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After legal wrangling, canceled flights and a last-minute arrest for extra drama, Vince Acors is back in the UK, where he held a press conference to admit he was "extremely naive" about Dubai's strict laws against beach sex. At least he finally made it home: An island-wide power outage on Oahu had airlines delaying flights and passengers spending the night at HNL.
Delta, which is now the biggest airline in the world, is ready to challenge newcomer V Australia--and Qantas and United--in a fare war on flights to Australia, but no matter how many new destinations they serve, they'll still be behind in one category: Professional flirt Julia Allison says it's American that has the "HOTTEST" pilots.
· Dubai Sex-on-Beach Offender: I Was Naive [CNN]
· HNL Resumes Flights After Outage [MSNBC]
· Third Biggest Story of the Year: Delta and Northwest Merge [Airline Biz Blog]
· Qantas and United Finally Getting Competition [Cranky Flier]
· "Standing behind the HOTTEST American Airlines pilot" [Twitter]
[Photo: Metro UK]
Snow-mageddon 2008 continues in Seattle, where Greyhound riders have been shacking up in homeless shelters until the bus company starts service again. Refunds, a spokeswoman says, probably won't be given to passengers who've been delayed for literally days.
Fliers are faring better: Portland's airport is up and running again, as is Sea-Tac. Chicago O'Hare, meanwhile, is buckling under the weight of its own mini-blizzard, with hundreds of flights canceled so far. The city's most famous current resident, however, isn't worried: Barack Obama is vacationing McConaughey-style in Hawaii.
· Travelers in the Air [Seattle P-I]
· Greyhound Riders Sick of Seattle [Seattle P-I]
· Greyhound Abandons 60 Passengers In Seattle, Locks Up For The Night [Consumerist]
· Flights Canceled in Chicago [NYT]
· Photog Gets Glimpse of Obama on Vacation [ABC News]
[Photo of PDX on Monday: scazon]
Hey, we just realized that all our bellyachin' about snow-caused drama on the East Coast is nothing compared to the drama at SEA, where ice and snow are so bad the airport ran out of deicing fluid. Presumably they couldn't airlift more in. (We'll be here all week!)
Portland International Airport, too, is having more snow than is pleasant, and we've already told you about the snowpocalypse in Upstate New York. United and Continental are riding out the storm by cuddling up together, while the people in Oymyakon continue shivering: Their hometown is apparently the coldest inhabited place on Earth. Forecast for this week? Minus 90 Fahrenheit!
· Headaches Continue at Sea-Tac [Seattle P-I]
· Storms in Pacific Northwest Strand Passengers [The Mercury News]
· United, Continental Favor Living Together [Chicago Tribune]
· Temperatures Could Hit -70 C in Northeast Siberia [Novosti]
· Snow Days coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: North Bend Eric]
If you haven't heard by now, you must hate getting stuff for free: AirAsia is giving away 100,000 tickets, but you'll have to fly by the end of March, so don't bother if you're not going to be in Southeast Asia soon, newly serene after recent airport chaos.
It might be a safer trip than a tour of European capitals, after suspicious white powder was found at
15 16 US embassies on the Continent. (It wasn't that kind of white powder.) And researchers have just revealed that a trip to the US Gulf Coast is more likely to kill you than a trip to the Mid-Atlantic. (Blame the hurricanes, not the football fans.)
At least for now in England, that last drink before you die can still be rightly called a pint!
· 100,000 Free Tickets [AirAsia]
· White Powder Alert at Embassies [CNN]
· Death Map Plots Where Mother Nature Might Kill You [Peter Greenberg]
· Giving Them an Inch, and a Pint [NYT]
· In Defense of Movie Set Travel [WorldHum]
If you'll excuse the self-promotion, we'd like to let you know that Christopher Elliott thinks we're kind of a big deal on Twitter. Of course, he thinks 49 other travel tweeters are too, but we're more than happy to share the honor, particularly with our sis site HotelChatter.
More than 500 people are already keeping up with us, and if you aren't, why the wait? Sometimes we post links to stuff that we think is cool, sometimes we chat with our pals @JetBlue and still other times we dish out absolutely unsolicited travel advice. (In our defense, it was appreciated!)
Check out some of the other stuff we tweet about, and if you dig it, follow away!
· No Pants Day Is Coming Up [Twitter]
· We Love the Acer Aspire One [Twitter]
· We Want Your Thoughts on DC's Inauguration Boozing Ordinance [Twitter]
· Virgin America's New Boston Service [Twitter]
· Travel Websites We Think Are Super Useful [Twitter]
The day after an Iraqi journalist tossed not one but two shoes at President Bush, the internet's awash in stories about how anything foot related is supremely offensive in the Middle East. Funny, we thought cold-blooded shoe chucking was off-limits everywhere!
Footwear flinging TV correspondent Muntadhar al-Zaidi might have a decent time in Dubai--once he's out of custody--where he'll soon be able to, uh, cool his heels on some artificially chilled sand in front of the Palazzo Versace hotel. Maybe some Delta employees--who may soon be taking buyouts in droves--can join him.
· Brother Explains Shoe-Tossing Iraqi Journalist’s Anger [NYT Baghdad Bureau Blog]
· Proper Shoe-Throwing Etiquette for the Enthusiast [BlackBook]
· Chill Out You Beautiful People [UK Times]
· Brewers, Bucks No Longer Fly Midwest Charters [WTMJ]
· Delta Outlines Voluntary Severance Packages [BizJournals]
The main event--for us anyway--in the January issue of Vanity Fair* is a piece called "The Devil at 37,000 Feet," about the incredible mid-air collision over Brazil in 2006 that killed 154 people and sucked survivor and aviation journalist Joe Sharkey into an incredible vortex of storytelling, xenophobia and international finger pointing. William Langewiesche, who is, in an interview about the article on vanityfair.com, cooler than the other side of Barack Obama's pillow, wrote the piece.
Perhaps garnering as much attention as the story itself are the cockpit tapes from both aircraft, hosted on the magazine's website. While VF says the voice recordings are newsworthy, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations says such use of cockpit voice recordings "for public entertainment" is an outrage.
* Owned, like Jaunted, by Conde Nast.
· The Devil at 37,000 Feet [VF]
· The Recordings from the Gol Boeing 737 [VF, MP3]
· The Recordings from the ExcelAire N600XL [VF, MP3]
· Pilots Outraged by Release of Recordings [AP, via Google]
· 2006 Travel Awards: Joe Sharkey for the Best Travel Media Story of the Year [Jaunted]
[Rendering of the collision: Wikimedia]
OMG, Greece! The land of dank tavernas, crumbling temples and ouzo pounding, cigarette huffing Paris Hilton exes is going absolutely bananas right now, after the funeral of the 15-year-old shot by police Saturday.
Gangs of red-and-black-clad anarchists are roving the streets of Athens, smashing windows and chucking molotov cocktails at cops, while smaller interest groups are using the unrest to rally for their pet causes. Some rioters even burned the city's Christmas tree, a total dick move.
While tourists were spared the full force of the violence until now--at least as long as they stayed indoors--the riots are now touching everyone: A strike will completely shut down all airports in the country Wednesday, and hotels came under heavy assault on Monday. The brutes didn't even spare a life-sized diorama of The Nutcracker!
· Greece Riots: People Have Lost Faith in Government [Guardian]
· Funeral Leads to More Mayhem [NYT]
· As Riots Continue, Greece Faces Mounting Political Crisis [IHT]
· Greek Riots: Airport Strikes Add to Misery [Telegraph]
· Anarchist Riots in Athens, Thessaloniki Keeping Tourists On Their Toes [Jaunted]
As much as we hate to be bad news bears about cruises, yet another pleasure boat has run into trouble in the Gulf of Aden. This time it's a German vessel evacuating because of "unspecified security threats." Scary! It's even enough to make Indiana ban all smiling in the state--at least in driver's license photos anyway.
The TSA won't be amused by the latest round up of its un-complishments from Cracked, recapping the worst moments in airport "security." And Cody Matthews better enjoy his two days in DC for Obama's inauguration: They're going to cost upwards of $5k.
At least the 2 million Muslim pilgrims descending on Mecca have something to celebrate: Despite seemingly annual trampling deaths and accidents, this year's event is--so far--fatality-free. Alhamdulillah!
· Pirates Grow Bolder, Target Cruise Ships [Peter Greenberg]
· Smiling Taboo for Driver's License Photos [Times of NWI]
· Seven Dumbest Things Ever Done by Airport Security [Cracked]
· Can't Put a Price on History [WaPo]
· Muslim Pilgrims Stone Devil Among Tight Control [Reuters, via NYT]
Recession or not, the art world soldiers on! Art Basel Miami Beach officially opens Thursday but the so-called satellite events are already underway in Wynwood and the rest of Miami.
There are about a billion suggestions for what's happening and where you should be, but if we were flying to South Beach tonight, we'd be plotting our course to Olaf Breuning’s Sand Sculpture in front of the Sagamore Hotel. It's like a sand castle... only art!
· Art Basel Miami Beach: Olaf Breuning’s Sand Sculpture [The Moment]
· The Art Basel Side Scene [Miami Herald]
· Twenty-One Cranky Ways of Looking at Art Basel Miami Beach [Artinfo]
· Art Basel Miami Kicks Off Cautiously, Optimistically [NYM]
· Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Preview [Cool Hunting]
· Art Basel: More Top Picks [BlackBook]
· Art Basel Hotels [HC]
[Photo: Sagamore Hotel]
Paging Monty Hall: After Ryanair's announcement Monday that it wants to buy Aer Lingus, airlines around the world are looking to make some deals.
British Airways and Qantas are in talks to join forces, while Delta is cutting capacity ahead of its merger with Northwest. But that's not stopping the new mega-carrier from complaining about Continental's efforts to do a code sharing deal with United.
Still, not everyone's keen on the idea of cooperating: Emirates is denying reports that it may soon merge with Emirati rival Etihad.
· British Airways, Qantas in Merger Talks [Bloomberg]
· Delta Plans "Dramatic" Cuts to Capacity [WSJ]
· Airline Alliance Switch Advances [Houston Chronicle]
· Emirates Denies It's in Merger Talks [AP, via IHT]
· Airline Mergers coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: Faithful Chant]
As if you needed anyone to tell you: The US is now officially having a recession, and these headlines agree.
Spirit Airlines has announced its latest fare sale with a possibly racy name, though you can't argue with one-way trips for $28 plus tax. Chicago is letting visitors ice skate for free, and in New York you can try a synthetic rink for just $10. Meanwhile Ryanair apparently has enough money saved up that it's launched another bid to buy up Aer Lingus while the economy is in the tank.
But in the recessionary world, one thing does remain constant: You can still get trapped on a tarmac for nine hours!
· "Ocho's Crazy 8's Tournament" [Spirit Airlines]
· The Ice Is Right [Chicago Sun-Times]
· New York Gets Its First "Fake Ice" Rink [BT]
· Ryanair Returns with Bid for Aer Lingus [WSJ]
· Diverted Plane Stuck on Tarmac for Nine Hours [KCAL]
[Waiting for skating in Chicago: liz_noise]