World's best airlines announced at Paris Air Show
North American airlines didn't get much love at the 2011 World Airline Awards during last week's Paris Air Show. Held at the French Air and Space Museum, the awards were decided by over 18.8 million airline passengers from 100 different nationalities, who chose winners in 38 categories, from best airline to best meals in economy class.
In three of the big categories—Airline of the Year, Best Regional Airline, and Best Low-Cost Airline—us Yanks came up short. Asia-based airlines dominated, however, with Qatar Airways pulling in Airline of the Year, Dragonair winning Best Regional Airline, and Air Asia topping Best Low-Cast Carrier.
The Best International Airline in North America went to Air Canada, with Continental Airlines and Delta Airlines filling out the top three. Domestically, the Best Airline in North America went to jetBlue, followed by Virgin America, and WestJet.
The top 10 World's Best Airlines:
1. Qatar Airways
2. Singapore Airlines
3. Asiana Airlines
4. Cathay Pacific Airways
5. Thai Airways International
6. Etihad Airways
7. Air New Zealand
8. Qantas Airways
9. Turkish Airlines
What do you think? Do you agree with the award winners?
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Get your French on for Bastille Day
You don't necessarily have to board a transatlantic flight to get your Francophile fix for Bastille Day. July 14, France's Independence Day, has become just as much of an excuse for us to indulge in all things French — baguettes and brie, champagne and wine, Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf, anyone? — on this side of the pond as it has in France. In fact, the French government is encouraging it with the launch this year of Destination France Day, a new annual tradition aimed at positioning Bastille Day as a worldwide event to celebrate France as a travel destination. For its kick-off year, parties are being hosted in Paris, New York and Shanghai, with guests in New York encouraged to wear something blue, those in Paris wearing white and in Shanghai, red (in honor of the French flag). The soirée bleue in New York will feature a blue-themed fashion show and live musical performances at the Hudson Terrace. The soirée blanche in Paris will take place at a private apartment with views of the Eiffel Tower and the Bastille Day fireworks. And, in Shanghai at the House of Roosevelt, the soirée rouge will feature a French-themed photo exhibit and performances. For more information about Desination France Day, contact the French Government Tourist Office. But there are other ways to celebrate your inner monsieur or mademoiselle closer to home. Bastille Day has become an annual custom in many cities across the U.S. There is the Bastille Day Los Angeles Festival on July 17, and Bastille Day on 60th Street in New York on July 10. Chicagoans celebrate with a Bastille Day 5K & 8K Run, Walk and Block Party. In New Orleans, the city's historic French Quarter is abuzz with events for Bastille Day, including a Bastille Day music event and the 2nd Annual French Market Waiters Race. Brooklyn, N.Y. has an annual petanque tournament (similar to bocce ball) and street festival hosted by local restaurant Bar Tabac, which takes place on July 10 on Smith Street. The Alliance Francaise is a non-profit organization that promotes the French language and culture with chapters across the country. Check to see if your local Alliance Francaise chapter is hosting a party or event near you. And if you want a replica of the real thing, why not head to Paris Las Vegas? Or, perhaps pack up the car and head north to the French-speaking Canadian cities of Montreal or Quebec City. Or, if all this talk of France has inspired you, try your luck with Air France's late summer sale. Pourquoi pas? More from Budget Travel: 25 Reasons We Love New Orleans New York City Restaurant Week is almost here! This summer, travel with your little one—and your sanity
And the winner of the 2018 Winter Olympics is... South Korea
The International Olympic Committee this week selected PyeongChang, South Korea to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, a decision that will put the Asian peninsula nation in the spotlight in the coming years — something South Korea desperately wants. In recent years, South Korea has been pushing to market itself as a viable vacation destination, but it has had challenges, namely that it shares a peninsula with the sometimes hostile North Korea, and competes with China, Japan and Southeast Asia for travelers' attention. But this announcement could help South Korea drum up the kind of attention and excitement that might help the country emerge from the shadows of its neighbors. PyeongChang, a mountain region in northeastern South Korea, beat out Munich, Germany and Annecy, France, for the Winter Olympics (PyeongChang got 63 votes, Munich 25, and Annecy got seven). And VisitKorea, the country's tourism marketing organization, is already touting Pyeongchang as the "Alps of Korea" (interesting considering that Annecy is in the actual Alps), home to several ski resorts and parks. The decision was in fact a major coup for South Korea, which had already bid for the Winter Games twice, once eight years ago, when it lost to Vancouver, Canada, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, and again four years ago, when it was announced that Sochi, Russia will host the 2014 Winter Games. But this isn't the first time South Korea will be hosting an Olympics event. Seoul was the host city for the 1988 Summer Olympics, which were hosted in Asia two other times, in Tokyo in 1964, and in Beijing in 2008. Japan is the only country in Asia that has hosted the Winter Olympics — in Sapporo in 1972, and Nagano in 1998. "PyeongChang presented a strong and inspiring project that enjoys massive support from the government and the public," stated IOC President Jacques Rogge. "I have every confidence that PyeongChang will deliver on its commitment and host excellent Games in 2018." "The South Korean project will leave a tremendous legacy as PyeongChang will become a new winter sports hub in Asia," added Rogge. More from Budget Travel: What happens when the Olympics move on? How to Score Tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympics North Korea welcoming U.S. tourists year-round
Top 10 reasons we love France
Happy Bastille Day! Or as the French say, Bonne La Fête Nationale! It's the French equivalent of the Fourth of July, with parades and parties to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of modern France. Launch our slide show: 29 Stunning Photos of France. We, too, would like to celebrate the red, white, and blue of a different flag, so we present our Top 10 reasons we love France: 1. Crepes at every corner in Paris 2. It gave the world Nutella 3. The music of Edith Piaf 4. Wine is appropriate with every meal 5. The word boulangerie (it means bread shop) 6. The smell boulangeries emit, which permeates every street corner in the morning 7. It inspired Woody Allen's whimsical Midnight in Paris 8. Lavender fields in July 9. Rosé from the Côte du Rhône region 10. The French kiss What do you love about France? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Get your French on for Bastille Day 25 Reasons We Love New Orleans France's new impressionism festival makes for a fun day trip from Paris
Charleston: A Walking—and Eating!—Tour
Come hungry. Charleston, S.C., is a town that likes to eat well. The downtown has a variety of options—Mexican, sushi, Korean, Mediterranean, Thai, Italian, delis, burgers—and range from pizza joints catering to the student crowd to fine dining. But when I'm in Charleston, I like to explore local twists on standards of South Carolina Low Country cuisine. Like fried green tomatoes. At Jestine's Kitchen, a casual eatery reproducing the recipes of Jestine Matthews, who lived to 112 and worked for 70 years with the restaurant owner's family, the lightly battered fried-green tomatoes ($5.25) are served piping hot and have a lemony flavor. Don't leave Jestine's without trying the melts-in-your-mouth, sticky sweet Coca Cola Cake, $5.95 (251 Meeting Street, no website, no reservations). Nick's Barbecue—along with huge portions of good pulled pork, brisket, and chicken, topped either with a vinegary barbecue sauce or a smoky hot habanera sauce—serves fried green tomatoes with a thick cornmeal crust heavily seasoned with salt and pepper. Delicious. My husband's favorite, though, was Nick's sweet potato pecan pudding, a side dish that could easily be dessert (nicksbarbq.com, lunch for two about $25). Shrimp grits are another staple of Low Country cuisine and are perfectly seasoned at Anson, an upscale splurge. Prepared with shrimp stock, tidbits of bacon and bacon drippings, sprinkled with scallions and roasted tomato, every bite was heavenly. A diner at the next table so enjoyed tasting her daughter's shrimp grits, she persuaded her daughter to swap entrees (ansonrestaurant.com, dinner for two, with wine & dessert, about $120). No surprise that grits are widely available, and even at a no-nonsense diner like Sweetwater Café, the cheesy grits are a bowlful of comfort food at $5.99 (but skip Sweetwater's biscuits, which seemed straight from a supermarket). Great fresh seafood is a Charleston tradition. The culinary emphasis of Fish is no secret. While it offers a variety of French/Asian fusion, a popular dish is the Naked Fish, the catch-of-the-day prepared simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper, to showcase its freshness (fishrestaurantcharleston.com). Or go early for the Fish happy hour specials, beginning at 4:30 pm. Fortunately for those of us who love to burn calories almost as much as we love to eat, Charleston is also a walking city. On three visits, I've never rented a car, since the airport is an easy taxi ride ($14 to share a van, about $38 for a taxi) and downtown Charleston is pedestrian-friendly. Pack comfortable walking shoes to fully appreciate the architectural splendor of the area South of Broad Street. It is a neighborhood of 18th- and 19th-century mansions located close to one another, close to the waterfront, and within walking distance of the downtown shopping and dining area. Many houses have two story open-air porches, called "piazzas," situated to capture the prevailing breezes. Many houses have carefully cultivated gardens that can be glimpsed behind elaborate wrought iron gates. A handful, such as the Edmondston-Alston House (edmondstonalston.com), are open for tours by local docents, who can tell you about the family, the furnishings, and the architecture. Downtown Charleston is also home to the lovely historic campus of the College of Charleston, where you can stroll the brick walkways and admire the architecture and trees draped in Spanish moss. The campus welcomes visitors and offers student-guided tours, a map for a self-guided tour, and even a downloadable app for a self-guided tour (cofc.edu/visit). The Charleston City Market is four blocks of covered, open-air buildings, where local artisans sell pottery, wood carvings, soaps, wearable art, and other crafts. At the Market or on the sidewalk in front of the federal courthouse, you might see weavers turning sweet grass into baskets, and selling them on the spot. You can window shop at the many art galleries, upscale retailers like Jill St. John, or mid-price chains such as Urban Outfitters, or visit Butterfly (butterflyconsignments.com), a consignment shop filled with deals on fashion-forward women's clothing. For a free rest stop for tired feet, try people-watching from a plush chair in the lobby of the Embassy Suites hotel, the pink fortress-like structure that formerly housed the Citadel Military College and where some guest rooms feature gun ports (embassysuites3.hilton.com). Or cross Marion Square, a welcoming public park that hosts a farmers market on Saturday mornings, and find a comfy chair in the grand lobby of the Francis Marion hotel, built in 1924 and extensively renovated in 1996. If you stay at the Francis Marion, a weekend getaway package offered until December 2014 includes $50 per night of certificates for the hotel restaurant, The Swamp Fox, or for any participating restaurant on Upper King Street, most located within easy walking distance of the hotel (francismarionhotel.com). Nightlife on upper King Street has picked up in recent years, and now features lively upscale lounges with dress codes and lines that spill out onto the sidewalk. The bars' success has caused some tension with their neighbors over limited parking and the noise of patrons leaving at the 2 a.m. closing time. On every visit to Charleston, I am again struck by the friendly service. And that unpretentious hospitality is another draw for a lovely walkable city with great food. Sarah Ricks is a Clinical Professor at Rutgers Law School—Camden and a lifelong travel junkie.