Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 08.05.2012

In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel

Airline’s fury as travellers live it up in first class, for life

It’s the holy grail of air travel – unlimited first-class flights.

Back in 1985 when American Airlines offered the enticing proposition for $US250,000 ($245,000) – and an extra $US150,000 ($147,000) for a travel companion – they never imagined how much trouble it would land them in.

Eager travellers snapped up the deal and have been living the high life ever since, bleeding the airline dry and forcing it to hire private detectives and pursue legal action in a desperate bid to ground the passengers once and for all.

“We thought originally it would be something that firms would buy for top employees,” Bob Crandall, American Airlines’ chairman and chief executive from 1985-98, told the LA Times.

“It soon became apparent that the public was smarter than we were.”

These travellers would fly to Japan for lunch and back to the US for dinner that night, with one of them costing the airline more than $1 million a year.

Steven Rothstein and Jacques Vroom were among the lucky few who secured unlimited flights but they have gone from being treated like kings by the airline to being the targets of much ire.

Unwilling to let the good times end, the duo fly whenever they feel like it and for however long they like. And with a deal like that who needs a house?

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A trip back to your roots

BBC Travel

Thousands of people flock to Salt Lake City each year, not for Utah’s skiing or national parks, but to search through endless records of births, deaths and marriages at one the world’s largest repositories of genealogy information on the planet.

There is a new breed of traveller focused on uncovering family narratives, as evidenced by the 1,500 visitors who visit the Family History Library every day. Run by the Mormon Church, it contains more than two billion names of the deceased, more than 2.2 million rolls of microfilm and 300,000 books.

Utah is not the only place focused on roots tourism. The newly opened £8.2 million Cumbria Archive Centre in England’s northwest, with records dating back to the 12th Century, is banking on the boom. The fact that Cumbria is home to relatives of three former US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson fuels interest among genealogy tourists there.

Genealogy tourism — combining a trip away with a trip down memory lane — is one of the fastest growing travel sectors, according to University of Illinois research.  One million people, for example, visit Scotland each year, motivated by their ancestral activities and generating £730 million for the economy, according to tourism authority VisitScotland.

Popular with baby boomers, this type of authentic, real life experience is a backlash against the bubble-like environment of all-inclusive resorts, theme parks, gaudy tourist attractions and cruises, according to the University of Illinois.

The global television phenomena, Who do you think you are? has also sparked renewed interest in genealogy. The show features famous people unearthing secrets from their past. And the digitisation of billions of human records and ubiquitous web access has made researching family trees a lot easier and more accessible.

Before you book a flight to your ancestral holiday destination, it is worth researching your roots on sites like, orGenes Reunited. Your country’s national archives are also a good starting point. You can then arm yourself with names, death and marriage certificates, immigration and electoral rolls, as well as towns of origin. Before the latter half of the 20th Century people generally did not travel much, so it is easier to pinpoint names to places.

Also hone in on local museums, libraries, cemeteries and churches close to your family’s home town where you can do your research. You will be disappointed if you book a trip to the Scottish borders if your relatives were from the Outer Hebrides.

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Cornwall cliff plunge tourist died ‘trying to take pictures’

The Telegraph

A man, Harry McCabe, plunged 160 feet to his death from a Cornish cliff in front of his horrified wife and children while attempting to take photographs, it has emerged.

The 54 year-old, who celebrated his birthday last week, lost his footing as he walked along the cliffs at Mullion, Cornwall, with his 44 year-old wife Samantha and two children, 12, on Friday night.

It is thought Mr McCabe, who was holidaying in the area with a friend and their child, was trying to take a photograph along the cliff on the wrong side of the fence when he fell.

Locals told how Mrs McCabe ran into the Mullion Cove Hotel, just yards away, to raise the alarm just before 7pm.

The accident occurred following a week of torrential rain, which had made the paths slippery. The area is said to be popular with walkers.

Falmouth Coastguard coordinated the rescue attempt and a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose airlifted him to the nearby Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

Mr McCabe, who is understood to have two adult daughters from a previous marriage, was pronounced dead on arrival. Devon and Cornwall Police said they were treating his death as accidental.

On Sunday night, grieving relatives were comforting each other at the family home in Basingstoke, Hants.

They were too distressed to comment. They gathered at the three-bedroomed terraced property in a quiet cul-de-sac in the Worting area of the town throughout the day.

It is thought the trip was to celebrate Mr McCabe’s birthday last week. The father’s birthday cards lined the bay window of the house. Friends paid tribute on Twitter.

“#RIP Harry McCabe – too young to die – our hearts go out to his family and loved ones,” said Tracy Gregory.

Mullion Parish councillor John Lang said incidents on the Cornish coast were “tragically not uncommon”.

“As far as I can gather the gentleman was attempting to take a photograph and he appeared to be on the wrong side of the fence,” he said.

“It’s quite a harsh environment and it has to be treated with respect – people have to be cautious. This is a beautiful county but people but take care.

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Off the rails – how disused tracks are becoming tourist trails

Ever wished you could slow down a train to get a better look at the landscape whizzing past? A new scheme in New Zealand is offering tourists the opportunity to do just that, and proving an environmental hit to boot.

‘Railcruising’, a new concept which launched late last year, uses formerly disused tracks in the New Zealand province of Rotorua as trails for intrepid tourists keen to explore the hilly landscapes of the Dansey Scenic Reserve.

Uniquely though, the carriages that travel along the track don’t belong to a train, but are self-contained hybrid vehicles, each capable of carrying up to four people.

In two hours, the rail-mounted vehicles spaced approximately 250 meters apart cover 20 kilometers of forests and farmland, with a railway station at the end of the route to turn them round and send them back to the starting point in Mamaku.

In the first four months the response from the market has been great, Railcruising’s co-founder Neil Oppatt told Relaxnews, and now further expansion is planned that will double the amount of track offered and allow trips as far as Rotorua itself on the disused track.

Investors have already expressed interest in expanding the railcruising idea to other parts of New Zealand, but it could have an even bigger impact in other countries such as those in Europe, where miles of tracks lay disused.

“RailCruising is very suitable for other tourist designations, we are presently looking at ten railway lines in New Zealand and Australia. We have had initial interest also from Canada and England,” Oppatt said.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

Not meaning to brag, but here goes. I can say I’m a travel expert and have spoken at multiple travel conferences and trade shows.

I enjoy travelling all over the world but my big passion is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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