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.
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.
Airlines Rush to Adopt Cockpit Safety Policies Following Germanwings Crash
This article originally appeared on Fox News Travel. The Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps last Tuesday has already promoted changes to airline cockpit security. Following reports that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked out his fellow pilot from the cockpit on Flight 9525, several airlines announced they will begin to enforce the U.S. rules requiring two people at the cockpit at all times. Lufthansa, the parent of Germanwings, issued a statement Friday saying it was moving to the "rule of two" policy over the entire airline group, which includes Swiss International Air Lines, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, and smaller regional airlines, as a "precautionary measure." This follows a string of other airlines, including Air Canada, Westjet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Air Berlin, Thomas Cook, and budget carrier Easyjet. “The safety and security of its passengers and crew is the airline’s highest priority,” Easyjet said in a statement. Virgin Atlantic and Monarch say that while a two crew policy has always been common practice, they are in the process of making this formal policy. British Airways has so far refused to comment on the policy of its cockpit manning levels and says it does not discuss security issues, Sky News reports. Emirates Airline said it has “today implemented a new operating policy where there would always be two crew members in the cockpit.” The new guidance “is effective immediately,” a spokesman said. The new procedures will mean that two crew members must always be present on the flight deck. U.S. airlines have long required another crew member, such as a flight attendant, to enter the cockpit when one of two pilot exits. The crew member must lock the door and remain inside until the pilot returns, according to the Federal Aviation Authority. Investigators believe Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane into a mountainside during Tuesday’s flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, killing all 150 onboard. More From Fox News Travel: Who's flying our planes? The Germanwings crash raises questions about mental health of pilots Top wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma Florida Holiday Inn wakes up sleepy spring breakers with ‘Lion King’ song
Amtrak Expects Summer Ridership to Rise This Year
A reporter recently asked me for some rail travel tips. I told her quite honestly, "You know, I have to admit sometimes train travel is my favorite way to go." A great train ride can combine the best of road tripping (beautiful sights whizzing by your window, an ever-changing kaleidoscope of images) and flying (comfy seat, the ability to nod off at a moment's notice). Amtrak is reporting that advance ticket sales suggest ridership will be up significantly this July and August compared with last year. Translation? If you're considering taking the train this summer, don't wait too long to make up your mind. With that in mind, I thought I'd take a second to remind you of some of the options Amtrak is offering this summer. East Coast. Try a vacation package like "Washington D.C.: Rich with History, Politics, and Nightlife," or "American Heritage Escorted," a guided adventure. The East Coast is Amtrak's most-traveled region, and Northeast Regional service can get you from Virginia to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and even points north without ever having to change seats. Amtrak also links Virginia to Florida via the Auto Train (and for a higher fee, you can get your car fast-tracked to avoid a wait time when you arrive in the Sunshine State). The Keystone takes vacationers from Philadelphia to rural Lancaster County, and Amtrak has beefed up its Thruway bus service, linking commuter rail lines with its Palmetto line in North Carolina. Midwest. Amtrak's vacation package "Jazz, Blues, and Rock-n-Roll: The Heartland of American Music" is just the beginning of its heartland offerings. Eight daily Amtrak trains depart Chicago and locations in central and eastern Michigan and make stops at New Buffalo, Michigan, just steps from the beach. Passengers can continue south to explore the summer delights of St. Louis, Kansas City, and New Orleans as well. West. How about the "Grand Canyon Family Adventure"? Or "Glacier National Park: The Heart of Big Sky Country"? Or head for the coast, where the Coast Starlight can get you to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other summer hot spots where you'll find the music and food festivals, great weather, and mountain-beach one-two punch that makes the "left coast" the ultimate vacation destination. I'd suggest that you visit AmtrakVacations.com for a complete rundown of what the rail line is offering summer travelers. Its 12-page "Family Adventures" online brochure is highly addictive and already has me hatching plans for my own summer getaways. With comfortable seats, great views, and increasingly available Wi-Fi (currently available to about 75 percent of Amtrak passengers), it may be my favorite way to see America. TALK TO US! When was the last time you rode a train? Are you going to take Amtrak this summer?