By Judy Newell
Inside Mexico City’s amazing new airport
Arguably the biggest news to come out of Mexico City in quite some time is the announcement that construction will commence next year on a new state-of-the-art international airport that will be able to accommodate 120 million passengers a year.
“The new international airport is planned to meet the needs of the country for at least the next 50 years,” said Mauricio Reyna, director for tourism promotion of the Mexico City Ministry of Tourism. Reyna said the first stage of the airport will be ready by 2020 with three landing strips and capacity to receive more than 50 million passengers a year. When the airport is completed, it will have six landing strips.
This is no ordinary airport, mind you. “The design of the airport was elaborated by the British architect Norman Foster, one of the most famous architects in the world, and the renowned Mexican architect Fernando Romero,” Reyna said, adding that Foster is responsible for the design of the airports in Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuwait, and Panama City.
The airport will take the form of an X, which makes space for more boarding gates as is seen in the airports of Abu Dhabi, Nairobi, and Inchon. “Various elements reminiscent of national Mexican symbols—such as the eagle, the snake, and the sun—will be incorporated into the design and architecture of the airport,” said Reyna.
The new airport project will also include measures to prevent and reduce pollution and noise due to air traffic. When the airport is operational, the area occupied by the current airport will be used for schools, hospitals, and green areas, including what Reyna referred to as a “metropolitan forest.”
In 2013, Reyna said Mexico City received 2.4 million international tourists, with 39 percent coming from the US. Twenty-seven percent of visitors hailed from South America, 20 percent from Europe, 6.2 percent from Central America, and 5 percent from Asia.
Exploring Ecuador beyond tourist hotspots
With its rich geographic diversity, Ecuador has more to offer than the tourist-favorite Andes Mountains, Galápagos Islands, and Amazon rain forests. The coastal route known as La Ruta del Sol offers quaint fishing villages, unspoiled beaches, and a chance at whale watching.
Cuenca offers cultural attractions and shopping for traditional handicrafts, while Cajas National Park offers hiking trips up its mountain slopes allowing visitors to get up close with its resident llamas. (Judy Newell lived in Ecuador for 17 years and is an expert on travel in this area of South America. Call her for help with your travel plans.)
Uniworld to offer Ganges River sailings
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection plans to offer cruises along India’s Ganges River starting January 2016. The Ganges Voyager II will operate 16 sailings, which include combined land and cruise packages as well as a two-night post-cruise extension in Varanasi to view the Aarti Ceremony at the Dasaswamedh Ghat.
Pick your perk
Celebrity Cruises reprised its very popular Pick Your Perk offer. It’s good for travelers booking an ocean-view or higher-category stateroom on four-night or longer cruises that depart December 20, 2014, through April 2016.
Travelers who book by October 5 can select up to US$600 savings using Celebrity’s ChoiceAir, free Classic Beverage Packages for two, free gratuities for two, or up to US$300 onboard credit per stateroom. The offer excludes Celebrity Xpedition, trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific crossings, Infinity’s March 15 departure ,and Century’s last two cruises on March 22 and April 5.
US$5 for a boarding pass? Airline says print or pay
Just when you thought the airlines’ fee-mongering had reached its peak, yet another airline figures out yet another way to charge flyers for yet another service once considered basic. This time, the target is your boarding pass.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant now charges a US$5 per boarding pass fee to passengers who have a boarding pass printed out at select domestic airport locations. To avoid this charge, passengers may check in online and bring a printed-paper boarding pass to the airport, or use the Allegiant2Go mobile boarding pass.
Making matters worse, Allegiant hasn’t done a good job of communicating the fee−it’s shuffled in among a long list of “Optional Services & Fees.” So the new policy is bound to take many flyers by surprise when they arrive at the airport, and it’s too late to print out their passes.
British Airways introduces £5 holding fee on flights
The new holding fee service announced by BA and Iberia will allow customers up to 72 hours of breathing space before deciding whether or not to go ahead to pay for a flight. If the customer decides to buy the flight, the hold deposit is refunded. The holding fee for each ticket costs £5 for a short-haul flight, rising to £10 for a long-haul flight.
The new hold option is the result of a joint project between BA and Iberia, both owned by the International Airlines Group (IAG). Only one person’s name is required to reserve any number of flights; the names of those traveling can be added within the 72-hour holding period.
Deal of the Week
Viking 2015 early booking discount
Two-for-one cruise plus up to two-for-one air
Hurry – this offer expires September 30, 2014
Viking River Cruises offers innovative itineraries on the rivers of Europe, Russia, and China. Travelers enjoy exciting cities, rich cultural experiences, fine dining, and deluxe accommodations on board the most modern ships—with everything from meals to shore excursions included in the fare.
Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes in designing tours, cruises, and independent travel for discerning travelers. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any of the Travel News topics; cell phone at 415-111-8765, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or view the latest travel specials on the website www.perfectjourneys.net where you can book your hotels, tours and cruises online.
Sources: Travel Pulse, Hotel Management Online, TravelAge West, Celebrity Cruises, FrequentFlier.com, The Telegraph