DELTA BAGGAGE FEES ... TICO UNDER FIRE ... AND PAUL McCARTNEY
Hey, we specialize in weird headlines around here. But maybe I got your attention. Of course, if you're reading this I have your attention, at least for a split second. So here goes...
Canadians and other international travellers who take Delta Air Lines will soon have to cough up $50 for a second bag. The fee, the first on overseas flights by a major U.S. airline, was announced as the Atlanta-based carrier reported that it lost $794 million American bucks in the first quarter, mostly because of losses from hedging on fuel prices, says the L.A. Times.
Maybe it's time to pack a little lighter. Some packing specialists say they try to wear their heaviest or bulkiest clothes on board the plane to avoid stuffing a big jacket into a suitcase and thereby necessitating a second checked bag. I try to wear my heavier, dress shoes on the plane and then take them off for comfort once we get moving.
Good news from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty that he's ordered a review of TICO, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario. TICO officials say they were fully aware that Conquest was having problems but they've suggested they don't want to harm a company that's in danger by alerting customers to potential problems.
But isn't that the point of having a Travel Council? I mean, it's great that they've stepped in to help folks get home and that they'll probably cover most people's credit card bills, but if they have information that nobody else has that shows a company is teetering on the edge and that folks might get stranded away from home isn't it their obligation to let us know? Who comes first - taxpayers or businesses?
McGuinty on Tuesday said TICO must be examined to "make sure they have the necessary authority to intervene at the appropriate times," and amen to that.
If nothing else, TICO should be able to make a company stay in business long enough to bring customers home to Canada. If they want to cease OUTBOUND flights, that's one thing. But any company that flies someone out of Canada should have to fly them back with no penalty to the customer.
FORGET YOSEMITE; GIMME SOMETHING NEW
It's about that time when Americans pack up the kids and head off to the nearest - or furthest if you're like some parents - national park they can find. Yellowstone gets a lot of visitors, and the Great Smoky Mountains. But Family Circle magazine (remember them?) went out and found five U.S. parks that are "off the beaten path."
(Those are their words, there's almost no such place at a time when a Polish company has launched tours of Afghanistan. People love to say "off the beaten path" and then write about a place you can find in Fodor's travel guides. If you're in a national park somewhere, you're just about automatically on a beaten path, folks.)
Anyway, now that my medication is adjusted, here are Family Circle's suggestions for national parks in America:
1. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon - one of the deepest lakes in the world, with "bluer than blue water."
2. Isle Royale, Michigan - In the northwest corner of Lake Superior, home to loons, foxes, wolves and moose and accessible only by ferry or seaplane. Close to Ontario, too!
3. Badlands, South Dakota: It has "breathtaking expanses of grass prairie that are home to bison, bighorn sheep, endangered black-footed ferrets, swift foxes and more."
4. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico: There are a billion cars in California with "I visited Carlsbad Caverns" bumperstickers, or there used to be, but it's still an impressive underground system with more than 300 grottoes (the magazine said "more than 300 grottoes" instead of "over," and for that I'm extremely grateful).
5. Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia: I haven't been but I loved the couple days I had on Jekyll Island, Georgia two years ago. The magazine says the "windswept barrier island is never crowded, save for the island's famous wild horses and the alligators and sea turtles that also call the island home." Only 300 visitors a day are allowed.
What about underrated Canadian parks? Alberta gets all the glory with Jasper and Banff, and we know about the islands in British Columbia.
I haven't seen nearly as much as Canada as I'd like but I have to say that the freshwater "fjords" at Gros Morne in Newfoundland don't get nearly as much attention as they deserve. Ditto for our very own provincial parks up and around Muskoka. A friend of mine who's lived in Toronto for decades says he's never been to Muskoka, which is quite something.
By the way, the Canadian Parks website - http://www.pc.gc.ca/ - says there are 42 such creatures in our great nation; five in Ontario. Those would be Bruce Peninsula, Georgian Bay Islands, Pukaskwa, Point Pelee and, drumroll please, St. Lawrence Islands.
I AM GORILLA, HEAR ME ROAR
Few things say New York like King Kong on top of the Empire State Building. Now, a short item that caught my eye in The Sunday Times Travel Magazine talked about how the famous roar that the big ape makes when he's battling the airplanes on top of the tower.
It turns out, the magazine says, that the movie producers took a tiger's roar and the roar of a lion and played them backwards to get Kong's tone. The magazine didn't write this, but apparently if you play the recording at 78 speed it says, "Paul is dead."