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Popular for travelers Tourist Attractions Train Travel United States

Vintage Railway Experiences and Attractions in the US

In a past era, travel by rail was one of the most luxurious and adventurous ways to travel across the miles. While train travel may never be what it once was, there are some amazing vintage railway experiences and attractions scattered across the United States. Once-famous train cars have been converted into spaces for scenic tours, cozy dining, and hiking destinations. Place one of these railway experiences and attractions on your next travel itinerary.

Verde Valley Railroad

Clarksdale, AZ

Jerome Arizona: Historic Jerome Grand Hotel and Verde Valley.
Jerome Arizona: Historic Jerome Grand Hotel and Verde Valley.

Take this southwest passenger train and travel back in time to some of Arizona’s most beautiful backcountry and red rock canyons. You won’t see this landscape except by rail, and tourists love the original train car seating, panoramic windows, and classic furnishings. This four-hour tour is perfect for adults and children alike and begins with refreshing beverage and a light snack. The train host describes famous Arizona landmarks and offers some musical interludes. An outdoor car is easily accessible at any time, weather permitting. The Verde Valley Railroad is only a half-hour drive from beautiful Sedona—and the perfect getaway to enhance your vacation and create a travel memory.

Grand Canyon Railway

Williams, AZ

The train to the Grand Canyon waiting at Williams Station, Arizona illuminated by a fiery sunset sky.
The train to the Grand Canyon waiting at Williams Station, Arizona illuminated by a fiery sunset sky.

The vintage Grand Canyon Railway system originated in 1901 and still runs today to transport tourists from Williams, Arizona, to the gorgeous South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This 65-mile trip includes views of one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States. Site narration with music is  offered by some of the park’s most knowledgeable hosts. This two-hour railway experience includes a car class of choice, from luxurious to casual. There is plenty of wildlife, scenic views, and some package deals for the whole family. The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is nearby and there are also a number of attractions and activities in Williams, Arizona, to add to your travel itinerary.

Virginia and Truckee Railroad

Virginia City, NV

Virginia and Truckee Railroad, Nevada
Virginia and Truckee Railroad, Nevada

Select from various types of railway experiences at the Virginia and Truckee Railroad located in the eccentric Virginia City. Enhance your vacation with a steam train ride or a diesel train ride, and plan on a special experience if you make your travel reservations around a holiday. There are two routes to choose from—Virginia City to Gold Hill (only 35 minutes) and Carson City to Virginia City (all-day adventure). Both tours include some fascinating history, exciting tunnels and a number of mining sites for viewing. Get off the train for three hours at Virginia City and take in some original boutiques, saloons, restaurants and museums. This railway experience has something for everyone.

Donner Summit Train Tunnels

Soda Springs, CA

old train tunnels nicknamed "China Wall" on Schallenberger Ridge near Donner Lake Truckee, Nevada county, California.
Old train tunnels nicknamed “China Wall” on Schallenberger Ridge near Donner Lake Truckee, Nevada county, California.

While this adventure does not include a luxurious Southern Pacific train coach, the history and the visual experience of the Donner Summit Train Tunnels are fascinating. If you want to get serious, this attraction may require some hiking gear and a day’s refreshment. Take a historical journey on foot through abandoned trail tunnels located on Donner Summit. The journey might also include a scenic view of the old Lincoln Highway, the historic Donner Summit bridge, and the beautiful Donner Lake. Travel during vacation season (after mid May), bring a flashlight, and prepare for cooler interior temperatures. It’s an outdoor vacation adventure for explorers.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango, CO

Durango, Colorado, USA: Tourists inside the historic steam engine train from Durango to Silverton in Colorado.
Durango, Colorado, USA: Tourists inside the historic steam engine train from Durango to Silverton in Colorado.

Those who long to travel back in time on their next family vacation will enjoy a 3-1/2 hour adventure aboard the Durango Train. This vintage coach car offers a coal-fired and steam-powered ride from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that begins in Durango and travels to Silverton, Colorado, and back. More frequently used by miners and frontier travelers, the Durango Train originated in 1882. Guests will take in beautiful scenes along the stunning Animas River where only a rail line can generally navigate. Plan for some steep mountainside curves and fascinating rock formations along the way. Tourists will not be disappointed in the now-and-then echoing of the steam whistle.

Ohio Railcar Dining

Cincinnati, Bellville, Toledo, Peninsula, and Columbus

NEW HOPE, PA- View of the New Hope and Ivyland rail road, a heritage train line for visitors going on touristic excursions in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
NEW HOPE, PA- View of the New Hope and Ivyland rail road, a heritage train line for visitors going on touristic excursions in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Everyone loves trains, and Ohio is known for some fine railcar dining sites vacationers and tourists won’t want to miss. The Cincinnati Dinner Train offers a 3-hour scenic train ride and a dining vintage railway experiences to remember. The Buckeye Express Diner is nothing fancy but a lot of fun for the whole family to enjoy. The Old Spaghetti House is a nationwide favorite—especially aboard a railcar in Toledo along with several other Ohio railcar locations. For a little more adventure, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad features brunch, cocktails, or a murder mystery dinner along with seasonal scenic train rides through Cuyohoga Valley National Park. For your special occasion, rent The Depot Events Center train car in Columbus. This is certain to please the guests of honor and the guests alike!

Let us know if you knew the vintage railway experiences or if you were completely surprised with this list.

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Covid 19 Fun Popular for travelers

A Fun Quiz About Flags

A Fun Quiz About Flags that Will Get Your Brain Thinking During These Stay at Home Times

Many of us are sitting at home, hanging out with our families, binge-watching Netflix or another streaming service, and trying to find the energy to figure out what we are having for dinner at the end of every day.  While things are a little topsy-turvy right now, I thought we could all use a little fun in our days.  Or at least get our brains thinking in a way they probably haven’t in quite some time!

Are you ready for fun quiz about flags?

Let’s begin!

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Q. Which is the only national flag in the world that doesn’t include any of the colors, red, white, and blue?

Jamaica is the only national flag in the world that doesn’t include red, white, and blue.  The colors of the Jamaican flag are gold, black, and green.

Quiz About Flags: The flag of Jamaica.
The Jamaican flag is displayed in front of one of the best beaches in Jamaica – Negril Beach, Jamaica.

Q. Which is the only country whose flag depicts humans?

Belize is the only country who has a flag that depicts humans and there are two people on their flag.

The flag of Belize
The Belize flag depicts two men on it and is the only flag of any country in the world to have humans on it.

Q. Which is the only country whose flag has purple on it?

This is actually a trick question, because there are two countries that have purple on their flags.  Those countries are Nicaragua and Dominica.

Quiz About Flags: The flag of Nicaragua
Though minimal, the flag of Nicaragua does have a small bit of purple in it.

Q. Which is the only country which does not have a rectangular flag?

Nepal’s flag has two triangular shapes, like pendants, combined together to make their unique non-rectangular flag.  However, it is important to note that Switzerland’s flag is not rectangular either, because it is shaped like a square.

Quiz About Flags: Flag of Nepal
The triangular flag of Nepal flying with the Himalayas in the background at Poon Hill.

Q. Which is the only country whose flag is different on the front and back?

Paraguay’s flag has their coat of arms on the front and their treasury is on the back.

The National Pantheon Of The Heroes In Asuncion, Paraguay.
National Pantheon Of The Heroes In Asuncion, Paraguay. It is the mausoleum where lie the remains of great heroes of Paraguayan history.

Q. Which is the only country whose flag has a different meaning if it is flown upside down?

The flag of the Philippines has a different meaning when it is flown upside down.  When it is flown the correct way, everything is fine in the country.  However, when the flag is flipped over and flown upside down, it means the Philippines is at war.

Fun Quiz about the flag of the Philippines
The flag of the Philippines flies the ‘correct’ way, signaling times of peace. Here’s to hoping the flag flies in this orientation for a long time to come.

Q. Which country has changed its flag 22 times since the year 1900?

Afghanistan has changed their flag this many times and the country changed their flag a few times prior to 1900 as well.

Interesting Quiz about the flag of Afghanistan
The flag of Afghanistan flying at Wazir, Akbar.

Q. What is the oldest national flag in the world?

The oldest national flag in the world is Denmark’s flag.  The design was created in 1625 and the square shape was in use by 1748.

Quiz About Flags: Denmark's flag
Denmark’s flag flies over Copenhagen harbor.

How did you do with these quiz questions about flags?  Did you know all the answers, or did you learn something new?  Hopefully, you enjoyed this quiz and it got your mind off everything else that is going on right now!

If you want more quizzes like these, let us know and we will see what else we can come up with!

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Popular for travelers

Utilize Escape Rooms to Enhance Your Skills for Both Life and Travel

I’m not sure if you have heard about the newest hype, Escape Rooms. While these rooms have been around for at least a couple years now, I have discovered that there are so many people who have never heard of them, let alone visited one. However, I want you to be aware of the fact that these Escape Rooms offer so much more than family fun and thrills with friends. They will also allow you to enhance your skills to live a better life and discover more during your travels.

4 Skills You Will Enhance when You Utilize Escape Rooms

1. Discovering More During the Unknown

When you travel, you need to be on your A game, so you can see and learn as much as possible about the destination you are visiting. Just as you immerse yourself into the local cultures when traveling, you need to immerse yourself into the theme of the Escape Room you are visiting. Taking some time to visually look around and get an idea of where everything is can be helpful in these rooms, as well as when you are traveling the world or entering a new building near your home.

2. Share Ideas and Skillsets

Not everyone is good at everything, which is why Escape Rooms are so amazing. You simply enter these rooms with your family or friends and then work together to solve the puzzle so you can get out. This is going to go against your internal instinct of wanting to solve everything yourself, so plan on having mixed feelings about what your family or friends suggest to help you all reach the same conclusion.

When you are traveling, you may want to come up with ideas on your own, but this could be a huge mistake if you have never been to the destination before and someone you know has. The person who has been to that same destination can give you so many ideas for what you should do, or even avoid, so you do not waste a moment of your vacation.

Escape Rooms sharpen problem solving skills and grow friendships.
Escape Rooms sharpen problem solving skills and grow friendships.

3. Keep an Open Mind

In Escape Rooms, it is important to keep an open mind and look at everything through fresh eyes. Not everyone can find every single detail, or keep them all straight, but those that can’t, will often find that hunches will give them the same information. When you are travelling, it is a good idea to trust any hunches you have, while still keeping an open mind with everything you see around you. You may need to also keep an open mind to allow you to discover new ways to utilize the items you have available when other options are not a possibility.

4. Learning Something New Every Time

When you visit Escape Rooms, you will find that you can easily learn something new every single time. It may be due to you choosing a different theme than you are used to, or you are visiting with someone new and you both have no clue as to what to do in certain scenarios.

Of course, learning new things can happen every time you travel as well. No destination is ever the same, so you may find yourself needing to learn how to navigate around the area in new ways. Language barriers can also pose problems when travelling, which is why you may find yourself trying to learn a few words and phrases in a different language before you leave for your trip.

If you have never been to an Escape Room, you must visit one soon, especially if you travel a lot. These rooms will allow you to enhance all those skills you have, while learning many more, and they will all help you when you are travelling the world.

Have you ever been to an Escape Room? Would you like to try one soon? Why? I would love to hear your responses, if for nothing else, so I can learn more and apply that new knowledge to my life!

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Popular for travelers

10 Largest Islands in the World

There are so many islands in the world, and while your mind might automatically go to Australia as the largest, I am not counting it within this list. The reason for that is Australia is a continent, so it is technically not considered an island.

Therefore, this list will exclude that part of the world, as well as Antarctica.

10 Largest Islands in the World

1. Greenland

This island is approximately two million square kilometers and it is considered part of North America. However, it is usually associated with Norway and Denmark over in Europe. Most of the locals are the descendants of the Inuit, who arrived on this island from Canada during the 13th century. This ice-covered island has one of the highest renewable energy sources in the world.

2. New Guinea

This island is 785, 000 square kilometers and is part of the archipelago of Indonesia. People have lived on this island for more than forty thousand years now and they live on either the west or the east side, which are ruled by different governments. More than seven hundred idioms are spoken on this island, so you will hear many different languages if you happen to visit.

3. Borneo

Borneo has 748,000 square kilometers and this island is part of an archipelago as well. The entire island is ruled by three different countries. The oldest rainforest in the world can be found on this island and there are many different animals and plants living within it.

4. Madagascar

Madagascar is 587,000 square kilometers and it is currently its own independent nation. This island is quite biodiverse and about 90 percent of the wildlife on the island cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

5. Baffin

Baffin is up near Canada and it is slightly over 500,000 square kilometers in size. This island was named after William Baffin, who was an explorer. The history of the people living in Baffin includes cultures and traditions of the Nordic and Inuit.

6. Sumatra

Sumatra is over in Asia and it is 473,000 square kilometers. More than fifty million people live on this island and during a visit you will discover the equator crosses directly through the center. Half of the forest on this island has disappeared within the last forty years, creating a smoky haze that covers nearby countries.

7. Honshu

There are almost 228,000 square kilometers within this island in the Japanese archipelago and it is the second most populated island in the entire world. One hundred and four million people live on this island, of which almost a quarter of them live within Tokyo. Mount Fuji can be found on this island and it is what gives the island its height.

8. Great Britain

Great Britain is the largest of all the British Islands at 209,000 square kilometers. Sixty-one million people live on this island and they are all ruled by the United Kingdom government. Great Britain used to be known as Albion before the name was changed to Britannia and eventually the name it is called today.

9. Victoria

There are 217,000 square kilometers on the Canadian Island of Victoria. Only approximately two thousand people live on this island which was discovered in 1829.

10. Ellesmere

This is another Canadian Island and its Inuit name is Umingmaknuna. Less than two hundred people call this island home, thanks to the extreme weather conditions.

These are the ten largest islands in the world. I’m sure some of them were not surprising, but others were ones you probably didn’t even know existed. Let me know if you knew the ten largest islands in the world or if you were completely surprised with this list.

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Popular for travelers

7 Reasons Why Flying is So Expensive

Most people think that gas prices are the reason why flying is so expensive, but there are many other reasons why your plane ticket is so high. Once you take all the different considerations into account, you may finally see why flights are so expensive.

7 Reasons Why Flying is So Expensive

1. Costs for the Crew

Every flight requires two pilots and between two and four flight attendants.

2. Airport Costs

Every airport charges for the flights that come in and that charge is per pound of the plane, making the cost around $1,000 every time. This cost includes the usage of the gate, porters, and even the transfer of baggage.

3. Taxes

Every country has their own list of taxes that must be charged for every flight that you take. There are four or five different taxes within the US when you fly domestically and there are an additional four taxes if you choose to fly internationally.

4. Cost of the Airplane

The cost of the airplanes needs to be covered by everyone that flies, so a portion of each ticket goes towards future airplanes.

5. Maintenance Fees

Maintenance must be performed on airplanes in between flights, plus inspections must be performed regularly.

6. Business Expenses

Every airline has business expenses and when you purchase your ticket, you are covering parts of those expenses. This covers administrators, executives, software engineers, marketing people, and many other items. This is a critical issue that is why flying is so expensive

7. Insurance Costs for Planes

The cost of the insurance for each plane is included in ticket prices.

It does seem like it is expensive to fly, but when you consider the cost of a flight and compare it to the gas required to drive a car, as well as the routine maintenance for that vehicle, it is actually cheaper to fly.

As airplanes continue to improve, it is possible that flight costs will continue to drop. If you look at the price to fly from New York to Los Angeles back in the 70s, and make adjustments for inflation, it was a lot more expensive for that flight back then than it is now.

If we can find more competition for flights, the prices will drop. However, if more airlines go out of business, or make less trips to certain destinations, the prices will soar since the demand will be higher. Only time will tell if it will get more expensive to fly or if we can count on it to be cheaper than driving to a destination.

Let me know if you knew the reasons why flying is so expensive or if you were completely surprised with this list.

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Airlines Covid 19 Popular for travelers

Airlines and the Fallout from COVID 19: What Aircrafts are No Longer in Service

It is not surprising that airlines are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, because not too many people are traveling. What may surprise people though is that some airlines have retired certain aircrafts permanently. While we do not know what this will mean for future flights, we can share which aircrafts have been grounded permanently.

What Aircrafts are No Longer in Service After the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID 19 Fallout

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines was not supposed to retire its MD-88s and MD-90s until a much later date, but they are now exiting by the beginning of June. By the end of this year, all their Boeing 777-200s, of which there are eighteen of, will be retired. This is how big the Covid 19 fallout.

Delta Air Lines McDonnell Douglas MD-88 was taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Delta Air Lines McDonnell Douglas MD-88 was taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

American Airlines

American Airlines was planning on retiring many different aircrafts by the end of this year, but they are moving up their timeline now. The aircrafts they are retiring include all their Embraer E190s, Boeing 757s, Boeing 767s, Airbus 330-300s, and Bombardier CRJ200s.

American Airlines Boeing 757 passing over Maho Beach
American Airlines Boeing 757 passing over Maho Beach with tourists posing for photos enjoying vacations. Airplane registered N200UU on final approach.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines will be retiring all their B777-200/ER aircrafts. While some of them are in Alice Springs, NT, Australia right now, they will be moved to their final destination once it is safe.

Austrian Airlines

Austrian Airlines is starting to retire some of its fleet. They are starting with all their A319s, as well as three of the six of their B767-300s. In 2022, the rest of this airline’s Dash 8 fleet will be retired.

Air Transat

Air Transat was not supposed to retire its last A310 until its last scheduled flight at the end of April. However, COVID-19 wreaked havoc on those plans and caused this airline to retire it early.

Air Canada

Air Canada is currently retiring seventy-nine of its aircraft. The retired aircrafts include Boeing 767s, Airbus 319s, and the Embraer 190s.

Covid 19 fallout on Air Canada
Air Canada Boeing 767-375 (ER) takes off from Schiphol Airport.

IAG Group

The IAG Group will be focusing on the possibility of retiring their BA B747s and their A340s early. No final decision has been made, but the prospects of keeping them up in the air are slim.

British Airways Boeing 747-400 airplane London Heathrow airport (LHR) OneWorld special livery in the United Kingdom.
British Airways Boeing 747-400 airplane London Heathrow airport (LHR) OneWorld special livery in the United Kingdom.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Airlines recently announced that they will be retiring all their B747-400s and A330-200s. They also retired their last A340-600 at the end of March.

Air France

The A380s of Air France are no longer in service. These aircraft have been slowly retired since the beginning of January, but the speed has been ramping up with the current circumstances.

This Airbus A380-861 type code A388 is Operation by Air France. The registration number is F-HPJG. Take off from Paris (Charles de Gaulle Airport).
This Airbus A380-861 type code A388 is Operation by Air France. The registration number is F-HPJG. Take off from Paris (Charles de Gaulle Airport).

KLM

KLM recently retired all their Boeing 747-400s, which was a year earlier than planned. There are still three of these aircraft in flight, but they are only being used to transport cargo over to Shanghai.

A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747-400 taking off on April 21, 2015 in Amsterdam. KLM is the largest airline of the Netherlands with its hub at Amsterdam airport.
A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747-400 taking off on April 21, 2015 in Amsterdam. KLM is the largest airline of the Netherlands with its hub at Amsterdam airport.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa is planning to use less aircraft in the near future and that is why they have been retiring many different aircrafts. Their Airbus A320s are being phased out, as are some of their Airbus A380s, Boeing 747-400s, and Airbus 340-300s. Some of these may end up returning in the future, but for now they are listed on the retired list.

There will be fewer aircraft in the sky once travel fully resumes after COVID-19 and it is unknown how long that will be the case. However, we do know that these aircrafts will be retired, and that new aircraft will be needed if, and when, these airlines determine they need more planes in the sky.

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Airlines Fun Popular for travelers

American Airlines Best First and Business Class Areas

Anyone that flies regularly knows that there is a huge difference in airline seats and that it is worthwhile to spend a few extra dollars with the right airlines to be comfortable through an entire flight. They also know that they have been taken advantage of a few times and had some of the worst seats available, even though they paid extra for a premium seat.

An airline’s seat will vary depending on the aircraft and where it is located on the plane, and frequent flyers know which ones are the best and which ones are the worst.

LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK FLIGHT, USA – AUGUST 10 2015: American Airlines flight AA2 prepares to welcome first class passengers in its exclusive Flagship First Airbus A321T cabin.
LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK FLIGHT, USA – AUGUST 10 2015: American Airlines flight AA2 prepares to welcome first class passengers in its exclusive Flagship First Airbus A321T cabin.

New American Flag-ship First Class

The first-class cabin on the 777-300ER only has eight seats, so you would think that a person would have a lot of privacy. Unfortunately, this is not the case, but passengers do have the option of turning their seat to face the window. While this option is the most spacious, we rank it second due to the lack of privacy.

B/E Aerospace Super Diamond

These comfortable seats can be found on Boeing 787-9 and 777-200, just not every one, so it can be a gamble when choosing – be sure to check Seatguru for help understanding what configuration your flight will have. What they offer in comfort and privacy is slightly negated by the fixed IFE monitor that makes it extremely difficult to watch a movie while fully reclined and can make some feel.

Reverse Herringbone international business class

The reverse herringbone might be the best seat that American Airlines offers, and passengers can find it within business class on the 777-300 and first class on some configurations of the Airbus 321. The seats are comfortable whether a person is using them for sitting or have them opened completely flat for sleeping. There’s some personal storage available and a decent amount of privacy for anyone who is traveling alone.

MIAMI, FL -24 JAN 2017- Inside the Business Class cabin on an American Airlines flight. AA is gradually replacing these seats with a new American Airlines Flagship experience cabin.
MIAMI, FL -24 JAN 2017- Inside the Business Class cabin on an American Airlines flight. AA is gradually replacing these seats with a new American Airlines Flagship experience cabin.

Old Flagship first class – Boeing 777-300

These old first-class seats are going to be difficult to find shortly, as American Airlines is phasing them out, and that is a good thing. While they did offer access to the aisle from any seat, we found they lack privacy. That said, they certainly provided an excellent night’s sleep.

767-300 New Business Class

All passengers sitting in this section will have access to the aisle and their seats will fully recline, but when they do the seats are quite close to the floor. The storage space and two outlets are nice features, but the missing entertainment system is an issue. Passengers do receive a tablet for overseas flights, but not for domestic flights.

Empty first class window and aisle seat during the Coronavirus pandemic. Airline industry struggles as Americans are told to stay home to slow the spread of the disease.
Empty first class window and aisle seat during the Coronavirus pandemic. Airline industry struggles as Americans are told to stay home to slow the spread of the disease.

Zodiac Business Class

These seats can be found on 777-200 and 787-8 aircrafts and they are set up in a 1-2-1 configuration with the inner two seats facing the opposite way of the other two. This gives passengers quite a bit of privacy, but the seats are very narrow.

Premium Economy

Premium economy is one of the newer seats within American Airlines and it is on the 787-9. The seats are very wide and offer great foot support. The televisions pivot for optimal viewing and there is an outlet and USB port for everyone’s charging needs. Need a comparison? It’s much like flying internationally in a domestic first-class seat. While it’s still not a lie-flat option, it sure beats coach!

LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK FLIGHT, USA – AUGUST 10 2015: American Airlines flight AA2 prepares to welcome first class passengers in its exclusive Flagship First Airbus A321T cabin.
LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK FLIGHT, USA – AUGUST 10 2015: American Airlines flight AA2 prepares to welcome first class passengers in its exclusive Flagship First Airbus A321T cabin.

New Domestic First Class

These new first-class seats leave a lot to be desired and no one will want to be in them for any length of time. The seats do not recline enough and there is no leg support of any kind. A few of the seats have IFE entertainment screens, but most do not. Thankfully these are only on domestic routes, so everyone can manage for a few hours.

There are plenty of exceptional seating options available when flying with American Airlines, which is great news for passengers. Everyone will want to make sure that they know their options when flying and try to book their seats on an aircraft that has a configuration that works best for them.

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Champagne Cultural France Popular for travelers Wine

Experience Amazing Wine with The Real Grape

If you are a wine lover, you are going to want to check out The Real Grape.  They are our favorite company to work with when we need to create a fabulous and luxurious wine tour holiday!  While you may be fine with just a fabulous wine tour, we say that you should always accept the luxury part of it whenever you can!

The Real Grape provides tailor-made itineraries as well as wine tours throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.  They love sharing their love of delicious and quality wine with others and they do this by planning vineyard tours, wine cellar tours, wine and champagne tastings, and meetings with those who produce the wine and champagne.

Champagne vineyards Villedomange in Marne department, Champagne-Ardennes, France, Europe.
Champagne vineyards Villedomange in Marne department, Champagne-Ardennes, France, Europe.

One of the tours that The Real Grape has created is a trip to the Marne Department of Champagne, which also includes the areas of Reims and Epernay.  A good amount of the champagne that is produced in the region comes from this area and they bottle this delicious liquid for powerhouses that include Moet, Pol Roger, and Veuve Clicquot.

Avenue de Champagne with several Champagne houses along the road with strolling tourists in the evening in Epernay, France.
Avenue de Champagne with several Champagne houses along the road with strolling tourists in the evening in Epernay, France.

While in the Marne Department of Champagne guests stay in Reims, where they can see a 13th century cathedral and learn a lot about its rich history.  While in Epernay, everyone can visit the Avenue de Champagne, which happens to be one of the most famous streets in the entire region.  Some of the largest Champagne houses can be found along this street and people will be able to pop into some of them for a few tastings.

Gothic Basilica Saint Urbain of Troyes - France, Aube.
Gothic Basilica Saint Urbain of Troyes – France, Aube

Some people are always interested in visiting the outskirts of Marne, and The Real Grape enjoys taking them to L’Aube.  Inside the main city of Troyes, everyone can wander through the spectacular museums and preserved renaissance churches.  Many famous people lived in this region including a young Napoleon, Camille Claudel, and Renoir, plus General De Gaulle’s grave can be found there.

Champagne vineyards in the Cote des Bar area of the Aube department near to Baroville, Champagne-Ardennes, France, Europe.
Champagne vineyards in the Cote des Bar area of the Aube department near to Baroville, Champagne-Ardennes, France, Europe.

Visiting the major champagne producers is only a part of what everyone should see while in the Marne Department of Champagne though.  The major producers only include approximately two hundred and sixty of the more than two thousand champagne producers in the region.  Therefore, The Real Grape always include stops at many of the family-run producers that are much smaller.

Town hall and war memorial of Hautvillers, a commune in the Marne famous as being the home of Dom Perignon, whose work in wine-making helped to make champagne.
Town hall and war memorial of Hautvillers, a commune in the Marne famous as being the home of Dom Perignon, whose work in wine-making helped to make champagne.

Those smaller producers are an excellent way for everyone to learn more about the process in a more personal way instead of with a quick monotonized verbal statement.  The Real Grape prefers to visit producers who focus on sustainability and organic practices, because they provide a completely immersive experience that is full of passion. That experience does not end at the end of the day either.  The Real Grape partners with numerous types of accommodations including bed and breakfasts and chateaus.

We have loved the tours that we have been on with The Real Grape and encourage everyone to experience one for themselves.  In fact, everyone will receive a discount on any of The Real Grape’s tours just by mentioning the quote “JourneyConnected”- they’re offering a generous 10% discount to Journey Connected travellers.  They’re also giving even deeper discounts or any ‘early bird’ who books and pays a tour more than two months in advance. Anyone that cannot commit to a tour right now, and those that can, are welcome to join in on the fun to win a bottle of Biodynamic Champagne.  Simply sign up for The Real Grape Newsletter by June 1st to be automatically entered.


Connect with The Real Grape on one of their social media platforms:

Facebook: @TheRealGrapeTravel
Instagram: @TheRealGrape
Twitter: @The_RealGrape
Email: [email protected]

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Airlines Budget Travel Low Cost Airlines Popular for travelers

What You Must Know About Budget Airlines

Budget airlines are on every continent, but did you know that these airlines made their debut over in Europe? There are still more budget airlines in that part of the world over anywhere else. Their costs are significantly cheaper than regular airlines in Europe, which is quite different than the small savings you will see in the US or on other continents.

People boarding to Ryanair plane on Lech Walesa Airport in Gdansk. Ryanair operates over 300 aircraft and is the biggest low-cost airline company in Europe.
People boarding to Ryanair plane on Lech Walesa Airport in Gdansk. Ryanair operates over 300 aircraft and is the biggest low-cost airline company in Europe.

Most budget airlines place bulk orders when they order new airplanes, because that allows them to save a lot of money since they are getting such a steep discount. While these airlines could purchase older planes, they see a bigger savings with the new ones, due to the fuel efficiency and fewer necessary repairs.

Low cost carrier, Air Asia, taking off.
Low cost carrier, Air Asia, taking off.

All the employees of these budget airlines only need to go through training for the one type of aircraft the company uses. Instead of ordering five of one type of plane, ten of another, and so forth, the company simply orders one kind and uses it for every flight they have. This saves a bunch of time and money.

The flight attendants perform multiple tasks including cleaning the plane and taking tickets at the gate. This means fewer employees are needed to get every job completed.

When you take a budget airline flight, you probably notice that they normally do not fly into the larger airports in Europe. This is due to the higher costs of flying into those areas, so they choose to fly into the cheaper airports that are a little further from your destination. They will fly to regular airports on occasion, but it will be at the least popular times.

All budget airlines have very little downtime in between flights, so they are making more money every day. Time in the air is more profitable than time spent on the ground. Connections are also not usually available with budget airlines, because they do not have the employees to transfer the bags.

EasyJet Airbus A320 airplanes at Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) in Germany. Airbus is a European aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, France.
EasyJet Airbus A320 airplanes at Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) in Germany. Airbus is a European aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, France.

Many regular airlines have tried to jump on the budget airline bandwagon but have failed. They simply do not have the number of planes required, or the number of destinations, to make a company like this work.

Various low-budget airline aircraft parked at the terminal of Eindhoven-Airport.
Various low-budget airline aircraft parked at the terminal of Eindhoven-Airport.

Over in Europe, Ryanair and EasyJet have smashed the competition with their budget airline model, making it quite difficult for anyone else to break through in that part of the world. Only time will tell if the budget airlines within the US, mainly Allegiant and Frontier, will be as successful one day or if they will fall prey to the budget airline curse.

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Do You Know How High Commercial Passenger Planes Can Fly? Check It Out!

Every time you take off on an airplane and reach your cruising altitude, your pilot comes on the overhead and tells you how high the plane is flying. But do you know why they tell you this?

Every airplane has a limit as to how high it can fly. These limits ensure that the aircraft you are flying in is operating at its maximum capacity. Most of the time, all aircraft are allowed to fly at heights of forty-two thousand feet. However, as a plane gets closer to an airport, the air control experts can tell the planes to adjust their altitudes.

Etihad Airways Airbus A380-861 registration A6-APH flying into London Heathrow airport after operating as flight EY19 from Abu Dhabi.
Etihad Airways Airbus A380-861 registration A6-APH flying into London Heathrow airport after operating as flight EY19 from Abu Dhabi.

Here are a few height limits for specific airplanes:

  • Airbus A380: 43,000 feet
  • Boeing 787-8 and 9: 43,100 feet
  • Boeing 787-10: 41,000 feet
  • Boeing 737 (up to the 500): 37,000 feet
  • Boeing 737 (600 and newer): 41,000 feet

Most aircraft will only fly around 35,000 feet, as they feel that that is a safe height. However, if you ever have the chance to fly on the Concorde, you will find that you are flying much higher at a maximum height of 60,000 feet. The Concorde can handle these heights, due to their engines and other intricate features.

The air is thinner at higher altitudes, so flying is more efficient the higher the airplane is in the sky. There is less resistance, so the plane can fly faster without using more fuel. All jet engines operate better at higher altitudes too. The reason for this is that these jet engines can be run closer to their maximum capabilities.

The height that an airplane is flown at is dependent on the current wind conditions. Most aircraft will want to take advantage of the Jetstream winds on occasion, while other times, it is something to be avoided.

An A380 jumbo jet landing from a flight from Paris.
An A380 jumbo jet landing from a flight from Paris.

There is a point where the air is too thin and that is why these ceiling heights are in place for each individual aircraft. When the air is too thin, the engines cannot create enough thrust and the wings don’t have sufficient lift. Also, if an engine fails, it can be quite difficult to start it again in too high of an altitude.

There are a few safety concerns when you are flying at too high of an altitude as well. When the cabin pressure is off, it will take more time to stabilize it in lower altitudes if the plane is higher than it should be. When the cabin loses pressure, a person can only remain conscious for between fifteen and thirty seconds at 35,000 feet. When an airplane is at heights of 50,000 feet, the timeframe drops to only five seconds.

A Boeing 787 taking off.
A Boeing 787 taking off.

Private jets have a little more leeway in the sky, and you may find that you are riding on corporate jets that can safely ride at heights of 51,000 feet. These jets usually have larger engines and that is why they can successfully ride at these heights.

Now that you know how high commercial passenger airplanes can fly, you will understand why the pilot is telling you the plane’s altitude during your next flight. While it won’t change much of your experience, at least you can compare each one of your flights to the others and see how the altitude changes can result in a smoother or more turbulent flight.

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