Every day, travel professionals receive countless reports via newsletters, e-mails and magazines advising us of the latest travel news. I thought than it would be a worthwhile idea to periodically share some of them the traveling public.
So, this week, instead of highlighting a particular destination, I'll update you on the latest in travel news as of Sept. 21.
Permitted and prohibited carry-on items
Due to the new enhanced security measures liquids, lotions and gels must be packed in your checked baggage. This also means that any of these items purchased beyond the airport checkpoint must be disposed of before boarding the plane. You are permitted to carry on certain amounts of health related items such as up to 4 ounces of non-prescription liquid medications such as saline solutions and eye care products. Liquid prescription medication is OK as long as the name on the container matches the passenger's ticket. Small amounts of baby formula and breast milk are acceptable if you are traveling with a baby or small child. For more information on these restrictions, visit www.tsa.gov.
In the not too distant future, Dec. 31, 2007 to be exact, all travelers, including U.S. citizens, will need a passport to enter the United States.
This Dec. 31, all American citizens will need a passport to re-enter the country after air or sea travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South and Central America and Bermuda. This means that the days of going on a cruise with just an original birth certificate as a form of identification will soon come to an end. My best advice to everyone is to get a passport as soon as possible so that you have it for any trip you are planning to take. These new requirements also apply to children younger than 16.
Passports for adults cost $97 and are good for 10 years. Passports for children cost $82 and are good for five years. These prices do not include the cost of a passport photo, which will run you about $8 at CVS, Walgreens, etc.
If you'd like more information on passport requirements, visit www.state.gov.
Airlines try to pull a fast one
This year, many air carriers imposed fuel surcharges to help cover rising fuel costs. The airlines wanted to separate these surcharges and put the costs into the fine print of ads. The Transportation Department however, rejected this attempt in order to protect consumers and "foster price comparison and fare competition."
New Orleans needs tourists
Those of us who have visited New Orleans know what a wonderful city it was before Hurricane Katrina. The city wants everyone to know that it still is. The truth is that the tourist aspects of the city haven't changed that much. The areas of the city that tourists used to go - the French Quarter, the Garden District and Uptown - really experienced no flood damage, and just a few of the structures needed repairs from wind and rain damage. All the major hotels except for one have reopened, and of all the famous restaurants, only Commander's Palace has yet to reopen. Because of labor shortages, many of the famous chefs who own these eateries can now be found in the kitchen doing the cooking.
At the famous K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, Paul Prudhomme himself is preparing a good deal of the meals the restaurant serves. On the other hand, due to labor shortages, most hotels cannot offer room service, and rooms are not made up as quickly.
But, as a whole, much of what attracted people to New Orleans is still there waiting for us to enjoy. So if you can, this is a good time to show support for this great city.
Steel Pier will close
Atlantic City's famous Steel Pier will close in the middle of October to be replaced by high-end condominiums, restaurants and shops.
The pier, once called the "Showplace of the Nation" opened in 1898 and was revived after a 1982 fire as an amusement attraction in 1993. The Steel Pier used to draw thousands of people to watch its diving horse plunge 40 feet into the ocean and to enjoy entertainers such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra.
Grand Casino reopens
Harrah's Entertainment reopened the Grand Casino Biloxi Hotel and Spa on Aug. 17. The facility offers more than 800 slot machines, 28 gaming tables, 500 rooms and several restaurants.
Lisa Vivirito is owner of Diamond Travel in Vero Beach. Call her at (772) 567-8481 or (800) 795-1986 or visit www.diamondtravelofvero.com.