Saturday, January 29, 2011

Infant Seat Causes Removal from Plane

Airline Infant SeatEver thought about purchasing a separate seat on a plane for your baby? If so, then you might want to think twice because a mother in California has been removed from her plane after doing what she thought was the right thing.

Melissa Bradley, 39, has said that she has encountered problems twice in the last month with airline seats being too narrow for her infant carrier. And not just any carrier but her Federal Aviation Administration-approved infant carrier. According to Bradley, she was forced off of her flight on United Airlines Flight 75 at the San Francisco International Airport in a dispute over an economy-class row that was too narrow to fit the infant carrier that she was transporting her 1-year-old daughter in.

In a statement from Rahsaan Johnson, spokesman for United Airlines, Rahsaan stated that Bradley was removed because she was disruptive. "The customer refused the flight attendant's numerous attempts to accommodate her and the infant seat that unfortunately would not fit her assigned seat," said Johnson. "The captain elected to have the customer and her party removed after she became disruptive, interfering with the crew's ability to prepare the cabin for a safe departure and taking pictures of other customers on board, even after they asked her to stop."

Bradley also encountered problems with her infant carrier, the last time being two days before Christmas, on a Skywest flight leaving from Aspen, Colorado to San Francisco. However, in that instance Bradley was not asked to leave the plane. Federal officials do urge their passengers to place their children in a child seat on planes. Bradley stated that she took a picture of the narrow row on the United plane because an FAA inspector with whom she spoke after her incident with Skywest asked her for a picture. Bradley also denied the fact that she was being disruptive.

According to FAA safety regulations, airlines cannot prohibit the use of an approved safety seat. According to Kate Hanni, founder of, "The airline had the responsibility to move them - with the same class of service - and that's where United failed." Johnson added that passengers who paid for extra leg room in Economy Plus offered to trade seats with Bradley but she refused.

"That is absolutely not true," stated Bradley in an interview with from Hawaii. "I would have been so happy to have a seat." Bradley also exclaimed that she would have accepted a seat away from her family and flying companions. "I told them: 'All I'm asking is for my baby and me to be moved'...I said that so many times." Bradley stated that she even called a United customer service representative two weeks before the flight to ask what needed to be done in order for her to use her infant carrier on the flight. Bradley said that she was told to just inform the United employees when she arrived. However, Bradley said that when she arrived on the plane the rows in the economy section were too close together to fit her Graco Snug Ride infant carrier which is approved by the FAA.

Bradley, who also has four other children in addition to her 1-year-old daughter, said that she has been using infant carriers on planes for years with no problems until now. According to Bradley, United did book her, her family and her companions on a later flight to Honolulu and that the rows were far enough apart on that plane to accommodate her infant carrier. "Honestly, this was the last thing I wanted to have happen on that plane," Bradley said. "I begged them to accommodate me."

Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board , has been campaigning for regulations that would require all infants and young children to be secured in child seats on planes. She says that children deserve the same safety protections as seat-belted adults. An aviation advisory panel for the Transportation Department recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration conduct a new study on the issue last month.
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Cruise Lines Depart from Southern California for Other Home Ports Across the Globe

Carnival Cruise ShipGoing on a cruise is one of the best vacations anybody could possibly take. Having been on two cruises to the Caribbean myself, I can certainly say that the experience of being on the ship alone is worth it. However, getting on a cruise may be tougher than you think, especially in California where reports have been piling in of cruise lines pulling out of ports in Southern California due to economic problems and fears over traveling to Mexico.

Carnival Cruise Lines, as well as other operators, are pulling out the last of their ships from Southern California due to, like I said, economic woes and fears over traveling to Mexico. Yesterday, Carnival announced that its 2,500-passenger Carnival Spirit is moving to Australia by April 2012. This move will unfortunately cost the local economy around $54 million according to the Port of San Diego. The Carnival Spirit transports more than 60,000 passengers per year to destinations along the Mexican Riviera.

The Mariner of the Seas, the 3,100-passenger ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet, is leaving on its final voyage from the Port of Los Angeles on Sunday. After a tour in South America, the Mariner of the Seas will end up at Galveston, Texas, its new home port. In addition to that, Royal Caribbean's other large ship, the 2,348-passenger Norwegian Star, will also be leaving Los Angeles in May for its new home in Tampa, Florida. These two ships combined carried nearly 50% of the business of the Port of Los Angeles in 2009.

Both cruises I went on departed out of Florida and the cruise industry is seeing signs of recovery in Florida as well as other locations. However, persistent drug-related violence has caused fading interest in cruises to Mexico which was the primary destination of California-based ships. Authorities in Mexico recently found the bodies of 30 new victims, 15 of which had been beheaded, in Acapulco.

While the cruise industry managed to see a rebound in 2010, the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego together saw a decrease. According to Chris Chase, Marketing Director for the Port of Los Angeles, "We are struggling with our many ships to Mexico. It's the economy and the news of drug wars down there."

The number of ships that docked at the Embarcadero in San Diego was 255 in 2008. However, this is said to decrease to 103 this year. By 2013 the number of cruise ships in San Diego could fall to as low as only 76. The Elation, another one of Carnival's ships, was relocated from San Diego to Mobile, Alabama last spring.

According to Carnival Spokesman Vance Gulliksen, "Our decision to deploy the Carnival Spirit to Australia was based on the weaker relative financial performance of our San Diego program at present. Only about 1.5% of Australians have ever taken a cruise, meaning that there is a huge potential for growth." Holland America, a division of Carnival's parent company, is still going to offer cruise lines to Mexico, Hawaii, Panama Canal and South America from San Diego.

In the first six months of 2010, only 187 cruises docked in Mexican ports. Compare this to the 290 that docked in the same period in 2008 and you have quite a decrease. Port officials, as well as the travel industry, have tried to emphasize the minimal danger to tourists in Mexico by pointing out that most of the violence in Mexico takes place far from cruise destinations. However, that message has a hard time competing with images of decapitated bodies in the media.

In a statement from Terry Thornton, a Senior Vice President at Carnival, he stated that business in Mexico was being "negatively affected by the highly publicized incidents of violent crime." He went on to say that, "Fortunately, these incidents have really not been focused on tourists." Other people merely associate the loss of business as part of a constant cycle that comes with the oceanic travel industry and believe the slump will pass.

What about you? Do you think that this is just a common slump or do you believe the news is affecting travelers? Are you affected by the news? Or would you still be willing to take a cruise to Mexico? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Source: MSNBC

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hotel Tax in Rome Takes Effect

Planning on visiting Rome any time soon? Well, why not? It is only one of the most beautiful and most visited cities in the world! While it is true that the city of Rome is truly a wonderful place to visit, there are some things you might want to know about before you pack up the family and book a tour of The Colosseum. Visitors to the historic city are going to be hit by a new tax on tourism this year.

Starting yesterday, January 1, 2011, all visitors to Rome are expected to pay a per-person per-night tax on the first ten nights of their vacation. The rates vary on what type of hotel you are staying in. Guests staying in a one to three star hotel will be expected to pay 2 Euros per night whereas people in four and five star hotels will be asked for 3 Euros per night.

This tax will be collected at the end of your stay in Rome and funds generated by the tax will be used to financially assist city authorities in efforts to organize urban services. According to officials, authorities wish to ensure that the standard of your stay is highly efficient and of the best possible quality. Visitors to youth hostels will not have to pay the fee, but there is a 1 Euro fee for a maximum of five days if you decide to stay at a campsite inside the city boundaries.

Bed and breakfast accommodations and farm inns will require a 2 Euro payment for a maximum of ten days. There is also a fee asked from anyone who has booked or paid for a trip through a travel agency or tour operator. You then have to pay by presenting a voucher at the reception desk.

It remains to be seen how this will affect the travel industry in Rome. With money being tight, at least in America, these extra fees may cause people to take their travels elsewhere.

Source: Breaking Travel News
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