Hipmunk Flight Search (for iPhone)

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Most online travel sites prioritize low fares above all things—namely your time, comfort, and ease. What makes Hipmunk’s Flight Search (for iPhone) so refreshing is that it retrieves the same great fares and organizes results in ways that elevate your travel experience. By visualizing flight durations, highlighting layovers, and allowing users to filter results by cost, departure time, flight length, and level of “agony”—an aggregate of the three—Hipmunk helps travelers to better understand the hidden costs of travel deals. If Hipmunk’s desktop site connects metasearch with traveler priorities, Hipmunk Flight Search transports the experience to the iPhone.

Connected Traveler

The Search
Despite a somewhat limited interface and the absence of hotel booking and thus vacation bundling (key for broader savings), Hipmunk Flight Search looks great on the iPhone. While it lacks the increased screen estate of the iPad, the iPhone app is largely identical to its sibling, Hipmunk Flight Search (for iPad) (Free, 3.5 stars). The experience of using Hipmunk is not dissimilar to that of metasearchers Bing Travel (Free) and Kayak (Free, 3 stars): You enter a departure and destination, dates, class (coach, business, or first), number of travelers, and results arrive from a wide array of merchants, ranging from American Airlines to Expedia (Free, 3.5 stars). Granted, searching with Hipmunk does possess flourishes—the app auto-fills airport names, retains recent departures and destinations, and provides a fairly adorable Chipmunk animation while search results load—but the action and product of search is largely the same. It’s what Hipmunk does with those search results that makes the service different.

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The Results
Flights appear as bars on a grid (time of day horizontal, pricing vertical). By default, Hipmunk arranges results by their level of “Agony,” weighing flight length, cost, and number of stops. Consider Agony the counterweight to the site’s “Ecstasy” filter for hotels (cost, amenities, and Yelp rating). While there are dedicated tabs for early birds (Departure), time trackers (Length), and penny pinchers (Cost), I consider the Agony the highlight of Hipmunk because it accounts for important, otherwise unrepresented variables. For example, if I were booking a flight on Kayak I’d probably go with the lowest fare; with Agony I see that that same deal will consume half my day and require a plane change. Kayak isn’t hiding this information, but they also aren’t highlighting it.

Visually, Hipmunk tells a more complete story without asking travelers to explore flight details. If wireless Internet is available on a flight, you’ll see a small Wi-Fi emblem on the flight bar. Color-coding makes it easy to identify common carriers (e.g. orange for Delta, black US Airways) or to spot multi-carrier flights (via multi-colored bars). Layovers are cleverly indicated, also: If you see a white band with an airport code, you know that the flight has a layover (for example, one of my flights had a “CLT” band, indicating a layover in Charlotte), and the location and width of that band indicates the time and duration of the layover.

The Booking
As with Bing Travel or Kayak, Hipmunk sends you to a merchant site once you’re ready to purchase. The benefit is that you get the best possible price; the compromise is that there’s no pricing guarantee except that which is offered at point of sale. This means that if you book through Editors’ Choice pick Orbitz (Free, 4 stars), you’ll be better protected than if you buy directly from KLM.

By tapping a flight bar you can review flight information, complete a a transaction via booking link, or buy directly through a merchant. Flight information provides more detail than the default grid view (e.g. flight numbers and exact departure and arrival times), though you shouldn’t expect the granularity that you might get from competitors (e.g. seat maps and flight amenities). Hipmunk doesn’t let you bookmark a particular flight for later reference; however, you can complete the transaction from a desktop using a dedicated URL (http://finish.hipmunk.com) and a generated phrase (for my flight, “enement”) which you can enter to retrieve your flight info—much cooler and easier to use than a long code number. If, however, you’re comfortable completing the transaction from your iPhone, clicking “Book” sends you to the merchant’s booking webpage.

Price, Priorities, and the iPhone
If you desire detailed booking information, granular filtering options, vacation bundling, or a pricing guarantee, Hipmunk Flight Search (for iPhone) probably isn’t for you. But, honestly, neither is the desktop site. Instead, Flight Search delivers for the iPhone what’s great about the Hipmunk’s desktop Web booking experience: expansive search results and a UI that underscores the often-unstressed, but always-meaningful features of a flight, such as durations, layovers, plane changes. If you’re looking to metasearch results made human, download this refreshingly simple, free app today.

More iPhone Software:
•   Hipmunk Flight Search (for iPhone)
•   Travelocity (for iPhone)
•   Dragon Go! (for iPhone)
•   Ask.com (for iPhone)
•   Bing (for iPhone)
•  more

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2390546,00.asp

Crystal Symphony: Good time, good deeds

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Social change can be part of the itinerary on a Crystal cruise from New York to Montreal. The Lighthouses to Lobsters cruise aboard Crystal Symphony in September offers a free shore excursion for those who want to help the Boston nonprofit Cradles to Crayons organize and distribute items to homeless children. The three-hour volunteer session is free and good for adults and children.

Itinerary: The cruise starts in New York City and stops in Newport, R.I.; Boston; Bar Harbor, Maine; and Halifax, Quebec City and Montreal in Canada. The cruise is one-way and ends in Montreal. (Other cruises also include different volunteer opportunities as part of the company’s “You Care, We Care” program.)

Dates: Sept. 13-24.

Price: A stateroom starts at $4,495 a person, based on double occupancy, and includes an airfare allowance of $500 a person. The price also includes meals, entertainment and services aboard the ship. Airfare to New York and from Montreal is not included.

Contact: Crystal Cruises, (888) 799-4625, or contact a travel agent.

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/lat-crystal-symphony-good-time-good-deeds-20110805,1,5310611.story

Plane’s tire catches fire after landing

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

An American Airlines plane was quickly evacuated after landing at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Friday afternoon after a report of a fire.

One of the tires of the plane apparently caught fire after landing. Airline spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said the captain declared an emergency after noticing the brakes overheating upon landing.

There may have been flames near the tires, but there was definitely smoke, said Fagan.

The Boeing 767-300 was evacuated via emergency slides, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.

Fagan said there were 220 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

Eight people refused treatment, according to Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride. The passengers were taken via bus to the international terminal for processing.

The flight, American Airlines 41, landed just after 2 p.m. and originated from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The plane will be inspected to determine the cause of the fire.

This story first appeared on NBC Chicago.

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Article source: http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/08/05/7268045-planes-tire-catches-fire-after-landing

Enjoy a change of pace with one of these travel deals

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

The vitality pool in ‘The Rainforest’, a hydrothermal circuit at the Banyan Tree Al Wadi resort in Ras Al Khaimah.

Ras Al Khaimah

Banyan Tree Al Wadi has a Ramadan package that includes a half-board stay in a villa, a 60-minute “Rainforest Experience” session at the Hydrotherapy Spa for two; breakfast; a choice of lunch or dinner in Al Waha restaurant or Sands restaurant, a discount of 30 per cent on spa treatments and complimentary access to the Kids Club. Prices start at Dh1,535 per night, based on two sharing, for stays in Al Rimal or the beachfront pool villas. The offer is valid through August. Call 07 2067605 for more information and to book.

New Zealand

Enjoy many spectacular settings with the “Ultimate New Zealand” nine-night package that includes three nights in three different luxury resorts. Each stay also includes one activity for two people. The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs includes a 50-minute massage or a guided fishing excursion to a private beach (after the two-hour trip, the chef will prepare your catch for the evening meal). At the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, enjoy either the “Kiwi Discovery Walk” with an experienced wildlife preservation team or a guided quad-bike tour around the Farm’s 2,000-hectare estate. Matakauri Lodge offers a cruise aboard a 100-year-old steamer on Lake Wakatipu (with transfers) or a ride in a jet boat through the dramatic and narrow canyons of the Shotover River. The entire package costs from NZ$8,000 (Dh25,900) per person, including breakfast, lunch or dinner, pre-dinner beverages and taxes. International airfares and local transport are not included. For more information, visit www.eliteresortsofasiapacific.com.


Explore the Dalmatian Coast on wheels on this eight-day trip to Croatia. Starting in Split and finishing in Dubrovnik, you’ll cycle through the islands of Hvar and Korcula, taking in a variety of sights including seaside villages, medieval walled towns and quiet pebble bays, all set against a beautiful backdrop of pine forests and mountains. At the end of the tour, you’ll have a couple of nights to explore the historic port of Dubrovnik. The eight-day trip costs from £789 (Dh4,760) per person, including accommodation, some meals, vehicle support and local transport. International airfares are not included. Visit www.exodus.co.uk for more details.

Austria and the Netherlands

Plan a break in Austria with Emirates’ special Ramadan and Eid packages. Stay four nights at the Grand Spa Resort A-Rosa Kitzbuhel, located in the Tyrolean Mountains, for the price of three. The offer costs from Dh7,500 per person, half-board, based on two sharing, and includes return economy class flights, transfers and taxes. Or try the Netherlands: the three-night package for the price of two starts from Dh6,440 per person and includes accommodation at the Sofitel Legend in Amsterdam, based on two sharing with return airfare, breakfast, transfers and taxes. The offers are valid until September 30. Call 800 5252 or visit www.emiratesholidays.com.


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Article source: http://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/travel/enjoy-a-change-of-pace-with-one-of-these-travel-deals

Hawaii Tourism Authority creates app for travelers (AP)

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Tourism Authority has developed an iPhone application with information about festivals and other events throughout the islands.

HTA Tourism Brand Manager Michael Story says the app will simplify life for travelers looking for things to do in Hawaii.

He says the agency will continue to look for new and innovative ways to inform residents and visitors as technology evolves.

Users can use the app to search for events on six islands — Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii.

They may also look for events among categories including Hawaiian, arts and music, cuisine and sports.

The agency said in a statement Thursday the app is free and available on the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110805/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_tourism_app

Busch Gardens launches iPhone application (AP)

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is offering a new smartphone application that will help tourists find information such as wait times for roller coasters, restaurant menus or restroom locations.

The mobile application is available for the iPhone. Busch Gardens says an Android-based version will be available soon.

The app includes an interactive map that allows GPS-compatible phones to navigate the 150-acre park.

Busch Gardens spokesman Dan Dipiazzo says the app is another tool that can make guest visits more enjoyable.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110805/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_busch_gardens_app

Dream Vacations On The Cheap Can Be Reality

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

POSTED: 1:45 pm EDT August 5, 2011
UPDATED: 5:40 pm EDT August 5, 2011

Article source: http://www.wtae.com/money/28779247/detail.html

Yellowstone July visitors top 900,000 (AP)

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – The number of monthly visitors to Yellowstone National Park topped 900,000 in July for only the third time in park history.

Park officials say Yellowstone had nearly 907,000 recreational visitors last month. That’s the second-largest number of visitors to the park in one month on record.

The record of nearly 958,000 park visitors was set in July 2010.

Some 1.8 million people have visited Yellowstone so far this year. That’s down about 8 percent compared to the first seven months of last year, though last year set a record.

July is typically the peak month for Yellowstone tourism, followed by August, June, September, and May.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110805/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_yellowstone_visitors

SAfrica to open new museum honoring Nelson Mandela (AP)

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

JOHANNESBURG – South African officials say they will build a dedicated museum honoring Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid, on the site where he was arrested 49 years ago.

Mandla Mandela spoke Friday on behalf of his grandfather at the launch of an exhibition at the undeveloped museum site. He said Mandela asked him to urge South Africans to remember all who were active in the struggle against apartheid, not just him.

The provincial government will pay for the $1.2 million museum and memorial, which is expected to create jobs in the largely rural area.

Mandela was arrested near the town of Howick, some 300 miles (500 kilometers) from Johannesburg, on August 5, 1962. He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110805/ap_tr_ge/af_travel_brief_south_africa_mandela_museum

Senate approves bill to end aviation shutdown (AP)

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

WASHINGTON – The Senate approved legislation Friday ending a two-week partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, clearing the way for thousands of employees to return to work and hundreds of airport construction projects to resume.

The upper chamber approved a House of Representatives-passed bill extending FAA’s operating authority through mid-September.

Nearly 4,000 furloughed FAA employees can return to work as soon as Monday if President Barack Obama signs the bill before then. The shutdown has cost the government about $400 million in uncollected airline ticket taxes and idled thousands of construction workers.

“This impasse was an unnecessary strain on local economies across the country at a time when we can’t allow politics to get in the way of our economic recovery,” Obama said in a statement. “So I’m glad that this stalemate has finally been resolved.”

A bipartisan compromise reached Thursday cleared the way for Senate passage of the House bill, which includes a provision eliminating $16.5 million in air service subsidies to 13 rural communities. But the bill also includes language that gives Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood the authority to continue subsidized service to the 13 communities if he decides it’s necessary

Republicans had insisted on the subsidy cuts as their price for restoring the FAA to full operation.

The shutdown began when much of Washington was transfixed by the stalemate over increasing the government’s debt limit. During that time, the FAA furloughed some workers but kept air traffic controllers and most safety inspectors on the job. Forty airport safety inspectors worked without pay, picking up their own travel expenses. Some 70,000 workers on construction-related jobs on airport projects from were idled as the FAA couldn’t pay for the work.

But airline passengers in the busy travel season hardly noticed any changes. Airlines continued to work as normal, but they were no longer authorized to collect federal ticket taxes at a rate of $30 million a day. For a few lucky ticket buyers, prices dropped. But for most, nothing changed because airlines kept the new profits from the missing tax.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110805/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_aviation_shutdown