Thursday, May 30, 2013

NYC Launches Bike Share Program

The privately funded Citi Bike bike share program launched in New York this week, after lead sponsor Citigroup Inc. The 6,000 bikes are stationed primarily in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, with over 300 docking stations. Officials hope to eventually expand to 10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The program could potentially ease traffic congestion and air pollution for New York.  Riders now can unlock the three-gear, cruising-style bikes from any station, take them for 45-minute rides and return them to any rack. Of all the more than 500 bike-sharing systems around the world, New York's is the biggest in the United States. Almost twenty thousand people have already signed up for New York's program.

The city has hundreds of miles of bike lanes and promotes cycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to driving. Officials see bike-sharing as a big next step. Citi Bike subscribers pay a $95 annual fee for unlimited rides of 45 minutes. Starting June 2, riders also will be able to buy a 24-hour pass for about $10 and a seven-day pass for $25; both allow for an unlimited number of 30-minute trips. The usage time is logged when a bicycle is returned to a dock, with additional charges if the bikes have been out past the allotted time.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cuba Cruise to Begin Sailing in December

Cuba Cruise will make its first sailing on December 16 using Louis Cristal as its ship. The seven night cruise will sail around Cuba and continue to March 24. Cuba Cruise ship circles around the island with itineraries starting in Havana and Montego Bay. You can board at either city. The 25,611 ton Louis Cristal has a yacht-like design with both staterooms and suites. Some have balconies and all have shower, bathroom, telephone, hairdryer and TV. The all-inclusive sailings will have Cuban entertainment and cuisine imported from Canada. Passengers will be able to visit six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The ship calls at Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Montego Bay, Cienfugeos & Trinidad, Puenta Francis and Havana. The lead-in price is $586 per person.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next cruise.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why You Should Use a Travel Agent

In this era of technology, many travelers have foregone the days of using of a Travel Agent, and instead have began booking all their travels online.

In some cases, such as a simple non-stop flight within the United States, this is often the quickest and easiest scenario. However, there are many cases where booking your trip with a huge online company may not be to your benefit.

For instance, if you are planning a vacation to a foreign country that you know very little about, it’s probably in your best interest to contact a Travel Agency that specializes in that country. Most Travel Agents specialize in a specific country or region of the world, and they can be an abundance of knowledge and information, and very helpful with planning all the details of your vacation, finding the best rates, assisting with travel visa’s, etc.

Also, think of all the time you will save if you use a Travel Agent. Once you have discussed your travel dates, interests and budget with a Travel Agent, you can relax and let them do all the work for you, and rest assured that they will have the knowledge of which hotels and tour companies are more reputable, will give you the best experience and provide the most value for you.

The most important reason to book with a Travel Agent, as many travelers have found out the hard way, is in case a problem or emergency should arise during your trip. Say you booked your trip with one of the huge online companies or directly with the airline. If an emergency, such as a natural disaster, inclement weather or even personal emergency should occur, good luck getting assistance. You are pretty much on your own. Most airlines have substantially cut back on their customer service staff in recent years, making wait times painfully long.
When your trip has been booked with a Travel Agency, you have the comfort of having a direct phone number and email address to contact your personal Travel Agent for quick and personal support and assistance. Travel Agents are typically able to get in contact with the airlines, hotels or travel insurance quickly, and also assist with rebooking flights much quicker than the average traveler can.

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

US Border Control Implements New Technology to Reduce Long Lines

The United State Border Control has implemented new technology aimed at reducing lines and increasing the efficiency of the United States border crossing process. Launching first in the Vancouver International Airport, and then followed closely by Chicago's O'Hare, the technology will allow for passengers to skip the traditional filled out documents in favor of the now-ubiquitous e-kiosks.

The new program is called Automated Passport Control. It has the ability to set the global standard for improving passenger efficiency when travelling to the United States. Automated Passport Control will eliminate the declaration card by placing all of the necessary questions on the kiosk. Travelers will then receive a printed receipt and show the receipt rather than the hand-written card.  Travelers will then show their passport, kiosk receipt and any other travel information to the customs agent for processing.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Right and Wrong Ways to Get Your Flight Attendants Attention

Original Article by: Bobby Laurie

Your flight attendant is a very popular person! With fewer flights comes fuller planes and a smaller flight attendant to passenger ratio. In fact, the FAA regulates that ratio and says one flight attendant is needed for every 50 seats on a plane. With most aircraft carrying around 150 people, that's only three flight attendants to tend to everyone's drink, food and special requests on your flight. So, I talked with a few flight attendants and came up with the top five right and wrong ways to get your flight attendant's attention!

WRONG (and probably the WORST): Keep your hands to yourself!
You shouldn't poke, slap or tap them to get their attention. Can you imagine walking through a cabin and having someone at every row poke you on either side, on your back, tap your shoulder or even, slap your behind? You can't? Well I can! On a recent flight that's exactly what happened while I was walking through the cabin picking up trash. Trust me, we're not going anywhere! We're stuck in the same metal tube going 500mph together. I will get around to getting your trash and I know you're there! I became increasingly frustrated as I was being treated like the Pillsbury Dough Boy but only resorted to verbally acknowledging everyone saying "I know, I know, I'm coming! I'll get there.. I see you!" but on a recent Air China flight to Shanghai a passenger was arrested for slapping the behind of a flight attendant with a newspaper. He later told police that he wanted her to move so that he could get to his seat.

RIGHT: Be Aware
Flight Attendant Sam Ward told me that the best way for someone to get his attention is to be aware of what he's doing. Of course, it's okay to interrupt and make yourself known if it's an emergency situation.

WRONG: Misusing the Call Button
Sam says: The use of the call button is like nails on chalk board to FAs because it's abused. Use it when it's something urgent. Ringing the call button to have the flight attendants collect your trash will probably have you being told "I'll be right back," which in flight attendant speak means: "I'll be back in about a half hour with a trash bag." The flight attendants I spoke with concurred that it should be used for urgent situations (unless of course your flight attendants aren't doing their job and walking through the cabin checking up on everyone).

RIGHT: Be Polite
This might surprise you, but most passengers don't say please or thank you. Being polite and courteous to a flight attendant will net you everything you want, as quickly as possible. Cabin Crewmember Autumn Jensen stated "I would like to assume that people would like to be treated with respect, so I would like to be treated with the same respect. Please, thank you, may I, and other such phrases will never go out of style. As with anything in life, it's all about how you ask. Politeness will get you everywhere. Ian Funderburg agreed I always acknowledge when people politely make themselves known and let them know I will be there to help as soon as I am able to.

WRONG: Galley Invaders
Your seat is cramped, the aisle is narrow and the galley seems to be the only place where you can stand - that's okay, but don't over-extend your welcome (and please don't perform galley yoga: the art of bending and stretching right in the flight attendant's faces as they're eating or sitting). The galley is the flight attendant's work space, kitchen, sitting area and cafeteria. If it's a busy flight the flight attendants may be prepping drink orders, snacks and food for other passengers and your being there might be in the way and slow down the process. Going to the galley to request a beverage or a snack is okay, but be respectful of the work they're already doing, in other words, be patient, the requests they're fulfilling at the moment come before you.

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

Original article can be found here.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Van Gogh Museum ReOpens

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has reopened after a seven-month renovation. The museum kicked off with a new exhibition "Van Gogh at Work," an exhibition that shows the tortured artist's working methods right down to his paints, brushes and other tools. There is a self portrait in which the artist painted himself behind a canvas, brushes and palette in hand. On loan from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, are an actual palette and paints that Van Gogh used. They were preserved by Dr. Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, the physician who treated the artist in the final months before his 1890 suicide. 145 paintings and sketches are on display, almost double the museum's usual collection.

A highlight is the display of two versions of Van Gogh's famed yellow "Sunflowers," hung on either side of a green-dominated portrait he painted known as "La Berceuse." A surviving letter, written by Van Gogh, he indicated that he intended the paintings, which usually hang in three different museums, to be displayed that way. The museum displays a replica of part of the letter, which shows sketches of the three paintings in miniature. With the reopening of the museum, all three of the city's biggest art museums are open for the first time in years. The Rijksmuseum, or national museum, which houses national treasures and many of the greatest masterpieces of painters such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen, opened in April after an epic 10-year, top-to-bottom overhaul. The Van Gogh Museum receives a million visitors a year and is known for long lines, but it has now started a new Internet reservation system that aims to smooth the flow of traffic over the day.

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

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Los Angeles Airport to Get Major Overhaul

Original article by USA Today

Los Angeles International Airport is a step closer to major renovations that have some neighbors vowing to sue, after the City Council approved a $4.8 billion project Tuesday. The council's 10-3 vote OKs plans to move the northernmost runway about 260 feet closer to Westchester and Playa del Rey neighborhoods, according to City News Service.

Residents say they're skeptical of the airport's claims that the updated runway would more safely accommodate larger, modern planes. They say it's a ploy to draw more traffic to LAX rather than other regional airports. "There will be a lawsuit," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the district with affected residents. The council's other dissenting votes were cast by mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti and Dennis Zine, a candidate for city attorney in the May 21 election.

Project program director Diego Alvarez countered that the current airfield was built in the 1960s to accommodate planes that are half the size they are today, causing landing delays because flights use a "nonstandard" process to arrive at LAX. Officials say the landing process is safe but could be safer. The project also would create a transportation station near the airport for light rail, and connect passengers to terminals through an elevated people mover. The project, which has been in the works since 2006, would demolish Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at the airport, consolidate its rental car facility and make road improvements.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to begin booking your next vacation!

Original article can be found here.