Archive for the ‘Travel Topics’ Category

Megayacht built for adventure

March 2nd, 2011 by Mariah

(SuperYachtWorld) — What happens when an owner with bold ideas commissions a 45-meter yacht to venture where few have gone before? The result is “Big Fish,” a new yacht that’s bringing fresh meaning to go-anywhere yachting.

Just consider some of the yacht’s ambitious upcoming trips: Besides the vast white continent encompassing the South Pole, these include the formerly impassable but no less challenging North East Passage. Warm-weather destinations like the Amazon are on “Big Fish’s” itinerary, too — an itinerary that has seen her cover more than 10,000 miles to date of a polar circumnavigation.

So just what is it about “Big Fish” that makes her so special? Try being the first yacht to feature stone decking. Longer-lasting and more environmentally responsible than teak, the quarter-inch square granite slabs require less maintenance, including no sealant. They’re essentially impervious to impact, too.

That same granite decking covers the fold-down balconies off each side of the dining area and the fold-down “wings” surrounding the transom. No mere places to stand and watch the sunset, these platforms can support a table and chairs when guests wish to enjoy an incomparable dining experience.

And when’s the last time you were aboard a yacht with a video wall rising up two levels? It’s forward of a set of floating stairs that fold up via an electric winch to improve the viewing experience from the saloon and dining area. Beattie and guests can use it to watch a movie or their favorite sporting event, and even display photos and video footage from the day’s dive.

Diane M. Byrne is the owner and editor of Megayacht News.

Time-warp mansion opens its doors after century in the dark

February 28th, 2011 by Mariah

Moulins, France (CNN) — One of the most eccentric dying requests has finally been fulfilled as a mansion closed for most of the 20th century reopens to the public.

 

Maison Mantin was left to the town of Moulins in central France by Louis Mantin, in a will written months before his death in 1905. The landowner, who had inherited several properties, died unmarried and childless aged 54, only eight years after his house was completed.

 

Despite rumors that Mantin had demanded the house be closed for 100 years, there was only one condition for the gift: that was that it should be opened as a museum a century after his death. If it was closed any longer, ownership could revert to any surviving relatives.

 

“Mantin was obsessed with the passing of time, and death,” said Maud Leyoudec, assistant curator of Maison Mantin. “He wanted the house to remain unchanged, like a time-capsule for future generations, so they would know how a bourgeois gentleman lived at the turn of the 20th century.”

 

The mansion was briefly a museum following Mantin’s death, but there was little interest and it soon closed. For most of the rest of the century, even as two destructive wars raged nearby, it remained shuttered, an unchanging, mysterious presence in the shadow of Moulins’ cathedral.

Rumors circulated that a collection of skeletons was stored inside, but most locals simply gave a Gallic shrug to the imposing property. Even the German occupiers of France during the 1940s left it unscathed.

 

As the deadline for the house to reopen approached — and with Mantin’s great-niece, who could theoretically reclaim it, alive — attention turned to the restoration.

 

Houses left unoccupied tend to fall apart and Maison Mantin was no exception. When Leyoudec visited in 2004, shortly before the restoration got under way, she was shocked by its dilapidated condition.

 

“There was woodworm and damp caused by the house not being heated, and many of the elaborate wall coverings were torn,” Leyoudec told CNN. “There were insects everywhere in the house — it was really awful.”

 

A team of about 30 specialists were involved in the project to restore the mansion, and after four painstaking years it has now opened as a museum.

 

Maison Mantin is unique, Leyoudec believes, because it is exactly how it was in 1905. The house had many advanced creature comforts, including electric lighting, flushing toilets, under-floor heating and even secondary glazing, but also features period art nouveau touches such as stained glass and much carved wood.

 

Mantin’s great-niece was supportive of the restoration, Leyoudec said, and just as well because the museum opened more than five years after the centenary of his death. The relative did not interpret her ancestor’s will too literally, and so luckily for the townspeople of Moulins the unique house remains theirs.

 

While Louis Mantin’s unusual gift may have been philanthropic it was also egocentric, as Leyoudec pointed out. “Now everyone in Moulins knows his name.”

The long and short of premium economy

February 14th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) –Premium is a pretty hazy concept in the airline industry. A flat bed is obviously a premium experience, but some airlines are putting just a couple of extra inches of legroom into that category as well.

That seemingly un-premium experience refers to the increasing number of “premium economy” seats that airlines have introduced over the last several years.Delta’s recent announcement of its own stepped-up economy class raises the question: What’s premium economy, and is there a real benefit?

The idea behind it makes a lot of sense. As airlines have raced to add flat beds, swankier amenities and more personal space in business class, economy has pretty much stayed the same, at best. So the gap between business and economy has grown to cavernous proportions. And that space opened the door for a new option for people who want more than they get in economy but are unwilling to take out a second mortgage to sit in business.

But “premium” economy can mean a lot of things, depending on the airline you’re flying. Generally, for U.S.-based airlines, premium economy really means a little more legroom with a few amenities thrown in for kicks.The most well-known is United’s Economy Plus, which gives up to 5 extra inches of legroom as its sole perk. JetBlue’s Even More Legroom is similar, and its name should win a prize for truth in advertising. Delta’s new Economy Comfort now joins that category on international routes this summer, throwing in more seat recline, early boarding and complimentary alcoholic beverages as well. Delta’s new service runs an additional $80 to $160 one way.Snyder: Why airline fees are good for travelersInternationally, premium economy tends to be more like “business minus” than “economy plus.” You’ll find it on airlines like Japan’s ANA, British Airways, Taiwan’s EVA Air, Qantas, Turkish, Virgin Atlantic and more. All of those airlines offer wider seats with leg rests. You’ll also generally receive upgraded service, in some cases with the same meals as business class.

Of course, the difference in product offerings means that prices vary widely. Economy Plus on United can start at an additional $18 roundtrip for a short hop and go beyond $200 for a long international trip.On foreign airlines, the better product costs way more than that. Picking random dates in June, New York-to-London looks like it’s running about $750 more for a roundtrip in premium economy on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. I’ve seen much larger premiums, depending on the time of year, availability and, presumably, the position of Jupiter in the evening sky.

The biggest problem with adding this new class of service is that it makes fliers do a lot more work to figure out which option is best. For example, if you’re flying from Los Angeles to London, you have five different airlines on the route and four with premium economy offerings. You could just go by price, but then you would probably end up in United’s Economy Plus, a far inferior offering compared with what’s offered by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is an interesting case in that it recently poured a ton of money into premium economy service to create a new seat that is unlike anything you’ll find on other airlines. The seats on the side are angled toward the window but are offset so you don’t have to share your space with the person next to you. On the other hand, the seats in the middle are designed so that people traveling together can share their space to create a larger area in which to relax. So you’re comparing apples and oranges when you throw Air New Zealand’s unique seats into the mix.

You also can’t trust that a single airline will offer the same type of premium economy on its entire fleet. Finding a premium economy seat on a short flight is rare except for on United and JetBlue. On long hauls, airlines like British Airways and Air New Zealand are in the process of refurbishing their offerings, so it’s a matter of doing some research and sometimes just rolling the dice to hope you get the improved experience.

Possibly the most confusing of all premium economy offerings comes from Air France/KLM. Even though the two airlines are owned by the same parent company, Air France offers Premium Voyageur, which has a wider seat with leg rests and more. KLM, however, offers Economy Comfort, with just the couple of extra inches of legroom that Delta is adding. Be careful if you book a codeshare between these partners, because you might end up with an unpleasant surprise.

In the end, premium economy can make life far better on a long flight, even for a short guy like me. You just need to make sure to do your homework before you buy to ensure that you’re not disappointed when you get on board.

New England Digs Out

January 13th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) — Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino lifted a city snow emergency Thursday, one day after blizzard conditions pounded the city and created hazardous travel conditions across New England.

Hundreds of schools remained closed in Massachusetts as crews continued to clear snow and to salt icy roadways, according to state Emergency Management spokesman Peter Judge.

The state’s 250 National Guardsmen — who were mobilized as a precautionary measure on Wednesday — were relieved from duty by Thursday morning, Judge said.

The broader state of emergency in Massachusetts, however, remained in effect.

Delta Air Lines canceled more than 200 Delta and Delta Connection flights in an effort to minimize delays, the airline said in a statement. It had canceled 1,300 flights Wednesday because of the storm.

Amtrak, which had suspended rail service between New York City and points north, resumed full service by Thursday morning, according to Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole.

Officials said snow accumulation in scattered areas across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont reached up to 30 inches, while most areas received between 8 and 16 inches of snow.

Snowfall in the heaviest areas reached rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Some residents in Brattleboro, Vermont, donned cross-country skis as they traveled down snow-jammed roads, while their neighbors heaved shovelfuls of snow out of driveways and sidewalks, said town resident Caleb Clark.

By Thursday, more than 2,300 households remained without power in Massachusetts. Many of them were in Plymouth County, where a a transmission-line outage occurred, according to the National Grid utility company’s website.

The hardest-hit areas included Plymouth, Bristol, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk counties in Massachusetts, the utility company said.

“This is the second major storm we are battling in less than three weeks,” said Christopher E. Root, National Grid senior vice president of electricity operations. “We ask that our customers bear with us and be patient as our crews work in challenging weather conditions to restore service as safely and quickly as possible.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said only 30 vehicles had been towed as a result of the storm.

That number is in stark contrast to the thousands of cars, buses and ambulances left stranded last month after cleanup crews struggled to plow streets days after the storm.

Bloomberg — who faced sharp criticism over the slow emergency response — said New York was better equipped to tackle Wednesday’s storm.

More than 1,700 flights were canceled at the New York area’s three major airports, while hundreds more were grounded at Boston’s Logan International Airport, officials said.

The general manager at LaGuardia Airport, Thomas Bosco, said many airlines pre-emptively canceled flights ahead of the weather to avoid massive delays that plagued airports during last month’s holiday blizzard.

The storm swept into the Northeast after dumping unusually heavy snow across the South. Every U.S. state except Florida now has snow on the ground, including Hawaii, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

North Pole Affects Florida Airport

January 13th, 2011 by Mariah

A runway at Florida’s Tampa International Airport is scheduled to reopen Thursday with new numbers and signage to account for the gradual shift of the Earth’s magnetic North Pole.

Runway 18R/36L, which runs north-south, has been closed since January 3 for numeric redesignation of the compass headings at each end of the runway and to change taxiway signage to account for the one-degree shift.

It will reopen tomorrow as 19R/1L, indicating its alignment along compass headings, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

Every five years, the FAA reevaluates shifts in the poles – its magnetic variation – and makes changes to runways and flight procedures as needed, Bergen said.

The FAA also publishes new aeronautical charts for pilots every 56 days, and with the next one due on Thursday, it made sense to make the changes at Tampa International Airport effective the same day, she said.

“The Earth’s magnetic fields are constantly changing,” she said. “It’s a very dynamic system so we make these changes effective every 56 days.”

Redesignation of runway compass headings is a common practice that occurs whenever the Earth’s magentic fields change, she said. It happened last year at Palm Beach International Airport and is scheduled to happen at the Tampa-Clearwater International Airport later in 2010, she said.

Record High On First Day Of Winter

December 22nd, 2010 by Mariah

The first day of winter in Houston saw record-high temperatures across the area, 11 News Meteorologist Mario Gomez said.

 

“Today is the Winter Solstice, it is the shortest day of the year with a sunrise at 7:13 a.m. and a sunset at 5:27 p.m. and it definitely does not feel like winter in Houston,” said 11 News Meteorologist David Paul.

 

Tuesday’s high was 82 degrees at Bush and Hobby airport. The previous record-high temperature was 81 at Bush Airport in 1970, and the previous high was tied at Hobby at 82 in 1970, Gomez said.Record-warm temperatures were also set in Dallas, Waco, Abilene, Bryan and San Angelo.

 

The average temperatures were in the mid-80s Tuesday. Those numbers are 10 to 15 degrees above normal for this time of the year.

Rome Taxing Tourists Rather Than Locals

December 16th, 2010 by Mariah

Tourist tax in Rome is now offical.

As of January 1, a hotel stay will cost an extra $4 (€3) per person per night at four- and five-star properties and an extra $2.70 (€2) per person per night at other hotels. (Hostels and kids under age 2 are exempt.) A maximum of 10 nights can be taxed, so you could pay up to an additional $40 per person on your next trip—about the cost of a dinner out. This is in addition to a 10 percent hotel tax that’s typically included in the advertised room rate.

The new tax revenue will help to compensate for slashed funding from Italy’s national government and will go toward the much-needed restoration of Roman monuments. Cultural treasures are literally crumbling in Rome and across Italy. Three chunks of Roman mortar fell from an arched ceiling at the Colosseum back in May, and a few structures collapsed in Pompeii last month.

So some may agree that the tax is going to a good cause, and tourists do leave an impact on local monuments. But does that really mean we tourists should be stuck footing the bill? Local councilor Frederico Guidi has readily admitted: “In order for the city of Rome not to tax Romans, we have decided to tax the tourists,” according to the Daily Mail.

Venice has similar plans in the works to charge tourists an entry tax of perhaps $1.33 (€1) upon arrival by train, plane, or cruise ship—which means we’ve got the beginnings of a trend. What’s your reaction to these tourist taxes?

AAA expects travel increase this holiday

December 16th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) — Americans traveling to see family and friends during the upcoming holiday season will have more company on the roads and in the skies, according to projections by AAA.

About 3.1% more Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home compared with last year, the AAA said Wednesday. The group expects 92.3 million Americans to travel at least 50 miles from December 23 to January 2.

“After a challenging year in 2009, a modestly improved economic environment and pent-up demand resulted in more Americans traveling in 2010, and the year-end holidays are no exception,” a AAA statement said.

The average distance for travel is expected to increase by 33%, the number of air travelers by almost 3% and median spending about 3.5%, to $694, AAA said.

About 85.7 million people will drive to holiday destinations, compared with 83 million last year, AAA said.

“This is the fifth consecutive holiday period this year in which AAA has predicted a year-to-year increase in the number of travelers,” Glen MacDonell, director of AAA Travel Services, said in the statement.

In addition, AAA said, airfares are expected to be 3% less than last year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $174 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Weekend daily car rental rates will hold steady at an average of $50, the group said.

A place you may not want to vacation

December 14th, 2010 by Mariah

Ukraine says it will lift restrictions on tourism in the zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 2011, formally opening the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident to visitors.

A limited number of visitors already are allowed into the 30-kilometer (19-mile) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which exploded and burned in 1986. The Ukrainian government will present a detailed plan for lifting the remaining restrictions on travel to the area December 21, said Viktor Baloga, the former Soviet republic’s emergency situations minister.

Background radiation in the accident zone is still well above normal. But far from being a wasteland, wildlife has rebounded in the exclusion zone and trees are reclaiming the ghost city of Pripyat, said Mary Mycio, author of “Wormwood Forest,” a 2005 book on the area.

“It is very moving and interesting and a beautiful monument to technology gone awry,” Mycio said.

The April 1986 accident killed 32 plant workers and firefighters directly, and the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates nearly 4,000 more will die of related cancers from the radioactive material released by the disaster.

Currently, guides from the Chernobyl Zone Authority take about 20 to 30 people into the exclusion zone a day during the summers, said Yuri Rozgoni, whose Toronto-based travel agency, Ukrainianweb, books tours to the site. The tours typically take between five and six hours, not counting the drive to and from the Ukrainian capital Kiev, he said.

While travel is no longer restricted to scientists and researchers, “The only way to enter the zone (now) is with a certified guide on a certified tour group,” Rozgoni said. “That’s a huge restriction.”

Guides monitor radiation levels and “know where the people can go and where the people cannot go,” he said.

Mycio said tourists should wear “something that you wouldn’t mind leaving behind in case it does get dirty.” But most radioactive material has sunk into the soil, and visitors receive a dose comparable to the exposure they would receive on a trans-Atlantic flight.

“The only concern I would have is if too many people come in and it becomes this nuclear Disneyland,” Mycio said. “That would take away from a wildlife sanctuary (that has thrived) in the absence of people.”

Oprahs visit Down Under brings joy to fans, Australian tourism

December 13th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) — For the 300 fans who are accompanying talk show host Oprah Winfrey on what is being billed as the Ultimate Australian Adventure, the trip is a unique opportunity to take in the sights and wonders of the country with the TV icon.

 

But for Australia — a country that heavily relies on tourism — the investment is expected to pay off manifold in publicity, the government said Monday.

 

The eight-day trip began last week and ends with two taped shows at the Sydney Opera House, which has been renamed Oprah House.

 

Footing the bill for Oprah and her guests will collectively cost the government AUS $5 million, said Andrew McEvoy, managing director of Tourism Australia.

 

 

But the value equivalent in exposure has already made it a smart investment, he said.

 

 

“Just before Oprah turned up into our country, the number was $38 million,” McEvoy said Monday. “So that was three or four days ago. I can imagine that to double in the time that she’s been here. And I can imagine that to treble.”

 

 

He said the number could further skyrocket next year if Oprah commits to making “at least four hours of Oprah Winfrey television, which will go to 145 countries around the world.”

 

 

Oprah and her group have visited the Great Barrier Reef, gone on a wine-tasting excursion to Hunter Valley, taken in a scenic flight over the Australian outback, partied in the Royal Botanic Gardens and trekked up the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which adorned with a big ‘O’ in her honor.

 

 

“I can’t believe the energy of Oprah herself, her crew — they’re phenomenal,” McEvoy said, adding “everyone is full of adrenaline.”

During the media mogul’s career, many have cashed in on the “Oprah effect,” which has launched sales of what she promotes.

Oprah is in the midst of her farewell season of her show. Earlier this year, she showed her gratitude to her audience by announcing the all-expenses paid excursion.

Mexican Road Trip

December 6th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) – With “Mexico only turns 200 once” as their motto, iReporter Michael Hilburn and his girlfriend took a five-day bicentennial road trip in September.

“Starting in Guadalajara, our 792 mile trek took us through some of Mexico’s most beautiful and historic cities including Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo and Zacatecas,” Hilburn, 28, wrote on iReport.com.

Hilburn, of Patterson, California, has been living in central Mexico, where he teaches at a small bilingual Christian school in Guadalajara.

The areas visited by Hilburn and his girlfriend, Jensine Pulford, were far removed from the violence making headlines along the U.S. border. “Even on the highways and among the large crowds of Independence Day celebrators we felt extremely safe,” Hilburn said.

Share your travel stories on iReport.com

CNN asked Hilburn to answer these questions about his experience:

First impression

Prior to our trip, my first impression of a “Mexican city” was one dense urban sprawl polluted with noise and smog. However, walking through the enchanting back alleys, or callejones, of Guanajuato and Zacatecas, I quickly remembered that the beauty of these romantic old colonial towns was one of the reasons why I moved to Mexico in the first place.

Don’t-miss experience

If you are traveling from Zacatecas to Guadalajara like we did, the ruins of La Quemada are not to be missed! The impressive remains of this giant settlement stretch across the top of a mountain and overlook a breathtaking valley.

Adjectives that capture this place

Three adjectives that would describe our experience would be enchanting, intriguing and delicious.

Lasting memory

A lasting memory was participating in the “Grito” [a shout of independence] from the steps of the Alhondiga de Granaditas [an old grain storage building in Guanajuato City], the site of the first major [victory] for Mexican Independence.

Most delicious food or place to eat

I had one of the best meals of the trip our first night in Zacatecas at a small restaurant called Los Dorados de Villa. My order of enchiladas came drenched in a “Durango style” sauce that was sweet, spicy and chocolaty, all at the same time!

Biggest surprise

Our biggest surprise along the way was our “discovery” of an abandoned hacienda on the road to San Luis Potosi called Jaral de Berrio. We spent hours roaming through the passageways, courtyards and towers of this football field-sized mansion that was built around the turn of the 20th century.

All in all, this trip was one that will not quickly be forgotten.

Heavy snow creates European travel chaos

December 2nd, 2010 by Mariah

London, England (CNN)–Britain’s second-largest airport was closed for a second day Thursday because of unseasonal wintry weather that was also affecting the European continent.

All flights into and out of London’s Gatwick Airport were canceled until 6 a.m. (1 a.m. ET) Friday, the airport said. It asked passengers to check with their airlines before heading to the airport.

Planes sat at the gates covered in snow and a spokesman said the snow was falling on the airport’s lone runway faster than crews could clear it.

“We are doing everything we can to resume operations,”the airport said in a statement. “Our teams are working around the clock to make the runway safe for aircraft to use and get our passengers flying again.”

Thursday, airport officials handed out 1,000 blankets along with food and water to stranded passengers who had little to do but sit around and hope for the weather to improve.

The United Kingdom has seen the heaviest and most widespread amount of snow since 1993 and the deepest November snow since 1965, the Met Office, Britain’s weather forecaster, said.

Forecasters issued severe weather warnings Thursday, predicting heavy snow for many parts of the country including Scotland, northeast England, parts of central England, and the entire south from Cornwall to London and the southeast.

Edinburgh Airport in Scotland was closed because of heavy snow, the airport said. London’s Heathrow Airport was open, but said some airlines were experiencing delays and cancellations because of snow disruptions at other airports.

Eurostar, which operates trains between London and the continent, said it was operating a “significantly reduced” timetable on Thursday with a number of cancellations, along with delays of as much as 90 minutes.

It said disruptions were expected through the weekend, and it advised passengers booked to travel through Sunday to postpone their journeys if not essential.

The main reason for the snowfall is the cold polar air sweeping across the North Sea, said Mari Ramos of the CNN World Weather Center.

The sea is still relatively warm, at 9-10 degrees Celsius (48-50 degrees Fahrenheit), so as the water evaporates and is hit by the cold polar air, it turns to snow.

“You normally have this change in the wind pattern later in the season, but it won’t bring snow because the ocean will be colder,” Ramos said.

Snowfall has also been widespread across Europe, with unseasonably low temperatures — easily 10 degrees below average for this time of year — lasting much longer than normal, Ramos said.

Snow was expected across France, from the northern part of the country into the southern parts, near Switzerland and Italy, Ramos said. As much as six centimeters (2.4 inches) were expected in some areas.

Meteo France issued an orange weather warning — it’s second-highest — across central France, and forecasters predicted icy conditions and heavy snowfall.

A quarter of flights out of Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and 10 percent of flights out of Orly were canceled Thursday, air traffic control said. Trains were delayed throughout France but were expected to run regularly Friday.

The snow was stretching into northern Portugal and central and southern Spain, with an unusual snowfall in Grenada earlier in the week, she said.

Temperatures were another big concern.

“The temperature will be in many cases 8-12 degrees below the average, and that’s not factoring in the wind,” Ramos said.

The chilly weather began over the weekend and is scheduled to last for a week, she said.

Airlines to offer free WIFI during holidays

November 8th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN)– Who says nothing’s free on planes anymore?

During the holiday season, Delta Air Lines, AirTran Airways and Virgin America are teaming up with Google to give travelers free in-flight Wi-Fi.

“Our holiday promotion with Google’s Chrome browser team allows us to offer our customers free Wi-Fi as a small token of appreciation,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s senior vice president of marketing, in a statement.

The promotion on the three airlines will run from November 20 to January 2.

“These participating airlines have outfitted their entire domestic fleet with Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi, and we expect more connected passengers this holiday season than ever before!” Google Chrome wrote in an announcement.

Gogo Inflight passes cost from $4.95 to $12.95 per flight, depending on duration and distance.

Oprah Unveils Plane

November 5th, 2010 by Mariah

(CNN) – The Queen of Talk’s influence is reaching new heights with the unveiling of a plane marking the 25th and final season of the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”

United Airlines debuted a 757 Thursday newly painted from nose to tail with the logo for the show’s farewell season. During its inaugural flight from Chicago, Illinois, one ticketed passenger will receive enough United miles for a trip around the world.

“As Chicago’s hometown airline, United is proud to celebrate The Oprah Winfrey Show’s Farewell Season with our customers, employees and ‘Oprah’ show fans,” said Mark Bergsrud, senior vice president of marketing for United, in a statement.

“This unique plane represents the global reach of two great Chicago icons.”

The Oprah plane will fly United customers between cities in the airline’s domestic network through May 2011. An onboard video featuring Oprah Winfrey will greet customers.

United is also launching a sweepstakes that will award 1 million United Mileage Plus miles to one passenger each month through May 2011.

Passengers on the inaugural flight to Los Angeles, California, will take home “Oprah 25″ fleece blankets.

Hotel ousts couple after accusing them of writing negative TripAdvisor review

September 30th, 2010 by Mariah

A British couple says they were kicked out of their hotel after the hotel manager accused them of writing a negative review on TripAdvisor and called the police.

 

Adrian Healey, 33, tells the Blackpool Gazette that earlier this month, he’d booked a room a hotel in the seaside resort of Blackpool, England, to take his first vacation with his girlfriend Sherrie Andrews, 33, since being diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago.

 

 

 

But the Golden Beach Hotel’s manager asked them to leave two days into their paid, three-night stay, they told the Gazette, adding that the manager stormed into their room, accused them of writing an online review and called the police.

 

“We had been there a day when they said we couldn’t get back in our rooms because they were re-carpeting, and we didn’t complain. All we asked was if we could have an extra towel,” Healey tells the paper.

 

 

 

“Then, on our second evening, he banged on the door and told us to get out, accusing us of writing a review on Trip Advisor, and said he would call the police,” Healey says.

 

 

 

“I was shocked when the police arrived, and we just agreed to leave,” Healey tells the Gazette. “We asked for a refund but the hotel refused. I think it is shocking and people need to know about this.”

 

 

Hotel management declined to comment when contacted by paper.

 

 

Blackpool police confirmed that they had been called to the Golden Beach Hotel to remove a man who had not committed a crime.

 

 

“No offence had been committed by the couple, but the manager had requested them to leave the property,” the paper quotes a police official as saying. “We advised the couple how to go about getting a refund. This is a civil matter.”