In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
The American way: Free booze is back (on most overseas flights)!
San Francisco Chronicle
In a move that is sure to be toasted by international passengers (especially those who like to fly toasted), American Airlines will begin serving free beer and wine in all classes on flights between the United States and Europe, Asia and select destinations in Latin America.
Apparently, all it took to change the policy was being asked.
“Our customers asked for complimentary beer and wine, and we listened,” said Rob Friedman, American’s vice president for marketing. Also, he said, “Offering complimentary beer and wine to our loyal customers in all classes of service allows American to better align our product offering with fellow oneworld alliance members.”
The free beer and wine on American Airlines (which shares initials with an organization that decidedly does NOT serve beer and wine) will begin on Feb. 1.
Wi-Fi access to be available on London Underground by this summer
Transport for London has announced that commuters will be able to access the internet in advance of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Following a successful trial at Charing Cross station, TfL has confirmed that Wi-Fi access will be provided at 120 stations throughout the Tube network, enabling travellers to go online when waiting at platforms. Wi-Fi services will be unavailable when passengers are travelling from station to station within Tube carriages.
The assertion that access will be available in advance of the London 2012 Olympics follows the collapse of a similar attempt to provide commuters with internet access last year. Then it was claimed that the UK’s four main mobile operators would provide the service, but those plans never came to fruition. TfL has yet to announce which company will take responsibility for the service. Gareth Powell, TfL’s director of strategy and service development said: “We are in the final stages of the tender process. London Underground is continuing with preparations to install the necessary infrastructure and is on schedule to complete the project as planned. An announcement of the chosen service provider will be made in early spring, leaving plenty of time for this to be delivered to customers in time for the 2012 Games.”
New born babies will need full-price tickets to see 2012 Olympics
London 2012 organisers are facing a backlash from prospective parents who have learned they will need tickets for their newborn babies – even if they were not conceived when the highly prized seats were bought.
The situation, which has been described as “ridiculous” and “bloody stupid” by angry ticketholders, has arisen because most tickets went on sale last April – 15 months before the Games.
Ticketholders, some of whom will have babies just weeks old and will be breastfeeding, have been told by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) they can try to buy an additional ticket for their chosen event for the baby.
But with tickets at a premium for many events, and only a few “pay your age” concessionary tickets available, most parents will not be able to get a ticket or will have to pay the full price.
Ticketholder Rosalind Ereira said she was told she would have to call a hotline to try to buy an extra ticket to the dressage for her as-yet-unborn baby when the final 1.3m tickets go on sale in April.
“Everyone attending the Olympic Games must be a ticketholder, no matter how old they are,” she was told. “Where available, pay your age tickets for children aged one and under would be charged at £1. You would need a full price ticket for the session in order for any children to accompany you on the day.”
A traveller’s guide to Oscars’ best picture nominees
While Alexander Payne’s Hawaii-centric The Descendants wins my vote for both best picture and best scenery, the eight other films nominated todayby the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences inspire their own wanderlust among peripatetic filmgoers.
A quick primer to locations featured in this year’s crop of Best Picture picks:
— The Artist: The story of a Hollywood silent film star struggling with the arrival of “talkies” shot exteriors and interiors at Los Angeles’ lavish Orpheum Theater, which opened in 1926. Meanwhile, L.A. movie fans can still see the real thing at the Silent Movie Theatre on North Fairfax Avenue.
–The Descendants: Hawaii has been the setting for countless movies and TV shows, but it’s often as a caricature or as a stand-in for someplace else. The Descendants, on the other hand, shows the Aloha State in an equally gorgeous but far more realistic and nuanced light – from angst over land development to Honolulu traffic jams and leaf-filled swimming pools. On-screen Kauai locations include the rakish Tahiti Nui bar in Hanalei, the St. Regis in Princeville (where the cast and crew stayed during filming), Kipu Ranch, and Hanalei Bay.
–Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: In the film, a 9-year-old boy tries to cope with the grief of losing his father during the 9/11 attack on Manhattan’s World Trade Center. In real life, more than 1 million visitors have toured the National September 11 Memorial, which opened at Ground Zero last Sept. 12. Two massive pools are ringed by waterfalls and a parapet engraved with the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11 and in a 1993 bomb attack; a museum and underground portion of the memorial complex is scheduled to open in 2012.
–The Help: Set in 1960s Mississippi, the film version of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel was shot in the Delta towns of Greenwood and Clarksdale and Stockett’s hometown, Jackson – where you can plot a driving tour of downtown and the city’s historic Belhaven neighborhood. (See an earlier post, “The Help puts tourist spotlight on Mississippi.”)