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Electronic devices with flat batteries not permitted to fly to US
Jul 9th, 2014 by elisa

Enhanced security checks mean any electronic devices that will not switch on will have to be left behind by passengers travelling to the US.

US homeland security confirmed that these checks would be implemented immediately at some airports abroad as it believes that there is a very real threat of terrorist attacks with the potential for phones to be turned into explosive devices that can avoid detection.

It said passengers at airports which offer direct flights to the US may be forced to switch on their electronic devices to prove to security officials that they do not contain explosives. This comes after it was announced last week that extra security measures would be put in place at airports and on flights due to an increased threat of terrorist activity.

The US Transportation Security Administration warned: “Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”

Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind warned against complacency on the issue because there are more threats than have been made public. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Sir Malcolm said: “It is simply foolish to believe that the threat is either minimal or now behind us.

“We have, indeed, been fortunate but, sadly, this has not been because the terrorists have, since 2005, given up trying to do us harm.”

Security tightened at UK airports
Jul 4th, 2014 by elisa

Security is being tightened at UK airports following fears from the US of increased terrorist threat levels.

The security threat level remains at ‘substantial’, meaning that an attack is a strong possibility. The changes come after the White House voiced fears that terrorists were planning to bring down a plane with help from radicalised European jihadists returning from Syria.

President Barack Obama told American TV news channel ABC: “They’ve got European passports. They don’t need a visa to get into the United States”.

The Department of Transport has issued a statement confirming increased security, but would not provide further information on the details of this.

“We have taken the decision to step up some of our aviation security measures,” it said.

“For obvious reasons we will not be commenting in detail on those changes.”

The majority of passengers should not experience significant disruption, but travellers to the US should arrive earlier to allow for any additional time it takes to get through the extra security checks.

“The safety and security of the public is our paramount concern. The UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures and we will continue to take all the steps necessary to ensure that public safety is maintained,” added the Department of Transport.

The Department of Homeland Security said changes to aviation security in the US would be made in the “upcoming days”. Airlines have responded to say they are ready to bring in any new security measures when instructed.

Virgin Galactic clear for take off
Jun 2nd, 2014 by elisa

We’re tantalisingly close to seeing commercial space flights as Virgin Galactic has been given Federal Aviation Administration approval to launch its services.

The first flight won’t be until the end of this year, but in comparison to how long we’ve been waiting for this development, it’s hardly any time to wait! Around 600 people have already reserved their $250,000 seats for the zero gravity flights on SpaceShipTwo.

“Our team is working hard to begin routine and affordable space launches from Spaceport America and this agreement brings us another step closer to that goal,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides.

The FAA agreement outlines how the Virgin Galactic Spaceport America base in New Mexico will coordinate with normal air traffic control systems. It also has a similar agreement for the state of California where it recently completed a third successful test flight over the Mojave Desert.

Branson has previously said he and his family will be on Virgin’s first space flight.

Orlando top destination for Brits
May 21st, 2014 by elisa

Brits just can’t get enough of the sunshine state of Florida, with Orlando the particular holiday favourite for this summer according to recent analysis.

The metasearch website momondo.co.uk analyses its UK flight search data from the last three months, for travel during the UK holiday period and a departure date between June and August 2014 and came up with Brits’ top summer destinations.

Orlando was the clear winner, proving the theme-park capital and family-friendly atmosphere is something that keeps it at the top of our summer holiday list.

The website also studied the most popular places in the world according to data from 20 of the UK’s biggest airports to create each airport’s “Top 5” summer destinations. Orlando appeared in seven out of 20 of these airport lists.

Other firm favourites were Spanish destinations of Alicante and Malaga, coming in third and fourth respectively on overall most-searched destinations for summer 2014. Both also appeared in the top five for 13 out of 20 UK airport lists. 

“It’s encouraging to see Orlando in favour with Brits this year as a popular place to visit over the summer holidays, with its excellent activities and parks for the whole family. And long-haul destination New York was also popular this summer too – at a time when the climate is warm.

“It seems the traditional Spanish summer break though will always appeal to Brits, with short-haul flights and a practical sun guarantee. It is interesting to see Turkey hot on the heels of Spain however, with Dalaman coming in fifth most-popular destination overall. Sizzling hot weather and great deals on this up and coming destination no doubt will be drawing the crowds in this year,” says Julie Pedersen, Spokesperson for momondo.

OVERALL TOP 10 MOST-SEARCHED SUMMER DESTINATIONS FOR BRITS

1) Orlando

2) New York

3) Alicante

4) Malaga

5) Dalaman

6) Bangkok

7) Faro

8) Palma de Mallorca

9) Los Angeles

10) Tenerife

Most family-friendly destinations
May 8th, 2014 by elisa

Florida beach picture by Flickr user Adam Caudill

Florida beach picture by Flickr user Adam Caudill

A survey of 2,000 British parents regarding the most family-friendly destinations in the world found Cornwall to be top of the list, with Orlando in Florida a close second.

The only reason Orlando was pipped to the post was because of the long flying time of around nine hours from the UK, otherwise, its world-famous theme parks and near-constant sunshine ranked extremely favourably for child-friendly holidays.

The Spanish islands of Majorca, Menorca and Tenerife, and the Costa Del Sol on the mainland made up the rest of the top ten for holidays abroad, with Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Isle of Wight for holidays in the UK.

Around eight in ten respondents said making sure a destination is child-friendly is their main priority when booking a holiday. Factors that contributed to a family-friendly holiday included nearby play areas, a good choice of food to cater for fussy eaters, and a shallow sea. Half of the parents polled said the ideal holiday destination must have nice beaches, and 28% said kids’ swimming pools are essential.

The study also found that the ideal holiday would last an average of 10 days, and involve less than five hours of travelling time, making many of the European destinations ideal for family breaks.

 

Rudest flight attendants
May 2nd, 2014 by elisa

We tend to expect the attendants on our flights to be the epitome of cheeriness and professionalism; but a recent survey of 14 North American airlines assessed the rudeness rating of flight attendants, with some surprising results.

The Airfarewatchdog commissioned survey found flight attendants at Spirit Airlines to be the rudest at 26%, with Air Canada second at 11%, and perhaps rather surprisingly in fourth position, Virgin America with 9% of the votes.

The Virgin America ranking is a surprise considering it came out on top in an Airline Quality Rating study just weeks earlier.

Least rude were Alaska Airlines and Southwest, both receiving only 1% of the vote.

3,400 frequent fliers were asked to choose from the 14 airlines, with the results weighted by number of passengers flown by each airline to account for the fact that larger airlines would have a bigger response.

Full results:

Spirit — 26%

Air Canada — 14%

Frontier — 11%

Virgin America — 9%

Allegiant — 8%

United — 7%

US Airways — 7%

American — 5%

AirTran — 3%

Delta — 2%

Hawaiian — 3%

JetBlue — 3%

Alaska — 1%

Southwest — 1%

Stowaway survives flight in plane wheel well
Apr 25th, 2014 by elisa

A 16-year-old boy survived a five hour flight across the Pacific Ocean hidden in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines plane.

Flying at heights of around 38,000 feet in temperatures of 75 or 80 degrees below zero, it’s amazing that he survived.

“For somebody to survive multiple hours with that lack of oxygen and that cold is just miraculous,” airline analyst Peter Forman told CNN affiliate KHON in Honolulu.

The boy had apparently run away from home after an argument with his family, and decided to sneak onto the tarmac at Santa Clara Airport, California. He then crawled into the wheel well of the aircraft bound for Hawaii.

He was discovered wandering around in a disorientated state at Honolulu airport. The FBI questioned the boy in order to piece together details of the incredible journey, then handed him over to child protective services.

“He doesn’t even remember the flight and it’s amazing he survived it,” said FBI spokesman Tom Simon.

No charges have been brought against the boy.

Swarm of bees grounds plane
Apr 21st, 2014 by elisa

A flight was grounded after a massive swarm of bees clouded the plane’s windshields and were sucked into its engines. 

The Allegiant Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Dululth, Minnesota, was forced to turn around and land back at McCarran International Airport when it was struck by the swarm.

Passengers reported a burning smell that filled the cabin, causing some passengers to panic.

“We thought [the pilot] was joking when he said ,’I’ve never had that happen before. We hit thousands of bees,’ ” passenger Cassandra Rogers told WDIO news.

Bees grounding flights might sound unusual, but there have been many incidents in which they have caused flight delays, although the swarms are most common on the ground rather than in the air.

Beekeeper Stephen Repasky told KDKA-TV that swarms form when colonies become too large and the queen takes half the bees with her to find a new home.

Shift in desired destinations for 2014
Apr 10th, 2014 by elisa

The latest TripAdvisor Choice Awards for Destinations show a marked shift in desired city breaks for 2014.

Traditional destinations such as Paris, Barcelona and New York have all dropped significantly down the rankings, making way for more Asian destinations, with Beijing, Hanoi, and Shanghai all breaking into the top 10 for the first time.

Other favourites, such as Sydney, fell 12 positions to 22, and San Francisco fell 18 places to 25. London, however, remains as popular as ever and maintains its number three position for the second year running. It was pipped to the top spots by Istanbul and Rome, taking first and second place respectively.

TripAdvisor spokesperson James Kay said: “It is interesting to see traditionally popular destinations Paris, New York and Barcelona drop down the rankings.

“This year’s results show that there are a number of destinations around the world that are starting to compete with the more traditional ones.

“However, London still continues to sustain its position in the top five and while there is no doubt the birth of the royal baby helped keep the eyes of the world on London in 2013, but the capital’s continued appeal among travellers around the world surpasses any one event.”

In the UK Awards, two seaside destinations crept into the top 10 this year. Torquay in Cornwall is in a very respectable third place, and Llandudno in Wales sits pretty in eighth place.

The awards were determined by an algorithm on the TripAdvisor website that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for accommodation, attractions and restaurants gathered over a 12-month period.

The 2014 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destinations winners

World’s top 10

1. Istanbul

2. Rome

3. London

4. Beijing

5. Prague

6. Marrakech

7. Paris

8. Hanoi

9. Siem Reap

10. Shanghai

 

Europe’s top 10

1. Istanbul

2. Rome

3. London

4. Prague

5. Paris

6. Berlin

7. Florence

8. Barcelona

9. St Petersburg

10. Budapest

 

UK’s top 10

1. London

2. Edinburgh

3. Torquay

4. Liverpool

5. Belfast

6. York

7. Bristol

8. Llandudno

9. Leeds

10. Birmingham

 

Details of Diagon Alley in Florida revealed
Jan 27th, 2014 by elisa

Harry Potter fans will be excited to know that Universal Orlando has unveiled details of Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Set to open this summer, a new ride – ‘Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts’ promises to be a “multidimensional, multisensory” experience in which visitors will ride through Gringotts bank vaults in vehicles that drop, spin and turn. The ride will also be more suitable for younger riders than the current award-winning Forbidden Journey.

Diagon Alley will also have lots of new shops, including Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, selling novelty items and magical jokes, Ollivander’s wand shop, and visitors can dress up for Hogwarts school at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.

View from front

View from front

Just 15 minutes from Disney World, enjoy the 5 star treatment at this stunning 4 bed, 4 bath luxury home in the popular gated community of The Shire at West Haven. St. Andrews is situated on a very private plot in this prestigious area, overlooking a natural lake with an abundance of wildlife to watch from the great views from the pool and upstairs balcony.

Fully air-conditioned, the house briefly comprises of spacious living room, family room, formal dining area, fitted kitchen and breakfast nook, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, games room, pool deck and balcony.

There is wireless broadband internet and all bedrooms have ceiling fans, flat screen TVs and radio units with iPod docking stations. The pool deck has a heatable swimming pool with raised spa area, sun loungers and table and chairs for some outside relaxation. Guests also have access to the main clubhouse, which offers a large swimming pool, two tennis courts, beach volleyball and a small gym.

It’s perfectly placed for visiting the popular Orlando family attractions such as Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld. It’s also brilliant for keen golfers with a number of championship courses nearby, including two at the Greg Norman-designed Champions Gate (home to David Leadbetter’s academy), the renowned course at Reunion and Highlands Reserve.

Sun deck and swimming pool

Sun deck and swimming pool

Gorgeous views

Gorgeous views

Luxurious bedrooms

Luxurious bedrooms

 

 

 

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