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Delta, United announce change fee updates for flights amid coronavirus concerns


Delta Air Lines on Monday said it will allow travelers holding tickets to any destination in March and April to change or cancel their flight without paying a hefty change fee, regardless of when they bought the ticket.



a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: A Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300 lands at Portland International Airport in December 2018.


© Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren for USA TODAY
A Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300 lands at Portland International Airport in December 2018.

The broad fee waiver, the first by a major U.S airline, provides travelers holding nonrefundable tickets more flexibility as trips are canceled due to the coronavirus crisis.

“As concerns continue about the coronavirus known as COVID-19, we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees,” Delta said in announcing the policy. “We have adjusted flight schedules to affected areas, waived many change fees and are working with customers to adjust travel plans, using relationships with other airlines when needed.”

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United followed suit Monday night, announcing on its website and on social media that the airline would waive change fees for the next 12 months for flights booked between March 3 and March 31, 2020.

United said customers will be permitted to change free of charge to a flight of equal or lesser value up to a year from the original ticket issue date; if the flight is priced higher, passengers must pay the fare difference.

Delta and other airlines have been sharply criticized this month for only waiving change fees for travelers buying new tickets, a policy designed to boost sagging ticket sales. Southwest is the only major airline that routinely does not charge a change fee.

Last week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal sent letters to the CEOs of Delta, United and American, asking them to waive change and cancellation fees for all flights not just flights purchased in March.

Blumenthal said the fee waivers issued by American, Delta and others were “welcome steps” but too limited because they only cover travelers buying new plane tickets. Travelers bought tickets for spring break last fall would not be covered, for example.

“Airlines should enable consumers to adjust their travel plans – regardless of when those decisions are made or when a passenger’s ticket was purchased,” he said in the letter to American CEO Doug Parker.

Delta changed its policy late last week to cover international flights, regardless of when the flight was booked, but not domestic flights.

The waiver announced Monday covers flights to all Delta destinations. It covers passengers with tickets for travel through April 30. Travelers who know the dates they want to change to can do do without paying change fees that start at $200 per person. Any fare difference since the flight was booked will apply.

Passengers who don’t know when they want to travel again, can cancel their flight and receive a voucher for the value of their ticket. They will not have to pay a change fee when they redeem the voucher, which is the standard practice.

Travelers due to travel in May or beyond will have to pay a change fee unless Delta extends the policy. 

Lindy Lin, a federal investigator who lives in Los Angeles, is hopeful American and other airlines will match Delta’s move.

Lin is supposed to fly to Miami this weekend for her bachelorette party but the group decided they don’t want to fly because some members have kids or frail relatives at home.

The party is being moved to Palm Desert, California, a 2½ hour trip by car.

Lin said she is having trouble getting American to waive the change fee on her $430 ticket from Miami to Los Angeles.

“They want to take $200 of that,” she said, leaving her with just a $230 ticket. “How absurd.”

Taking a cue from Blumenthal’s plea to airlines, Lin started a Change.org petition to get American to change its change fee policies during the outbreak.


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Coronavirus: Mandatory quarantine for all travellers to Israel

All visitors to Israel will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks, in an announcement by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Everyone who comes to Israel from abroad will enter the 14-day isolation,” Netanyahu announced in a video statement shared to his official Twitter account.

The country’s Minister of the Interior confirmed that this measure would apply immediately to returning Israeli nationals.

The measure would be applied to foreign citizens from Thursday, regardless of their previous travel history.

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Travel

Travel Impressions’ ‘Destination of the Month’ Sale

WHY IT RATES: With the ‘Destination of the Month’ Sale, agents can save their clients up to 50% at new properties, while clients can save up to 67% in rate reductions. – Mackenzie Cullen, Editorial Associate

Travel Impressions has selected Los Cabos as its Destination of the Month for March 2020, highlighting some of the fan-favorite experiences that make it such a top draw for vacationers with a campaign designed to help agents better define the destination, while encouraging sales with irresistible savings, free stays for kids at select resorts and more.

Clients will save up to 67% with rate reductions and enjoy value-adding amenities at participating properties, including Barceló Gran Faro Los Cabos, Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort, Royal Solaris Los Cabos Resort & Spa and select RIU Hotels & Resorts.

Travel advisors can save their clients up to 50% at some of the newest and most in-demand properties in the destination, such as Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos and Nobu Hotel Los Cabos.

Located at “Land’s End” at the tip of the southern Baja California Peninsula, Los Cabos is a land full of contrast, from the breathtaking seas to its inspiring mountain panoramas. The destination’s unparalleled natural beauty and biodiversity—and the wide range of amenities offered by Travel Impressions’ top hotel partners in Los Cabos—combine to create unforgettable vacation experiences for your clients.

In addition to enticing offers and amenities, the campaign features tours and experiences via Amstar DMC that travel advisors can use to sell the Destination of the Month. Travelers can gain insight into local culture, for instance, while exploring the vibrant streets of San José del Cabo and the historic town of Todos Santos—or opting to discover more natural wonders on the Amazing Tenors tour, featuring a private “concert” performance delivered by majestic humpback whales.

Agents who follow the campaign will learn about distinctive landmarks such as The Arch of Cabo San Lucas as well as fitness pursuits to recommend to active clients, including a mountain biking excursion to Rancho San Cristobal or walking tour of El Triunfo, a journey into Cabo’s colonial past.

Visit www.travimp.com/DestinationOfTheMonth to learn more about Los Cabos and browse hotel offers clients will find difficult to resist.

SOURCE: Travel Impressions press release.

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Travel

United Airlines flight diverted when 'people became upset' over a 'sick' passenger

A United Airlines flight en route to New Jersey was redirected to Denver International Airport after concerns over a sick passenger.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway

Three passengers voluntarily departed the plane on Sunday and sought their own means of transportation to their destination, according to Denver police spokesman Kurt Barnes.

Denver police helped at the gate after an incident raised health concerns “while in-flight.” “A person was sick on the plane and these people became upset,” Barnes said.

At 1:08 p.m. local time, Denver International Airport officials received notice United Flight 1562, which departed from nearby Eagle County Regional Airport, was diverting off course. Airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria said after the concerned passengers disembarked, the plane left for Newark at 2:06 p.m.

FBI spokeswoman Amy Meyer said it was a “customer service issue.”

“As far as we know, nobody involved had COVID-19,” state health officials said.

According to the local NBC-affiliate KUSA, the person was suffering from allergies and did not have a fever.

United Airlines recently shared its strategy to protect customers and employees amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus. “The dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible in how we respond, provide service and protect our customers and employees,” the company said.

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Coronavirus: Britons ignore COVID-19 panic – 61 percent will push ahead with holiday

Though coronavirus is sweeping the globe, with over 100,000 confirmed cases of the illness worldwide, it seems many Britons still won’t be turned off their annual holiday. New data has revealed that 81 percent of Britons will still go ahead with new holiday bookings, regardless of the ongoing COVID-19 publicity.

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A survey of 1,000 Britons, carried out by travel marketing and communications firm, Finn Partner, says that a further 68 percent will happily book their holiday if they could change it at no extra cost and avoid losing money.

This is a trend a number of airlines have already jumped on, with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announcing they will be wiping cancellation fees for those who don’t want to travel, or who want to rearrange their departure dates.

Though many airlines have cancelled flights due to FCO recommendations or lack of demand, there are journeys still going ahead.

However, with confirmed cases of coronavirus now in 81 countries worldwide, travellers may be fearful of embarking on their planned holiday.

In many instances, those who choose not to travel for this reason would usually lose out on the cost of their flight.

However, BA and Virgin Atlantic have offered a comprise for passengers who don’t want to travel to areas where an FCO advisory is not in place.

Many hotels are also working on a case-by-case basis to allow travellers to amend their holiday plans.

Finn Partner says this flexibility is the key to maintaining travel in the current landscape.

The survey found that 44 percent of Britons said they would be happy to book a holiday if there is a great deal to be had, despite what the headlines say.

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Furthermore, only 17 percent said they would not move forward with booking a holiday until they know more about the developing situation, and only 13 percent said they won’t book at all.

The data also revealed that the older generation is resolute when it comes to booking holidays. It found that 70 percent of those over 60 are continuing to book holidays, along with 68 percent of 45 – 59-year-olds and 61 percent of 30 – 44-year-olds.

Interestingly, it is the younger generation aged between 16 and 29 who are more hesitant to book.

Debbie Flynn, managing partner, Finn Partners Travel commented:

“Whilst undoubtedly the situation is hitting the industry hard, our research tells us that Brits are unlikely to give up their holidays if the price is right.

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“We know from the data that flexible bookings are absolutely critical to retaining consumer confidence. A key area of concern is losing money, whether that’s a ticket for an attraction, a flight or a package.”

At the moment the government is not suggesting travellers make any changes to their usual behaviour, including holidaying abroad.

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “At the moment we are certainly not recommending any change to behaviours in relation to that and if it grows in the UK it doesn’t really make sense to say you are more at risk somewhere else than you are here.”

Travel experts have shared their advice for Britons who are feeling wary of whether to book.

It turns out there is a simple solution to protect your finances, should a sudden surge in the virus cause chaos to holiday plans.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has pushed the need for purchasing travel insurance as soon as you book.

This will protect travellers who find themselves faced with cancelled flights, hotels or holiday excursions as part of an FCO travel advisory.

Lewis explained: “Almost all travel insurance policies, including the cheap no-frills policies… if you are travelling somewhere that the Foreign Office has said it advises against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’ then the travel insurance company will pay out if there is a Foreign Office advisory in place.

“As there is for China, parts of South Korea and, from today, there now is for northern Italy.”

However, Lewis went on to warn Britons that they could still be caught out, even if they have travel insurance.

“The bigger question is – your flight is cancelled, your hotel is cancelled, it’s not in a Foreign Office warning area but it’s been cancelled due to coronavirus – are you covered?” he said.

“In that case, the majority of policies don’t cover you, those the travel disruption cover may.”

It’s worth looking very carefully at what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.

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Travel

Martin Lewis: Expert issues travel insurance warning to Britons as coronavirus fears rise

Coronavirus has already impacted the holiday plans of many Britons as it continues to spread. There are currently 111,356 cases globally, with a number of popular holiday destinations, including Spain, France and Italy, badly hit. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises against all but essential travel to a number of areas in northern Italy due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus in their latest travel advice.

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The news will affect many holidaymakers with Italy travel plans.

Travel insurance is always advised, but in the current climate, it’s more important than ever.

Martin Lewis, 47, appeared on ITV’s This Morning to share his latest travel insurance advice with worried Britons today.

One ITV viewer, due to travel to Florida in July, called in to ask whether the cancellation part of her travel insurance covered her holiday against coronavirus or whether she’d need to add travel disruption.

Lewis explained the query is a very common one at this time.

He said: “Almost all travel insurance policies, including the cheap no-frills policies… if you are travelling somewhere that the Foreign Office has said it advises against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’ then the travel insurance company will pay out if there is a Foreign Office advisory in place.

“As there is for China, parts of South Korea and, from today, there now is for northern Italy.”

He continued: “So if you were due to travel to one of those areas – or if in the future Florida were to join that list – you would be covered.”

However, Lewis went on to warn Britons that they could still be caught out, even if they have travel insurance.

“The bigger question is – your flight is cancelled, your hotel is cancelled, it’s not in a Foreign Office warning area but it’s been cancelled due to coronavirus – are you covered?” he said.

“In that case, the majority of policies don’t cover you, those the travel disruption cover may.”

It’s worth looking very carefully at what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.

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“Bizarrely we found that some policies would cover you if your flight was cancelled would cover your hotel and some, if your hotel was cancelled, would cover your flight but not both,” cautioned Lewis.

The Money Saving Expert went on to advise how to proceed if flights are axed.

He urged Britons if their flight has been cancelled to go to their provider and then their insurer.

The travel insurance proceedings will depend on the destination. For instance, holidays to northern Italy will benefit as the regions are today covered under FCO guidance.

“This triggers the travel insurance payout,” Lewis explained.

Lewis advises checking your destination on the FCO website to see what travel advice is in place.

He pointed out that these lists are going to change over the next three to four months.

Lewis summed up his advice with: “Get cover and cross your fingers.” 

Source: Read Full Article

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Man takes off trousers at airport after electronic device catches fire

A man was forced to strip down to his pants at the airport after an electronic device in his pocket caught fire.

Lwando Mashiamahle, 29, was waiting for his girlfriend, who was queuing to buy a plane ticket, when a powerbank in his trouser pocket overheated and burst into flames.

The incident was captured on CCTV at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa.

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Footage shows Mashiamahle sitting down before a flash indicates the device has burst into flames.

He immediately jumps up and takes off his trousers while passengers waiting in line quickly back away.

“It felt quite hot in my pocket but I thought it was normal, like sometimes your phone heats up when you’re using it, but I never thought it could explode,” he told News24.

“I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do, I automatically just lost my mind. I was very, very scared.”

He added: “Fortunately I have no injuries but my pants were burnt and I had to quickly find the nearest shop to buy a new pair.“

It’s not the first time an electronic device has caused havoc for a passenger.

In February 2020, a plane had to make an emergency landing when a phone battery caught fire mid-flight.

United Airlines flight 1456, flying from Newark to Nassau, Bahamas, had to make an emergency landing at Daytona Beach Airport in Florida.

The battery fire was contained in the passenger’s bag and placed in a fireproof case after catching fire, the airport confirmed on Twitter.

It shared an image of the charred phone battery and a charger cable lying on the airport tarmac.

“United flight 1456, operating from Newark to Nassau, diverted to Daytona Beach due to a thermal runaway event onboard,” said a United spokesperson. 

“Emergency personnel met the aircraft and customers remained onboard prior to the aircraft re-departing for Nassau. We appreciate the quick work of our employees on board to keep our customers and fellow employees safe.”

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Shanghai Disney Resort partially reopens as China reports fewest new coronavirus cases since January


The Shanghai Disney Resort partially reopened Monday after the entire Shanghai Disney park closed over a month ago amid growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus. 

a person holding a stuffed animal: A woman shops at a store in Disneytown in Shanghai on March 9, 2020.

The Shanghai Disneyland park remains closed, according to the park’s official website. But to kick off a “step of a phased reopening,” a “limited number of shopping, dining and recreational experiences” resume Monday at Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disney Hotel. 

“Each of these resort locations will operate under limited capacity and reduced hours of operation,” the website announced. 

Shanghai Disney is co-owned by the Walt Disney company and the Shanghai Shendi Group and managed by a Shanghai-based park and resort company. 

Every guest entering the resort will be required to go through temperature screening procedures, “will need to present their Health QR Code when entering dining venues, and will be required to wear a mask during their entire visit,” Disney Shanghai told guests. 

CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel

a group of people standing on a sidewalk: A staff member (L) checks the body temperature of visitors outside Disneytown in Shanghai on March 9, 2020.

“The resort will provide an extensive range of measures, designed to ensure a safe and healthy experience for all guests, Cast Members and Disneytown tenant employees, including strict and comprehensive approaches on sanitization, disinfection and cleanliness,” the website added. “Guests will also be reminded to maintain respectful social distances at all times while in stores, queues and restaurants.”

The partial reopening comes as authorities in China reported the fewest number of new cases of coronavirus since infections started being tracked in January.

In the latest update from China’s National Health Commission, the country said it detected 40 new cases of the virus in the past 24 hours, down from 44 new cases the previous day. China now has 80,735 total cases, among which 19,016 remain in treatment and 58,600 have been released. More than 3,000 have died.

New infections in South Korea also appear to be slowing. 

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY.

Slide 1 of 48: Planning a trip abroad? It's important to stay safe. The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories intended to help travelers understand the risks involved in visiting certain countries. The advisories are ranked on a scale of 1 to 4, with level 1 being "Exercise Normal Precautions" and level 4 advising "Do Not Travel." Scroll through to find out all the countries that have advisory levels of 2, 3 or 4 as of Nov. 15, 2019, starting with the countries that have level 4 advisories.
Slide 2 of 48: China • Level 4: Do not travel • Reason: "novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China"
Slide 3 of 48: Bolivia • Level 4: Do Not Travel • Reason: "civil unrest"  In a November 2019 update, the State Department noted that it had ordered the evacuation of family members and nonessential employees due to ongoing political instability. As a result, the embassy has s a "limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Bolivia."
Slide 4 of 48: Libya • Level 4: Do Not Travel • Reason: "crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict."

Slide 5 of 48: North Korea • Level 4: Do Not Travel • Reason: "the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals."
Slide 6 of 48: Syria • Level 4: Do Not Travel • Reason: "terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict."
Slide 7 of 48: Venezuela • Level 4: Do Not Travel • Reason: "crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens."
Slide 8 of 48: Chad • Level 3: Reconsider Travel • Reason: "crime, terrorism and minefields."
Slide 9 of 48: Democratic Republic of the Congo • Level 3: Reconsider Travel • Reason: "crime and civil unrest."

Slide 10 of 48: Haiti • Level 3: Reconsider Travel • Reason:  "crime, civil unrest and kidnapping."
Slide 11 of 48: Lebanon • Level 3: Reconsider Travel • Reason:  "crime, terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict and civil unrest"  Americans are warned not to travel to these areas: • Syrian border due to terrorism and armed conflict • Israeli border due to the potential for armed conflict • Refugee settlements due to the potential for armed conflict 
Slide 12 of 48: Pakistan • Level 3: Reconsider Travel • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 13 of 48: Sudan • Level 3: Reconsider Travel • Reason: "crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict."
Slide 14 of 48: Antarctica • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather."

Slide 15 of 48: Australia • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "Exercise increased caution in Australia due to natural disaster/bushfires. Some areas have increased risk. "
Slide 16 of 48: Azerbaijan • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 17 of 48: Belgium • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 18 of 48: Brazil • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime."
Slide 19 of 48: Cameroon • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime."
Slide 20 of 48: Colombia • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime, terrorism and kidnapping."
Slide 21 of 48: Cuba • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "due to attacks targeting U.S. Embassy Havana employees resulting in the drawdown of embassy staff."
Slide 22 of 48: Dominican Republic • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime."
Slide 23 of 48: Egypt • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 24 of 48: Ethiopia • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "civil unrest and communications disruptions."
Slide 25 of 48: Guatemala • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime."
Slide 26 of 48: Guyana • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime."
Slide 27 of 48: France • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism and civil unrest."
Slide 28 of 48: Hong Kong • Level 2: Exercise increased caution • Reason: "civil unrest."  "Since June 2019, large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong, including MTR stations, shopping malls, universities, and at Hong Kong International Airport," the State Department said in its November update. "While many demonstrations have been peaceful, some have resulted in violent confrontations between protesters and police – or between protesters and people who oppose the demonstrations – leading to serious injuries. On Oct. 4, the government invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban face masks at public gatherings. Any protests that take place without a permit are considered illegal."
Slide 29 of 48: India • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime and terrorism."
Slide 30 of 48: Israel, The West Bank and Gaza • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 31 of 48: Italy • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 32 of 48: Kenya • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime, terrorism and kidnapping."
Slide 33 of 48: Kosovo • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 34 of 48: The Kyrgyz Republic • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "civil unrest."
Slide 35 of 48: Madagascar • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime."
Slide 36 of 48: Malawi • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "civil unrest."
Slide 37 of 48: Mexico • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime and kidnapping." However, several Mexican states with higher crime rates – especially those in or near cartel or gang-controlled territory – have elevated threat levels:  Level 4 states ("Do not travel"): Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas,  Level 3 states ("Reconsider travel"): Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Zacatecas
Slide 38 of 48: Morocco • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 39 of 48: Papua New Guinea • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime, civil unrest, health concerns, natural disasters and kidnapping."
Slide 40 of 48: Peru • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime and terrorism."  In an October advisory, the State Department advised against travel to: • The Colombian-Peruvian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime • The Valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM), including areas within the Departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica and Junin, due to crime and terrorism
Slide 41 of 48: Philippines • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime, terrorism, civil unrest, a measles outbreak and kidnapping."
Slide 42 of 48: Republic of the Congo • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime and civil unrest."
Slide 43 of 48: Serbia • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime."
Slide 44 of 48: Sri Lanka • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism."
Slide 45 of 48: Tanzania • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime, terrorism, health issues and targeting of LGBTI persons."
Slide 46 of 48: Turkey • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "terrorism and arbitrary detentions."
Slide 47 of 48: Uganda • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime and kidnapping."
Slide 48 of 48: Zimbabwe • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: "crime and civil unrest."

Bolivia • Level 4: Do Not Travel • Reason: “civil unrest”

In a November 2019 update, the State Department noted that it had ordered the evacuation of family members and nonessential employees due to ongoing political instability. As a result, the embassy has s a “limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Bolivia.”

Lebanon • Level 3: Reconsider Travel • Reason:  “crime, terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict and civil unrest”

Americans are warned not to travel to these areas:

• Syrian border due to terrorism and armed conflict

• Israeli border due to the potential for armed conflict

• Refugee settlements due to the potential for armed conflict 

Hong Kong • Level 2: Exercise increased caution • Reason: “civil unrest.”

“Since June 2019, large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong, including MTR stations, shopping malls, universities, and at Hong Kong International Airport,” the State Department said in its November update. “While many demonstrations have been peaceful, some have resulted in violent confrontations between protesters and police – or between protesters and people who oppose the demonstrations – leading to serious injuries. On Oct. 4, the government invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban face masks at public gatherings. Any protests that take place without a permit are considered illegal.”

Mexico • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: “crime and kidnapping.” However, several Mexican states with higher crime rates – especially those in or near cartel or gang-controlled territory – have elevated threat levels:

Level 4 states (“Do not travel”): Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, 

Level 3 states (“Reconsider travel”): Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Zacatecas

Peru • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution • Reason: “crime and terrorism.”

In an October advisory, the State Department advised against travel to:

• The Colombian-Peruvian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime

• The Valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM), including areas within the Departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica and Junin, due to crime and terrorism

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shanghai Disney Resort partially reopens as China reports fewest new coronavirus cases since January

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Revealed: The best places for coffee in New York

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! The best places to get your caffeine fix in New York

  • New York has a thriving scene of independent coffee shops and mini-chains 
  • Refuel at Ground Central on Lexington Avenue after a Bloomingdale’s spree
  • Sey Coffee, Brooklyn, is a bright coffee house with a ‘micro-roastery’ in the back

Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week, he reveals the best places for coffee (and people-watching) in New York.

Making the most of the city that never sleeps requires plenty of shots of caffeine. As well as the ubiquitous Starbucks (which native New Yorkers leave for teens and tourists), the city has a thriving scene of independent coffee shops and mini-chains to help serve it. 

Here, in the spirit of Central Perk and the episodes of Friends, are The Ones to choose.

As well as the ubiquitous Starbucks, New York has a thriving scene of independent coffee shops and mini-chains to help serve it

The One with the best snacks

Racks of freshly baked cookies lure you into the three branches of Culture Espresso near Macy’s in Mid-town Manhattan. The cafe holds the ‘best chocolate chip cookie in the city’ award from Delish magazine and lets you order them online if you want to be sure they won’t run out before your visit. The cafes themselves are friendly, have big windows, lots of space and jolly takeaway cups.

The One with sunny seating

If you find yourself in Soho on a warm day, look out for the lime-green store front of Ground Support – the company has been roasting its own beans since 2009. There are communal tables inside and a few prime places outside to people-watch in the sun.

The One that moves

Mudtruck (pictured above) is a bright orange mobile coffee van 

Its name might be Mud, but it’s one of the most colourful coffee houses in the city. There’s a whiff of the 1960s in the rainbows that adorn the menus and merchandise. The firm comes in three forms: Mudspot (a cafe in the East Village), Mudpark (a wooden kiosk nearby) and the mobile Mudtruck (a bright orange coffee van that could be anywhere), meaning you’ve got triple the chance of finding its cheerful baristas.

The One with cocktails too

During the day, the family-friendly Abraco cafe (just south of the landmark Strand Bookstore in Gramercy Park) welcomes serious coffee lovers and a happy lunch-time crowd. In the early evening, the coffee bar becomes an aperitivo bar, the baristas become barmen – and jazz lures diners looking for some tapas-style food and puddings such as honey- saffron cake.

The One near expensive shops

Good brews: Ground Central on Lexington Avenue just a few blocks from Bloomingdale’s

If your shopping bags from Fifth Avenue get too heavy, find a sofa at Ground Central on Lexington Avenue just a few blocks from Bloomingdale’s. The Australian owners play vintage rock ’n’ roll ‘to connect yesterday’s music with today’s coffee culture’ and say the cafe is their ‘love letter to New York’.

The One with the spoons

A set of tortoiseshell teaspoons made an Instagram sensation out of the tiny Happy Bones in the Nolita district. The images (alongside cups of carefully crafted coffee) went viral, and while the spoons have temporarily disappeared (borrowed by customers, not stolen, say the owners, who are trying to source replacements), the cafe remains a huge draw.

The One you travel to

Just across the East River in booming Brooklyn, all the buzz is about Sey Coffee, a bright, light coffee house with a ‘micro-roastery’ in the back. The owners are coffee-obsessives (as the detailed descriptions on their website and menu boards suggest) and they share the love on the first Sunday of each month when £20 gets you coffee, a tour of the roastery and a bag of fresh beans to take home.

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How to spend 48 hours in Palm Springs

The coolest spot in the desert: Live like a Hollywood star in Palm Springs, California’s most stylish hangout

  • For happy hour, head to the new Del Rey lounge bar at the Villa Royale hotel
  • Go shopping for mid-century treats in the Uptown Design District
  • See Leo DiCaprio’s desert love nest and one of Frank Sinatra’s desert escapes

A notorious Rat Pack hangout in the 1950s and 1960s, Palm Springs still draws the glamorous Hollywood set with its sleek, low-rise architecture, broad, palm-lined boulevards and slew of stylish hotels, motels and cocktail bars.

There are no direct flights from the UK, but it’s an easy two-hour drive from Los Angeles International Airport. A lunchtime touchdown in LA means you’ll reach Palm Springs early evening.

Once you’ve parked up the convertible Mustang and checked in to your retro hotel, there’s enough time for a cooling dip in the pool before venturing out for happy hour – a Palm Springs tradition. While not a big city, Palm Springs is pretty spread out, so if you haven’t rented a car it’s worth downloading a ride-sharing app such as Uber or Lyft, or making a note of the local cab number.

A notorious Rat Pack hangout in the 1950s and 1960s, Palm Springs still draws the glamorous Hollywood set

Evening

Kick off the desert fun with a couple of old-school cocktails at the Tonga Hut (tongahut.com), a deliciously kitsch ‘tiki bar’ – exotic drinking place – on North Palm Canyon Drive. 

Ask the bartender if you can take a peek in the Secret Room, a private area hidden behind a false wall and decked out like a 1940s tiki lounge with low-slung bamboo beams, carved tiki poles and vintage barrel lamps giving off a cosy, rouge-y glow.

Try a couple of old-school cocktails at the Tonga Hut, a ‘tiki bar’ on North Palm Canyon Drive (pictured)

After a couple of Mai Tai cocktails (made to Trader Vic’s original 1944 recipe), head over to El Mirasol (elmirasolrestaurants.com), the Castaneda family’s new Mexican restaurant at Los Arboles Hotel, and feast on butter-soft carne asada (chargrilled sliced beef), zingy fresh guacamole and salt-rimmed margaritas on the fairy-lit patio.

DAY ONE

Morning

Jet-lag is on our side when flying west, so make the most of an early rise and join the pastel-swathed locals in their power walk to Koffi (kofficoffee.com), a cool local coffee joint where charming baristas holler out your soya mocha latte order like cabaret queens. It will set you up nicely for brunch at the Holiday House (holidayhouseps.com), a mid-century delight that’s decked out with original artworks by David Hockney, Herb Ritts and Roy Lichtenstein and looks like a Slim Aarons fine-art tableau.

Afternoon

Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms home is one of the stops on the MidMod Design Tour

Palm Springs has one of the finest collections of mid-century modern architecture in the world. If you’re into property, book a guided tour such as the MidMod Design Tour (midmoddesigntour.com), led by architect and interior designer Lyle Boatman.

The two-hour driving tour explores the city’s affluent neighbourhoods, swings by Elvis Presley’s pink-hued Honeymoon Hideaway, stops outside Leo DiCaprio’s desert love nest and peeks through the gates of Twin Palms, one of Frank Sinatra’s many desert escapes famous for its piano-shaped pool.

Evening

For happy hour, head to the new Del Rey lounge bar at the historic Villa Royale hotel (delreypalmsprings.com). With wood panelling, cosy booths and Art Deco hints, it has a gentleman’s-club vibe.

Try a Shy Ricky with vodka, celery juice and ginger beer for $10 during happy hour (4pm to 6pm, and 10pm until closing time).

Then it’s back to Downtown for dinner at the Purple Palm (purplepalmrestaurant.com) at the Colony Palms, a classic Palm Springs hotel opened by LA mobster Al Wertheimer in 1936. Its stylish poolside restaurant has a distinctly Moroccan vibe, but chef Nick Tall’s food is very much SoCal (Southern Californian) in style, with tuna ceviche ($17) and heirloom beets and burrata ($13).

DAY TWO

Morning

Palm Springs boasts more than 350 days of sunshine a year and can see summer temperatures reach a blistering 110 Fahrenheit. When it gets that hot, make like a local and decamp to the mountains on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (pstramway.com), a rotating cable car that scales the cliffs of Chino Canyon up to Mount San Jacinto State Park. It takes ten minutes to traverse the two-and-a-half-mile route, which runs from arid desert to alpine terrain. In the cooler months, you may see several inches of snow.

Otherwise, air-con is your friend. Go shopping for mid-century treats in the Uptown Design District or head to the Palm Springs Art Museum (psmuseum.org), a contemporary collection established in 1938 with works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Antony Gormley.

Lunch

Happy hour: Cocktails at El Jefe, a relaxed tequila bar in the Saguaro Hotel

After all that nature and art, it’s surely time for a prickly pear margarita. Pop on a panama or oversized shades and head over to El Jefe at the pastel-hued Saguaro Hotel (thesaguaro.com). This relaxed tequila bar and taqueria has a vintage-sports-bar vibe and knocks out serious fresh fruit margaritas and delicious fish tacos. Then spend the afternoon lazing by a beautiful palm-lined pool and listening to soft jazz.

Evening

The famous supper club scene has seen a revival in Palm Springs in recent years. For an authentic Rat Pack experience, head to the legendary Purple Room in the Club Trinidad Hotel (purpleroompalmsprings.com) where Sinatra and his pals Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin schmoozed in the 1960s.

On Friday and Saturday nights, it hosts a supper club with live entertainment including class acts such as Carole Cook, a comic actress and one-time protegee of Lucille Ball, and The Judy Show!, Michael Holmes’s brilliant parody of Judy Garland.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Tracey Davies was a guest of Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism (visitpalmsprings.com). She flew with Virgin Atlantic (virginatlantic.com), which has return flights to LA from £351. Double rooms at Los Arboles Hotel (losarboleshotel.com) start at $129. Architecture tours (midmoddesigntour.com) cost $100.

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