Sunday, December 21, 2008

Free Travel and Leisure subscription from Expedia

As a seasonal present, I got a free subscription to Travel and Leisure magazine yesterday from . Also recently I got a $100 hotel voucher from Expedia when they had problems changing a flight for me. Good customer service :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Newry or Dingle?

CNN has a feature on Dingle, County Kerry, today. I didn't know that National Geographic had said it is "the most beautiful place in the world".

It recommends visiting Dingle now, in the winter. It's always good to visit Dingle, but they don't mention to US readers that Ireland has much shorter days in winter than US visitors will be used to. I prefer to visit the Irish West Coast in March at least, when there is more daylight time.

And right now, if you're traveling to Ireland, I think it makes more sense to go Northeast (Armagh, Antrim) than Southwest (Kerry, Cork). Given the relative weakness of the Pound to the Dollar, compared to the Euro/Dollar situation, I'd swap a visit to the Dingle Peninsula for a visit to the Cooley Peninsula. It works out a lot cheaper. In fact, the New York Times profiled Newry yesterday, saying:

The small city lies at the end of the beautiful Carlingford Lough waterway, dominated on one side by the Mournes, mountains that in a famed ballad “sweep down to the sea.” On the other side rise the Cooley Mountains, central to Celtic legends.

That whole Mourne/Carlingford/Cooley ares is a relatively undiscovered part of Ireland. And, right now, it's a cheaper part of Ireland to visit than somewhere like Dingle in Kerry. Newry in particular is a boomtown, given the weakness of the Pound relative to the Euro. It even draws people from Kerry, according to that New York Times article:

Alan Trainor, 49, a Newry local who works in O’Neill’s, a sporting goods store that sells merchandise of the Gaelic Athletic Association, said some of its best-selling jerseys were from counties like Kerry and Cork, far to the south, not those nearby, like Armagh or Tyrone.

“A lady was telling me last week that she bought a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream that was 9.95 euros in Newry,” the equivalent of $14.24, he said. “She showed me a bottle she had bought in Cork, and it was 35 euros. That speaks for itself. She would have a round trip of 400 to 500 miles. It must be worth her while.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Visiting the Mormon Temple during a layover at Salt Lake City airport

There is a free shuttle bus which will take you from Salt Lake City airport to visit the Mormon Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, providing you have a long enough layover (a few hours).

The Temple is home to the famous Tabernacle Choir, and you can attend their choir practice on Thursday evenings.

I actually routed some travel through SLC a few months ago, thinking I would take this side-trip. But, unfortunately I arrived into SLC after the last bus had departed.

Here is a scan of the shuttle bus brochure:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wall Street Journal reports that Emirates flight attendants are weighed at interview...

... and other interesting titbits (or "tidbits" for American readers) such as the fact that they cannot eat in uniform, and that they must take passengers phone numbers when offered.

The article was in yesterday's print WSJ, and the article is online for subscribers (follow the link above). I used to have a free WSJ subscription thanks to frequent travel with Delta Airlines, but when it came up for renewal I could not justify keeping the subscription because, ironically, I was travelling so much. Articles like this make me miss the WSJ. Nowadays I read it when I am staying at hotels which give it for free (e.g. the Radisson at Washington Reagan Airport) and that is about it.

The article talks about the glamour and youth of Emirates flight attendants. I must be missing something, because when I flew with them, I was taking more notice of the excellent entertainment system on the Dubai-JFK flight (including all Top-10 UK chart songs for the past 20 years!). I think the reason is that, from my European perspective in between the US and the Middle East, the real story is not the youth and glamour of Emirates, but the lack of youth and glamour on US airlines (with a few exceptions: I recently flew the "lucky" Northwest Flight 777 to Las Vegas from Minneapolis, and it had some pretty glamourous female flight attendants, I remember, but that was an exception).

If Michael O'Leary from Ryanair reads that WSJ article, he may take up that "weigh the flight attendants at interview, and put them on a diet if they gain weight" idea as yet another way to keep Ryanair's flight costs down.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Virgin America to fly from Boston Logan to California

The Boston Globe reports today that Virgin America will fly from Logan to California, starting soon.

The most interesting part of this story, for me is that it says that Generation X-ers and Y-ers have no airline loyalty. I guess that means they are not interested in frequent flyer programs? Is that really true? I guess that frequent flyer programs have become more and more "corporate", and often seem largely just a way to try to sell affiliate credit cards, but I dunno....

Personally, I will almost certainly continue to fly United or American to California in order to pick up miles. Although, you know, those touch-screen entertainment systems are nice on Virgin Atlantic, so that is a draw for me to go to Virgin America...

[Crossposted to Boston Irish]

Monday, December 1, 2008

Connecting through Detroit Airport

I connected recently through Detroit airport, which is impressively clean and modern, reminding me of a smaller version of Munich airport. You've got to love an airport with trains which run indoors up on top of the boarding gates:

There goes another train:

The GM store was empty though. And those $14.99 GM t-shirts were too large, boringly designed, and overpriced. Two for $25? Bah...