In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Airports a prime spot for people-watching
One thing’s for sure when it comes to flying. You’re going to end up waiting at an airport at some point.
Some frequent travelers endure it by reading books or magazines. Business travelers check e-mail. But many others indulge in what’s become an acceptable pastime in the era of long security lines and delayed flights: people-watching.
“I am a traveler obsessed with people-watching,” says Michelle Butler, a nutritionist and yoga instructor in Redondo Beach, Calif. “We’re all sitting around with nothing else to do but listen to some tunes, read a book and stare with glazed eyes out of the window or at a person. I would much rather have the opportunity to watch someone, because it’s much more entertaining, and I can get away with it.”
Social media — YouTube, Facebook and the like — have turned America into a nation of gawkers. And nowhere, it seems, is gawking more tempting than at airports.
“It is no longer deemed inappropriate by many to stare at others, even if they do not invite us to do so,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, a psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. “These are people you will most likely never see again. So the concern you will offend someone and have it adversely affect you is not so strong, because you will not come into contact with them.”
Scary plane landings caught on camera
Look away now if you’re scared of flying, as this footage is sure to make you even more reluctant to get on a plane.
German plane-spotter Martin Bogdan’s video of white-knuckle plane landings has gone viral, receiving over 1.7 million hits on YouTube so far this month.
Filmed at Dusseldorf Airport during a storm, the video shows a number of jets landing with strong crosswinds.
The planes were forced to approach the runway at an angle to compensate for the winds, which were approximately 35 knots with gust of up to 55 knots, according to Mr Bogdan.
British Airways to resume flights to Libya
British Airways is to resume flights to Libya on May 1, despite the Foreign Office continuing to advise against non-essential travel to the country.
The airline suspended its services to Tripoli, the Libyan capital, last February following the outbreak of civil war. Although hostilities officially ended in October, with NATO lifting its no-fly zone over the country, BA has spent the last few months assessing the security risks of returning to the country.
“We are delighted to be returning to Libya,” said Keith Williams, chief executive of the airline. “Our flights to Tripoli have provided a vital economic link for many years, and it is good news for everyone that we can now restart operations.”
The Foreign Office still advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and several other parts of the country, and against all travel to the rest of Libya, meaning it is still likely to remain off limits to ordinary travellers.
Several operators, including Exodus, Abercrombie and Kent and Responsible Travel, have previously offered trips to Libya, usually including a sightseeing tour of Tripoli and a visit to the ancient Roman ruins of Leptis Magna.
MPs say no repairs will be done on Big Ben before 2020
Renovation work on the Palace of Westminster will not begin until at least 2020, an MPs’ committee has said. The decision came after surveyors found that Parliament’s Clock Tower – better known as Big Ben – was leaning.
The House of Commons Commission said officials would conduct an investigation into how repairs could be carried out, but no decisions would be taken until the next Parliament. But it stressed that the Palace remained “structurally sound”.
The Clock Tower, housing the bell which is called Big Ben, was completed in 1859.
Since then a five-storey car park and the Jubilee underground line have been constructed.
In October, Prof John Burland, a construction expert from Imperial College London who oversaw the building of the car park, said the tower was leaning, but it would not be a major concern for at least 10,000 years. The Palace of Westminster is also suffering from cracking.
Prof Burland told the BBC on Monday the tower was “moving incredibly slowly and always has done so and there really is no immediate danger at all”.