Travel News – Friday March 9th

Plane panic after “bomb” alert.

An unnamed Southwest Airlines pilot was asked by an air traffic controller to wish his mother a happy birthday as he flew from Baltimore, Maryland, to New York’s MacArthur airport in Islip, Long Island, on Friday.

Taking to the plane’s intercom, the pilot told passengers that they had a “mom on board,” however, many thought he said a “bomb on board”.

Panicking passengers asked other members of the crew to clarify what the pilot had said, and were assured that there was no bomb. The pilot also went back on the intercom to explain his remarks but several passengers have now complained to the authorities about the announcement.

Italian Holiday

Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola is going back to his roots for his latest venture. He has previously explored his Italian heritage through a range of commercial ventures outside of films including a respected wine business and a pasta and sauce company. Now his four South American (Coppola Resorts) hotels have an Italian cousin with the opening of Palazzo Margherita located in the small town of Bernalda in Southern Italy’s Basilicata region.

The resort occupies the actual 19th century palazzo that was the birthplace of his grandfather, Agostino Coppola. The building has been completely renovated by acclaimed French designer Jacques Grange. The result is an authentic yet luxurious Italian home base where guests can enjoy palatial comfort while an entire charming town sits at their doorstep.

Ski season – The best is yet to come?

Easter is still a month away, but even if it doesn’t snow again between now and Good Friday (April 6) holidaymakers in the Alps can be assured of perfect pistes. Some of the best skiing of the season could still be to come, and the higher resorts won’t close until at least the end of April.

Snow conditions across almost the whole of Europe remain superb and March bargains are readily available.

Tourists flock to Burma

Demand for holidays to Burma has risen sharply since the National League for Democracy (NLD), the political party of Aung San Suu Kyi, softened its stance last year against tourism to the country. Tour operators in the UK have described the level of interest as “phenomenal”.

Burma welcomed just over 300,000 overseas visitors last year. By comparison Thailand received 19 million foreign visitors.

Trip Advisor to remove new ratings system

Trip Advisor is set to scrap its controversial new “ratings” system, which allows reviewers to mark hotels, restaurants and attractions without leaving a written review. The system permits the website’s users, and Facebook members, to award businesses with a mark out of five, but does not require them to justify their decision and has generated complaints from “hundreds” of businesses listed on the site.


Virgin Atlantic has appointed a ‘whispering coach’ to ensure cabin crew do not disturb the highest-paying passengers on flights.

Crew will learn how to whisper to Upper Class passengers at a volume of between twenty and thirty decibels on a special, day-long training course.Sir Richard Branson’s airline says that the measure will have a “calming effect” on passengers in its new, most luxurious ever Upper Class suite.

The airline says its new whispering strategy has been “formulated with input from speech experts” and trialled on test-flights and with several focus groups.

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