Tuesday, March 31, 2009

First Naked Hotel Opens In Germany ... Dont Forget To Ask For Extra Towels

Clothes will be strictly forbidden on the premises of Germany's first hotel for nudists, which will open shortly in the southwestern Black Forest region.

Investors plan to set up a hotel catering exclusively to nudists in the picturesque Black Forest town of Freudenstadt, which incidentally translates as Town of Joys.

Guests will be required to remove their clothes at the entrance and must be naked at all times while on the premises, according to the strict house rules that have already been posted on the Internet.

"We hope to open as soon as possible," Silvia Probsthain, a member of staff at the planned Hotel Rosengarten, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "It will be the first comprehensively nudist hotel in Germany." There are similar hotels catering for nudists in Scandinavia, Croatia and the south of France, said Probsthain.

The rules state that all guests must put towels on chairs and loungers before using them, that there be no sexual harassment and that all sexual activity in commonly accessible rooms is strictly forbidden. People who break the rules will have to put their clothes on and leave.

Freudenstadt's tourism director Michael Krause said the contracts for the hotel hadn't been finalized yet and that it was unclear when the project will go ahead. "I'm in two minds," Krause told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "It's always good if a new hotel is set up but I'd prefer a normal hotel concept."

Nude hiking is proving increasingly popular in Germany and two villages in the central Harz mountain range plan to mark special forest hiking routes for naked ramblers. The practice is frowned on in neighboring Switzerland, however, where authorities plan to fine such behavior.

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Passenger Sick Of Sitting On JFK Tarmac Opens Door Goes To Jail

This is something I have thought about doing a thousand times but never did.

An airline passenger sick of waiting out Sunday's weather delays on a Kennedy Airport tarmac tried to open the plane's emergency door -- and wound up taking a detour to Queens court.

Prosecutors yesterday charged fed-up flier Robert McDonald, 60, of Scotland, with reckless endangerment of fellow passengers and criminal tampering.

"Apparently, the defendant wanted to get off . . . the plane, so he opened the emergency exit door," Queens DA Richard Brown said. "Fortunately, members of the flight crew were able to stop him before he could fully open the door and deploy the emergency chute."

There was no indication that McDonald was drunk, authorities said. Rain had delayed the flight, from England to Las Vegas with a Kennedy layover. McDonald managed to crack the door open, but then a crew member stepped in to stop him.

McDonald was released yesterday on his own recognizance. He is due back in court May 18, and faces a year in jail if convicted on the misdemeanor charges.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Iraqi Airways Starts Flying Again

National airline Iraqi Airways made its first flight to the European Union in 19 years when an aircraft flew from Baghdad to Stockholm via Athens, the transport ministry said on Saturday.

"Transport Minister Amr Abduljabbar Ismail was on board the plane, which made a stop-off in the Greek capital" where he held talks with Greek leaders on developing bilateral relations in transport, the ministry said in a statement.

Friday's flight then continued to Stockholm, it added.

Iraqi Airways planes were grounded by an international embargo imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

Following the US-led invasion in 2003, the company resumed air services to Arab countries, Iran and Turkey, among other destinations.

The transport ministry said Iraqi Airways plans to add scheduled flights to Bahrain, Germany, India and Qatar.

The ministry and Air France-KLM signed an outline agreement on December 30 for the operation of commercial flights to Europe and for the renovation of Baghdad airport.

Among the clauses, Air France-KLM undertook to help Iraqi Airways set up international flights, especially European services.

The agreement also foresees renovating Baghdad airport's third terminal to international standards and constructing new airports in Iraq with funding from French businesses.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tired of Service Charges For Frequent Flyer Tickets....Just Sue Them

Annoyed by new fees and rule changes to your airline's frequent-flier program? You're not alone. One man is going so far as to take Continental to court, suing the airline "for raising the number of miles needed to earn a free trip and then charging him $75 to book the flight," The Associated Press writes. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says passenger David Simon's class-action lawsuit alleges Continental "did not honor its frequent flier rewards program. … The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for those who were charged more miles or fees for using the frequent-flier program," according to the Plain Dealer.

Simon says his troubles began in January. That's when he tried to book a frequent-flier award ticket between Los Angeles and Cleveland for 25,000 miles, Continental's minimum level for a free domestic coach-class ticket. Simon says the airline told him some award seats were available, but only if he redeemed 50,000 miles. AP says "Simon eventually found a flight for 25,000 miles on Northwest Airlines, a partner of Houston-based Continental, but (then) was charged $75 because he booked the flight within three weeks of travel."

"There is no justification for the charge, and there is nothing in the fine print authorizing it," says Simon's lawyer, Joel Joseph. AP says the suit "charges Continental with levying an illegal penalty, breach of contract and unjust enrichment." Continental has not commented on the suit.

The suit may have an uphill battle. A quick trip to Continental's website shows that the airline's basic domestic "SaverPass" award is 25,000 miles, but the airline notes those awards have "limited availability" and are "subject to capacity controls." Continental also shows that its "EasyPass" award is available for domestic travel at a cost of 50,000 miles. Still, Continental says that award -– even with the higher mileage threshold -– still is "subject to capacity controls" and adds that "seats may not be available on certain flights where demand is high." Elsewhere on its website, Continental's site shows a $75 fee for frequent-flier tickets booked within 21 days.

For great information on round the world tickets, check out Nomadic Matt's article on rtw tickets

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Rapping Air Crewman Is A Big Hit on Southwest Airlines

David Holmes made the unusual preflight announcement to entertain customers on the flight and to relieve his own boredom with the familiar routine.

He was captured on video asking passengers to "stomp and clap" while he rapped the instructions over the public address system.

"Shortly after take-off, first things first/there's soft drinks and coffee to quench your first," he announced. "Carry-on items go under the seat/in front of you so none of you have things by your feet.

"Before we leave, our advice is/put away your electronic devices."

The lyrical announcement was made to passengers on a Southwest Airlines domestic flight to Oklahoma City in the United States, one of whom recorded it on camera and posted it on YouTube where it has been viewed more than 200,000 times.

"I've had five flights today and I can't do the regular boring announcement again otherwise I am going to put myself to sleep," said David in the video.

"If you have a seat on a row with an exit/we're gonna talk to you so you might as well expect it. You gotta help us out in case we need you/if you don't want to then we're gonna reseat you."

The rap finished to a roar of applause from passengers.

Speaking about his musical entertainment Mr Holmes said: "I didn't know how they were going to react, but I like to have fun at work. People started getting off the plane and said to me 'that's the first time I have listened to the emergency instructions'."

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Baggage Insurance You Probably Didn't Know About

Federal regulations require that if an airline loses or damages your luggage or its contents then they are required to pay up to $3300 in compensation when you fly domestically in the US. However, the airline will attempt to depreciate the value of your loss, and will require receipts to prove your claim. (Coverage may be considerably less for international travel from the US, or from the European Union). Airlines typically exclude coverage for "valuables" and "business effects" - this includes things such as electronics, jewelry, cash, art work, and business related documents and samples.

But for some people - those traveling with Louis Vuitton trunks, Vera Wang wedding gowns, or even just a couple of fancy dresses or designer suits - $3300 simply isn't enough coverage to replace what might be lost. That's where something called "excess valuation" (EV) can come in handy. Never heard of this? Well, the airline rep checking your bag at the airport isn't likely to tell you about it unless you ask. So let us explain.

Most US-based airlines will cover an additional $1700 of your luggage contents on top of the Federally-mandated $3300 (they don't call it "insurance" because they're not insurance companies, they're airlines) if you declare excess value when you check your bags and pay a small fee. According to its Web site, Delta will even cover "valuables" if you buy this extra coverage, the cost of which varies from one airline to another (see chart). Depending on airline policy, coverage may only cover you in the event of total loss, not merely damage, to the contents and not to the bag itself.

Another thing to consider is that if you buy coverage from, say, Continental and then transfer to Delta during your trip, Continental's coverage ends once the second airline takes charge of your bag. You need to claim your bag, in such a scenario, and re-check it with Delta, paying Delta's fees.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hotel Streaker Strikes In Atlanta

Atlanta police arrested a 53-year-old man on charges he streaked naked into the lobbies of two downtown hotels earlier this month.

Police say Donald Stafford ran outside his Walton Street apartment on March 1 without a stitch of clothing.

He first ran into the Glen Hotel on Marietta Street, according to a police report. When hotel staffers called police, Stafford ran down the street and into the lobby of the nearby Omni Hotel.

Security guards detained him, called police and covered Stafford with bed sheets until officers arrived, the report said.

Police arrested Stafford on a charge of public indecency. He also was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for a mental evaluation, the report said.

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Ryanair Decides to Ditch Own Ideas to Abuse Passengers

Ryanair CEO, who told the media this week he was just joking about charging for airplane lavatory visits showed his twisted sense of humor shows no bounds by starting a contest.

Ryanair launched a light-hearted competition on Thursday to suggest new ways the budget carrier can save money, after criticism of penny-pinching ideas including charging passengers to use the toilet.

The Irish airline said it had already received suggestions including charging €1 for oxygen masks, €25 to use the emergency exits, and €50 for bikini-clad cabin crew.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has been widely criticised for introducing more and more charges, starting with food on board and extra fees for non-online customers, but now including check-in charges.

Most recently he suggested that passengers could be asked to pay £1 (about R14) to go to the toilet on board, although spokesmen subsequently explained that he may not have been serious.

On Thursday Ryanair's Stephen McNamara said: "Ryanair is Europe's largest low fares airline and we plan to continue to reduce costs and fares by stimulating ancillary revenues.

"Since we confirmed that we are considering a toilet charge we have received a huge number of ancillary revenue suggestions from passengers and we want more," he added in a statement on the airline's website.

The airline is offering €1 000 to the most creative idea submitted by the end of March. Other suggestions so far include charging for toilet paper with O'Leary's face on it and charging €2.50 to read the safety cards.

"The winning idea will be chosen by Ryanair and our decision will be final," said the airline. - AFP

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

What's The Next Thing You Will Have To Pay Extra For On Your Flight, How About The Toilet

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, that the airlines couldn't possibly dream up anything extra to charge you for, here comes the grand finale. Airline passengers already have to dole out for bags, food, drinks and better treatment so what is next....yes, pay toilets.

Apparently the only thing more full of shit then an airline CEO is the airplane itself and the airlines apparently cant afford to suck it out anymore.

Ryanair Holdings PLC, Europe's biggest discount airline, may charge passengers to use toilets on its planes, adding to fees already imposed for beverages, stowed baggage, airport check-in and preferential boarding.

Ryanair generates about 20% of revenue from so-called ancillary income, the money it makes aside from ticket sales. The Dublin-based company this month introduced technology allowing passengers to use their own mobile phones on aircraft.

"One thing we've looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting in a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in the future," chief executive officer Michael O'Leary said in a televised interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. His comments were confirmed by the carrier.

And Ryanair isn't the only carrier, American Airline announced they were going to start charging for lavatory use on all of its flights.

So on your next flight make sure you have a check list of things to bring with you:

- Your own food...check
- Your own bottled water...check
- Extra change to lay a loaf on your eight hour LA to NY flight...groan...check

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Most Delayed Flight in the U.S. for 2008

It shouldn't be a great surprise, the most delayed flights for the end of 2008 was pretty much dominated by regional carriers. Completely staying away from regional airlines is probably your best option, but if you can't do that here are the most delayed flights in the U.S.

SkyWest 4393 ATL SAT
ExpressJet 2396 EWR DTW
American 933 JFK MIA
Comair 6563 EWR ATL
Comair 6475 MKE ATL
Hawaiian 48 HNL OAK
United 651 EWR ORD
Pinnacle 5857 CVG EWR
ExpressJet 2268 EWR BUF
Comair 6706 ALB JFK
Delta 898 ATL EWR
Comair 6940 IAD JFK

For great information on cheap flights check out Nomadic Matt's article

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Airlines Loosing Less Bags

Airlines lost 1.3 million fewer bags in 2008, as more passengers wheeled, dragged and toted their luggage aboard planes to avoid paying new fees to check bags, federal data show.

Passenger reports of lost or destroyed luggage on domestic flights operated by the 20 largest U.S. airlines plunged by one-third last year versus 2007, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, with improvements most noticeable during the fall, when fees for the first checked bag became commonplace.

The drastic improvement in baggage handling is one quirky result of a new push by U.S. carriers to charge a la carte for services such as seat upgrades and fresh pillows that used to be included in the price of a ticket.

While airlines make millions of dollars from new charges for checked bags, said aviation consultant Robert Mann, they also save money and boost results by outsourcing to travelers one of the most glitch-prone airport operations: transporting bags to flights and among carriers.

"The fewer bags you check, the fewer bags you lose," Mann said.

What's unclear is whether carriers will be able to continue with this strategy as demand for travel slows amid economic turmoil. US Airways last week said it would drop charges for in-flight sodas and coffee on March 1 rather than risk passenger backlash after other carriers refused to follow its lead.

However, Donnellon hasn't stopped flying United and American Airlines, even though he thinks their new baggage fees are "egregious." He no longer checks bags when he flies those carriers.

The greatest beneficiary has been American Airlines, the first major carrier to announce it would charge for a checked bag. The Ft. Worth-based carrier lost about 150,000 fewer bags in 2008, a 26 percent improvement over its 2007 results, federal data show.

American also garnered more revenue from baggage fees than any other U.S. carrier. During the third quarter, when the charges widely took effect, American collected $94.1 million, nearly three times what it took in a year earlier. Southwest, which doesn't charge for the first two checked bags, generated $6.8 million in baggage fees in the same quarter, the latest for which data is available.

American got a better handle on its baggage, said spokesman Tim Smith, in part because it carried fewer passengers as it trimmed domestic capacity and it increased the ground time between flights, which gives it more time to handle bags.

But American also is handling less luggage. The average number of checked bags slipped to less than one per passenger from 1.2 per passenger before the fees were introduced, Smith said.

About half of American's domestic passengers check bags, down slightly from the pre-fee era, and about a quarter of its passengers pay luggage fees, while the rest are exempt from the charges.

"If there is a big change, it's that we are seeing fewer second checked bags," Smith said. "What it simply means is people are saying, 'I can make do with one checked bag, or I can consolidate and take less.' "

For a great article on airline credit card's check out Nomadic Matt's article

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