Flying Through The World's Busiest Airport Just Got A Little Easier

By Danielle Contray
October 3, 2012
Courtesy <a href="" target="_blank">saiberiac/Flickr</a>

Thanks to a new terminal at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, there's no reason to dread connecting in Atlanta.

Connecting through Atlanta has long been a necessary evil—it's a Delta hub, as well as AirTran (and soon to be Southwest, once that merger is finalized). But it just got a little less evil. The new Maynard Jackson international terminal, which opened on May 16, was designed to alleviate some of the congestion, as well as add 12 new international gates—freeing up more space for domestic flights. A new entrance and security checkpoint were also added for international travelers and the baggage–claim process for those connecting from outside the U.S. has been streamlined.

Not only is the terminal more efficient, it's also nice to look at. Huge windows let in lots of light, and a city ordinance demanded that 1% of the $1.4 billion cost was put towards public art (after you pass through security, look for the conical piece made up of thousands of Swarovski crystals).

Are you excited about an easier flight through Atlanta?


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City Passes in Italy: Worth It or Not?

Tracking down amazing Real Deals is a big part of my job here at Budget Travel, and involves breaking down the details to make sure travelers are really getting the most for their money. I decided to apply the same logic when planning out my family’s first vacation to Italy—especially when we kept running into deals that sounded too good to be true. Take the city cards and passes for Florence, Venice, and Rome. The basic idea behind them: pay a lump sum and get access to museums, historic sites, and galleries—and sometimes city buses or metro—for a discounted price rather than buying all those tickets separately. Discounts and the ability to skip enormous lines? Sounds good to me. But are they really a good deal? I looked into it and here is what I found: Firenze Card (The Florence Card) Price: $80 per person. Where you can buy it: Through the website or at any of these participating attractions. How it works: The Florence Card covers admission at 67 of the city's museums, galleries, historical villas, and gardens as well as a three–day transit pass. It remains active for 72 hours, and the clock starts when you visit your first sight. One caveat: You can only visit each place once. So savor your time with David. The breakdown: Florence's two most popular museums, the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Gallery, cost $25 and $9 respectively to visit. A three–day transit ticket costs $18 per person, so entrance fees to the two must–see museums plus the transit pass already brings you to $56. For just $28 more, you get free access to 65 more sights. The verdict: Deal! VeneziaUnica City Pass (The Venice Card) Price: $44 per person over age 30; $33 for those ages 6 to 29. Where you can buy it: Create your own card online with options that will make the most of your trip, whether you're planning to use public transit or just walk and see the various museums of Vence. You can also find the City Pass at any of these Hello Venezia ticket offices, at tourism agencies in the Mestre and Santa Lucia train stations, or at Marco Polo Airport. How it works: You’ll get admission to the Doge’s Palace, Jewish Museum, 16 Chorus Churches, and the city’s 10 Civic Museums, plus discounts on parking outside the historic center, tours, concerts, and at shops. Plus you can take your time—the card stays active for seven days. The breakdown: A regular ticket to the Doge’s Palace costs $27 and includes admission to the other 10 Civic Museums if you purchase the Museum Pass instead. A Chorus Pass will give you entry to 16 churches for another $13. Admission to the Jewish Museum is a mere $4 more, bringing your total to $44 without the Venice Card. For the same price, you'll have access to more museums and have seven days to use it. The verdict: Deal—if you're planning to museum-hop and see everything the Venice Pass has to offer. Roma Pass (The Rome Card) Price: $40 per person. Where you can buy it: Through the website or at any participating attraction. How it works: The Roma Pass covers entrance fees to your choice of two participating museums or archaeological sites, discounted admission to more listed sites, and free use of city transit. Most of the city's attractions are covered, but note that the Vatican Museums are not part of the deal. The breakdown: One regular ticket to the Coliseum works for two days and includes admission to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill for $26, while a three–day transit pass will set you back $18. For $4 less, you might as well take advantage of the discounts and access to another free museum. And you won't have to wait in line at the Coliseum and other typically overcrowded attractions. Which is priceless. The verdict: Deal! *Prices shown here are in USD, are based on one adult, and include taxes and fees when purchased online. Euro–dollar conversions are shown on from August 17, 2015, and may vary over time.


7 Best (And Worst) Museums To Visit On An Empty Stomach

Some folks plan whole trips around a restaurant (or ten), a signature dish, or an edible obsession. (I once vowed to eat gelato three times a day during an 11&ndash;day trip through Italy with a girlfriend&mdash;and we both held up our end of the bargain.) But simply eating something doesn’t always deliver context&mdash;which is what makes the food part of travel so fascinating, and why we devote a whole issue of our magazine to the topic each year (find our May/June Food Issue on newsstands now!). So here, we present seven museums across the country that have built entire exhibitions around a type of cuisine, a way of eating, or even a single ingredient. (Some even let you try the goods, too.) No, it’s not the same as eating your way through the best little pastry shops in Paris&mdash;but you just might learn something. The American Museum of Natural History in New York is staging a monthly series called “Adventures in the Global Kitchen,” featuring themed lectures and tastings on a different topic each month. The next one, on May 3, covers the cultural history of tequila and chilies ($30); Juan Carlos Aguirre from Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders and Courtenay Greenleaf of Richard Sandoval Restaurants are running the presentation, which includes samples of both of the substances in question (score!). The theme for June: Tiki drinks! Opening May 25 and running through September 2, 2012, “Beer Here: Brewing New York's History” at the New York Historical Society tells the story of both the production and consumption of beer in New York from colonial times through Prohibition and on to the present day. (Fun fact: In the mid&ndash;1800s, New York state was the top producer of hops in the whole country!) Visitors will learn about the nutritional content of colonial&ndash;era beer, the chain of technological advances in brewing, and the old&ndash;time advertisements and slogans used by past New York brewers. The best part: At the end of the exhibition, there’s a pop&ndash;up beer hall, where, on Saturdays throughout the summer, half&ndash;hour beer tasting events ($35) will be held at 2pm and 4pm, led by brewers and brewery owners from in&ndash;state labels like Kelso Beer Co., Keegan Ales, Ithaca Beer Company, and Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Through June 10, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle has “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats,” a fascinating (and slightly voyeuristic) presentation of the eating habits of families in 10 countries. The photo&ndash;driven exhibit was culled from Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio’s even wider&ndash;reaching project from a few years back, in which they photographed 600 meals eaten by 30 families in 24 countries&mdash;including a snapshot of each household with a week’s worth of groceries laid out next to them. The disparities from one group to the next are nothing less than shocking&mdash;and will likely make you reconsider what you put in the cart on your next visit to the supermarket. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service collaborated on “Sweet and Sour,” an examination of the history of Chinese food in the United States. The exhibit’s cache of photographs, vintage signs, cooking and eating utensils, and memorabilia will be on view in Washington through the end of 2012, before it moves on to its next location (which is still to be determined). One surprise addition to the trove: The Virginia Mericle Menu Collection, a shipment of more than 4,500 Chinese&ndash;restaurant menus amassed over the course of Mericle’s lifetime, was donated to the museum by her daughter, Virginia Henderson, after Mericle’s death in 2009. Another ode to the culinary contributions of immigrant groups is on display through August 3 in Birmingham, Alabama’s Vulcan Park and Museum: “Beyond Barbecue and Baklava: The Impact of Greek Immigrants on Birmingham’s Culture and Cuisine.” Its centerpiece is the 1946 neon sign from the city’s iconic Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs&mdash;now a popular photo op for visitors to the museum&mdash;which is supplemented with photos and mementos from 100 years of Greek restaurants citywide. At first glance, a new exhibit at New Haven, Connecticut’s Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, might make you lose your appetite. “Big Food: Health, Culture, and the Evolution of Eating” (through December 2, 2012) takes a hard look at the American diet as it stands today&mdash;as well as the societal and economic factors that have shaped it over time. It’s part of a months&ndash;long program that incorporates tough&ndash;love teaching tools, documentary screenings, and weighty lectures&mdash;on the politics of the “sugar pandemic”; on which cultures have the healthiest diets; on the sinister secrets of food advertising. But the program’s organizers balance out the bad news with fun, like a tasting night with local chefs on May 10, and a healthy&ndash;food&ndash;focused Fiesta Latina in October. (The schedule is still being updated, so check for more events.) If that’s too much reality for you, then just mark your calendars for December 9, 2012, when the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe cuts the ribbon on its exhibit “New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Maté y Mas,” which looks at the earliest imports and exports of foods to and from the Americas, and the roles played by specific products (in particular, drinks made from chocolate and maté) that Europeans went crazy for. How do you say “chocoholic” in French? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 15 International Food Etiquette Rules That Might Surprise You Confessions of...A New York Street&ndash;Food Vendor America's Best Food Regions


More Smartphone Owners Using Their Devices For Travel

It might not come as a surprise that smartphones are increasingly becoming essential travel tools. A recent survey has confirmed that, in fact, 51 percent of smartphone owners are using their devices to access travel content, and nearly one in five use their devices to actually book travel. While most smartphone users are still using their devices to gather information, a comScore survey of mobile travelers age 18 and older conducted the three months ended February 2012, found that 21 percent of smartphone consumers checked in for a flight on their device, 18 percent booked a flight on their smartphone, and 10 percent canceled a flight on their phone. "Smartphones have really stepped in to meet a variety of needs for travelers, such as coordination of schedules, locations, trip itineraries and transactions," said Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of mobile. Twenty-six percent of smartphone users check airfares on their mobile device, while 25 percent look up an airline phone number, flight schedules, and check a flight status. Here is a breakdown of how smartphone users are using their devices to access flight information: Checked airfare prices: 26% Looked up a phone number (i.e. airline): 25% Looked at flight schedules: 25% Checked a flight status (arrival/delays): 25% Looked up airport information: 24% Checked in for a flight: 21% Received price alerts for flights: 19% Booked a flight: 18% Received SMS alerts for a flight status: 17% Tracked the status of a checked bag: 13% Canceled a flight: 10% And here, how smartphone users are using their devices to access hotel information: Looked up hotel address/directions: 29% Looked up/ researched attractions/ things to do at my destination/near my hotel: 23% Looked up/researched places to eat at my destination/near my hotel: 22% Read a hotel review: 22% Compared hotel prices &amp; availability: 21% Booked a hotel room: 18% Received price alerts for hotels: 18% Looked up/researched ground transportation at my destination/near my hotel: 17% Cancelled a hotel reservation: 10% How do you use your smartphone when you travel? What kind of information or tools are helpful to you when you’re visiting a new city or a foreign land? Let us know by commenting below. More from Budget Travel: A More Comfortable Hotel Stay? There's an App for That Should You Be Charged For Booking a Rental Car and Not Picking It Up? Do You Embrace Technology When You Travel?


If Tourists Can't Buy Pot, Will Amsterdam Tourism Suffer?

Amsterdam is beloved for its canals, houseboats, museums, bikes, pancakes, and yes, for its cannabis. But a government plan to prohibit foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands could put a damper on tourists' high. The government has proposed a plan that would only allow Dutch residents, not foreigners, to purchase marijuana, The Associated Press reported. The new regulations go into effect in the south of the country on May 1 and are scheduled to be enacted nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013. It's still unclear how and whether the regulations would impact the famed coffeeshops of Amsterdam. "The national government would like to introduce a national membership card system for coffeeshops in the Netherlands [that] would effectively ban tourists from visiting coffeeshops and purchasing soft drugs," the City of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Tourism &amp; Convention Board explained on their joint website. "Under the new scheme, only Dutch residents of legal age would be eligible for a membership card." "The City of Amsterdam has concerns about these plans, and recently commissioned research into the potential impact of the so-called 'weed pass,'" the site stated. The City of Amsterdam has been working to convince the government that the 'weed pass' initiative would be counterproductive. "If tourists are denied access to coffeeshops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase," the City of Amsterdam has argued. "The City of Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible." The City of Amsterdam reported that 23% of tourists visit a coffeeshop during their stay in the city. The Dutch Cabinet decided on the regulation to restrict cannabis consumption by foreigners last year as part of an effort to put a cap on drug tourism &mdash; visitors who come to the country solely to purchase and consume cannabis. On Wednesday, Dutch coffee shop owners went to court in a last ditch effort to block the government plan, AP reported. A ruling is expected on April 27. Stay tuned, stoners. More from Budget Travel: Like Everyone Else, Airlines Are Feeling Pain At The Pump Top 10 TSA Checkpoint Freakouts, Humiliations, and Confrontations United Passengers: How Long Have You Been On Hold?