World’s fastest train delayed, perp gets away

The world’s fastest train may be able to top 200 miles per hour, but it can be stopped with a barrier not even three inches long. A rider who opted to disregard the rules lit up a cigarette on the train as it ran from Guangzhou to Wuhan in China, causing a delay of two and a half hours. To put the inconvenience in perspective, that’s about how long it takes the train to complete its journey of more than 700 miles (1,100 kilometers).

The irritated passengers were unable to see justice served, as the smoker eluded capture – he fled the scene when the alarm that stopped the train went off. Reuters notes a Xinhua news agency report in which a spokesman for the Guangzhou Railway Group Corporate says, “Smoking is strictly forbidden on the WuhanGuangzhou high-speed train, even in the toilet.” He continued, “It could trigger the alarm and even cause equipment failures.”

It could also lead to a delay, he didn’t need to explain, that could cost the passengers all the efficiency they purchased.

Bed and breakfast travelers spending more on travel, less on cigarettes and coffee

Bed and breakfast guests aren’t cutting back as much as other travelers, according to a new survey by Fewer respondents are spending less on travel – with the rate doing so dropping from 55 percent to 45 percent from the second quarter survey. The money spent on B&B travel, however, will come at the expense of other luxuries, with many saying they’d give up their morning takeout coffee in order to save some cash for use on travel. Ice cream, massages and manicures and even cigarettes are falling victim to a dedication to B&B spending. notes: “Interesting that travel is more important than coffee, calories, or cigarettes to over 50 percent of respondents!”

Sandy Soule, Marketing VP at, notes, “Clearly, travel patterns changed in the last year, as travelers tightened their belts and stayed closer to home.” She continues, “Yet these patterns worked out well for inngoers, as B&Bs tend to be an easy one-tank trip from most metropolitan areas, and add so much extra value to a getaway.”

So, what else is on the B&B travelers mind as of the third quarter of this year? Find out after the jump.

Fall travel is more likely than summer for the B&B crowd, and they see the impact of the recession on travel spending to be declining. In the first quarter, 65% answered that the economic conditions influenced their B&B travel spending, with a slight decline to 61% in the second quarter. For the third quarter, this measure fell to 55 percent. Also, 84 percent of respondents are more likely to take at least as many trips as they did last year – up from 79 percent for the second quarter survey.

One of the ways B&B vacationers sought to maintain the number of trips they usually take is to spend less per day. Fifty-six percent had this in mind in the first quarter, which fell to 52 percent at the end of the second quarter and 45 percent for the third quarter. Respondents said they would spend fewer days on the road fell from 42 percent in Q1 to 43 percent in Q2 and 37 percent in Q3 of this year.

Budget and Avis ban smoking in rental cars

First you couldn’t smoke on planes. Then trains banned smoking. Now, you can’t smoke in rental cars, at least, not if you rent from Avis or Budget. As of October 1, all cars in both rental companies’ fleets will be non-smoking.

Avis and Budget say the policy came about in response to the needs of renters, citing a non-smoking car as the most-popular rental request. Cars that have been smoked in also require additional cleaning and are out of service longer, costing the companies more money. A spokesman for the Avis Budget Group says they expect some smokers to be upset with the new rules and to take their business elsewhere, but that they think overall the new plan will attract more customers than it will lose.

Avis and Budget will be the first major rental car companies to ban smoking entirely (others offer “non-smoking” cars but many don’t guarantee them), though they are only instituting the ban among their North American fleet, not worldwide. Each car will undergo an inspection upon return and renters who have smoked in the vehicle will be charged a cleaning fee of up to $250.


Ryanair: (don’t) smoke if you got ’em!

Ryanair isn’t the first carrier to allow “smokeless” cigarettes on their planes. These devices mimic the sensation of puffing, I’m told by a user, with a water vapor that is released. What makes the announcement distinctly “Ryanair” is that the devices are now being sold on its flights.

You can buy a pack of ten of these smokeless wonders for €6. To purchase the equivalent of a pack of cigs, you’re looking at $17.

So, it really is just another way for Ryanair to squeeze a few extra bucks out of each passenger, but at least the airline isn’t taking something away (like your seat or your pissing privileges.

[Thanks, @brycelongton]


German airline to offer smoking, not non

How did this one get by me? An all-smoking airline!

Alexander Schoppmann is on the prowl for startup capital for an all-smoking airline. Once he gets the cash, he’s going to lease two Boeing 747s and run a route from Dusseldorf to Tokyo. This doesn’t do much for the few Americans who still prefer to light up, but if the Schoppmann can squeeze a profit out of this (which conventional airlines aren’t even doing), maybe he’ll export the idea.

If all goes according to plan, Smintair (for “Smoker’s International Airways) will go wheels up for the first time next year. Each plane will accommodate 138 passengers, with no economy seating. You’ll have to pay to play on Smintair, but if you have a serious tobacco jones, it could be worth the trouble – especially if you’re stuck on a plane from Germany to Japan.

Schoppmann is looking to use the upper deck as a passengers’ lounge, rather than cramming it with more seats. Smintair will be an upscale affair, so the poor and the nic-free should book their travel arrangements elsewhere. Flight attendants and pilots who aren’t interested in a smoke-filled workplace, the company says, need not apply.

The price tag is hefty: approximately $56 million. Part of this will pay for an older approach to pushing fresh air through the cabin – instead of the cheaper systems being used now. Even with the barriers, Schoppmann is optimistic. I guess the former stockbroker has some solid connections.

Cigar smokers: if you’re worried about discrimination, the hopeful founder remembers fondly the days when Lufthansa would serve a selection of Montecristos in flight.

[Via Blackbook]