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Flying 3-Room Apartments Are the New “First Class” on This Middle Eastern Airline

Competing for the best first class airline service in the world is SO 10 years ago. Now the world’s best airlines (spoiler alert: none of them are American) are tripping over themselves to one-up one another in the art of spoiling the uber-elite travelers whose uber-elite fares subsidize the cheap seats in the back of the plane (or these days, on the bottom level).

First, back in the day, those first class seats got super fancy schmancy, with fully flat beds and lots of compartments and such. Then that became passé (note: American carriers are still stuck at this level, if that), so the Middle Eastern carriers started adding mini walls around them (talking about you, Emirates). Then those walls got higher,  and we even got the ability to combine two of these “suites class” seats to form a full bed (thanks, Singapore Airlines). They also started adding bars and lounges up there and Emirates even installed a full fledged shower.

Not to be outdone, however, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has now built a damn 3-room apartment, which it’s calling “The Residence,” in the front of its new A380s. No, I’m not kidding. No, really… I’m not.

The new flying mini-palace will feature a cozy living room that comfortably seats 2, a full bathroom with a shower, and a bedroom with a full bed. And the airfare… around $43,000. At least that’s for two people.

However grandiose and over the top, this is still cool as hell. Can’t wait to try it! Call me, Etihad.

Etihad Residence

 

 

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Awesomeness Amid Chaos

I saw this video from Alawj Media linked on someone’s Facebook page and had to click. I thought it was going to be something totally different, given the current chaos going on in Iraq right now, but sometimes it takes a little live-esque video footage to show us the normalcy and timelessness that actually goes on in some of these places that we in Le West believe are burning to the ground as we speak.

I used to do this in Egypt during the revolutionary period, when our media at home always showed b-roll of protests and riots while on the ground it was calm and peaceful and normal. But these time-lapsed vids are unlike anything I’ve seen out of Iraq. While there is certainly some chaos going on there in certain parts of the country right now, this shows that there is also some perennial awesomeness still going on amid said chaos.

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Checking You Out While Checking You In

idealfaThis kind of shiznit is why I love Virgin Atlantic. They’re not only fashion-forward and branding geniuses, but they’re tech-forward too. But what’s kind of weird about this is that when one of these cyborg stewardesses approaches you, how do you know if she’s looking at you or the info about you in front of her. And how do we know that he’s not downloading an image of us from one of those body scanners? Not only might those queens be checking out an overlay of your junk as they bring your martini, but they’re more likely to catch those mini bottles of amaretto I hid in my carry-on too. Oh well, if they know to bring me a quick refill on my double bailey’s without me asking, it’s all worth it. Onward sky warriors.

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#SochiProblems

sochiprobsOh dear God. This just further confirms that Russia has become a fourth world country. Not so much the conditions, but the attitude – the assertion that everything is fine and these conditions are perfectly ok. How dare anyone expect something like a lobby or a floor or privacy in the toilet or even a full toilet. And all while paying a mere $300-$1000 per night. The nerve!

The photos and tweets speak for themselves. Ladies and gentlemen of the world, I give you #SochiProblems.

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Oh, Sochi

sochiIt’s no secret that Russia has been a bit of a mess lately. Security threats, political thuggery, kidnappings and torture of gay kids… all with the eyes of the world increasingly focused on the country as the Olympics approached. The pundit class in America has long speculated that Sochi might make a ripe terrorist target for the Russo-Islamofascists, but now the State Department has put its imprimatur on that fear.

Shortly before the games began, a travel alert for Russia was expanded to warn of a variety of issues, including the threat of terrorism against olympians and olympic spectators. Although we haven’t seen acts of terror committed at an olympic games in a long time, the terroristic massacre at the 1972 Munich olympic games is still very alive in the minds of many worldwide.

Beyond terrorism, the travel alert warns of other threats against travelers, including crime, inadequate medical care, demonstrations, being gay, janktastic hotel accommodations, and more. At least the vodka isn’t likely to disappoint.

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This is SO Not Cool

deltatagshashtagI’ve met some nice domestic American flight attendants before. No, not American Airlines flight attendants; American as in Estadounidense – the adjective (we have it rough in the U.S. of A. with our adjetivo nacional). But more often than not I’ve found American stewards and stewardesses to be far below the quality of the nice, sweet, service-oriented international airline on-board staff.

But even for Delta, this is a new low: Double-Amputee Marine ‘Humiliated,’ Cries From Poor Treatment On Delta Flight.

And I can totally see it now… the tone-deaf corporate PR ferries will naturally poop out some uncreative, default line like “our passengers are our #1 priority” and “we respect all of our passengers and have the utmost respect for our nation’s veterans” and “we have the highest standards for our employees” and blah blah blah. They always do. But the fact is that the stock corporate PR lines are always what’s supposed to happen, not what often does and clearly not what DID happen here, it seems.

Delta later put out a lame statement saying exactly what I predicted they would say, but what the viewers will be most interested in is the update (and there will be updates, Delta) on what they actually did about this incident. For now, all of PinFaceStagramBler and the rest of the internet is hoping that Lady Justice bitch slaps whoever the troll was who treated this vet like that.

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This Makes Me #Sad

boming with pyramidsLe sigh. Egypt is like a yo-yo this decade. Revolution in 2011, dramatic but stable and safe in 2012, a little more chaotic in 2013 but on a path toward re-stabilizing post-coup. Then it explodes again in 2014, literally. Come ON!

While the tourism market in Egypt can handle random bumps and potholes in the road, this is the kind of thing that sets it back months or even years. This is the travel warning-inducing kind of thing that impacts not only the major cities that are actually having the problems, like Cairo or Alexandria, but also the sleepier areas (in terms of violence) like Luxor, Aswan, the oases, the and the beach resorts.

I hope things stabilize again soon because tons of Americans are missing out on the tons of fun that thousands of Eurotrash who aren’t afraid of dark-skinned people and bombs are still having in Egypt.

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Lame Games

malasia tourismSo a friend was playing some game online where she had to guess the countries with the top tourist arrival numbers. Yeah I know – that makes her seem pretty lame. Now that I think about it, I must be pretty lame too b/c that game actually sounds fun.

She gets most of them, misses a few, the buzzer sounds, and we find out all the shockers in the top fifteen – Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, oh my!

Seriously, wtf’s up with Malaysia being among the world’s top tourist destinations? I’m not just being Amero-centric or Oxi-centric here either. I’ve been around the block a time or two in all parts of the mundo, but I never would have guessed that Malaysia would be in the top 50, much less the top 10.

Although Saudi Arabia surprised me at first, it makes perfect sense after you think about it – the Hajj. That was a bit of a cheat, though, b/c that’s not like normal destination tourism. It’s not like people are saying “Hey kids, where do you want to go for our family vacation this year?” and the munchkins are jumping up and down responding “Saudi Arabia! Saudi Arabia! We want to wear burkhas and watch mommie get flogged for sticking her uncovered hand outside the hotel room door to grab the room service tray without 17 male family members accompanying her. Yay!!!”

The Ukraine was also near the top of the list, but I’m going to skip making fun of that one right now because Kiev is currently a war zone and they’re clearly not making the list again next year, so why rub it in. The only thing I can think of is Black Sea thaw vacations for millions of Russians. But most of those probably don’t think they’re embarking on international tourism, since they used to like own the Ukraine or whatever during their commie heyday.

What’s really interesting, though, is to look at top destination countries by gross tourism receipts. The good ole’ U.S. of A. tops that list, statistically proving that we’re the bestest in the world of ripping tourists off and sucking their pockets and bank accounts dry while they’re here “on holiday” (credit: shamelessly hijacked fact from the 2013 edition of UNWTO Tourism Highlights form the UN World Tourism Organization. If you need to sue me, mail your complaint to Sarah Palin, Wasilla, Alaska, ee eye ee eye oh).

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What’s Up with Travel TV?

travel channel failIt’s no state secret that the quality of cable television content is in the toilet these days. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people who have allegedly worked in the television industry for a decades can’t foresee that all these dumb new shows they come up with are going to get mediocre ratings, or just tank. To me that means working in the tv industry for decades might be more of a liability than a credential. I digress.

What ticks me off is that the Travel Channel, which should be like tele-crack for travel enthusiasts like us, has become a hodgepodge of blah programming that has little, if any sometimes, relevance to travel. In fact, tonight when I passed the channel in the on-screen TV guide and looked through the next few hours of shows, all that was on was some Ghost Adventures crap.

Seriously? A whole world’s out there full of fabulous sites, cities, and places. There are amazing trends in airlines, hotels, and other staples of the hostility industry. And the variety of aspirational products worth featuring is just out of this world – literally. But instead, the Travel Channel’s programming list reads like the Food Channel and the Paranormal Activity Channel hooked up and had an illegitimate love child.

From Friday: Man V. Food Nation (“Adam travels to Austin for Texas-sized donuts, authentic Hill Country barbecue, and a near-impossible breakfast taco challenge.”) and The Dead Files (“When terrifying paranormal activity targets the children of a Rome, NY, family, Steve and Amy step in to investigate. As Steve discovers the property’s distressing connection to a bloody Revolutionary War ambush, Amy encounters a vicious entity that preys on living children.”)

From Saturday: Food Paradise (“America’s best BBQ dishes are featured in this episode of Food Paradise, including slow-smoked brisket in Texas, sauce-dripping ribs in Kansas City and mouth-watering pulled pork in North Carolina. “) and Ghost Adventures (“Zak, Nick and Aaron head to Tonapah, NV, to revisit one of their first lockdowns and explore the morbid Mizpah Hotel. Their findings shock them, as they witness an inoperable elevator spontaneously open and close its doors.”).

Seriously, Travel Channel? No wonder consumers are flocking by the billions to better television content conduits like Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV, Roku, and whatever else Cook, Bezos, Brin, and pals will come up with in the next 24 months to drive that final nail into cable’s outdated, shaggy-carpet-lined coffin.

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101,957 Unbelievable Listicles You Must Read about Places You Must See

lake three eyed smileySome social butterfly must have just recently returned from his or her around-the-world journey and posted all of their photos to PinFaceStagramBler or something because it seems like every listicle-loving website is now doing a “XX Unbelievable Places” post with the same types of sites, the same sites, and sometimes even the same photos. I’ve recently seen said listicles pop up from BoredPanda, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, Huffington Post, YourAmazingPlaces, and others.

Don’t get me wrong – these places truly do look amazing. I’ve been to some of them, although some look kind of radioactive or something and I plan to spare my future children their third arm/eye by not visiting. On some lists, though, they’re really struggling. I mean, a tree-lined street in Bonn, Germany? Or just copping out by throwing whole cities onto your list, really? But others, like the Zhangye Danxia Landform in China and Japan’s Bamboo Forest, look cool as hell.

Of course, the ultimate list of places to see remains this.