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South Africa’s new rules for traveling into and out of the country with children are so strict, they almost seem unbelievable. But a new reality is indeed coming for families, so, despite how excessive they might seem, they must be taken seriously if you want to be allowed to enter the country. Enforcement will commence in a few weeks on October 1st.
To start, let’s take a look at what the new rules are, and then we’ll get into some perspective on the motivation behind them. South Africa’s website gives us a very detailed breakdown of the new requirements, applicable to all children under 18 years of age:
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"Mantis gets squashed October 19."
These ominous words now greet visitors to the official Facebook page of Cedar Point, the Ohio amusement park known for its plethora of record-breaking rollers coasters. These words mean only bad news from Cedar Point, as their Mantis coaster will cease to operate after October 19, but no future plans have been announced.
Mantis was constructed at a cost of $12 million, and debuted for the summer of 1996. For that first year, it held a record with the "World's Tallest Vertical Loop," and the 3900' feet of track attracted coaster enthusiasts from around the world, all champing at the bit over experiencing an extreme stand-up coaster.
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In response to decreased tourism returns this year due in part to the country’s political woes, Thailand has doubled the amount of days that tourists are allowed to stay in the country on a visa-exempt stamp from 30 to 60.
Passport holders from 49 nations, including the United States, do not need to apply for a visa to enter Thailand. Instead, travelers from these nations receive a visa-exempt stamp upon arrival which grants them 30 days in the country. Under the new rule, tourists can now obtain a one-time, 30-day extension stamp when their initial 30 days expires by visiting an immigration office. The extension will be granted same-day and costs $59 (1,900 baht).
Just when it seems like airlines are only imposing new fees to negatively impact passengers, British Airways has gone and introduced a fee which actually helps. Starting now, travelers searching airfares on British Airways for travel on BA or Iberia may pay $5/£5/€5 for short-haul or $10/£10/€10 long-haul per person to place a reservation on hold for a period of 72 hours before deciding whether or not to purchase.
Alliance partner American Airlines offers a similar option, allowing customers to place an itinerary on hold for 24 hours, for free; BA's charging for the privilege may set a precedent for the future of this service.
While on hold, the flight price is guaranteed not to increase, but it can decrease (yay).
We have all been in that travel situation where things don’t exactly meet—or live up to—expectations. The place wasn’t as good as it looked in pictures, the folks weren’t as friendly, or that imagined utopia just doesn’t exist outside your mind. Apparently this is somewhat common for some visitors to Paris, and that’s why Paris Syndrome is a thing.
We’ve mentioned it before, and it even has is very own Wikipedia page—so you know it has to be true. There’s all kinds of signs and symptoms, but basically it boils down to culture shock and things not being exactly as what was imagined. Japanese tourists seem to be one of the groups that suffers from things the most, but now there are reports that Chinese tourists are getting bummed out as well.
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Magic is seriously in the air this summer, and we've been in Orlando for the first days of the newest addition to Universal Orlando: Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The original Hogsmeade park is still very much open, and very popular. Just how popular? Let's take a look.
According to an NPR report and Universal's numbers, "park profits have more than doubled and attendance has increased more than 30 percent" since the 2010 debut of Hogsmeade.
Now that Diagon Alley has debuted and is actively connecting the two parks via the Hogwarts Express train and asking $136 per adult for the privilege of visiting both halves, we're looking to see how the original has fared over four years.
If you flew Delta yesterday on an international flight and wondered why the usual push for duty-free shopping didn't happen, the explanation is simple: Delta stopped offering it, effective last night.
This means no more Toblerone, Chivas Regal, watches from supposed luxury brands you've never heard of, and pens inexplicably filled with Swarovski crystals; the duty-free catalog and mid-flight soft sell are done away with on Delta, and it's all due to disagreement with its duty free vendor, DFASS.
RunwayGirlNetwork was first with the news yesterday evening, and also offers further insight:
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Just when it seemed that front page focus on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner would peter out now that Boeing has delivered over 160 of them, the aircraft is again making headlines with the launch of a new version: the 787-9.
What that little "-9" brings is a bigger plane, as we've explained, and this week marks the introduction of the airliner to its first regularly scheduled commercial routes.
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As you know because you've been following along, the new TSA fees that we've been trashing since 2010 went into effect earlier this month. They had been jammed up for years by airlines - more on that below - but the administration finally managed to get them passed. The old caps, which had been set at $2.50 per flight segment with a $10 roof for a four-flight round trip, were abolished.
Would you believe that TSA may have taken advantage of the new situation to collect fees even higher than what Congress allowed? That's the argument being made by airlines, who are now suing the security agency. Game on.
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There's no shortage of domestic and international travel politics stories floating around. There's the potential for a new Cold War because of the MH17 downing. There's the 24 hour FAA ban on flights into Tel Aviv. There's even the ongoing nonsense about how airport security officials are threatening to confiscate electronics that run out of battery power during trans-Atlantic flights, which is something that happens literally all the time.
But this story about hiking airline security fees is - rightly - driving people absolutely out of their minds. We flagged this for you last month as a heads up, but we've actually been tracking these legislative efforts since 2010. The Obama administration has tried to raise the fees that travelers pay for security through the normal budget process, outside the normal budget process, and probably at least once via occult wizardry. Every time it was justified as a way to make people travel more, which is not a very good argument because it's not how supply and demand works.
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Update: 12:30pm EST, July 23: Although yesterday's FAA ban on flights to Israel was originally only for 24 hours, it has been extended to last another 24 at the least. This only applies to US airlines, so flights to Israel on El Al out of JFK are still operating normally.
Update: 1pm EST: FAA has issued a notice (NOTAM) prohibiting US airlines from flying to or from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Int’l Airport for up to 24 hours.
Update: 12pm EST: US Airways, United and American Airlines now join Delta in temporarily suspending Tel Aviv flights.
At approximately 11am EST today, Delta updated their Israel travel adivsory from a warning that flights may be disrupted, to the fact that their flights from New York-JFK to Tel Aviv will not be operating at all "until further notice."
The stoppage is a temporary hiatus necessitated by escalating violence in Israel; the final straw comes with the report of a rocket attack in the vicinity of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. Naturally the danger calls to mind last week's Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy, caused by a ground-to-air missile. While airlines continue to divert their flight paths clear of Ukrainian air space, there are other war zones to consider.
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While the world is still buzzing from last month's debut of the new Diagon Alley park at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Japan is celebrating their own piece of the pie.
On July 15, 2014, Universal Studios Japan opened their own version of the original Harry Potter park, Hogsmeade, which first swung open its doors in 2010 in Orlando.
All told, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost Universal Studios Japan ¥45 billion ($442.2 million) to construct, but they're hoping it'll rake in ¥5.6 trillion ($55 billion) over the next 10 years.
Universal Studios Japan debuted in 2001 and quickly became the second most visited amusement park in Japan, after Tokyo Disneyland. This Hogsmeade addition may be missing one or two things (like the Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster) from the Orlando park, but it makes up for the edits with a few new additions (and the park's "Jaws" area is still intact!).