This week in travel: transport woes, new “Global Geoparks,” Mediterranean islands you need to know about, plus the terrifying moment a passenger opened the airplane emergency door mid-air.
Planes, trains and strains
Funny how life goes. When Lufthansa decided in 2019 to sell nearly half of its A380 fleet back to Airbus, it didn’t know a pandemic would strike the next year. Or that just a few years later, because of “the steep rise in customer demand and the delayed delivery of ordered aircraft,” it would do an about-face and bring the world’s largest passenger plane back into service. Or that while the six A380s earmarked for sale were in storage, they’d suffer storm damage and nearly $14 million would have to be knocked off the $337 million price tag.
That last detail was spotted by the sleuths at aviation magazine aeroTELEGRAPH, while poring over Airbus’ annual report. But the German flag carrier isn’t the only European transport provider to be getting hit in the wallet of late.
Pity poor old Britain’s rail networks. While France has been rebooting its TGV trains and spearheading a continent-wide “rail revolution” – this week taking the step of banning some short-haul flights where high-speed rail alternatives are available – in England, train customers might soon not even be able to check their emails. A Department of Transport spokesperson confirmed to CNN that free Wi-Fi could be first to face the chop in cost cuts because “our railways are currently not financially sustainable.”
Worse things happen at sea, the saying goes. And that seems to be the case with a new three-year cruise that was scheduled to sail from Istanbul in November. Just a few months after bookings were opened, the voyage appears to be in crisis, with questions about the ship and passengers requesting refunds.
Summer (unofficially) kicks off
It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States – the unofficial start of summer. If this weekend’s travel forecast is any indication, it’s going to be a very busy season for travelers. The good news? Some experts seem to think that it will be less hellacious at US airports than it was last summer.
Once you jostle with the masses, there’s usually plenty of room to stretch out on the best US beaches. Just be careful in the surf. The least-visited US national parks are also primo locations for breathing easier.
New Global Geoparks
For those about to rock, we salute you. UNESCO has just announced 18 new Global Geoparks, landscapes honored for their outstanding geological heritage. The UK’s newest one is Northern Ireland’s Mourne Gullion Strangford. This mountainous terrain has a 400-million-year history, but in this most recent blip in geologic time, it’s best known as a key “Game of Thrones” location and inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books.
New Zealand and the Philippines are first-timers on the list. Waitaki Whitestone, on New Zealand’s South Island, provides evidence of the Earth’s eighth continent, Zealandia, formed 80 million years ago, of which 94% remains submerged. Bohol Island in the Philippines is famed for its karstic geosites, including caves, sinkholes and the cone-shaped Chocolate Hills.
Law and order
We regret to inform you that airline passengers are at it again. A “belligerent” woman was cited after hitting a Frontier Airlines flight attendant with an intercom phone; a husband sparked outrage after flying first class and leaving his wife and kids in economy; and a man somehow opened the emergency door mid-air as an Asiana Airlines plane was coming in to land. See the terrifying footage here.
And in another reminder that wild animals are not our playthings, rangers at Yellowstone National Park were forced to euthanize a bison calf that had been rejected by its herd after it was handled by a park visitor. Finally, Florida’s Zoo Miami has ended “kiwi encounters” petting experiences after video footage caused outrage in New Zealand, where the animal is the national bird.
Malta, Gozo and Comino
The Mediterranean nation of Malta is made up of three inhabited islands, where you can enjoy everything from the world’s oldest prehistoric temples to family-friendly beaches and top-class scuba diving.
Best portable Bluetooth speakers
We shouldn’t have to compromise on sound quality when it comes to listening to our favorite music or podcasts when far from home. Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have tested 17 Bluetooth speakers to find the best for your needs and budget.
In case you missed it
An empty sand plot in Dubai sold for a record $34 million.
You’d think sand was easy to come by in the desert, but this stuff’s on a luxury island.
A 93-year-old woman made history as the oldest living person to visit every US National Park.
And her grandson was with her for the whole seven-year ride.
Sure, regular plane-spotting is cool …
But have you ever tried it from a Japanese hot spring?