Brazil jet makes forced stop after pilot attack (AP)

February 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

SAO PAULO – A Brazilian airliner safely made a forced landing after a passenger had a “psychotic attack,” entered the cockpit and assaulted a pilot, crew members and passengers who tried to subdue him, witnesses said.

The TAM Airlines jet was en route from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Sao Paulo when a man who some passengers said was wearing a TAM identification badge got into the cockpit because the door was open. Shortly after, the plane dove to the right, causing passengers to scream and the pilot to yell for help over the speaker system.

“All of a sudden shouts were heard from inside the cabin, and two stewardesses came out asking for help and grabbing a young man by his feet,” one unidentified passenger told Uruguay’s El Pais newspaper. “The people quickly jumped on top of him, the guy fought back furiously, biting and hurting a half dozen people.

“In a kind of collective action they were able to immobilize him, tying him to a seat.”

Uruguay’s Industry Minister Roberto Kreimerman was on board the Saturday afternoon flight, leading a trade delegation that was on its way to China. He told Uruguayan newspaper El Observador that when the plane veered sharply, passengers started screaming and fearing for their lives.

The jet safely landed at the Porto Alegre airport in southern Brazil about 20 minutes after the incident with the man subdued in the rear of the plane, a police spokesman said Sunday. The suspect was arrested by federal police and taken to a mental care facility.

TAM confirmed the incident in a brief emailed statement, but offered few details.

Flight 8047 “landed at the Porto Alegre airport because of an uproar on board. … The incident is being investigated by authorities, with the collaboration of the company,” the statement read.

An airline spokeswoman in Sao Paulo would not confirm if the cockpit was breached nor if the attacker was a TAM employee, as passengers told newspapers in Brazil and Uruguay.

“It seemed as if we were in a movie about the 9/11 attacks,” passenger Matias Velazco, a former journalist for El Observador, told the newspaper.

He said it took about 10 minutes for crew members and passengers to subdue the man.

“Four of them tried to hold him down and they couldn’t. One tried to give him an injection to sedate him, another hit him and still they couldn’t control him,” Velazco said.

The suspect was eventually tied up with plastic handcuffs, taken to the rear of the plane and pinned into a back seat.

The unidentified passenger who spoke to the El Pais newspaper said that “the man injured various passengers, biting them and hitting them. Luckily that was the worst that happened, but it could have been a tragedy.”

Federal police inspector Luiz Daiello told Porto Alegre’s Zero Hora newspaper the suspect had “suffered a psychotic attack” while on board. The man calmed down as the plane was landing.

But Daiello said once federal police tried to take the man into custody, he became violent, and had to be subdued with a stun gun before being taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.


Associated Press writers Michael Warren in Buenos Aires and Raul Garces in Montevideo contributed to this report.

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Fuel removal under way on Italy cruise ship (AP)

February 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

ROME – Underwater pumping operations began Sunday to remove some of the 500,000 gallons of fuel aboard the Costa Concordia, officials said, nearly a month after the cruise ship ran aground off Tuscany.

After nearly two weeks of delays because of rough seas and bad weather, the pumping got under way on the first of 15 tanks that are believed to hold around 84 percent of the fuel on board, Italy’s civil protection department said.

Officials say it will take 28 consecutive days of pumping to empty the tanks.

Dutch shipwreck salvage firm Smit is overseeing the operation, along with an Italian partner.

The fuel extraction process involves fixing valves on the underwater fuel tanks, one on top, one on bottom. Hoses are attached to the valves and as the oil — which must be warmed to make it less gooey — is sucked out of the upper hose, sea water is pumped in to fill the vacuum via the lower hose.

“We expect the next five days to be good weather, and we will work 24 hours a day to pump out the fuel,” said Bart Huizing, Smit’s salvage master. He said operations would initially focus on the six tanks in the front part of the ship where about 62-65 percent of the fuel is located.

“Hopefully by the end of the week we will have the majority out,” he told The Associated Press in Giglio.

Ever since the Concordia ran aground Jan. 13, fears have swirled about fuel leaks and resulting contamination of the pristine waters off the tiny island of Giglio, which form part of a protected sanctuary for dolphins, whales and porpoises. There have been no reports of any serious leaks.

The Concordia slammed into a reef off Giglio after the captain deviated from the ship’s planned course in an apparent stunt. Passengers have said the captain then delayed sounding the evacuation alarm until the ship had capsized so much that lifeboats on one side couldn’t be lowered.

About 4,200 passengers and crew escaped, but 17 bodies have been found and another 15 people remain missing and presumed dead.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest, accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all the passengers had been evacuated. He has said the reef wasn’t marked on his nautical charts.

Earlier Sunday during a memorial service for victims, Italy’s president and the country’s top bishop demanded justice and called for the truth of what transpired that night to come to light.

“Let the light of the Lord help bring about truth and justice, let wounds be healed and let trust and courage for the future be reinforced,” Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said in his homily.

President Giorgio Napolitano, who attended the service at Rome’s St. Mary of the Angels basilica, said he was sorry that what transpired “was the responsibility of Italy and Italians.”

“We must continue to investigate,” he told reporters outside the basilica. “Prosecutors deserve respect for the job they’re doing.”

Another memorial service, falling on the one-month commemoration of the grounding, was planned for Monday in Giglio itself.


Simone Camilli in Giglio contributed to this report.

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Philly Flower Show Transports Viewers To The Hawaiian Islands

February 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

3:32 PM

By: Valarie D’Elia

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The annual Flower Show in Philadelphia makes a Hawaiian getaway just a hop, skip and a jump away from New York City. NY1′s Travel reporter Valarie D’Elia filed the following report.

New Yorkers who cannot wait for nonstop flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Hawaii this June should take the 1.5-hour train ride to the next best thing, in Philadelphia.

The theme this year at the annual flower show in the “City of Brotherly Love” is “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha.” The week-long showcase of flora houses the beauty and culture of the islands all under one roof from March 4-11.

Immediately upon entering the Pennsylvania Convention Center, guests will be ensconced under a rainforest canopy of tropical plants. Visitors are not only surrounded by the essence of the islands, but have a chance to participate in traditional arts and crafts such as lei-making, hula and other authentic performances, some especially for children. Details are at

For those who want to turn their visit to the Philly Flower Show into an overnight stay, 13 area hotels are partnering to offer rates from as low as $82 per person on the weekend at Courtyard by Marriott, to an average of $275 a night per room at hotels such as Loews and the Palomar, including breakfast. For hotel reservations, call 1-888-222-1736.

To get to the Flower Show, take Amtrak to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, then take Market Street/Frankford Line to the 11th Street stop.

Now here’s a D’Elia’s Deal you don’t want to miss at the Philly Flower Show. Buy a Flower Show ticket and receive 10 percent off a ticket to “Van Gogh Up Close” at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. For more information, visit

Follow Travel With Val

For more travel deals, visit, or follow @travelwithval on Twitter.

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Deals: a stay at Biltmore Estate

February 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Direct Flight

Climb aboard for a trip around the world of travel

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Destination deals save on spring travel DEAL DETECTIVE Jenna Urban – Wilkes Barre Times

February 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals


Updated: 2:00 AM

Destination deals save on spring travel DEAL DETECTIVE Jenna Urban

If you’re looking to get away on a miniature vacation or planning a family trip for the summer, there is no reason to pay full price.

Daily Deal sites are starting to offer getaways and escapes for up to 80 percent off. Whether you are looking for a night in New York City, a weekend in Atlantic City, or a week in St. Lucia, here are some tips to help you save the most money on vouchers instead of booking the trip.

Groupon Getaways, a part of Groupon, is offering deals that last around 10 days or until they sell out. The current deals can be used for up to six months, which would perfect for a spring getaway. These deals range from $89 for a one-night stay in Cape May, N.J., to a nine-day stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for $950.

Some of the current deals available for $209 include three nights at The Coconut Malorie Resort in Ocean City, Md., or a two-night stay for two at a Victorian Bed and Breakfast minutes from Daytona Beach, Fla., starting at $109. A 40 percent discount for a final price of $749 brings two adults and up to one child to a one-bedroom Tamarind villa in St. Lucia on a trip worth $1,252.

And, who wouldn’t want to visit Las Vegas for 53 percent off at the new Tropicana. For a discounted rate of $110, get a one-night stay for two with a bottle of wine, and you can combine nights.

The deals change every 10 days, so if you aren’t interested in the deals posted today, you can subscribe to emails to receive notification when the deals update. More information can be found under “Getaways” at

Another site that is offering deep discounts on travel is Living Social. Although Living Social promotes similar deals to Groupon, many of the deals are organized by city and state.

Right now, Living Social is offering to Scranton/Wilkes Barre residents a discount for the Showboat in Atlantic City 53 percent off a two night stay that includes $30 beverage credit and $15 food and beverage credit at any Showboat restaurant for $119. This deal expires on May 24.

Pay only $64 for a one-night stay for two and get a $15 credit toward access to the 24 Central Cafe and Health Club at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.

Visit New York City for a rare discount of 50 percent off and stay at the Historic SoHo Inn with theater tickets included in the final price of $279 for two nights.

For those looking to leave the East Coast, Living Social is offering half off a four-night stay for two in Hawaii. With this deal, customers get to plan their discounted trip with a travel agent.

If you want an interesting twist on the traditional deal, head out for a nine-day Moroccan excursion for one guest from March 9 to 17 or May 25 to June 2 for $1,929 with round-trip international flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport.

To find more of these deals and sign up for Living Social emails, visit and click on “Escapes.”

Eversave, another daily deal site offers more family friendly trips to places like Kissimmee, Fla., with Disney World passes from $66 per night. This voucher does not expire for an entire year. Plus, Eversave offers a full refund within 60 days of making the purchase prior to making reservations. Visit for the latest travel deals.

Most of these vouchers are good until at least June, so you can start planning ahead and signing up for future deals.

Share your travel tips with us at

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Vacation Tour and Travel Agency

February 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Sail on “The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line”

Once you leave port, you’ll set out on the warm waters headed for the Baja Peninsula, the Bahamas, or the western Caribbean on one of the famously fun Carnival cruise ships. Dine, dance, dip, and do it all in style onboard, where you can take a seat at one of the 24-hour restaurants, hit the floor at a vibrant nightclub, relax at your choice of pools, see a Vegas-style shows, or try your luck at the casino.  And, with your $150 Hotel Gift Card powered by Partner Network, you’ll be able to stay at your choice of hotels near port, so you can fly in early and head out late for totally stress-free travels.

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