Guide for frequent fliers
August 30, 2013Watch Wizardry
The French capital trumps Madrid, Venice, Rio de Janeiro, London and New Delhi to occupy the hot seat of tourism.
When it comes to tourist destinations, there is no beating the City of Love. Even as France retained its position as the world's top tourist destination with over 83 million foreign visitors visiting it in 2012, Paris turned out to be the envy of every other touristy city in the world. Europeans continued to make up the bulk of visitors, accounting for more than 83 per cent of tourists to Paris. The number of European visitors to France went up by 2.1 per cent in 2012, while the number of Asian tourists grew at a rate of 9.9 per cent. The other cities that figure in the list of top international cities for travel are Madrid (Spain), Rio De Janeiro (Brazil), London (UK), Venice (Italy) and Delhi. Meanwhile, a survey by luxury travel magazine Virtuoso Life has revealed that Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland and France are the top "dream destinations" among those who show little hesitation in loosening their purse strings, especially when it involves having a good time.
Refunds sans red tape
Airlines can no longer take you for a ride. Indian travellers will now benefit from refund.me, an online platform specialising in handling claims for passengers pertainingto airlines and other modes of transportation. The website promises swift and efficient solutions to air passengers hit by flight delays, cancellations, diversions and missed connections. This assumes significance in the light of the fact that in 2012, as many as 1.7 million passengers had failed to exercise their right to compensation - allowing the airline industry to garner approximately Rs 3,120 crore. The customer is required to pay a 25% commission (plus VAT) only if the claim is settled successfully. Now, how's that for a winner?
Another feather in Asia's cap
If fliers across 160 countries are to be believed, the friendliest and most efficient flight attendants in the world are found on Asian airlines. The conclusion was made through customer satisfaction surveys where respondents were asked to rate their favourite airline cabin crew. Topping the Skytrax World Airline Awards category of best cabin staff was Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific, which took the No 1 spot from flight attendants of erstwhile winners Malaysia Airlines. Eight of the 10 top airlines with the best cabin crew hailed from Asia - EVA Air, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines, ANA, Garuda Indonesia, Qatar Airways, Hainan Airlines and Thai Airways.
Luxury on wings
Sparing no effort to ensure that its passengers travel in the lap of luxury, international airline Emirates has come up with a new executive service that will accommodate up to 19 of its most elite passengers in an exclusive private Airbus A319. The plush-looking Emirates Executive aircraft will be equipped with a highly configurable dining and work lounge, ten first-class sleeping suites and a premium shower spa.
HAVE FOOD, WILL FLY
Now, here's the foodie's ultimate dream come true, provided he has »182,000 to spare. Luxury travel websites veryfirstto.com and holidaysplease.co.uk have come up with a holiday package that lets epicureans and gourmands explore every three-Michelin-star restaurant across the world over a period of six months. Considering that the Michelin guides award three stars to restaurants that offer only the most exceptional fine-dining experiences, just 109 venues will find themselves in the package itinerary. Spread across 12 countries, people embarking on the tour will have to visit one restaurant every second day in order to fulfill the tour requirements. While Tokyo alone has 15 three-Michelin-star restaurants, the other destinations will include New York - with establishments such as Jean Georges and Thomas Keller's Per Se - and Paris, which hosts the grand Epicure restaurant at the Le Bristol.
Rs 69.21 (Android)
TravelSafe Pro is a database of emergency service numbers for just about every country you may visit. Also, there are embassy details, should your passport go missing, and - for the faint of heart and the truly paranoid - one-touch access to the police and ambulances.
Retreat into royalty
With its 'Royal Retreats' package, the Taj Group of Hotels offers the international tourist as well as the globetrotting businessman a taste of bespoke hospitality fit for monarchs. The package offers them the chance to stay at some of the most enchanting palaces in India, including the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, which seems like a bejewelled lotus afloat on the shimmering waters of Lake Pichola; Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, an architectural masterpiece that transcends time; the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, the world's largest private residence; and the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad. Live life kingsize!