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Canadian Luxury Train Tours' First USA Journey - Rockies to the Red Rocks
They are the essential train trips in Western Canada. Three rail routes that provide travelers a window onto the Rockies like no other way of travel.

Rocky Mountaineer operates bucket list rail journeys between Vancouver and the iconic Canadian Rockies towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. 

They are train trips featuring a multitude of luxuries in the heart of the West’s greatest wilderness, from plush, glass-domed, railcars that reveal a 360 degree view of mountains, lakes and forests – some of which Technicolor scenery is only visible from the tracks – to fine dining and personalized service.

 
And beginning in 2021, travelers who love riding the rails can connect with some of the American West’s most iconic landscapes the same way.

Rocky Mountaineer is launching a new route in the heart of the American Rockies. Its ‘Rockies to the Red Rocks’ train trip is a 2-day journey between Denver, Colorado, and Moab, Utah.

Rockies to the Red Rocks route showcases scenic views that are unique to the Southwest United States. Between Denver and Glenwood Springs, train guests journey alongside the Colorado River and through a series of canyons with steep, rugged rock walls. The scenery along the route between Glenwood Springs and Moab includes mountain vistas, desert cliffs and rock formations.

Like its Canadian Rockies trips, the company's first U.S. rail journey features daytime spent on the tracks in custom-designed glass-domed coaches so you don’t miss any view of the incredible scenery.

This new route is also a rail journey that is both luxurious and local. Onboard storytelling, a social atmosphere and the Rocky Mountaineer's renowned culinary experience round out your train experience. It features cuisine and ingredients local to the Southwestern U.S., which will be complemented with beverage service, all served at your first-class seat, so you can enjoy the scenery as you dine.

And the overnight midway is spent in a hotel that’s included as part of your trip. 


Rocky Mountaineer says it’s been working for years on the new route, looking for a ‘special location with many of the same features we have in Western Canada – incredible scenery, iconic destinations, and the option for an all-daytime, multi-day journey that is best experienced by train.’

Calling its Rockies to the Red Rocks route between Denver and Moab ‘historic’, the company says, ‘now we are opening our newest train experience in the region where train travel history began.’

The company is working with local tourism organizations, hotels and tour operators to curate custom pre- and post-train journey packages that feature tours, activities, and stays in Denver and Moab, to make the most of your journey by rail.

If you love train travel, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to cross this historic train route off your travel wish list as there are 40 of these 2-day journeys on Rocky Mountaineer’s calendar from August to October in its 2021 preview season.

What would be even better? Making Rocky Mounaineer’s ‘Rockies to the Red Rocks’ train trip the core of a longer journey exploring the iconic sites and unforgettable scenery, history and National Parks of the American Rockies.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon



Images courtesy Rocky Mountaineer


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KLM has revealed the future of flight. Hint: You'll be sitting IN the wings.
If you’re one of those travelers who always picks a seat over the wing, you’re in luck. In this new-concept aircraft, you – and every other passenger on board – will be flying IN the wings.

They call it the Flying –V. And it’s a whole new vision of passenger flight.

“Tube-and-wing” design has defined planes since the earliest days of passenger flight. Innovative approaches to aircraft design continued in military applications, where flying wing aircraft have established a presence. Now, they’re set to transform commercial passenger flight.

In the Flying-V, the pilots remain in the nose. But behind them, the passenger cabin, cargo hold and fuel tanks are in the wings, resulting in a plane that’s a spectacular V shape. No more tube!

The reason for the Flying –V design is simple: it’s incredibly energy efficient, especially for long-haul flights. KLM, who is partnered with Airbus and the Netherlands’ Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the project, predicts that the improvements in aerodynamics and reduced weight of the design will lower fuel consumption by 20% even over the most fuel-efficient aircraft flying today.

In a further step towards its goal of sustainable flight travel, the company is planning in a further stage to fly the Flying –V on sustainable fuel.


You Could Soon Be Flying On This Futuristic Plane


KLM’s Flying-V represents the most exciting innovation in commercial passenger aircraft design since the now-retired Concorde. That supersonic jet’s distinctive, ‘hawk’s-nose’ design contributed to the ultra-aerodynamic shape that enabled the plane to transport passengers on Trans-Atlantic flights faster than the speed of sound. 

The Flying-V’s design gives it the advantage in distance, not speed. Its fuel efficiency will enable it to fly longer without refuelling. That could mean more ultra-long-haul, non-stop flights.

KLM has now successfully flown a scale model of its Flying-V, but there’s no date for the plane to begin service. Nonetheless, we’ve got some insights about what flying will be like in the Flying-V. 

The innovation partnership compares the Flying-V to Airbus’ current most advanced aircraft, the A350. The Flying-V is not as long as the A350, but it’s the same width, so it fits in existing airport infrastructure like boarding gates and runways and hangars.

The Flying-V will carry the same number of passengers – 314 – as the A350, and the same amount of cargo. But ultimately, it’s a shorter, smaller aircraft. And that contributes to its reduced air resistance and increased fuel efficiency.

The team is taking the opportunity of a new aircraft design to re-imagine the interior of the plane and passenger comfort and on-board experience, too. To maximize the efficiency gains of the outside of the plane, the insides have to be as lightweight as possible. Everything is being re-designed, from the seats and bathrooms to the seating layout in those futuristic wings.

And of course, what’s automatically changed… is the view, from INSIDE the wings.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images courtesy KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
 
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Roundup of the NEW, COVID Insurance Options for Canadian Travellers

In less than a month, the landscape for Canadian travellers has been transformed.

Back in March, the COVID-19 virus was determined to be a ‘known factor’ and so it was no longer covered by regular travel medical insurance policies. Since then, Canadians who have wanted to travel have not had coverage for expenses incurred if they contracted the virus while abroad.

All that changed just a couple of weeks ago. With much of the world learning to manage the pandemic, and commonly-accepted safety practices to help prevent the spread of the virus, one of the next key events necessary for a resumption of travel happened:

Travel medical insurance covering Canadians in the unlikely event they contract the virus away from home.

Once the first company announced coverage, it became a landslide. At press time, there are now no fewer than 6 options for Canadians to ensure they’re covered.  Here are the highlights:

Air Canada Vacations: 1st COVID Travel Insurance in Canada – With Limits

Air Canada’s packaged vacation division, Air Canada Vacations created headlines when it announced it would be including free-of-charge insurance for its guests against medical and quarantine expenses related to contracting COVID-19 while travelling.
ACV’s coverage is for up to 21 days and applied only to ACV air + hotel packaged holidays to specific destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean this fall and winter. The initiative is in partnership with global insurance giant Allianz and the program ends in April. 
While not the first globally to offer COVID-19 insurance, it was a breakthrough moment for the Canadian travel industry.
It wasn’t hard to predict Air Canada Vacations’ bold move would start a trend.

WestJet: 1st COVID Insurance Available on Air-Only Bookings to Specific Destinations

Air Canada’s rival WestJet then upped the ante, offering its air-only passengers – not just vacation package guests - no-charge COVID-19 insurance lasting up to 21 days through its provider TuGo.
WestJet’s COVID insurance covers travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe including the UK. 
And while the first two programs provide coverage on reservations through April, WestJet’s program runs to the end of August 2021.

Manulife: 1st For-Purchase COVID Coverage in a Standard Travel Medical Insurance Policy

Canada’s largest provider of travel insurance announced its ‘COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan’ launching in October. Manulife adds COVID coverage to its standard emergency travel medical policy, with specific additional coverage for COVID-19 medical care and out-of-country quarantine expenses. 
It will be available for Canadian travellers to purchase prior to travelling within our borders as well as internationally, including to destinations with a Level 3 Travel Advisory.

Air Canada: follows West Jet, Offering No-Charge COVID Insurance for Air-Only International Travellers

Now both of Canada’s major airlines include COVID insurance for Canadians who purchase flights on either carrier – at no cost to the passengers.
Although Air Canada Vacations’ COVID insurance is provided by Allianz, the airline is providing its air-only passengers with coverage through Manulife. The insurance applies to round-trip, international air bookings made until October 31st with travel by April 12, 2021.
In addition to coverage for medical treatment and quarantine expenses, Air Canada’s air-only COVID insurance also covers up to $500 CDN for unexpected costs of returning home if the Canadian government travel advisory level in your destination goes from Level 3 to Level 4 while you’re there.

Sunwing: Matching Competitors in No-Charge Coverage

Air-only, as well as beach vacation package travellers with Sunwing, receive coverage included with their bookings made by October 31st, for travel between October 16th this year and May 31st, 2021.
It’s also similar to other options for Canadian travellers, offering coverage for trips up to 21 days for medical, quarantine, transfer and trip interruption costs due to COVID-19 and pandemic-related travel advisory changes.
In addition, Sunwing insurance coverage is supported by medical assistance at all Sunwing resorts, and the company points out, “As the only travel provider that owns the airline its customers fly on, the transfer buses that travel to and from hotels, as well as over 30 hotels throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, Sunwing’s commitment to safety spans across every step of the travel process.”

Comparing COVID Insurance: Apples to Oranges

All of the travel companies have implemented expansive new health and safety protocols on their own aircraft and with land partners. Their insurance provides coverage for medical expenses, quarantine expenses, some travel and even repatriation of remains due to contracting the COVID-19 virus while traveling.
But not all of these options are the same, and making good choices when you’re choosing to travel and choosing the best insurance option can make a big difference if you do get sick while you’re away.
Questions you should discuss with your Travel Advisor to help determine which of the COVID-19 insurance options available suit your travel needs best:
·     Is this available only a package (air + hotel) or will I have the coverage if I book air only?
·     How much coverage does this offer in dollar terms? Is that enough for where I’m travelling?
·     What are the limitations of coverage? Potential travellers should note that travel to some destinations – including the USA - may not be covered.
·     Am I personally eligible for coverage? 
·     How long am I covered for? Snowbirds looking to spend months in the sun need to look closely at the duration of coverage. 
·     When does this coverage end? Different policies require you to travel before a certain date.

Insuring a Return to Travel

The travel landscape keeps changing, but it’s safe to say that there will continue to be MORE insurance options for Canadians hoping to travel in the coming months. It’s a key piece of the puzzle to give Canadians confidence when they travel. 
We are all still waiting for a COVID immunization option to become available, and when it does, future travel insurance coverage - or even entry visas to certain countries - may require proof of COVID immunization.

While some Canadians may still not feel comfortable travelling yet, like any other travel/medical insurance, COVID-19 insurance is a responsible way for people who choose to travel to be protected against unforeseen expenses. 

#SafeTravelsSoon

 
 
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Well, We Aren't Going to Miss This.  Major US Airlines Drop Most-Hated Fee
The first announcement was a bombshell. Then, like dominoes, they all fell.
United Airlines started the landslide when it revealed it was dropping change fees - forever.

Why?

Air passengers in the US dropped to below 100,000 a day at the peak of the pandemic travel shutdown – recovering to 10 X that number over the last month, which is still only a drop in the bucket of pre-COVID air travel rates. Something had to give.
Change fees – at United, it cost $200 to change a domestic booked ticket, plus any difference between the prices of the tickets – have been controversial.
When it made the announcement, United admitted change fees were the top requested improvement in customer service. And it made a commitment to find new ways to serve its customers better as a way to emerge stronger from the crisis.

Change at United Airlines

The airline is immediately and permanently dropping Economy and Premium ticket change fees for travel in the U.S. There are no limits on the number of times you can make changes.
Beginning in the New Year, you can fly standby on any flight on the day of your original flight for free. It applies to all types of tickets and class of service - a first among U.S. carriers - and it applies to all flights both inside U.S. and to and from international destinations. 
United is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through December 31, 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee. It applies to all ticket types issued after March 3, 2020 and is valid for both domestic and international travel.
United’s move started a domino effect as the carrier’s U.S. competitors scrambled to match its move.

Delta Airlines

Delta quickly chimed in with its own, similar announcement.
Since March and the tsunami of COVID-related cancellations, it’s waived change fees. Now, the $200 domestic change fee is cancelled for good except for Basic Economy tickets.
However, the airline will continue to permit no-charge changes for all tickets including even Basic Economy, both domestic and international, through the end of the year.

American Airlines

Simultaneously with Delta, American Airlines fell in line, too. In its case, permanently-waived change fees apply to domestic as well as short-haul international flights, for premium cabin and most – but not all – main cabin tickets. Fliers will have to pay any difference in fares, but American will refund the difference as a voucher if the changed flight fare comes in lower than your original flight.
American mirrored United and Delta’s new policies of allowing booked passengers to fly standby anytime on the day of their flight for free.
In addition, American said even Basic Economy ticket holders would now be able to purchase upgrades, priority boarding, preferred seating and confirmed same-day flight changes

Alaska Airlines

Then Alaska Airlines followed suit. In this carrier’s case, it had been charging less - only $125 change fees - but moving forward will charge no change fees on all domestic – or international – tickets.
In addition, the airline is extending its flexible travel policy for all newly-booked tickets through the end of the year – including its lowest-cost Saver tickets.

Then There Were 5

Now, 5 major US airlines are not charging controversial change fees.
Consumer favorite Southwest airlines has never charged for ticket changes. 
Unlike the other major airlines, Southwest resisted padding its bottom line with surcharges that used to be included in all airline ticket fares, and earned a lot of customer loyalty in return.
So travelers may see more sweetening of flight fees yet, if Southwest feels pressured to re-establish its leadership in value.

Not Onboard - Yet

While the flurry of announcements in the US did away with one of the most disliked surcharges in travel applied by its major airlines, outside of the States… crickets.
So far, no airline outside the US, including carriers in Canada, have joined the major US airlines in permanently dropping fees to boost bookings or become more competitive. (Many are temporarily ‘waiving’ change and cancellation fees relating to flights cancelled due to the pandemic and travel bans. But a return to change fees hangs over passengers’ heads.)
These recent announcements could still transform the entire North American and global air travel landscape, however. 
For example, both United and Air Canada are members of Star Alliance. And Air Canada’s loyalty program Aeroplan members can accumulate points flying on United. Those fliers may opt for United itineraries to their destination for the flexibility to change their plans at no cost.
So even airlines outside the US may find themselves under pressure to match these new policies and drop some surcharges, or risk seeing passenger ‘flight’ to competing brands.
In The Big Picture: This development may make flying domestically or even internationally more affordable and appealing to travelers making plans to take off on a post-COVID trip soon.

#WeWillTravelAgain


Image courtesy United Airlines.

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The Airline That's Providing Passengers with COVID insurance
Travel companies are introducing many new health and safety practices to help protect travelers, staff and locals as travel begins to resume.
Now, one airline has taken those measures one step further. 

In a travel industry first, Emirates is covering its passengers for COVID-19 expenses. 

For travelers longing to take to the skies again, the Dubai-based global airline’s commitment is designed to boost confidence.
It’s broad coverage, free of cost for Emirates customers from any country, flying to any destination in any class of travel- even economy class! The airline will cover COVID medical expenses up to 150,000 Euro (about $177,000 USD). Or if a passenger becomes COVID positive while traveling and is forced to quarantine away from home, Emirates covers 100 Euro a day of those costs for up to 14 days.
The coverage applies to Emirates passengers on flights up to October 31st 2020.  Passengers are covered for 31 days from the date of the first leg of their journey, even if they go on to other cities following their arrival at their Emirates destination.
What’s more, you don’t have to apply for the coverage, fill out any forms – or even use the coverage if you don’t want to. The airline is providing a dedicated hotline for passengers to make inquiries, or to call if they are diagnosed.
The global-first coverage comes in addition to the health and safety measures the airline has adopted throughout its network of 60 world-wide destinations, including the distribution of complimentary hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to all customers. And the flexible booking and cancelation policies that allow passengers to manage disruptions.
Emirates’ coverage doesn’t cancel out travel restrictions in destinations. Passengers still have to meet eligibility and entry requirements of their destinations to board Emirates flights.

Would COVID coverage influence your decision to travel?

The idea may be gaining steam. Just this week, two travel destinations have followed suit to offer domestic and international visitors COVID health insurance.
The Canary Islands, a group of Spanish islands in the Atlantic off the coast of North Africa, are not only a trans-Atlantic cruise port of call. The destination is popular for beach vacations among other Spaniards and British travelers. Other parts of Spain have been hit hard by COVID, and while the Canary Islands have had far fewer cases, they have suffered from plummeting numbers of travelers.
So the ministry of tourism has contracted with an insurance provider to offer Spanish and foreign visitors who are COVID-free before their trip coverage for all COVID related medical expenses, repatriation, and any necessary extension of their stay on the Islands due to the pandemic.
In a similar move, international visitors to Portugal can now purchase COVID insurance - both medical and coverage for expenses due to cancellation or a necessary extension of their stay.

As re-opening progresses, the travel industry continues to innovate to address travelers’ biggest concerns. Is offering insurance specifically for COVID going to be key for travel companies and travel destinations to welcome guests again?

#SafeTravelsSoon



Image courtesy Emirates
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Lie Flat Beds in Economy Class?  This Airline Says, "Yes, You Can!"
An airline has cracked the code to providing some of the same comforts for economy class passengers as their fellow passengers in costlier business and first-class enjoy.

After three years in development, Air New Zealand has revealed the prototype of an innovation that could forever change the way you look at long haul travel – even in coach!

They’re calling it the Economy Skynest, and it’s a groundbreaking concept. A ‘nest’ of six, full-length, lie-flat sleep pods stacked on top of each other like bunk beds, with the added bonus of replacing a chunk of hated, center block of seats (although final placement in different planes can change).

If you love to travel but hate not having enough space to stretch out. Or your company budget doesn’t stretch to first class with lie-flat cubicles… but you still need to arrive at your destination fresh and ready to get to work. We can think of all kinds of reasons Air New Zealand’s Economy Skynest could tick a lot of boxes for you.


Each single-person pod is over 2 m (more than 6 and a half feet) long, with a minimum shoulder width of 58 cm (23 inches), and comes with a full-size pillow, a blanket and also sheets! as well as ear plugs, privacy curtains and lighting designed for sleep. Air New Zealand is also exploring other features like a separate reading light, a personal device USB outlet, and an outlet for ventilation. All the comforts of a hotel bed… just a little cozier.

And it makes sense. New Zealand’s position on the globe means it operates some of the world’s longest flights, like a non-stop Auckland-New York flight that spends 17 hours and 40 minutes in the air. That’s the flight the company is testing the Economy Skynests on for an inaugural year.

It’s just the latest innovation in comfort for an airline that is at the leading edge of customer-centric design and eco-responsible advances. The Economy Skynest is the next step up from Air New Zealand’s previous game-changer, the award-winning Economy Skycouch.


The row of Economy seats that can be turned into a couch after takeoff so friends or family members can use the space to stretch out changed the way families fly. And further enhancements like a dedicated infant harness enabling infants to stay lying down throughout the cruise phase of flight, a new infant pod which provides extra comfort and protection, and a modification to the existing adult Skycouch Cuddle Belt means it's now certified for two children to be able to share the Skycouch lying side by side.


Given how popular the Economy Skycouch has become, the airline is expecting Economy Skynests to ‘take off’, too, with a focus on the longest of long haul flights. Air New Zealnd anticipates that Economy class passengers would be able to book the Skynest in addition to their regular Economy class seat, so you can be seated for a portion of your flight and able to sleep when you feel like it.

And they expect, as they experienced with the Economy Skycouch, other airlines will explore licensing the Skynest from Air New Zealand so you can enjoy its comforts on many routes around the world.

As aircraft engineering continues to advance to achieve greater feats of fuel economy and enables planes to fly longer non-stop flights, innovations like Air New Zealand’s Economy Skynest will be ever more attractive options when you book your flight.

It may be the most exciting new innovation in flight – that literally puts you to sleep.

Start you Trip!


Images: Air New Zealand

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See the World's Tallest Indoor Waterfall at this New Airport

It's one of the world's top ten busiest airports, with a flight every 80 seconds. A hundred airlines transport over 60 million passengers yearly to and from Singapore's Changi airport. So millions of travelers are already familiar with the breathtaking Nature features in the airport that's the gateway to Asia's 'City in a Garden'. 


But 2019's new Jewel Changi Airport brings the natural world into an airport environment in a whole new, spectacular way that makes Singapore's airport a destination itself.

The Rain Vortex was inspired by Singapore's tropical rains. It's a 7-story feat of design and engineering that astounds you the moment you walk in the door. At over 130 feet high, it's the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, cascading dramatically through an oculus in the glass and steel dome.


The experience of the Rain Vortex changes depending what time of day you are at Jewel Changi Airport. Every evening, the flowing water, along with mist and music, becomes the centerpiece of an hourly, magical Light & Sound show designed by the same company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and hundreds of other water, fire, light, fog and music installations around the world.

Jewel's indoor waterfall is surrounded by 5 acres of lush gardens and greenery – 2000 trees and 100,000 shrubs from 120 species in different 'parks' that make Jewel Changi Airport a lifestyle destination for visitors and locals too.

Areas like Forest Valley and Canopy Park are shopping and dining neighborhoods in a whimsical green wonderland, with cobblestone walking trails, indoor clouds, play attractions like Sky Nets, Hedge Maze, Mirror Maze and Discovery Slides that flow through themed gardens - all in climate-controlled comfort. In a man-made environment, you can enjoy tropical gardens without tropical weather!
 
With all the world-class shopping, dining and entertainment, Jewel is still a functioning airport that anticipates travelers' needs and offers conveniences that are a breath of relief, even for travelers with only a brief stopover in Singapore. 
 
Thoughtful airport facilities that have been added in Jewel include early check-in counters and kiosks, a baggage storage service and the Changi Lounge, a 150-seat lounge with shower facilities, offering seamless transfers for passengers connecting to and from cruise and ferry services
 
Jewel also has the first YOTELAIR in Asia. The tech-savvy, smart-design, space-efficient cabin hotel concept has 130 cabin-units in Jewel in three categories. The Premium, Accessible and Family cabins can be booked for as little as four hours. They are a game changer for travelers with short daytime layovers, a very early arrival in Singapore, even an extra half day to spend time exploring all that the airport has to offer before you fly out of Singapore - even overnight stays. Hotel check-in / check-out is seamless, with time-saving, airline-style self-check-in kiosks.
 
Jewel also adds capacity to accommodate increasing numbers of travelers at Changi Airport. Another 3 million passengers will now be able to be accommodated annually, bringing the airport's total capacity to 85 million. And it's going to be needed with an airport that's enough reason alone to visit Singapore.
 
The multi-faceted innovation at Jewel gives local residents a new destination where lush Nature meets Singapore's urban energy. And it gives a renewed sense of novelty and wonder at the experience of air transportation to everyone traveling to or from Singapore. 
 

Start your Trip!


Photos: Jewel Changi Airport Devt.

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8 Facts About the Panama Canal

Panama is one of the fastest-growing destinations in Central America, and the Panama Canal is the country's star attraction. Although it's on everyone's list of things to experience, the canal is more important as a global shipping transit than tourist experience. 

Whether you sail the canal on your next cruise or watch in action from land, here are 8 things you need to know about this wonder of the modern world.

1. It's a short cut between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The Panama Canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama in a narrow land bridge between North and South America. Prior, ships had to sail around the tip of South America. It takes about 8 hours to cross the Canal's 50 miles (77km). That saves days. If a ship had to navigate down and around Cape Horn at the tip of South America and back up the other side, it would have to travel nearly 12,500 miles (20,000 km).

2. It's over 100 years old.

2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal.  Columbia, France, then later, the United States controlled the land surrounding the canal. In 1881, the French started building the canal, but progress halted due to engineering problems and high worker mortality. The US took it over in 1904 and completed the project with newly available technology ten years later at a cost of $400 million USD. In 1999, control passed back to Panama.

3. Construction cost over 25,000 lives.

At times, more than 43,000 people were working on the Panama Canal at once. Workers had to deal with heat, jungles, swamps - and all the creatures in them, including rats that carried bubonic plague. Plus mosquito-borne diseases like yellow fever and malaria. Over 20,000 workers died during French building efforts.

After the scientific links between the insects and disease had been discovered, Americans undertook intensive and successful anti-mosquito initiatives. Even so, another more than 5000 workers perished during the American building phase.

4. It's considered one of the Man-Made Wonders of the World

The American Society of Civil Engineers has also dubbed the Panama Canal one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World. It's one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.
 
A system of locks at each end of the Canal lifts ships up 85 feet (26 meters) above sea level to an artificial lake. Ships traverse the artificial lake, as well as a series of improved and artificial channels, and then are lowered again in more locks to sea level at the other side.  
 
The locks are 110 feet (33 meters) feet wide and 1000 feet (300 meters) long. About 30-MILLION pounds (1,400,000 kilos) of explosives were used to help clear the land for the canal.

 (That's a view! The Norwegian Bliss is the largest passenger cruise ship to have ever transited the Panama Canal)

5. Over 1 Million Vessels have transited the canal since it opened.

In 1914, the year it opened, about 1000 ships used the canal. Today, nearly 15,000 ships pass through the Isthmus of Panama via the Canal annually. The 1 Millionth ship crossed the canal in 2010, 96 years after it opened.
In 1934 it was estimated that the maximum traffic of the canal would be around 80 million tons of shipping a year, but by 2015, canal traffic exceeded 340 million tons of shipping – over 4 times the original maximum estimate.
 

6. $2 Billion in Tolls are Collected Annually

Every ship that passes through the canal pays a toll based on its size, type and volume of cargo. Tolls are set by the Panama Canal Authority. Tolls for the largest cargo ships can run about $450,000. Cruise ships pay by berths (number of passengers in beds). The per-berth fee set in 2016 was $138; a large cruise ship can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to sail through the Canal. 

The smallest toll recorded was paid by American Richard Halliburton in 1928, who paid 36 cents to swim the Canal.

 

7. The Panama Canal was expanded for bigger ships in 2016

The original canal locks are 110 feet (33 meters) wide and ten times as long. For a century, they accommodated shipping, and the term 'Panamax' ships was used to describe ships built to fit through the canal. But ships kept getting bigger, and in 2007, work began on a multi-billion dollar expansion of the Canal. In 2016, a third, wider lane of locks opened for commercial shipping, capable of handling 'Post-Panamax' ships that can carry 14,000 20-foot shipping containers (nearly 3 times Panamax ship capacity).

In spite of that giant leap forward in 2016, the world's largest container ships - that can carry 18,000 shipping containers – can't pass through the Panama Canal.

(A Celebrity Cruise ship transiting the Panama Canal)

8. How you can visit the Panama Canal. 

Many ocean cruise lines offer increasingly popular Panama Canal itineraries that sail through the canal in the approximately 8 hour passage to their next destination in the opposite ocean. 

But you don't have to sail through the canal. If you're visiting Panama City, or taking a resort / beach vacation in Panama, you can take a land trip to see the canal in action.
 
The Miraflores Visitor Center is on the east side of the Miraflores Locks, which are close to the Pacific end of the Canal and Panama City. Like the canal, the Visitor Center is open daily. The Visitor Center has large balconies designed for you to get a great view as the lock gates are opened and closed for ships to start or complete their journey through the Panama Canal. 

Engineering buffs and even children will be thrilled at the up-close-to-the-action perspective on this man-made Wonder of the World. 
 

Start your Trip!


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World's Longest Sea-Crossing Bridge is First Land Link Between 2 of Asia's Most Exciting Cities

They're calling it a $20 billion 'umbilical cord'. The longest bridge in the world to cross sea water is an unbelievable 34 miles - 55 km - long and spans the Pearl River Delta. China's new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge connects mainland China with two of China's Special Administrative Regions on the sea: Hong Kong and Macau. It's the first time residents and travelers have been able to travel by road to Macau from Hong Kong directly.

Until the new bridge, a ferry transported residents and visitors to the business, shopping and cultural center of Hong Kong to Macau's 'Vegas of Asia' casino and entertainment attractions. Now, drivers and public transportation have a direct link to all three points on the map. It cuts travel time between the three centers from 3 hours to just half an hour, and puts them within an hour's commute of each other.

China is hoping the new bridge will foster the development of a Chinese 'Greater Bay Area', an economic and innovation region along the lines of San Francisco in the US, or Tokyo next door, one that will include Hong Kong, Macau and 9 cities in Guangdong province. The area consists of 1% of China's land that already produces 12% of its wealth.

The bridge also facilitates travel for visitors. Right now, visitors to Hong Kong don't often explore the rest of the Pearl River Delta region. The bridge will allow visitors to travel from the airport in Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland in under an hour. That'll mean a lot more business for the hotel/casinos in Macau.

The former Portuguese colony has always had a much different flavor and travel experience than British-influenced, business-oriented Hong Kong. Macau's colonial heritage is Portuguese, and its modern-day character is one-of-a-kind. It is the largest gaming city in the world and the only city in the Greater China region where gambling is legal. And although it is often compared to Las Vegas, the number and extravagance of its hotel/casinos and their lifestyle puts Vegas to shame.

If you enjoy a 'little flutter at the tables', and the excitement of a casino environment, Macau is a must-visit destination.

The new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is so long it stretches as far as the eye can see and beyond. And will also have far-reaching effects on your next trip to Hong Kong, Macau and China's Pearl River Delta.


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Now You Can Take the Chunnel Train to a New Destination in Europe

London to Paris for a romantic weekend? Belgium to London for tea? Travelers have gotten used to having the option of a high-speed train connecting city centre London to mainland Europe via the tunnel under the Channel.   

Brexit politics aren't slowing down travel between the British Isles and Europe, either. So now the Eurostar is revolutionizing travel from England to the Netherlands too.  High-speed trains on the new route take only 3 ½ hours to arrive in downtown Amsterdam from St. Pancras International train terminal, and even less to the Netherlands' second city, Rotterdam.

The inaugural service to Amsterdam connecting two of the world's top travel destinations by high-speed train has been years coming.  And the long-awaited April, 2018 launch also boosts the existing London-Brussels section of the route, shaving nearly twenty minutes off the travel time to under 2 h to the Belgian capital.

This is a game changer for European and British travel. With a one-way ticket from just £35, it's an affordable way to add a pre or post extension in London to a river cruise or land tour from Amsterdam. Or for independent travelers to add a London leg to a train trip around the Continent.

Imagine maneuvering a Dutch bicycle across the canals in the afternoon (watch video) and quenching your thirst with a pint in an English pub that evening.

With no trek to the airport. Passengers of the Eurostar have to arrive only 30 minutes before the high-speed train departs from the city centre train terminal.  And no waits at the other end to claim your bags.  You take them with you on board.  And when you aren't marveling at the technology that connects the European mainland to the British Isles, you have wifi to catch up on your Netflix viewing, travel research, or even work if you are on a bleisure trip.

Plus you can feel good about the environmental benefits of train travel as it takes you from the capital of the U.K to the capital of the Netherlands. The new 3 ½ hour, high-speed Eurostar route from London to Amsterdam emits 80% less carbon than flying.  And you leave the train station and step right into the heart of the next city on your European vacation.

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7 Tips for Holiday Travel from an Airline Expert

Every time there's a major weather event, we hear about stranded travelers. Maybe you've been one of them.

Now, with the holiday season fast approaching along with the possibility of winter weather, we thought it would be good to share some travel tips about how to prepare for and face the unpredictable.Andrew Collins, the CEO and President of Sentient Jet, shares his insights with us into best practices when extreme weather interferes with your best –laid travel plans. Whether experiencing unexpected weather, a flight cancellation or delay, here are his tips to ensure you are equipped to handle the situation.

1. Departure time matters. During high traffic periods and days when weather is expected to be poor, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. Work with your travel advisor to look to take the first flight out if you can, as that aircraft has a better chance of already being at the airport and therefore taking off on-time. Delays tend to increase as the day progresses, particularly when inclement weather in one area causes a ripple effect across multiple regions and airports.

2. Become a priority. Inclement weather can increase the amount of time it takes to travel to the airport, and also leads to crowds upon arrival. Being able to skip the security line could make the difference between catching your flight or getting stuck at the airport. Look into the possibility of bundling priority security line access into your ticket and, if you are a frequent traveler, to sign up for TSA Pre and Global Entry. Have you ever tried a customs concierge? When traveling internationally, they can assist you with every stage of navigating unfamiliar airports, from providing pick-up service to arranging lounge access.

3. Invest in a travel “Tool Kit.” Does your credit card offer specialized perks or access? Are you a loyalty member of an airline, hotel chain, or car rental service? Most importantly, are you in the know about what your enrollment in these programs can really provide? All too often, people miss out on the benefits of their memberships, such as a room at a sold-out hotel or a seat on a sought-after flight. Take the time to learn about what these services can do for you – and how to access them quickly in a pinch.

4. Know your equipment. Do you feel more comfortable flying on a larger aircraft over a smaller, regional one? Work with your travel advisor to take these preferences into consideration, allowing you to identify the right flight for you based on time, distance, conditions, and plane type. A car upgrade to a larger automobile or SUV can also help you manage your ground transportation needs. When facing the possibility of inclement weather, prioritizing your comfort by selecting more reliable modes of transportation is a must.

Don't let this be you.

5. Consider flying privately or chartering an aircraft. If there is an extreme weather situation, look into booking a private charter. In the event of extreme weather conditions, the nimble nature of private jet companies often means they can fly with fewer hours’ notice and even operate more flights than a commercial operator to get travelers out of harm’s way. Many programs even offer specific aircraft availability guarantees, ensuring you a seat whenever possible, and can fly into smaller hubs – and that can make the difference between spending the holidays with family or spending it on a cot at the airport.

6. Always ask - nicely. If your flight does get canceled due to inclement weather, ask the airline if they can find a flight for you with another carrier as opposed to waiting for them to reschedule. Though airlines do not always announce this option in order to keep revenue in house, this is often something that can be done, and will help you get to your destination faster.

7. And don't forget your travel advisor is a strong partner to help you navigate unexpected travel issues, not just when you're booking your trip, but while you're away.

Whether you're traveling great distances or staying at home to gather with your loved ones in the coming weeks, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season. 
 
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3 Things You Didn't Know About The 3 Gorges Dam

It's China's 'Great Wall' for the 21st century. The 3 Gorges Dam spans the legendary Yangtze River for 2.3 km (1.4 miles) and is 185 m (over 600 feet) high. That makes it 5 times bigger than the Hoover Dam. Construction set a world record, using 16 million cubic m (21 million cubic yards) of concrete.You may know about some of the controversies surrounding the dam. It flooded a 600 km (400 mile) reservoir to 175 feet above sea level. As a result, a million people were displaced, and architectural, cultural, and archeological sites (including 4000 year old cliff side burials of early Ba peoples) as well as farms and forests have disappeared under water. The dam has also had an impact on the river ecology upstream and downstream from the dam. It is blamed for damaging fish populations and the functional extinction of the Chinese river dolphin.

But, like the Hoover Dam in the U.S., Egypt's Aswan Dam, the Panama Canal or other extraordinary feats of human engineering of the planet, the 3 Gorges dam in China's Hubei province is an unforgettable travel experience. Controversies aside, it is awe-inspiring to take in the sheer scale and scope of human endeavor. Yangtze river cruises and most land tours in the region take you to one or more viewing points of the vast dam site. 

So here are three things you might not know about this unparalleled structure:

It Protects the Region from Disastrous FloodingOne of the main reasons to build the 3 Gorges dam was to control flooding. The Yangtze river has endured catastrophic flooding events over the centuries. An estimated 300,000 people died in the 20th century alone in floods. Building the dam was designed to control the flow and protect 15 million Chinese and 1.5 million acres of farmland along the Yangtze from deadly river flooding.

It Generates PowerThe Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest electric power generating station by installed capacity: 22, 500 MW. More than 2 dozen water-powered turbines produce 20 times the power of the Hoover Dam. Unbelievably, this massive dam produces less than 5% of the total energy needs of this country with 1.4 billion people. (Nearly 5 times the U.S. population and 50 times the population of Canada.)

The electricity produced by the Three Gorges Dam reduces China's use of coal for power generation by an estimated 31 million tonnes each year, preventing 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from coal.

It Improves the EnvironmentThe dam's regulation of water levels, and its 'shipping elevator' that increases transit time compared to step locks over river elevations, have facilitated more reliable shipping along the Yangtze.  Inland shipping has increased over 5 times since pre-dam days. Barges are replacing trucks, thereby reducing road congestion and carbon dioxide emissions annually by millions of tonnes… directly improving China's (previously famously unimpressive) air quality.

Since the dam opened in 2012, it has blocked more than 10 million tonnes of waste matter including plastic bags, bottles and other garbage that would have otherwise flowed out to sea (but chemical water pollution is unaffected). It even has a garbage-ingesting 'tongue' above the dam, a rolling track on top of a garbage barge that pulls in garbage from the water, preventing it from entering the dam and damaging power generators… as well as flowing downstream to Shanghai and the ocean.

So Should you Travel There?China's 3 Gorges Dam is a story with many shades of gray. The goals and results of the dam will continue to divide opinion. But it is now an irreversible part of the landscape of China's fabled jade-green Yangtze river, and a destination every visitor to China should see to contemplate the astonishing things humans can achieve… and at what cost.

(Photo: BestTrip.TV)

 

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It's only 20 miles from Skagway, Alaska's deepwater port on the coast, to the border of Canada's Yukon. But what a 20 miles they are!

The White Pass & Yukon Route railway ride is one of the most dramatic scenic experiences in the Alaska Panhandle. No wonder it's an all-time favorite experience for cruise travelers arriving in the preserved, Wild (North)West town of Skagway. The tracks go right onto the dock, so we stepped off the Regent Seven Seas Mariner right onto the train. And from there, on an incredible climb to the Continental Divide and the border with Canada.

It's an epic journey of breathtaking scenery and Klondike Goldrush tales - in vintage train cars that take you back to the days of prospectors and adventurers.

Meet the train conductor and hear his stories of this fabled train - one of the world's most scenic and historic rail journeys.

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Italy's iconic scooter is the very symbol of stylish, romantic getaways in Europe.

Vespas originated in Tuscany, and on a trip to the Tuscan seaside city of Livorno, BestTrip.TV discovered a local who collects, restores, and displays a collection of colorful vintage Vespas. You can't miss this tour of his showroom and workshop!

Travel 'Game-Changer' for Sports Mega-Fans

How far are you willing to go to support your team and get your professional sports fix? Do you plan your free time around your team's schedule, paint your face, wear your team's jersey, or drive crazy distances to see the game live?

There are a lot of ways to support your team, but we've found the ultimate mega-fan travel experience.

Chicago-based Big Game Air provides same-day round-trip travel on private jets to major sporting events across the USA.

Its tarmac-to-stadium transfers and same-day returns mean no luggage, no hassle, no parking, no hotels, just a day rather than an extended long weekend of navigating crowds, and all the adrenaline of being at the game – plus all the perks of private aviation.

Like many innovations, the idea arose to solve a problem: one of the company founders didn't want to miss a big game – but also didn't want to leave his wife and newborn overnight. With help from his co-founder, they put their aviation and hospitality backgrounds to work, roped in some buddies, booked a private jet, left in the morning for the game… and arrived home 12 hours later - with a new luxury sports travel business plan.

Pardon the pun, but we think this is a 'game changer' for sports experiences and sports travel.

If you can get yourself a game ticket, they can get you there in style.

  • Fans can purchase individual seats on 8-30 seat flights scheduled to the highest-demand games throughout the year - up to 24 hours in advance of the game date. (So if you score a last-minute ticket, you can still make the game).
  • There are no membership fees required (unlike some other private jet programs).
  • Ground transportation is included to and from the sporting event.
  • You'll have all the amenities and conveniences of private air travel, plus
  • Group and charter options, including:
  • Ways to really celebrate a corporate team win, a bachelor party, or any other group event with add-on perks including custom jet hangar parties, tailgate parties in the sporting destination, professional athlete- or celebrity-hosted flights and premium onboard catering.

In its first year, Big Game Air flights flies from Chicago, New York, Columbus, and Detroit; in 2018, the company adds Dallas and Atlanta as originating cities; and in 2019, you can depart from Los Angeles and San Francisco to join your team's big day.

Flights are already scheduled to marquee sports events like the SuperBowl and major NFL games, College Football championships, NHL, the Masters Tournament, the Kentucky Derby, as well as major game dates on the calendar that run the gamut of team sport in the USA.

The company subcontracts a fleet of private jets, making the ultimate game day trip more affordable than other private options. Flights still cost in the $1200 – 2200 USD range for a round trip, so it's not the cheapest way to get to the game. (But it still might be less expensive than your seats at center field).

For time-pressed executives and groups of friends willing to splash out on their sports adventure, Big Game Air seems like a big win for big fans on game day.

Start your Trip!

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This very funny article by Michelle Crouch of Reader's Digest is a list of 13 Things: What Your Flight Attendant Won't Tell You

Here's an excerpt:

 

9. If you’re traveling overseas, do yourself a favor and bring a pen.

You would not believe how many people travel without one, and you need one to fill out the immigration forms. I carry some, but I can’t carry 200.

 

Happy New Years from all of us at Anglo Scottish American Travel Agency!

 

 

 

 

(Image by Evan Henshaw-Plath)

recent Frommer’s article raised this question, about whether small children should be banned from flying in Business or First class, if not from flying entirely.

The latter is impractical, for many reasons, but the former raises some interesting issues. If you’re paying for a business class seat, should you be subjected to the disturbance caused by someone else’s child?

And they do disturb. Pretty much anyone who’s flown has endured the crying or kicking or sneezing of a rambunctious kid. Even those who have children admit that their tolerance only extends as far their own; other people’s monsters are just unbearable.

Arguments for the ban used in the article go along the lines of:

“I pay a premium to sit in first or business class and I don’t want my to be disturbed by a crying, screaming or misbehaving child.”


“While I understand the parent pays as much as I do, I don’t disturb them by screaming or crying or misbehaving and I should not have to deal with their child if they are screaming or crying or carrying on.”

“Some children are absolute angels and some act like they are the spawn of Satan. While I understand a child’s or baby’s reaction to the change in environment is unpredictable, that doesn’t mean anyone should be subjected to it either. A person’s choice to have children and fly with said children does not take precedence over or trump my choice to not have children.”

All of these arguments are fair and valid, which is why Malaysia Airlines have banned young passengers on some of its larger jets, Ryanair announced it would begin offering child-free flights earlier this year, and other airlines are expected to follow suit.

It is important to note however, that often disturbances on planes are not caused by the youngest passengers, but by the most inconsiderate of adults.

I’ve had just as many flights with crying babies as I have had sitting next to loud, terrible music blasting from someone’s iPod, Chatty-Cathys forcing me into a conversation, fighting couples, loud teenagers, and plenty others. Should they be banned too?

What do you think?

After the stress of checking in, going through security and piling onto the plane, it's a sigh of relief to finally be onboard, phone off, with no one to disturb you and your dreams of paradise. But what do you do when your seat neighbor turns out to be a complete Chatty Cathy? Don’t get me wrong here, I'm generally very good natured, love to talk, and have no qualms with interacting with strangers. It’s just that I consider the airplane ride “me-time” - for sleep, work, catching up on my reading, etc. I'm sure many travelers are with me on this one, right? Over the years of frequent flying, I have developed a set well-tested of non-verbal cues to give these over-enthusiastic seat mates the hint when I’d rather not chat. ![alt title](http://blog.budgettravel.com/budgettravel/planecropped.jpg) **Be Mysterious**
On normal circumstances you might welcome a few innocent exchanges. But if you’re not in the mood for a chit-chat, it’s better to respond with just a few words. Answers like “Uh huh,” “I don’t think so” or “I really don’t know” to a long and probing inquiry would discourage people from throwing you a bunch of more questions. **Wear headphones**
If you’re wearing headphones and humming to the melody, you're sending signals that you're not interested in trading life stories. However, if your neighbor still attempts to engage you, keep one ear bud on during the conversation. This gives off the impression that you’d rather listen to Lady Gaga on your iPod than talk about how your neighbor misses her cuddly pets at home. For added effect: Shake your head to the beat to show that you’re absorbed in the music and now’s not the time to distract you. **Grab a book or Magazine**
Read a book, magazine or anything that has words on it. Even if you’re not, pretend like you're hooked. [Nicholas DeRenzo of Budget Travel][1], advises: “Keep your reading materials open to the page you were reading before being interrupted. This says: I am only temporarily chatting with you, but I fully intend to get back to Harry Potter the second you stop talking.” **Keep busy**
Open your laptop and start typing. If they ask what you’re writing, say that it’s something important for work. Explore your iPhone. If you constantly look at your phone, play on your apps, check on the reminders - it will give your talkative seat mate an idea that you’re a busy person not to be disturbed. **Act Sleepy**
The final act. Some passengers just can't accept "no" for an answer. They continue to prod despite my best efforts to stave them off. So before they go off on a long speech, I pull off the sleeping-beauty trick. I rub my eyes and blink hard a couple of times, then covering my mouth, as if to suppress a yawn, I say a quick “I’m sorry”. Sometimes I go to the extent of stretching my arms up to complete the whole act. I don’t even have to say it, they’d usually shoo me to freedom – err—sleep! Or, you just actually fall asleep. When you wake up ideally they'll have found something else to put their energies into, meaning you can quickly transition into your own activity. **Just Say It!**
If your non-verbal cues just aren't coming across, the time has come to just say it. Be polite, but firm: “I’m sorry, I don’t want to be rude but I really need to read something important.” Keeping your voice calm and say it with a smile. The last thing you want is tension for the rest of the flight. Good luck! ([photo credit: shyb/Flickr][2]) [1]: http://blog.budgettravel.com/budgettravel/2011/07/how_do_you_deal_with_an_unwant.html [2]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shyb/63692776/