In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
World’s biggest Titanic attraction opens in Belfast
The largest Titanic visitor attraction in the world opened in the ship’s Belfast birthplace on Saturday, some 100 years after the doomed liner was built in the same yards.
Almost 100,000 tickets for Titanic Belfast, a striking aluminium-clad building which tells the famous ship’s story through special effects, interactive screens and a ride, have been sold ahead of the opening.
Organisers hope the £97 million ($155 million, 116 million euro) centre can boost tourism in the British province, which was torn apart by sectarian strife for three decades until the late 1990s.
“We want to bring people to Northern Ireland not just to see what a generation 100 years ago were able to achieve, but what this generation can achieve in this new era of peace,” said First Minister Peter Robinson.
Cyril Quigley, a 105-year-old who watched the Titanic’s launch more than a century ago, joined the province’s leaders at the opening of the building, which takes the form of four of the ship’s huge prows.
“All I saw was this big thing sliding out into the water,” Quigley said as he recalled watching with his parents. “I was only four and half.”
Quigley said the new centre, which rose from the derelict Harland and Wolff shipyard, was “wonderful”.
“I often thought they would make another plastic ship here and have it as a restaurant or something, but this is fantastic,” he said. “It’s like our Sydney Opera House.”
British travellers charged £186m in excess baggage fees
British air passengers were charged a total of £186 million for excess baggage last year.
On average, limits were exceeded by 3.5 kilos (about 7.7lb), according to a survey by website Kelkoo.
Around 27% of those due to fly this summer are expected to exceed baggage limits and these charges are likely to total almost £1 million a day during the peak holiday season.
Of those who faced charges in 2011, 37% were travelling on low-cost airlines and 20% on charter flights.
On average, the excess-baggage charges on low-cost carriers is £13.20, with the charter charge being £7.15 and the scheduled airline charge being £7.46.
The survey showed that the no-frills carriers took 47% of the total charges collected.
Also, 8% who had to pay charges said they would not use the airline again. In addition, 42% said that when they last went on holiday, they knew they were over their baggage limit and so were not surprised when they were faced with an additional fee.
Disneyland Paris celebrates 20 years
Disneyland Paris has celebrated its 20th birthday in spectacular style, with an extravaganza replete with celebrities, parades and a new state-of-the-art show.
The resort 35 kilometres east of Paris has a lot to celebrate. After overcoming a rocky childhood, the Magic Kingdom now makes up a chunk of the French economy and of Disney’s own revenues.
Mexican actress Salma Hayek and retired French soccer great Zinedine Zidane led celebrations at the park featuring a high-energy projection of Disney cartoon characters onto Sleeping Beauty’s castle crowning Main Street, USA. Also starring in the event, marked with fireworks and water displays, were Peter Pan and other Disney characters.
“Marvellous!” Frenchman Xavier Fin, 40, said. “I’m here with my son and it’s so great for him to see all the creativity. It’s really overwhelming.”
Beyond the glitz, however, there is a real story for Disneyland Paris to crow about after some volatile years and a rumoured brush with bankruptcy.
The resort – 40 per cent owned by the Walt Disney Co – has come a long way under the marketing mantra “slowly but surely”.
Five years ago, the resort finally started to make operating profits. Building on its fortune, Disneyland Paris became the most visited tourist destination in Europe in 2008. It broke its record for ticket sales last year, marking its 250 millionth visitor since its creation.
Over the years, the French have also learned to love Mickey. The resort was decried by some in France as a threat to the French culture – a “cultural Chernobyl” for some, a “construction of hardened chewing gum” for others. An initial ban on wine – done away with – inside the park was seen as a snub of the French heritage.
Ask the Captain: Is takeoff or landing more dangerous?
USA TodayQuestion: Which part of a flight is more dangerous, takeoff or landing?
Answer: First let’s look at a few statistics to determine if there is truly a danger. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2011, 2.8 billion people flew in 38 million airline flights (30 million jet and 8 million turboprop).
There were 11 hull loss accidents in Western-built jets, with 5 accidents involving fatalities. The fatality rate was 0.07 per million passengers. Of the 2.8 billion passengers, 486 were fatally injured on all types of aircraft (jet and turboprop). This was down from 786 in 2010. The last two years have been the safest years in aviation history. It is hard to say that flying is dangerous when viewing this remarkable record.
To your question about the relative risk between take-off and landing: According to the Boeing Statistical Summary of Commercial Jet Airplane Accidents – Worldwide Operations 2001 to 2010, 17% occur in the takeoff phase (10% on takeoff and 7% on initial climb) accounting for 25% of the fatalities. During the landing phase, there are 36% of the accidents (14% during the final approach and 22% during landing), accounting for 24% of the fatalities.