Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island ReOpen on 4th of July

The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island have been closed since Superstorm Sandy struck on October 29, causing flooding and damage.  The National Park Service is anticipating a busy July 4 weekend, based on advance ticket sales. Visitors are encouraged to book their visit in advance. Advance reservations are required for access to the Statue of Liberty's crown. Reservations can be made at Tickets are for a specific date and time and must be picked up at the ferry departure point in Battery Park in Manhattan.

All visitors will be screened in Manhattan prior to boarding the ferry. Those with crown reservations will have a second screening on Liberty Island before beginning the climb of 339 steps from the main lobby to the crown platform. An elevator goes only as high as the statue's pedestal, leaving 146 steps to get to the top. The only restrooms are in the statue's lobby. Ellis Island was also damaged in the storm.  It requires more extensive repairs and remains closed. There is no reopening date at this time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

FAA to Relax Rules for Electronic Gadgets in Flight

Airline passengers may not have to turn off devices in the near future as regulators are set to allow wider use of electronic gadgets in flight. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to relax the ban on using some types of personal-electronic devices at low altitudes, allowing passengers leeway during taxiing and even takeoffs and landings, according to draft recommendations prepared by a high-level advisory panel to the agency.

For fliers, the new rules would likely mean an end to familiar admonitions to turn off and stow all electronic devices. Cell phone calls are expected to remain off limits. The draft doesn't make any recommendations regarding phone use because the FAA didn't authorize the panel to delve into that particularly controversial issue. Details are still being debated by the group and inside the FAA and could change. The draft report reflects a consensus that the existing rules, essentially unchanged since the 1960s, have been overtaken by dramatic changes in technology and passenger expectations.

The FAA's anticipated decision would relax the rules for use of approved devices from the time cabin doors close to when the plane reaches 10,000 feet. Some devices, such as e-readers, could even be used during all phases of a flight, if the FAA goes along with the thrust of the draft recommendations. The debate also has international ramifications, since rules for Wi-Fi systems and cell phone usage, vary among airlines and countries. Formed by the FAA last August, the 28-member panel includes industry, government and pilot-union representatives. Its findings have been eagerly awaited by airlines, regulators and safety experts around the world.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Paris Offers Training Manual to Improve Tourism Reputation

Paris has embarked on a new campaign to improve its reputation and better cater to the needs of tourists, because of its reputation of being rude to tourists. Waiters, taxi drivers and sales staff in the French capital are being given a manual with guidelines on better etiquette. The six-page booklet entitled "Do you speak Touriste?" contains greetings in eight languages including German, Chinese and Portuguese and advice on the spending habits and cultural codes of different nationalities.

France is the world's top destination for foreign tourists. Last year Paris had some 29 million people visited the City of Light. Tourism accounts for one in every ten jobs in the region. The Paris Chamber of Commerce and the regional tourism committee have warned, however, that growing competition from friendlier cities like London meant Paris needed to work harder to attract visitors, especially from emerging market countries such as China.

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

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Historic D.C. Post Office Becoming Trump Hotel

The new venture by Donald Trump will turn the historic Washington Post Office into a luxury hotel which will include restaurants, conference rooms and a spa. An agreement for the future of the property was struck between the Trump Organization and the General Services Administration. The 114-year old property's historic features remaining will be preserved throughout the process. The deal must be reviewed by Congress before completion. The agreement allows Trump to lease the property for 60 years, and he is expected to put some $200 million into the project. If Congress allows the agreement to pass, the redevelopment project is slated to begin in 2014 and open tentatively in 2016. Trump expects the project to create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars in investments for the District. The GSA acting administrator said the lease will help in saving the federal government millions of dollars while preserving a historical site.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

United Airlines Introduces Baggage Subsciption

United Airlines is now offering travelers a way to pay for checking their baggage for an entire year. United's baggage subscription service allows travelers to prepay their standard checked baggage charges for an entire year. Travelers can customize their subscription online by selecting the number of bags, the number of passengers and the preferred geographic regions. The new program started earlier this week.  United is also offering annual subscription service for Economy Plus seating.  "The Economy Plus and checked baggage subscriptions offer our customers more of the comfort and convenience they value year round," Scott Wilson, United's vice president of merchandising and e-commerce, said. Subscriptions can also be given as a gift. United is currently the only U.S. carrier to offer an annual subscription for its extra-legroom economy seating and checked baggage service charges. A "global" checked-baggage subscription includes two bags, and costs $799.