Delta Speeds Passengers To Their Flight In Sports Cars

Porsche
Automotive Rhythms, Flickr

We’ve all seen (or been) those passengers running through the airport, suitcase flying behind them, as they desperately try to make their connecting flight. Now, Delta Airlines has come up with a solution to get connecting passengers to their aircraft as quickly as possible — whiz them there in a Porsche.

Passengers that are running late for their next flight have been surprised to find themselves shuttled across the tarmac in a $50,000 luxury sports vehicle. Delta says Porsche donated eight of the cars as part of a marketing campaign, and the perk helps to keep fliers happy.But don’t get too excited yet — the service is only available to super elite frequent fliers, and even then, you have to be running really late for your flight. Although that’s just a small percentage of all air passengers, those frequent fliers who travel more than 125,000 miles per year are where the airlines make a lot of their money, so ensuring those customers are satisfied is good for business.

The Porsche rides program is currently available in Atlanta, but is being expanded to New York, Minneapolis and Los Angeles this month.

Photo of the Day: People Mover, People Moving

Dulles Airport people mover
brownpau, Flickr

They’re a bit quirky. They’re an unconventional way to move mass quantities of people from one airport terminal to another. Yet Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) still relies on these “people movers” to shuttle passengers around some parts of the property.

And speaking of people moving, I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself. I’m Jake, one of the editors of both AOL Travel and Gadling — and starting today, I’ll be curating Gadling’s Photo of the Day and Video of the Day posts. Our editorial staff is based in Dulles Airport’s backyard, just a few miles from where this photo was taken.

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

Give Delta’s New York LaGuardia shuttle service a try

Those that travel frequently between New York’s LaGuardia and Chicago’s O’Hare airport know that it is among the more tedious routes to fly, particularly if you’re traveling on a legacy carrier. Older, less comfortable airplanes, tiny overhead bins packed to the gills with carry-on luggage, and heavy flight traffic are all the norm, leading to plenty of stressed-out travelers.

It’s for exactly these reasons I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised in recent months by Delta’s stellar shuttle service operating out of LaGuardia’s Marine Air Terminal. It’s a service designed to cater to frequent travelers in key markets, concentrating only on those that fly between New York to either Boston Logan, Washington Reagan or Chicago O’Hare. The smaller, out-of-the-way terminal location means much shorter security lines and less crowds, and they’ve fitted the place out with comfy leather seats, lots of power ports, and complimentary newspapers and magazines. What’s more, the carrier announced this week that Wi-Fi is now available on all shuttle flights, always a nice perk. Pair that with complimentary beer and wine in economy class and you’ll begin to feel like you’re flying up in first.

True, there are downsides to the service. Skittish fliers that don’t like small planes probably won’t like the smaller Embraer 170’s Delta uses on the route. And for anyone not traveling to Boston, Washington DC or Chicago, you’re pretty much out of luck if you wish to try this one out. Still, for travelers looking to enjoy a little extra flying comfort leaving from LaGuardia, the airport most conveniently located near Manhattan (JFK, ahem, I’m not looking at you…) give Delta Shuttle a try.

[Photo by Flickr user redlegsfan21]

10 reasons to travel to Ljubljana

Ljubljana travel
When I found cheap airfare from Istanbul to Ljubljana, I didn’t find many other travelers who’d been there or even say for sure which country it’s in. The tiny of country of Slovenia is slightly smaller than New Jersey and its capital city isn’t known for much other than being difficult to spell and pronounce (say “lyoob-lyAH-nah”). After spending a few days there last month, I quickly fell madly in love with the city, and recommend to everyone to add to their travel list.

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Here are some reasons to love Ljubljana:

1. It’s Prague without the tourists – Ljubljana has been called the next Prague for at least the last 10 years, but the comparison is still apt. Architect Jože Plečnik is known for his work at Prague Castle, but he was born in Ljubljana and is responsible for much of the architecture in the old downtown and the Triple Bridge that practically defines the city. While Prague is a lovely place to visit, it’s overrun in summer with backpackers and tourists. In Ljubljana, the only English I heard was spoken with a Slovenian accent, and there were no lines at any of the city’s attractions.

2. Affordable Europe - While not as cheap as say, Bulgaria, Ljubljana is a lot easier on the wallet than other European capital cities and cheaper than most of its neighbors. I stayed in a perfect room above the cafe Macek in an ideal location for 65 euro a night. A huge three-course dinner for one with drinks at Lunch cafe was 20 euro, and a liter of local wine in the supermarket is around 3-4 euro. I paid 6 euro for entrance into 4 art museums for the Biennial, and the same for all of the castle, including the excellent Slovene history museum, and the funicular ride there and back.3. Everyone speaks English - Sharing borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia is multi-cultural and multi-lingual. Everyone I met in Ljubljana spoke at least a few foreign languages including English; one supermarket cashier I met spoke six languages! While a language barrier shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying a foreign country, it’s great when communication is seamless and you can get recommendations from nearly every local you meet.

4. A delicious melting pot – Slovenia’s location also means a tasty diversity of food; think Italian pastas and pizzas, Austrian meats, and Croatian fish. One waiter I spoke to bemoaned the fact that he could never get a decent meal in ITALY like he can in Slovenia. While I’d never doubt the wonders of Italian food, I did have several meals in Ljubljana so good I wanted to eat them all over again as soon as I finished. Standout spots include Lunch Cafe (aka Marley & Me) and it’s next-door neighbor Julija.

5. Great wine – Slovenia has a thriving wine culture, but most of their best stuff stays in the country. A glass of house wine at most cafes is sure to be tasty, and cost only a euro or two. Ljubljana has many wine bars and tasting rooms that are approachable, affordable, and unpretentious. Dvorni Wine Bar has an extensive list, and on a Tuesday afternoon, there were several other mothers with babies, businesspeople, and tourists having lunch. I’m already scheming when to book a stay in a vineyard cottage, with local wine on tap.

6. Al-fresco isn’t just for summer – During my visit in early November, temperatures were in the 50s but outdoor cafes along the river were still lined with people. Like here in Istanbul, most cafes put out heating lamps and blankets to keep diners warm, and like the Turks, Slovenians also enjoy their smoking, which may account for the increase in outdoor seating (smoking was banned indoors a few years ago). The city’s large and leafy Tivoli Park is beautiful year-round, with several good museums to duck into if you need refuge from the elements.

7. Boutique shopping – The biggest surprise of Ljubljana for me was how many lovely shops I found. From international chains like Mandarina Duck (fabulous luggage) and Camper (Spanish hipster shoes) to local boutiques like La Chocolate for, uh, chocolate and charming design shop Sisi, there was hardly a single shop I didn’t want to go into, and that was just around the Stari Trg, more shops are to be found around the river and out of the city center.

8. Easy airport - This may not be first on your list when choosing a destination, but it makes travel a lot easier. Arriving at Ljubljana’s airport, you’ll find little more than a snack bar and an ATM outside, but it’s simple to grab a local bus into town or a shared shuttle for a few euro more. Departing from Slovenia, security took only a few minutes to get through, wi-fi is free, and there’s a good selection of local goodies at Duty Free if you forgot to buy gifts. LJU has flights from much of western Europe, including EasyJet from Paris and London.

9. Access to other parts of country - While Ljubljana has plenty to do for a few days, the country is compact enough to make a change of scenery easy and fast. Skiers can hop a bus from the airport to Kranj in the Slovenian Alps, and postcard-pretty Lake Bled is under 2 hours from the capital. In the summer, it’s possible to avoid traffic going to the seaside and take a train to a spa resort or beach. There are also frequent international connections; there are 7 trains a day to Croatia’s capital Zagreb, and Venice is just over 3 hours by bus.

10. Help planning your visit – When I first began planning my trip, I sent a message to the Ljubljana tourism board, and got a quick response with a list of family-friendly hotels and apartments. Next I downloaded the always-excellent In Your Pocket guide, which not only has a free guide and app, it also has a very active Facebook community with up-to-the-minute event info, restaurant recommendations, deals, and more. On Twitter, you can get many questions answered by TakeMe2Slovenia and VisitLjubljana.

Second-to-last Space Shuttle launch is big tourism draw

Space Shuttle, Space Shuttle Endeavour
Tomorrow’s launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has turned into a major tourist event, the Associated Press reports. NASA estimates half a million people will show up for their second-to-last chance to see a shuttle launch. Other estimates vary from 250,000 to a whopping 700,000. That could rival the crowds that came to see the first Moon mission.

Hotels are sold out and homeowners near John F. Kennedy Space Center are reaping the benefits by renting out spare rooms. Local businesses are also seeing a boom. The AP estimates the launch could pump $15 million into the local economy.

Let’s hope so, because when the last shuttle goes into space this summer, there won’t be any more launches for quite some time. NASA hasn’t finished developing anything to replace the aging shuttle fleet and transport to the International Space Station will be the job of the Russians for the time being.

The Endeavour launch is scheduled for 3:47 EDT tomorrow. It will be mission number 134 for the fleet. The final mission will take place June 28 or later and the honor will go to the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

I’m not surprised this is getting so much attention. I grew up with the Space Shuttle and I’ve always wanted to go to a launch. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll make it. I’ll be cheering, though, especially for mission commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot by a crazed gunman in January. She’s recovered enough to be present when Kelly heads for the stars.

I’ve never met Kelly, but I have met Gabrielle Giffords. She’s the younger sister of a college friend and I met her twenty years ago when she was a bright young Fulbright scholar. While I only chatted with her a few times I always had the impression she’d go far. My friend and I drifted apart, as college friends often do, but over the years I always paid attention to Gabrielle’s career. I wasn’t surprised in the least when she became a Congresswoman. And I won’t be surprised if I see her back in Congress one day.

Have a speedy recovery, Gabrielle, and enjoy the launch for me.

[Image courtesy NASA]