News and Deals: October 12, 2011 – Google Flight offers speed but flaws are many, Jordan Celebrates 2012 Special Year for Guests, Playing the Wireless Card Airlines Rush to Add Wi-Fi and North Korea to finally open ‘world’s worst’ hotel

Petra Camel Caravan

Google Flight offers speed but flaws are many
‎The Seattle Times

When Brittany Laughlin needed to fly from Chicago to San Francisco last month, she tried something new. Instead of visiting an online travel agency or an airline website, she headed over to Google Flight Search, the newest and most controversial travel site to launch since Orbitz opened its doors a decade ago.

Within a few seconds, Google showed her the perfect flight on American Airlines. She clicked on the link, which took her to the airline’s page to book a ticket. “It was really clear and instantly showed results,” says Laughlin, who runs a social media company in Chicago.

Google Flight Search is the result of the search engine giant’s acquisition of ITA Software, a Cambridge, Mass., company whose technology powers many well-known travel sites, including American Airlines, Bing, Hotwire and Kayak. There was some concern that the acquisition would harm competition, but the Justice Department eventually approved the purchase, with conditions, earlier this year.

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Jordan Celebrates 2012 Special Year for Guests
National Geographic

Arab Spring and the global financial crisis delivered a double whammy to tourism in the Middle East. The Arab world lost more than U.S.$7 billion in tourism revenue as a result of 2011′s upheaval, according to Bandar bin Fahd Al Fahed, the chairman of the Arab Tourism Organization. (Reported by Ahram Online, September 30, 2011.)

One Arab country that has escaped the worst of the turmoil is Jordan. Demonstrations there have been relatively orderly, directed mainly at the country’s parliamentary government. At least to visiting foreigners, rank-and-file Jordanians profess fierce allegiance to King Abdullah II, who they say is the unifying force in a still largely tribal society, and who they credit with initiating and supporting economic and constitutional reforms.

But while Jordan has suffered from the troubles in neighboring Syria and Egypt, mainly because Petra was often an extension to thousands of canceled package tours to those countries, the tiny desert kingdom’s tourism industry has held on. “Jordan was one of the countries that proved safe and stable enough to survive the crisis,” Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit said at a conference in Aqaba this week. (Reported by The Jordan Times today.)

Jordanian officials note that while tourism is down overall over 2010, it is up from Gulf countries, while billions of dollars in construction of tourism infrastructure like a new mega-resort in the Red Sea city of Aqaba and luxury hotels on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea have continue to flow uninterrupted into the country.

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Playing the Wireless Card Airlines Rush to Add Wi-Fi
‎Wall Street Journal

After years of experimenting with drop-down televisions and expensive seat-back monitors, airlines are looking to entertain passengers on the screens the travelers bring with them.

The shift has led to a thriving market at 30,000 feet to provide Wi-Fi, movies and TV shows on travelers’ smartphones, tablets and laptops.

About 1,260 aircraft, or more than a third of all mainline passenger airplanes in the U.S., now offer passengers Internet access to surf the Web and check email. The connection can be accessed at 10,000 feet, the federal minimum altitude to use portable electronics.

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North Korea to finally open ‘world’s worst’ hotel
USA Today

Talk about a long-anticipated hotel opening: An astonishing 24 years after North Korea first began building the famously hated Ryu-Gyong Hotel in Pyongyang, the hotel’s finally poised to open, the UK’s Telegraph reports.

The massive concrete structure – once called one of the world’s worst buildings – was designed in the shape of a three-sided pyramid. It spans 105 stories and nearly 1,100 feet.

Back in 1987, North Korea had hoped to make it the world’s tallest hotel, despite the fact that the country has few visitors.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

3 Responses

  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    I wanta go to North Korea!!!

    • Travel Dish

      I lived in Daegu, South Korea (teaching writing at Keimyung University) for three years, but the closest I ever got to North Korea was the DMZ. My initial reaction to this article was, “A 105 story hotel? For what guests?” As far as going to North Korea (according to my research a few years back, so there may have been changes)Americans are not allowed in North Korea as tourists and even our Journalists are vetted and are only allowed on occasion. If you were a citizen of another country you can travel to North Korea, but it is VERY expensive and you pay the government for the tour which includes a 24/7 armed ‘escort’ to ‘keep you safe’ (I’d say to keep you out of trouble or seeing what they prefer you to not see). I admit to curiosity, but imagine if I were allowed to go, it would be among the most depressing trips one could take. Oh and as for the ‘tallest hotel’ apirations, they have a thing about that. There is a story of the ever changing flags on the DMZ, as the North Koreans needed to have a bigger flag than South Korea. To see it is something else. It is so high and so large you can see the huge difference. Our guide implied their need to be the biggest or tallest is an obsession of a phallic nature. ;-)

  2. Jeremy Branham

    Wow, did you see where Roni Weiss was quoted in the Google Flight search article in the Seattle Times?


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