Recently a UK-based airline and airport consultancy called Skytrax studied 550 airports in 112 nations using reviews from 13 million users to identify the world’s 100 best airports. Asian airports took six of the top spots. The survey considered not only lost bags but a host of other details such as: Do luggage handlers place bags on carousels with the handles facing out so passengers can more easily grab them?
When was the last time an airport did that for you?
To name the overall winner, the survey also considered airport amenities, security procedures, check-in efficiency, ease of flight transfers, and other measures.
Overall, Singapore’s airport (pictured) took first place followed by South Korea’s Seoul airport and Munich’s in Germany. There were no US airports in the Top Ten– Cincinnati was the highest-ranked US airport coming in at number 30 on the list of the top 100. Chicago’s O’Hare was number 92.
Find out if your airport made the top 100 here.
If you’ve been traveling, you might have come across hotels whose lobbies are filled with people. People drinking coffee, huddling with other people and—mostly—people concentrating on their smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
What’s going on here?
Blame it on the Millennials, travelers between the ages of 18 and 34. A surprising number of them travel for business, and studies reveal they look for hotels that promote socializing.
So if you step into the lobby of the Ace Hotel in Manhattan (pictured), you’ll find yourself in a giant living room filled with Millennials on sofas and comfortable chairs chatting or working. A gourmet coffee shop just off the lobby keeps them fueled; two different restaurants—one for oysters and seafood, another with burgers and a traditional American menu—are also attached to that lobby/living room.
And it’s not just hipster hotels like the Ace. In San Francisco, the huge, downtown Hilton has a very busy lobby where Millennials congregate and exchange cards and work on their laptops when they’re not attending a convention presentation.
Here’s the thing: If you like to work in a very social atmosphere, you’re most welcome to join—you don’t even have to be a hotel guest.
The most famous attraction in the pretty town of Asheville at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Biltmore Estate (pictured), a chateau built in the late 1880s by George Vanderbilt. It’s the largest privately owned home in the US, and it’s well worth a visit.
Through May 25th, visitors can browse 45 costumes from the PBS series “Downton Abbey.”
There’s a resemblance between Biltmore Estate and Highclere Castle in England that is the set for “Downton Abbey.” If you must have the real thing, 19 rooms at Highclere are open to visitors, but 2015 dates are sold out. Book now for next year. (Details here.) Or take a Viking River Cruise that has a three-day cruise extension to Highclere during August, October, and November.
London hotels offer Paddington packages, but they’re expensive, and you can buy a bear or take tea anywhere. Which is what those packages usually include. In fact, for a great tea, try the Milestone Hotel. And if your kids are well behaved, they’ll love it.
The Milestone Hotel doesn’t mind if they bring Paddington.
There are cities, such as Havana, where dining in someone’s home is almost required because there are so few restaurants in town. But in almost any major city these days, amiable locals are opening their homes to out-of-town visitors who would like to have dinner with people who know the place. What better way to get inside information? And anecdotal reports suggest many folks have made lifelong friends.
Consider the app Feastly. You can sign up to learn about pop ups and in-home meals at particular cities. You may browse the web site to find folks who will, from Brooklyn to Oakland, invite you in their homes for dinner. Some folks charge a fee of between $25 and $65, which is no more expensive than a decent restaurant that doesn’t offer such an authentic, local experience.
If partying is on your mind, try PartyWithALocal.com. The site claims it has 20,000 users in 160 countries so you never need be alone at night again.
Might yawning at an airport make you a suspicious person in the eyes of undercover TSA agents looking for behavior that could unmask a terrorist? How about whistling? Those are just two behaviors the TSA things could indicate you’re up to no good.
A website called “The Intercept” recently got a hold of a confidential TSA document that lists some behaviors the TSA looks for when it scans people at airports in search of possible terrorists. It’s a fascinating look at the program called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or “SPOT.”
According to the document, points are assessed. Someone looks like they’re dressed in a disguise? Three points. Someone seems fidgety and whistles? One point each. Penetrating stare and rigid posture? Two points.
This program has cost the government about $900 million since it was unleashed eight years ago. There is no evidence the SPOT program has helped agents identify any bad guys. In fact, former employees have termed it a waste of time.
Look, I want trained professionals mingling in crowds at airports. But I’m not convinced, nor are some in Congress, that watching for fairly common tics indicates trouble. But I’d wait until I’m outside the terminal to whistle.
More info here.