A few good links: Stripping naked for Aer Lingus

By Budget Travel
January 27, 2022
Courtesy <a href="" target="_blank">atalou/Flickr</a>

Hundreds strip 'naked' to win free Aer Lingus flights Participants got "strategically placed shamrocks" to cover up a bit. What is it with Irish airlines? [Telegraph]

Ryanair offers cash reward if you invent their next fee. And we thought the paying to pee was just a publicity stunt. [upgrade: travel better]

Take five native New Yorkers… The Guardian asks for (and critiques) five locals' advice on hanging out in the city.

Immigration Explorer A county-by-county map shows the origins of first-generation immigrants . [New York Times]

Fear of Flying Completely non-actionable advice for making it into the air. [Morning News]

Scoring a Restaurant Table Online,, and a host of others. [Wall Street Journal]

Australia Says 'Mayday, Mayday, We'll Pay You To Visit Us'. A proposal that the Aussie government pay for your flight. [Jaunted]

Sears Tower to be renamed Willis Tower. The nation's tallest building has a new name, but will anyone use it? [Chicago Sun-Times]

Man sues American Airlines for revoking his lifetime travel pass. He paid $250,000 20 years ago for lifetime first-class seats. [Gadling]

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This weekend: Charleston opens 150 lovely historic homes

Charlestonians are used to being gracious hosts&mdash;the charming, old-fashioned city sees more than a million visitors a year. But they truly open their doors in spring, with the annual Festival of Houses and Gardens. Starting this weekend and lasting a month, the festival will showcase 150 historic homes in 11 colonial and antebellum neighborhoods. More than a dozen different three-hour tours hit eight to 10 properties, each of which often span several decades of design. There are two new tours this year: Architectural Gems, which will feature six homes, and Secret Gardens of the French Quarter, with guest lecturers. The very popular Glorious Gardens tour takes you through some of the most impressive gardens in town, with a specialized guide in each (March and April are peak blooming season, so the colors will be popping). The Historic Charleston Foundation puts on the show with the help of 650 community volunteers; this is its 62nd year. The foundation, started in 1947, protects buildings and landscapes important to Charleston's heritage. The tour cost might seem steep ($45 per person for each tour), but all that goes into education, advocacy, and maintaining and restoring the old houses. The foundation also leads two-hour morning walking tours of Charleston's Historic District. Although you won't see inside any private homes on these tours, you will get a good sense of the area and its traditions at a price that might fit your budget better ($20 each for adults). Tours sell out fast&mdash;last year, the festival attracted more than 12,000 guests. Tickets available at or 843/722-3405. PREVIOUSLY 25 Reasons We Love Charleston Trip Coach: A Girls' Getaway in Charleston &amp; Savannah BT Upgrade: Exclusive Tour of Wentworth Mansion


Pick the top theme park ride..."March Madness"-style

Even if you don't follow college basketball, you can still share in all the bracket fun. Our friends over at Theme Park Insider are having their own March Madness-style tournament to determine the "Best Ride in North America." Voting has already started and every day a different bracket will be played out until a winner is crowned. Will Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror&mdash;returning champ and a number-one seed&mdash;win it all again? Or will a Cinderella story play out and we'll see Peter Pan's Flight (ranked 64) upset them all? (About as likely as East Tennessee State upsetting Pitt in the real tournament.) The seedings are 1&ndash;64, so for all of you veteran bracketologists out there, there are no 12-5 upsets you can count on. Voting will go through the beginning of next month, when the championship and the title of "Best Ride in North America" is decided on April 3. EARLIER What's Your Favorite Theme Park Ride? (50+ comments)


Napa Valley: The CIA's new cooking classes

The Culinary Institute of America has launched new cooking and wine classes at its Napa Valley location. Saturdays at the CIA, with dates now through July, are hands-on, two-hour classes taught by faculty. The class subjects include Street Foods of the Middle East, Bold Flavors from Tuscany, and Flavors of the New Spanish Table. Class size caps at 12, and students work in teams to complete a few small dishes to share with a glass of wine, all with an expert chef helping along the way (and you also get to wear those cool hats). Classes are $75 per person and taught in the mornings. The CIA also has new afternoon wine classes (also $75 per person), so it's feasible for you to spend an entire day at the CIA. If you make reservations ahead of time, you can eat a two-course lunch for $19 per person at the Institute's restaurant&mdash;that's about 30 percent off. Students also get 10 percent off at the CIA's store. This location is an easy stop if you're tasting your way through Napa Valley (St. Helena is about half an hour from Napa itself). The Institute, founded in 1946, also has locations in New York and Texas&mdash;graduates include Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, and Harold Dieterle. Reservations recommended, 707/967-2320,


Airfares: What's the deal with

This post is only for people who are obsessed with getting the lowest airfares&mdash;or with under-the-radar, travel industry news. Yesterday I sat down with the folks from, a new metasearch airfare site from Travelzoo. offers comprehensive listings of domestic flights (except for Southwest) and for international flights that originate in the U.S. You probably haven't heard of because the site doesn't have a marketing budget yet. But you'll be hearing much more about the site after it gets out of beta testing shortly, which will happen before summertime. The site already claims to have debuted a few firsts for fare search sites online. &bull; For a price, invites airlines to add a "Why Me?" link that appears next to their fares in the search results. For example, say you search for plane tickets on and the site produces a list of fares. If the results include fares from American Airlines, a "Why Me" link may appear next to the fare quote. Click on that link and a window opens explaining that American is different from other airlines in that it offers in-flight wireless Internet access on selected flights. Virgin America is another airline that is periodically adding the "Why Me?" box to its search results on The boxes will remind travelers that the airline offers added-value features such as its nifty in-flight entertainment system that includes instant-messaging with other passengers. This service is to help people who are not shopping solely on price to choose which airline is best for them on a given route. We've only seen the Why Me feature on a handful of highly competitive routes so far. &bull; displays all cabin classes&mdash;economy, business, and first&mdash;in one integrated display. Unlike other metasearch sites, it doesn't have a drop-down menu for selecting whether you want to see economy, business, or first-class seats&mdash;you automatically get the lowest in economy and the lowest in premium classes at the top of the screen. The point is to allow travelers to spot when a business or first class seat (which the site puts under the single label of "premium" seats) are available at a price that isn't much higher than an economy class seat. Says Brian Clark, senior vice president and general manager of search products for Travelzoo: "Users already are finding affordable business and first class fares that they otherwise would never have known about." &bull; says it lists its fares in an unbiased rank order. There isn't pay for placement, though parent company Travelzoo will continue to accept money from travel companies for preferential placement in its famous "Top 20 deals on the Internet" e-newsletter. What does do for Travelzoo, its parent company, which is a world leader at identifying and publishing travel deals? Travelzoo execs hint that will, in its first phase, be a supplement to Travelzoo's deals listings. Let's say you subscribe to the Top 20 deals on the Internet e-newsletter, and you see a great resort package for four-nights, all-inclusive at a four-star resort in Los Cabos. But let's imagine that have little idea how much it would cost to book plane tickets to take advantage of that deal. Well, Travelzoo will incorporate search results, perhaps in a pop-up window, synchronizing with the specifics of the deal. In this example, if the Los Cabos resort deal is only available for April 14&ndash;19, then the box will show selected fares via to Los Cabos for that date. The goal is to amplify not only the deals, but all travel options, and encourage people to book confirmed deals. Travelzoo spent $1.8 million on the URL, as TechCrunch has reported. The company could have launched the site on a different, free URL, such as instead. The logic behind purchasing the URL, says Clark, is that "fly" is a word that is frequently used by people searching for deals on search engines like Google and Yahoo and that it will naturally attract users over time. It's also proof that Travelzoo is committed to making be a standalone product that competes directly with the Orbitzs and Kayakss of the world in fare search. Clark says that plans to add hotel rate searches in due time. One final point.'s team was less than pleased by my claim that their site's design looked like a copycat version of Kayak (see "Kayak responds to mimicry by&hellip; The company's position is that it doesn't feel it needs to reinvent the wheel [i.e. the overall look of the site] given that travelers have become familiar with a certain type of website design when it comes to travel searches. In the words of Clark, "Why break new ground when users are already attracted to a successful model? The goal is to innovate the user experience on top of a proven interface." Clark adds: "We intend to prove we are as worthy or more worthy of customers in the airfare metasearch space. We've already debuted several industry firsts." UPDATE: March 20 I had missed an insightful post on by The Cranky Flier. He says, "They need to get more aggressive in promoting deals that are truly stellar and can’t be found elsewhere. Only then will people maybe consider coming to to search, but even that is questionable." EARLIER Using Twitter to ask if Google will buy Expedia Travelocity joins Expedia in dropping airfare-booking fees