EXTRA CHARGES FOR OVERWEIGHT TRAVELLERS?
United Airlines this week was floating the idea of charging overweight passengers who take up more than one seat. Now, it's Ryanair (no kidding) who's taking up the idea.
Ryanair has never met a user-fee it didn't like, and it sparked headlines earlier when they floated, but then said it was a joke, the idea of charging folks to pee on board their planes. This time, they appear to be serious.
In his blog at usatoday.com, Ben Mutzabaugh writes that "Ryanair’s controversial proposals often turn out to be simple public relations stunts." But he noted that a poll of Ryanair customers found that, of 45,000 votes cast so far, nearly half are in favour of charging excess fees for overweight passengers.
The Times is doing an on-line poll of its own and is finding folks favour the extra charge.
What do you think? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll print a few of your thoughts next week, either in this space or in the Thursday Travel section.
HOTEL RATES DROPPING FAST
Think hotel prices are down? How about an average of, oh, 17.4 per cent?
A study by Ovation Travel Group surveyed hotel prices in 30 global cities in the first quarter of this year and found rates (for three-to-five-star properties) had dropped by an average of 17.4 per cent compared to last year.
Hardest hit of the cities surveyed was Singapore at 35 per cent. Delhi rates were down 32 per cent, New York 30 per cent and London 30 per cent. Toronto was down 21 per cent, with the average room in the first three months of this year set at $187 U.S.
That's not cheap but it's an incredible bargain compared to Abu Dhabi, where rates in the first three months of 2009 jumped 33.7 per cent to $543, the company said. Dublin rates were up 6.2 per cent, Milan rates up 5.1 per cent and Tokyo rooms were 3.2 per cent more expensive.
Down in the U.S., Smith Travel Research reports that American hotel occupancy last week was just 52.6 per cent; down from 64.1 per cent in the same period last year. The average daily rate was $96.60 last week, a 12.5 per cent drop from last year.
YEAH, AND YOU CAN WALK TO MONTREAL FOR LUNCH
Conde Nast Traveller's latest issue has a small insert called Canada Now, complete with a giant, red maple leaf on the front. It's got stories and graphics on Calgary, Vancouver, Quebec City, Montreal, Halifax and Toronto.
It's mostly a review of hot hotels and restaurants and has some nice things to say. Quebec is described as a place "where the ancien regime meets a cool, new scene," while Toronto is cited for "its thrilling new architecture" that "flirts with danger."
The magazine recommends checking out the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ontario College of Art and Design and the ROM, as well as the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on University Avenue. But it also mentions the Four Seasons hotel in Yorkville and says it's just two blocks from the Four Seasons Arts Centre.
Man, no wonder it always takes me so long to get to work; a look at mapquest.com reveals it's actually about three kilometers from one to the other.
Still, the magazine had kind words for both facilities, as well as the Park Hyatt, the Hazelton Hotel and the Windsor Arms. They also sugested dining at C5 at the ROM, Lai Toh Heen on Mount Pleasant, Bright Pearl Seafood on Spadina, the Jamie Kennedy Gardiner, the Gladstone Hotel's Melody Bar and the Harbord Room on Harbord Street, which has quietly become a real go-to spot in the city.