In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
10 best travel inventions of all time
Many of the everyday conveniences that ease you through your journeys, from the hotel key card in your wallet to the website where you booked your trip, are responsible for revolutionizing the travel world. These seemingly commonplace goods and gadgets have had an extraordinary impact on the way we see the world—and we can’t imagine hitting the road without them. Find out which 10 breakthrough inventions deserve credit for turning the travel sphere on its head.
Hotel key card
One powerful little piece of plastic has made hotel stays safer and more convenient for travelers. Magnetic key cards started appearing in the 1950s and have since become the standard means of entry at accommodations around the world. On the rare occasion that you’re issued a traditional key at check-in (if you’re staying at a small B&B or in a vacation rental, for example), you may be reminded of the great advantages of key cards. An unlimited number of copies can be made (one for each of the kids), the card can be replaced in an instant, and lost cards can be erased remotely. Bonus: The card fits neatly into your wallet.
If you want to listen to an audio tour, read hotel reviews, build an itinerary, or take panoramic photos, there’s an app for that. (We couldn’t resist.) But the best travel advantages offered by the smartphone may be soon to come. Apple has filed a patent on a tool that would allow air travelers to use iPhones to store valid IDs and boarding passes. This technology would work in conjunction with innovative airport security checkpoints that might use facial recognition technology or retina scans along with electronic identification stored on smartphones to move passengers swiftly through checkpoints. Soon, the smartphone could make hard identification, like driver’s licenses or passports, obsolete.
Bournemouth’s beach ‘better than most in Med’ says survey
Bournemouth is a match for the Costas and the Canaries when it comes to beaches, according to a survey today.
The Dorset resort came fourth in a list of Europe’s top beaches compiled from travellers’ ratings by the TripAdvisor company.
Bournemouth was first in the list of 10 best UK beaches, with St Brelades in Jersey second and Woolacombe in Devon third.
Cornish beaches fared well in the British list, with St Ives in fourth place, Newquay sixth, Bude seventh and Padstow 10th.
Top European beach was Oludeniz in Turkey, with another Turkish beach, Icmeler, in second place and Puerto Alcudia in Majorca third.
TripAdvisor spokeswoman Emma Shaw said: “These awards recognise the UK’s and Europe’s best beach destinations, according to those that really matter: travellers themselves.
Major plane-makers report safest year in aviation history
IATA says western-built jets – dominated by Airbus and Boeing – suffered one serious accident per 2.7m flights, with none recorded in Europe.
Major airlines had their safest ever year in 2011, according to the industry’s global trade body, with western jets suffering an accident every 2.7m flights.
The International Air Transport Association said the accident rate for western-built jets, a market dominated by Airbus and Boeing, was the lowest in aviation history. The rate for hull losses, where the plane is written off or destroyed, was 0.37 per million flights or the equivalent of one serious incident per 2.7m trips. The rate has halved since 2005.
Tony Tyler, Iata’s chief executive, said: “Safety is the air transport industry’s number one priority. It is also a team effort. The entire stakeholder community – airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and safety regulators – works together every day to make the skies safer based on global standards. As a result, flying is one of the safest things that a person could do.” Tyler added that the industry was still aiming for the “ultimate goal” of zero accidents.
According to Iata, there were no hull losses for western-built jets in Europe, with the worst ratio emerging in the Middle East and Africa where there were two losses per million flights. Including eastern-built jets such as the Russian Tupolev, there were 486 fatalities in 2011 compared with 786 in 2010 – including a 2% fall in accidents from 94 to 92. Fatal crashes last year included the loss of an Iranair Boeing 727 near Orumiyeh in January, killing 77 people, a Hewa Bora Airways Boeing 727 that crashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in July with 74 deaths, and the loss of a Yak-42 jet outside the Russian city of Yaroslavl in September, killing 43 people including members of the Russian major league ice hockey team Lokomotiv.
Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas tilts toward nostalgia
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas has its winners and its winners: the visitors who play the games love the chance to enjoy them again, and their quarters benefit charity.
Reporting from Las Vegas— Drop a quarter in a Las Vegas machine: lights blink, bells ring and odds are your money is headed to a casino bank account. But experiencing those same effects while your funds are funneled to charity? That’s definitely outside the Sin City norm.
This is what happens at a little known Vegas pleasure palace, the Pinball Hall of Fame, a five-minute drive east of the Strip. The 10,000-foot cinder-block building is thought to house the largest collection of historic pinball machines operating in America. At any given time, there are about 200 in the hall, all primed for play.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is owned by a pinball acolyte — the nickname for true believers is “pinheads” — named Tim Arnold, and it’s a sort of time capsule of the nation’s pursuit of pleasure. Before video game systems and tablet devices were focal points for fun, pinball machines — colorful, noisy and time- and pocket-change-consuming — were the hands-on choice for decades of American kids.
On any day the free-admission Hall of Fame (games cost their original price to play; most are a quarter) is populated by a mix of tourists in the know and locals. Christian Kolberg, 49, A Vegas-based fan, was playing one recent afternoon on his favorite — the 1977 Gottlieb Cleopatra — on which he had enjoyed winning many a free game in his younger years.
Age and gender make Kolberg, an auctioneer at charity benefits, a prime example of the pinball wizards drawn to the rows of old-time machines. He speaks of Arnold’s emporium and his off-site collection of an additional 800-plus machines with awe.
“You can’t find this many classic machines to play anywhere else in the nation,” he said. “I drop in to hit my favorites and check out what interesting games Tim has rotated in.”
New to the floor this day was a 1993 Pinball Circus machine made by the Williams company. A single pull sent multiple balls streaming down a multitiered series of ramps, sound effects resonating with every bounce. It is “one of only two working models in existence,” Arnold said. “It was a product line they tried in Europe that failed…. The company owner has one in his office. This is the other one.”