Do Some Airlines Discriminate Against Passengers With Special Needs?
ABC News reports that an Oregon woman believes her family of four was kicked off a flight by United Airlines because her 15-year-old daughter has autism.
A variety of accounts confirm that the family asked the flight staff for special consideration for their daughter's food preferences, noting that the girl, who has trouble communicating, would have a "meltdown" if she was not provided with a hot meal. After initial resistance from a flight attendant, the girl was served rice with jambalaya and she traveled quietly and did not disturb her fellow passengers. Reports also confirm that after the girl's needs had been met, the plane made an unexpected landing and the captain requested the assistance of medics and police in removing the girl and her family from the flight. The family has filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation.
But for those of us who've traveled with babies; toddlers; children and adults with sensory integration issues such as autism or behavioral challenges such as attention deficit and hyperactivity; and older adults with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges, this incident literally hit home. Do some airlines discriminate against passengers with special needs?
United Airlines makes a solid commitment to travelers with special needs on its website, as do all the major carriers. And at least one U.S. airport has gone the extra mile to help prepare autistic kids for travel: We applaud the Boston Logan airport for holding Wings for Autism events that allow families with autistic children to get to know the airport and the travel process, from entering the airport to check-in, security, and boarding. It's a great way for the kids to get more comfortable with the experience, and also helps travel professionals become more aware of the challenges faced by children with special needs. We only wish the program would be adopted by more airports!
We want to know: Have you experienced discrimination on the basis of special needs when flying?
Outrageous Driver Confessions! Cursing, Speeding, and Other Bad Behavior
Raise your hand if you've ever been behind the wheel and deliberately cut someone off, muttered a curse word under your breath, leaned on the gas pedal a wee bit too hard, or, worse, had any of the above directed at you. That would be all of us, right? I personally will never forget one particular incident while I was tooling around Palm Springs in my rental car on vacation: Evidently the "no right turn on red" rule doesn't apply in California if you make a full stop first, which this New Yorker quickly learned after waiting patiently through an entire stoplight, only to have a blue-haired woman around age 70 swerve pointedly around me, honking the entire way, then, for good measure, appeared to scream an expletive at me through her window while flipping me the bird. The foul-mouthed granny is in good company, according to Expedia's new Road Rage Report, released today, in which frighteningly large percentages of American drivers to admit to some jaw-dropping bad behavior. Read on for the dirty details: • 61 percent of respondents admitted to speeding. • 29 percent admitted to following other vehicles too closely. • 26 percent said they have yelled or used profanity at another driver. • 17 percent said they have made a rude gesture, while 53 percent said they have been on the receiving end of one. • 4 percent said they have exited their vehicle to engage angrily with another motorist. • 13 percent have felt physically threatened by another driver. • 25 percent admitted to "regularly or occasionally" talking on their mobile phone while driving. Why? The excuses were myriad, the survey found. Running late was a big one, as was "being provoked by other drivers." Suuuuure you were. If you're prone to road rage, an app like Waze, which guides you around traffic snarls with crowd-sourced info from other drivers, could be your new best friend, as we've suggested in the past. But no tech gadget can compete with the age-old Golden Rule—or a dash of mindfulness before you unleash a string of particularly descriptive nouns and adjectives. The city with the rudest drivers in the nation, according to the Expedia survey? New York City! Maybe I'll pick up a few tips on my next cab ride before I dare motor down the mean streets of Palm Springs again. Would you admit to any of this bad driving behavior out loud? Have you been on the receiving end while on a trip? Or do you have tips for keeping your cool behind the wheel? Let it all out in the comments!
Memorial Day 2015: Bigger (and Cheaper!) Than Last Year
It looks as if millions of American share Budget Travel's love of road trips. AAA Travel is predicting that more than 37 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend (Thursday May 21 through Monday May 25), the highest volume for the holiday weekend in 10 years, and that 80 percent of them (33 million travelers) will drive to their destinations. AAA points out that the lowest gas prices in five years (the national average is $2.66, a full dollar less than last May) are inspiring a 4.7 percent increase in Memorial Day travel. We'd like to think that America's coolest small towns, one-tank escapes, scenic drives, beautiful cities, national parks, and beautiful beaches have something to do with all that Memorial day travel too. We want to know: Are you getting away for Memorial Day weekend? Are you driving? Where are you headed? And, maybe more importantly, what would be your dream destination for the holiday weekend?
Ready for a Ferry Ride to Cuba?
For those of you who've enjoyed ferry rides to prime destinations like Sausalito, Nantucket, and Mackinac Island, hold on to your hats: The U.S. just approved ferry service between Florida and Cuba. Granting licenses to several cargo and passenger companies, the federal government opened up the possibility of ferry service in the Florida Straits for the first time in more than a half century. The Miami Herald reports that some ferry companies say they may offer service within weeks from ports like Key West, Miami, Port Everglades, and the Tampa area. The Sun Sentinel reports that one company, CubaKat, hopes to offer high-speed catamaran service from the Florida Keys to Havana by December. CubaKat's multimillion dollar craft would transport about 200 people to Havana in approximately for hours for $338 (considerably less than the $500 airfares common at the moment). While there are still plenty of hoops to be jumped through and red tape to be cut (not to mention the fact that Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba only for family visits and educational/professional purposes), the prospect is enticing. Back in the 1950s, ferry travel to and from Cuba was a normal part of many Americans' and Cubans' travel experiences. If you're ready to dive into the "purposeful travel" that is currently permitted to Cuba, you don't have to wait for ferry service to begin. A group tour such as Intrepid Travel's 9-day Hola Cuba People to People package might be right for you. You'll meet real Cubans, including top chefs, local artists, salsa dancers, historians, and tobacco farmers, as you travel from iconic Havana to the countryside. We want to know: Have you visited Cuba? Are you one of the many travel fanatics eagerly researching a future Cuba excursion?
Curing Culinary Travel Fever in NYC
This article was written by Meleena Bowers. Follow along with all her travel adventures on Twitter and Instagram at @worldtravelure. Food is the window to a nation's soul. Our first experiences with food often shape our perceptions about a foreign land and its culture. It is the elusive feeling of comfort that is evoked when biting into our first hot, flaky croissant of buttery goodness in Paris or the burst of flavors we experience when the first forkful of a tender Moroccan lamb tagine hits our tongue. We remember the sweet dal that we had at a wedding celebration in Mumbai, the mole we had in Oaxaca at La Guelaguetza festival, or the hearty goulash we had on a wintery day in Budapest. Exposure to exotic dishes experienced abroad can lead to withdrawal when a craving hits back home. It is a dilemma any bon vivant junkie must face: how to chase the dragon stateside? Spices have always held a certain reserve currency status. There was a time when nutmeg was more valuable than gold. In fact, the Dutch traded Manhattan to the British in exchange for a small Indonesian Island that allowed them to have a monopoly on nutmeg. International epicureans looking for those hard to find ingredients from travels abroad are in good company and join the ranks of Marco Polo, Vasco De Gama, and Christopher Columbus who searched for new routes to the spice rich regions of the Far East. For New Yorkers in the know, the journey to culinary nirvana need not be as fraught with peril as those faced by the early explorers. Kalustyans in Murray Hill is where Marco Polo meets Manhattan. It is where the refined, internationally fine-tuned palate comes to worship at a shrine of fragrant spices, rare salts, fiery hot sauces, and infused oils. Culinarians with an appetite for adventure will appreciate a field trip to La Boîte where world traveler, chef and spiceologist Lior Lev Sercarz peddles his signature blends. Chef Sercarz' craft creations bear the names of exotic destinations tempting the home chef to experiment with new spice fusions in the same way one does while abroad by adding a dash of Bombay, a pinch of Penang, and a squeeze of Siam. The Greek Diaspora flock to Titan in Astoria for a quick Feta fix while those seeking a cure for South of the Border fever can check into, or rather check out at, Williamsburg's Moore Street Market, the Betty Ford clinic to all things Latin. Should you be on a Viking quest to stockpile the Norwegian chocolate that ruined all other chocolate for you, the Nordic Deli in Brooklyn or the Scandinavia House in Manhattan will keep you outfitted in the creamy milk chocolate deliciousness of Freia Melkesjokolade for as long as your pockets are lined with Krone. Although the price points at these specialty stores are not always as easy to digest as they are in their native lands, the spices acquired at these culinary apothecaries will be less expensive than commandeering a slow boat to China. With any luck, your acquisition of these specialty seasonings will have your dinner guests convinced you are serving them ambrosia. Whether you travel to a brick and mortar location or make a virtual visit online, your trip to one of these niche stores will help throw the gastronomic monkey off your back. Until your next sojourn where you will undoubtedly fall in love with new dishes and flavor profiles.