Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vacation in Style: How to Score a Private Jet Flight

Written by Laura Chapman

If you've ever dreamed about flying off on holiday aboard your own private jet, your dreams may be about to come true. It’s a fact: flying privately is no longer a privilege reserved for the extremely rich and famous. How is this possible? Surely it costs many thousands of pounds to hire a private jet? Wrong: A seat on a private jet can now cost little more than a seat on a commercial airline.

Private jets in Europe carry an average of just over two passengers per journey, despite the fact that the aircrafts are usually designed to seat between eight and 12 people. Furthermore, 40% of these jets fly completely empty on their return journeys in Europe, and a staggering 60% in the USA. An increasing number of budding entrepreneurs are tapping into this market and setting up companies that offer passengers huge discounts on private flying – through group bookings and through bidding for otherwise empty return legs.

Accessible to “everyday passengers”
One such company in the US is Social Flights. CEO, Jay Deragon, claims that his company makes flying private available to everyday passengers. The Beta-tested site offers its members within the US the option to purchase individual seats on private jets, as opposed to having to hire the entire plane.  The site also offers the charter of a whole plane at an affordable rate by pooling together with other members that are looking to fly to the same locations at the same times.

Social Flights is proving extremely popular; within a few months of its launch, the company already had over 8,400 members. Between them, they access a fleet of more than 500 private jets. Deragon explains that his company gives people the ability and freedom to organize their travel either on their own or with others.

New method of transport
For European flights Victor offers a similar service. The company, run by successful entrepreneur Clive Jackson, offers members of the public almost half a million possible routes. It covers flights between almost a thousand European airports and has access to 200 aircraft. Jackson claims that, as the site grows in popularity, he is able to add increasing numbers of routes to customers. Victor now has over 2,100 members and is growing fast as people get used to the idea of this new and attractive method of transport. It’s easy to see why companies like Victor and Social Flights are becoming so popular. A seat on a flight from Luton to Malaga, for example, is currently being offered for £1,532 through Victor, as opposed to costing around £10,000 if you were to fly solo. It is still considerably more than an economy seat with a more conventional airline, agreed. However, the huge cut in costs makes private jet flying a lot more accessible for people that otherwise would not be able to afford it.

Revolutionizing the travel industry
This new mode of transport is being tipped to revolutionize the travel industry, and it is the power of social media, crowd collaboration and travel technology that is driving it. Both of the above companies depend on interaction and active participation from their members in order to succeed, and both use innovations in travel technology through sites that enable new services. The overall cost of a seat on board a private jet from Victor, for example, depends on how many other people want to fly with you. This therefore encourages the site’s community of members to encourage each other to fly; the more contact you make with other members, the more chance you have of finding other people that will share the cost of the jet with you.

Members can publish posts offering their desired point to point trip or book themselves onto an existing flight and then call on their social network to help fill that plane. In some cases, this activity can see the cost of each seat on the jet fall to below that of many commercial airlines.

So, next time you think about booking that holiday abroad, and you shudder at the thought of airport check-in queues and cramped seats, have a little browse on some of these sites. As more and more companies tap into this trend, these deals are sure to become even more accessible for the masses. Who knows; next time you have your summer holiday you could be enjoying all same luxuries as the rich and famous on board your own private jet.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Best Tech Gadgets To Use On An Overseas Trip

Posted by John Beagle 
Written by Ryan Franklin

Are you getting ready to trek overseas for work or vacation? There is no need to leave all your favorite gadgets at home. Part of the fun of traveling can be recording your experiences with a camera, or enjoying your beloved e-reader and portable DVD player in an unfamiliar land. Plus, here are three travel specific gadgets that will make your overseas trip even better:

1.     You might not be a polyglot, but your electronic Franklin Global Translator is! Especially if your trip will take you through a variety of different countries, a guidebook for each language may not be practical to stuff in your pack. Plus, one of the most exciting parts about traveling is that you never know when you’ll end up in a bar with a group of people from all the corners of the world. This global translator speaks 12,000 pre-programmed phrases and knows 450,000 words in 12 different languages.

2.     What good is a gadget if it’s all out of juice? One of the smartest things you can bring along with you on your overseas trip is a travel adapter. When you travel outside of North America, you are going to encounter a surprisingly wide array of electrical systems, which means unusual plug configurations and non-standardized voltages. Shoot for a combination converter/adapter like the Conair Travel Smart that will allow you to both adapt to different plugs and convert the voltage to appropriate amounts. You can usually ascertain pretty quickly which sort of plug you need, but the voltage question may be trickier. It’s nice to have just one device for both purposes.

3.     If you have ever traveled to a third world country, you probably already know the lecture: don’t drink the water, and don’t eat the street food! But with the SteriPen Ultraviolet Bacteria and Pathogen Killing Water Wand, you can drink easy. Simply stick this purifier into a glass or bottle of water and turn it on. It only needs about 48 seconds to transform 16 ounces into safe, potable water.

Remember, make sure to keep your gadgets locked up and secured while you’re traveling!

Ryan Franklin is a guest blogger who writes about international travel and the benefits of air charters. He is based in Teterboro.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Google Maps Now Offer Real-time Arrival Estimations

If you are going somewhere and need to get there as quickly as possible, Google Maps can now offer you some assistance.

Google Maps has upgraded and now allows users to see an estimated arrival time based on real-time traffic conditions. When you go to Google Maps and search for directions to wherever you are going, you will now have a few options. You will be shown several different routes on the map with arrival times based on if there is no traffic, as well as different routes with arrival times based on the current traffic conditions at that time.

"In areas where the information is available, this new and improved feature evaluates current traffic conditions and is constantly being refreshed to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date estimate possible," wrote Szabolcs Payrits, the software engineer for Google Maps, in a post on Thursday, March 30.

Some people might remember that in the past Google Maps had something similar to the estimated travel-time based on traffic conditions. It used to say something to the effect that if there was traffic, it could take this long to arrive at your destination. However, these estimated times were based on historic traffic data. Now, Google Maps will be much more helpful with the real-time traffic updates.

"We hope being able to plan your travels based on current traffic information saves you time and perhaps even prevents some road frustration," Payrits wrote. "Happy driving!"

Sources: PCMag - Google Maps Directions Gets Real-Time Traffic and Google Blog - Find out you trip duration based on current traffic

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Friday, March 9, 2012

FAA Claims Air Travel to Double by 2032

FAAIt seems as if the airline industry, surprisingly, has a very good chance of making some profit over the next 20 years as demand for air travel starts to grow around the world. What's even better, for passengers at least, is that the price of flying will only increase slowly over that time, meaning no outrageous jumps in prices like other things *cough*GasPrices*cough*.

This prediction comes by way of a Federal Aviation Administration report that was released on Thursday. The report was over the current state of the United States airline industry and the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2012-2032.

According to the report, "Over the long term, we see a competitive and profitable industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel and airfares growing more slowly than inflation. Going to the next decade, there is cautious optimism that the industry has been transformed from that of a boom-to-bust cycle to one of sustainable profits."

In addition to that, the report predicts more demand for air travel despite rising oil prices and the current economic uncertainty seen in both the United States and Europe. The report predicts that the airline industry will grow from 731 million passengers in 2011 to 1.2 billion in 2032. Air traffic growth for United States carriers is also expected to increase by over 90% during that same period. U.S. growth increased by 3.5% in 2011 and, according to FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, "This year, more people will be flying more miles, and we expect that to continue in future years."

The FAA does admit that forecasting things like this is extremely difficult, especially in times of such severe economic uncertainty. According to the report, "Due to the large uncertainty of the operating environment, the variance around the forecasts is wider than it was in prior years."

Source: Chicago Tribune - Air travel to nearly double in next 20 years, FAA says

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Delta Adds In-Flight WiFi to All Shuttle Flights

Delta AirlinesYou know what they say about technology on airplanes, "Don't use it because you will cause the plane to crash and burn!" Well, if that's true then Delta Air Lines didn't get the message, as the company recently revealed that it has officially installed WiFi on all of its Delta Shuttle aircraft that fly between New York LaGuardia and both Boston and Washington Reagan National. In addition to that, Delta brands its frequent service between LaGuardia and Chicago O'Hare as Delta Shuttle as well.

According to a statement released by Delta's Senior Vice President in New York Gail Grimmett, "We are thrilled that WiFi is now available to our Delta Shuttle customers as it's a perfect complement to other Shuttle amenities including free morning coffee and newspapers."

Delta is also claiming that they are the first carrier to install WiFi across its entire mainline and two-class regional fleet. Delta said that "when WiFi installations on regional jets are complete, more than 400,000 Delta customers on more than 3,000 daily flights will have the in-flight connectivity on a fleet that already makes up nearly half of the world's WiFi equipped aircraft."

WiFi will definitely be a big business generator for Delta as many traveling businessmen will relish the opportunity to check email and make business transactions and decisions mid-flight. Heck, people will just love to be able to Tweet and update Facebook with something like "30,000 feet in the air right now on my way to the Big Apple!".

Source: USA Today - Delta: All Shuttle flights now have in-flight Wi-Fi

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Monday, February 13, 2012

U.S. Urges Caution When Traveling to Mexico for Spring Break

Spring BreakSpring Break. It's one of the biggest highlights for college students as millions will be traveling far and wide to exotic, sunny and festive locales around the world to celebrate that highly desired week off of classes. However, weeks before students begin embarking on their trips, the United States State Department is warning about the possible dangers of traveling to Mexico this Spring Break.

The State Department is urging Americans to avoid going to all or just parts of nearly half the states in the country due to the fact that Mexico is experiencing a dramatic growth in drug-related violence. The State Department is also advising caution for students who plan on traveling to three other border states as well as many areas of Central and Western Mexico, areas where drug cartels have been warring.

A lot of Mexican elected officials have decried the warning for its potential impact on the country's tourism rates (especially during Spring Break) and on the country's economy. Mexico is one of the top destinations for millions of U.S. citizens every year, including over 100,000 who go there for Spring Break, the State Department says. Over 150,000 cross the borders every day.

According to a statement from the State Department's website, "The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality." Regardless, United States citizens have already been casualties of the increasing violence in Mexico.

Source: Fox News - US Warns About Travel to Mexico as Spring Break Looms

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Dolly Parton Set to Open New Water-Snow Park in Nashville

DollywoodThe Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton, is set to open up yet another attraction in Tennessee, though this time the park will be a little different. The new park is something called a water-snow park and is being described as the first of its kind in the country. The park is set to open in Nashville and will join Parton's many other Tennessee attractions.

Announced on Thursday, the same day as the singer's 66th birthday, the new $50 million park is 114 acres and is believed to be opening in the summer of 2014. According to a statement from Parton, "I'm not a bit afraid of competing with myself. They are far enough apart. I live in Nashville, so it's natural for me to have two working places."

The new water-snow park will be a partnership with Gaylord Entertainment, the same company that owns the vast Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center as well as the Grand Ole Opry county music show also located in Nashville. During the first full season of the park, 500,000 visitors are expected and the park will use 450 full and part-time employees.

As far as details go, there aren't many. Chairman and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment stated that there will be special winter festivities as well as "lots of music" and that an additional 35 acres have already been purchased in the event of expansion. Dollywood and Splash Country bring in around 4 million visitors each year. The park opened back in 1986 with the water park opening in 2001. In addition to those parks, Parton owns the Dixie Stampede dinner theater located in Pigeon Forge.

Being a winter park as well as a summer, there are concerns that the cold winter weather may hinder attendance. However, as far as Parton is concerned, "Unless there's a blizzard, we'll be ready for 'em." Reed also added that he believes the new park will help increase attendance at Parton's other attractions as well.

Overall, thoughts on the project are positive with Reed and Parton describing their partnership as a 50-50 with no worries about financing. "We have a strong balance sheet and an icon like Dolly with us," Reed said and Tennessee Governor Bill Hastlam added, "The idea is a big one. If you think about it, the state lives off sales tax. And this will be something that will mean new dollars for Tennessee."

Source: Detroit Free Press - Dolly Parton plans water, snow park
CBS News - Dolly Parton plans Nashville water/snow park

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Air Travel Set to Increase in 2012 Along with Airfares

Airport Bag CheckAccording to a hypothesis by AirpotParkingReservations.com, an airport parking aggregator, the new year means new opportunities for travel, and U.S. travelers are going to take to traveling via air a lot more in 2012. Air travel in the United States increased around 6% in 2011 and that increase is likely to continue well into 2012 as U.S. citizens schedule more trips and increase their overall travel budgets.

AirportParkingReservations.com has seen an upturn in reservations in many different markets. Owners believe that the increased air travel trend will also be supported by increased enplanement figures at a lot of the major airports when they are released by the Department of Transportation later in the year. TripAdvisor's annual travel trends survey saw 79% of participants saying they will spend a minimum of $3,000 on travel in 2012 with 57% saying they will spend $5,000. These increased budgets will be essential since airfares are predicted to increase with the decrease in airlines on the market.

The second quarter of 2011 foreshadowed the higher ticket prices when the average domestic airfare increased by 8.5% over 2010 to $370 per ticket. In addition to that, American Airlines' recent bankruptcy announcement illustrates the industry's financial burdens, which will continue to take their toll on travelers in the form of increased ticket prices.

New mileage-based fees will also go into effect in 2012, which will only serve to further increase ticket prices. The good news is that the Department of Transportation's new rules on disclosing all airline fees upfront are scheduled to begin in the next few months, so passengers will no longer be unaware of all the "extras" they are paying for.

The economy is in the toilet and airfare prices are increasing, but that isn't stopping hard-working Americans from going on some well-deserved vacations this year. Maybe the economy is doing slightly better, allowing for these increased vacation allowances, or maybe people just don't care about money because they believe that the world is going to end this year? Hopefully it isn't the latter.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle - 2012 Air Travel Forecast Predicts Increases in Travel and Airfares

Sunday, January 1, 2012

United Kingdom Most Popular Travel Destination in 2011

United Kingdom2011 is over and 2012 has begun! The old year went out with a bang, the same way the new year started, but just because 2011 is over doesn't mean that it is forgotten. Citizens of Planet Earth did a lot of traveling last year to places all over the world but only one place could top the list as the most popular travel destination of 2011. While you may think that places like the Caribbean, the Bahamas or some other tropical place would be the most popular, it seems most travelers disagree because the most popular travel destination of 2011 was Britain, according to a study done by Expedia.

Travel to Britain saw a 10% increase in 2011 over 2010 and it appears as if the trend of domestic breaks is poised to continue strong in 2012 as well. Lots of new things to do in the region, like local culinary tours and cooking classes, as well as the increase in local bicycle shops, like Boris Bikes in London, are encouraging people to explore the country in new and exciting ways.

Andy Washington, Managing Director of Expedia UK and Ireland, stated, "It has been an eventful year for the travel industry and a tough year for certain popular travel destinations, but we've noticed time and time again that people tend to forego their annual holiday. It's encouraging to see that Brits are taking advantage of the multitude of attractions closer to home in the UK and embracing 'staycations'. 2011 has highlighted the mixed approach to holidaying taken by Brits in troubled times."

Washington also added, "As some are drawn to holidaying at home, others simply look for alternative destinations - with Spain and Turkey particularly growing in popularity during the Arab Spring. The other notable trend was deal hunting - with savvy travelers taking advantage of the great deals to be had in destinations like Egypt and Japan as these destinations recover. Yet what's absolutely clear is our determination to keep our holidays."

Expedia's study listed the top 10 traveling destinations for 2011 as:

  1. Southern UK regions

  2. London

  3. New York

  4. Paris

  5. Las Vegas

  6. Rome

  7. Amsterdam

  8. Barcelona

  9. Regional Northern France

  10. Edinburgh

Trends are supposed to continue strong into 2012, maybe because a vast majority of the population believes that the world is going to "end" this year. It seems that all these doomsdayers are trying to accomplish what they can before the Mayan calendar wipes us all out.

Source: Travel News - The UK topped most popular destination for travelers in 2011

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