Travel Newsstand for June 7-21, 2018
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Read all about it! There'll always be an England because where else are there red phone boxes, narrow canal boats and Virginia Woolf's home of her own? A lousy airline guy makes worldwide headlines--and not in a good way. Flight attendants have worn wild outfits over the years. The first Airbus A380s go to the chop shop, visiting the DMZ and more.
There'll Always Be an England--and the Quirky Stuff in It
There'll always be an England--and even stuff you think wouldn't be forever finds new life. Take the iconic red phone box, for example. Officially called Kiosk No. 2, the boxes were introduced in the 1920s and became an unofficial symbol of the nation. They survived the Depression, World War II, England's dreary post-war recovery, its Beatles-fueled 1960s revival and they were ubiquitous well into the 1980s. But the then-newly-privatized British Telecom began dumping them, partially because cheaper solutions were available, partially because the kiosks became magnets for graffiti and flyers for everything from escort services to take-away food shops and partially because they were havens for illicit street activity. When mobile phones made public phones and phone booths superfluous, the red kiosks virtually disappeared. But Tony Inglis, owner of a British firm hired to remove the boxes, decided to buy hundreds of the disused enclosures. As The New York Times reports, Inglis is restoring and repurposing them to great effect. They've reappeared as tiny lending libraries, cellphone repair shops and even streetside restaurant kitchens. One of their most promising new uses? As storage space for public defibrillators, primarily in Britain's rural communities where emergency ambulance services are slow to respond.
But it's not just phone boxes that live again. So are Britain's narrowboats. Dan Neil, usually the automotive writer for The Wall Street Journal, explains that the slender ships become narrow houseboats cruising the country's canals. Meanwhile, nothing says England more than homes that once belonged to literary lions of centuries past. One of them, Hogarth House, the former residence of Virginia Woolf, is on the market. The restored home in the Richmond Hill neighborhood has been subdivided and each half is listed for $4.62 million. Meanwhile, out in the Cotswolds, Europe's biggest aircraft boneyard can deconstruct about five dozens planes at one time. Which is ironic, since Brexit seems to be deconstructing London's housing market. In fact, real estate experts expect London housing prices to fall due to fears of an exodus when Britain leaves the European Union.
From the Archives: Korea's DMZ, Which Won't Host a Summit
Assuming plans don't go awry again, the summit between North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un and U.S. President Donald Trump will take place on Tuesday (June 12) in Singapore. The venue is Sentosa Island, situated just offshore of the city-state. The meeting spot? The Capella Hotel, which The Telegraph notes was carved out of a 19th-century billet for British officers of the Royal Artillery and their families. At first, it looked like the United States was going to pick up the hotel tab for the visiting North Koreans. Now, however, it appears that the government of Singapore will be footing the bill. But like a lot of us, Martin Deutsch wonders why the summit won't be held in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas. After all, it was the location of two meetings this year between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Deutsch visited the DMZ in 1983 and recorded his impression of the eerie no-man's land in Frequent Flyer, the magazine for business travelers he'd created several years earlier." The military demarcation line that separates the Koreans runs right through a conference table in the main meeting room," Deutsch noted.
Can a Louse Make a Joke? And Was He?
It has long been established that Qatar Airways boss Akbar al Baker is one lousy human being. But it's possible--maybe, perhaps--that al Baker is getting a bad rap in the current controversy about his comments at the annual meeting of IATA, the airline industry's trade group. In case you missed it, al Baker is the new chairman of the organization and he promptly created an uproar this week at its annual meeting in Sydney. When asked about the chances of a woman becoming chief executive of a major carrier, al Baker said it couldn't happen at Qatar Air. "Of course it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position." The audience groaned and the comment made worldwide headlines. (Here's how Salon handled it, for example.) That caused the usually pugnacious al Baker to apologize for the remark--although he was quick to claim "the press ... blew it out of proportion." That comment, too, made worldwide headlines. (Here's how Reuters handled it, for example.) But can a louse also be taken out of context? Uh, maybe. One of the few media outlets to run the actual video was DW TV, the English-language German broadcaster. To my ear and eye, Baker did seem to be trying to make a joke to get a rise out of his audience and his fellow airline panelists, including Qantas chief Alan Joyce. But this may be the airline equivalent of the Laurel-Yanny debate. It's all in what you hear, what you see ... and what you assume about an otherwise unlikeable human being.
Tight Connections ...
Welcome to the Hotel Derry Township Well, here's an odd twist on the old Eagles song Hotel California, which posited that "you can check out any time you like but you can never leave." In this case, you can arrive any time you like but you can never check in. A woman waited an hour for someone to appear at a Pennsylvania Holiday Inn Express, but no one ever came to the front desk to assist her. She had to call the police to help her raise someone to handle the check-in.
She's Got the Look Maybe play Roxette in the background as you read this one. It's a photo-laden review of the fashions worn by stewards, stewardesses and flight attendants over the decades. Most notable: A series of very ostentatious hats.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do The first two Airbus A380s flown in commercial service will be scrapped for parts. Singapore Airlines, which flew the aircraft and was the A380's launch customer, returned the planes last year when their leases expired. The German leasing firm that owns the aircraft can't find a carrier who wants to add the aircraft to its fleet. The decision to break up perfectly good--and, by aviation standards, new--planes indicates exactly how little interest the carriers have in operating a double-decked plane that can carry as many as 800 passengers.-- Joe Brancatelli
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