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

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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."

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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.

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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.

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