Paris airport rolls out free strollers
Here's a small innovation that will be a big relief for overburdened parents traveling through sprawling Charles de Gaulle airport. Forty free strollers are now available at Terminal 2E, which is used by carriers such as Northwest, Delta, and Air France. (American Airlines flies into 2A.)
The strollers (poussettes) are located at two loan stations just beyond security and can be wheeled around the duty-free areas and right up to your boarding gate.
The France tourism office, ATOUT, reports that more than 200 people are taking advantage of the strollers daily. Stay tuned for the addition of strollers to other terminals at CDG and to Orly airport.
If you are traveling to Paris with a baby or toddler in tow, check out this Aeroports de Paris page with more resources (where to find baby changing stations) and tips (powered milk and baby food are allowed onboard).
12 more flight innovations we wish would be adopted everywhere.
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Kudos to American Airlines for its help for Haiti
Lots of companies have been pitching in to help with Haiti earthquake relief efforts. We salute them all. A case in point: American Airlines and American Eagle have partnered with relief agencies to chip in on humanitarian missions. Yesterday, American began flying three daily relief missions from its hub in Miami. American is also lending Boeing 767s and 757s to ferry military personnel and other officials into Haiti. On Wednesday, the carrier evacuated 179 passengers from Haiti to Sanford, Fla. Regularly scheduled flights to and from Haiti have been canceled through at least Jan. 28, and possibly longer. (By the way, all commerical service has been canceled through the end of the month, at least. Customers ticketed on AA flights to or from Haiti may change flights without penalty.) What's more, American is matching donations made to relief efforts through its charitable fund. And, last Friday, employees participated in a Dress Down Day where ground personnel could wear casual clothes in exchange for a donation to Haiti relief efforts. If you fly American and you belong to American's free frequent flier program AAdvantage, you can earn a one-time award of 250 bonus AAdvantage miles for a minimum donation of $50 or 500 bonus miles for a donation of $100 or more to the American Red Cross, through Feb. 28, 2010. (See aa.com for info.) Update 1/22: Thanks to the efforts of more than 7,800 AAdvantage members, over $835,000 has been donated to the American Red Cross since Jan. 14, 2010. MORE For a list of top travel blogs, see travel.alltop.com
Chart: Airplane violence over time
Nate Silver has a proven track record for using statistics wisely, which is why I was intrigued by a chart he posted on his blog fivethirtyeight.com today. The chart tracks "violent passenger incidents" on airplanes since the 1930s, when commercial aviation became a big deal in the U.S. He got his data from PlaneCrashInfo.com, the most complete (but not perfect) database of aviation calamities on the Internet. From the database, Silver compiled the number of passenger fatalities from sabotage (such as bombings to collect life insurance or to make a political statement), hijackings, and pilot shootings. He also counted deaths on the ground caused by the crashing of the planes. Because many more people fly now than did years ago, he has done the math to see how many violent deaths there are per billion of passengers who fly. The chart shows that about 22 passengers per one billion enplanements were killed as the result of violent plane incidents during the 2000s, but deaths on the ground because of 9/11 added more than 3,000 deaths to the total. So there were 151 deaths in the U.S. for every one billion passenger boardings. The surprise to me is that deaths due to violent passengers, both in the sky and on the ground, has been a feature of flight for a long time. That is not to minimize the tragedy of 9/11 by any means. As Silver says, "Since the beginning of commercial air travel, a total of about 6,500 people have been killed as the result of Violent Passenger Incidents—nearly half of those, or 2,995, came on 9/11 itself." It was a horrible day, and there are terrorists out there who want to repeat the uniquely awful tragedy. That said, the chances of dying from airplane related violence has been pretty steady since the 1930s. MORE The Skies Are as Friendly as Ever: 9/11, Al Qaeda Obscure Statistics on Airline Safety
100,000 free Megabus tickets
Starting today, Megabus is offering 100,000 free seats on 28 bus routes for travel between January 6 and March 20, 2010. Here's the breakdown: 40,000 of those seats are for travel to New York City, the rest reserved for other routes in the Northeast and Midwest. Use promo code GETAWAY to get a ticket. As always, this offer is subject to availability, and a 50-cent booking fee applies. If your dates are flexible, you're more likely to get a free seat; there are only a certain number available on each route and each travel day. The free seats are a joint venture with NYC & Company, the Big Apple's official marketing and tourism organization. Check out their website for a listing of winter events and promotions. For instance, Restaurant Week starts on January 25. Megabus operates double-decker buses with free WiFi, power outlets, and reclining seats. Budget Travel gave Megabus an Extra Mile Award in 2008. MORE Megabus puts more seats on sale Megabus starts to offer service alerts by cell phone Megabus: A first-person account of a mishap
D.C.: Baby panda Tai Shan is leaving town
Since his birth on July 9, 2005, panda bear Tai Shan has become the tourism symbol of Washington, D.C. He appears on the city's subway fare cards and tourism posters. He's boosted attendance at the National Zoo, and drawn tens of millions of fans to the "panda cams" on the zoo's website. But officials announced today that the four year old bear is heading to back to China. I'll be wearing black and white in mourning. The exact date of Tai Shan's departure has not been set yet. He needs to get his visas approved, I guess. Panda details and photos at DCist. MORE Zoo Babies 2009