Flying somewhere or just staying home this July 4th holiday weekend?
Take it easy. And stay safe.
Flying somewhere or just staying home this July 4th holiday weekend?
Take it easy. And stay safe.
If you’re flying somewhere on Valentine’s Day, we hope it’s on a flight that wings you to your sweetheart.
If not, take heart from some of the efforts airports and airlines will be offering throughout the day.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) will be giving out complimentary chocolates to passengers from world-renowned chocolatiers.
Southwest Airlines will be serving a free alcoholic drink for passengers 21 years older on Valentine’s Day and dishing out “surprise and delight” treats throughout the day.
Phoenix Sky Harbor and many airports around the country will be pressing their therapy dogs into service on Valentine’s Day.
Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) will have a “Smooches from Pooches” Kissing Booth event.
Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) Pets Unstressing Passengers Program (PUP) and Southwest Airlines will team up for the annual “Flying Kisses” event on Friday, February 14 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Terminal 1, post-security.
Free carnations (while they last) will be handed out at Jacksonville International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport on Valentine’s Day. And employees will be handing out chocolate roses in Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The FLL Ambassadogs will be providing free kisses to passengers.
Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) will be handing out boxes of Conversation Hearts on Valentine’s Day, along with airplane-themed valentines. Tampa International Airport (TPA), will be handing out blank Valentine’s Day cards as well.
To accommodate all the lovebirds that fly to Las Vegas to get married around Valentine’s Day, Nevada’s Clark County clerk’s office has a pop-up marriage license office in the Terminal 1 bag claim at McCarran International Airport (LAS) open through the end of the month. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
And Amtrak is having a buy-one-get-one-free sale in honor of Valentine’s Day from Thursday, February 13 through Monday, February 17. Customers can buy one coach ticket and get the second free for nationwide travel between March 9 and August 30, 2020, with no blackout dates. Use the code V214 at the Amtrak site.
In 2020 the Chinese New Year – also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival – falls on Saturday, January 25 and will be followed by 15 days of celebrations marking the transition from the Year of the Pig to the Year of the Rat.
While this is a major family-oriented holiday for many Asian communities, all are welcome at the colorful parades, festive pageants and impressive fireworks displays that will take place in Hong Kong, Singapore, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and many other cities.
Hotels, restaurants, museums and other venues will be offering special packages and events as well to welcome travelers and “consumers who are increasingly embracing their own and others’ multi-cultural backgrounds,” said Joy Lu, assistant professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.
Here’s a sampling of celebrations we gathered first for CNBC.
Many Chinatown neighborhoods throughout New York City will host Lunar New Year events, but two of the key celebrations are the Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival on January 25 and the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival in Lower Manhattan on February 9.
The Mandarin Oriental, New York is offering a Celebrate Chinese New Year package from January 24-February 9, 2020 that includes daily breakfast for two, $50 dining or spa credit and other perks. Rates start at $745/night. The hotel will host a traditional Lion Dance in the lobby at noon on January 24(complimentary) and a special cocktail called The Jade Rat ($24) will be on the menu throughout the month in the Aviary NYC bar.
In San Francisco, which boasts the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, the Chinese New Year Parade dates back to the 1860s. This year’s parade takes place Saturday, February 8 with elaborate floats and costumes, lion dancers and a 288-foot-long Golden Dragon carried by a team of 180 people.
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, located near Chinatown, will offer a special Chinese Afternoon Tea ($80) on Sunday, January 26 and a Lunar New Year Tasting Menu ($155/per person) on January 31 and February 1, 7 and 8. On January 20, artists from Oakland’s Dragon School will begin painting a dragon-inspired mural across multiple interior and exterior hotel walls.
And the Oakland Museum of California will hold its annual Lunar New Year Celebration on Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9. The event is free with museum admission and includes live cultural performances, demonstrations, hands-on activities, food, traditional and contemporary music and dance, a petting zoo and more.
As is their tradition, many Las Vegas venues commemorate the Chinese New Year in an over-the-top way, with decadent culinary offerings, impressive décor and lots of live entertainment.
The Las Vegas Spring Festival Parade takes place on January 25 in downtown Las Vegas as part of the Chinese New Year in the Desert festivities, with elaborate floats and costumes and dragons.
From January 11 to March 7, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens will honor the Year of the Rat with elaborate creations made from flowers, seeds, silks and plants. In addition to a gilded gold rat sitting on gold ingot bowls, the gardens will feature four other golden rats bringing more ingot bowls up a gold staircase, as well as two 20-foot gold coin trees.
And starting January 15, the waterfall atrium between The Venetian and The Palazzo will sport a 2,000-pound, 18-foot tall golden rodent sculpture surrounded by a garden filled with red and orange bromeliads, golden yellow chrysanthemums and red and yellow orchids.
Castle Hill Inn, a Relais & Châteaux property in Rhode Island, is offering a two-night Chinese New Year Travel Package January 24 through February 2 that includes a special Cantonese-inspired Chinese New Year dinner for two, a Chinese-inspired welcome amenity, gourmet breakfast and afternoon tea. Rates start at $525+/night mid-week and $595+/night weekend, based on a two-night stay.
And why not celebrate the Chinese New Year with skating and shopping?
From January 14 through February 8, look for a striking display of more than 250 giant red lanterns hanging over the ice-skating rink at the Galleria Dallas mall in Texas, which has the Westin Galleria Dallas on-site.
Major Lunar New Year celebrations will take place in a wide variety of other cities, including a parade in London’s West End on January 26; a four-day International Chinese New Year Carnival January 25-28 in Hong Kong and the Sydney Lunar Festival, January 25 to February 9, in Australia.
A wide variety of Chinese New Year events and festivals will take place in Singapore, including the Mardi Gras-inspired Chingay Parade, January 31 to February 1, with fireworks, firecrackers, laser lights, pyrotechnics and performances.
And if you do make it to Singapore to welcome the Year of the Rat, Stephen Scott, Luxury Travel Advisor at Protravel International, recommends dinner at the iconic Fullerton Hotel Singapore. In addition to a wide variety of Chinese New Year feasts being offered now through February 8, the hotel’s Jade Restaurant is serving a special edition Gold Rush Salmon Yu Sheng adorned with an image of a rat and a traditional gold coin made from white, green and pink radish strips. The dish must be ordered three days in advance and costs about $287.
Here’s to great adventures in the New Year!
We’ve been reading some charming and heartwarming stories from airports and airlines this holiday week.
First, there is a viral post on Facebook by a Virgin Atlantic flight attendant relating the story of a passenger named Jack swapping his business class seat on a flight from New York to London for the economy seat booked by 88-year-old Violet.
“Of the hundreds of flights I’ve operated, I’ve had the pleasure of looking after footballers, supermodels and some Hollywood movie stars but let me tell you about my two favourite passengers EVER!,” wrote Leah Amy, “Jack and Violet 💜 (I wish she was called Vera or Rose 🤣)”
She went on to explain that Jack’s entire family was booked in business class. But Jack decided to swap seats with Violet. He then “sat on the row of seats directly next to the economy toilets and never made a peep or asked for anything the rest of the flight. No fuss, no attention, literally did it out of the kindness of his own heart, no one asked him to.”
A great story, right?
Well, the story gets a bit better. In response to the story of Jack and Violet, Virgin Atlantic announced it will be offering complimentary upgrades to “the most seasoned person” on board all its flights through January 1, 2020.
Here’s another heartwarming holiday-season travel story. This one from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) documenting a great birthday treat they were able to arrange for 94-year-old Granny Miep.
And one more.
According to the CBC, when 75 passengers got stranded in Deer Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada on Dec. 25, the community came together in “Come from Away” style.
The town welcomed the passengerw, put together a Christmas dinner and made sure they got on their way.
The CBC notes that what happened in Deer Lake is reminiscent of what happened in 2001, when townspeople rallied to welcome thousands of passengers on planes diverted to Gander – which is also in Newfoundland and Labrador – due to the attacks on September 11.
That real-life story is the inspiration for the Tony Award-winning musical “Come From Away.”
In Deer Lake’s case, a plane full of WestJet passengers left Toronto for St. John’s late Christmas Eve but got diverted by bad weather.
Deer Lake isn’t a regular stop for WestJet flights, so there was little in the way support for the passengers once they were on the ground and sent over to the local Holiday Inn Express.
But this was Christmas Day. So local townspeople responded to a call-out on Facebook and rustled up a Christmas Dinner that included everything from sandwiches and cookies to turkey dinner and gravy and homemade rabbit stew.
All great stories, right?
Here’s to great travel and more heartwarming travel stories in 2020.