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Above: James' final leg, from Dubai to Sydney
24 hours ago, BBC Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May set off from London-Heathrow Airport with a final destination of Sydney, Australia. They flew on separate planes through different layover airports, and their arrival times were to be within thirty minutes of each other despite the incredibly huge distance traveled. The trip evolved into a Top Gear Live challenge, with the usual jokes and competitive spirit of a regular Top Gear challenge, except that it all occurred over Twitter.
Well, now that the guys have completed their #RacetoSydney journey and are on the ground Down Under, it's time to name the winner.
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The Economist Intelligence Unit has just named their "most expensive cities" for 2014 and, knocking Tokyo from the top, the year's winner is Singapore. As the headlines around this ranking circulate, we feel it's important to note that this is for living in a city, and not simply traveling there. Singapore is actually one of the more affordable city destinations, and caters to all budgets.
For example, travelers can pay over $400 per night for a stay at the historic Raffles Hotel, or to splash in the famous infinity pool of the Marina Bay Sands. On the flip side, a night at one of our favorite hostels, the 5footway Inn, is only $25-$40. A room in a great boutique hotel will average $130 per night, but the big chains love to go luxe in Singapore with a $225 average.
Airfare is on par with average fares to London or Paris, even though with a trip to Singapore, you get thousands and thousands more miles for your money. Budget travelers should even keep a look-out for Singapore Airlines' occasional flight deals, like a recent one which offered US to Singapore in the airline's award-winning economy class for $999 roundtrip.
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UPDATE: The race has concluded, nearly 24 hours after it began. Check out who won, and how some twists made it a real nail-biter.
The sun has set for tonight in London, but it's already a bright new day over in Sydney. The miles and time zones between the two world capitals are many, and right now they're the focus of a new, live Top Gear race, as presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May challenge each other to be the first to zip across the globe and touch down at Sydney's Kingsford-Smith International Airport.
Both are traveling on commercial flightsJeremy's onboard Singapore Airlines SQ321 to Singapore and James is on Emirates EK6 to Dubaiand both on Airbus A380s for all legs. They're also due to share their travels on Twitter thanks to the magic of in-flight wifi, but only Jeremy seems to have gotten the hang of using the network onboard his flight, which is currently chasing James' flight across Germany.
But is this race really for BBC's Top Gear? All signs point to yes, as Jeremy notes that it is a "Top Gear race," and the video of their announcing it (posted below), was uploaded to a "Top Gear Live" channel. There's a hashtag, of course: #RacetoSydney.
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We have all had a terrible meal on a flight before. In fact, we have shown you some of the sadder trays slid in front of us. With this new series of amazing airline meals, we can revel in the airline culinary delights and give kudos to the airlines that got it right.
Can we actually get lucky twice and score some tasty grub at 36,000 feet for a second time on the same airline? In short, yes. The Last time we were wowed by some delicious business class meals from Singapore Airlines, we were on the (then) world's longest flight, but the airline has delivered once again on a slightly shorter route.
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In the midst of the bustle of travel, it's all too easy to overlook the details. We're talking about special touches others have stressed over just so you can enjoy a unique experience, whether you know it or not. Every so often we'll highlight The Little Things like this, so now you will know.
The Little Thing: L'Occitane en Provence extras in the Singapore Airlines Business Class lavatories.
An airplane toilet is decidedly not the place you’d most look forward to visiting, but there are some exceptions.
In this case, take the lavatories of Business Class onboard Singapore Airlines, which are stocked with more than the usual comb, toothbrush and razor amenities, but also with premium L’Occitane en Provence toiletries.
There, on a shelf near a fresh orchid, are three signature products from the French brand:
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The political unrest currently underway in Bangkok has convinced at least three airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Hong Kong Airlines, to reduce the number of flights into Thailand's capital during the second half of January and February.
"We've learned that Singapore Airlines plans to cut 19 flights between Jan 14 and Feb 25. Cathay will probably follow suit because passengers are uneasy about the political situation in Thailand," Suvarnabhumi Airport General Manager Rawewan Netrakavesna told the Bangkok Post. Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said that Hong Kong Airlines was probably going to cut about 60 flights as well.
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Just because the confetti is cleaned up, Auld Lang Syne is retired in your iTunes playlist, and your outfit from New Year's Eve is at the dry-cleaners doesn't mean we still can't talk about one of the best parts of ringing in a new year: a champagne toast! Since 'popping bottles' is for such special occasions, we can't think of a better way to sip some bubbles than when on a plane heading for a new destination.
While some airlines have a knack for feeding passengers fine food like lobster and caviar, there are thankfully more still taking sparkling wines just as serious. If your 2014 travel plans include flights in First or Business Class on the following carriers, be sure to reach for that PDB (pre-departure beverage) and ask for a flute of these fine pours:
It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2013 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Needless to say, we're ready to get going into 2014, but first we're taking a brief look back at the best of 2013 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,or as we fondly refer to themThe Jauntys.
It was in early June that a normal Singapore Airlines flight made Instagram and, by extension, the internet, freak out. The flightnonstop on an Airbus A380 from Singapore to Londonencountered severe turbulence for only a few seconds, but it was long enough to shake the double=decker superjumbo aircraft into what looked like a junior high cafeteria food fight.
Now comes the extraordinary part of the story, as passengers managed to snap and share "before and after" photos of the scene. The photos went viral and, to the credit of Singapore Airlines' crew, the world was awestruck at the efficiency of the emergency management of the situation.
Of course it was such a chance occurrencethat this would happen to the world's largest passenger plane, that it would be on an airline most known for their prim and properness, and that it would be a story told completely through social media.
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Singapore Airlines is consistently ranked tops for luxury when it comes to their planes, service, and even their airport lounges. After this summer's announcement of a major update for seats in all cabins, it was only a matter of time until the carrier announced plans to similarly freshen up the environment of the lounges.
SIA unveiled the new concept for their airport oases at Sydney International. Tucked behind a customized batik screen and designed by ONG&ONG, the SilverKris lounge is modeled to convey a sense of "home away from home" with living room, kitchen, and dining room areas.
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The king is dead, long live the king!
Just before dawn across the world at Singapore-Changi Airport, an Airbus A340-500 touched down and taxied to its gate. The passengers filed off, followed by the flight crew, and there was no fanfare for this last arrival of the longest flight in the world.
At nearly 18 hours and 9,500 miles, Singapore Airlines' SQ 21/22 between Newark and Singapore was a monster of a nonstop which only accommodated 100 travelers in all-Business Class comfort. All good things must come to an end, however, and Singapore dropped the route in order to trade in the old, gas-guzzling, four-engine A345s for some shiny and efficient A350s to come.
It's a smart move, but a sad one regardless. Singapore 21/22 will live on through the stories of those who flew it, and we're proud to add our hour-by-hour account to the aviation history books.
Moving on, another flight route must now ascend to the throne and claim the title of "longest flight in the world." For that, look no further than Texas.
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"Direct" and "non-stop" mean the same thing, right? Wrongwhich is why we're taking today to do some travel 101 with a refresher on these terms. Why is knowing the difference so important? Well, you can clearly state your flight preferences to airline reservations and gate staff when making bookings or changing plans, and you'll also just generally sound like the clued-in traveler you are.
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You probably know by now that Los Angeles International Airport has lifted the veil off its billion-dollar makeover of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. While that means improved facilities for all travelers, premium passengers on Star Alliance flights will also benefit from a gigantic new lounge complex, opening todayWednesday, September 25.
We attended the ribbon cutting by Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab earlier this week to give you all the details on the 18,000-square-foot spread. Come in for the shower suites and the wine wall, stay for the outdoor terrace with fire pits and tarmac views.