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What a difference a year makes! Last January, we profiled the longest and shortest regularly scheduled commercial flights, with Singapore Airlines taking the cake for traveling from Singapore to Newark in 19 hours. SIA has since ceased these flights, making room for a new top dog.
As of November 23rd 2013, Qantas flight 7 now claims the title for longest flight, hauling passengers from Sydney to Dallas aboard a Boeing 747-400. From block to block, the flight takes about 15 hours, 25 minutes to fly from down under to the Lone Star State. The total distance traveled spans 8,578 miles, edging out the second longest flight by a mere 139 miles.
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The start of a new year means a zeroing-out of frequent flier qualifying miles and hotel loyalty program balances. Thus, there's no better time to plan for 12 more months of travel. To help with some inspiration, we're sharing the places and events we're most excited about for 2014.
More new months in the year means more chances to party at the buzziest events or simply witness a historical occurrence. Keep this list handy as you map out your itineraries for this year:
Last year, Ireland experimented with a tourism marketing program called "The Gathering" that attempted to bring Irish Americans to the country on the basis that they could discover their "roots." The idea took criticism in the beginning, but it ended up being a huge success, bringing in an additional 220,000 visitors as of September of 2013 (its goal is 325,000 by the end of 2013).
As a result, it is no surprise that other countries have begun to wonder if they might find similar results with a similar campaign. Scotland is apparently chomping at the bit. Visit Scotland and Tourism Intelligence Scotland are encouraging firms to "take advantage of the growing sector," especially surrounding well-known events such as the Ryder Cup.
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Yang Guang limbers up
Maybe Edinburgh is that kinda town, because it wasnít just Richard Branson getting frisky in Scotland last week; bumping Little Redís arrival down the news agenda were the two pandas at Edinburgh Zoo, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, whose slow and steady journey to mating season has been vicariously lapped up by the British press.
Not because theyíre creeps, see; but because a panda pregnancy will be a feat against all the oddsthe female is in season for just 48 hours. Also, the couple have only known each other for just over a year, so although itís not quite celebrity speed, itís pretty quick. Last year, they tried to breed unsuccessfully. This year, we were told when we visited last week, Tian Tian has been calling to Yang Guang with ďmuch more urgency,Ē making the scientists think they might just hit the jackpot.
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Little Red's check-in desks at Edinburgh Airport
Little Red flies three routes: from London-Heathrow to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, all intended as feeder destinations to get locals to Heathrow for Virgin Atlantic's long-haul flights. There are 26 flights a day in totalsix each way on the Edinburgh route, three for Aberdeen and four for Manchester. All are perfectly timed to connect with the rest of VA's network.
Thereís a launch sale on right now that means you only pay the taxes. Unfortunately, since this is the UK, that means youíre not getting a bargain; it ends up £98 for a return flight between London and Scotland, and £103 return from Manchester.
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Yesterday we brought you coverage of the fanfare upon the Edinburgh arrival of Little Red, Virgin Atlanticís new domestic UK service, flying from London-Heathrow to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester. Today, itís time for a photo dump...but also some thoughts on the interior and the overall LHR-EDI flight experience.
Was it as well planned as Bransonís kilt-flashing incident?
The short answer: yes, pretty much.
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Remember a couple of years back when Richard Branson lost a bet with Air Asiaís CEO Tony Fernandes, which meant he was going to have to dress up as a female flight attendant? That may not have come to fruitionalthough, according to Fernandes, the time is nighbut he went one step
better worse further early this morning at Scotland's Edinburgh Airport.
Launching Little Red, Virgin Atlanticís domestic UK service and a major step for the airline, Branson donned a kilt and then dressed down by flashing us.
Copyranter calls them the "cutest brand ambassadors ever" and we're inclined to agree. According to the Scotland tourism board, which put together the campaign, the two Shetland ponies - Fivla and Vitamin - are wearing their "winter woolies" (?) in order to mark "the Year of Natural Scotland." The Year of Natural Scotland, in turn, appears to be a project that the tourism board totally made up.
As near as we can tell from the project fact page, they wanted to brand Scotland as a natural travel destination, and so they took the word "Scotland" and the word "Natural" and put them together. The ponies, we're told are "helping promote the Year of Natural Scotland with beautifully created cardigans."
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It's always nice to impress people with some useless knowledge, so here's a little morsel of info for when you're at your next dinner party: the airlines and routes that offer the world's longest and shortest flights. Since the world records are best left to Guinness, we will just clue you into the facts.
Let's start with the longest, since 2013 will cause some interesting movement in that area. Currently, Singapore Airlines holds this title for the longest commercial flight on the planet. SQ 21 & SQ 22 , flying the 9,505-mile journey between Changi International to Newark Liberty takes passengers across the world in about 18 1/2 hours, give or take some time depending on winds. Singapore has announced that this year will sadly see the cessation of this route, handing over the crown to Qantas' flight from Sydney to Dallas. That 17-hour flight spans about 8,576 miles.
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Can we please have a moment of silence for airline BMI, which ceased to fly the skies earlier this year as it was sold and snatched up by International Airlines Group (ah hem British Airways).
[Moment of silence].
Okay, now we can be a little happy as it's just been announced that some former slots of BMI at London-Heathrow Airport have been awarded to Virgin Atlantic on the platform that, according to Virgin, "without the remedy slots, [British Airways] would continue to fly from Scotland to Heathrow uncontested but Virgin Atlantic said today that domestic flyers would now have a compelling alternative."
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Disney Adventures is hosting its first expedition inspired by a Disney-Pixar film this summer with ďScotland: A Brave Adventure.Ē
Travelers will have the opportunity to immerse themselves into the world of Brave. On this 9-day, 8-night trip, guests will visit Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, the Isle of Lewis and Inverness in Scotland, just as Merida does in the upcoming film.
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Heading to London this summer? Yeah, so is everyone else. This week, Jaunted's London embed, Lilit Marcus, will share some definite destinations for getting out of town and out of the crowds.
After exploring the university area, see the more urban, up-to-date side of Glasgow by heading downtown. Unlike central London, downtown Glasgow is easy to navigate by foot, and most of the main attractions are quite close together.
The place to start is George Square. In the square itself is the famous statue of Robert Burns, the unofficial poet laureate of Scotland and a beloved national icon. Although his birthday is celebrated as a holiday, youíll often find flowers and notes left for him all year round. Also in the square is the Cenotaph, which was originally built to honor Scottish soldiers who died in World War I and was later updated to include soldiers killed in World War II. The square also boasts a new attraction: the Wheel of Glasgow, a white Ferris wheel with enclosed seats that offers beautiful views of the city.