Posts made in August, 2013

Argentine court delays LAN’s eviction from Buenos Aires airport

Posted on Aug 30, 2013 | Comments Off on Argentine court delays LAN’s eviction from Buenos Aires airport

Argentine court delays LAN's eviction from Buenos Aires airport

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Aug 29, 2013

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Court extended LAN’s deadline to leave a Buenos Aires airport, as video surfaces of rival Argentine airline CEO requesting Fernández kick LAN out of Argentina.

A leaked video, protests and a court ruling have stirred the already volatile situation surrounding an order for LAN Airlines to depart from its hangar at Argentina’s main domestic airport — no return flights optional.

On Wednesday, Argentine judge Claudia Rodríguez Vidal called for an extension of the 10-day deadline, which expired that day, given by Argentina’s state-owned airport regulator (ORSNA) to LAN. She said LAN could not be barred from using its hanger until the move’s legality was established.

LAN has a contract to work with the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Airport until 2023. The company says it will close its operations in Argentina if it is forced to abandon its hangar. Around 1,500 jobs will be lost if the closure proceeds, sparking protests by LAN’s Argentine employees throughout the week.

The airline has precedent on its side to suggest that the Argentine court may come to its defense. Tango and Mac Air airlines were similarly asked to leave the airport, but the Argentine court also ruled in their favor.

The ruling comes as Mariano Recalde, president of the state-owned Aerolíneas Argentinas, is feeling the sting for statements he made about LAN more than three years ago. Speaking at Agrupación Oesterheld, a group which hosts various national speakers on Argentine topics, Recalde was recorded saying that he had asked President Cristina Fernández for the closure of LAN’s routes in Argentina.

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Good Advice – How to Travel Solo

Posted on Aug 30, 2013 | Comments Off on Good Advice – How to Travel Solo

8 Tips for Holidaying on Your Own



It’s an invigorating idea we’ve all pondered at some point — leaving everything behind to embark on a solo journey. Thanks to memoirs like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” and Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” traveling alone has a reputation for fostering self-discovery. Without the crutch of friends or family, we’re forced to interact with new people and motivate ourselves to try new things. We also have the freedom to build and change our own itinerary as we see fit, with no one to please but ourselves.

While the notion of unhampered exploration sounds thrilling, traveling alone still raises some concerns, like personal safety and vulnerability to criminals. But these potential risks shouldn’t discourage you from setting out on your own journey. To help you plan a safe and rewarding trip, U.S. New Travel has some advice on how to make the most of your unaccompanied adventure.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

Of course the first step to mapping out any solo adventure is picking your location. While safety is a top priority, it’s necessary to consider a few other key factors as well. Is the public transportation system easy to navigate? With no one to help you split the cost, is it affordable? Can you speak the language and easily connect with locals? Austin, Texas, is known for its budget-friendly attractions and low-cost accommodations, while Portland, Ore., offers a cool yet laid-back vibe with plenty of lush outdoor spaces. If you’re eager to venture beyond familiar borders, consider Sydney. Although a jaunt overseas will cost you, you’ll be greeted by English-speaking Sydneysiders and plenty of free attractions, including Coogee BeachSydney Harbour National Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

If you choose to travel internationally, make sure to consult the U.S. State Department to check for any travel warnings. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, devour as much information as you can about the city’s customs and languages. While you don’t need to be fluent in the local language, learning a few resourceful phrases (like “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me” and “can you help me?”) will go a long way.

Sign Up for Group Activities

To pre-emptively combat any pangs of loneliness and lend some structure to your solo adventure, sign up for tours or classes before you leave.Cooking classes provide a delectable glimpse into the new culture you’ll explore, along with a casual atmosphere to connect with like-minded foodies. If you’re visiting a foreign country, language classes also provide a laid-back environment to meet and learn with fellow travelers. But not all group activities need to be pre-planned: You can easily join in on an impromptu museum, food or wine tour once you’ve settled into your surroundings.

For a more structured experience, consider signing up for a group trip with a tour company like Abercrombie & Kent, which offers a set of guide-led vacations exclusively designed for those traveling alone. Though organized trips often come attached to pricey fees for single travelers, these trips offer built-in social interaction and pre-planned itineraries. Abercrombie & Kent boasts discounted fares for many of its late 2013 and early 2014 itineraries. If the discounts aren’t appealing enough, consider that these tours go to places you might not be able to reach on your own, like Mount Kilimanjaro and Antarctica.

Stay Connected

It may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping your relatives and friends looped in on your travel itinerary will help allay their worries and build a safeguard should you find yourself lost or in harm’s way. If you’re traveling abroad, the U.S. State Department recommends enrolling in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). With STEP, you’ll automatically receive timely, country-specific travel warnings and alerts, and have the ability to designate an emergency contact person. The program also helps U.S. citizens during natural disasters, civil unrest and personal emergencies, such as a lost or stolen passport. If you or your loved ones are having trouble contacting each another, STEP also makes it easy for consular officers in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world to help you connect. Staying stateside? Use Facebook, Twitter, a personal blog or other social media platforms to keep your family and friends updated on your whereabouts.

[See: Best Travel Apps Under $3]

Pack the Necessities

With no one else to help you carry your luggage, it’s important to pack efficiently. But beyond that, it’s also important to pack a few essential items. For added security in your hotel room, bring a rubber door stop. Though most hotel rooms have deadbolts or chain locks, sticking a rubber stop underneath the door will lend you some added security (not to mention peace of mind). Also, ensure you have copies of all your travel documents in case anything gets lost or stolen. When you’re out and about, only carry the absolute essentials with you, and leave valuables in your hotel safe.

Lastly, don’t forget to pack a camera. Capturing picture-perfect photo-ops isn’t just a great way to document your trip. A camera also provides a worthy crutch for the introverts among us: instead of burying your head in a book, let a camera camouflage your timidity. Asking others to take your photo is also an easy conversation starter.

Follow Your Intuition

While traveling alone is a great excuse to breach the parameters of your comfort zone, it doesn’t mean you should completely let your guard down. Listen to your instincts: If something or someone feels off, approach the situation with a sense of excessive caution. If you’re taking a cab from your hotel, ask the hotel concierge to call a car to ensure you’re using a trusted company. Also, as a precaution, only withdraw cash from ATMs during the day in a busy area, and always head to back to your hotel at a reasonable time, before the streets empty out.

[See: How to Pack Light: 9 Tips to Lighten your Load]

Prearrange your Accommodations

Pre-booking your accommodations won’t diminish the carefree energy of your solo jaunt. You can still engage in some spur-of-the-moment detours, but with the added bonus that you’ve got a safe haven to retreat to every evening. Before booking your hotel or hostel, be sure to choose a place that’s well-reviewed and situated in a busy, centrally located area. If you’re unsure about the safety of the neighborhood, get in touch with the local police station for crime statistics; officers may also be able to give you some alternative suggestions.

Engage with Other Travelers

Part of the fun of solo travel is spontaneously connecting with people you meet along the way. Though it’s easy to strike up a conversation, you can expel any initial jitters by practicing at home. It seems simple, but going to dinner, seeing a movie or grabbing a drink at a bar by yourself will give you a better snapshot of what it will be like when you’re exploring on your own.

There are also websites that can facilitate the meet-and-greet process. For women, there’s, a site that allows female-only residents and travelers to create and search for meal invites and group activities in cities across the globe. The site was originally created to provide dinner companions for female travelers who didn’t want to eat alone, but over time the site has expanded to include other activities as well, like user-organized hikes and tours. If you’re more eager to tap into a local’s perspective, connects both male and female travelers with residents in more than 2,000 cities based on compatibility tests that match individuals based on different interests.

Take Time for Yourself

If the thought of group activities sounds too similar to your previous vacations, relish this alone time and discover the sights on your own. Ask the concierge for suggestions about safe and fun activities around the city, or grab a map and head to the top local landmarks. Should you grow tired of exploring a new city on foot, consider retreating to a nearby park or pamper yourself at a local spa.

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What pilots won’t tell passengers

Posted on Aug 30, 2013 | Comments Off on What pilots won’t tell passengers

What pilots won't tell passengers


Aug 28, 2013

Reader’s Digest and Good Morning America from ABC news in the United States have conducted a survey on 13 issues pilots won’t tell.

Here is the result:

“I’m constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I’m comfortable with. Airlines are always looking at the bottom line, and you burn fuel carrying fuel. Sometimes if you carry just enough fuel and you hit thunderstorms or delays, then suddenly you’re running out of gas, and you have to go to an alternate airport.” – Captain at a major airline

“Sometimes the airline won’t give us lunch breaks or even time to eat. We have to delay flights just so we can get food.” – First officer on a regional carrier

“We tell passengers what they need to know. We don’t tell them things that are going to scare the pants off them. So you’ll never hear me say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we just had an engine failure,’ even if that’s true.” – Jim Tilmon, retired American Airlines pilot, Phoenix

“The Department of Transportation has put such an emphasis on on-time performance that we pretty much aren’t allowed to delay a flight anymore, even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight that’s coming in just a little late.” – Commercial pilot, Charlotte, N.C.

“The truth is, we’re exhausted. Our work rules allow us to be on duty 16 hours without a break. That’s many more hours than a truck driver. And unlike a truck driver, who can pull over at the next rest stop, we can’t pull over at the next cloud.” – Captain at a major airline

What we want you to know

“Some FAA rules don’t make sense to us either. Like the fact that when we’re at 39,000 feet going 400 miles an hour, in a plane that could hit turbulence at any minute, [flight attendants] can walk around and serve hot coffee and Chateaubriand. But when we’re on the ground on a flat piece of asphalt going five to ten miles an hour, they’ve got to be buckled in like they’re at NASCAR.” – Jack Stephan, US Airways captain based in Annapolis, Maryland, who has been flying since 1984

“The two worst airports for us: Reagan National in Washington, DC, and John Wayne in Orange County, California. You’re flying by the seat of your pants trying to get in and out of those airports. John Wayne is especially bad because the rich folks who live near the airport don’t like jet noise, so they have this noise abatement procedure where you basically have to turn the plane into a ballistic missile as soon as you’re airborne.” – Pilot, South Carolina

“At some airports with really short runways, you’re not going to have a smooth landing no matter how good we are: John Wayne Airport; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Chicago Midway; and Reagan National.” – Joe D’Eon, a pilot at a major airline who produces a podcast at

“I may be in uniform, but that doesn’t mean I’m the best person to ask for directions in the airport. We’re in so many airports that we usually have no idea.” – Pilot for a regional carrier, Charlotte, North Carolina

“This happens all the time: We’ll be in Pittsburgh going to Philly, and there will be a weather delay. The weather in Pittsburgh is beautiful. Then I’ll hear passengers saying, ‘You know, I just called my friend in Philly, and it’s beautiful there, too,’ like there’s some kind of conspiracy or something. But in the airspace between Pittsburgh and Philly there’s a huge thunderstorm.” – Jack Stephan

“You may go to an airline website and buy a ticket, pull up to its desk at the curb, and get onto an airplane that has a similar name painted on it, but half the time, you’re really on a regional airline. The regionals aren’t held to the same safety standards as the majors: Their pilots aren’t required to have as much training and experience, and the public doesn’t know that.” – Captain at a major airline

“Most of the time, how you land is a good indicator of a pilot’s skill. So if you want to say something nice to a pilot as you’re getting off the plane, say ‘Nice landing.’ We do appreciate that.” – Joe D’Eon

“No, it’s not your imagination: Airlines really have adjusted their flight arrival times so they can have a better record of on-time arrivals. So they might say a flight takes two hours when it really takes an hour and 45 minutes.” – AirTran Airways captain, Atlanta

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Venice Introduces New Laws for Gondolas

Posted on Aug 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Venice Introduces New Laws for Gondolas

Venice gondoliers

Gondoliers pay their respects near the scene of the German tourist’s death in Venice. Photograph: Manuel Silvestri/Reuters


The death in Venice this month of a tourist in a gondola that was crushed by a waterbus has prompted the city’s mayor to crack down on the chaotic congestion in the Grand Canal.

Joachim Vogel, 50, a German professor of criminal law, was taking a tour with his wife and three children on 17 August when the gondola they were in was crushed against a dock by a reversing vaporetto.

In a city free of cars, the buildup of waterbuses, delivery boats and watertaxis – owing to the steady rise of tourist numbers – means officials are now being forced to treat Venice’s canals like any busy street, with plans for bans on mobile phone use while steering and stricter rules on turning and overtaking.

“I am amazed this crash didn’t happen sooner. People do exactly what they like on the canals,” said Aldo Rosso, a former city-appointed representative of Venice’s gondoliers.

Among the 26 congestion-busting measures announced this week by Venice’s mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, are drug and alcohol tests for boat handlers, following reports that the gondolier involved in the fatal collision had traces of cocaine and marijuana in his blood.

The gondolier, Stefano Pizzaggia, is under investigation by magistrates along with the pilot of the waterbus and other pilots who were close to the incident.

“The gondola was allowed to be where it was when it was hit, so it does not look like the gondolier’s behaviour had anything to do with it,” said Nicola Falconi, the current representative of the gondoliers, who have been working the canals of Venice in their handbuilt black vessels for 1,000 years.

“A small minority of young gondoliers may use drugs but older gondoliers are more than happy at the prospect of drug testing,” he added.

Ugo Bergamo, the city council’s assessor for transport, said: “There might be a few rotten apples, but Venice’s gondoliers represent the city well.”

Gundula Vogel, the widow of the crash victim, appeared to lay the blame on the waterbus pilot. “It was an absurd situation – we continued to shout from the gondola, but the vaporetto hit us and then pulled out without being aware of what had happened,” she said on Saturday. “I cannot understand how they can undertake such manoeuvres without a sailor in the stern, a camera or mirrors that allow them to see what is happening to their rear.”

Since the crash, gondoliers have reported two near misses on the Grand Canal. “I feared for my life and those of my customers,” said Alessandro Secco, after one close shave with a waterbus.

A Venetian entrepreneur who declined to be named said: “Gondoliers are victims but they do also take advantage of the precedence they have on the water and the vaporetti pilots accuse them of getting in the way. There is an ugly confrontational atmosphere since the crash.”

Falconi admitted there was tension but said gondoliers were due to meet pilots to thrash out their differences and “avoid a manhunt”. Among the mayor’s 26 measures, which will be debated with canal users before going into effect, are bow propellers on vaporetti to allow them to manoeuvre more easily, a ban on gondolas on the Grand Canal before mid-morning to allow goods boats to complete deliveries, the removal of some landing jetties and a ban on gondolas navigating in groups during the day.

Gondolas offering rides from one side of the Grand Canal to the other – a cheap alternative to a gondola tour – may be cut back.

“I like the plan to install police officers at points along the canal with whistles and signs,” said Falconi.

Bergamo said the problem on the Grand Canal was not the level of traffic. “That has not increased since 2006,” he said. “The problem is people going too fast. Last year, the handing out of fines for going over 6km/h was halted after a judge ruled the use of speed cameras was an invasion of privacy.”

But Matteo Secchi, spokesman for the local activists’ group Venessia, disagreed. “There was already too much traffic in 2006,” he said. “It all comes back to how Venice cannot support the tourists who come here, it is a simple question of space. The difference is that changes get made when people die,” he said.

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Best and Worst Airports Worldwide for Easy Transfers

Posted on Aug 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Best and Worst Airports Worldwide for Easy Transfers


Aug 27, 2013

Which are the best and worst airports for making connecting flights and why? Wayne Chen discovered the answers while creating Connect On Time mobile app that provides specific gate-to-gate connect times for many of the world’s top destination airports. His picks are based upon the number of barriers and amount of time needed at each airport to get between its furthest gates once security and passport control lines have been cleared.

10 Best

1. Zurich Airport (ZRH)
10 min.

2. Salt Lake City International (SLC)
11 min.

3. Tampa International (TPA)
12 min.

4. Orlando International (MCO)
15 min.

5. Charlotte Douglas International (CLT)
16 min.

6. Denver International (DEN)
18 min.

7. London Stansted (STN)
19 min.

8. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL)
20 min.

9. Dubai International (DXB)
21 min.

10. Hong Kong International (HKG)
22 min.

The Best airports have better than 70 percent on-time departure and arrival records, logical layouts, efficient security and passport control checkpoints, connected airsides, and gates that are no more than a half an hour apart.

10 Worst

1. Beijing Capital International (PEK)
1 hr. 27 min.

2. London Heathrow (LHR)
1 hr. 25 min.

3. Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
1 hr. 23 min.

4. Shanghai Pudong International (PVG)
1 hr. 18 min.

5. Los Angeles International (LAX)
1 hr. 10 min.

6. Sydney Kingsford Smith (SYD)
1 hr. 9 min.

7. Tokyo Narita International (NRT)
1 hr. 3 min.

8. Boston Logan International (BOS)
1 hr. 2 min.

9. Frankfurt International (FRA)
1 hr. 1 min.

10. Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
59 min.

The Worst airports are the polar opposite of the Best. Beijing Capital tops the list with a dismal 30 percent on-time record and stressed-out passengers constantly struggling to reach their connecting gates on time.

Plan Ahead
So while considering which connecting flight to book, allot at least an hour between flights to account for unexpected delays and wait times at the Best airports, and three hours at the Worst. “Give yourself the gifts of time and peace of mind,” suggests Chen, “because no one else will.”

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Cruising – “Port Lecture” shopping honesty – in Alaska, at least

Posted on Aug 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Cruising – “Port Lecture” shopping honesty – in Alaska, at least


Cruise ships in Alaska have had to change their ways when it comes to those ubiquitous port lectures about “the best places to shop.”

Following a court case that claimed the lectures mislead guests, who often believe they are sponsored by the cruise line, the guides now must make it clear that what they are offering is not professional advice but rather an advertisement for paying clients. The companies admitted no wrongdoing, but did agree that port lecturers would disclose they didn’t work for cruise lines and are engaged in advertising.

The Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN) reported last week that earlier this year three Florida-based companies, Onboard Media, Royal Media Partners, and the PPI Group, agreed to a $200,000 settlement with the state.

They  agreed from now on to be clear about whom they work for, to desist from making negative comments about stores not in their programs, and to stick to the truth about sale prices and return policies.

APRN quoted one anonymous shopkeeper who said he had in the past paid $25,000 plus 10% of sales to be part of the programs.

A million tourists visit Southeast Alaska every summer, and they are a key part of the economy of the 49th state.

Alaska is the first state to crack down on port lecturers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

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