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Japan has the world’s most powerful passport – but it’s currently meaningless

The latest ranking of the world’s passports is out, with Japan’s crowned the most powerful – but the current situation renders the results meaningless, according to the study’s authors.

The Henley Passport Index, first launched in 2006, is one of the leading rankings of countries’ travel documents, determining their strength by the number of destinations passport holders can visit visa-free or by getting a visa on arrival.

However, for the first time in its 14-year history, the Index is defunct, as nations around the world have imposed strict travel bans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“A Swiss citizen can, in theory, travel to 185 destinations around the world without needing a visa in advance, but the last few weeks have made it apparent that travel freedom is contingent on factors that occasionally can be utterly beyond our control,” said Dr Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index.

“This is, of course, something that citizens of countries with weak passports in the lower ranks of the index are all too familiar with.

“As public health concerns and security rightfully take precedence over all else now, even within the otherwise borderless EU, this is an opportunity to reflect on what freedom of movement and citizenship essentially mean for those of us who have perhaps taken them for granted in the past.”

Some 3.5 billion people, nearly half the global population, are presently living in voluntary or mandatory confinement.

However, when the restrictions list, we could see a greater rise in the movement of people, according to some experts.

Founder and managing partner of FutureMap, Dr Parag Khanna, said: “Once quarantines lift and airline prices stand at rock bottom, expect more people across the globe to gather their belongings and buy one-way tickets to countries affordable enough to start fresh.”

Although only theoretical at present, Japan was followed in the rankings by Singapore, with a score of 190, followed by Germany in third place, joint with South Korea.

The UK is currently ranked 7th on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 185. It shares the position with the US.

Although its travel freedom score has increased by 19 points over the last decade, in 2010, the UK ranked number one worldwide.

The UAE has seen the biggest increase in travel freedom over the past 10 years, going from being ranked 65th in 2010 to 18th this year, having added 107 visa-free or visa-on-arrival destinations in that time.

Afghanistan currently has the world’s least powerful passport, with a score of 26.

World’s most powerful passports

1. Japan

2. Singapore

3. Germany

3. South Korea

4. Finland

4. Italy

4. Luxembourg

4. Spain

5. Austria

5. Denmark

World’s least powerful passports

1. Afghanistan

2. Iraq

3. Syria

4. Pakistan

5. Somalia

5. Yemen​

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Disneyland tickets aren't refundable due to coronavirus, but you can still use them


While the coronavirus pandemic closed Disney’s parks last month, the company is sticking with its policy of not issuing ticket refunds.



a group of people in front of a building: Orlando's Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Disney Cruise lines and Universal Studios are shut down temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.


© Provided by USA TODAY
Orlando’s Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Disney Cruise lines and Universal Studios are shut down temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The iconic Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California has been closed since March 14, and does not have a reopening date.

The good news: Once the park reopens, Disneyland’s nonrefundable single-day and multi-day tickets can be used for a future visit through the end of their validity period, according to the park’s website. 

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Promotional tickets for Southern California residents will be extended on a day-to-day basis for each day the park is closed.

The expiration date for promotional child tickets will be extended to Dec. 15, 2020, or 13 days after the ticket’s first use, whichever comes first.

Military Salute tickets expire on Dec. 18, 2020, and can be used on non-consecutive days.

Walt Disney World resort tickets in Florida are also not refundable, but can be used on any date through Dec. 15, 2020. Tickets that have not been used by that date can be used toward the purchase of a future ticket.

Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservations can be made for June 1 or later.

Both resorts are waiving Disney-imposed change and cancellation fees for vacation packages for arrivals through June 30.


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‘Taxpayer faces £4.5bn bill if no change in law on holiday refunds’

Change the law on refunds for cancelled holidays, or half-a-million jobs are at risk: that is the warning from Abta, the travel trade association.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought almost all domestic and international tourism to a standstill.

With the Foreign Office now warning against travel abroad indefinitely, Abta calculates holiday firms face paying customers back an estimated £4.5bn.

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Under the Package Travel Regulations, a tour operator has 14 days from the date a holiday is cancelled to return the traveller’s money in full. But suppliers such as airlines are in no hurry to issue refunds — or are insisting on providing only vouchers, despite rules stipulating cash.

To compound the problem, future bookings have almost dried up.

Abta is pressing for the two-week refund deadline to be extended to several months, with customers given a “refund credit note” that will allow them to select an alternative holiday from the same supplier or, at the agreed date, get their cash repaid.

If the law does not change, says Abta, it will force many companies into bankruptcy. Refunds would become ultimately the responsibility of the taxpayer under the Atol scheme, which was drained of cash by the collapse in September 2019 of Thomas Cook.

The association’s chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “We know the government has a lot to manage with the current crisis, but its failure to make these temporary changes to refund rules defies logic and is leaving the consumer in no-man’s land.

“The rules around 14-day refunds were never designed for the mass cancellation of holidays, which we’re now seeing as result of government measures to contain the pandemic.

“It’s in nobody’s interests for normally healthy, viable businesses to be pushed into bankruptcy. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk and the UK taxpayer will have to foot the bill for customer refunds if there is an industry-wide collapse.

“This is about supporting businesses through an entirely unforeseeable and short-term cash-flow crunch. Customers will not lose their right to a refund, and their money is not at risk.”

But one of the travel industry’s most eminent figures, David Speakman, said changing the rules governing existing contracts would undermine customers’ confidence.

“A public that mistrusts the industry in future will be far more damaging in the long term than any financial impact at present,” he said.

Mr Speakman, who founded the home-working firm Travel Counsellors, criticised airlines for failing to hand back cash — and said that after the crisis the whole structure of the travel industry should be reformed.

“The travel industry is particularly vulnerable to a stop or slow down, as it has operated as a massive ‘Ponzi scheme’ — borrowing and using upfront customer cash to operate.

“Cash taken from customers booking today for future journeys, pays for travel executed today that was paid for by customers two, three or even 12 months previously.

“The industry is now suffering from its own virus and its very survival and trustworthiness is at stake.”

Abta says the UK travel industry employs more than 500,000 people directly and indirectly across the UK.

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Discovering the exquisite work of the Arts and Crafts movement

The arts and crafts of a truly stylish break: Our guide to discovering a world full of natural beauty and exquisite craftsmanship

  • Winsford Cottage Hospital in Devon was designed by the eminent Arts and Crafts architect Charles Voysey
  • Llangoed Hall is a country house hotel in Wales that has art by Augustus John and James McNeill Whistler
  • Rodmarton House in Gloucestershire is packed with 20th Century treasures, including furniture and pottery

Millennials love to think they discovered everything and have even come up with a whizzy term – cottagecore – to describe an appreciation of the aesthetic beauty and romance of rural life. 

Fuelled by the power of social media, the cottagecore trend is currently sweeping the United States, but this idealisation of style has been around in Britain for more than 150 years thanks to the Arts and Crafts movement. It was driven by William Morris and his followers, who set about championing the quality of design and celebrating traditional workmanship.

Hipsters before their time, every detail mattered; the Arts and Crafters wanted to design everything from door knobs to drawers, often using flowers and plants as inspiration. Railing against industrialisation and mass-produced furniture, pioneers headed to the Cotswolds and set up guilds to protect ancient trades. Morris’s Cotswolds home, the 16th Century Kelmscott Manor (sal.org.uk/kelmscott-manor), is currently closed for renovation, but there is still plenty for devotees to see when travel restrictions are lifted.

Winsford Cottage Hospital, Devon

Winsford Cottage Hospital, pictured, is located in the village of Beaworthy in Devon. It was once a local hospital treating First World War soldiers 

Conservation charity the Landmark Trust has highlighted the Arts and Crafts trend with its new property in the village of Beaworthy.

Built in 1900 and designed by the eminent Arts and Crafts architect Charles Voysey, this was once a local hospital treating First World War soldiers wounded on the front line.

Voysey created everything from the motifs of hearts and trees to the windows and the doors. He also designed the wards so that patients could look out on to the sunny, south-facing garden.

Everything has now been serenely updated, with proper kitchens and tasteful bathrooms.

The property sleeps up to six people, and four-night stays cost from £503 (landmarktrust.org.uk).

Gravetye Manor, Sussex

One of the bedrooms at Gravetye Manor in East Grinstead, which dates back to the 16th Century. It was transformed into a hotel in 1958 

Gravetye Manor is ancient – it dates back to the 16th Century – and in 1885 it was bought by William Robinson. Originally a gardener’s boy, Robinson became one of the most influential horticulturalists of his era and Gravetye was his home until he died in 1935.

The manor, near East Grinstead, was transformed into a hotel in 1958, and today the rooms still adhere to Arts and Crafts principles: they are grand yet serene.

Guests can also sign up for daily tours of the meadows, kitchen and flower gardens.

B&B doubles cost from £295 a night (gravetyemanor.co.uk).

Perrycroft, Herefordshire

Perrycroft in Malvern, which was built by Charles Voysey in 1893. It has been refurbished to contain plenty of modern conveniences 

On a smaller scale, Perrycroft, near Malvern, was built by Charles Voysey in 1893 for John Wilson, an MP and industrialist. It’s a private home but it is open to the public between May and September. There are three holiday cottages on the estate too, including The Lodge, which was also built by Voysey.

Although The Lodge has been refurbished to contain plenty of modern conveniences, much care has been taken to maintain Voysey’s vision, thanks to whitewashed walls, green painted woodwork, red curtains, and antique furniture and fittings. 

The property has three bedrooms and sleeps up to six people. A four-night stay costs from £585 (perrycroftholidaycottages.co.uk/the-lodge).

Llangoed Hall, Wales

Llangoed Hall was originally an ancient manor house near Hay-on-Wye. It has an art collection that includes works by Augustus John and James McNeill Whistler

Originally an ancient manor house near Hay-on-Wye, Llangoed Hall was rebuilt as a mansion in 1912 by Clough Williams-Ellis. He was fascinated by the notion of village life and would later go to build the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales.

Keeping the Arts and Crafts flame alive, in the 1980s Bernard Ashley, husband of designer Laura Ashley, turned Llangoed Hall into a country house hotel, with kitchen gardens and an art collection that includes works by Augustus John and James McNeill Whistler. 

The property has since changed ownership but the ethos remains the same. B&B doubles cost from £160 a night (llangoedhall.co.uk).

Standen House, West Sussex

Inside Standen House, which was built in 1891 by Philip Webb, an influential Arts and Crafts designer

Philip Webb was another influential Arts and Crafts designer and in 1891 he built Standen House, near East Grinstead, for a wealthy family. 

Now owned by the National Trust, the place is an Arts and Crafts time capsule, with William Morris furnishings and wallpaper, and you can still see the original electric light fittings. Guests staying in the property’s Morris Apartment can explore the gardens after visitors have left for the day.

The one-bedroom apartment sleeps up to four people and features an elegant sitting room and a light and airy kitchen. A two-night stay costs from £494 (nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/the-morris-apartment-sussex).

Rodmarton House, Gloucestershire

This house was built by Ernest Barnsley, a follower of Morris, and is still owned by the family who commissioned it in 1909.

Rodmarton is packed with early 20th Century treasures, including furniture and pottery by Alfred and Louise Powell, wall hangings by Hilda Benjamin, lead and brass designed by Norman Jewson, and ironwork by Fred and Frank Baldwin and Alfred Bucknell. 

Visitors can take tours of both house and garden, and craft events take place regularly (rodmarton-manor.co.uk).

Hidcote, Gloucestershire

The beautiful gardens at Hidcote in Chipping Campden, which are among the most charming in Britain 

The 17th Century property was bought by Lawrence Johnston in 1907 and he quickly set about putting into practice all that he had learned from books by Arts and Crafts devotees. 

Today, the gardens at Hidcote, in Chipping Campden, are among the most charming in Britain – a series of colourful and intricately designed outdoor ‘rooms’. 

The site is now owned by the National Trust (nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote) and continues to attract 175,000 visitors a year. Also in Chipping Campden is Court Barn (courtbarn.org.uk), a museum that showcases the Arts and Crafts period.

London

The William Morris Gallery, pictured, in Walthamstow, East London, houses the largest collection of his designs

However much the Arts and Crafters loved the countryside, they couldn’t escape London entirely. The William Morris Gallery is housed in Morris’s very grand childhood home in Walthamstow, East London, and has the largest collection of his designs (wmgallery.org.uk).

Following their marriage, Morris and his wife Jane went on to live at Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent. 

Built in 1860 by Morris and Philip Webb, it’s another jewel, with paintings and murals by Pre-Raphaelites Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Rossetti and a touch of utopianism – the servants’ rooms are unusually light and airy (nationaltrust.org.uk/red-house).

Cotswolds

Martin Randall Travel has been conducting Arts and Crafts tours of the Cotswolds since 2016, offering guests a chance to visit museums, churches and private houses.

A four-night tour in September starts at £1,890pp including all transport and accommodation, and most meals. The itinerary includes visits to a branch of the world-famous Ashmolean Museum in Broadway, which includes a collection on vernacular British decorative arts, and the Museum and Art Gallery in Cheltenham, which has a nationally important Arts and Crafts collection (martinrandall.com/arts-and-crafts-in-the-cotswolds).

Meanwhile, Historic Houses also arranges tours of privately owned Arts and Crafts houses, including Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire (historichouses.org).

Scotland

Hill House in Helensburgh, near Loch Lomond. It was built by renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret

Renowned architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret built Hill House in Helensburgh, near Loch Lomond, between 1902 and 1904 for publisher Walter Blackie.

The house is considered to be his domestic masterpiece – Mackintosh and his wife built the furnishings too and even gave the owners instructions on what colour flowers should be put in to vases.

However, the exterior materials used have not withstood the test of time, so the National Trust for Scotland is embarking on a ten-year restoration project. A protective steel structure has been built over the house so that work can continue away from the elements (nts.org.uk/visit/places/the-hill-house).

TREASURE TROVES OF THE LAKES 

Troutbeck Church in Cumbria, which has Arts and Crafts interiors 

They were built largely as holiday homes for Manchester industrialists, and nowhere in Britain has a better collection of Arts and Crafts mansions than the Lake District.

Even though many of them are still private homes, you can visit Blackwell (blackwell.org.uk). Overlooking Windermere, it was built in 1898 by Baillie Scott for a brewing magnate.

It’s an Arts and Crafts treasure trove, with peacock friezes, an all-white drawing room and leaf-shaped door handles.

The garden is just as important, with a series of terraces framing the water below. Blackwell’s craft connections are kept current with a shop that showcases contemporary artists, particularly ceramicists.

There are many churches in the area worth seeing too – those at Staveley and Troutbeck have Arts and Crafts interiors, including stained-glass windows by Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites.

Brantwood was the home of the art critic John Ruskin. Overlooking Coniston Water, it has eight gardens to explore plus a museum containing his art and belongings. 

If you want to soak up the view a bit longer, you can even stay here. The Lodge sleeps up to nine while the Eyrie is a one-bedroom apartment overlooking the water. Two-night stays start at £247 (brantwood.org.uk).

Birkdale House in Bowness- on-Windermere shows off its Arts and Crafts roots with fireplaces and stained-glass windows, although the cellar’s transformation into a cinema room may not fit in entirely with Morris’s views on modernity. 

Three-night breaks at the property, which sleeps ten, start at £3,675 (birkdalewindermere.co.uk).

 

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EasyJet founder warns airline will run out of money by August if Airbus order goes ahead

The founder of easyJet has warned that the airline will run out of cash by August if an order for more than 100 new Airbus jets is not cancelled.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has no executive role but whose family controls one-third of the carrier’s shares, is seeking to remove the chief financial officer, Andrew Findlay.

An extraordinary open letter from the businessman begins: “My main objective is to terminate the £4.5bn contract between easyJet and Airbus for 107 additional useless aircraft.

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“If this £4.5 billion liability to Airbus is preserved – and not cancelled – by the easyJet board then, I regret to report, easyJet will run out of money around August 2020, perhaps even earlier.”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the collapse in demand among passengers, the airline has grounded its entire fleet throughout April and May.

While many in the aviation industry hope that flights in significant numbers will be resumed by June, Sir Stelios says restarting mass air-travel could be much longer: “Almost every country in Europe has now closed its borders to foreigners. Nobody really knows when they will open again.

“Fear has now taken over human behaviour when it comes to any form of foreign travel.

“Each country will want to keep others out for much longer than the date that their own local national lockdown ends.

“I think that easyJet at the end of national lockdowns will feel more like a start-up trying to find a few profitable routes for a few aircraft at a time.

“How many Brits will want to fly to northern Italy or Spain on holiday this June and vice-versa? Not many I think.”

Sir Stelios criticises a forecast last week from Credit Suisse for what he says is an “assumption that easyJet will fly all its current 330/350 aircraft to full capacity from October 2020 and earn higher profits in 2021 than it did in 2019”.

He writes: “Terminating the Airbus contract is the only chance current shareholders have to maintain any value in their shares.

“If easyJet terminates the Airbus contract, then it does not need loans from the UK taxpayer and it has the best chance to survive and thrive in the future.”

He is seeking support from other shareholders to oust Mr Findlay, along with a non-executive director, Andreas Bierwirth, in an extraordinary general meeting.

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “The board is managing the unprecedented challenges facing the airline and the aviation sector as a whole.

“We remain absolutely focused on short term liquidity, removing expenditure from the business alongside safeguarding jobs and ensuring the long-term future of the airline.

“We believe that holding a general meeting would be an unhelpful distraction from tackling the many immediate issues our business faces.”

In the past four weeks, the easyJet share price has approximately halved.

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Five best travel documentaries to watch during coronavirus self-isolation revealed

Coronavirus has made the days seem longer and emptier as social events get cancelled and holiday plans get put on hold. Many Britons were just getting ready for summer to begin before lockdown thwarted their plans. But while some people have taken to dreaming about their holidays plans on Google Street View, others have decided to give some classic travel documentaries a go.

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  • easyJet grounds entire fleet of aircraft due to coronavirus crisis

From Louis Theroux to Simon Reeve, below are some of the most essential travel documentaries to watch while in self-isolation.

Simon Reeve

Simon offers what most documentary series do not – endearing enthusiasm that is infectious.

Who can really say they have been put in a bad mood by Simon Reeve?

From Ireland to the Indian Ocean, and Bangladesh to Columbia, Simon will take you on an adventure across the globe that is jam-packed full of information and stunning sites.

His documentary on the tropic of cancer sees him track 23,000 miles through deserts, mountains and simmering conflicts.

All Simon’s documentaries are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Louis Theroux

Louis’ documentaries are not travel-based per se but instead explore the people in various corners of the world.

The infamous documentarian has remained a favourite on our TV screens for decades with his programmes covering both the weird and the wonderful.

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His best series include Dark States, LA stories and Altered states which all cover the vast land of America.

The series looks at murder, drug addiction and the world of dogs in LA.

All of the above are available on Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

The Trip with Rob Bryden and Steve Coogan

Rob and Steve provide plenty of laughs in this hilarious travel documentary that sees the two men journeying to different locations while bickering.

The series has everything you want from a documentary: delicious cuisine, stunning scenery, local culture, inside jokes and lots of impressions.

Some of the series is on Netflix.

Michael Palin’s Around the World in 80 Days

Michael is a kind soul that immediately makes viewers feel relaxed and in safe hands as he takes you on a trip around the world in just 80 days without using aircraft.

Based on Jules Verne’s classic book of the same title, the documentary series sees Michael go from Egypt to Singapore, to America and back to the UK as he trecks around the world.

The series is available on Google Play.

Bethany Hughes

Bettany offers up a historical look at the Mediterranean.

Her documentary-style is serious rather than jokey but offers authority on the subject.

Rather than learning about the modern-day Mediterranean, the programme delves deeper into the past which makes you feel as though you have walked back in time.

Some of the series is available on Channel Five.

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Grounded: What life is like for the world’s most frequent flyer



Tom Stuker sitting in a car: Featured photo by Zach Honig, TPG

Hitting a million miles flown is a big deal, especially on United Airlines. With some airlines, you’ll earn elite perks for life. In the case of United, you even get to share your current status with someone special, giving them the benefits of elite status without the hustle and spend. Perks increase the more you fly, with United lifetime elites earning Platinum status at 2 million miles, Premier 1K at 3 million, and Global Services for life at 4 million miles flown.

Tom Stuker passed that four-million-mile mark many years ago. In fact, he was just about to hit22 million — before he had to cancel his celebratory trip to Australia, due to COVID-19. Now, the world’s most frequent flyer is sitting out quarantine in New Jersey, where he’s already beginning to adjust to life on the ground, eating three meals a day at home, rather than on an airplane.

I had a chance to chat with Tom this week — we talked about canceled trips, some “secrets” he plans to reveal in a new book, and what life is like right now.

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A post shared by Tom Stuker (@ua1flyer) on Mar 2, 2019 at 5:52pm PST


Where are you sitting out quarantine?

At home in New Jersey. It’s the first time I’ve been at home for two weeks in 45 years. It’s like a bucket list [item] — it’s like a “before I die I’d like to spend two weeks at home” type of thing. One of these days I’ve gotta stay at home and get some of these projects done that we’ve been talking about for years and years, like cleaning out the closets, and cleaning out the garage. My wife’s a teacher so she’s on the computer a lot during the school day, but I’m having breakfast, lunch and dinner with [her].

What was your last flight? What was that experience like?

My last trip was Frankfurt to Newark, in mid-March. The last week I was flying, I could see, flight by flight, business class was a third full, and there were fewer and fewer people on each flight. The following flight would have been my 22 million flight, so trust me, I really wanted to go on that flight, to Australia.

You’ve mentioned in the past that the United agents you work with are like family to you. Have they been in touch? How’s everyone doing?

I still keep in touch with a lot of my United family. I email them, I communicate back and forth with them on Facebook. It’s tough on everybody, but those friendships are deeper than just a a couple flights and check-in. I still chat with a lot of people on the reservations lines. I still have some reservations out there I’m pushing out.

What do you think United will do about frequent flyer status?

I think United, so far, says we’re going to leave everything alone for now. If I was United, from a business standpoint, I wouldn’t say whatever your status is, you’re guaranteed to have that status in 2021. I think United’s waiting to see when the green light is back on, for people to fly, and then I think they’ll incentivize and reward the people that jump back on airplanes with United. Not just, we’ll give you the status whether you fly this year or not. I think they’re going to aggressively reward people who come back to flying. But the majority rules in the airline industry; if two out of three go a direction, the third one’s gonna follow as well. It’s always gonna be that way.

When are you thinking of getting back on the road?

I have absolutely nothing planned for the month of April, but I’m hoping to be back in the sky mid-May. I have some Japan, some Hawaii, I’d like to get back to Australia ASAP. I have Mexico planned for Memorial Day. I’d like to get back and be somewhat busy again.

What are you doing until then?

Two things. I’m going to go on a public speaking circuit, so I have to finish my perfect 45-minute speech. And I think this is the year I write the book. It’s gonna be about 22 million miles from home — the life and travels of the world’s most-traveled man. I want to talk about all my experiences flying, the journeys, the relationships, the experiences I’ve gone through. I’m gonna tell a lot of secrets in the thing, a lot to things people don’t know.

Have you been looking back at a lot of pictures from your adventures?

My wife and I have over 30 or 40 complete albums. The other night we went through literally… we’ve taken at least 100 honeymoons together. And I mean the trip of a lifetime. I’ve done about 100 of them over the last 20 years. We’ve reminisced about all the places we’ve been to, all the memories we shared, all the people we met. The thing I really enjoyed in the last two weeks is the simple things. She’s teaching me how to cook. We’re sharing the meal experience rather than eating on a plane or eating at a restaurant, which I’ve done the majority of my life. I’ve talked to more of my friends and relatives in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years. It’s so good to connect with people, because poof, before you know it, you’re 66 years old. I hope to live to 100, and drive the people at United crazy for another 30 years.

What are your tips for anyone who still has to fly right now? Anything they can do in particular to stay safe?

I would feel 100% completely safe on a flight with United right now. My biggest concern is from here to the airplane, and from the airplane back home. Flying, I would be 100% comfortable knowing how the crews are keeping it safe, how United’s keeping it safe. All my life I’ve always sat in row 1. My whole life — that’s my seat, in row 1. If I were flying right now, I’d be in the last row of business class. Nobody coughs backwards. I wouldn’t be paranoid about wiping down my seat, although I would around the head area, since that’s the only part of the seat I touch. I’d probably wipe off the seat in front of me – if I have to get up to go to the bathroom, and they have the seat back, I have to hold onto the seat to get up. I might even wear disposable gloves, because I don’t know if I have enough sanitizer to wipe everything off 100% of the time.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

How do you think coronavirus will change how you travel this year?

April’s gonna be the toughest month we’ve ever gone through. About a third of the cases are within 100 miles of my house. It’s unbelievable. I’m counting on going to Mexico for Memorial Day. I’m hoping to. If the flights are there, and the hotel’s open, and I take the necessary precautions — the place I go to in Mexico is a private villa, and I would self-quarantine. I have 100% confidence in the resort we go to, and I know they will take every necessary precaution to maintain the wellness of their customers. On the plane, I’m not worried about it. Depending on what’s going on, I might wear a mask. I’m going to listen to the experts.

What other trips are you looking forward to after we’re able to fly again?

As soon as Australia opens the borders, and there’s straggler flights back to Australia, I’m on that flight. I was really looking forward to two cruises, but I canceled both cruises for obvious reasons. Every day there’s a ship stuck and nobody wants them. The cruise line I’d go back on is Crystal. It’s the best cruise line in the world, and they’d do everything to make it the safest ship. I’d rebook them for later in the summer, if the green light comes up. And the resort we go to in Mexico — we’ve been there 10 times and it’s like a second home to us. Another second home is in Hawaii. We love going to Hawaii, mostly Oahu because her brother lives there. I love Australia, because I have work there, and so many great friends. We were looking forward to going to Italy this year, but that’s pushed back indefinitely. We’re starting to think a lot more domestically this year, to go see friends and relatives we haven’t seen in a long time. I’m always going to every corner of the world, but I’m thinking there’s no place like home.

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Travel

Air travel suffers sharpest decline in demand since 9/11

Air travel has experienced the steepest decline in demand since the terror attacks of 9/11 according to the latest figures released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Iata said in its latest report on global passenger traffic that demand in February 2020 fell by 14.1 per cent compared to February 2019.

This figure was skewed by China, which faced “collapsing domestic travel”, with demand falling by 83.6 per cent.

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Asia-Pacific as a whole was also heavily impacted. Demand on flights to, from and within the region fell by 41.3 per cent due to coronavirus, as well as travel restrictions imposed by governments.

Africa also saw a fall in demand by 0.7 per cent.

In contrast however, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe actually saw a slight increase in demand of 5.5 per cent, 3.1 per cent, 1.7 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively compared to the previous year.

As a sign of things to come, Iata said that despite airlines axing flights across the board to reflect the plunging traffic – global capacity fell by 8.7 per cent in February – planes only had a load factor (the number of people on board) of 75.9 per cent, falling by 4.8 per cent compared to the same time last year.

But even this is likely wiped out in March 2020, with airlines reporting no new bookings and only cancellations.

EasyJet, for example, has grounded its entire fleet. Ryanair, which announced in March that there would be no more flights until June, is now operating a handful of flights as part of a skeleton service. And British Airways has furloughed 36,000 staff as it deals with its extensive cancellations.

Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO, said: “Airlines were hit by a sledgehammer called Covid-19 in February.

“Borders were closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. And the impact on aviation has left airlines with little to do except cut costs and take emergency measures in an attempt to survive in these extraordinary circumstances.

“The 14.1 per cent global fall in demand is severe, but for carriers in Asia-Pacific the drop was 41 per cent. And it has only grown worse. Without a doubt this is the biggest crisis that the industry has ever faced.”

In its latest estimate at the end of March, Iata predicted the global air travel industry will lose £211bn this year.

This is more than double of the £87bn figure it had predicted at the beginning of March.

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Royal travel: Queen’s ‘peaceful’ foreign escape & the devastating reason she had to leave

Queen Elizabeth is no stranger to world travel, frequenting nations across the globe as part of her royal duty representing the UK. However, there is one destination where experts say she felt most free, and actually settled to live for a number of years.

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A Channel 4 documentary has revealed the destination she so lovingly explored and truly found her freedom, and the heartbreaking reason she was forced to leave her happy place.

The documentary “The Royal House of Windsor” reveals why Queen Elizabeth felt so at home in Malta, when she and her young family were stationed there in 1949 as Prince Phillip took on a vital naval role.

The documentary explains: “In October 1949 Phillip was sent to the British naval base on Malta, where he was promoted to lieutenant commander and took charge of his first ship HMS Magpie.”

Having birthed an air to the throne, Prince Charles, as well as a daughter, Princess Anne, the Queen was free to relax and enjoy her time living in Malta.

According to Author Phillip Eade, who is interviewed in the programme: “She could for the first time do more or less what she wanted.

“She could be like a normal young woman.

“She could go to the hairdresser on her own.

“She could drive around the island. She could go to restaurants with her husband, go on picnics, and all the while the Maltese people left them alone. “And so Malta, for her, represented a great feeling of freedom.”

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The couple resided in Villa Guardamangia, located on the outskirts of the capital Valletta. It is said to be the only place outside of the UK that the monarch called home.

The Royals lived there between 1949 and 1951 while Prince Phillip took on his role as a naval lieutenant.

“Visiting Malta is always very special for me.

“I remember happy days here with Prince Phillip when we were first married,” she once said during a visit to the country in 2015.

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However, the young family’s ideal life in Malta came to a heartbreaking end when her father King George VI became fatally ill with lung cancer.

It was at this time, and for this sad reason, that the Queen returned to the UK to take on more royal duty, including a royal tour on behalf of her father.

This would be the moment the Queen took on life as head of state.

However, Malta is not the only place that has stolen the monarch’s heart over the years.

The Queen is also known to be extremely fond of visiting Scotland, where the Royal Family take their summer holiday annually.

Every year the Queen relocated to Balmoral Castle, where she is occasionally joined throughout by other members of the Royal Family.

In an ITV documentary “Our Queen at 90” Princess Eugenie explained her grandmother’s love of the region.

She said: “It’s the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there, I think she really, really loves the Highlands…walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs, there are always dogs, and people coming in and out all the time.

“Family-wise we’re all there, so it’s a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa to be – for us to come and see them up there where you just have room to breathe and run.”

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First koalas released back into the wild after Australian bushfires

Although Australia is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic like the rest of the world, there is a sliver of good news for the land Down Under – the first rescued koalas are starting to be released into the wild.

The marsupials were rescued from their bushfire-ravaged habitats last year, and have been in the care of zoos and animal hospitals ever since.

With the 2019/2020 bushfire season officially over in Australia as of 31 March, rescuers have started releasing these animals back into the wild and, in some cases, even back to the tree where they were found.

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The first were released by Sydney-based conservation organisation, Science for Wildlife.

The non-profit group released 12 of the animals back into their natural habitat in the Blue Mountains on 25 and 27 March.

The koalas were rescued in December last year, and had been in the care of staff at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

Dr Kellie Leigh, executive director of Science for Wildlife, said in a statement: “While they have coped well in care, we are delighted to finally send our koalas home. We have been busy assessing the burnt area that we rescued them from, to establish when the conditions have improved enough that the trees can support them again.

“The recent rains have helped and there is now plenty of new growth for them to eat, so the time is right. We will be radio-tracking them and keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they settle in OK.”

Koalas are also being released in other parts of New South Wales, the state where Sydney is located.

Staff and volunteers at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, based four hours’ drive north of Sydney, released their first koala on 2 April.

The four-year-old named Anwen was rescued in October last year, and will be the first of 26 koalas to be released into the wild by the animal hospital over the coming days.

The remaining koalas will be split into three groups and will be released back to their original habitats in Crowdy Bay (South of Port Macquarie), and two areas in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve.

Sue Ashton, president of Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, said, “This is a heart-warming day for us – to be able to release so many of our koalas back to their original habitats, even to their original tree in some cases – makes us very happy.

“Anwen was our first ever female koala to be admitted during the bushfires and her recovery has been extraordinary. It marks a proud moment for Australia; to see our Koala population and habitat starting to recover from what was such a devastating time.”

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has also cared for koalas from Taree, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. The hospital said these will be returned to their “home” areas to be released.

Australia’s latest bushfire season nearly doubled the country’s greenhouse emissions.

As a result of the extensive damage, the country changed the rules of its Working Holiday Visa scheme to allow young Britons to count volunteering in bushfire-ravaged areas towards obtaining a second or third year visa.

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