 80 carried up to 18 people in an enclosed cabin, a step up from only a few years earlier when two passengers rode on top of mailbags, wearing parachutes and goggles. In 1936, people could fly coast to coast, allowing at least 20 hours for the trip, but generally bought tickets at the door of the plane just before takeoff.

Today United flies more than 150 million customers each year, equal to about half the population of the U.S., and travelers can book flights from virtually anywhere. The new United features the world's most comprehensive route network, offering customers access to destinations on six continents and nonstop or one-stop service from virtually anywhere in the United States. With the most modern and fuel-efficient fleet among America's network carriers, United takes to the sky with 5,675 daily departures from nearly 375 airports.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next trip!