In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
What Alec Baldwin doesn’t know about air travel
Alec Baldwin refused to shut off his cellphone and got kicked off an American Airlines flight last week, and while Baldwin is now playing the incident for laughs on “Saturday Night Live,” it still raises serious questions.
The Baldwin brouhaha comes on the heels of a splashy New York Times story about the supposed harmlessness of electronic devices. The gist of public perception — certainly the perception of Mr. Baldwin — fueled and refueled by articles like this, is that the prohibition against personal electronic devices is a waste of time.
Well, it is and it isn’t. It depends which gadgets you’re talking about, and for what reasons.
Ryanair’s new fees: £1 for your ticket, £5 for your sandwich – £100 for your bag
Passengers planning to fly Ryanair next summer, beware: charges on Europe’s biggest budget airline will soar in 2012. Checked-in bag fees paid in advance increase by two-thirds, while travellers checking in a bag at the airport without booking ahead face a fee of £100 – up 150 per cent.
The airline has divided 2012 into low and high seasons, with the latter stretching across the summer from June to September, as well as Christmas. In peak season, the cost of checking in a single 15kg bag rises from £15 to £25, totalling £200 for a family of four on a return trip. The price for a second bag will be even higher, at £45.
Ryanair claims such fees are intended to change passenger behaviour in order to keep costs – and therefore fares – low. Stephen McNamara, a spokesman for the airline, said “Over 70 per cent of Ryanair passengers will be unaffected by these changes as they already travel with no checked-in bags.”
Next generation space travel plan unveiled
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan have reunited to develop the next generation space travel.
At a press conference in Seattle on Tuesday, Allen and Rutan unveiled their new company, Stratolaunch Systems, which will develop a giant aircraft that would put spaceships into orbit, rather than lifting them off from a launch pad.
The Silicon Valley tycoons claimed that the proposed revolutionary spaceship would be the largest aircraft ever built, which would be capable of orbital missions with quick turnarounds, greater safety, and better cost-effectiveness than anything previously launched.
A ghost park showing signs of life
by Visit Berlin
It doesn’t grow, it doesn’t threaten anybody and yet some people refer to it as a “cancerous growth in the Plänterwald”: the Spreepark Berlin. Still, the former entertainment area certainly has a lot of fans for a “disease”! They go jogging along the perimeter of the cordoned-off area, past toppled dinosaurs and derelict carousels.
These attractions are relics of times of glory long since passed. The former “Peoples’ Culture Park Berlin”, opened on 4 October 1969, boasted around 1.5 million visitors a year in its heyday. It was the only permanent amusement park in East Germany. However, with the fall of the Berlin Wall visitors stayed away.
In 1992 it was renamed the “Spreepark Berlin”.
A new operator, modern rides and exciting shows were supposed to entice the public back. But the concept failed and on closing down in 2001 it turned into a ghost park – the only trouble was that it refused to die. A growing number of artists are using it for their projects, and the guided tours are enjoying ever increasing popularity. And the eerie but magical atmosphere was even used to shoot the final scenes of the film “Hanna” starring Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan.