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Avis offers in-car satellite TV and audio service for Florida travelers

July 13, 2009

Avis Rent A Car and RaySat Broadcasting (RBC) announced that Avis renters at select locations can now enjoy the ride with AT&T CruiseCast service, a new satellite TV technology that delivers 22 video satellite channels as well as 20 audio channels to a mobile unit in automobiles. Beginning today, Avis renters at airport locations in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach can rent AT&T CruiseCast for $8.95 per day or $62.65 per week.

The AT&T CruiseCast service offers a variety of channels, including Cartoon Network Mobile, Disney Channel, DisneyXD, Discovery Kids, USA Network, Discovery, Animal Planet, SCI FI, Lifetime Television, Adult Swim Mobile, ESPN Mobile, NFL Network, CBS College Sports Network, FOX News, CNN Mobile, MSNBC and AccuWeather.

The portable unit provides TV screens that attach to the back of the vehicle’s headrests, and come with headphones, for easy viewing and listening by passengers. A 12-volt jack plugs into the car’s power outlets and the unit’s receiver is housed inside a small bag attached to the seatback.

Outside the vehicle, a compact antenna is mounted to the roof. The antenna, installed by an Avis representative prior to rental pickup, receives the satellite TV signals, provides them to the receiver and displays the program on the TV screen. The AT&T CruiseCast service utilizes video buffering technology to automatically store two minutes of content so viewing is not interrupted by satellite obstructions such as overpasses or tall buildings.

Advance rental reservations are required for AT&T CruiseCast service.

American Airlines announces Notification Center at

July 13, 2009

American Airlines has introduced another convenient way to make the travel experience even better for its customers. The new Notification Center – which can be easily accessed from – enables customers to set their flight status notification preferences just one time and then automatically receive messages for all their future flights, instead of having to request notifications for each different flight. The Notification Center also makes sharing these updates easier by allowing AAdvantage(R) members to save up to 10 contacts in their account, and can then automatically notify select contacts with the elected flight information.

Additionally, lets customers easily manage many of their preferences all in one spot. The new page, referred to as “Connect,” provides customers one-click access to instantly:

  • manage their AAdvantage account
  • manage their American Airlines e-mail subscriptions
  • register and select options for the “Remember Me” tool to personalize their phone calls with American Airlines
  • access their flight itineraries to e-mail, print, or save to their calendar

By grouping all of these features in one place, has made it even easier for customers to manage their preferences.

To learn more about the Notification Center and Connect, and to view an online demo, visit

Sunshine insurance offered by travel agency

July 13, 2009

Sun-seekers whose holidays are spoiled by bad weather could be reimbursed after French travel agencies launched insurance cover for unwanted interruptions to the sunshine.

The insurance policy, launched by holiday groups Pierre et Vacances and FranceLoc, will allow holiday-makers to claim back part of the cost of their trip if they suffer at least four days of rain in any one week.

“Aon France allows Pierre & Vacances to propose its clients with automatic reimbursement for part of their stay…if weather conditions don’t meet expectations,” the holiday group said in a statement.

Aon France will use satellite photos obtained by the French weather bureau to calculate how much money subcribers should receive.

Rain-spoilt holidays can now be worth up to 400 euros ($556) and holiday-makers would be informed by telephone text message or email if they are liable for compensation. They would receive a cheque a few days after returning home.

The man behind the idea, Herv Kayser, told French daily Le Figaro that in a trial run last year, 10 percent of those interested in the insurance policy witnessed sufficient rain to receive money back on their holiday.

Skull Tower of Serbia

July 13, 2009
Skull Tower - Ćele Kula

Skull Tower - Ćele Kula (Source: Wikipedia)

The Skull Tower is a monument to 19th century Serbian rebels. It is situated in Niš, on Carigradski drum, on the old Constantinople road leading to Sofia.

The year 1809 marked the turning point in the course of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire (1804-1813). The outnumbered rebel army faced a 36,000 strong force of Turkish imperial guards near the strategically important southern city of Niš. Rather then surrender or flee they decided to put up a desperate last stand at Čegar hill. Faced with imminent annihilation, the rebel commander Stevan Sinđelić in an act of desperation fired a shot into a gunpowder keg at the fully stocked gun powder room, blowing up as a result his own entire army as well as wiping out enemy soldiers who were already flooding the rebel trenches.

Deeply ashamed by the rebel force’s bravery, the Turkish commander Hurshid Pasha decided to teach a grim lesson to the freedom loving Serbian nation. The bodies of the dead rebels were mutilated. Their skins were pealed off their decapitated heads, stuffed up with straw, and sent to the Imperial court in Istanbul as proof of Turkish victory. The skulls were used as building blocks for a tower built by the main road at the entrance of the city. A warning to the local populace of an impending fate to any potential future rebels.

In total, 952 skulls were used. In its original form, the tower was stood 15 feet high with a width of 13 feet. Skulls were arranged in 56 rows, with 17 skulls in each row, at each side of the tower. The skull of Stevan Sinđelić was placed at the top. This gruesome edifice, left a deep scar in the Serbian national psyche. However, it failed at its purpose. Serbs rebelled again in 1815, this time successfully, driving off the Turks and winning independence in 1830.

The tower stood in the open air until the liberation of Niš in 1878. By that time, much of the tower had deteriorated from weather conditions or from the removal of skulls for burial by relatives of killed rebels. In 1892, with donations gathered from all over Serbia, a graceful chapel designed by the Belgrade architect Dimitrije T. Leko was built to enclose what was left of the tower. Today, only 58 skulls remain, including Sinđelić’s one.

In front of the chapel stands the monument to Sinđelić, and a small relief depicting the battle, both from 1937. The monument commemorating the battle in the form of a guard tower was built in 1927 on Čegar Hill by Julian Djupon. The lower part is made out of stone from the Niš fortress.

In the years immediately following the building of the tower, the families of deceased rebels chiseled away some of the skulls in order to give them proper funerals. Today 58 skulls in total remain in the tower.

The authorities of Serbia in 1892 built a chapel around the tower to preserve this unique monument representing the nations bravery and sufferings. The skull of Stevan Sinđelić is also on display at the chapel.

Ćele Kula (Tower of Skulls)
Address: Brače Tankosić bb, Niš, Serbia
Admission: 100 dinar
Hours: 9am-4pm Mon-Sat, 10am-2pm Sun Nov-Apr, 8am-8pm May-Oct
Parking available. The admission ticket also includes a visit to Mediana.

Getting there
The bus station, located at Kneginje Ljubice has services to Belgrade (640 dinar, three hours, 10 buses), Brus for Kopaonik (380 dinar, 1.5 hours, at 10am and 3pm), Novi Pazar (700 dinar, 4 hours, at 10am, 3.15pm and 7pm), Užice for Zlatibor (700din, five hours, at 7.25am, 12.05pm and 6.05pm) and Sarajevo (1380din, 10 hours, at 6.10am and 9pm).

Eight trains go to Belgrade (640 dinar, 4.5 hours).

Montenegro Airlines and JAT Airlines fly to Zurich from Niš airport (IATA Code: INI;

Information on Niš
The mighty Tvrđava Citadel dominates the north side of the Nišava River. Nearby is the market and the bus station, while the train station is to the west on Dimitrija Tucovića. The city centre is south of the river. It is in Niš that the trunk road running from the north down the Morava River valley forks into two major lines: – the south one, leading to Thessalonica and Athens, – and the east one, leading towards Sofia and Istanbul, and further on, towards the Near East.

Attractions nearby:
Hours: 9am-4pm Tue-Sat, 10am-2pm Sun
Mediana is the remains of a 4th-century Roman palace complex, possibly that of Constantine. Archaeological digging has revealed a palace, forum and an extensive grain-storage area with some sizable, almost intact, pottery vessels. The museum shelters some important mosaics and a collection of artefacts.

Thermae are situated northwest of the villa with peristyle and were probably connected to it. The entrance to the bath is from the south side. The thermae of Mediana were probably used by the owners of the villa, who could reach them directly from their rooms. The corridor on the way to the thermae is decorated by floor mosaics, with geometric patterns of the same quality as the mosaics in the peristyle. The vestibule and apodyterium are covered by brick and the middle room is partly covered with brick and partly with mosaic made here of larger white marble tessarae. 

Niš Fortress – Tvrđava


The Niš Fortress complex includes the remaining parts of the Early Byzantine road and the remnants of the Settlement (5th and 6th century) in the central part of the fortress near the Bali Bey’s Mosque; the old Turkish bath (15th century) near the Stambol Gate at the entrance to the fortress, which was built of brick and stone; the Bali Bey’s Mosque (beginning of 16th century) in the central part of the fortress, which was turned into a gallery after the restoration works in 1972; the Turkish Powder Magazine – the complex of four edifices, the ground floor rectangular structures along the southern ramparts of the fortress; the Turkish Arsenal near the Stambol Gate – after the restoration it became a gallery of modern arts, whereas in the vaulted rooms – once reserved for the guards – smaller galleries and a souvenir shop were housed; the building of the Historical Archives on the north-western side of the fortress, an elongated ground floor edifice; the remains of a Roman building with mosaics (2nd – 4th century) at the northern side of the fortress.

International travel and your laptop

July 13, 2009

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about an Internet connection. That was a problem back in the days of dial-up modems, because phone systems vary between countries, and because your local ISP would have been one very expensive toll call. But ethernet and WiFi are international standards, and if your hotel doesn’t offer Internet access, a nearby café will.

The biggest issues you’ll actually have to face are bringing your laptop across international borders, and plugging it into a power socket.

You risk trouble every time you carry a laptop across an international border, and that includes returning home. Most countries allow custom officials to search anything you bring into their country, including the contents of your hard drive. They may even insist that you decrypt anything that’s encrypted. And different countries may have different definitions of espionage and pornography.

If there’s anything on your hard drive that might cause trouble, remove it before you leave the country: Make an extra backup, then securely remove it with a program like Eraser. If you’re going to need the information on your trip, email it to yourself or ftp it to someplace on the Internet from where you can retrieve it.

It’s all very silly, of course. You can’t physically take some kinds of data into the country, but once there, you can retrieve it from cyberspace.

There’s an additional issue waiting when you come home. If your laptop is fairly new (say, less than six months old), you may need to prove to your home country’s customs agents that you didn’t buy it overseas, in which case you’d have to pay a duty tax on it. Receipts or registration paperwork should do. See the U.S. Customs document Know Before You Go (PDF) for additional advise.

Now then, what about electricity? Once you leave North America, the electronic devices you take with you won’t be compatible with the wall sockets you’ll encounter. The plugs will have a different shape, and they’ll be designed for a different voltage.

Luckily, virtually all laptop AC adapters can handle a wide range of voltages, so that probably won’t be a problem. Examine the tiny print on the adapter for something like “V100-240,” which means it can take handle everything from 100 volts to 240. To my knowledge, every country on the planet has AC power in that range. North America uses 120 volts; Western Europe, 230. If you’re concerned, check the International Voltage Guide for the country you’re visiting.

If there’s no such information on your adapter, contact the manufacturer and ask about it. You can buy voltage converters if you need to, but for a laptop, you probably won’t.

Even if voltage isn’t a problem, the physical plug will be–these vary greatly from one country to another. You’ll need a power plug adapter, which should be easy to find and cheap to buy. In about two minutes, we found an All-in-One Travel Power Plug Adapter that supports several countries for only $6. Of course, we can’t tell you if it’s any good, however!

Read the original forum discussion at

Travelling by air with your commode or shower chair

July 13, 2009

This article is relevant to Air travel for people with disabilities

Traveling with your commode or shower chair entails flying and having to deal with airline personnel and airport security – Be prepared!

You are, most assuredly, going to be confronted with one or more potential obstacles. First of all, know your rights! There are numerous resources available on-line from which you may easily glean the specifics using a keyword search for “airline and wheelchair”. For our purpose here, however, suffice it to say that your portable commode / shower chair is a “fragile medical device” which should be “gate-checked” and is not chargeable as passenger baggage. Having your wheelchairs “Gate-checked” means that you will take your portable commode / shower chair through Security, to the gate, and into and down the jet-way. From there, it may either be stored on-board in the closet separating the first-class cabin from coach, or taken down below and stored with your wheelchair in the cargo compartment. The latter method is far more likely, these days, as most airlines, in their efforts to maximize revenue, have eliminated the aforementioned closet and replaced them with more seating. Adequate on-board storage, however, may be available on some of the larger aircraft utilized in international flights.

Let’s walk through the process of successfully gate-checking your portable commode / shower chair at no charge:

Before leaving home, take the liberty of stuffing your portable commode / shower chair carrying case first, with all of your medical supplies and second, with whatever clothing, or anything else, you can squeeze in except for vessels containing liquids or gels. As you will not be charged for this particular item of baggage, you may as well save yourself a few more bucks by filling it up.

Upon arrival at the airline’s service desk, check-in with a representative. Do not check-in electronically at a computer kiosk. Check and, if required, pay for your regular baggage. You can review a chart of all the airlines and their fees at bottom of this article. Note that Southwest Airlines should be your preferred air carrier as, of this writing, Southwest remains the only airline that does not charge for your first checked bag.

Carefully label and tag all of your baggage and instruct the agent at the counter to provide you with gate-check (pink) tags for both your wheelchair and for your portable commode / shower chair. When you are told, (and more likely than not, you will be told), that you have to check your portable commode / shower chair as regular baggage, pay for it or are given a hard time for any other reason, it’s time to get assertive. First, tell the Agent that you have always had your shower chair gate-checked. Second, inform the Agent that the case contains “delicate medical equipment” which, if dropped, or if something is dropped on it, will result in damage requiring the airline to replace a $2,000 wheelchair. I guarantee that you’ll be handed a pink gate-check tag very quickly. Should you experience any further problem (which I have not), demand to speak with a supervisor and take names.

Proceed to the TSA security checkpoint. Inform TSA security personnel that your case contains your commode/shower wheelchair and that it will fit, (albeit snugly), through the x-ray tunnel. To date, following many such security checks, I have yet to have my carrying case opened for inspection.

With the hard part behind you, proceed to your gate, check-in with the Agent at the counter, make whatever seating changes you want / they can make and arrange for an aisle chair to be available, should one be required. When the Agent asks what’s in the case, repeat yet again, “it’s a delicate shower chair”. You will be boarded ahead of the other passengers. Airline personnel, for the most part, well-trained in handling disabled passengers, will assist you down the jet-way along with your portable commode / shower chair, transfer board and laptop computer. After they transfer you to the aisle chair and on to the aircraft, they will stow both of your chairs. Make sure that you take your wheelchair seat cushion on board as storing it in the non-pressurized cargo compartment could result in damage to the cushion. The foam cushions on your portable commode / shower chair will store in cargo without any problems. Finally, when making connections, make certain that both wheelchair and portable commode / shower chairs are brought up into the jet-way and that, one way or another, that they accompany you to your connecting flight where you will have to repeat the boarding process yet again.

Air travel for people with disabilities is a hassle and can be embarrassing and downright uncomfortable. Following the steps in the aforementioned process will not change this fact, unfortunately, though it will make it a little less miserable.

US Airways to launch new flights to Barbados from Philadelphia

July 10, 2009

US Airways said that it is launching additional non-stop flights from Philadelphia International Airport to Barbados this autumn and winter.

From 1 October, the carrier will operate four weekly flights on the route, which will increase to a daily service from 19 December 2009 until 17 April 2010.

Flights will be operate using Airbus A319 aircraft, with 12 seats in First Class and 112 seats in the main cabin.

Tickets for the services will go on sale on 12 July.

Which airlines are the most pet-friendly?

July 9, 2009 compared airlines to see which ones are the best choices if you’re traveling with pets. You may remember our post a while back on Pet Airways, about which Petfinder says, “While Pet Airways didn’t make the rankings because they haven’t ‘hit the air’ yet, [we are] excited to see the promising airline take off.”

5. United Airlines – Non-Discriminating
United Airlines accepts small cats, dogs and birds in the cabin; rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs as checked baggage and other animals including parrots, cockatiels and ferrets, in United Cargo.

4. American Airlines – Zoo Trusted
American Airlines’ animal-trained staff is known for transporting animals from popular zoos in cargo.

3. Airtran – Budget-Friendly
Airtran is currently the least expensive airline to fly with your small pet; just $69 each way.

2. JetBlue Airways – Full-Service Pet Love
JetBlue launched its JetPaws program last summer and provides a pet carrier bag tag, two TrueBlue points each way, a welcome e-mail and a free pet travel guide.

1. Continental – Safety-First
Continental is proud of its PetSafe program, which has a 24-hour Live Animal Desk (1-800-575-3335), tracking the pets from origin to destination. It is pricier than other programs, but it’s climate-controlled, allows roomy carriers and has designated cargo staff.

“Petfinder names the top 5 most pet-friendly airlines of 2009” []


Getting to and around in Scandinavian capitals

July 9, 2009



Scandinavia is a historical and geographical region in northern Europe that includes, and is named after, the Scandinavian Peninsula. It consists of the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark; some authorities argue for the inclusion of Finland and Iceland, in Scandinavia the term is, however, used unambiguously for Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which share a mutually intelligible language (a dialect continuum), ethnic composition and have close cultural and historic bonds, to a degree that Scandinavians may be considered one people.

Regardless of how the term Scandinavia is used outside the region, the terms Nordic countries and Nordic region are used officially and unambiguously to identify the nations of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland as well as the Danish territory of the Faroe Islands and the Finnish territory of Åland as politically and culturally similar entities.

Here’s a complete guide to getting to and around the Scandinavian capital cities of Copenhagen (Denmark), Stockholm (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Helsinki (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia).

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What happens if airline cancels your flight?

July 9, 2009

When you buy a ticket on an airline you enter into a contract with that airline. This contract of carriage spells out the obligations and rights of a carrier and a passenger. Some of the terms are set by the airline, while others are standard terms or terms provided by applicable law. Contracts of carriage can often be found on an airline’s Web site.

According to Department of Transportation data for 19 U.S. carriers, the airlines canceled 1.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in April, the most recent month for which the data is available.

The reasons an airline could change the time of your flight or cancel it altogether include weather, mechanical problems and shortage of crew. Some consumer advocates even speculate that airlines might cancel a flight if few people book tickets on it, though they acknowledge that would be hard to prove, and the airlines deny they would do that.

Here are tips to help you understand your options if your airline changes the time of your flight or cancels it.

There are no guarantees
Some airlines advises passengers that its schedules are subject to change without notice and that times shown on its tickets are not guaranteed. The airline may say it will not be responsible for errors or omissions in timetables or other representation of schedules.

Request a refund
Most airlines will refund the amount you paid for a ticket if they cancel your flight and can’t accommodate you on another flight that gets you to your destination on the day you were expecting. Most will not compensate you, however, for money you lost because your flight was canceled – such as missing a client meeting and not getting a big account. Remember that if you accept a refund and choose to buy a ticket on another airline, you will likely pay the walk-up fare, which is often significantly higher than the discounted coach seat you may have originally booked.

Try to negotiate
With fewer people flying, airlines are eager to generate loyalty and keep customers coming back. You may be able to use that to your advantage if an airline inconveniences you by canceling or rescheduling your flight.

Ask for a hotel room
American Airlines says that if a delay or cancellation was caused by events within its control and it does not get a passenger to his or her final destination on the expected arrival day, it will provide “reasonable” overnight accommodations, subject to availability.

Try to be rebooked
Some major airlines have interline agreements that allow them to easily rebook a passenger on another carrier. For example, under certain circumstances United Airlines may arrange for transportation on another carrier or a combination of carriers if it is unable to provide a new flight that is acceptable to the customer. In that case, the passenger would be entitled to the same class of service as the original flight at no additional cost.

Make sure your airline has your e-mail address or telephone number
… so it can alert you in the event that it cancels or reschedules your flight. There’s no hard and fast rule saying how much advance notice an airline must give you about a flight cancellation or schedule change. The last thing you want is to find out there’s a problem when you get to the airport. Delta Air Lines encourages its passengers to sign up for a service that sends them voice, text or e-mail alerts about changes to their flight. Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways have similar services. Some airlines also post the status of flights on their Web sites.

Priceline and Ticketmaster form partnership

July 9, 2009

Ticketmaster and Inc. announced Thursday that they would team up to offer travel services to ticket buyers, making Priceline the “Official Travel Partner” of the ticket agent.

The exclusive partnership allows Ticketmaster, a unit of Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., to provide customers various hotel, airline and rental car offers from

The collaboration essentially gives the approximately 20 percent to 30 percent of Ticketmaster’s online customers that travel to events out of town a one-stop shopping experience as they can buy tickets to an event and plan their travel arrangements on one Web site.

Ticketmaster will have links and offers from Priceline on its Web site, such as Name Your Own Price hotel rooms, rental cars and airline tickets. It will also offer published-price travel services with comparision charts, maps, city attractions and hotel and restaurant reviews.

Ticketmaster president Eric Korman said, “Roughly 20-30 percent of tickets purchased on are for events outside of the fan’s home market so providing a convenient conduit to affordable travel information and solutions will bring a tremendous new convenience that will enhance the entire event experience.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Reasons to travel with a Kindle

July 8, 2009

You Don’t Have to Sprint to the Airport Newsstand
Before a flight you may face an abysmally long security queue. You may be worried that you are going to miss your flight and making a quick dash to the newsstand to pick up reading material is out of the question.

You can turn on the e-book reader’s wireless connection and buy the current editions of The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek. Within a few minutes, each publication is delivered wirelessly to your Kindle 2.

You Can Comfortably Read a Newspaper in Coach
Have you ever tried to read a newspaper in a crowded coach cabin? You have to fold the paper just so, and then position your arms in a certain way, so your elbows don’t make contact with your seatmate’s teeth. That’s not the case with a Kindle. You can comfortably read papers, as well as magazines, books, and blogs, with ease, no matter how sardined you are.

You Can Read Documents and Web Content
If you’ve got a lot of work-related reading to do in flight, you’ve traditionally had two options: (1) Print out and pack what you need, which adds bulk to your carry-on bag; and (2) Read it on your computer, which depletes your laptop battery.

The Kindle gives you a much better option for reading documents and even Web content in flight–one that adds no additional weight to your bag because you don’t need to carry printed pages, doesn’t drain your laptop/netbook battery (so you can use your portable PC for something else, like watching video), and doesn’t require in-flight Wi-Fi.

To read documents on your Kindle 1 or 2, most files will first need to be converted to the Kindle’s native formats (.azw and .azw1). (The Kindle DX supports PDF documents as well.)
There are a couple of ways to do this. The easiest is to e-mail your Microsoft Word files, PDFs, HTML pages, and other documents to your Kindle e-mail address. (If you didn’t set up a Kindle e-mail address, you can do so by signing in to Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle page.) The next time you turn on your Kindle’s wireless network, the document(s) will be automatically converted and downloaded to the device. The conversion process takes about 5 minutes, usually. However, Amazon charges 15 cents per megabyte for transferring documents to your Kindle wirelessly via e-mail. That’s not much, and the convenience is worth it. But if you plan to send dozens of documents on a regular basis, the cost can add up.

The other option is free but a tad more complicated. You e-mail the file you want to transfer to your Kindle address, but you add free to the address. For example, if your Kindle e-mail address is, you’d e-mail the attached file to

Within a few minutes, you’ll receive an e-mail from Amazon Kindle Support. The e-mail will include a hyperlink, which, when clicked, will download the converted file to your computer. Now you can drag and drop the file into your Kindle’s Documents folder, when the e-book reader is connected to your computer via USB cable. Amazon outlines the steps for transferring documents and files to a Kindle on its Web site.

You can download travel guides
While traveling to destinations which you’ve never traveled before, you can purchase travel guides on the Kindle 2 and refer them as you go on to your adventure.
Check out travel guides available for Kindle and PDF downloads

The Wrap Up
Paying $359 or $489 for the Kindle 2 or Kindle DX, respectively, may be way too much for many people in this economy. But any device that can lighten your carry-on load, and yet keep business travelers productive and entertained during long flights, is worth considering, if your budget allows.

Tip: M-Edge’s Platform Jacket ($30) for the Kindle 2 does double-duty as a protective cover and book stand. You can prop up your Kindle 2 on your seatback tray and read almost entirely hands free (you’ve got to push the Next Page and Prev Page buttons, of course).

If you own an iPhone then you can also download the Kindle reader application for iPhone for free!

Tiger Airways launch new Melbourne to Sydney flight

July 7, 2009

The world’s third busiest travel route has welcomed a new player to the market, with Tiger Airways launching budget flights between Melbourne and Sydney.

From Friday, up to four daily services will run between Sydney and Melbourne, which is expected to add more than 500,000 visitor seats annually between the two cities.

While the Melbourne-to-Sydney flight route is already hugely busy, Tiger Airways managing director Shelley Roberts said it expectED the new flights would open up travel to a new market.

“Our expansion into this route is in response to overwhelming customer feedback in both cities. Now we’re bringing real competition to this incredibly popular route,” Ms Roberts said.

The flights will start from $39 (one way, including tax and charges).

Tiger commenced operations from Melbourne Airport in November 2007 and currently has four Airbus A320 aircraft serving 11 destinations from Melbourne.

Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas welcomed the announcement as a boost for the local economy, tourism and commuters.


Spring Airlines to sell standing room tickets

July 7, 2009

Spring planes will become “like a bus” in an effort to increase passenger load by 40%, due to a sharp influx of customers wishing to take advantage of Spring Airlines’ cheap rates. Chinese airline officials are considering an unusual request made by Spring Airlines: allow passengers to purchase standing room only fares on short flights at cheaper rates.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang defends the idea, saying that “for a lower price, passengers should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus, with no seat, no luggage consignment, no food, no water, but very convenient.” It is theorized that the Spring Airlines Airbus A320 would be able to accommodate up to 40% more passengers while cutting operating costs significantly if it were to allow standing-room fares.

Where safety is concerned, airline spokesperson Zhang Wuan explained that passengers would be strapped into a barstool-like seat during take off and landing with a safety belt that fastens around the waist. Zhang claims that Airbus has assured the airline that this seating proposal is perfectly safe.

Airline president Wang Zhenghua, in a statement given to Chinese television, that since the Vice Premier lent his support, the idea has been gaining momentum.

Questions, such as how airline staff will move through the standing passengers, and safety concerns regarding evacuation issues have not been addressed.

Air India launches multi-user four coupon ticket for economy travel

July 7, 2009

Air India, as part of its ongoing marketing initiatives targeting the corporate sector, has launched “Quick Returns” – a four-coupon multi-user ticket booklet for economy class travel on the domestic sectors at an attractive price of Rs 22,916, inclusive of all taxes. The tickets are being made available for sale from July 4 till July 11; and the travel is to be completed by September 20, 2009.

“Quick Returns” booklets will be valid for use on both IC and AI coded flights on all domestic sectors barring Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram, Delhi-Kochi, Delhi-Kozhikode and Delhi-Coimbatore. Members of the Frequent Flyer Programme will earn 100 Mileage points for each sector of travel under the “Quick Returns” scheme. Corporate Houses which have entered into deals with Air India are also eligible to purchase the “Quick Returns” tickets.

To facilitate easier use of four coupon booklets, the “Quick Returns” scheme allows change of name and the sector of travel on payment of Rs 1000 per coupon. The UDF charges, wherever applicable, will have to be paid by the passengers. The tickets are non-refundable.

The Quick Returns scheme comes soon after the closure of Monsoon Special Fares – valid from June 27 till July 3, under which tickets were sold between Rs 1750 and Rs 2500 for travel on 130 domestic routes. In June 2009, the airline had introduced a short term Business Class Super Saver four-coupon scheme priced at Rs 38,000, for boosting travel in the Executive Class.

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