Airlines provide change fee relief because of Hurricane Earl

As Hurricane Earl works its way up the east coast, airlines are letting passengers take one item off their lists of concerns. Delta has announced that passengers affected by the storm can make one-time changes to their plans without incurring any fees. This applies to flights scheduled for today and tomorrow and covers more than 20 airports in the eastern United States, including the New York area, Washington, Boston and Baltimore.

AirTran Airways has gotten in on this concept, as well, with passengers hitting a number of airports, including San Juan, Puerto Rico, being able to change their plans without paying extra. It only works for flights taking off by Saturday.

[Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr]

Unruly passenger causes JetBlue flight diversion

At 1:13 PM yesterday, a JetBlue flight from Boston to the Dominican Republic was forced to land at Washington-Dulles International Airport. An unruly passenger was the cause, according to both the airline and federal officials. Fortunately, flight attendant Steven Slater was otherwise occupied and thus couldn’t be on hand to make a bad situation worse.

The passenger was taken into custody at the Washington, DC-area airport, though a JetBlue spokesman said he couldn’t provide more details about what prompted the landing and subsequent interaction with the feds. Nobody was hurt, according to JetBlue. A security official familiar with the situation, reports the Associated Press, says that the “passenger may have had an anxiety attack,” but a doctor hasn’t weighed in with an official diagnosis.

[photo by Mark Coggins via Flickr]

Four New England family packages for summer

The school year is coming to an end, and summer vacation plans are starting to pop up. With heat poised to sweep the nation, the cool New England air (at least relatively cool) makes it an attractive destination. There are plenty of deals out there at the region’s inns and resorts, so you’ll have plenty of options at your disposal.

1. New England Aquarium Family Package
Do you need a reason to stay at Boston‘s Fairmont Copley Plaza? It’s a great property right in the Back Bay, and parents who love martinis will want to run downstairs to the Oak Bar for a drink. In addition to the fantastic accommodations, you’ll pick up four tickets to the New England Aquarium (two adults and two kids). Prices start at $239 a night (not bad at all for this property) and are good through the end of the year.

2. Family Fun Package
Get away to Kennebunkport, Maine for four nights (with a water-view room) at the Nonantum Resort’s Carriage Inn. The package includes a full breakfast every day, dinner one night in the 95 Ocean restaurant, a poolside lunch one day and an overflowing Nonantum beach bag. You’ll also score tickets for the Intown Trolley, a scenic boat ride, bottled water, an in-room welcome basket, Kennebunk Beach Pass and resort coupons. Rates start at $1,249 for a family of three, with each additional adult costing $359 and each extra kid $100. The deal is available Sunday through Thursday from June 20 to September 2, 2010.3. StoryLand All-Inclusive Family Vacation
Visit with a bit of help from the Eagle Mountain House & Golf Club in Jackson, New Hampshire. This package includes a two-night stay, breakfast and dinner daily and a free nine-hole round of golf. You’ll also get tickets to StoryLand for every family member for one day. Rates start at $509 and are available from June 25 through October 10, 2010.

4. Catch Me if You Can
Visit Catamount Adventure Park, a new ropes and zipline canopy tour, and stay at The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. To help you get through the experience, you’ll receive a backpack with bottled water and trail mix for two upon arrival – and breakfast the following day. Rates start at $405, available from May 31 through September 16, 2010.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes phones home

Every now and then, an overzealous traveler crosses the border into North Korea without doing the requisite prep work and having various forms rubber stamped. When this happens, bad things follow. For Aijalon Mahli Gomez, a U.S. citizen, the crossing turned into an eight-year sentence in the company’s prison system on April 6, 2010. Yet, he was able to call home.

According to the Korea Central News Agency, North Korea’s official , um, news service:

U.S. citizen Aijalon Mahli Gomes now in prison after being tried on April 6 asked for a phone contact with his family for his health and other reasons. The relevant organ of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, taking his request into consideration, permitted him to do so on Friday.

Before he was allowed to make the phone call, Gomes’ contact with the outside world was limited to the Swedish embassy, which handles all diplomatic issues for westerners in North Korea.

Gomes, who is 30 years old and from Boston, has to pay a fine of approximately $700,000 on top of his hard labor sentence. He was in North Korea doing missionary work and was the fourth U.S. citizen in less than a year to get pinched for illegal entry.

Half-Time Pizza: What Boston eats for breakfast

The allure of Boston junk food can be almost impossible to resist. For every Radius, Grill 23 and Abe & Louie’s there is a dive of some kind offering drunk grub, fat fare or belt-buster. On my recent trip back to Boston, I hunted out my second favorite breakfast joint in the city: Half-Time Pizza (the top spot goes to Fill-a-Buster on Beacon Hill for creating the greatest bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin I’ve ever had).

Half-Time is known to anyone who frequents Bruins or Celtics games, being situated on Causeway, right across the street from the TD Center. Great for pizza and beer after a game, Half-Time’s morning prowess should not be overlooked. While you can get what many would call “traditional” breakfast meals at Half-Time, for me, it’s always been about the pizza – even at 7 AM.

I discovered Half-Time back in the days when the internet was new and companies like CMGi were relevant. I used to commute into North Station, stop at the pizza shop for two slices (served folded into a paper bag) and dash off to catch the Orange Line to Sullivan Square. It is quite possibly the most appalling breakfast one can imagine, but I found it to be pure bliss.

Since leaving Boston in 2004, I’ve made Half-Time a mandatory stop on every trip back, schlepping over from a Back Bay hotel just to savor that delicious pizza, with a slightly tangy sauce. The shops in the North End may get all the notoriety, and Santarpio’s in East Boston is a favorite for reason, but Half-Time deserves its place in the Boston pizza pantheon. To this day, I count it among the best breakfast spots in the city.