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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.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

July 6, 2009

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

Two deserts, two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s deserts. Five fan palm oases also dot the park, indicating those few areas where water occurs naturally and wildlife abounds.

Days are typically clear with less than 25 percent humidity. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high/low of 85 and 50°F (29 and 10°C) respectively. Winter brings cooler days, around 60°F (15°C), and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot, over 100°F (38°C) during the day and not cooling much below 75°F (24°C) until the early hours of the morning.

Get there
Joshua Tree National Park lies 140 miles east of Los Angeles. It can be approached from the west via Interstate 10 and Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway). The north entrances to the park are located at Joshua Tree Village and the city of Twentynine Palms. The south entrance at Cottonwood Spring, which lies 25 miles east of Indio, can be approached from the east or west, also via Interstate 10.

Entry fee options are as follows: The Joshua Tree National Park Annual Pass, $30 for 12 months; vehicle entry, $15.00 for 7 days; walk-in entry, $5.00 for 7 days. Alternatively, the new National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass can be purchased for $80 and allows free entry to all National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Forest Service sites where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged for one year.

IMPORTANT: All fees must be paid in cash. They do not accept credit/debit cards.

Every campground has a unmaned post that says “Pay fees here” where you can collect the yellow envelope, write the details on it, put money in the envelope and place it in the secured box provided. 

Hidden Valley Campground. Put money in the yellow envelope and place it in the grey secured box

Hidden Valley Campground. Put money in the yellow envelope and place it in the grey secured box

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Air Arabia launches ticket & visa offer

July 2, 2009

Air Arabia

Air Arabia

Air Arabia, Sharjah’s budget carrier, has announced the launch of a special summer promotion, which offers roundtrip tickets to Sharjah, from any of the 46 destinations the airline currently serves, along with a one-month UAE tourist visa for just DHS 975 (approx $265) , inclusive of surcharges and exclusive of airport taxes.

The offer is valid for travel to Sharjah between June 15 and July 31 and return travel from Sharjah between July 16 and September 10, the airline has said.

Please note that we or our website are not responsible for any erroneous information; and we do not book tickets or apply for visas to any countries. It’s the responsibility of the website visitor to arrange and book their itineraries and visas.

Travel all around Turkey for 150TL

July 1, 2009

The Turkish State Railways, or TCDD, has announced a program offering three new cards for unlimited travel on certain types of trains during specified time periods.

The “Express Train Tour Card,” which costs 150 Turkish Liras, is valid for one month on super-express trains such as Başkent, Cumhuriyet and Fatih, as well as the blue train, express, regional express, rail bus and normal urban trains. For 500 liras, the “Compartment Train Tour Card” is valid for all trains on the Express Train Tour Card and also allows free rides for three days on train compartments with beds, with everything included.

The “High Speed Train Travel Card,” which costs 200 liras for students and 300 liras for all other passengers, is valid for one month on all trains in Turkey, with the exception of sleeper compartments.

A ride from Kapıkule to Kars
There are 42 provinces in Turkey where one can travel by train. The Eskişehir Express, leaving from Haydarpaşa Station in Istanbul at 7:10 a.m., offers the chance to discover Eskişehir’s museums of aviation and archeology as well as the Odunpazarı, Kurşunlu and Alaaddin mosques. From Eskişehir, train routes continue on to İzmir, Afyon, Konya, Adana, Ankara, Kayseri, Sivas, Erzurum, Kars, Diyarbakır, Tatvan and Kurtalan.

Travelers who stop off in Ankara can visit Atatürk’s mausoleum, the Anatolian Civilizations Museum, the Ethnography Museum, Beypazarı and Kızılcahamam. From the capital, one can continue on to Zonguldak and Karabük, Adana, Malatya or Kars on the rails. The “Güney,” or Van Gölü Express, leaves early in the morning and reaches Kayseri after midday. It is possible to leave for Sivas late in the evening without spending the night in Kayseri. The central city’s sights include the Ulu Mosque, Kale Mosque, Meydan Mosque, the Madrassa with Twin Minarets, Gök Madrassa, the Congress Museum, bridges, Turkish baths and inns. The Erzurum Express leaving from Sivas leads to Erzincan, home to plenty of historical monuments, including artifacts dating back to the Neolithic Age.

The Eastern Express or Erzurum Express may be used to travel to Kars to visit the Ani excavation site 42 kilometers away. Both of the express trains to Kars go back to Sivas, from where Samsun may be reached via the regional express. After visiting the city of Samsun, which was founded in the 7th century B.C., Amasya makes a nice stop on the way back to Sivas.

The provinces that can be visited with the new train cards include Istanbul, Edirne, Eskişehir, Ankara, Zonguldak, Kayseri, İzmir, Manisa, Adana, Mersin, Hatay, Gaziantep, Konya, Diyarbakır and Mardin.

“Smile Cards” for tourists in Bangkok

June 30, 2009

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced the launch of its Bangkok Smile Card project this July.

According to BMA Deputy Governor, Ms Taya Teepsuvarn, the BMA will introduce a boat pass, add information booths and designate certain roads as walking streets.

The “smile cards” are part of a wider campaign that tags Bangkok as a city of smiles. About 100,000 smile cards are to be produced for tourists to pick up at BMA information booths. It will offer discounts for attractions, shopping, dining, night sightseeing, spa, golf, massage as well as medical treatment.

Ms Taya said the BMA would work with Chao Phraya River boat operators to offer a one-day pass, priced at Bt150 (about US$5). It will enable tourists to board ferry services on the Chao Phraya River at a discount flat rate.

BMA also plans to redecorate existing information booths and build 13 new booths. It will ultimately have 28 BMA information booths once the project is completed. Another ambitious project involves setting up walking street zones in Samprang district, close to Ratchadamneon Road and Pak Klong Talat.

BMA has roughly Bt300 million a year to spend on tourism. The city welcomes about 27 million domestic visitors and 8 million international visitors who generate about Bt260 to Bt300 million in revenue.

For more information about destinations and festivals around Thailand, please call the TAT Call Center 1672.

Bandra-Worli Sea-link opens in Mumbai

June 30, 2009

After 10 years of expectations, delays and, of course, hardcore planning and labour, the spectacular Bandra-Worli Sea Link is set to open at midnight on Tuesday. Come Wednesday morning and a new day will dawn for Mumbai’s rush-hour motorists, with the Rs 750-crore link offering a new route between the island city and the western suburbs. Till now, the Mahim Causeway was the only route.

Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai

Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai

A fireworks, lights and laser show, coupled with music, was held on Monday night at the main cable-stayed bridge at the Bandra end. It was enjoyed by thousands from the Bandra promenade and Mahim beach, but was not clearly visible to those at Worli sea face and Dadar due to slight drizzles, haze and cloudiness. There was no space left at the sea-faces as thousands gathered to view the show, but those at Worli were disappointed, said Anandini Mulgaonkar and Shubha Sehgal of Worli and Bandra, respectively.

From 12.01 am onwards on Wednesday, officials are expecting joyriders to take the link before office-goers arrive in larger numbers as morning peak hour nears. With no toll from July 1 to July 5, a large amount of traffic is expected. The traffic police will face a daunting task at Worli and Bandra.

Bandra-Worli Sea-Link Map

Bandra-Worli Sea-Link Map

Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) engineers said the toll-free move is at the behest of politicians seeking political mileage.

An automatic system will identify vehicles going over the 50 kmph limit. MSRDC engineers said cameras on the link can take swift 360-degree turns and capture images of vehicles within 1.5 km. Two cameras fitted under the cable-stayed portions of the link will keep watch on the movements of boats and ships.

While work on beautifying the promenade at Bandra has begun, plans for the highest fountain in the country are on the backburner, but floating fountains may be ready in about six months.

Traffic curbs at Bandra
All vehicles will be prohibited on the road to the sea link at the Bandra end as well as K C Marg (Reclamation) on Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm. Traffic police will allow only vehicles engaged in essential and emergency services and the vehicles of invitees to the sea link’s opening. People travelling to Chapel Road, Mehboob Circle, Bandstand, Chimbai and Carter Road will have to use S V Road or Hill road. Parking restrictions will be implemented on sea link road, K C Marg, A K Vaidya Marg and adjoining roads. TNN

Mahim Causeway is currently the only route that connects the western suburbs and island city. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link will be the second major route.

Currently, it takes 35 to 38 minutes to go the 7.7-km distance between Mahim flyover and Love Grove Junction, Worli. Transport experts estimate that travelling the link plus its approach and exit roads, which also measure about 7.7 km, will take at least 25 minutes. The builders claim that travelling the 4.7-km main link will take just 6 minutes.

FREE: From July 1 to July 5
BASIC FEE: Car or SUV | Rs 50 | Mini bus or mini truck | Rs 75 | Bus or truck Rs 100
PASSES: Daily travel: (2-way ) | 1.5 times basic toll
Daily travel: (multiple entries) | 2.5 times basic toll
Monthly pass: (all vehicles) | 50 times basic toll
Note: Buses will be charged Re 1 extra for each commuter ticket

Manual payment: 30 seconds
Swipe card (for monthly passes): 20 seconds On-board-unit electronic payment: 10 to 12 seconds


Statue of Liberty Crown opens July 4, 2009

June 29, 2009

Statue of Liberty (Source: Wikipedia)

Statue of Liberty (Source: Wikipedia)

After closure since 9/11 (2001), the Statue pedestal reopened to visitors in 2004.

The crown has been closed since 9/11, but will reopen on July 4 2009. Visitors will enter/exit the crown in groups of 10, under the direct supervision of a Park Service employee.

Tel: +1 866 782 8834 (within USA) or +1 212 269 5755 (international)
Timings: 8:30am-5:15pm (hours adjusted seasonally).

  • Take the ferry from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan or from Liberty State Park in New Jersey (Statue cruises).
  • Be prepared for airport like security screening with similar restrictions (no food or open liquids, no knives, etc.) before boarding the boat.
  • No entry ticket is required to visit the island.
  • A free, timed ticket is required for entry to the statue.
  • Tickets are limited in number and can be obtained on the day from the ferry company or in advance (for $1.75) by calling the ticket office on the phone number above (8am-7pm) or online.
  • Signs on the Island state that you should obtain your tickets 1 week in advance to guarantee that you will be able to enter the pedestal.
  • The Promenade Tour (which requires a second security check) consists of a tour through the monument lobby and museum (20-30 minutes) and then outside to the promenade and Fort Wood. The Observatory Tour additionally includes a trip in the elevator to the pedestal observation deck (not up into the statue itself).
  • Security checks are rigorous so travel as light as possible.
  • Backpacks and other large bags are not permitted on the tours but can be stored in lockers for a fee. On busy days there may be long waits.
  • If leaving from Manhattan, you may need to arrive at Battery Park 2 hours before your timed tour to allow for security screening and ferry travel.
  • Best to arrive at Battery Park early in the morning.
  • From the Manhattan ferry the Statue of Liberty will be located on the right side of the boat. Admission to the Island is free – but you need to pay for the ferry.
  • Ferry Fees Audio tour $6.

Tips for traveling with a baby

June 29, 2009

Traveling with a baby can be daunting and overwhelming. You can avoid disasters of missing a flight or losing the stroller – here are top ten tips to prepare you for traveling with a baby:

Make sure to leave plenty of time to get to the airport, check in, and go through security. With baby in tow, everything takes a bit longer.

If you are bringing a bottle, be aware that security will have to scan the milk as you pass through. This often takes a while.

Make sure you know exactly how to fold your stroller. You will need to be able to do it quickly and efficiently!

Light Stroller
A stroller that is inexpensive and lightweight is your best bet. When I first started traveling with my son, I carried my two-piece Bugaboo, which is both lightweight and easy to fold.

Pack Light
Only carry what you will need for the airport and plane ride. Bring a bottle if needed, three diapers, and buy travel sizes of your baby essentials such as wet wipes and Aquaphor.

Only carry on what you really need for yourself. You will be preoccupied with taking care of the baby.

Include an extra change of clothes for the baby. Make sure that both of you are dressed comfortably, especially for longer flights.

Best time to travel
Pick the best time to travel with a baby. When taking a long trip, try and book the red-eye flight so your baby can sleep for the entire flight.

Think ahead. Buy your baby supplies when you get to your destination. Or, you can order them in advance from and have them shipped directly to your destination.

If your baby uses a pacifier, as mine does, make sure to bring at least one extra for the trip in case it falls on the floor.

Photos: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

June 29, 2009


Click here to see photographs

A New Space For Music

Designed by architect Frank Gehry, Walt Disney Concert Hall, new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is designed to be one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world, providing both visual and aural intimacy for an unparalleled musical experience.

Through the vision and generosity of Lillian Disney, the Disney family, and many other individual and corporate donors, the city will enjoy one of the finest concert halls in the world, as well as an internationally recognized architectural landmark.

From the stainless steel curves of its striking exterior to the state-of-the-art acoustics of the hardwood-paneled main auditorium, the 3.6-acre complex embodies the unique energy and creative spirit of the city of Los Angeles and its orchestra.

The Vision

In 1987, the late Lillian Disney made an initial gift of $50 million to build a world-class performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney’s devotion to the arts. Since then, other gifts and accumulated interest bring the Disney family’s total contribution to over $100 million. The County of Los Angeles agreed to provide the land and significant additional funding to finance Walt Disney Concert Hall’s six-level subterranean parking garage.

In 1988, renowned architect Frank Gehry was selected to design the complex, whose final shape he unveiled in 1991. The County initiated construction of the parking garage in 1992, completing it in 1996. Construction on the Concert Hall itself began in November 1999. Also that year, the Music Center launched a capital campaign to complete the construction funding. Many corporate, foundation, and individual partners, along with the State of California, have contributed generously to the campaign due to the remarkable leadership of Andrea L. Van de Kamp, Chairman of the Music Center, Eli Broad, Chairman of SunAmerica, Inc., and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan. The Los Angeles Philharmonic provided additional funding for the core project and full funding for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Center.

Tour Information
Virtual Tour

111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Driving Directions

Santa Ana (5 North)
From the 5 North, take 101 North and exit at Grand Avenue, just before the 110 interchange. Turn right onto Grand. Turn right on Second Street and right into the parking lot. Or, from Grand, turn left on First, right on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the main parking entrance.

Golden State (5 South)
From the 5 South, take 110 South, exit on Hill Street. Continue past Temple to First Street, turn right. Left on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the lot.

Hollywood (101 North)
From 101 North, exit on Grand Avenue, just before the 110 interchange. Turn right onto Grand. Turn right on Second Street and right into the parking lot. Or, from Grand, turn left on First, right on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the main parking entrance.

Hollywood (101 South)
From 101 South, exit at Temple St., going straight across Temple St. onto Hope St. Turn left at Second Place, from the middle lane veer left onto Kosciuszko, left at lower Grand, left into the lot.

Harbor (110 North)
Exit on Fourth Street. Continue straight to lower Grand, turn left. Pass Kosciuszko, turn left into the lot.

Pasadena (110 South)
Exit on Hill Street. Continue past Temple to First Street, turn right. Left on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the lot.

Santa Monica (10 East)
From the 10 East take 110 North, exit on 4th Street. Continue straight to lower Grand, turn left. Past Kosciuszko, turn left into the lot.

San Bernardino (10 West)
From the 10 West, take 101 North and exit at Grand Avenue, just before the 110 interchange. Turn right onto Grand. Turn right on Second Street and right into the parking lot. Or, from Grand, turn left on First, right on Olive, right on Kosciuszko, right on Lower Grand, left into the main parking entrance.

Metro Rail

Don’t want to drive? Learn how to take Metro Rail to Philharmonic concerts by clicking on the TripPlanner. The site will map your route from home to the Music Center, as well as provide fare information and arrival & departure times. Walt Disney Concert Hall is located closest to the Red Line Civic Center Metro stop at 101 S. Hill St. (southwest corner of First and Hill).

The MTA provides a helpful TripPlanner for those using public transportation. The Civic Center station on the Red Line is the closest, just to the east of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Bus Service

For information on bus service to the Music Center, please contact the MTA at 1-800-COMMUTE or visit their website:

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus now offers weekend service. Click here for their website.

Holiday Late Night DASH and Red Line Service

Free Holiday Late Night DASH Service
DASH will be running evening service for free on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30pm to 3:00am from November 21 through December 27, as well as December 31. Click here for the route map.

In addition, the MTA Red Line will be running special service on Friday and Saturday evenings till 3am.


Parking is available directly beneath Walt Disney Concert Hall. Enter on Second Street or Lower Grand Avenue. Regular parking costs $8 beginning at 5:00 p.m. for evening concerts; two hours before weekday matinees; and all day on weekends. Both the Second Street and Lower Grand entrances will be open 6:00am to midnight, Monday through Friday, and 7:00am to midnight on Saturday and Sunday.

Valet parking is available for $20 at the Hope Street entrance, beginning at 5:00 p.m. for evening concerts; two hours before weekday matinees; and all day on weekends. The Hope Street valet and Founders parking entrance will open three hours before each concert.

Accessible parking spaces for vehicles displaying valid, state-issued disability parking placards or license plates are reserved near the elevators on each level.

For questions or problems regarding Music Center parking, please contact Five Star Parking at 213.687.4484.

RyanAir: Bye bye, checked bags & airport check-in. Hello, Gambling!

June 28, 2009

RyanAir this week announced that they will soon eliminate all airport check-in counters and require passengers to carry-on their luggage. Starting early next year, passengers will need to schlep their bags through airport security and drop them at the steps of the plane for checking into plane’s cargo hold. Once aboard though, there will be gambling!

A spokesman from the safety regulation group at the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority said that although there are no explicit rules that prohibit such practice, there were logistical and security issues. More luggage would lengthen security screening times while some baggage might not even fit through scanners, he said.

Under Ryanair’s proposed policy, passengers would not be allowed to pack liquids, razors and other items now prohibited in carry-on baggage, despite having the luggage stored in the aircraft’s cargo hold.

Ryanair did not specify whether personnel responsible for loading and unloading baggage would be Ryanair employees or members of an independent baggage-handling service.

The airline expects to debut their in-flight gambling service within five years, even though the U.K. Gambling Association says that “all forms of commercial betting and gaming are illegal on aircraft.” Whatever. Norms and rules are for other airlines, not RyanAir. No, they’ll never abandon their zealous mission to become the first successful airline with the motto: “Bring Your Own Plane!”

[Source: Consumerist]

Southwest starts services to LaGuardia

June 27, 2009

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Starting tomorrow, Southwest will fly out of New York’s LaGuardia airport, which hopefully means that flying between New York, Boston, Chicago, and Washington is about to get a whole lot cheaper.

The move is part of the airline’s attempt to cater more towards business customers, who don’t always want to fly into the second-tier airports Southwest usually favors.

CEO Gary C. Kelly has been fine-tuning the Southwest model since becoming CEO in 2004. In pursuit of business travelers, he bent the traditional “first come, first serve” seating rules with “Business Select.” Passengers pay a few bucks more to get a spot at the front of the boarding line, an extra frequent-flier award and a free drink. He also pushed Southwest into the kind of huge airports it once spurned. The strategy has worked in Denver and Philadelphia, where Southwest has grown rapidly.
Now it needs the big Eastern cities to buttress its service at Chicago’s Midway Airport, Southwest’s second-busiest hub, with more than 200 daily flights.

“If we’re holding ourselves out to Chicagoans saying, ‘We want to be your business airline,’ we’ve got to be able to take them” to New York, Boston and Minneapolis, Kelly said.

New Yorkers will be able to catch five flights daily to Chicago’s Midway airport, and three flights to Baltimore/Washington International. Starting in mid-August, the airline will also start flying from Boston’s Logan airport.

Though LaGuardia is notoriously congested, it’s still nice have another quality discount airline flying out of New York.

[Source: Consumerist]

Tips for trauma-free travel

June 26, 2009

Holidaying is one of our favourite pastimes, with Brits making almost 70,000 trips abroad alone each year. While we traditionally associate holidaying with seasonal health complaints such as travellers’ tummy, sunburn and insect bites, back pain is also a common holiday health hazard.

We all need a holiday to recharge our batteries, but with back pain affecting almost 80% of us at some time in our lives, occasionally a combination of hectic preparations, uncomfortable journeys and emotional stress can mean that travel takes its toll on the back.

Whether planning the holiday of a lifetime or just looking for a seasonal summer getaway,, has the following advice to help prevent and ease back pain on your travels:

Flying high – airplane travel can be restrictive and uncomfortable, even if you don’t have an existing back complaint. Try to request an aisle seat where you will have more leg room and can regularly get up and move around to ease any pressure on the back – if you are in a middle seat, use a toilet break as an opportunity to stretch your legs and back. To help maintain a good sitting posture, keep both feet flat on the floor at all times.

Keep moving – regular, gentle exercise helps ease stiffness and strengthens the back muscles. Ensure you keep mobile a little every day while you are away, particularly if you are used to a certain level of exercise, to avoid muscle seizure. Make the most of your hotel pool or a safe bathing area of the sea to keep you active – water can also help ease any niggles you may have.

Sightseeing – one of the best parts of any holiday is soaking up all of the glorious sights! However, constant craning of the neck to view beautiful buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, Sagrada Familia or Empire State Building may place a strain on the neck muscles. Rest the neck each evening by having a relaxing bath and use a pressure relieving travel pillow to support and help the muscles recover.

Travel light – while it is temping to pack for every eventuality, wherever possible, try to pack light. Lugging around heavy baggage can put a strain on the back, particularly if you are not used to carrying or lifting heavy loads. Invest in a wheeled suitcase, make use of luggage trolleys at airports and don’t be afraid to ask airport, coach or taxi staff for help. If you need to lift hand luggage into an overhead locker of a plane, bend your knees and hips – not your back – and try to prevent bending and twisting at the same time.

Treat yourself – holidays are all about relaxation and indulgence, but an added bonus is that if you have access to luxuries such as a jacuzzi, having a massage or using a steam room, these can also benefit your back as they manipulate and relax the muscles.

Comfort on-the-go – while you may need to sit in uncomfortable positions on your travels – especially if you are flying long-haul, have a long transfer to your destination, or are travelling a distance by train or car – it helps to be able to rest your head comfortably. While blow-up neck cushions might seem a good buy, often they only offer limited support and can deflate on long journeys.

Colder climes – if you’re planning a skiing or snowboarding trip, or are holidaying somewhere cool, remember that if the kidney area is exposed or cold, the lower back and pelvic muscles will tighten leaving the back vulnerable to injury. Even if you are active and feel warm, keep an extra layer of clothing on to ensure the back is warm as well. A hot bath at the end of the day should also help.

Spread the load – sun lotion, insect repellent, beach towels, bottled water… there are plenty of travel essentials that we all stock up on to accompany us on our holiday. Although important, the collective weight of these can add up. To ensure you even the load and reduce the strain on your back and neck, swap your beach bag for a small backpack which you can wear across both shoulders.

Sleeping sound – its important to get a good night’s sleep, not only to ensure you can make the most of your time on holiday, but also to help your body’s tired muscles recuperate. When you reach you destination, it is sometimes difficult to get comfortable on a new bed.

Keep hydrated – dehydration contributes to a surprising number of back pain cases, so its important to drink plenty of fluids particularly if you are in a hot country. Remember that some drinks, such as caffeinated tea and coffee, actually dehydrate the body – the best way to keep your levels topped up is to carry a bottle of water with you and sip it throughout the day.

Berlin launches special tourist deals to suit every budget

June 26, 2009



Visitors to the German capital this summer are faced with a number of choices when it comes to their holiday budget. They can choose between beginning a weekend break with a Champagne breakfast for $377 or ending it with a few glasses of wine for nothing at all.

Another option on offer is a rented limousine service for $637 or going on a salsa dancing course for free. They are just two of the activities that Berlin’s tourist authorities have come up with to attract more visitors to the city in these economically difficult times.

The campaign is called ‘The Berlin Calculator’ and it groups together a range of weekend programmes to suit every pocket. They include the ‘Berlin for Free’ deal, ‘Berlin for Party-Goers’ for $47 or ‘Berlin for Credit-Crunched Millionaires’ for $2,231.

As part of the ‘Credit-Crunched’ package you can ease into the weekend with a modestly priced visit to a delicatessen where for $35 you can buy the ‘finest truffles, truffle hams, truffle pecorino and truffle butter’ for a picnic at Berlin’s Wansee Lake.

Next on the programme is a ‘Botox to Go’ session at a clinic on the city’s famous shopping avenue, the Kurfuerstendamm, for $489. The tourist agency’s advertising blurb advises you ‘to do it like high society and refresh your complexion for the up-coming evening.’ The Botox to Go session also includes a two-for-less offer: ‘If you treat two areas of your face, you get a $210 discount.’

More information on all of the weekend programmes on offer can be found at when you click on the English language version of the website.

The website includes a map pinpointing the locations for each step of the program, allowing you to decide if you will have enough time to cover the visit to a shopping gallery, a fish lunch for $165, a box at the opera for $165 or a visit to a casino by limousine. There is no limousine included in the ‘Berlin for Under 50 Euros’ deal. Instead, it includes a Berlin Welcome Card for $23 that gives you access to a number of discounts.

They include breakfast in Berlin’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg district beginning at $3.50, sightseeing on the number 100 bus route for free and Happy Hour Sushi in the Kreuzberg district for $10.

In the evening you can shake your stuff at a nightclub in Berlin’s party district of Friedrichshain for $7 including a discounted Mojito cocktail.

There are more low-cost tips to be found in the ‘Berlin for Free’ or the ‘Berlin for Party-Goers’ weekend deals. They include a free jazz session at a club in Charlottenburg district or a visit to a fashionable bar in Prenzlauer Berg called Weinerei. There you can enjoy an evening of fine wines and decide for yourself how much you want to pay. If you are on a really tight budget one or more glasses of wine may be for free.

The programme also includes a meal at an Indian restaurant for $3.50, a make-up session in a department store for free and free entry to a nightclub in Prenzlauer Berg. At 7.30 am the night finally draws to a close and you can go to bed for some priceless sleep.

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