For the longest time, southeast Asia was the big thing. We at Star Travel last fall were besieged by freelancers in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
Now, however, the focus has shifted. A story on breakingtravelnews.com said the latest figures released by the World Tourism Organization show visitors to Central America increased by eight per cent last year. that includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
The deals are said to be good and the area offers everything from Mayan ruins to quiet beaches and rainforests, all with a Spanish flair. Spanish carrier Iberia is offering more flights to Guatemala and Panama, while KLM has boosted flights from Amsterdam to Panama City from three times a week to five.
Boy, these guys are generous. The folks at Aeroplan - you know, the people with whom you can almost never book the flight you want at the time you want - sent out an offer today where members can buy access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges. The price? A mere 7,000 points for a one-time pass.
A flight from Toronto to Los Angeles, if you could book one you wanted, would set you back 25,000 points. If you assume the ticket would cost you $500 with taxes on Air Canada, which is pretty typical for a sale, that means 5,000 points is worth roughly $100. Which would mean that a 7,000 point redemption for an Air Canada lounge is worth something like $140.
Hey, I enjoy the free Internet and the halfway-decent Merlot and cheese or fruit slices they serve, but an Air Canada lounge ain't much compared to some I've seen. On my way to London recently I was at the Maple Leaf lounge at Pearson and all they had were free papers and a couple magazines, some beer and wine and soft drinks and a small bit of salad and fruit. And maybe some soup, I don't recall for sure.
On the way back I had access to the SAS/Air Canada lounge at Heathrow and it was great; a small theatre showing the BBC, lots of cheese and crackers, some pasta as I recall, plus a much better selection of drinks and tons of papers to choose from, all in a nicer environment.
That one might be worth $140 if you have a really long layover or desperately need a free drink. But it doesn't sound like much of a deal for 7,000 points.
Aeroplan also is offering a one year pass for 50,000 points or a pass for a member and a spouse for 73,500 miles.
Associated Press reports that Greece's state-run airlines, Olympic, will cancel dozens of flights tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 25) because of an air traffic controllers strike. Officials said 68 mostly domestic flights will be cancelled and four international flights rescheduled.
The air traffic controllers action is part of a 24-hour strike called by the umbrella civil servant union of Greece, which wants wage hikes and better social security benefits.
Strikes in Greece? Hard to believe.