Some high-flying fans can watch the Super Bowl (AP)

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

NEW YORK – Flying during the Super Bowl no longer means waiting for the pilot to announce the latest score.

But if you’re hoping to watch the Packers-Steelers matchup up in the air next Sunday, plan carefully: Not every airline with TV will be showing the game and not all digital alternatives work once regular-season football ends.

JetBlue Airways pioneered satellite TV on commercial airplanes in 2000 and four other U.S. airlines now have it. On airlines without TV, a Wi-Fi Internet connection is the next best thing because it allows you to watch shows live on laptops, iPhones and other devices.

“Today, pilots are more likely to walk into the cabin and see if they can find somebody who has the score,” says Rick Seaney, CEO of airfare search site FareCompare.com.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re flying next Sunday and don’t want to miss Super Bowl XLV:

• JetBlue, Frontier and most Continental planes will carry the game on DirecTV. JetBlue’s service is free; Continental and Frontier charge $6.

• Virgin America and Delta Air Lines have free TV. But they carry the DISH Network, which, on planes, doesn’t have Fox — the channel broadcasting the game.

• On planes with Wi-Fi, there’s Slingbox, a $180 piece of hardware that connects to a home TV and allows users to watch programing on their laptop, iPad and some smartphones.

Fliers can watch regular-season football via Wi-Fi using DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go, which streams games to laptops and some smartphones. But the playoffs and the Super Bowl aren’t part of the package.

Airlines that have Wi-Fi include: American, Delta, Southwest, United, US Airways and Virgin. Prices range from $4.95 to $12.95, depending on the length of the flight. Only Delta, US Airways, United and Virgin tell passengers whether Wi-Fi is available on specific flights before booking.

A couple of caveats about Wi-Fi: connections on planes are slow, and the service can’t be used when the plane is flying below 10,000 feet.

Jay Cox chose Frontier for his two-hour flight from Milwaukee to New York on Sunday knowing that he’d be able to tune-in to the game.

If Frontier had been booked, the 40-year-old Cox says, “I would have found another airline with TV or taken an earlier flight to be on the ground during the game.”

Not everybody is so lucky. Caitlin McNamara, 26, will be flying while the game is on, from Boston to San Diego — an eight-hour trip, with a stop in Denver. But when she booked the flight on United two weeks ago, she didn’t realize it was Super Bowl Sunday. JetBlue’s flight was about $75 more, a difference McNamara now says she gladly would have paid.

“I didn’t think about it at the time, which I now regret,” she said.

Even though beer is served on planes, the atmosphere is typically less boisterous than a friend’s house or the corner bar — unless the flight’s heading to a team’s home town. JetBlue flight attendant Eric Spar recalls strangers high-fiving each other and pilots calling back for recaps after each big cheer during the Jets playoff victory against the Patriots.

Once the game is over, “everybody goes back to reading their Kindles. It’s business as normal,” says John Rieter, 40, a frequent traveler who watched his first airborne football game on Continental recently.

The number of fans watching the Super Bowl mid-flight will be small. Only 45,000 or so fliers will have access to Sunday’s game on live TV. That’s less than half the 93,000 fans who will be inside Cowboys Stadium.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110202/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_super_bowl_flying_fans

Star power should heat up Dallas for Super Bowl (AP)

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

DALLAS – The sheer star power headed to Dallas for Super Bowl week should help thaw some of the ice that has blanketed the area.

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are expected. Garth Brooks is slated to participate in a football camp for kids. Pamela Anderson is hosting a party with Playboy models. Prince, Snoop Dogg, Flo Rida, Duran Duran and Kid Rock are among those performing at events leading up to the big game. Diddy is having a big bash. Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora is having a fashion show featuring the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

Even the Black Eyed Peas will play party hosts before performing at halftime on Sunday.

And that’s just for starters.

“I must say, it will probably be quite a festive occasion for those who are die-hard fans for either team,” said Grammy nominee Cee Lo Green, who will be performing Saturday at the Axe Lounge.

“I myself am going down for a different capacity. I’m going to perform, be a star and be sexy. I’m not necessarily going down as a sports fan, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, because I’ll be safe and secure in a skybox somewhere, checking out the game,” he said this week.

The usually temperate Dallas was hit by a massive storm blanketing much of the country this week. Temperatures were hovering in the 20s and 30s, but were expected to warm to at least the 50s for the Sunday’s big game.

It’s a far cry from the balmy weather in the Miami area, where the Super Bowl was held last year. But Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio from MTV’s reality phenomenon “Jersey Shore” said he expects the party situation to be just as high in Dallas as it was in South Beach.

“I’ve been to Texas before, and they party just as hard as Miami, and they know how to have a good time, so I’m looking forward to partying in Dallas,” he said.

He plans to hit a few parties as well, which will make his famous “T-shirt time” a challenge.

“It’s tough, it’s tough! So what you do you switch up your T-shirts in between events, so you have a T-shirt time in between each party,” he said.

Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran said he’s always enjoyed Dallas too, but said the icy weather that greeted him on his arrival Tuesday night from London was a bit of a surprise.

“I’ve been to Dallas so many times and it’s only ever been sweltering hot. It was quite a shock when we landed,” he said.

Rhodes will perform at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, just outside of Dallas, along with Kid Rock and Jason Derulo on Thursday as part of the NFL’s Fan Jam concert.

The cold is not expected to impact the scantily clad outfits expected at some of the more adult-oriented parties, like those hosted by Maxim and Playboy. Former Playboy models and “Girls Next Door” stars Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt will also be in town, hosting a “Leather Laces” party on Saturday night.

“Super Bowl parties are just always fun,” Madison said.

Maxim’s expected guest list includes Chord Overstreet and Mark Salling of “Glee,” Chris Brown, members of Maroon 5 (who will be also playing the Super Bowl pre-party on Sunday), Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and Wyclef Jean.

Maxim editor-in-chief Joe Levy said the Super Bowl, being the “world’s biggest man’s event,” fits right in with the men’s magazine.

He said the party at Fair Park, where the Texas State Fair is held, will have not only a Ferris wheel and bumper cars, but also lots of gadgets from sponsor Motorola.

“I’m told everything is bigger in Texas, so we needed to go to the State Fair to have a party this big,” he said.

While many of the parties are exclusive, invite-only soirees for A-list guests, some events are open to the public for a price — often a high one. Prince will be performing Friday night for a fundraiser to benefit the Goss-Michael Foundation, founded in Dallas by British pop star George Michael and his partner, Texan Kenny Goss; tickets start at $1,500.

There are also plenty of opportunities for commercial branding. Express is setting up a gifting suite, while the Audi Forum Dallas will host three events, with celebrities including Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Matthew Morrison of “Glee,” Chace Crawford of “Gossip Girl,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and his fiance (and Crawford’s sister) Candice Crawford, a local TV reporter, expected.

Pamela Anderson is set to host a Super Bowl party put on by Dallas-based Willis Woy Sports Group with several Playboy models set to attend the event.

“I’ll probably run into a lot of friends,” she said. “Everybody’s there.”

Pete Wentz is returning to the Super Bowl this year as part of the “Tweet Race” for Mercedes-Benz in which he, Serena Williams, New York Yankee Nick Swisher and Rev. Run are coaching two-person teams trying to generate the most tweets for a charity.

Like many celebrities, he was not focused on Sunday’s game (which is between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, by the way).

“To me it’s like everything around the game, because I don’t know that much about sports,” he laughed.

___

AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110202/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_super_bowl_parties

Holidaymakers Find Deals Among Chaos Of Egypt

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

8:13pm UK, Wednesday February 02, 2011

Sarah Gordon, Sky News Online

Travellers are making the most of the political situation in Egypt to find holiday bargains.

Full flights are still taking off from the UK to Sharm El Sheikh airport in the Red Sea Resorts.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has warned against all but essential travel to the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez, but says that the Red Sea coastline remains “calm”.

The purpose-built resorts of Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, Taba and Marsa Alam have been unaffected by the Egyptian uprising as they are away from the cities and with their own airports.

However, the US, Australia and Germany have decided to advise against any travel to the country.

Worries about international evacuations affecting consumer confidence have prompted some British travel companies to offer discounts of up to 50% on package holidays to Egypt, in order to ensure they are not left with extra stock.

Holidaymakers in Cairo are waiting at the airport to return home

“There are great deals to be had for anyone looking for some winter sun,” said Bob Atkinson, travel expert for Travelsupermarket.com. “Tour operators would not still be travelling to the area if it was in any way dangerous.

“The only advice I would give is to book with an Atol-protected company to ensure that you would be looked after in the event of any changes in the situation.”

Some holiday companies are offering discounts of hundreds of pounds, with all-inclusive, three-star holidays costing as little as £300, and five-star resorts charging around £500.

Tour operators report that it is business as usual in the resorts, even though many have cancelled flights to Luxor and are helping holidaymakers in the cities get home safely.

The FCO has chartered an extra flight on Thursday to help evacuate the British travellers whose Cairo flights have been cancelled or who want to leave early. However, the tickets cost £300 each.

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook reassured those with holidays booked to the Red Sea, saying: “Our experienced teams on the ground assure us that no tourist areas at the Red Sea have been affected in any way by the recent demonstrations.

“They are fully operational and holiday makers are continuing to enjoy these popular resorts.”

The curfew in place across the country does not apply to the resorts.

Joanna Tweedy, travel editor of the Daily Mail Online, said: “When the FCO says a destination is ‘genuinely calm’, [as it has about the Red Sea destinations] it’s fair to say that your travel plans have every chance of going ahead smoothly.”

Travellers are still covered by holiday insurance if they travel to the Red Sea area.

Insurance is only nullified if people travel against the advice of the FCO.

ABTA, The Travel Association, has reiterated that the popular beach resorts are “perfectly safe”, but said that in the event of any drastic changes, holidaymakers travelling with their member tour operators would be transported home safely.

Those who have trips booked would be able to postpone their trip, change the destination or get a refund in the event of a change in FCO advice.

The confidence among immediate travellers is however, not reflected in longer term bookings.

Flight comparison site Sky Scanner reports a 60% drop in interest for Egypt over the summer months.

Article source: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Egypt-Protests-British-Holidaymakers-Defy-Political-Worries-To-Snap-Up-Red-Sea-Bargains/Article/201102115921574?lpos=UK_News_Second_Home_Page_Feature_Teaser_Region_0&lid=ARTICLE_15921574_Egypt_Protests%3A_British_Holidaymakers_Defy_Political_Worries_To_Snap_Up_Red_Sea_Bargains

US Said to Probe Google-ITA Deal’s Impact on Internet Travel Searches

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

The webpages of Google, Bing, Kayak and Orbitz are displayed on a computer screen in New York. Source: Bloomberg

The U.S. Justice Department is
examining whether Google Inc.’s planned $700 million purchase of
ITA Software Inc. would lead to skewed search results for
travelers seeking flight and ticket information online,
according to two people familiar with the matter.

U.S. officials are concerned Google’s ownership of ITA,
whose software aggregates airline information, may cause its own
travel services to rank higher than rivals such as Kayak.com and
Expedia Inc., reducing competition and hurting consumers,
according to the people, who declined to be identified because
the talks are ongoing.

“The companies that use ITA want to be assured there would
be no preference by Google for its own results,” said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst at Forrester Research in San Francisco,
who isn’t privy to the talks. “At the same time, Google’s
innovation and creativity shouldn’t be held against it.”

The probe of the Google-ITA deal represents a new facet of
government scrutiny for the world’s largest search engine as it
expands into new services. Google had 66.6 percent of the search
market as of December, according to ComScore Inc.

Google is buying companies to boost its online services,
spending about $1.6 billion on more than 20 companies in the
first nine months of last year, according to regulatory filings.
The ITA deal would follow other large acquisitions, including
mobile ad service AdMob Inc. last year for about $700 million
and online advertising provider DoubleClick Inc. in 2008 for
$3.2 billion. Both were cleared without restrictions by the
Federal Trade Commission.

Preparing a Lawsuit

Google, based in Mountain View, California, has pressed the
Justice Department to decide whether it will challenge the ITA
deal, prompting government lawyers to prepare a lawsuit to block
it. Completion of the Justice Department’s review may come
within a few weeks, one of the people familiar with it said.

Regulators aren’t planning a broad monopoly investigation
of Google right now, the people said, and any conditions placed
on the ITA deal would be specific to travel-related searches.
For now, talks between the Justice Department and Google are
focused on how to make ITA’s software available to online travel
competitors through licensing agreements, the people said.

FairSearch.org, a group that includes Microsoft Corp. and
Kayak.com, a travel information site, has opposed the ITA deal,
saying Google would have too big an incentive to steer consumers
to its own services rather than to competitors, even if their
sites might answer the query better.

Beyond Access

“The proposed acquisition raises issues above and beyond
the access to ITA technology,” said attorney Tom Barnett,
outside counsel to Expedia Inc., a FairSearch member. “A key
threat from the proposed transaction is the combination of ITA’s
flight search dominance with Google’s search dominance.”

FairSearch.org argued that, once Google controls ITA’s
unique software and the privileged business information on its
servers, it might hold back software updates and other
innovations. The group also includes Travelocity.com Inc.,
Hotwire Inc. and TripAdvisor LLC.

“We haven’t received assurances from ITA or Google on any
of our concerns in terms of continued access to this product
going forward,” Robert Birge, chief marketing officer of
Norwalk, Connecticut-based Kayak.com, said in a telephone
interview. Birge declined to discuss the company’s conversations
with Justice Department officials.

‘Increase Competition’

Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Google, said the company
is cooperating with the U.S. review of the deal, and added that
the “acquisition will increase competition.” Cara Kretz, a
spokeswoman for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ITA, and Justice
Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona declined to comment.

Google rose $2.47 to $613.51 at 2:47 p.m. New York time in
Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Expedia climbed 1 cent to $25.33.

Google’s deals are receiving careful antitrust scrutiny
because of its size and due to the connection between Internet
search and online advertising, according to Andy Gavil, an
antitrust professor at Howard University Law School in Washington. Gavil said he has received funding from Google for
research unrelated to the ITA acquisition.

In November 2008, the Justice Department threatened to sue
over its planned alliance with Yahoo! Inc., leading Google to
scrap a planned agreement to place ads with the Sunnyvale,
California-based web portal.

Several Google acquisitions have gotten a green light from
regulators, including the FTC’s unanimous approval of the AdMob
deal in May over protests from consumer groups including the
Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog.

‘Unlikely to Harm’

The FTC said that deal was “unlikely to harm competition
in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks.”

The regulator also approved Google’s acquisition of
DoubleClick, saying the transaction was unlikely to
“substantially lessen” competition in Internet advertising.

Setting conditions for fair search results is an
“essentially impossible” task, Assen Vassilev, co-founder and
vice president of strategy and development of London-based
Everbread, said in an interview. His London-based Haystack
airfare search engine supports the Google-ITA deal.

As many as 6 million flight choices are available at any
given time depending on whether a traveler wants to stay
overnight, is willing to change planes or wants to go to a
specific terminal, Vassilev said.

Policing search results under a Justice Department
agreement would be challenging, said Robert Lande, a law
professor at the University of Baltimore.

The mathematical formulas and programming language behind search engines may be too complex for a third party to decide if
there’s a Google bias in the results, he said in an interview.

Comcast-NBC Model

A model for any agreement between the government and Google
over the ITA purchase may be the Justice Department’s consent
decree for Comcast Corp.’s acquisition of NBC Universal, said Rebecca Arbogast, a technology analyst for Stifel Nicolaus in
Washington. It may provide a framework for policing the search
industry and licensing the software, she said.

The Comcast agreement, announced on Jan. 18, included
safeguards so the largest U.S. cable company couldn’t restrict
online video content.

As in the NBC-Comcast deal, antitrust authorities are
likely to consider whether Google’s control of key assets
through ITA could slow competition or innovation, Arbogast said.

Just as Philadelphia-based Comcast had to make its
programming available to internet video distributors, Google may
have to make the ITA data accessible to others, she said.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Jeff Bliss in Washington at jbliss@bloomberg.net and;
Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.
Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net and;

Article source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-02/u-s-is-said-to-probe-google-ita-deal-s-impact-on-internet-travel-searches.html

Tokyo: Round-trip airfare from LA + 5 nights at the Hilton starts at $1249

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Singapore Airlines is kicking off daily service from Los Angeles to Tokyo, which starts March 27, with a  five-night package starting at $1,249 per person that includes flights aboard A380s and a hotel stay. The deal is good for early spring, which could be a perfect time to see Japan’s renowned cherry blossoms.

The deal: Singapore Airlines Vacations offers this package, which comes with round-trip airfare, five nights at the Tokyo Hilton, a half-day sightseeing tour of the city, airport transfers and some fuel surcharge costs. The price is based on double occupancy.

A380s, the biggest passenger jets, took flight in 2005. In November, Qantas grounded its fleet after an A380′s engine blew out,  and the plane was forced to make an emergency landing. A Singapore Airlines spokesman said Monday the airline had checked its A380s and that it has had no problems with the aircraft. Qantas has also restored the model to service.

When: Good for travel March 27 to April 30, but you must book the package by April 15. Add $50 for travel May 1 through June 9.

Tested: You can’t reserve this package online. You must submit a request to Singapore Airlines Vacations, or call or e-mail one of the affiliated travel agencies listed on its website. I called AsiaLuxe and confirmed seats available for five nights leaving Los Angeles on March 27. With taxes and fees, the cost comes to $1,397 per person. By comparision, round-trip airfare alone around those dates runs about  $1,000, I found in an online check.

If you want to stay longer, you can postpone your return date, but the package covers only five nights in the hotel.

Contact: Singapore Airlines Vacations

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-tokyo-deal-a380-20110131,0,3137608.story

TSA tests new body scanning system in Las Vegas (AP)

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

LAS VEGAS – Federal aviation officials are giving airport scanners another try. This time, they are not looking as closely under traveler’s clothes.

The Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday began testing a new, more modest body scanning system at three airports. They hope it will assuage critics’ concerns that the nearly 500 full-body scanners at 78 airports reveal too much.

“We believe it addresses the privacy issues that have been raised,” TSA chief John Pistole said at a news conference at Reagan National Airport in Washington, one of the airports testing the technology.

The system does not involve new machines. Instead, it relies on new software.

The software discards the x-ray-style image that revealed the contours of the traveler’s body — the one that left many uncomfortable at the thought of screeners being able to see them with the rough outlines of their undergarments.

Now, there is just a generic image — like the chalk outline of a body at a crime scene.

This is how it works:

A traveler passes through the scanner. Once they step out, they can see a computer monitor. It can display a large green “OK” and the traveler can move on.

If they have something in their pockets or hidden elsewhere on their body, the outline of a body appears on the screen, and a box marks the location of the object. If someone had a wallet in a front pocket, for example, the box would appear over the hips.

The box would then trigger a human pat-down search.

“One of the things this does is give greater confidence to the traveling public, because they are seeing the image also. They are seeing exactly what the security officer is seeing, that they can say ‘Oh, yeah, I forgot to take that piece of paper out of my pocket,’” Pistole said.

“And hopefully it provides a greater deterrent to possible terrorists, who may realize `Ok, they’re going to see it right there. If that shows up, and I’m here, then I’m going to be caught,’” he added.

On Tuesday at one of the test sites, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, TSA workers moved through a scanner equipped with the new software in a demonstration for reporters. On some people, the scanner picked up objects in their pockets. Those carrying nothing moved through the scanner in moments.

The other airport where the software will also be tested is Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

If all goes well for two months, TSA can install the software to 250 of the scanners nationwide at a cost of $2.7 million. The expansion will be limited to that because the software only works on machines produced by one of the two companies that make them.

TSA officials are making the decision to expand on the ability of the software to detect objects and how efficiently it can move travelers through the security checkpoints.

Critics have complained that the full-body scans are intrusive.

Chris Calabrese, the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative counsel in Washington, applauded the TSA for responding to passenger complaints, but said the federal government needs to do more to protect travelers’ privacy.

The ACLU has called for an airport bill of rights that would legally protect passengers and prohibit pat-down searches. Ideally, the TSA would continue to tweak its body scanning software until the process was no more invasive than a metal detector machine, Calabrese said.

“You have to balance Americans’ dignity and privacy against security concerns,” he said.

The U.S. Travel Association estimates more than 70 percent of all passengers consider the TSA’s searches inefficient and frustrating, said senior vice president Geoff Freeman. Incremental changes, he said, won’t address those concerns.

“It’s not about the scanners versus the pat-downs,” he said. “The biggest complaint is people don’t want to take off their shoes. What this is really about is the desire by travelers to see a long-term vision, the idea that this country that put a man on the moon can find a way that is more customer-friendly to keep us safe.”

At McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, passengers shuffled through the body-scanning machines without protest Tuesday.

Joanne Argabrite, 66, who was returning to her home in West Virginia, said she wondered if women were more likely to be embarrassed by the scans than men. But she didn’t object to the security measures.

“I don’t want to have the plane blow up because someone didn’t want to take a picture,” she said.

__

Associated Press writer Sagar Meghani in Washington contributed to this report.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110202/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_airport_security

Airlines add fuel surcharges (AP)

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

It looks like airlines are charging more to fly.

American Airlines added fuel surcharges of as much as $5 each way on most routes. And United Continental Holdings Inc. has its own $3 each-way surcharge.

Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare.com, says it’s the fifth increase since December. He says U.S. Airways Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. have matched the increases on some routes.

The big question is whether Southwest will match the increases.

Seaney says airlines haven’t used fuel surcharges since 2008, when oil prices spiked.

J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker says airlines would need to raise prices further, or cut capacity, to make up for the recent increases in jet fuel prices.

American is a unit of AMR Corp.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110202/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_air_fares

Nonessential US gov’t staff begin to leave Egypt (AP)

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

CAIRO – The U.S. began evacuating nonessential government personnel and their families Wednesday, while crowds piled up at Cairo’s airport as more than 8,000 people played the odds in hopes of securing a seat aboard a commercial airline that would allow them to escape the chaos engulfing Egypt.

Thousands of passengers were packed into the airport early Wednesday, with more expected to arrive in the early afternoon before the start of a curfew that Egyptian state television said had been pushed back to 5 p.m. The influx of passengers came as demonstrators demanding President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster clashed with the leader’s supporters — some riding horses and camels — in central Cairo in a fresh outbreak of violence in the week-old protests.

The U.S. Embassy said it expected to evacuate more than 1,000 Americans from Egypt over the next two days, including government personnel and other citizens in the country. The State Department issued a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday for non-emergency government staff. Other Americans wishing to leave Egypt amid the unrest that has engulfed the country would also be accommodated.

“Things are going very smoothly,” Roberto Powers, the U.S. consul-general in Egypt told The Associated Press. “Anyone wishing to travel today — there are spaces available.”

At least two U.S. chartered planes had either taken off or were nearing departure, and other flights were planned, embassy officials said.

For others, efforts to flee the country were not going as easily.

Airport officials said more than 18,000 passengers had been massed in about three departure terminals on Tuesday, more than half of them boarding special flights sent in by their governments.

“I have been at the airport since 3 p.m. yesterday. My flight was supposed to leave at 6 a.m. this morning, but now they’re saying at 3 p.m.,” said Carol Mangrum, a Clarksdale, Mississippi-resident who was on vacation in Egypt on Wednesday. “I’ve been here at the airport the whole time. I’m tired, but anxious to go home.”

The exodus of foreigners, and some Egyptians, reflected the unease and general weariness of many with the standoff between Mubarak and the tens of thousands of protesters demanding his ouster.

About 100 Germans left Alexandria on Tuesday and another 1,000 flew out of Cairo, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, adding that 10 consular officials were at Cairo airport while four were in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada and two in Luxor.

Britain, which has not ordered diplomatic staff to leave Egypt, said a chartered flight was leaving London at midday on Wednesday and would return Thursday with British nationals stranded in Cairo. It has advised its citizens in Egypt to leave, if possible. About 15,000 British tourists are also vacationing in the calmer Red Sea resorts that have been spared the mayhem in Cairo and Alexandria.

The government also defended its levying of a roughly $480 charge per seat on the aircraft, saying it did not want to undercut commercial services operating between Britain and Egypt.

The U.S. government will also bill Americans who opt to take one of its charter flights. While the cost has not been disclosed, officials said it was comparable to what a regular flight between Cairo and the safe haven destinations — Germany, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus — would cost.

The curfew, which until Wednesday ran between 3 p.m. to 8 a.m., had forced many airlines to readjust their schedules to account for the times when passengers would be able to come to the airport. Several temporarily suspended flights.

National carrier EgyptAir had organized just 29 or its 148 scheduled international and domestic flights. The airline has been canceling as many as 75 percent of its flights because it was unable to field enough crew, in part because of the curfew.

In a reflection of the hit Egypt’s vital tourism sector was experiencing, the airport’s arrival hall was largely empty. The only people moving through were journalists flying in to cover the country’s protests, as well as a group of about 345 Sudanese, Yemenis who came for a visit to Egypt, airport officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

___

Associated Press reporters from across Europe contributed to this report.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110202/ap_tr_ge/ml_travel_egypt_evacuations

Viator.com Puts the Love in Travel with the Spirit of Valentine’s Day, All …

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) February 2, 2011

As the urge to buy flowers and chocolates grows stronger, Viator.com wants travelers to think outside the heart-shaped box and opt for a more memorable romantic destination activity instead. The team at Viator, the leading resource for researching and booking more than 5,500 trip activities and experiences at the best prices, has suggestions for infusing an upcoming trip with a little Valentine-flavor, as well as the ultimate in romance – wedding packages. And, many of these activities are available on February 14th to make the most romantic day of the year even sweeter.

Europe

Many cities across Europe have an innate romantic feel, and a unique experience enjoyed with that special someone can easily evoke the spirit of Valentine’s Day, any time of year.

  •     The Private Tour: Venice Gondola Ride with Serenade takes travelers on a mesmerizing journey through the Venetian canals punctuated by a romantic serenade
  •     From the royal jewelers’ shop to the site of the upcoming nuptials, stroll with a loved one during the Prince William and Kate: The Royal Wedding Walking Tour
  •     A private capsule, a personal host and skip the line access with the London Eye: Romantic Private Capsule for Two with Champagne make for a memorable experience
  •     Travelers depart the Eiffel Tower and traverse the Parisian sights in true Cupid style during the Romantic Horse and Carriage Ride through Paris

United States

Gondolas aren’t just for Venice anymore. Cities in the U.S. offer their own unique romantic excursions that travelers as well as locals can share with their loved one.

  •     Lovers discover a hidden paradise in Los Angeles during the Romantic Huntington Harbor Private Gondola Ride, complete with serenade
  •     Baby its cold outside, but bundling up under a cozy blanket during the Lake Tahoe Sleigh Ride is enough to warm any chill in the air
  •     Passengers sip champagne during a magical Sausalito Champagne Seaplane Flight over the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and the Tiburon-Belvedere Peninsula
  •     Turn the amusement of the day into romance at night with an unforgettable and romantic Fireworks Helicopter Tour over Disney’s Epcot Center
  •     During a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, with Elvis, or in the car at the drive-thru, a wedding from Viator in Las Vegas, Miami or Tampa is the ultimate Valentine gift for that most special someone

Australia

A favorite backdrop for many a romantic activity is the beauty provided by Mother Nature, and destinations throughout Australia have that in droves.

  •     For an indulgent rendezvous, the Whitehaven Beach Champagne Picnic Tour by Helicopter offers up a beautiful beach and sea for a blissfully romantic experience
  •     Stars in the sky and flickering candles create the ambience dining in the rainforest during the Cairns Flames of the Forest Dining Experience
  •     All hearts are un-tethered and set soaring during balloon flights around the world including in Melbourne during the Yarra Valley Balloon Flight at Sunrise

Mexico the Caribbean

Romantic getaways and Mexico and the Caribbean are synonymous with each other. Destinations in both regions play host to some of the loveliest Valentine-inspired experiences around.

  •     Travelers set sail across beautiful Banderas Bay during the Puerto Vallarta Sunset Cruise and Candlelight Dinner Show with fire-lit torches, lapping seas, swaying palms and enticing music
  •     As the sun sets over the majestic Caribbean, the billowing square sails propel the Tall Ship Sunset Cruise from Phillipsburg, St. Maarten

To find cupid’s arrow and travel inspiration as well as the latest news, special promotions, deals, contests and suggestions, travelers can visit the Viator Travel Blog (travelblog.viator.com) as well as Twitter (ViatorTravel) and Facebook (ViatorTours).

About Viator

Viator is the world’s leading online resource for travel experiences, providing access to more than 5,500 tours, attractions and activities in 450-plus destinations in 75 countries. Viator – the Latin word for traveler – offers travelers a one-stop shop to plan, research and book trip activities with helpful resources like more than 200,000 traveler reviews and photos, star ratings, suggested itineraries and the Viator Travel Blog. Viator’s in-house travel experts have picked respected and trusted local operators to ensure a quality experience, value and service, all backed by Viator’s low-price guarantee. Founded in 1995, Viator sells its products directly to consumers at www.viator.com and through its global network of more than 1,000 affiliates that include major hotel and airline companies, online travel agencies, city-specific sites and more. Through its collection of company operated and affiliated sites, including seven European-language sites and a Japanese site, Viator welcomes more than 2.5 million visitors per month. Viator is headquartered in San Francisco with regional offices in Sydney, London and Las Vegas.

# # #

For the original version on PRWeb visit: www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2011/02/prweb5028854.htm

Article source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/02/02/prweb5028854.DTL

Fare Deals: Europe on sale and Vancouver hotel deal

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

tower of london england

All eyes will be on London this April for the Royal Wedding, but that’s not to say that the rest of Europe isn’t worthy of attention too. The entire continent is on sale with Trafalgar Tours, with savings of up to $1,000 per couple available on 2011 Trafalgar Europe guided holidays, for bookings made by Feb. 28 for travel April 1 to Dec. 31. To qualify for the maximum $1,000 savings, your trip must include airfare booked through Trafalgar. For land-only vacations, you can save up to $500 per couple. And in both cases itineraries must be at least nine days in duration. A new tour for 2011, the 10-day Royal Britain At Leisure, starts at $2,199 per person, twin share, with single supplements available from $700. See www.trafalgartours.ca.

VANCOUVER HOTEL DEAL

Among the more famous guests at the Pan Pacific Vancouver over the past 25 years, Robin Williams — hoping to avoid a commotion in the front lobby — ducked into the service elevator, then took a wrong turn and ended up in the staff lunchroom. Ever the entertainer, Williams launched into a comedy routine, giving new meaning to the phrase “dinner and a show” for delighted employees. Other notable guests, while perhaps not causing as much of a stir, have included the Prince and Princess of Wales, Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama. To help celebrate its quarter-century anniversary, the Pan Pacific Vancouver is offering a Fifth Night Free deal, subject to availability and valid through the end of the year. See www.panpacific.com and click on “Latest Offers” (then click on “Rooms and Suites”, and scroll down).

FOUR SEASONS’ CITY BREAKS

Participating Four Seasons Hotels Resorts properties across the Americas and Europe are promoting City Breaks packages including a spending credit of 100 euros or $100 (U.S.) for guests staying two or more nights, for use toward everything from dining to spa treatments. The list of locations is a long one and includes Miami, Chicago, Austin, Buenos Aires, Florence, Prague and Lisbon. For details check out www.fourseasons.com and click on “Special Offers”.

BEST BUY OF THE WEEK

Transat Holidays has teamed with Walt Disney World Resort to offer a Kids Stay, Play and Fly Free deal with accommodation at any Walt Disney Resort hotel, for children ages three to nine. Bookings must be made before Feb. 13 for travel Feb. 17 to April 16, and again April 28 to June 14 and Aug. 14 to Oct. 1. Children not only get free accommodation, they also receive a free Magic Your Way base ticket, and free airfare (based on one child per each paying adult). The only cost is the taxes. See www.transatholidays.com.

Kathryn Folliott is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Prices quoted are subject to change and availability.

PICKS OF THE WEEK

Sunquest: Cozumel, air and hotel, $899 (Feb. 27). www.sunquest.ca

Air Canada Vacations: Two-night New York City, air and hotel, $444 (select March departures). www.aircanadavacations.com

Nolitours: Margarita Island, air and hotel, $599 (March 8). www.nolitours.com

Signature Vacations: Riviera Maya, air and hotel, $895 (March 3). www.signaturevacations.com

Transat Holidays: Puerto Plata, air and hotel, $629 (March 4). www.transatholidays.com

Hola Sun Holidays: Cayo Largo, air and hotel, $618 (Feb. 11).

Bel Air Travel: Eastern Med cruise, $848 (May 22). www.belairtravel.com

Sunwing Vacations: Samana, air and hotel, $695 (March 22). www.sunwing.ca

Sell Off Vacations: Four-night Las Vegas, air and hotel, $305 (Feb. 13). www.selloffvacations.com

itravel2000: Four-night Nassau, air and hotel, $439 (Feb. 13). www.itravel2000.com

Sears Travel: Paris, air and hotel, $1,240 (Feb. 26). www.searstravel.ca

WestJet Vacations: St. Maarten, air and hotel, $1,369 (Feb. 22). www.westjetvacations.com

Tour East Holidays: 10-night Singapore Bali, air, hotel, tours, $2,350 (until March 31). www.toureast.com

Article source: http://www.thestar.com/travel/article/931547--fare-deals-europe-on-sale-and-vancouver-hotel-deal

Next Page »