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Delta's expansion at JFK

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We've known for awhile that Delta is working on expanding and enhancing Terminal 4 at New York's Kennedy airport. Delta gave a progress report July 19 and said it is on schedule with its $1.2 billion program. And it released a video rendering of the terminal that depicts how the space will look and feel when it's completed in 2013.

Here are some of the features of T4: one of the largest SkyClubs, nine new international gates, more capacity at check-in and security checkpoints, a new automated baggage handling system and more shopping and dining options.

 

A few observations from the video:

The new check-in section looks more like an international terminal, with lots of individual check-in areas instead of one long line for everybody flying one airline. And there's a special "check-in lunge" for priority passengers.

Wow, the terminal will be so light and airy! Will it always be so uncrowded and calm? (Well, the sun is just rising in the east; it's probably only 7 a.m. in this video rendering.) 

Love the animation of the terminal literally falling into place before our eyes, and Delta jets zooming up to newly-constructed gates. Isn't technology beautiful?

Connecting the dots

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The never-gets-old quote from the philosopher who lends his name to the movie "Forrest Gump" was that: “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.”

We have found this to be true in the dot-travel Internet domain, which remains full of surprises.

The domain is home to Utah.travel, a site operated by Utah’s state tourism office; Florida.travel, which takes you directly to VisitFlorida, the Sunshine State’s tourism office; and Georgia.travel, which is operated by the tourism office of the Black Sea republic and former component of the Soviet Union.

Wisconsin.travel, on the other hand, doesn’t take you anywhere. Nor does Southwest.travel or Carnival.travel.

Typing Hyatt or Marriott before dot-travel will take you directly to the dot-com sites of those two brands. Hilton.travel takes you to Hilton’s U.K. site but Conrad.travel takes you to the Conrad page of Hilton.com. 

Africa.travel is under construction, as is Virgin.travel (but not, apparently, by Virgin Atlantic), and the United.travel site is labeled Neue Internetpräsenz, and asks, among other things, “Looking for vinoba bhave university?”

To the extent that the dot-travel domain was intended to maintain some degree of unpredictability in our lives, we’d say it’s succeeding.

Los Angeles preps for 'Carmageddon'

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It's been nicknamed "Carmageddon": Interstate 405, the major north-south freeway on the west side of Los Angeles, will be closed between Interstate 10 and U.S. 101 from 7 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Monday.

The closure is to allow for the demolition and reconstruction of the Mulholland Drive Bridge to accommodate the widening of the 405 and to add a northbound high-occupancy-vehicle lane through the Sepulveda Pass, according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Los Angeles has been preparing for weeks for what is anticipated to be a major disruption in transportation, given how heavily the city relies on its freeways and roads.

"Plan ahead, avoid the area or stay home July 16-17," the authority advises. Its website offers numerous tips about how to get around, including a "two-wheeled guide to Carmageddon," about exploring Los Angeles by bike.

LA Inc., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, has launched a section on its website, DiscoverLosAngeles.com, devoted to "405 Things to Do" during the freeway closure.

Additionally, starting at 4:05 p.m. on July 10, LA Inc.'s Twitter account started a campaign to tweet 405 fun and iconic things to do in Los Angeles -- without a car. 

Los Angeles International Airport, which lies just off the 405, has a long and detailed portion of its Web page devoted to advising travelers on how they should get to and from the airport in order to catch their flights during the closure. The airport suggests several shared-ride options, including Nonstop LAX Flyaway buses, shuttle van services, buses and taxis. The airport also suggests taking Metro Rail, Metrolink or Amtrak to Union Station downtown where there will be LAX Flyaway buses to the airport, or spending the night near the airport. 

Logistics aside, hotels, eateries and entertainment venues across the city are rolling out Carmageddon deals and discounts for locals and visitors alike to get through the traffic jam. Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica is offering a Big Delay Package, a $405 nightly rate on a deluxe room with king bed for three nights. The Hotel Oceana in Santa Barbara has an Escape the 405 offer, featuring a 15% discount and $4.05 cocktails and food all weekend. And the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes is offering 40.5% off room rates as part of its Escape From the 405 Freeway Shutdown special.

-- Michelle Baran 

The 'boatel'

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"It may not draw the average tourist" might be the takeaway line from this quirky story from the New York Times  about the Boggsville Boatel, a new art project masquerading as a floating hotel.

Instead of renting rooms for the night, guests rent old boats docked in a marina in Far Rockaway, N.Y., under the flight path for New York Kennedy airport. The Boatel's proprietor is an artist, Constance Hockaday.

 

The target audience? According to Hockaday: "It's also a sneaky ploy of gathering an audience of adventurous people." The Boggsville is not in the GDSs, but the adventurous can book it through the Flux Factory, a gallery in Long Island City, N.Y.

Update: The Boggsville Boatel is now projecting 100% occupancy through the rest of the summer, according to the gallery. 

Babies (sometimes) just aren't first class

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The blogwaves are apparently abuzz over a Malaysia Airlines policy that bans babies from its first-class cabins. Infants, which can turn even the most soothing beasts savage with uninterrupted, inflight crying, are not allowed to travel in the airline's first-class facilities, which are offered on its 747s.

Seems like the controversy was sparked by a Twitter query from an Australian magazine about whether Malaysia would extend its baby ban to its new A380s (answer: "yup"). Malaysia then took to Twitter, and to its website, to explain that its policy has been around for eight years. As it turns out, according to the airline, the anti-baby policy in first class has to do with the seat configuration (no room for travel bassinets), not with angry passengers who shelled out big bucks for R&R in the front of the plane.

Meanwhile, Malaysia also retweeted this stat from TripAdvisor: 

"We asked 1,000+ U.S. travelers what they think of Malaysia Airlines' policy banning babies from first class. 72% said they approve."

Meanwhile-to-the-meanwhile: A few blogs said that British carriers Virgin Atlantic and British Airways had been rumored to be considering child-free zones or flights. But check the wording on the story earlier this year from the U.K.'s Daily Mail:   

"Carriers such as BA, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates have been told to think about 'adult-only' flights after a survey revealed that three quarters of business-class travellers found youngsters on planes irritating.
"If the airlines, keen to keep lucrative business and first-class travellers happy, went ahead, planes could introduce 'quiet cabins' similar to those currently operated on railway services in the U.K."

 

What do you think? Should infants be relegated to economy or (gasp!) business class?

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