Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Venice Sinking Faster Than Anticipated

Scientists have recently revealed that Venice is sinking five times faster than previously thought. The city is gradually tilting eastward into the Adriatic Sea.

Previous studies had shown water-levels in the former capital of the Maritime Venetian Republic had stabilized. New research claims it has actually submerged, and tilted to the east, by an unprecedented 2mm per year over the last decade. Earlier studies had suggested it was submerging at just 0.04mm per year. The patches of land in Venice's 117 island lagoon are also sinking. Northern sections are dropping between 2 to 3mm per year, while the southern lagoon is subsiding by 3 to 4mm over the same period.

A study to be published in the American Geophysical Union's journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems said the current subsidence was due to natural causes, such as plate tectonics. The Adriatic plate, which includes Venice, sub ducts beneath the Apennines Mountains and causes the city and its environs to drop slightly in elevation. About four or five times each year, residents and tourists must walk on wooden planks to stay above the floodwaters in large parts of the city. The city has invested billions of dollars into a flood defense system to prevent the city from sinking. A system of flood prevention walls that can be raised to block incoming tides is nearing completion.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Heathrow Airport Unveils Strategy to Handle Olympics Influx

London's Heathrow Airport has announced a £20 million plan to cope with the expected massive influx of passengers during the Olympics.

The extraordinary measures include a check-in at the athletes' village in Stratford and a temporary Olympics terminal to ease pressure while the airport is at full stretch. Some 10,000 flights will divert to other South-East airports to protect Heathrow's schedule for Olympic flights and other regular users. Heads of state and other VIPs will be sent to Stansted or Luton during a month-long ban on private jets and special charters at the country's most crowded airport.

Tourists and regular business fliers shuld be unaffected and should follow airlines' normal guidance on what time to arrive for flights. Olympic Family members will be fast-tracked at passport control with 300 extra UK Border Agency staff manning dedicated "Games lanes". But the airport will not face its biggest challenge until the day after the closing ceremony, August 13, when the airport will be inundated with more than 138,000 passengers and 203,000 bags, in its busiest ever day.

Other key dates will be July 16, when scores of teams fly in as the Olympic village opens, and July 26, when many of the 25,500 sponsors and their guests will arrive for the opening ceremony.

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

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Overhead Bins Getting Bigger

Packed planes and a high volume of carry-ons are forcing airlines to expand the space above passenger's heads.

United and Delta are the latest airlines to replace or upgrade bins so they hold more luggage. Engineers are busy at Boeing designing jet interiors with larger luggage in mind. Because of fees on checked bags, more passengers are bringing carry-ons, which are growing in size. And with planes more crowded than ever, bins fill up before everyone has reached their seat.

The percentage of passengers bringing bags on board has hovered around 87% in recent years while the size of carry ons have increased. United is replacing its bin doors on 152 planes starting in April. The new doors curve out more than the old ones. That allows passengers to slide bags into the compartment wheels-first instead of sideways. American's new 737s will hold 48 more bags than the planes they are replacing, although they have 24 more seats that means more people and luggage. American's older 737s are also getting new baggage-bin doors that curve out more. The work is finished on about half of the 76 planes. Delta is adding new bins on their 767s that will hold 26 more bags than the bins they are replacing, an increase of 23%. US Airways had already enlarged bins on its 757s back in 2008. The change allowed fliers to slide bags in wheels-first instead of sideways.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next vacation!