Can pictures of flowers and cozy couches tame the traveling beast? Apparently. Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport (DFW) last year tested amenities, including a "recomposure area" at one of its security checkpoints, that were designed to calm passengers by being as welcoming as a nice hotel lobby. The result: Lines moved 25% faster.
"There were little touches to ease anxiety and speed [passengers] through the line to make it more user-friendly," DFW airport spokeswoman Cynthia Vega said.
But the pilot program at DFW's E18 checkpoint, which was duplicated at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT) in North Carolina, has come to an end. The couches, chairs and some other amenities were removed from Dallas, and Charlotte will follow suit shortly. Both airports hope to find another sponsor.
The program was a collaboration between the Transportation Security Administration; SecurityPoint Media, known for creating advertising opportunities on the plastic TSA tubs; and hotel chain...
Union Pacific's vintage Big Boy 4014 steam engine goes on the road again April 28, leaving its current waystation near Colton to be towed across Nevada and Utah and then on to Cheyenne, Wyo., by May 8. There, it will be restored for several years.
The steam monster built in the early 1940s will be on display for a day in Las Vegas and a day in Salt Lake City during its journey.
Big Boy's schedule tweeted and posted online shows the engine scheduled to leave at 8 a.m. PDT ON April 28 from Bloomington, an unincorporated area near Colton, and travel on to Victorville andBarstow with the first day ending at a Union Pacific rail yard in Yermo, Calif.
Rail enthusiasts have thrilled to the movements of the 6,300-horsepower engine. Day 2 brings the engine to Las Vegas, where it will be on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 30.
It then heads on a northeast route to Utah, where it will be on display in Salt Lake City from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 3. Scheduled arrival in Cheyenne is 1 p.m....
A centrally located Waikiki hotel, renamed the Aqua Oasis, has relaunched after a $2.5 million renovation. Introductory room rates start at $108 a night.
The rebranded hotel, formerly known as the Waikiki Joy at 320 Lewers St., officially opened Tuesday. The 96-room property is close to a host of restaurants and shops and is a few blocks from the beach.
The Oasis has a mix of standard rooms, junior suites and one-bedroom apartments, all of which have had a makeover. San Francisco designer Anthony Laurino juxtaposed splashes of bold patterns and bright color accents with backdrops of natural finishes and more neutral colors.
Guests who book by April 30 will receive a 15% discount for stays through Dec. 10. That brings the rate for a basic room to $108 for much of May and $176 during July, a peak travel month.
The rates include continental breakfast and in-room Wi-Fi.
Reservations can be made online or by calling (808) 943-9291.
By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
Now that American Airlines is dropping LAX-Santa Barbara flights, the company that has run shuttle service between the two points for three decades sees a prime opportunity.
"American Airlines will be missed!" Airbus co-founder Eric Onnen said in a statement. "Our service will continue to make LAX connections convenient, reliable and affordable."
Shuttle buses, which take 2 1/2 hours each way, cost $46 one way or $88 round trip for prepaid tickets; $50 and $95, respectively, for regular service. A second passenger goes for $40 one way and $80 round trip if tickets are bought at least 24 hours in advance.
A search on Kayak shows that United Airlines, which flies nonstop between LAX and Santa Barbara, charges $118 to $243 each way for a the hour or so flight. (American is cutting the service because of its restructuring plan with US Airways, it said in February. US Airways, however, will continue to fly between Phoenix and Santa Barbara Airport.)
A long-overdue renovation of the Calico Mine Ride will introduce state-of-the-art technology to the first major Knott's Berry Farm attraction while preserving the groundbreaking work of a legendary theme park innovator.
After transporting more than a million riders a year over the past half century, the 1960 Calico Mine Ride at the Buena Park theme park is undergoing a complete overhaul that will see the addition of nearly 50 animatronic figures as well as technical and structural upgrades to the seven-story manmade mountain.
Legendary ride designer Wendell "Bud" Hurlbut - who conceived, built and operated the Calico Mine Ride along with the 1969 Timber Mountain Log Ride at Knott's - was one of the first creators of theme parks in the United States.
River cruises aren't just for European ports. Blount Small-Ship Adventures is offering 2-for-1 prices on a 16-day cruise along the Mississippi River between Chicago and New Orleans.
This slow-paced ride provides a glimpse of life on the river and in Southern towns. Prices start at $4,999 for two.
The deal: Blount has customized small ships that allow passengers to walk from ship to shore and sail in waters as shallow as 7 feet. The cruise on the Grande Caribe navigates along 11 waterways, including the Mississippi, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway as well as the Tennessee, Cumberland, Ohio, Illinois and Des Plaines rivers.
It stops in places such as Kuttawa, Ky., and Pickwick, Tenn. (Shiloh National Military Parkis about 15 miles from there) where you may add on tours or do your own thing. The $4,999 cabin for two excludes port charges ($255), taxes, and airfare to and from the start point. Cruise price includes three daily meals, snacks, free beer and wine with lunch and dinner....
Finally, someone has designed a luxury hotel suite with wheels. Long-stay AKA Beverly Hills hotel has created a suite inside an Airstream trailer with leather interiors, full kitchen and bathroom, a bed with comfy linens, and even its trademark Bulgari bath amenities.
Price-tag for a five-day trip to Santa Barbara: $6,000.
Starting May 1, AKA guests can reserve the modified Airstream 2 Go and drive up the coast to spend two nights at Sunstone Vineyards in the wine-growing Santa Ynez Valley and two nights at Ocean Mesa Campground north of Santa Barbara. You can add on spa treatments, hikes, stargazing, wine-tastings, whatever your outdoors fancy, in advance.
Added bonus: California designer Trina Turk has added some colorful accessories to the suite -- and to the road-trip package. Guests receive a one-on-one styling session at the namesake boutique in Los Angeles and a pack list that begins with "Anything in orange or bright coral."
You drive the Airstream from the wheel of a Yukon...
If you want to know what a national park smells like, head to Yosemite National Park and inhale. Maybe you'll catch the sweet scent of lupine or the butterscotch aroma of a ponderosa pine. What you are unlikely to smell is wild strawberries -- unless you buy a national park air freshener.
I've been to Yosemite many times and not once have I been bowled over by a strawberry scent with a twist of mist, unless I was near one of the dining halls. Wild strawberries aren't common at the park; the plants are found in forested areas at higher elevations.
So much for making sense of the scents. Air Wick does support and partner with the National Park Foundationin creating the line...
By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
What did they do with baby George? The official trip that brought Prince William and wife Catherine to New Zealand this month took a turn for the adventurous Sunday when the couple hopped on a jet-boat journey down the Shotover River.
The jet boat ride in Queenstown on the South Island is known for dodging jagged rocks and zipping through narrow canyons during a white-water rush that lasts less than half an hour. The boat travels more than 50 mph on the fast-flowing river.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the boat carrying the royal couple shot up the river, made a 180-degree turn for the cameras, and then disappeared into the canyon. Photos of the trip (see above) show the couple in a relaxed outdoors setting.
The two, and George, move on to Australia where the three-week tour ends April 25.
If you're celebrating Easter this weekend in Denver, you might also ingest a bit of the city's pot-celebrating 420 Rally that has been expanded to a two-day event this year.
The 420 Rally, once an underground event but now very much above ground, embraces Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use when it was signed itno law last year.
The 420 Rally has been around since the 1970s and describes itself as "a cannabis culture music featival." It walks a fine line because, despite the law that allows people 21 and older to use pot, public use is still illegal.
"Our goal is to create a positive environment for users to share stories, learn about the industry and create informed opinions on the remaining issues facing the industry,” rally organizer Miguel Lopez says in a statement.
Passover begins at sundown Monday (today) and the Transportation Security Administration is assuring fliers that its officers will be sensitive to carry-on items associated with the Jewish holiday.
"Some travelers will be carrying boxes of matzo, which are consumed as part of the Passover ritual," the agency said in an April 2 statement.
"Matzo can be machine or handmade and are typically very thin and fragile, and break easily. Passengers traveling with religious items, including handmade matzo, may request a hand inspection by the TSO [transportation security officer] of the items at the security checkpoint."
The statement went on to say security officers would be aware of observant Jews who may particpate in prayer rituals and wear head coverings and prayer shawls.
Israel has been preparing for Passover too, though not in the same way. The Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem received a spring cleaning, which involves removing the notes to God to make room for new messages of...
Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger Mary Forgione likes to hit the dirt when she's on vacation. An avid hiker and runner, Mary likes speed-touring cities on foot and sightseeing by running marathons.