Book Club Selection for October

The AmaDagio cruise from Lyon to Arles is coming up fast, and Lyon is the birthplace of Antoine de St Exupery. So it seemed appropriate to read The Little Prince for our next book club selection.  It’s a classic for all ages — and a very quick read.

Little Prince coverSt Exupery had a very interesting life.  He was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, working airmail routes in Europe, Africa and South America. At the outbreak of war, he joined the French Air Force and flew reconnaissance missions until France’s armistice with Germany in 1940. He then traveled to the United States to persuade the U.S. government to enter the war.

After a 27-month stay in North America, during which he wrote three of his most important works, he joined the Free French Air Force in North Africa (even though he was beyond the maximum age for such pilots and in declining health). On his last assigned reconnaissance mission in July 1944, he disappeared over the Mediterranean and was presumed dead.

His literary works, among them The Little Prince, translated into over 250 languages, propelled his stature posthumously to national hero status.

Antoine St E with airplaneWe’ll discuss the book by late October.  Happy reading!

10 Over-the-Top Flight Amenities

Ethiad Flying NannyEthiad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, recently made the headlines when it announced that it was introducing in-flight nannies. During long flights, the specially trained nannies will entertain kids with activities such as making sock puppets. According to a press release from the airline, “In addition to the arts and crafts, the Flying Nannies can also teach children simple magic tricks which helps retain their focus and interest while seated.”

Other airlines have also started offering unusual perks to travelers in the hopes of setting themselves apart from the crowd. Here are a few of our favorite over-the-top amenities that airlines are presenting as options to travelers.

Emirates chauffer service1.)    Emirates, based in the UAE, offers free transfers for first-class and business-class travelers in more than 55 cities. For example, in Dubai, first-class passengers can be shuttled to their flights in a Mercedes, and business-class travelers are picked up in Volvos.

2.)    Do you prefer to avoid crying children on a long flight? Singapore’s Scoot airline, which is actually a budget carrier, has announced that it is offering a child-free zone for an additional $14.

Singapore Airlines suite3.)    Would you like even more privacy? Singapore Airlines offers first-class suites on A380 Aircraft. Each cabin features a large armchair “hand-stitched by master Italian craftsmen Poltrona Frau,” exquisite dining and a comfortable stand-alone bed.

4.)    For those flying business-class on long-haul flights, Austrian Airlines offers multi-course menus and a “Flying Chef,” who “will put finishing touches to the culinary specialties.” Skilled onboard sommeliers help passengers select wines, and the airline’s “flying coffee house” serves freshly prepared Austrian coffee specialties.

5.)    At the Clubhouse Spa at Heathrow Airport, Virgin Atlantic’s “upper class” customers can choose from one of the spa’s complimentary services or upgrade to a specialized treatment. Options include facial treatments and massages.

6.)    On Japanese carrier ANA, first-class passengers flying between Tokyo and the U.S. or Europe can savor Japanese-style Kaiseki cuisine, Pierre Hermé croissants or a steaming bowl of ramen.

Cathay Pacific First Class7.)    Cathay Pacific recently unveiled new first-class amenities including noise-cancelling headphones, bedding made from 500-thread-count cotton and a 100% organic cotton “sleep suit” (AKA, pajamas).

Hello kitty interior with meals8.)    Do you love Hello Kitty? Taiwan’s EVA Air has announced that its jets branded with the cartoon feline are headed to the United States. Hello Kitty will be painted on the exteriors of new B777 aircraft. Inside the planes, more than 100 items ranging from headrest covers to utensils will bear the image of the cute cat.

9.)    On Malaysia Airlines first-class and business-class travelers on select flights may pre-order meals through its “Chef-on-Call” service.  The menu features tantalizing items such as grilled lobster and braised lamb shank. Meals must be ordered at least 24 hours before departure.

10.) Some airlines are also branching out to offer a luxurious private jet service. One such airline is Lufthansa, whose fleet of private planes is operated by partner NetJet.



Meet Ute Keyes

Ute KeyesUte Keyes started working at Academic Arrangements Abroad in April of 2012. As Manager, Tour Operations & Development, Ute helps to operate and develop exciting new travel programs for the firm. She has an M.A. in art history and previously worked as an administrator at a small but prominent New York museum.

Hometown: Duisburg, Germany

City I would recommend to friends: New York (!), Quebec, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin and Heidelberg (have a sweet spot for the latter…my alma mater)

Quito_cathedralCity I would drop everything to see: Quito, Ecuador

Who would play you in a movie?: No idea! I guess I wish it would be Meryl Streep…

Special skills: Arts and crafts. I’m also a specialist in turning the smallest places into pretty and usable spaces

Most visited websites: The New York Times, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Suedwestrundfunk.

Ute at RodeoWhich Academic Arrangements Abroad programs have you enjoyed working on the most?: Currently, I’m enjoying working on “In the Footsteps of St. James: El Camino de Santiago.” It’s a totally new program I have developed and which was suggested by my dear colleague Elizabeth Kester; it brings back a lot of good memories of my medieval art history studies. Also, “Berlin; Tear Down this Wall.” I was in Berlin during the actual fall of the Wall (1989), so it is a program dear and near to my heart!

Something that surprises people: I love to ride my red bike in New York City (and I am not scared).

Marisa Ute on camel in front of treasury_email-2Three things I can’t travel without: Black dress/skirt, my multi-color pearl necklace, good old-fashioned Moleskine notebook

Number of trips: I guess around 50 (if my extensive travel within the United States counts). Around 35 within Europe, Africa and Asia.

Meet Sarah Viera

Sarah WhortonAlso a professional translator and editor, Sarah joined the staff of Academic Arrangements Abroad in 2008. She became a manager at the firm before opting to lead tours.

“I’m always excited to explore new destinations, which is one of the reasons this job is so worthwhile,” she says. Originally from Oklahoma City, Sarah frequently directs tours in Cuba and has visited more than 50 countries.

Hometown: Oklahoma City

City I would recommend: I love Barcelona.  It has it all – art, architecture, good food and great weather!

SphinxCity I would drop everything to see: Any city in Egypt!  I’ve never been and have wanted to go since I got a hieroglyphics set when I was 8.

Tour you were on recently:  A Cuba trip with MIT alumni.  It was a terrific, very enthusiastic group and a great itinerary.  The week flew by!

Something that surprises people: I grew up playing poker at family gatherings, so I’m a bit of a card shark.

Three things I can’t travel without:  I received a grid-it as a Christmas present and use it to keep all my jewelry and cords together.  I also love my Tumi suitcase, which has a tracker on it in case it ever gets lost.  And I never leave home without my iPad to entertain me on all the long flights.

Number of trips:  I’m not sure how many trips I’ve been on, but I’ve been to more than 50 countries, and counting.

A Security Shortcut

Airport Security lineThe next time you’re standing in line at airport security cursing because you forgot to wear the good socks, consider applying for Global Entry. This program, courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, lets trusted travelers speed through passport control and customs, provided they’ve passed a rigorous background check and paid a $100 fee (reimbursable for American Express Platinum cardholders). Even better, if you’re accepted by Global Entry, you’re automatically qualified for TSA Pre, which means you can usually avoid having to remove your shoes and belt or submit your liquids and laptop for inspection.

Here’s a list of U.S. airports where Global Entry is available.