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An air safety epic

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Air New Zealand's newest safety video, launched ahead of the December release of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, "the final film in the Hobbit trilogy, stars members of the cast from all three films: Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Dean O’Gorman (Fili the Dwarf) and Sylvester McCoy (Radagast).


 The video was shot at a number of New Zealand's Middle-earth locations, including Hobbiton and Central Otago, which appear in the trilogy.

The carrier's safety video roster includes the Bear Essentials of Safety, featuring “Man vs. Wild” star Bear Grylls, and Safety Old School Style with Betty White and fitness guru Richard Simmons.

The video wraps up a three-year partnership between Air New Zealand and the Hobbit film franchise, which has included branded aircraft and Hobbit-inspired online content. Collectively, the airline's safety videos have clocked up more than 30 million hits online.

-- Gay Nagle Myers 

Racing down the runway

(Airlines) Permanent link
Runway raceRunway runs are popular community events at smaller airports in the U.S., but are hard to stage in Europe, where runway capacity is seriously constrained at major airports.

In a rare move, Budapest Airport closed one of its normally active runways for a few hours on Sept. 6 to stage the aviation industry's annual 12 kilometer (7.2-mile) charity race.

Teams of runners totaling 609 airline employees and management staff from more than 50 airlines competed for the title of Fastest Airline in the World.

Racing down four lengths of runway 13R-13L to take the title not only of fastest airport but also fastest aviator was Aer Lingus fleet cost manager Robert Murphy, in a time of 41 minutes, 26 seconds.

Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller said that the carrier was now not only one of Europe's most punctual airlines "but also now the undisputed Fastest Airline in the World."

Teams and individual runners included competitive entries fielded by Swiss International Airlines, Qatar Airways and Ryanair.

Southwest Airlines was presented with the unofficial Air Miles Team Prize for having traveled the longest distance, from Dallas.

Krakow Airport in Poland won Fastest Airport in the World, beating out Aeroports de Paris.

— Gay Nagle Myers

British Airways: We'll relax you with kitten videos

(Airlines) Permanent link

British Airways in September will launch Paws and Relax, an inflight channel showing cute footage of cats and dogs.

The channel's purpose is to enhance the well-being of its long-haul customers by lowering heart rates and relieving stress, according to Richard D'Cruze, inflight entertainment manager.

British Airways claims that footage of cats, kittens, dogs and puppies soothes and relaxes passengers, in addition to being entertaining.


"It might sound barking [a reference to the the British expression 'barking mad,' indicating insanity], but there's lots of research to suggest that watching pets can enhance overall well-being," he said.

The carrier cited psychologist Richard Wiseman, who said that watching a video of a cute animal can reduce heart rate and blood pressure in under a minute.

D'Cruze said that the carrier has "sniffed out some fantastic content that is cute, comforting and sure to appeal to travelers of all ages."

The channel will include footage of the "Simon's Cat" cartoon, a segment on the secret life of cats and a video of America's cutest dogs.

— Gay Nagle Myers 

Caribe Hilton celebrates the pina colada

(Hotels, Caribbean) Permanent link
pina coladaTo celebrate National Rum Day in Puerto Rico on Aug. 16, the Caribe Hilton is sharing its original pina colada recipe from 1954 and rolling out a special menu at its Oasis Bar, where it all began.

Bartender Ramon "Monchito" Marrero created the rum drink in 1954. He served at the hotel for 35 years until his retirement in 1989. His legacy remains and the pina colada now is the official drink both of the hotel and of Puerto Rico.

Through Oct. 15, guests can book the Pina Colada Fest package from $60 per person, double, including accommodations, daily buffet breakfast for two and two welcome pina coladas.
The rate is a starting rate subject to availability and does not include taxes, resort charges, incidentals or tips.

The offer is available for travel through Dec. 19.

In the spirit of the celebrations, other activities include mixology classes at the Oasis Bar and sweepstakes contests.

The original recipe, still followed at the Caribe Hilton, is two ounces white rum, one ounce coconut cream, one ounce heavy cream, six ounces fresh pineapple juice and one-half cup crushed ice. Blend until smooth.

Serve in a 12-ounce glass, garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and top with a maraschino cherry.

— Gay Nagle Myers

Soccer balls made from old SWA seats

(Airlines) Permanent link
SWA soccer ballSouthwest Airlines launched LUV Seat, a project to recycle 43 acres of leather from its old 737 seats into leather goods.

The carrier is donating the used leather to a non-profit in Nairobi to use the leather to produce shoes and soccer balls to be given to the local community, according to an announcement on its website.

Southwest also has partnered with a nonprofit organization in Malawi to develop a training program to teach school kids how to make leather items, such as backpacks, and generate proceeds for the school.

"With the pilot program of LUV Seat, we're embarking on a new vision of social impact through training, job creation and ultimately product donations," said Bill Tiffany, vice president of supply chain management.

The carrier is replacing the leather seats with a new seat called Evolve. The redesign to the lighter seat reduces the weight of each 737-700 by more than 600 pounds.

— Gay Nagle Myers
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