Urban art painted on the side of a five-star hotel in Boston? That’s what Simon Mais, general manager of the new Boston hotel, The Revere, permitted to promote an exhibition opening for two Brazilian artists who happen to be twins. When in Jerusalem, don’t miss a visit to Yad Vashem, the stunning museum dedicated to the history of the Holocaust. Guide Hazy Flint–who recently walked Rudy around the museum–describes why remembering the terrible past is so important.
Travel blogger David Rowell says California’s plan for a bullet train is overpriced and ill-conceived. San Francisco travel writer Chris Barnett offers a first-person report on riding the slow Amtrak train that runs along the California coast. And Rudy closes the show with a few deals of the week.
The co-founder of a cultural exchange organization called World Weavers, Ben Bowler, joins Rudy to discuss his “Muslim for a Month” project. Actually, it’s not a month, but a ten-day program in Turkey that allows a participant to learn what it’s like to be a Muslim in the Sufi branch of that religion. (You’ve heard of “whirling Dervishes”? They’re adherents to Sufism who are inspired by the life and works of the famous Persian poet Rumi who believed dance and music brought worshipers closer to God.) You’ll live in a Sufi lodge in Istanbul’s old city, partner with a Muslim family, and take some escorted side trips. (You’ll get to tour Istanbul, as well.) $1,500 covers all meals, lodging, and trips for the 10 days; the next event begins Sept. 16.
William McGee, author of the new book that takes a harsh look at America’s system of commercial aviation, Attention All Passengers, warns against the practice of flying with a child two years or younger in your lap and discusses the potential danger of our overcrowded airlines. (And if you missed his first appearance on the show last Saturday in which he discussed the lack of federal oversight of airline maintenance, it’s worth a listen.)
You might recall about ten days ago when a Delta flight from Pittsburgh to Newark was delayed when a swarm of 10,000 or more bees attached itself to the wing of the plane. The beekeeper who was summoned to the airport to gently remove those bees (who were looking for a new home), Stephen Repasky, describes how he did it. It wasn’t the first time he’d been summoned to Pittsburgh’s airport for such a task. And Travelocity.com’s senior editor, Courtney Scott, offers suggestions for last-minute travel for Labor Day weekend. Rudy also shares some great travel deals and reports the week’s news in travel.
What’s the deal here? The American Hotel & Lodging Association reports while more motels and hotels are offering guests free breakfasts (of varying quality, one might note), the number of properties charging for Wi-fi and the use of exercise rooms is on the rise. This, despite the fact that countless surveys show the one thing that irritates most guests is having to pay for Internet connectivity. Rudy confirms the trend with Minneapolis hotelier Gerard Viardin, general manager of The Marquette Hotel, a luxury Hilton property. Viardin says he recently had to upgrade his Wi-fi system in his 300+ room hotel, and it cost the hotel $200,000. In short, free Wi-fi isn’t free for the hotel.
If you like spy novels or Istanbul–or better yet, both–you’ll really love Joseph Kanon’s new novel, Istanbul Passage. Rudy invited Kanon to the show to discuss how a writer evokes a sense of place and how important that is to a novel and its author. Lose yourself in his story, and you’ll think you’ve traveled to Turkey. And Charles Leocha, co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, says despite airlines’ protestations, it is possible for them to let consumers know the total cost of their flight (fees included) efficiently when selling tickets on line. Leocha is a member of a Department of Transportation (DOT) advisory board looking into airlines and their consumer practices, and he says it’s just a matter of time until the DOT compels airlines to be more forthcoming about the real price of a ticket.
Plus: Rudy answers a listener’s question about obtaining a visa to visit Brazil, reveals a few travel deals, and reports some additional current travel news.
Our man in London, former NBC-TV exec in charge of Olympics logistics, Vic Garvey, checks in with his final report on the London summer games. And in case you think of a cruise as a place where you can leave the world behind, maritime security expert Randall Jaques says crimes on the high sea occur more frequently that we think. Besides thefts, sexual harassment, rape and child molestation occur but are often not reported by victims out of embarrassment. Jaques says it’s not just crew members who might have a criminal record; there are men who buy tickets to go on cruises with the express intent to commit a crime, that cruise ships are a “buffet” for sexual predators. And he offers a series of suggestions on how to stay safe while cruising.
American commercial aviation has enjoyed a very good safety record the past several years. But journalist and former flight operations manager William McGee writes in his new book, Attention All Passengers, that outsourcing the maintenance of planes to Asian countries and others such as El Salvador make it difficult for federal safety inspectors to keep an eye on the work practices and replacement parts being used to keep aircraft safe. And, finally, what lengths will travelers go to to avoid having a stranger sit next to them? A Yale graduate student of sociology, Esther Kim, rode buses around the US for three years cataloging the behavior of folks in this regard. Fascinating stuff. Plus, Rudy has the latest in travel news and his deals of the week.
Recently, United Air Lines decided members of the first tier of its frequent flyer program—called Premier—would only be able to check one bag free instead of two as before. The airline also decreed that instead of being able to book a coach seat with extra legroom when making a reservation, Premier members could only receive one of those seats if there were any available at check in. Keep in mind that to achieve Premier status, most passengers have to fly 25,000 miles in a year—about equivalent to circumnavigating the globe—so they could take advantage of those perks the next year. And some of those folks may have taken less convenient—or more expensive—flights or even unnecessary flights we call “mileage runs” in order to hit that 25,000 mile threshold. Chicago attorney Joe Siprut says this isn’t fair, and he joins Rudy to discuss the class action suit he’s filed to ask United to either pay Premier passengers for the loss of those perks or reverse the new rules.
The show’s “Mr. Hotel,” Michael Matthews, discusses four possible ways of paying less than retail for a nice hotel room. And after checking out various options, he comes up with his best suggestion. Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal “Middle Seat” columnist Scott McCartney says it’s not just United that is devaluing perks offered its lowest level of “elite” frequent flyers. He explains why there’s not much “status” in first-tier status at most large airlines now. And Orbitz.com senior travel editor, Jeanenne Tornatore, describes where to find late-summer travel deals. (Hint: Think really hot places such as New Orleans, Orlando, Vegas, and Arizona.) Plus, Rudy has the latest travel news and his own deals of the week, including a luxe Colorado resort that invites you to come for a ski vacation and receive the same number of room nights for free next summer.