Your holiday travel guide to Cleveland Hopkins’ newest carriers, construction …

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Fear not, infrequent fliers: Yes, it’s true that you’ll face a few new hurdles if you’re headed to the airport this fall for the first time in a year or two.

There are new airlines, new policies, new roadblocks and new parking lots.

Allow us to smooth out some of those unexpected aviation-oriented bumps and bruises. We’ve put together a primer on some of the biggest changes that have occurred at Cleveland Hopkins in the past couple of years, from service additions to construction challenges to new options for parking.

And if there’s anything we’ve forgotten? Send us a note, and we’ll put together another list of recommendations – all before boarding begins in November for the busy holiday travel season.

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

The massive downsizing of United Airlines hub at Cleveland Hopkins in 2014 has opened the skies over Northeast Ohio for some new carriers.

True, the number of nonstop destinations available from Cleveland is way down – but prices are down too.

These new airlines, however, come with some additional baggage – and the baggage fees are just the beginning.

 

Here’s what you need to know if you’re flying one of Northeast Ohio’s new carriers:

Spirit Airlines

Known for its bargain-basement fares and plethora of fees, Spirit has made quite a mark on Cleveland since its first flights took off in January. Officials from both the airline and the airport say the airline is doing well here – and expansion is likely.

Service to Tampa and Fort Myers, which resumes in November, will be offered daily this winter, instead of three or four times a week when first introduced. And bigger 178-passenger Airbus 320s will be used on many routes, according to a Spirit spokesman.

Where it flies: Nine nonstop destinations (five year-round, four seasonal) to Boston, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Tampa, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Myrtle Beach.

What you need to know: Spirit is the industry leader in optional, innovative fees. Your bag fees — $30 for a checked bag, $35 for a carry-on – are just the beginning. You’ll also pay for a seat assignment, early boarding and a glass of water. In addition, the airline has the worst on-time record of any of the major carriers – in July, just 68.7 percent of Spirit’s flights were on time, considerably below the industry average of 78.1 percent. And at 28 inches between seats, Spirit’s planes offer the least amount of legroom in coach. If you’re tall (or want to be able to cross your legs), spring for a Big Front Seat, one of the best bargains in the business.

Frontier Airlines

Technically, Frontier isn’t new to Cleveland – it offered a nonstop flight to its home base in Denver before United’s downsizing started in early 2014. But since then, the airline has added nearly a dozen new destinations, from Seattle to Las Vegas to Atlanta, and made Cleveland one of its focus cities.

Where it flies: Atlanta, Cancun, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Orlando, Punta Cana, Raleigh/Durham, Seattle, Tampa.

What you need to know: Perhaps motivated by Spirit’s success, Frontier has been aggressively moving toward an ultra-low-cost business model: adding fees, eliminating seatback TVs, etc. (passengers do get complimentary water, though). Earlier this year, Frontier went through a rough patch, ticking off customers in Cleveland and elsewhere, by changing schedules, altering routes and not answering the phone. Complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation spiked in March, but have since settled down.

JetBlue Airways

Frequent fliers cheered when New York-based JetBlue announced a year ago that it would start twice-a-day service to Boston. The airline, which typically scores very well in customer-satisfaction rankings, is known in the industry for its generous legroom and complimentary wi-fi (on some flights).

Where it flies: Fort Lauderdale, Boston.

What you need to know: Shortly after it started flying from Cleveland in April, JetBlue instituted a new checked bag fee, $25, for its cheapest fares, leaving Southwest as the only major U.S. airline to not charge for bags. But snacks and drinks are still complimentary, as are a wide array of entertainment offerings, including DirecTV and Sirius XM Radio.

Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air, another low-cost carrier, doesn’t fly out of Cleveland, but launched service in May to several popular leisure destinations from Akron-Canton Regional Airport. The airline’s business model is unique in the industry, flying older aircraft into smaller airports and only on select days when it can fill its planes.

Where it flies: Savannah/Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Punta Gorda/Fort Myers (starting Nov. 6), Fort Lauderdale.

What you need to know: As with other low-cost carriers, Allegiant’s fares are bargains – until the fees start to add up. Expect to pay for your checked bag ($20), carry-on bag ($15), seat assignment (varies), food and beverage (varies). You even have to pay a fee to use a credit card. Be warned, too, that because these routes aren’t offered every day, if you miss your flight or it’s cancelled, it could be days before you reach your destination.

Hopkins veterans

United Airlines, which is still the largest carrier in Cleveland, flies to 19 destinations from Hopkins, and recently announced it would resume seasonal service to Fort Myers and Tampa.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, adds a nonstop flight to Denver beginning Nov. 1, the carrier’s sixth destination from Cleveland.

CONTINUE READING: Cleveland Hopkins’ construction update, where to park, plus new places to shop

Article source: http://www.cleveland.com/travel/index.ssf/2015/09/your_holiday_travel_guide_to_c.html

Travel Channel Greenlights 3 New Series; Renews Four For 2016

Travel Channel’s 2016 slate includes three new series I Adventure (working title), Meter’s Running and Could I Live There? The network also is re-upping Bert The Conqueror for a third season following a four-year hiatus, renewing Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations for a Season 3, Hotel Impossible for a seventh season and Xtreme Waterparks for a fifth go-round.

I Adventure (wt) and Meter’s Running showcase popular personalities with a passion for travel and exploration. I Adventure (wt) is an intimate glimpse into the true enthusiasm for a special destination with actors Terry Crews, Jon Cryer and Eric Stonestreet; and Meter’s Running (wt) with host Andrew Zimmern, the three-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer and culinary explorer, is a drive-along with a local that knows the best-kept secrets in a city, the taxi driver. Could I Live There? follows real people faced with a life-changing decision – should I pick up the family and relocate to a new foreign city? Below are details of new and renewed series:

Greenlit Productions (brief descriptions, in alphabetical order):

Series:

Could I Live There?
“Could I Live There?” follows the lives of professionals and their families as they face a tremendous opportunity – AND the biggest decision they’ll ever make. Is a life-changing job offer worth leaving behind everything to live abroad in a strange new city thousands of miles away? Each episode features the story of a family faced with relocating to a foreign country. They hop a jet and take three days to experience the sights and sounds of their prospective new home city. An insightful relocation expert tailors a whirlwind tour to their client’s specific needs and lifestyle. At the end, after they’ve seen what the city has to offer, the families have to reveal their choice – stay or go? “Could I Live There?” is greenlit for 13 half-hour episodes and is produced by Karga 7 Pictures.

I Adventure (wt)
“I Adventure” (wt) hands the camera to some of the most fascinating people in the world and asks them to explore what compels and inspires them. Celebrities travel around the world to take viewers on an intimate adventure of discovery and exploration on a variety of subjects including the marvels of space exploration with Jon Cryer, the rebirth of Motor City with Terry Crews and the intrigue of World War II espionage with Eric Stonestreet. “I Adventure” (wt) is greenlit for three one-hour episodes and is produced by Herzog Company.

Meter’s Running (wt)
Chef Andrew Zimmern believes the best way to explore a town is to get to know the locals first and the first local he usually meets is his cabbie. In “Meter’s Running” (wt), Zimmern discovers the streets behind Main Street, the off-the-grid dives and the fun only insiders know how to find. With his guide – whether it’s a shikara driver in Kashmir, a gondolier in Venice or a taxi driver in the Deep South, Zimmern shares a locals-only experience, discovering the uniqueness of every destination. Never staying in the back seat for long, Zimmern and his driver take viewers on an entertaining behind-the-scenes adventure, exploring food and culture from a whole new perspective. “Meter’s Running” (wt) is greenlit for eight one-hour episodes and is produced by Intuitive Content.

New Seasons:

Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations
“Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations,” an extension of the long-running and popular “Bizarre Foods” franchise, is back for a third season. Hosted by renowned chef and culinary explorer Andrew Zimmern, this series features the not-to-be-missed foods that define a location. Most travelers want to experience the local favorites, whether it’s deep-dish pizza in Chicago, souvlaki in Athens, stone crab claws in Miami or sushi in Tokyo. But how many really know the origins of these foods, how they are prepared and the best places to eat them? The destinations explored in the new season will include Bogota, Charleston, Honolulu, the Philippines, Providence, Seattle, Singapore and Tel Aviv. “Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations” is greenlit for seven half-hour and six one-hour episodes and is produced by Tremendous! Entertainment.

Hotel Impossible
Hotel expert Anthony Melchiorri is back with an all-new season of the popular series “Hotel Impossible.” This hotel fixer is relentless when it comes to getting struggling and under-performing hotels all over the world back on their feet and on the path to success. In Season Seven, viewers will see more special experts, new designers, hidden cameras, gadgets and technology that test, evaluate and measure different aspects of each hotel. “Hotel Impossible” will return to the network with 13 all-new, one-hour episodes and is produced by Atlas Media Corp.

Bert the Conqueror
Host Bert Kreischer is back for another exciting season of “Bert the Conqueror.” This season, the thrills and excitement are bigger and more daring than ever as Bert scours the country to take on the most exciting rides and challenges. The series showcases the fun and ingenious side of America, all through the eyes of a man who throws himself into everything with a smile, a laugh and a scream. “Bert the Conqueror” returns to the network for its third season with six half-hour and seven one-hour episodes and is produced by Sharp Entertainment.

Xtreme Waterparks
Back with Season Five, “Xtreme Waterparks” continues to give viewers an exclusive, adrenaline-filled spin on the wildest, over-the-top and exhilarating water rides in the world! From high-speed, gravity-defying water rides, to the world’s tallest waterslides, this series reveals the most insane, nail-biting waterparks around the globe. This season, we’re taking you to the world’s tallest and fastest body slide in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the largest funnel slide on the planet in Yongin, South Korea; and a homemade slide that uses ATVs to launch rafts and turn you into a human slingshot in Quebec, Canada. “Xtreme Waterparks” will return to the network with seven all-new, half-hour episodes. The series is produced by High Noon Entertainment.

Article source: http://deadline.com/2015/09/travel-channel-new-series-2016-slate-1201561090/

Millennials give more than most, a survey of charity travel finds

American travelers care about the communities they visit and want to give back when they’re on the road. It’s especially true of millennials, those in the 18- to 35-year-old age group who give more of their time and money than the average traveler.

The findings come from recently released survey results by Tourism Cares called “Good Travels: The Philanthropic Profile of the American Traveler.”

The good news: More than half of American travelers have volunteered or made a monetary donation to a place they visited in the last two years. 

The survey also shows:

–Millennial travelers donated money (86%), volunteered (64%) or gave supplies (78%) on their vacations. “On average, they volunteer more than double the hours and donate nearly three times the money and 4.5 times the supplies than 55 and older travelers do,” the report said.

All Things Travel: Autumn Busy Season For New England Cruises

BOSTON (CBS) – As the leaves start to turn, cruise passengers turn to Boston for a vacation and a chance to see the bright colors.

In October, over 100,000 passengers will pass through Massport’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal on departures for Maine and Canada, one day ports-of-call by ships and repositioning cruises as vessels head south for the winter season.

A total of 43 comings and goings of cruise ships will take place in October, sometimes as many as three ships in port on the same day.

Labor Day is far from the end of a record tourist year. Logan Airport is on target to handle 32 million passengers this year, bringing many new foreign visitors to Boston.

According to Bill Walsh of Cruise Travel Outlet, one of the largest seagoing travel agencies located in Salem, N.H., 80 percent of the cruise passengers leaving  Boston for Canada will arrive from outside the area at Boston’s at Logan Airport.

Just the opposite is true during the summer months with weekly departures on Norwegian Cruise Lines and Holland America traveling to Bermuda. Over 90 percent of the people traveling come from points three hours or less from the city.

According to the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the overall visitor count in the past summer rose by 6.2 percent. The average occupancy rate for Boston hotels was 88.1 percent, the highest in recent years.

To accommodate the increased business, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved a new hotel within a five minute walk of Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. Expected to open in 2018, it will have about 400 rooms and will carry the Hilton brand name.

The new property and the postponement of the South Boston Convention Exhibition Center expansion have changed the area landscape for Massport. They had been working on proposals to build a 1,000 room hotel on property directly across from the center.

Massport CEO Tom Glynn told CBSBoston.com that this project would probably move forward as a 500 room hotel.

It should also be noted that the Seaport District now has three hotels with over 1,000 rooms within a mile of the Cruise Terminal. They include the waterfront Renaissance, the Seaport Hotel and the Westin Waterfront. October is a big month for business travel and conventions in the city so rates are going to be high in hotels throughout the Seaport District.

Traffic is the major problem facing growth on the waterfront.

Thousands of workers and residents will be moving into the area in the next couple of years. The MBTA is carrying capacity business from the airport and Seaport to South Station during the rush hour. The cargo terminal is also located in South Boston and large trucks need to move through the area.

An important footnote to all of this activity is who is handling public safety? The State Police, because of the Massport connection at Logan and their property ownership in the Seaport, have claimed the territory going back many years. The Boston Police come into the area with 911 calls and Massport police are in charge on Massport properties like the Fish Pier and the cruise terminal.

“People are surprised that the cruise terminal is so busy after Labor Day during the foliage season. Foliage is a big attraction for people around the world coming to New England,” said Glynn.

Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Article source: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/09/30/travel-new-england-cruises/

House report: Planned Parenthood spent millions on ‘blowout’ parties, travel …

Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have spent millions in recent years on “blowout” parties, first-class travel and “lucrative” salaries, according to a report from the chairman of the House oversight committee. 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, publicly accused the organization of spending a big chunk of its budget on non-health care expenses during a heated hearing on Tuesday. But on the sidelines of that hearing, he released a report detailing those costs. 

In doing so, he and other Republicans continued to question whether Planned Parenthood needs all the taxpayer funding it receives. 

“If they’re going to pay those people that much money and pay for first-class travel and have all of these exorbitant parties, and send money overseas, then they don’t need funding from the American taxpayers,” Chaffetz told Fox News. 

According to the report, which cited tax returns, Planned Parenthood spent over $5.1 million on travel in 2013, or nearly $14,000 a day. On top of that, several affiliates reported spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on travel. The report also said Planned Parenthood “books first class or charter travel,” though President Cecile Richards said at Tuesday’s hearing that she, personally, does not travel first class.

The report also said Planned Parenthood gave nearly $22 million in grants over five years to its Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is legally able to do lobbying activity. Campaign finance records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show donations from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Inc. PAC, in turn, go almost exclusively to Democratic candidates. 

Further, the House report said Planned Parenthood spent $622,706 on “blowout parties” in 2013 and 2013; and the group’s affiliates likewise spent on events ranging from a so-called ”Gathering of Goddesses and Gods” to “Murder Mystery” fundraisers. 

The report also said over 40 executives earned salaries of $200,000 or more between 2009 and 2013. Richards acknowledged during Tuesday’s hearing, under questioning from Chaffetz, that her annual compensation is $520,000. 

Chaffetz called the salaries “exorbitant.” 

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., later criticized Chaffetz for the line of questioning, accusing him of “beating up on a woman … for making a good salary.” 

Republicans, though, argued that Planned Parenthood doesn’t need all the taxpayer money it gets. According to the committee, about 41 percent of the group’s reported $1.3 billion in revenue is government funding. Most of those funds are simply reimbursements for services through Medicaid — but $60 million comes from Title X funding, through the “National Family Planning Program.” Chaffetz said that’s the funding in question. 

Asked Tuesday about the group’s spending on travel and other expenses, Richards noted their organization is in 50 states and works overseas. 

“We have programs in Latin America and in Africa as well, where we support family planning programs in those,” she said, while offering to provide more details on their financial situation. 

She also stressed, “We don’t make any profit off of federal money.” 

The hearing was held amid congressional investigations into a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood workers discussing fetal tissue harvesting. 

Democrats blasted Republicans for their scrutiny of Planned Parenthood, following the hearing. 

“Once again, House Republicans have wasted taxpayer time and money to conduct a wasteful investigation into baseless allegations,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “Their efforts to try to score cheap political points instead of governing on behalf of hardworking families is exactly why the American people are frustrated with Washington.”

Article source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/09/30/house-report-planned-parenthood-spent-millions-on-blowout-parties-travel/

Travel Airs fly 1000 miles to homecoming

Jerry Impellezzeri, president of the Travel Air Restorers Association, said 12 had planned to make the trip but weather, a family emergency, and mechanical troubles whittled the number down to five. While based in the Wichita area, the owners flew their aircraft to Colonel James Jabara Airport on the city’s northeast side for public display. Impellezzeri said Mary Lynn Beech Oliver, daughter of Beechcraft founders Walter and Olive Ann Beech, dropped by the Jabara event.

The aircraft drawing the most public attention was the Travel Air 6000 built at the end of 1928 and now owned by Hank Galpin of Kalispell, Montana. The enclosed, six-seat aircraft had flown for a Montana flying service until 1969. It was flown on the National Air Tour in 2003. The design was meant as an airliner but became obsolete only a few years after production began when metal airplanes took over. It had a maximum speed of 130 mph.

The original factory building is still present on the grounds of the former Beechcraft factory.

Article source: http://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/All-News/2015/September/29/Travel-Airs-fly-1000-miles-to-homecoming

Travel marketing study: Albany tourism investment needed

ALBANY — A recent study conducted by a top travel marketing research team indicates that while Albany and Dougherty County have a plethora of unique features and attractions that make it desirable to visitors, failure to invest properly in facilities and in the downtown area will hinder future tourism revenue.

According to Judy Randall of Randall Travel Marketing Inc., who on Tuesday gave an overview presentation of the recent study her company conducted to area business and civic leaders, the community has made great strides since Randall Travel Marketing first did an analysis of Albany and Dougherty County in 2005.

“This is an update of that report,” said Randall. “You’re in a much better position than you were in when I first came down here in 2005.”

Since that time, Randall said, the community had increased its number of new hotels, made improvements to many attractions and, most importantly, made some improvements to the downtown area, which she said was critical.

“Since the last visit in 2005, (one of the) most incredible developments you’ve had is putting in the Bridge House, with the Horace King interpretation, the Nelson Tift Statue and Ray Charles Plaza,” Randall said. “Those were recommendations coming out of the 2005 study and, wow, I think that has definitely been a huge, huge improvement.”

Despite the improvements, Randall said surveys conducted with visitors indicate that the downtown area continues to be a focus and that many visitors who otherwise like Albany find downtown lacking in terms of restaurants, retail and entertainment.

“Your welcome center, I think, is a total home run; your downtown, not so much,” Randall said. “Your downtown is incredibly important to you. It is the face that you put on your community. What you see in the visitor data is that you have very high repeat visitation for business travelers. And they like Albany. (But) until there are more restaurants and more retail shopping in downtown, they’re not going to be happy.”

Randall feels that one way the community can begin to tackle the fact that downtown is not an attraction for visitors is for the different agencies that oversee the development of the downtown area to have a better plan for what downtown should be.

“There not is not a shared vision between the city, chamber, EDC and CVB,” said Randall. “(There needs to be) a vision of what we want to do with downtown.”

Another area of concern that was pointed out in the study was the fact that Albany was not maximizing its potential in terms of being a destination for business meeting groups, trade shows and sports activities, which are areas she believes the community is ripe to improve in.

“You’re rich in a lot of things, but your driving of tourism has slacked off,” said Randall. “When it comes to meetings and sports, it’s all about facilities. And your Civic Center, as you know, has gotten older. It hasn’t been updated or renovated. You’re not getting the groups that you should by rights be getting if you had the facilities, if you had conference centers.

“The same is true with sports. If you had the right sports facilities, you’d be getting more sports business.”

The community’s lack of meeting and sports facilities, Randall said, could be tied to another issue identified by the report, which is a change in how tourism revenue is handled.

According to Randall, the only reason any community, including Albany and Dougherty County, invests in tourism and travel is to generate sale tax revenue from individuals who don’t live in the area.

“In travel and tourism, what you’re looking to make is your portion of the sales tax,” said Randall. “The only reason the city of Albany is involved in travel and tourism is because promoting travel and tourism brings sales tax to Albany and Dougherty County and the state of Georgia. So, you’re in it for the money that’s generated in sales tax.”

In addition to generating sales tax, visitors that spend the night in local hotels also pay an occupancy tax which she said most communities she works with invest into things that improve tourism, such as funding a CVB and improving facilities and attractions.

Randall pointed out that for some reason Albany appears to have to changed the way it uses occupancy tax revenue which gives her concern. Before explaining what the report showed she first gave an analogy of how she views occupancy taxes and how most communities should treat it.

“Occupancy taxes, I want you to look at that as the goose that lays the golden egg,” Randall said. “You take that money that’s generated in occupancy tax and you reinvest it. As long as you continue to reinvest that money appropriately it continues to feed the goose which lays more golden eggs and you get more and more and greater and greater sales tax. If you don’t reinvest that money properly, the goose starts starving and laying less eggs.”

Randall went on to say that while Albany and Dougherty County has raised its occupancy tax rate from five percent in 2005 to eight percent in 2015, it has also changed how that money is divided between the city and the CVB. In 2005 Albany was like most of its neighboring communities and split that revenue 50/50, with 50 percent going to the CVB primarily for marketing and 50 percent going to the general fund for use on improving or developing new facilities.

“You shifted the money,” said Randall. “Now you’re paying 40 percent, not 50 percent, to the CVB for marketing and promotion and the city is retaining 60 percent for development of facilities. But those facilities are getting older and older and tired-er and tired-er.

“Plus since you went to 8 percent, you also capped the CVB at $725,000, so they’re not even getting the 40 percent anymore. I don’t know why that happened, but it’s strange. The way that 8 percent should be spent is either in marketing or in facilities, some combination thereof.”

Randall suggested that what should be done moving forward would be to take a look at how occupancy tax revenue was being spent and determine if it was being spent on things that actually were being used by travelers and tourists as opposed to be used by locals.

“Right now you’re taking the money and spending it however you’re spending it, but it doesn’t appear to be going into improvement of meeting facilities and it doesn’t appear to be going into improvement of sports facilities,” said Randall. “If you’re going to get groups, you’re going to have to have facilities that allow you to bring in those groups. What I suggest as far as what you have now is that you do a very honest, forthright audit of those facilities.

“If you look at the Civic Center and that auditorium and its only being used by locals, then it’s not a good use of your tax dollars for visitors. If businesses aren’t using it you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Period. You should be reinvesting the money on something that will bring in visitors.”

Despite all of the concerns raised by the report, Randall had much praise for the community in terms of having a hard-working and well respected CVB staff and she continually praised Albany and Dougherty County’s many attractions, such as the Civil Rights Institute, the Flint RiverQuarium, Chehaw and others.

She also said that Albany has a high percentage of repeat visitors — which is good — but warned that the community could not rely on that to stay that way.

“What you see very clearly in this data (in terms of what visitors think) is they like you,” Randall said. “They have a relationship with you. You’re a hub city; they’re going to come back. They also know that you’re working on (things).

“They love what what you did with the Bridge House and the Ray Charles Plaza, but they expect more. They expect a more dynamic downtown and they want to see continuing improvement.”

Article source: http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2015/sep/29/travel-marketing-study-albany-tourism-investment/

AAA Travel Names Top International Destinations








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ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Whether travelers are planning an off-season trip this fall, a memorable holiday getaway, or a dream summer vacation, now is an ideal time to plan an international vacation, according to the experts at AAA Travel. In addition to warm-weather destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, European cities top AAA’s list of the most popular international travel destinations.

AAA’s top destinations for international travel through July 2016, are:

  1. London, England
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. Cancun, Mexico
  4. Paris, France
  5. Dublin, Ireland
  6. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  8. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  9. Vancouver, British Columbia
  10. Prague, Czech Republic

“Travelers heading to Europe will enjoy favorable currency exchange rates, making now an excellent time to plan a trip overseas,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Senior Vice President of Travel and Publishing. “Unique experiences such as river cruising are incredibly popular as well, as travelers look for opportunities to immerse themselves in a destination’s local culture while enjoying a hassle-free vacation experience abroad.”

AAA travel agents offer their top tips for international travelers:

  • Plan ahead to make sure travel plans are not delayed by the passport application process. It can take up to six weeks to get a new passport, so allow plenty of time to secure the necessary documents. Some countries require that a traveler’s passport be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of the trip. Passport photos can be obtained at select local AAA offices.
  • For travelers planning to drive overseas, an International Driving Permit (IDP) may be required.  Many countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses without an accompanying IDP, and it is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most places. Even for those not planning to drive internationally, an IDP is recommended to serve as an additional source of identification. AAA is one of only two private entities in the U.S. authorized by the Department of State to issue IDPs.
  • Refer to the U.S. Department of State’s current list of travel advisories and register all international travel plans with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling in STEP, U.S. travelers make it easier for the local embassy or consulate to contact them in case of an emergency.
  • Travelers should notify their bank and credit card companies’ fraud departments before traveling internationally to let them know what countries the card will be used in to avoid service interruptions. Use a chip-embedded credit card with EMV technology, a more secure system being adopted in the U.S. that is already widely used throughout Europe.
  • For travelers planning to post about their trips on social media or for those who want a convenient way to stay in touch with loved ones while traveling, subscribe to an international data plan with your current cell phone company or a local provider.
  • When traveling internationally, avoid exchanging foreign currency at the airport or train station as kiosks there often charge high exchange rates or service fees. Check with a travel agent or bank to exchange currencies before an international vacation. 
  • Through reciprocal arrangements with motor clubs around the world, AAA members can benefit from services such as travel discounts, travel information and roadside assistance when traveling in many foreign countries. Click here for more information on available services and contact information by country.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA news releases, high-resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

Stay connected with AAA on the web via:
Twitter.com/AAA_Travel
Twitter.com/AAAnews
YouTube.com/AAA
Facebook.com/AAAfanpage

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Article source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aaa-travel-names-top-international-destinations-300150961.html

Leafs radio announcers won’t travel with team, will call games from studio

When the Toronto Maple Leafs play road games during the 2015-16 season, their radio announcers will be calling the games from a studio in Toronto instead of the various press boxes around the NHL.

The move comes as a result of new general manager Lou Lamoriello banning all TV and radio broadcasters from the team charter flight.

That news was first reported by Torontosportsmedia.com, and later confirmed on Twitter by Maple Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen.

UPDATE (4:30 p.m. ET): It appears there has been an abrupt change on this now. The broadcasters will travel to away games, however will not do so on the team charter as in years past.

Previously, the Maple Leafs’ announcers traveled with the team on their charter flight to road games, a common practice across the league. But Lamoriello has a number of rules that greatly differ from other teams — in New Jersey this included but was not limited to facial hair restrictions and not allowing certain numbers to be worn — and feels that the team charter is an extension of the locker room and is only for members of the team, according to Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.

The decision to remove broadcasters from the team charter flight has forced them and their networks to provide their own transportation to the games, and in the case of Leafs radio announcers Bowen and Jim Ralph, their employers, Sportsnet and Bell media (TSN) don’t seem willing to foot the bill to send them on the road.

It’s one thing for Maple Leafs management to restrict who gets access to their team flight, so it’s not really a huge deal that they made the decision to limit it to players, coaches and team executives. Especially since Lamoriello had a similar rule during his days in New Jersey.

But it’s absolutely stunning that the richest team in the NHL, one that has two media giants (Rogers Sportsnet and Bell media) behind it (they not only share the broadcast rights for the games, they actually own the team), won’t pay to send its radio announcers on the road.

Writing about a game after the fact when you’re not in attendance is very manageable, but when your job is to give play-by-play of an ongoing game to a large radio audience it’s pretty much a necessity to be in the building to be able to accurately relay any and all information to fans, whether it’s the play on the ice, what’s happening on the bench, line combinations, or just getting a general feel for the game.

The Maple Leafs’ radio announcers will not travel with the team this season. (USATSI)

Article source: http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/eye-on-hockey/25320323/maple-leafs-announcers-wont-travel-with-team-will-call-games-from-studio

Continuum and the Biggest Pitfalls That TV Shows About Time Travel Fall Into

Check out the coolest moment from last Friday’s brand new episode of Continuum. We’re halfway through the final season of this time-warping cop show, and it still has the power to deliver some really neat character moments. But Continuum is also falling prey to television’s worst habits when it comes to time travel.

First off, the coolest moment, as seen above. The major subplot of “Power Hour” has to do with Julian, the teenager who’s destined to grow up to be the anti-corporate terrorist leader Theseus. Julian has been freaked out ever since he learned that his future self is responsible for killing untold tens of thousands of people in uprisings against corporate overlords like his stepbrother Alec.

And Julian tries to burn his writings, the famous manifesto that puts him on the track to becoming a leader. But immediately afterwards, it turns out that someone has already published the works of Theseus online—and it’s Curtis, the ex-member of the anti-corporate group Liber8 from the future, teaming up with the mother of Edouard Kagame, the future Liber8 leader who’s just been born.

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So Julian is kind of stuck with the words he wasn’t even sure he wanted to write. But unexpectedly, Alec, who’s supposed to become Julian’s arch-enemy in the dark dystopian future, tells Julian that he really liked the manifesto, and it was beautiful. And maybe if Alec doesn’t become an evil corporate overlord, then Julian won’t have to become a monster to fight him. It’s a lovely moment between two characters who always deserved to share more screen time together.

The rest of the episode is OK… Kiera and Garza use invisible future super-suits to get inside the secret facility where the super-soldiers from the future are building some kind of massive device that appears to be a time-machine of some sort. Kiera almost blows the device up until she realizes that it could get her home—and then she makes a huge mess trying to keep Garza from blowing it up anyway. In the resulting fighting, Lucas is killed.

And meanwhile, Kellogg, whose future self is the leader of those super-soldiers in a super-dark, extra-dystopian future, gets one of the super-soldiers as his own personal bodyguard. He gets hauled into the police station to talk to Carlos, who has nothing to pin on him, and then lounges around with his cute new bodyguard. But then Kiera shows up and tells him that Lucas is dead. And she points out that if nobody can trust Kellogg, then maybe Kellogg can’t trust his future self, either.

(Which only brings to mind the question—why does Kellogg need to trust his future self? As with Future Alec, who sent Kiera and Liber8 back in time, there’s no reason for Future Kellogg to care one way or the other. The timeline that Future Kellogg comes from is probably gone at this point, or soon will be, and that future version of Kellogg will never even get to know what becomes of his schemes. Unless, of course, the hints that they can send Kiera home mean that they’ve finally invented a way to visit other timelines, or restore timelines that have been invalidated due to time travel.)

Which brings me to the problem with time-travel on television—television is an open-ended medium, where movies are closed-ended. A time-travel movie can present a neat closed loop, or a single set of conundrums, and then tie everything off with a bow. But a television series needs to keep telling stories, or expanding the same story outwards, week after week.

Back in the day, time-travel on television was pretty much a series of one-offs. You had shows like Voyagers! or classic Doctor Who, where every trip through time was a simple visit to history or another time or place, and then the story was over and nobody ever thought about it again. Star Trek, for most of its life, would feature random time-travel adventures that had no lasting impact, and the rules changed every single time.

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But today’s television is more serialized, meaning that time travel has to build into an ongoing story, and each trip through time has to matter. That means a lot more mythos, including big mysteries like “Who are the Freelancers?” which need to be paid off (and are frequently a bit disappointing when we learn the truth.) The characters have to keep learning new stuff, and layers of intrigue have to get peeled back over and over again.

And with time-travel, more mythos means more time travelers, or more complicated time-paradoxes and conundrums. (Continuum made the wise choice, early on, to clarify that this is a universe where each time-traveler creates a brand new timeline, so there could be no paradoxes as such.) More mythos frequently means revisiting the actual same points in time over and over again, with added layers of wackiness each time.

But another huge pitfall of time-travel television comes from the ever-present temptation to give characters a destiny—it’s a way to have prophecies, like fantasy narratives, but without any scrolls or magical seers. Instead, you can have someone either travel back from the future or see the future, and discover that one character is destined to become a dictator or a hero or whatever. This is part of how Heroes got so tangled up with its future visions over time. There’s an ever-present temptation to get over-invested in preventing, or fulfilling, a particular vision of the future.

(Which is why Continuum does get points for having Alec realize he can choose not to be the monster from Kiera’s future, even if it also loses half a point for having its characters so frequently misunderstand the rules of time travel—like with poor Emily, who seems to think that if she’s not the mother of Jason, Alec’s child from an alternate timeline, then she and Alec are Not Meant To Be. That’s just silly.)

Most of all, time travel in an ongoing, semi-serialized narrative, tends towards a danger of over-explaining or over-elaborating. Time travel isn’t a story, it’s a plot device, and when plot devices become more important than characters or big thematic ideas, then they start to become excessive. I’m actually not opposed at all to stories that are plot-driven, or all about the characters trying to resolve a particular problem or achieve a particular goal—but a plot device is not a plot.

And on the one hand, I’m still enjoying Continuum—but on the other hand, I’ve sort of given up on trying to understand the plot, or what’s actually at stake at this point. In retrospect, I lost the thread of Continuum in the scene last season where Kiera confronts the members of Liber8 with the knowledge that Alec created a new timeline to save his dead girlfriend, and Lucas spends five minutes clutching his head and going “WHAT???!”. At this point, I’m not sure who the Traveler is, or what Curtis’ scheme is, or whether Future Kellogg can realistically have any plan for the world of 2015 that even makes any sense. It’s all sort of a muddle, and the wheels-within-wheels-within-wheels thing has become just sort of a spinning blur. What’s especially sad is that Continuum had very specific things to say about corporations and anarchists, and their views on the future of our world—and especially corporate control over the police—and those ideas have been lost at this point.

The best you can say about a lot of television time travel is that it’s fun if you don’t think about it too much. But when time travel (which is perhaps best suited to a closed-end, one-shot storyline in a lot of cases) gets expanded out into the increasingly serialized world of television, then a lot of TV’s tendencies towards endless layers of mystery, fate and Rube Goldberg constructions tend to create a temporal catastrophe.

Article source: http://io9.com/on-continuum-and-the-biggest-pitfalls-that-tv-shows-ab-1733657254