Qantas luggage “all tied up” in Melbourne

Qantas airlinesIt must be those adventure travelers … they’re always so high maintenance.

A rock-climbing rope jammed up some of the Qantas baggage equipment at the Melbourne, Australia airport last night, and as many as 400 pieces of luggage are lying around, waiting to be reunited with their passengers. Of course, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, passengers are welcome to “search through the piles” if they are eager to get their bags sooner.

Meanwhile, Qantas has copped to “bag issues” but nothing more so far. The Sydney Morning herald writes that the airline “could not confirm the number of bags that still needed to be returned to passengers.”

Unsurprisingly, Qantas has offered an apology, something to which the airline has become accustomed recently. The article continues:

“Due to an item from a customer bag jamming the baggage system in Melbourne yesterday, the system was down for a period of time,” he said.

“As we did everything to move backlog bags, the system experienced another problem and we are in the process of clearing the backlog as soon as possible.”

[photo by Skazama via Flickr]

Two Floridians win Tasmania leg of travel contest

Two American girls from Florida are about to find themselves pretty far from home. Dara Simkin and Catherine Fleming won the Tasmania leg of the WorldNomads.com Van-Tastic Adventure. This is the first time an American team has won the Australia contest. On December 19, 2009, they’ll fire up the engine and start to drive through Tasmania for six weeks. On January 30, 2010, they’ll arrive in Melbourne, having completed the fourth of seven legs. The seven-part journey begins in Queensland and consists of 10,000 miles of driving in a van named Geoff.

During their journey, Dara and Catherine will report on their experiences kayaking on the Freycinet Peninsula, mountain biking Mt. Wellington and walking through Cradle Moutain. You can keep track of their progress on YouTube or on the Van-Tastic Adventures website.

But, watching might not be enough for some people … there are still three legs open, so you may want to put your application video together.

Five haunted attractions for Halloween: options around the world

Halloween is the one day a year we seek fear rather than try to avoid it. We invite the prospect of ghosts, witches and vampires, and even if we concede that they aren’t real, it’s fine to suspend disbelief for a day. To heighten the sensation, consider wrapping your next trip in the Halloween spirit. There are plenty of destinations around the world that will help the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end.

1. Melbourne’s Haunted Bookshop
Ghost-hunter and historian Drew Sinton is waiting for you at The Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia. If you’re not afraid of the written word, this starting point won’t scare you, but along the way, you’ll hit a number of spots where ghosts have been sighted. Old Melbourne Goal (jail, that is) was home to 135 hangings. One of them, Ned Kelly, is said to have resulted in a ghost that won’t leave the site of his demise. While you’re there, walk the road to the gallows. If this isn’t enough for you, look for nutty ghosts on the Beechworth Ghost Tour at what was once the Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum.

2. Under the Royal Mile
Beneath Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile, you’ll find a warren of hidden “closes” where people once lived, worked … and perished. Mary King’s Close, once abandoned and forgotten, is now open via the Supernatural History Tour. Explore one of Scotland’s most haunted locations, get the scoop on urban myths and hear about sightings that occurred as recently as 2003. A few claim to have felt ghosts brush past on this tour. Will you be one of them?

3. Follow New France’s Great Master
Old Montreal‘s cobblestone streets set the scene for any supernatural encounter. The sun goes down; the wind blows off the river. You don’t know what’s gust and what’s ghost! History is the breeding ground of the other-worldly, and the Great Master will take you through the century’s that have contributed to what is now the “New France Ghost Hunt.”

4. The Darker Side of Luxury
No, you won’t have to worry about peasant uprisings, but if you’re looking for paranormal trouble, you can find it at a handful of Fairmont hotels. At the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (where I suffered through a business trip from hell a decade ago), keep an eye open for Victoria, a now deceased member of one of the founding families of the Sonoma Valley. A former steward, now dead, of course, hangs out in the silver room at the Fairmont Royal York, and a hotel maid who fell to her death in 1908 has yet to leave the Fairmont Empress.

5. The Ghastly Side of Downtown Orlando
I’m sure there’s something going on at Disneyworld, but skip it in favor of downtown Orlando (my favorite part of Florida). On the Orlando Ghost Tours, you’ll get two hours to pick up the basics of parapsychology and poke around in locations confirmed to be haunted. You’ll even get to use specialized equipment to conduct your own paranormal investigation. Who you gonna call? After this, probably yourself.

Qantas cuts first class service, only you can bring it back

Does two make it a trend? Along with British Airways, Qantas will get rid of some first class seating. While BA is doing it on new flights, Qantas is starting with three of its long-haul routes, because demand for the expensive seats is falling.

If you’re rich and have plans to fly from Sydney to Buenos Aires, Sydney to San Francisco or Melbourne to Hong Kong to London will be affected. This first class ban is scheduled to last from July 6 to October 31.

Since there’s no such thing as a straightforward airline decision, paying for business class – which will still be around – may get you a first class seat. But, you won’t get first class service.

Ultimately, the return of first class will be up to the Qantas passengers. If demand increases – i.e., if people start paying for first class seats again – Qantas will bring back the service.

Pay to play in Aussie airport parking lots

For the past decade, Australians have griped about the escalating cost of short-term airport parking. Accusations of monopoly pricing were leveled, and a year ago, the government got involved, having the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) keep an eye on parking lot fees at the country’s five largest airports. The results are amazing.

Airports pull in 11 percent of their revenue from parking. In Melbourne, it’s a whopping 21 percent, while Sydney‘s airport pulls in a more modest 7 percent of its financial take from the parking lots. Since no government agency is willing to put its head on the chopping block the ACCC would only say that this is “consistent with airports having a monopoly position.”

Of course, there are perks to paying. People parking at the Melbourne airport were the most satisfied customers, with those frequenting Sydney’s lots at the bottom.

But, convenience always wins.

The Sydney airport is only 10 kilometers (a little more than 6 miles) from the city, and only 13 percent of passengers use the airport’s parking lots. Melbourne’s airport is more than twice as far away, making airport parking more sensible.