Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the Caribbean's so delightful...(sorry)
Wow, still LOTS of weather havoc out there, folks. Baltimore Washington International in Maryland is back up and running after the monster snowfall that descended on the U.S. eastern seaboard and the Canadian maritimes. Reagan National is supposed to be operating by noon, take or give.
Over in Europe, meanwhile, they've launched in an independent investigation into the troubles in the English Channel tunnel after that massive disruption of Eurostar train service. There's talk service will be restored Tuesday, but it seems far from certain.
They still don't seem to know why things got so messed up but they're still blaming snow and ice. At least they have a bit of an excuse as it was ABNORMALLY cold and snowy in France and England a few days back (and Spain, too; check the photo of kids walking down a slushy street!). Here in Toronto, of course, a snowfall is met by huge breakdowns by the TTC, despite the fact that winter storms are common. Speaking of which, a minor storm in Toronto would be nice on Christmas Eve if anyone up there with control over these things is listening.
The weather troubles come just as I read a story on travelmole.com about how Americans are expected to flock to warm weather spots for some great deals in the new year. The folks at Orbitz say Las Vegas will be a huge destination in the new year with so many new hotel rooms while the Caribbean and Mexico will remain heavy favourites. Good deals are expected in Hawaii, too, as the state struggles to recover from a poor 2009.
HELP FOR STRANDED PASSENGERS (at least in the U.S.)
“Hawaii looks to be even more affordable for travelers in 2010,” says Stacey Meyer, Hawaii senior market manager for Orbitz.
The U.S. Transportation Department is ordering airlines to let passengers stuck in stranded airplanes to deplane after three hours.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday announced the three-hour limit and other new passenger protections long sought by consumer advocates. From January to June this year, 613 planes were delayed on tarmacs for more than three hours, their passengers kept on board.
Under the new rule, airlines must provide food and water for passengers within two hours of a plane being delayed on a tarmac and maintain operable lavatories. They must also provide medical attention when necessary. The new rule is effective in 120 days.
Haven't seen any word from Canada on this but I'll be on the lookout. It's a great improvement, but I bet airlines will find lots of reasons to bitch about it. Think they might raise fares to compensate? Nah....
AIR CANADA TO COPENHAGEN
Air Canada announced today it will launch daily service between Toronto and Copenhagen next summer as it further expands international flying at its major hub to offer customers more choice of destinations and routes.
"Air Canada is building its Toronto hub and this year has now announced long-haul service to four new, major international destinations. The addition of Copenhagen next summer is strategically important as passengers will be able to conveniently connect with our Star Alliance partner Scandinavian Airlines to reach such cities as Oslo, Helsinki, Warsaw, Stockholm and Gothenburg," said Ben Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. "We will continue to look for opportunities to grow our hub after earlier announcing flights starting next summer to Athens, Barcelona and, via Montreal, Brussels. Toronto's geographic position and the consolidation of our operations under one roof are enabling us to establish Lester B. Pearson International Airport as a major North American and global hub for the Star Alliance."
Air Canada will begin non-stop, daily flights between Toronto and Copenhagen (see picture, abvoe) on June 24 of next year, subject to the usual government approval. (And is it just me but is there something odd about adding another flight to Copenhagen just days after the failure by world leaders to get tough on climate change after a much-ballyhooed meeting in, uh, Copenhagen?)
Anyhow, the only non-stop service to Scandinavia from Canada will be operated with a 211-seat Boeing 767-300 ER aircraft featuring 24 lay flat bed suites in Executive First and a personal digital in-flight video system, a USB port and a power plug available at every seat throughout the aircraft. Service will operate daily in the summer, with reduced frequency in the winter.
Sunwing Vacations is pleased to announce that travellers can now enjoy more than a relaxing cruise when they book with Sunwing’s newest cruise partner, MSC Cruises: they’ll earn double Aeroplan miles!
All that travellers need to do is provide their Aeroplan number when booking any Sunwing MSC cruise that departs between January 1 and April 24 of 2010. The offer applies to bookings effective December 7, 2009.
USA Today reports another Holland America ship has received a major overhaul.
"The 12-year-old vessel emerged last week from a 28-day dry dock that saw the addition of 44 balcony cabins, a new resort-style pool area called The Retreat, new "Lanai" cabins on the promenade deck and a more contemporary lounge area called Mix," the paper said. "The line also revamped every cabin on the ship with new fixtures, fabrics and bedding, and made what it is calling extreme changes to cabin bathrooms with new vanities and cabinetry. Twenty-three cabins near the spa were converted into "spa staterooms" with special amenities."
Cruise ships of all kinds have been getting big boosts of late, as cruise lines struggle with a poor market. Then, of course, there's the launch of giant, new ships like Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. I saw the other day that they toyed with the idea of adding a roller coaster to the ship! Why stop there? Why not a domed stadium for baseball? How about a full-size ice rink and the next outdoor NHL game could be played in mid-Atlantic?