In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Watch out for the icebergs… cruise recreating Titanic’s fateful voyage is sold out
For some, it might sound too much like tempting fate – and for others, it smacks of “disaster voyeurism”. But for more than 2,000 Titanic enthusiasts, the chance to mark the centenary of the maritime disaster by sailing on a large cruise ship to commemorate the sinking on the very spot of the tragedy is proving difficult to resist.
A British company has almost sold out two cruises for people to mark the anniversary on 15 April by following the route of the Titanic to where it struck an iceberg. The booming demand for Titanic-related travel has led to another travel company offering the chance to explore the wreckage of the ill-fated vessel in a Russian-built submarine next summer at a cost of $59,000 (£37,000) per person. Places for that voyage are already “very limited”.
The tourism boon is part of a general revival of the fascination with the Belfast-built steamship which will see special festivals take place on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the screening of a 3D version of James Cameron’s Oscar-winning film and a big-budget ITV drama by the Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes.
Such is the interest in places on the MS Balmoral, the vessel retracing the journey of the maiden voyage of the Titanic, that a waiting list for cancellations has closed
Airports court fliers with rewards programs
Laura Fuller has her choice of three Florida airports when she travels for her job at a software company. Jacksonville International and Orlando International airports offer more frequent and inexpensive flights. But only Gainesville Regional Airport has given her a Nook e-reader.
Airlines, hotels and rental car agencies have offered loyalty programs for decades as a way to retain and attract customers. But now, many airports nationwide, realizing that fliers can drive to competing airports or simply drive to their destinations, are slowly adopting the strategy. The programs are typically free and offer fliers airline miles, prizes or discounts for parking, shopping, dining, or simply flying to and from the airport.
“Airports recognize that there is competition not only among airlines but also between airports,” says Debby McElroy, executive vice president of policy and external affairs for Airports Council International-North America, which represents the governing bodies operating commercial airports in the United States and Canada. “Loyalty programs can help an airport stand out among its competitors.”
What will 2012 bring in air travel?
It’s the end of 2011, so you know what that means. It’s time for everyone to come out of the woodwork with their predictions for 2012.
So what will happen in the world of air travel?
Here are some thoughts on what the coming year might have in store.
Fares will go up . . . or down
The one thing everyone wants to know is whether fares will keep going up. We’ve seen plenty of increases in 2011, but will that continue? That really depends on two things: passenger demand and fuel prices.
Despite a still-shaky economy, demand for flights has been quite strong, and that has enabled airlines to keep raising fares. If demand continues to strengthen, then you can bet we’ll see more increases in the new year. If it starts to drop off, then fares will likely start to fall, or at the very least, stay the same.
The one thing that can get in the way of that plan is high fuel prices. If prices spike higher, then airlines will be forced to raise fares regardless of demand. If that happens, then airlines will also have to cut the number of flights.
Snakes on a plane averted as Argentina nabs trafficker
A Czech national was nabbed in Argentina for trying to board a transatlantic flight with 247 live animals including poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles packed in a bulging suitcase.
The man identified as Karel Abelovsky, 51, was caught while trying to board a flight for Madrid when shocked baggage X-ray technicians and staff at the Iberia Airlines desk at Ezeiza Airport in greater Buenos Aires noticed “organic substances moving inside,” local media reported.
When they opened the bag, they found more than 200 reptiles and mollusks, among them nine species of poisonous snakes including South American pitvipers, packed in clear plastic containers.
There were also 15 venomous vipers, including two yararas– which can measure up to 1.5m – and several young boas.