A roundup of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media
LABOR DAY TRAVEL — the GOOD and BAD NEWS
The buzz from AAA is that fewer of us will be on the road this year for the Labor Day holiday weekend. To understand why, you probably need look no further than the state of the US economy and the cost of fuel.
Having seen Londoners earlier this summer paying the equivalent of $8 a gallon for what they call “petrol,” I can’t whine too much about our gas prices over here. Still, with U.S. fuel costs still approaching $4 a gallon in much of the country, the impulse to stay home this coming weekend is understandable.
But there may be a silver, cash-saving lining in that dark cloud.
The folks over at FareCompare.com say the anticipated travel slowdown this Labor Day holiday could put the airlines in a mood to make you a deal, especially with the last big weekend of the summer travel season only days away.
Which just might put you in the driver’s seat after all, so to speak.
Meanwhile, check your favorite travel sites on the Web to see if hotels and rental car companies also are offering good deals in an effort to save their Labor Day weekend.
If they are, you know what to do.
UNITED STATES of AVERAGE?
One of the more popular items bouncing around the travel blogosphere last week was a story from Travel+Leisure magazine about the 10 most complained-about airlines in the United States for things like lost luggage, cancelled flights and rude service.
The Department of Transportation reported nearly 3,600 complaints against US-based airlines in just the first six months of this year.
With thousands of East Coast flights having been disrupted or cancelled by Hurricane Irene, I can’t wait to see what those same stats look like by December.
Then, you come to Skytrax, the British outfit that rates airline performance, especially passenger service. Out of some 300 airlines around the world, they award five stars to exactly seven — six in Asia and one in the Middle East.
That’s right, not a single US airline among the world’s best.
JetBlue did manage to crack Skytrax’s list of 4-star winners — one US airline out of 31. Only once you drop down to three stars do the American air lines show up in numbers: 11 of them.
This is the country that invented the airline business, not to mention the airplane itself — and this is the best we can do?
If the world’s air travel industry were a university, US airlines would be a bunch of C-students.
REGGAE IN AFRICA
2012 is an off-year for the Gambia’s International Roots Festival, which won’t return until the following year. But there’s no need to wait until 2013 to visit “the smiling coast of Africa.”
Especially if you have a taste for reggae.
The London-based Ariwa Sounds music label is putting on a Back to Africa Festival in the Gambia next Jan. 20-25 in the southern Atlantic seaside village of Batukunku.
Reggae, which originated in Jamaica, has been embraced the world over, but nowhere more so than in sub-Saharan Africa, which has gone head-over-heels for it.
In addition to reggae, artists on the bill will be performing several related styles featured by the Ariwa label, some of which will be utterly unfamiliar to anyone who limits their listening habits to US Top 40 radio — dub, dubstep, dancehall, roots & culture, world music and lovers rock.
(All this time, I thought Lovers Rock was just a Sade album, which shows you how much I know, right?)
Among the artists due to perform are Turbulence, Mad Professor, Pan Africanist, Brindsley Forde, Jah Youth Roots, and my personal favorite, for his name alone …Professor Skank (from Crete, of all places).
More festival info can be found here.
And now, here’s this week’s Digest:
from the Los Angeles Times
Jet bridge collapses injures two travelers at LAX.
British Airways introduces “signature brand scents” on their flights. I’d settle for a Business Class seat that doesn’t force me to climb over another passenger’s lap, but that’s just me.
from USA Today
Where would you take the kids to learn about the past, present and future of American space exploration — Cape Canaveral, FL, Houston TX? Consider New Mexico.
from Associated Press via USA Today
While Libya’s bloody revolution grinds and lurches toward its end, neighboring Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, enjoys its peace…and waits for the tourists to come back.
from USA Today
Attention, ladies. Can’t get your sports-mad husband or boyfriend interested in cruising? Well, if he happens to be a baseball fan, MSC Cruises would like a word with the two of you.
from The Guardian (London UK)
In South Africa, where wine is a major industry in which mediocrity is not an option, blacks are making the jump from low-paid field workers to successful winemakers.
from This Day (Kenya) via allAfrica.com
Kenya isn’t waiting for North American and European tourists to discover them. They’re focusing instead on markets in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Result: a record number of visitors and earnigs from tourism up by almost a third.
from The Moment (London UK) via allAfrica.com
Nigeria’s aviation ministry says foreign airlines are using deceptive advertising and discriminatory pricing tactics against Nigerian travelers.
from Lving Social via Gadling
While New Yorkers are all aflutter from having their Starbucks closed by Hurricane Irene, Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers for a paid working vacation, helping rebuild homes devastated in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.
from the New York Times
Has Portland, OR eclipsed San Francisco as the West Coast capitol of cool?
from the New York Times
With a name like Le Filet, you might expect this restaurant in meat-mad Montreal to be a serious steakhouse. Guess again: This place is all about the seafood.
from Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan)
Tommy Hilfiger, Jane Birkin and Zubin Mehta are among the celebrities campaigning to get tourists to return to Japan.
from the New York Times
The NYT’s Beth Kugel tries to get by on $100 for a weekend in Madrid. All failure should be this much fun.
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