Tag: Political Travel

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Traveling on Election Day? Register Now So You Can Still Vote

August 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM | by | ()

If you're a US citizen and you'll be traveling overseas during the US 2012 election, have you yet registered to vote by absentee ballot?

The big election date is Tuesday, November 6th, and you'd better get cracking if you don't want to lose the chance to tick the box you like best.

Even if your home isn't in a battleground state, House and Senate seats are up for grabs, so every vote counts. Fortunately, it only takes five minutes to fill out the forms online and mail them off!

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Trying to Get Your Chinese Visa for Upcoming Travel? Try Harder.

Where: China
August 21, 2012 at 10:16 AM | by | ()

Isn't it just the worst when you've taken a chunk out of your day and money out of the ATM to head on over to the Chinese consulate to get your Chinese Visa paperwork submitted, and then find out you've filled out the wrong form? #worldtravelerproblems

Even if this hasn't happened to you, it most likely will at some point because scoring that necessary visa for travel to China is only getting more convoluted with the addition of extra documentation.

Up until recently, Americans with China travel on the horizon needed only to complete a form, turn in their passport (valid for at least another 6 months), turn in a 2x2" passport photo and $140, then make it over to China within 90 days of the issuing of the Tourist Visa to keep it valid for the year. On August 1, new requirements came into effect and now you'll not only have to be ready with all of the above, but also provide the following:

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Let's Talk Tallinn: 'There is Nothing Here' in the KGB Museum

July 11, 2012 at 4:16 PM | by | ()

Who goes to Estonia?! Well, our roaming correspondent John Walton does and, all this week, he'll be filling us in on what's up way up there in this world capital on the Baltic Sea.

We love hotels, we love museums...but the KGB Museum inside Tallinn's landmark Hotel Viru takes the hideous Soviet-era cake, and it's the best €7 we spent in Tallinn. (The museum, not the cake.)

Back in the days of the USSR, the top floor of the hotel was used as a KGB listening post. While much of the equipment was spirited away when Estonia became an independent state, there's still a fascinating amount of stuff up there.

It seems odd to be talking about a smell being part of history, but wait until you sniff the "Soviet Smell" as you walk into the old "photocopying room," which now holds all kinds of fascinating memorabilia from the days of the USSR. Don't miss the Complaints Book and the identical death notices for Andropov and Brezhnev.

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President Herbert Hoover Honeymooned on a Cruise

July 9, 2012 at 10:25 AM | by | ()

The Hoover wedding

The month of June may be over, but the slew of summer weddings is far from following. While tuxedo rental places charge peak prices and caterers artfully fold cloth napkins, we're wondering where all these newlyweds are heading on their honeymoons. Odds are that tropical islands are at the top of the list, but what about places like Ohio or Georgia?

These were the hotspots for Presidential honeymoons, according to an exhaustive list by The Awl that names the known honeymoon destinations of all 44 US presidents and their wives.

It's absolutely worth a full look, but here's our favorite:

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Chen Guangcheng Flew to the United States in Style, Sort Of

Where: China
May 21, 2012 at 3:46 PM | by | ()

United Airlines Flight 88 is a direct, 12.5 hour Beijing-PEK to Newark-EWR flight flown by a Boeing 777-200. Seatguru says that United's particular 777-200 configuration has 8 First Class Suites, 40 new Business class flatbed seats, and a 3-3-3 configuration in economy. So far it just sounds like your average trans-Pacific flight, right? There's comfy accommodations in first and business class, and an economy cabin where people wake up 8 hours into the trip, realize they've still got 1/3 of the flight to go, and want to kill themselves.

But last Saturday this very route became a focus of international attention. It was boarded just before takeoff by blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng (in a wheelchair), plus his wife and their two children. The family had been driven across the tarmac by Chinese officials and deposited into an elevator, which took them up to the skywalk and onto the plane.

The mini-drama marked the beginning of the end of a standoff between American and Chinese diplomats, stretching back to last month when Chen escaped the Chinese guards who were keeping him under house arrest—as China likes to do with "dissidents"—and fled to the U.S. embassy.

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Don't Be Late for NATO! Aussie Prime Minister's Plane Breaks Down

May 21, 2012 at 8:15 AM | by | ()

We have all been there. Traveling on our way to a very important meeting or even a well deserved holiday, and we can't even get off the ground due to a mechanical issue. It is so frustrating, yet just something we have to deal with. And, hey! It even happen to dignitaries! Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard found herself in the very same situation this last weekend.

The PM was planning to leave from Townsville, in the northern part of the continent, on her way to the NATO summit in Chicago, but her plane had engine trouble and their departure time was pushed back as a replacement Boeing 737 business jet was sent from the capital, Canberra. In the end it only delayed her four hours, but made international headlines.

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Video Proof That President Obama Has a Passport, Gets Stamps

May 7, 2012 at 11:24 AM | by | ()

Wow. One of life's greatest mysteries has been solved via a simple WhiteHouse.gov video. We speak, of course, of the existence of a presidential passport. It does exist!

Although President Obama does not have to endure annoying boarding procedures when he flies—waiting for Group C to be called, worrying about overheard cabin space, hitting up Sbarro's in a fit of hunger desperation—it's comforting to know that he must still pass though immigration.

Notice that it is a black passport, the color of Presidential-level passports (versus the red of diplomatic and navy blue of normal citizen level).

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Spirit Airlines Posts, Then Pulls, Colombia Sex Scandal Ad Campaign

April 23, 2012 at 2:18 PM | by | ()

Spirit Airlines has declared itself proud to be the Ryanair of North America, and you have to admit that the airline works hard to protect its title. Airline industry scientists have spent years trying to untangle what it means to follow in the footsteps of the notoriously grating Irish LCC, and they've discovered at least 5 criteria: (1) obnoxious fees (2) pride in those obnoxious fees (3) arm-waving "look at me" advertising (4) a general air of petulance whenever something doesn't go the airline's way, and (5) unblinking, reflexive, utterly unapologetic disrespect for customers.

Spirit recently doubled down on their customer-screwing fees, announcing that they consider it a badge of honor to be the "poster child" for airline fees and adding that their customers like the fees too. That takes care of criteria 1, 2, and 5. The petulance stuff is covered by the temper tantrum they threw about new fee transparency rules they didn't like, which leaves only the advertising thing. All of which brings us to Spirit's most recent travel advertising campaign.

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Obama Heads Down Under, Picks Up Some Uggs for Malia and Sasha

Where: Australia
November 17, 2011 at 9:05 AM | by | ()

After a couple of failed trips, Air Force One finally crossed the international dateline from Hawaii to Australia, touching down in the capital city, Canberra. Barack Obama became only the fourth US President to visit the Land Down Under this week right on the heels of Queen Elizabeth's royal tour.

While this was a much shorter visit than the Monarch, it marked the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty, a defense treaty between the US, Australia and New Zealand. Obama even got a bonus opportunity to strengthen the friendship between himself and Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister

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Delta Direct to Havana is a Real Thing

November 8, 2011 at 10:32 AM | by | ()

Unfortunately the flights aren’t searchable or bookable through your favorite travel site just yet, but there is another new option for those looking to head to Cuba. It sounds like Delta is the latest carrier to get in on the Cuba travel craze, and they’re working with a Miami-based travel agency to help you get there.

The airline is partnering with Marazul—that's the travel agency—to get passengers the necessary paperwork, passports, and other stamps and seals to get to and from Cuba. Some flights had already been available out of Miami last month, but now there’s plans to do a nonstop flight from New York-JFK right into Havana. If all goes well there will also be an Atlanta option—obviously—beginning this December. If you’re interested, the airfare from New York will set you back around $659, and the flights departing from Atlanta start around $599.

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Forget Generation X; Aussie Passports Now Welcoming Gender X

Where: Australia
September 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM | by | ()

"X" marks the spot...for a new gender choice on Australian passport applications. The change was recently made "under new guidelines to remove discrimination against transgender and intersex people," according to MSNBC and the Aussie government.

Think you'll be funny and choose "X" for yourself? Not so fast; this is serious stuff. Intersex people—those biologically not completely either sex—can choose the new option. But if you're just transgender, then be prepared to show a doctor's note to back up your identifying as such. And it'd also be wise to prepare yourself to explain the "X" under "gender" on your Aussie passport when you pass through immigration at certain countries.

That said, a move like this just inches the world ever closer to equality, kinda like when the US altered the old "mother" and "father" fields to just "parent 1" and "parent 2."

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Oh, Goody: Tarmac Delay Laws Expand to Include International Flights

August 22, 2011 at 3:34 PM | by | ()

We've explained at length—see here and here, and probably here, and definitely this one—how the Department of Transportation's tarmac regulations are a recipe for travel hell. The assumption behind imposing huge fines for delays is that the airline industry simply wasn't trying hard enough to get its planes off the ground, and that market-based incentives like money and public relations disasters weren't enough to make them want to fly people around.

Put that way—and at the risk of belaboring the obvious—that's a pretty stupid assumption.

But regulations were imposed anyway and, as was easily and explicitly predictable, we ended up with more delays and more flight cancellations. So naturally the government has now expanded tarmac delay laws to include international airlines.

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