Delta Officially Bans Big-Game Hunting Trophies Worldwide
In the wake of controversy over the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist, Delta Air Lines announced today that it would immediately "ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight."
Delta, the only U.S. airline with direct flights to South Africa, had been the target of pressure from individuals and organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which petitioned the airline on Change.org.
According to TakePart.com: "There's no doubt the news of Cecil definitely has altered the game plan for Delta," said Chris Green, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "Walter Palmer is from Minneapolis—the third largest hub in the U.S. for Delta. It's not unthinkable to assume he would have chosen to carry a national treasure of Zimbabwe's back to the state's on a Delta plane."
The New York Times reports that Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas banned trophies last week; they join South African Airways, and Emirates, Lufthansa, and British Airways, who had already banned them. Most non-African hunters are Americans.
The Top of Mount Fuji Now Has Free Wi-Fi
Tourists visiting Japan have spoken, and they want...Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi, specifically, on top of Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan. According to Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, the free internet at eight hotspots on the 12,388-foot mountain starts today. Three of the spots are near the summit. Sure, climbers will be able to access safety information and weather conditions, but the local governments especially want visitors to know that they can "share" where they are on Mount Fuji with friends, says the Yamanashi prefectural government's tourism reps: "[M]any climbers from the United States and Europe have said they wanted to use the Internet to share their experiences while on the mountain, the officials said." Cue the selfie sticks! There are a few caveats, though: You only get 72 hours of internet from when you first log on, and you'll need to grab a brochure with password and login info from the Fifth or Sixth station. The free-internet gravy train will end in mid-September. Wanna try it? Mount Fuji is an easy enough climb that most people can hike it on their own. Trails are open from July to roughly mid-September. The bottom-to-top climb takes approximately 12 hours, but you can take a bus to the Fifth Station halfway point, start hiking from there, and reach the summit in about six hours. Read all the guidelines at the official website for climbing Mount Fuji. If you'd rather not DIY, Willer Express offers guided two-day climbing tours of Mount Fuji from Tokyo that include an English-speaking guide, two meals, and an overnight stay in a mountain hut (from about $153).
Mountain Lion Plays "Tourist" in San Francisco
Add another item to the list of things San Francisco has that your town probably doesn't: In addition to miles of ocean and bay waterfront, roller coaster hills, one of the world's most beautiful urban parks, an iconic bridge, and peerless sourdough bread, the City by the Bay now boasts... a mountain lion. SF Weekly reports that there have been four recent wildcat sightings in the city, including one caught by a video surveillance camera. Sources from the Pesidio Trust, the National Park Service, and San Francisco Animal Care and Control believe the sightings were all of the same cat. As many visitors to SF do, the feline tourist explored several corners of town, including tony Sea Cliff, the Presidio parkland, Gough Street, and Lake Merced. My wife and I lived in San Francisco's Inner Sunset district (just south of Golden Gate Park and a little southwest of the Haight-Ashbury) for eight years, and the city remains one of our very favorite travel destinations (and millions of world travelers agree with us on that). It's also the kind of place where you never quite know who or what awaits around the next corner. We saw our share of oddballs and lost souls in our time. But we never saw a mountain lion cruising Gough Street. If you're visiting SF anytime soon, take a sec to eyeball the advice offered by the Presidio Trust (these are the same rules you should follow if you encounter a mountain lion in the wild or in a national park): If you see a mountain lion... Maintain eye contact.Do not approach the Mountain Lion.Make noise.Do not turn your back or run.Appear as big and threatening as possible.Give the Mountain Lion room to run away. Do not corner it. If the mountain lion appears threatening... Pull children close to you and pick them up without crouching down.Throw rocks sticks, water bottles, backpacks, and any heavy objects available to you.Speak loudly and firmly. Wave your arms and clap your hands above your head.Fight back if attacked. Do not play dead or lie down. The cat has not been seen in several days and was believed to be heading south out of San Francisco, presumably leaving behind a trail of scat and, like Tony Bennett, its heart.
JetBlue Will End Its Free Baggage Check Policy
JetBlue will introduce a new three-tiered fare scale, possibly as early as today, and will for the first time eliminate its signature free checked bag. The reason for the policy change, according to a Bloomberg report, is pressure from investors and analysts to boost revenue. Though fees for checked bags may seem like small potatoes to a big airline, JetBlue's new tiered fare system could boost income by as much as $200 million or more by 2017. The three-tiered fare scale will include a bargain price with no free bag, a medium price that includes one free bag, and a top tier that will include two free bags. According to JetBlue, less than half of the company's customers check a bag. Additional plans to boost revenue include the introduction of 15 additional seats on the airline's Airbus Group SE A320 jets. The baggage-policy change will leave Southwest as the only major carrier to offer complimentary baggage check. We love the JetBlue flying experience and its reasonable fares. Will the end of the company's free baggage check policy affect your future travel plans?
Google Celebrates World Oceans Day With Underwater Street View
I don't usually geek out over things, but today is special. In honor of World Oceans Day, celebrated each year on June 8th, Google has released its latest version of Street View featuring underwater scenes from around the world at the click of a button. According to an article by TechCrunch.com, the new Google Maps feature lets you search for more than 40 underwater spots across the globe and gives you a sneak peek of what it's like to dive with fish in Bali, follow alongside humpback whales near the Cook Islands, and swim among shipwrecks off the coast of Aruba among other ocean adventures. Take it for a spin here: Street View Oceans Curious about what else lies beneath the waves? Check out our 40 Unbelievable Underwater Snapshots slide show, brought to you by our well-traveled Budget Travel audience.