What Reviving the Concorde Could Mean for Travelers

Although the Concorde flew for over 25 years, today the idea of a commercial supersonic jet seems like the stuff of legend. One group says they can revive the jet, however, and bring back a faster and more luxurious era of travel. Jointly developed by French and British and released commercially in 1976, the Concorde traveled at twice the speed of sound. Today, a normal passenger route from New York to Paris takes eight hours, but the Concorde could do it in three and a half. It once even managed London to Sydney in 17 hours, including stops for refueling.

Only 20 planes were ever produced, but the Concorde looms large in the public imagination due to a tragic circumstance. On July 25, 2000, Air France Flight 4590 Concorde from Charles de Gaulle in Paris to New York crashed into a hotel in Gonesse, France, killing 113 people, including all passengers and crew and four people on the ground. The plane itself wasn’t found to be at fault: A piece of debris on the take-off runway set off a chain reaction that led to the crash. Public confidence in the plane was never quite restored. In 2003, Air France and British Airways jointly announced they would be retiring the Concorde from service, citing a now out of date analogue operating system and a drop in air travel following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

That may not be the end of the story for the Concorde, though. A group called Club Concorde is trying to get at least one plane back into service, and has recently announced that it has the funds to do so. The group, made up of former Concorde captains and frequent passengers, proposes putting one decommissioned Concorde on the Thames in London to allow residents and visitors to walk around the plane and even eat a meal on board.

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The more ambitious element of the plan involves getting another Concorde sky-ready for charter flights. Securing approval would require coordinating the interests of the manufacturers, the airlines, international governments, and the airports themselves, and many are doubtful that it can be done. The Concorde’s technology is also outdated, and it has very poor gas mileage: The plane gets only 17 miles to the gallon per passenger.

Even if Club Concorde’s efforts don’t succeed in resurrecting the new plane, there’s hope for supersonic travel on the horizon. Airbus recently applied for a patent for a jet called Concorde Mark 2, which would fly at four times the speed of sound, twice as fast as the old Concorde. The proposed design would incorporate three different types of engines, including one powered by hydrogen and oxygen. The current model would only allow for 20 passengers, who would have to sit through an almost vertical takeoff. At least the potential discomfort wouldn’t last for long — the jet could make the trip from New York to London in just one hour.

It may not be long before jets like the Concorde Mark 2 become commercially feasible, and the consequences will be huge. Today, it would take a trip of at least a week or two to justify the flight time of a trip to Asia, for example. But if travellers aren’t forced to hoard vacation days, trips will become shorter and more spontaneous. Imagine being able to fly to Paris for a night, or head to Bangkok for a long weekend. Especially if flights are made available at a reasonable price point, the future of travel could be more fluid, more accessible, and more liberating.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on October 13, 2015.

Here’s Where Luggage Goes After You Check It

As you queue up in security with a carry-on and contemplate the trip ahead, your checked luggage is embarking on a journey of its own.

Thanks to Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol, you can now witness this voyage from the comfort of your own home. The airport recently released behind-the-scenes footage that reveals exactly what happens to bags after you hand them over at check-in and hope for the best. Check out the 360-degree video here.

While practices vary by country and airport, here’s a breakdown of the process as it’s commonly implemented in the U.S.:

  • After you leave a bag at check-in, it’s scanned by a laser barcode reader that transmits the bag’s tag number to a computer, which also keeps track of the bag’s destination. The bag is then sent off along a labyrinthine system of conveyor belts.
  • Once it reaches the main luggage facility, the bag is screened by security. If security administrators have any concerns about a bag, they’ll open it to scope things out (If a bag is opened, the TSA will leave a note inside stating as much).
  • If the bag makes it through security, the computer communicates with the baggage conveyor system to direct the bag to the right airline.
  • Once the bag has reached its stop, a baggage handler removes it from the conveyor belt and loads it onto a cart along with the luggage of your fellow travelers. Baggage handlers then drive the cart to the plane and load the luggage onto the aircraft.

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When a Bag Goes Missing

While missing luggage is at the top of the list of travel nightmares, the good news is that statistically, it’s very rare: There’s only a 1 percent chance your bag won’t arrive at a destination along with you.

What unfortunate circumstances must align for the worst to happen? The explanation could lie with any of a number of factors:

  • Needing to be unloaded and transferred to a connecting flight in one hour or less.
  • High volume of luggage, which ups the chances of things going wrong.
  • Slipping off the conveyor belt or into the wrong chute (This is more likely to happen when bags are placed on the conveyor wheels-down).
  • Human error. If the check-in clerk inaccurately labels the destination code, your bag doesn’t stand a chance. Likewise, the bag may get loaded onto the wrong wagon (and therefore the wrong plane).
  • Having multiple connections. The more often a bag needs to be unloaded, redirected, and loaded onto a new plane, the higher the chances of things going awry.

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How to Decrease the Odds of a Bag Getting Lost

While you may not be able to control everything that happens to a bag after check-in, take these steps to up the chances of luggage finding its way back to you:

  • Clearly label the bag with your name, address, and destination—both inside and out. Also apply some kind of visual identifier to the outside of the bag so it’s easy to describe to agents if it goes missing. Even better? Take a picture of the bag, including its ID tag and barcode, before it rolls off down the conveyor.
  • Get to the airport on time. Proper trip planning can help ensure there’s enough time between connections for bags to make it onto the plane along with you.
  • Know the rules regarding prohibited items, TSA-approved locks, and the like—and then follow them.
  • Tie up (or tuck in) all straps. Bag straps can get stuck in conveyors, creating delays in the sorting process (Depending on the length of said delays, this could mean that a bag won’t make it onto its flight).
  • Keep the essentials on hand at all times. Don’t check anything you can’t live without. Stash prescriptions, valuables, electronics, money, and an extra change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case. Be sure to follow all regulations so you don’t spend a ton of time in security.

If nothing else, perhaps learning about the wild adventures of checked luggage will make us all a little more grateful for the human way of flying. While babies may cry and people may recline their seats into your lap, it still beats sitting in the cargo hold.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 16, 2015.

Food on the Fly: Successful Self-Catering

Picture yourself at lunch in Paris, sitting at a sidewalk café, eating salade niçoise and gazing at the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Perfection, non? Doesn’t get much better than that.

Unless, of course, you were dining in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

This is the magic of self-catering. Skipping the restaurant meals in favor of a grocery bag full of goodies can lead to magical travel memories of perfect picnics, exotic delicacies and adventurous eating. You’ll also save a little money along the way. Start turning meals into memories with these tips for successful self-catering.

Marketplace Magic

Word of warning: Once you start shopping local markets, you may never go to a restaurant again. When food becomes this much fun, you won’t want to. Barcelona’s La Boqueria, for example, is a vibrant sensory experience, awash in color and sound. It’s a photography buff’s dream. Here, you can sip a cup of fresh-squeezed juice in any flavor imaginable while you stock up on authentic Catalonian lunch fare — plus some goodies to enjoy while people watching from your balcony during a siestaat Arc La Rambla.

Locally Made Goodness

Seek out small shops. You’ll find delicious, fresh-made local fare, with the bonus of a more personal touch. Since meeting new people is one of the best parts of travel, visiting friendly mom-and-pop shops makes for a truly special travel experience. Bakeries are a great place to start; try stepping out of your hotel in Paris and follow your nose to a fresh-baked baguette. It’s hard to imagine a greater joy than ripping off warm hunks of bread on your way to the Champs-Élysées.

Picnic Perfection

With self-catering, where you eat is just as important as what’s on the menu. Casually enjoying a leisurely meal in an iconic location is an experience you’ll never forget. While enjoying a stay in any of thesefamily-friendly New York City hotels, take the gang for a picnic in Central Park. The kids will love playing in the green expanse while you all fuel up for a visit to Strawberry Fields or the Central Park Zoo.

To truly feel like a native Londoner on your next U.K. visit, join the locals enjoying their lunch against the backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica. Or enjoy a picnic in St. James Park, with a view of Buckingham Palace.

Explore, Experiment, Enjoy

Travel is all about new experiences. Start with these tips, and then experiment away. Whether it’s sun-dried tomatoes and ciabatta in Rome or dolmades in Istanbul, you’ll soon be crafting your own incredible self-catering experiences and turning meals into memories. Bon appétit!

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 21, 2015.

The Most Expensive Postcodes in the World

Which streets around the UK and the world attract the richest and most famous home buyers? Which neighbourhoods have the priciest home values, where a house for only a million pounds looks like a bargain?

The Highest Priced Homes in the UK Are in London

The most expensive neighbourhood in the UK is Kensington, which also has the most expensive street which is the famous Kensington Palace Gardens. This street is the exclusive home of international ambassadors, royalty and billionaires. The average mansion on this street is worth a whopping total of more than £22 million.

Some of the other most expensive streets in London include The Boltons where the average price for a property is over £18.5 million and Frognal Way where the prices average at £10.9 million.

London is becoming a popular haven for second homes for the super-rich from all over the world. In fact, only 11 out of 19 billionaires who live in London today are British. In fact, the area of Eaton Square in SW1W has gotten the nickname “Red Square” because of the many super-rich Russian millionaires living there. There are also plenty of oil-rich home owners from the Middle East buying homes in cash without a mortgage. The attraction is partly due to the quality of the school, financial and judicial systems in the UK.

Another pricy property area is the postcode SW3 which is the area which is located between Chelsea and Brompton. The average home prices for this area are around £1.95 million for the beautiful white stucco houses next to King’s Road.

Most Expensive Homes Outside of London

What about when we venture outside of the capital city? Virginia Water in Surrey, where the exclusive Wentworth Golf Club is located, is the most expensive area outside of London. The average prices in this beautiful wealthy oasis are around £968,000. Some of the other most expensive areas outside of London are Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire and Cobham, Surrey. These locations are really just an extension of London where stockbrokers buy huge houses for their families to live in exclusive developments and commute to the city to work.

In fact, all of the most expensive postcodes in Britain are either inside London or within commuting distance from the city. As soon as you get away from the outskirts of London and the surrounding towns the prices drop significantly.

The Most Expensive Homes in the World

On a global scale, what are the most expensive homes in the entire world?

The most expensive home in the world at the moment is a 27-story 40,000 square foot tower nicknamed “Antilla” in Mumbai. It is the home of the head of the petrochemical company Reliance Industries. The home has six stories of parking space alone, not to mention the living quarters and numerous lounges. The home itself has a staff of 600 servants! The budget for the construction of this amazing property is somewhere around £637 million.
Another one of the world’s most expensive properties is the gorgeous Villa Leopolda, which is a sprawling 29,000 square foot villa on the French Riviera. With a swimming pool, a landscaped garden, 11 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms and some of the best views of the sea in France, living in this huge home would be absolute paradise. The home was originally designed for the mistress of the Belgian King Leopold and throughout history it has been owned by the richest of the rich, including Fiat tycoon Gianni Agnelli and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. This amazing home is valued at $506 million.

Other expensive locales to buy property include Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore and Tokyo. Buying a property in the priciest neighbourhoods of any of these cities will ensure that your neighbours will all be super wealthy millionaires.

Have you ever wondered where the most expensive homes in the world are? Here are some of the priciest postcodes in existence, where the owners most definitely have invested in high net worth home insurance.

Author Bio
Charlotte loves to blog about Prestigious Luxuries, Food and Drink covering a range of luxurious topics from high-end fashion to prestige car insurance. She also loves to eat healthily.

Mayors of London and New York announce tourism agreement to boost visits between cities

Mayor of London Boris Johnson and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a two-year tourism agreement between New York City and London to boost travel between the two cities.

The cities will provide each other with outdoor media advertising space and NYC & Company and Visit London – their respective tourism arms – will share best practices as a way to maximise travel between the two destinations and will assist each other with at least one publicity event in each city.

The Mayors made the announcement during an international conference at Columbia University where the two Mayors met to discuss their financial sectors, the diversification of their economies, building and maintaining their capital plants and expanding housing affordability. Visit London CEO Sally Chatterejee and NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta, and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger joined the Mayors for the announcement.

Mayor Boris Johnson said: ‘London and New York City share many similarities, including a strong sense of optimism and determination, along with a great appreciation for diversity and innovation. Our common cultural ties, not least absolute dedication to providing world-class services and experiences for both residents and visitors, make the two cities exceptionally well poised to combine knowledge as well as resources to impact the economies and future of the cities.’

Mayor Bloomberg said: ‘Now more than ever – as we work to limit the effects of the ongoing global financial downturn – it is important to find new ways to grow a diverse array of economic sectors, and tourism is among the most important for New York City. New York City and London – both significant sources of travel for each other market – can learn a great deal from one other and we will work together to highlight each other’s strengths and remain leading global cities.’

Sally Chatterjee, CEO Visit London, said: ‘As well as being large sources of overseas travel for each market, New York City and London are also big supporters of each other. We look forward to working with NYC & Company and see both our organizations continuing to strive for best practice in our role as world-leading destinations. This is an exciting first step in what we expect to be a very fruitful partnership.’

George Fertitta, CEO NYC & Company, said: ‘Tourism will undoubtedly be one of the industries that helps aid our local economy through the recovery of the recession and we are working harder than ever to promote it. Through this agreement between NYC & Company and Visit London we are declaring not only a commitment to driving travel between London and NYC but also a vow of the continued friendship between the two cities.’

Under the two-year tourism agreement New York City will exchange 71 bus shelters with London that will run in New York City for 4 weeks per year. In return, London will exchange 250 posters for four weeks on the London Underground system twice per year.

The yearly value of each city’s media is $178,500. The agreement will be a two-year deal – $357,000 to London and $357,000 back to NYC from London. Also as part of the agreement, NYC & Company and Visit London have agreed to share best practices in their endeavours to boost tourism and to assist each other with at least one publicity event in their respective cities.

Americans made almost 2 million visits to London last year and America remains London’s number one market for international visitors. Similarly, last year New York City welcomed a record 1,328,000 visitors from the UK, surpassing the record 1,237,000 visitors in 2007, making it the City’s number one source of international visitors. New York City is the number one destination for UK travellers to the US.

The Mayor of London is in New York City to spearhead a series of plans promoting leisure and business travel to the British capital from the United States. With the value of the dollar against the British pound strongly in favour of trips by American visitors, the Mayor is driving home the message that there’s never been a better time to come to London.

Today Visit London also launched its £1millon ‘Only in London’ marketing campaign, which runs in the US from 15 September to 19 November. The promotion will celebrate the sights, sounds and experiences that are unique to the British capital’s history, heritage and culture. The campaign – partnered by Radisson Edwardian hotels and British Airways – will run nationally in the United States (New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco) as well as Canada (Toronto). The promotion will highlight value deals as well the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to spend New Year’s Eve in London including a New Year’s Eve dinner on the Thames through Bateaux London, a VIP Pass to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, a champagne flight on the London Eye, a private visit to the Royal Academy of Arts, a day trip on Eurostar and a VIP tour of Wembley Stadium.

The Mayor of London will also meet today with competition winners boarding a British Airways (BA) flight to London at JFK Airport as part of an initiative to stimulate business travel from the United States.

The BA “Face to Face” initiative follows research by Harvard Business School which shows that while business travel budgets have tightened during the economic downturn, global business executives say face-to-face meetings remain a crucial part of selling new business and building partnerships.

Source: london.gov.uk