Archive for April, 2011

UPDATE, May 10, 2011:

After much speculation and anticipation, it was reported this morning that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, known to the world simply as William and Kate, arrived in Seychelles for their honeymoon today. The Seychelles, a cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean, are a popular destination for Europe’s elite. It’s rumored that the Royal Couple made a secret pact to get married while on holiday in Desroches Island, Seychelles, in 2007. It was always a likely contender for the royal honeymoon hideaway with the island’s stunning, and very exclusive, private beaches.

Find out more about Seychelles.

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Speculation, rumors and bets have been swirling around for months leading up to the royal wedding of the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We now know who designed Kate’s dress (Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen), how long the balcony kiss would last (2 quick pecks from Wills), the celebrity guests (the Beckhams and Elton John among others), but one big question still remains: Where will the royal couple honeymoon?

The latest speculation is that the royal couple will travel to Jordan for a Middle-Eastern post-wedding getaway. Australia is also high on the list. After a recent trip Down Under, the Duke was reported as saying that Australia could be the spot for his honeymoon with the Duchess.

And then there’s Kenya. The couple got engaged in Kenya’s remote Rutundu Log Cabins retreat last October, and it is reported that the Duke signed the visitors book: “Look forward to next time. Soon, I hope.” Perhaps Wills will keep his word, and the couple will honeymoon in the wild.

Where do you think the royal couple should honeymoon? Check out our Royal Honeymoon Hideaways slideshow to see the possibilities.

New Airline Regulations Increase Frequent Fliers Perks

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced four major changes to airline regulations that will affect frequent fliers. Under the new regulations, airlines will be required to refund bag fees if they lose luggage.

Currently, airlines are required to compensate passengers for the value of lost bags, regardless of whether a fee was paid to check them. According to Associated Press, airlines mishandled 2 million bags last year, although that number also includes damaged and delayed ones. The new regulation would not force airlines to pay travelers for delayed luggage.

New airline guidelines will also affect the amount of time passengers spend on an airport tarmac. U.S. regulators have put a 4-hour limit on the tarmac for international flights after last December when passengers were stranded on the tarmac for more than 10 hours at New York’s JFK airport. Some airline trade groups say the new tarmac regulation will force airlines to cancel more international flights to avoid the $27,000 per passenger fine that comes with breaking the rule.

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Boston Marathon

In his first shot at the world-renowned Boston Marathon, Kenyan runner Geoffrey Mutai shattered the course record to finish in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 2 seconds. Each year 500,000 spectators line the streets of 8 Massachusetts towns to cheer on runners from all over the globe. Boston’s marathon is the oldest in the world, and there are strict standards to qualify. But each year 25,000 runners attempt to finish the winding, hilly 26.2 miles, including the infamous “heartbreak hill.”

It might be a difficult race, but many marathoners say that the crowds in Boston make it worthwhile. The marathon is held on Patriots Day each year — a holiday for many in the area. Bostonians take advantage of their day off, grab their cowbells and blow horns, and spend the day partying and cheering on the runners.

If you’re planning on shipping off to Boston for the race next year, make sure you plan ahead. Check out street closings, and take public transportation if you have the option. Head to the parts of the route where the runners need the most encouragement — heartbreak hill in Newton and the last few miles of the race in Kenmore Square are some of the best spots. If you know a runner, track their progress to be sure you don’t miss them.

Travel Channel's feature Travel App of the Week

Looking for the best travel apps to download to your smartphone? Check out Travel App of the Week on TravelChannel.com. Each week we feature a travel app that provides useful information about airline flights, places to eat, ways to navigate around an unfamiliar city and much more.

We’ve compiled travel app lists based on 3 main categories: utility apps, navigation apps and entertainment apps. Our goal is to help you cut through the clutter to find the apps that help make traveling easier for you.

We’ve enlisted Bob Tedeschi to review the most recent travel apps available. Bob has written about e-commerce, technology and travel for the “New York Times” since 1998. He has also written for “Wired” and “Money Magazine,” among others. 

So check out Travel Channel’s feature Travel App of  the Week, and get the download on the hottest apps for travelers!

The Federal Aviation Association will add air traffic controllers to 27 towers after another air-traffic controller fell asleep on the job. This time it was at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.

After several attempts to contact the air-traffic controller, the pilot of an air ambulance, carrying a critically ill patient, was forced to land at the airport early Wednesday. Federal transportation officials said the controller could not be reached for 16 minutes.

In the last two months, there have been 4 other incidents where an airplane pilot was unable to reach a sleepy air-traffic controller at a U.S. airport, including Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport and Seattle’s Boeing Field-King County International Airport.

The FAA has demanded that additional controllers staff overnight shifts where only one controller works. The National Transportation Safety Board and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have announced investigations of these recent air traffic control incidents.

YouTube Preview Image

A TSA agent’s pat-down of a child at the Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans has caused a major uproar. This video, posted on YouTube, shows a female TSA agent explaining the security procedure to the child’s mother Selena Drexel, and then subjecting 6-year-old Anna to an intense pat-down. Todd Drexel, Anna’s father, says Anna started to cry afterwards.

Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned why the child wasn’t taken to a private area and whether the screening was necessary.  A TSA spokesman says after reviewing the incident that the agent did follow proper procedures.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, thinks a modified pat-down for children 12 and under may be necessary after a string of similar incidents.  There’s no word yet if there are efforts underway to change airport screenings for children.

Disney Cruise Line to Debut 3 New Ports in 2012
Disney Cruise Line has announced that starting in 2012 they will open new ports in New York, NY, Seattle, WA, and Galveston, TX. Disney already operates out of Port Canaveral, FL, and Los Angeles, CA. In 2011, Disney Cruise Line launched Disney Dream, and 4 new ships are scheduled to debut in 2012, including Disney Fantasy, the sister ship to Disney Dream. With their expanding fleet, Disney had no choice but to make their ships more accessible by opening more ports. Along with the new ships and new ports come new itineraries to Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada, all starting in 2012.

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Japan was rocked by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake today, near the same location of the 9.0-magnitude temblor on March 11. Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a tsunami warning for places on the coast. Miyagi is the primary area that will be affected.

NPR’s Greg Dixon reports that Japan’s NHK is urging anyone along the coast in the region near the epicenter to head for higher ground. Lesser tsunami advisories cover Aomori, Iwate, Fukushima and Ibaraki.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says workers have evacuated the Fikushima Daiichi nuclear plant despite no signs of new problems after the strong aftershock. Officials say the quake hit 25 miles underwater off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. Buildings as far as Tokyo shook for a minute, according to Associated Press.

Japan’s last quake, in March, set off a tsunami that struck the country’s North Central coast, leaving 1000s dead or missing.

Southwest Airlines Repairs Cracked Planes
Photo: News photographers huddle around the damaged piece of the Southwest Airlines
flight 812 at NTSB headquarters in Washington (Reuters)

Four Southwest planes, repaired for cracks, will likely return to service by Saturday. Airline officials say the 5th plane with cracks in the skin will be held back for additional, previously schedule maintenance.

Southwest grounded 79 of its older Boeing 737 aircraft for inspections after a hole opened in the roof of a similar plan over Arizona last week, forcing an emergency landing. The defective plane will be flown to a maintenance center for permanent repairs until Boeing determines how to fix the problem.

Boeing has already provided instructions on how to fix the cracked planes, which is usually a 2-day job.

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Killer Whale Returns to Perform at SeaWorld

The orca responsible for his trainer’s death last year is performing at SeaWorld Orlando again. The killer whale Tilikum was back in the pool performing for crowds last week. The whale will also be part of the “One Ocean” show at SeaWorld, which debuts April 22.

You may recall that SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau drowned to death last year after Tilikum bit her ponytail and held her underwater.  Now a year later and with mixed emotions, Dawn’s family says their OK with whale’s return to public performances at the theme park.

SeaWorld has plans to dedicate the Dawn Brancheau Educational Complex in honor of the trainer. Despite their goodwill, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has slapped the theme park with a $75,000 fine that is currently in dispute.

SeaWorld has taken steps to improve their trainers’ safety.  The theme park no longer allows trainers in the water with orcas. Plans are also underway to build an escape hatch that trainers can activate with the press of a button.  A false bottom of the pool would raise the whale and trainer above the surface of the water, ideally separating the trainers from danger.

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