South Korea Assures Country Is Safe For Travel

North Korea has issued a warning to foreign companies and tourists to leave South Korea in order to avoid harm in the event of a nuclear war, according to USA Today. The message came Tuesday, just after the joint industrial zone, the last cross-border cooperation in the long-divided Korean peninsula, was closed last week.

Fearing drops in tourism numbers, the government officials in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, called a meeting Monday to discuss the escalating situation. The city is located just 118 miles from North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and is well within range of hundreds – if not thousands – of North Korean artillery and missile units.But in reality, no country has issued alerts or warnings concerning travel to South Korea, and the country’s tourism numbers are up, writes CNN. Last week, the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) announced a record number of visitors for March, with the inbound international tourists numbering more than a million for the first time in history. Although tourism numbers are not yet available for April, Korean Air and several major hotels told the news outlet there has been no noticeable dip in bookings.

“North Korea has a long history of making confrontational rhetoric and empty threats to South Korea, the United States and other nations as well,” Sejoon You, the executive director of KTO’s New York office, said in an announcement to the travel industry. “All the experts in this matter, both international and based in the U.S., agree that there is no real or present danger that North Korea would act on its threats.”

“The real situation in Korea is completely normal, as the daily lives of the Korean people and its visitors remain peaceful, safe and uninterrupted,” You added. “Korea remains a safe, pleasant and beautiful destination to be enjoyed now and later. All hotels, airports, airlines, cities and attractions are operating normally.”

Our own Jonathan Kramer can attest to that. He’s on the ground in South Korea writing “The Kimchi-ite,” and shows no signs of stopping soon.

[Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Wikimedia Commons]

Cyber Monday 2012: Our Favorite Airfare And Entertainment Deals

Cyber Monday is the newfangled cousin of Black Friday, when the Internet bursts with the money-saving deals that Black Friday offers in stores the Friday before.

Cyber Monday is probably best known for deals on tech and electronics, but the online shopping extends to airfare and other travel deals, as well. In fact, Gadling has already covered the best hotel deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Here’s a sampling of the best airfare and entertainment deals we’ve found to celebrate Cyber Monday. Find any awesome travel deals, yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Air Deals
LAN and TAM: Up to 40% off flights to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Cathay Pacific: Up to 15% off flights, plus a prize drawing in which 30 passengers are selected to win 10,000 Asia Miles.
Vayama: Special Cyber Monday rates on international airlines such as China Airlines, Emirates, El Al, Korean Air, TACA, AirEuropa and more.
PayPal airfare matching: From now until December 31, PayPal will match prices for airfare you purchase, if you find that the tickets are advertised for a lower price at any merchant within 30 days of purchase. If, say, you buy tickets for $200 and the price goes down to $150, PayPal will simply pay you the difference, with a maximum $1,000 total and $250 payout per item.
StudentUniverse: Planning to offer up to $65 off certain flights to locations like Latin America, South Pacific, within the U.S. and more.
Other Travel Deals
MSC Cruises: Offering special “Cyber Monday Sale” rates on select 7-night, round-trip Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, beginning at $399.
Mauiva AirCruise: If you want something rather untraditional, you can try a sky version of a cruise with Mauiva. They’re offering 20% off select departures as part of a Cyber Monday sale.
Crested Butte ski package: Airfare to Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado and 41% off the regular season rate, starting at $649 for four nights of lodging and three days of lift tickets (plus taxes and resort fees).
Goldstar deals on entertainment: Cyber Monday offers include 20% off all Goldstar gift certificates, 40% off Cirque du Soleil’s “IRIS” in L.A., 38% off the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” 60% off the Snowbomb Tahoe Platinum Card – which grants four lift tickets, ski rentals and two free nights at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno – and more.
Extra Tips
Check out airlines that have had Cyber Monday deals in past years: Many Cyber Monday deals aren’t announced until the day-of, so start by checking out airlines that have worked in the past. These include American Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier, Southwest and AirTran.

Follow them on Twitter: Often, airlines update Twitter with their most by-the-minute deals. Try following @Delta, @AmericanAir, @VirginAmerica, @SouthwestAir and @JetBlueCheeps.


[Image credit: Flickr user Mike Miley]

Airlines fined for price-fixing, $1.7 billion so far

airlines fined for price-fixing
U.S government prosecutors have fined 21 airlines $1.7 billion to date in a price-fixing scheme that has cost America’s flying public and cargo shippers millions in a case that dates back to 2000.

Rather than fix problems plaguing the airline industry a decade ago, executives at global carriers scrambled to find an easy way out and avoid financial ruin reports the Associated Press. Between 2000 and 2006 airlines artificially raised passenger and cargo fuel surcharges to make up for lost profits.

“As an example of the impact of the conspiracy, fuel surcharges imposed by some of the conspirators rose by as much as 1,000 percent during the conspiracy, far outpacing any percentage increases in fuel costs that existed during the same time period,” said former Associate Attorney General Kevin J. O’Connor.

They might have not been caught either had it not been for two airlines coming forward to turn in their conspirators. Admitting their “mistake” allowed Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic to take advantage of a Justice Department leniency program for helping in the investigation. Still, the two airlines were fined over £120 million after admitting to fixing prices on fuel surcharges.

From fines to prison time for airline executives, penalties vary among individual airlines.

Gadling has been following this story all along and in 2008 told of Qantas airline’s involvement . In the case involving Qantas, the price fixing scheme had a focus on their freight division.


It was the freight division of China Airlines too that earned the airline a $40 million fine in the price fixing conspiracy just last September.

Announcing four guilty pleas in June 2008, O’Connor told the Associated Press that the cases “conservatively, has affected billions of dollars of shipments. Estimates suggest that the harm to American consumers and businesses from this conspiracy is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Airlines fined for price-fixing include British Airways, Korean Air, and Air France-KLM but no major U.S. carriers as the case continues. So far, two former executives have been sentenced to six months in prison and two others were ordered to prison for eight months.

Ongoing charges are pending against 15 executives, nine of whom are considered fugitives.

Flickr photo by BriYYZ

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Flexjet members get extra bump on Korean Air

This is a first: a fractional jet provider and an international airline are partnering up. Flexjet’s fractional owners can now access premium services when they fly overseas on Korean Air. Under this new arrangement, the Flexjet Connect program, members will receive incentives to buy first class tickets on , not to mention elite status for a full year, dedicated check-in and luxury concierge services in select airports. And, Korean Air passengers can reach more than 5,000 U.S. airports with as little as 24 hours’ notice on high-performance Bombardier business jets.

According to Fed Reid, President of Flexjet, “This first-of-its-kind collaboration with Korean Air adds value to our program offerings, while further expanding our global reach.” He adds, “For our discerning fractional customers, this strategic partnership between two industry leaders obsessed with excellence ensures they will experience the same level of comfort and high-quality travel they have come to expect from Flexjet.”

Walter Cho, Senior Vice President, Passenger Business Division, Korean Air, says, “Now our customers can fly privately from a local airport to catch their Korean Air flight, or get closer to their meetings by flying to regional airports, knowing that our partners at Flexjet and Jet Solutions will provide a seamless and convenient travel experience with impeccable service.”

Foal Eagle protests divert air traffic around North Korea

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines are followed by Air Canada and Singapore Airlines in routing flights around North Korean airspace. The change comes as a result of North Korean warnings that it “cannot guarantee the safety of South Korean passenger jets” if the United States and South Korea move forward with annual joint military maneuvers. This annual event yields an annual complaint.

The exercise, called Operation Foal Eagle, is one of three remaining joint exercises left on the Korean peninsula. North Korea is notified every year of the operation, which tends to involve a large number of U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea. This year, participation is expected to reach 26,000. The countries involved have engaged in high-level talks on the matter.

The communist regime did not indicate the specific problems that would befall South Korean flights that came to close to their neighbor’s airspace, though two flights were downed in the 1980s: one by a Soviet-made fighter jet (1983) and one by bomb-toting North Korean agents (1987).

Of course, North Korea may have issued the warning because it has its own plans for that airspace, with MSNBC reporting that “Kim [Jong Il, North Korea’s leader] hinted the threat could be a way to clear airspace before a possible missile launch.”

[Photo via Gawker]