French strike grounds hundreds of flights (AP)

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

PARIS – Hundreds of flights in France were cancelled on Tuesday, including 40 percent out of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, as unions ratcheted up pressure on day two of a strike over labor rights.

Air France forecast that it could guarantee just 50 percent of long-distance flights Tuesday, after running 85 percent of them on Monday.

The airline, among the world’s biggest, said in a statement that 70 percent of short- and medium-range flights would be maintained.

At the heart of the dispute is the right to strike itself. Unions representing pilots, cabin, ground crews and others called the walkout to protest a draft law that would require air transport workers to give 48 hours notice before striking.

A spokesman for the Paris airport authority ADP said 40 percent of flights out of Charles de Gaulle were canceled on Tuesday. Most of those were announced to passengers the day before, the official said, but the airport also saw a few last-minute cancellations. The airport sees about 1,500 landings and take-offs per day on a normal day, he said.

At Paris’ Orly Airport, about 15 percent of flights were cancelled, the spokesman said. He wasn’t authorized to be publicly named according to the airport authority’s policy.

Red “cancelled” signs dotted the huge screens greeting passengers to Charles de Gaulle, and long lines snaked out from the Air France service desk.

Italian Carmen Devecchio reached Paris after a 24 hour journey from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo. “I hope I have a chance to go back home today,” she said.

But Italian airports are struggling with unusually heavy snowfall. “Therefore I don’t know if we can land in Italy,” either, she said.

Transport Minister Thierry Mariani says the bill is needed to protect passengers in a country where strikes occur regularly. The bill passed in the lower house of parliament last month, and goes to the Senate later this month.

The conservative-led parliament passed a law a few years ago requiring a minimum level of service during strikes and warning time ahead of walkouts on other forms of public transport.

The Air France statement suggested frustration with the current rules, noting that last-minute changes may await because “personnel is not required to warn ahead of time of their intention” to strike.


Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

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Blood clot guidelines challenge economy class risk (AP)

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

CHICAGO – Good news for budget-minded travelers: There’s no proof that flying economy-class increases your chances of dangerous blood clots, according to new guidelines from medical specialists.

Travelers’ blood clots have been nicknamed “economy class syndrome” but the new advice suggests this is a misnomer.

The real risk is not getting up and moving during long flights, whether flying coach or first-class. Sitting by the window seems to play a role, because it makes people less likely to leave their seats, the guidelines say.

Still, even on long flights, lasting at least four hours, the risk for most people is extremely low and not something to be alarmed about, said Dr. Gordon Guyatt, chairman of an American College of Chest Physicians’ committee that wrote the new guidelines.

The group, based in Northbrook, Ill., represents more than 18,000 physicians whose specialties include lung disease and critical care. The guidelines were released online Tuesday in the group’s journal, Chest. They’re based on a review of recent research and other medical evidence on deep vein thrombosis, blood clots that form deep in leg veins.

Flights lasting at least eight hours are riskiest, the guidelines say.

Muscles in the lower legs help push blood in the legs and feet back to the heart. Sitting still for extended periods of time without using these muscles puts pressure on leg veins and blood “tends to sit there,” which can increase chance for clots to form, said Guyatt, a researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. These clots can cause leg pain, swelling and redness, and can be life-threatening if they travel to the lungs. They can be treated with blood-thinning drugs, but may cause permanent damage to leg veins.

Most people who develop these clots have risk factors, including obesity, older age, recent surgery, a history of previous blood clots or use of birth control pills.

The average risk for a deep vein blood clot in the general population is about 1 per 1,000 each year. Long-haul travel doubles the chance, but still, the small risk should reassure healthy travelers that they’re unlikely to develop clots, said Dr. Susan Kahn, a co-author of the new guidelines and a professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal.

Traveling by bus, train and car may also increase the risks, the guidelines say.

Besides taking a stroll down the aisle during flights, doing calf exercises including flexing and extending the ankles while seated can help prevent clots, Kahn said.

The guidelines recommend these precautions and use of special compression stockings only for people at increased risk for clots. They advise long-distance travelers against using aspirin or other blood thinners to prevent blood clots.



American College of Chest Physicians’ journal:

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Grand Canyon banning plastic water bottles sales (AP)

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. – Disposable plastic water bottles soon won’t be sold at the Grand Canyon.

The National Park Service announced Monday that it has approved a plan to eliminate the sale of the bottles within 30 days. They make up about 20 percent of the park’s waste and 30 percent of recyclables.

Visitors can fill up reusable containers at water stations, though the ban doesn’t keep them from bringing disposable bottles into the park.

Park Service director Jon Jarvis had nixed a bottle ban at the Grand Canyon in late 2010. A former park superintendent had raised suspicion that the Coca-Cola Co, a major water bottle producer, unduly influenced the Park Service. But the agency and Coca-Cola denied that.

Jarvis recently released a national policy outlining how park superintendents could institute a ban.

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Tom Parsons’ February travel deals

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Last time he stopped by News 8, Tom Parsons with warned to hold off on buying tickets to Europe if your trip was after April 1st. This time he shows the hundreds saved if you did, as well as the best times to buy for summer travel.

Airfares to Europe from April 9 – May 17 have dropped significantly from a month ago:

  • Amsterdam – $859, saving $480
  • Paris – $829, saving $460
  • Rome – $899, saving $400
  • Milan – $899, saving $430
  • Nice – $869, saving $420
  • Brussels – $789, saving $370
  • London – $859, saving $300

If you are booking for after May 18, you will want to wait for deals to come available for June. Deals are harder to find from July until August 18.

Rent an SUV for a week, valid through June 30:

  • Orlando – $230, saving $282
  • Ft. Lauderdale – $245, saving $269
  • San Francisco – $233, saving $341
  • Phoenix – $286, saving $269
  • Dallas Love Field – $223, saving $232
  • Los Angeles – $213, saving $204

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Air France advises passengers to postpone flying until after four-day strike

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Air France said it would cancel almost half its long-haul flights Tuesday on the second day of a strike by French pilots, flight attendants and other workers. The airline advised passengers to postpone their trips until after Friday.

Passengers who have tickets to fly during the strike, scheduled to end Thursday, can change their plans to fly later this month without incurring a penalty or change fees, Air France said. They may postpone their travel as late as April 23 if the same fare is available; otherwise, they would have to pay the difference in costs.

Flights at Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris have been hardest hit by the strike. The airline estimated it would be able to operate only about half of its long flights and 70% of its shorter flights Tuesday. On Monday, it operated more than 75% of its flight schedule, including most of its long-haul flights.

Air France isn’t the only airline affected by the strike. If you are flying to or from France this week, check with your carrier or travel agent about the status of your flight and about options to change your itinerary.

Aviation workers are striking over a proposed law that they say would affect their right to strike, according to media reports. The measure would require workers to provide 48 hours notice before a strike, CNN says.

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New Survey Shows Technology, Travel Deals Top Small Businesses Wish List

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

/PRNewswire/ — A new customer survey conducted by B2B daily deals service RapidBuyr ( has found that mobile technologies and travel deals top the list of purchases that small business owners plan to make in the coming year.

Not surprisingly, tablet computers, like the iPad, appear to be in high demand, with 49 percent saying they intend to purchase one in the next six to 12 months. In addition, 44 percent plan to buy mobile phones, a trend that points to the growing popularity of mobile technologies, especially among small businesses that thrive on agility and demand technologies that enable them to work from anywhere at any time.

Perhaps related to the mobile demand, travel services also top the list of planned expenditures, with 62 percent of respondents planning air travel, while 55 percent will need hotel rooms. Restaurants and rental car services also show strong demand, at 38 and 34 percent, respectively.

“These results underscore just how important having access to the latest technology can be for small businesses to allow them to get more done with fewer resources,” said Pete Angus, director of marketing with RapidBuyr. “But, these products also tend to be quite expensive, and this is exactly where RapidBuyr can do the most good, by offering small businesses big savings on the products and services they need most.”

In addition to revealing new insights into the buying habits of small businesses, the RapidBuyr survey also confirmed that computer hardware and peripherals, along with web design and printing services, remain vital, every-day needs. While these items are in high demand, Angus says the small business market is often overlooked by the major vendors because it is highly fragmented, with little potential for the bulk buying power that makes big businesses so attractive to vendors.

This is where RapidBuyr comes in: by creating a captive audience pool of millions of small business customers, RapidBuyr brings big-business buying power to small businesses, offering up to 80 percent off on technology products like printers, headsets and even software and SaaS products, along with other business products and service from both national brands and local merchants. RapidBuyr deals are distributed daily to an audience of nearly 40 million SMBs across the country through a growing network of partnerships with leading business media outlets.

More than 2,000 customers responded to the survey, which was conducted in November and December 2011. RapidBuyr plans to repeat the survey every few months to assess small business needs and keep a finger on the pulse of purchasing plans to help fine tune its offerings with the best deals on the most relevant products and services.

For more information about RapidBuyr and to check out the national or local deal in your area, visit

About RapidBuyrRapidBuyr offers a network of local and nationwide daily deals for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). The service provides millions of businesses with deep discounts of up to 80 percent on products and services such as computers, software, peripherals, information subscriptions, general merchandise, local services, travel and sporting events. Founded by successful entrepreneurs from Amazon, Microsoft, CNET, Dow Jones and Ziff Davis, the company’s exclusive relationships with,, American City Business Journals, and UBM Electronics power local distribution and enable access to a highly targeted business audience. RapidBuyr syndicates its social commerce platform to companies seeking to monetize their B2B audiences via transaction revenues. For more information, visit





SOURCE RapidBuyr

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Tony Danza to hit Broadway in ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ (AP)

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

NEW YORK – Tony Danza is Broadway-bound, starring in a musical based on the movie “Honeymoon in Vegas.”

Producers said Monday that the former “Taxi” star will play a Vegas wiseguy in the show, which makes its debut in November in Toronto. It is then headed to Broadway in the spring of 2013.

The musical features music and lyrics by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown and a book by Andrew Bergman, who also directed and wrote the film.

The 1992 movie starred James Caan, Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker. It tells the story of a reluctant groom whose bride-to-be is courted by Danza’s character.

Danza was on Broadway in Mel Brooks’ musical “The Producers” and in the 1997 production of “A View from the Bridge.”



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Colonial Williamsburg’s admissions down in 2011 (AP)

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Colonial Williamsburg says its paid admission for the historic area fell in 2011 in what it called a challenging year.

The area recorded 670,500 paid general admission tickets in 2011, down about 2 percent from the 686,000 the year before. But its total visitation for 2011 remained the same at 1.7 million. The gate count formula compares total visitation to Colonial Williamsburg’s open setting with attendance at gated or turnstile sites. Entrance to the area is free, but admission tickets are needed for access to certain buildings.

Officials say attendance was negatively impacted by a decline in consumer confidence coupled with extreme weather conditions.

“At the start of 2011, there was reason for cautious optimism, but as the year unfolded, the realities of the world around us — the uncertain economy and political gridlock in Washington, as well as both an earthquake and hurricane — turned out to be unusually challenging,” Colin G. Campbell, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, said in a statement.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates and maintains the preserved 18th century site as an educational and tourist venue.

Fundraising, however, increased in 2011 as nearly 109,000 donors nationwide made gifts totaling $14.5 million compared with $14.3 million in 2010. Officials say Virginians accounted for 16 percent of the donors.

Looking ahead to 2012, Colonial Williamsburg says it will be the site of a Civil War encampment in May to commemorate the Battle of Williamsburg as part of events to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

The art museums at the historic area also will feature new exhibitions, including an original 18th-century fire engine, an exhibition of tall case clocks, American folk art portraits, “tramp art” or notched carved wooden objects, and historical keyboard instruments.

Officials for Colonial Williamsburg also say they are continuing to forge a closer link between the area and Jamestowne in order to provide new, integrated programs to help tell the stories of Jamestowne’s struggles to survive.

The Williamsburg Inn, which was included on U.S. News World Report’s list of best hotels in the U.S., also is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

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Senior Travel: Great deals on positioning cruises

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

If you’ve ever wanted to get a great deal on a cruise, now is the time. The big cruise agencies are quoting rates as low as $32 per person per day on transatlantic “positioning” cruises. That translates to as low as $419 per person for a 13-night trip. Cruising doesn’t get any cheaper than that.

Cruise lines run positioning cruises twice each year: in the spring, when ships move from the Caribbean and Mexico to the Mediterranean for the summer, and again in the fall when the ships return to warm-weather regions for the winter. Spring cruises generally run from Florida to Spain or Italy, taking anywhere from 11 to 17 days, with a few longer options. A few also depart from Galveston, New Orleans, or the New York area. Daily rates are often as little as half summer or winter rates, and total prices for two weeks are about the same as, or less than, prices for peak-season one-week trips.

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The experience on a positioning cruise is not the same as on a typical one-week peak season cruise. One-week itineraries in the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, or the Mediterranean typically stop at a different port every day, for most of the day. Although positioning cruises do make intermediate port calls, they also entail several consecutive days on the open sea:

– A typical 13-night itinerary starts at Fort Lauderdale, followed by seven days at sea, then calls at Tenerife in the Canary Islands for a day, another day at sea, consecutive all day calls at Lisbon, Cadiz, and Malaga, another day at sea, and finally terminates at Barcelona.

– Other cruises stop at some combination of San Juan, St. Maarten, Tortola, Antigua, the Azores, Madeira, Gibraltar, the Balearics, Valencia, Genoa, Marseilles, and terminate in Rome or Venice.

– A few cruises take a more northerly route; they stop at some combination of Amsterdam, Bermuda, Cherbourg, Cork, Halifax, Le Havre, Warnemunde (for Berlin), Tallinn, and St. Petersburg, and terminate in Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Southampton, or Stockholm.

Cruise agencies list spring positioning cruises departing from the United States March 10 through May 8, with the largest number of options in April. The lowest rates I could find are for trips on the big mass-market lines’ megaships leaving in April. One example is for a 13-night itinerary on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, leaving Miami for Malaga on April 18, with calls at San Juan, St. Maarten, and Tenerife. Inside cabins start at $449, or $35 per person per night; ocean-view cabins start at $649. If you want to splurge on a balcony stateroom — which I would probably do on such a long cruise — you can take an 11-night trip on the Norwegian Epic from Miami to Barcelona for $699 per person. Other ships where you can get an inside cabin for less than $50 per person per night are the Adventure of the Seas, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Sun, Serenade of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Voyager of the Seas; Holland America has several with rates starting between $50 and $60 a night, per person. More upscale lines also run positioning cruises, but rates are considerably higher, starting at around $80 per person per night on some lines and starting at more than $200 a night on Seabourn and Crystal.

If you like to book early, you can also arrange return fall-season cruises from Europe to the United States. But the best prices are usually last-minute.

Most cruise lines or cruise agencies can arrange one-way air returning from Europe. But you might find better deals on your own, and you might want to use frequent flyer miles.

Obviously, for a couple, a price of $100 a day, including accommodations, food, and most entertainment is a pretty good buy by just about any standard. Yes, these days the mass-market cruise lines are adding fees for services that were once “free,” but even so, a positioning cruise is hard to beat as a vacation value. Check with your travel agency or any of the big online cruise agencies such as,, or

Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at Perkins’ new book for small business and independent professionals, “Business Travel When It’s Your Money,” is now available through or

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5 Ways to Find Travel Deals Using Social Media

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

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Finding travel deals on the Internet seems to get easier and more fun each year.

It used to be that you’d have to book directly through airlines and hotels, and then came the aggregators. Sites like Orbitz and Priceline made prices more transparent — and deal seekers rejoiced.

Now, there are tons of web and mobile applications that specialize in travel, and social media is making easier than ever for travelers to plan, book and share details about their travel itineraries.

The world of social media travel deals is ever-changing, so we’re glad to present you with the latest information on how to find travel deals using social media. Read on for five hot tips, and let us know your deal seeking strategies in the comments below.

1. Stay on Top of Twitter Deals

Finding travel deals on Twitter is all about following the right accounts, utilizing search and acting fast when the right deal pops up.

For starters, follow — or make a Twitter list of — the airlines you often fly and the hotels you often book. Wanderlisting is a great resource for finding not only airlines and hotels on Twitter, but also travel bloggers, publications and tips. Just a heads-up, JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic are known to tweet out some pretty sweet deals, too.

Also consider following aggregators that focus on tweeting out the latest travel deals. Two well-cited resources are @airfarewatchdog and @cheapestairfare. For city-specific alerts, you can also check out’s Twitter list of city accounts.

But you don’t always have to be on Twitter to reap the rewards of its service. enables users to receive real-time tweets when airfare prices drop from their home airport — or you can simply browse its web app for deals.

If following isn’t working out for you, try searching Twitter. A quick search for “NYC travel deals,” for example, yields a number of relevant tweets, including one from Travelzoo, promoting NYC hotel deals, and another from the L.A. Times promoting a Valentine’s Day dinner deal in New York.

If you know your destination, seek out local accounts using the Who To Follow tab. If you’re traveling to Aruba, for example, you could benefit from following @ArubaTourism and @VisitAruba. You’ll also notice that a number of hotels in the area have active Twitter accounts, including @ArubaMarriott, @RadissonAruba and @HolidayInnAruba.

If you’re really not sure where you’d like to go, the hashtag #traveldeals is always a good fallback.

2. Use Facebook for Loyalty Reward Programs

While you could follow airlines, hotels and deal sites on Facebook, we don’t recommend clogging up your stream with travel deals. The occasional “like” for your favorite travel companies is enough.

In general, Facebook doesn’t offer many good experiences for finding deals and booking travel. While a number of airlines — including Alaska Airlines and Malaysia Airlines — have Facebook apps that help you book flights, you’re not going to get the best deals if you’re searching just one airline.

If serendipity presents you with a great deal, that’s wonderful. Otherwise, keep your Facebook travel deal searching to a minimum. You’re better off using the usual web apps of choice — Kayak, Orbitz, Hipmunk and Airbnb, among others.

That being said, Facebook does come in handy when you’re a member of a hotel or airline’s loyalty membership program. If you are a Hilton HHonors member or Starwood Preferred Guest, for example, it’s a great idea to “like” the program’s Facebook Page and sit back while offers roll in.

If you’re seriously addicted to Facebook, though, you should try out Airbnb’s Facebook app, which enables users to find and rent homes around the world.

3. Get Social Recommendations

There are a number of apps — such as Gogobot — that enable users to pull travel advice from their social graphs.

Check out the latest on the block, Trippy. It lets you get your friends’ recommendations for places to visit and things to do when you’re planning a trip. After all, it’s great to get a recommendation from a friend who has already traveled the road you’re about to take. Once a trip is planned, the user can even check rates or book the trip right from Trippy’s platform.

This strategy should be used in tandem with other deal searches, though — while it could lead to finding the best recommendations from your friends, they may not be the cheapest.

4. Forums Still Count

While you don’t hear about forums much anymore — mostly due to the fact that they’re horribly designed and difficult to navigate — they can still be useful, especially for the travel-deal hunter.

For all the latest news and gossip regarding loyalty reward programs and travel deals, check out FlyerTalk, which deems itself “the world’s most popular frequent flyer community.” This savvy group of travelers will have you snatching up great deals in no time.

5. Last-Minute Lodging Deals

If you fly by the seat of your pants and have arrived in your destination city without a place to stay, there are a number of options for booking last-minute lodging. For starters, check out HotelTonight, an app that enables you to book a room at discounts of up to 70%.

Likewise, you could try using Airbnb’s iPhone app, which has a button appropriately labeled “Help! I need a place tonight!” You could also try the standby feature if you can’t find an Airbnb spot — this prompts local homeowners to send offers your way, usually at lower rates than they usually charge.

And lastly, don’t forget Foursquare. While it’s unlikely that you’ll find discounted hotel prices, you could discover some other sweet perks. I did a quick search for on Foursquare for hotels within 10 miles, and I found a special for 1,000 Priority Club Rewards Bonus Points for checking in three times at the Crowne Plaza in Times Square. For the right person, loyalty points could be a better deal than a discounted bill. Not too shabby, right?

Your Tips

What’s your strategy for finding travel deals using social media? Let us know your best tips in the comments below.

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