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.
Jordan Celebrates 2012 Special Year for Guests
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.
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.
North Korea to finally open ‘world’s worst’ hotel
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.