Saturday, March 26, 2011

Songs for Japan and Aloha for Japan Shirts Too!

A benefit album starring the world's top recording artists has been released to support Japan as it recovers from the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

The 38 tracks include some of their biggest htis, featuring an exclusive remix of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," along with recent hits like Katy Perry's "Firework," Bruno Mars' "Talking to the Moon," Adele's "Make You Feel My Love." Other featured artists include the likes John Lennon, Beyonce, Michael Buble and Elton John. All proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross. At ten bucks it's one of the best deals in town for a good cause. I got mine, get yours.

Buy from
Download from iTunes
Preview on
Donate to the Japanese Red Cross
(image credit: Fitted Hawaii LLC)
If you like to wear your support pick up an Aloha for Japan t-shirt. The Hawaiian greeting is emblazoned across the chest with the red sun disc from from Japanese flag substituting for the letter "O" in the world Aloha. These shirts are manufactured and sold by FITTED. The $20 shirts were well on their way of being sold out as soon as it was released for retail sale in Hawaii. Visit for a list of retailers and more information. Find it online at Butigroove or Barefoot League. 100% of the proceeds benefit the Hawaii Red Cross to support victims in Japan.

(image credit: Hilo Hattie)
If the FITTED shirts are sold out, check out Hilo Hattie which is also offering a different Aloha for Japan tee. On the back of the shirt are the words of encouragement: Hope, Heal and Help (translated in Hawaiian). The shirts sell for $9.99 with 100% of profits donated to the American Red Cross for Japan relief. Visit one of their retail stores or order online at

If you're planning or rescheduling a visit to Japan, then that's even better. Every visitor returning back to Japan will assist in the economic recovery. Go!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Most Expensive Cities To Visit: U.S. & the World

New York City
The latest Hotel Price Index show these 10 U.S. Cities command the highest prices per night last year. Most are expected due to its attraction to business and leisure travelers. But the list is not the most popular cities but the most expensive ones to visit. This probably explains the inclusion of Idaho Falls which is a destination in its region of the country popular for the scenery and culture. It's kind of ironic that I live in the city ranked second and the place to where I travel the most often is ranked first.

The HPI is based on bookings made on and prices shown are those actually paid by customers for 2010. Prices are per hotel night averages.

1. New York City, New York  $194.14
2. Honolulu, Hawaii  $158.95
3. Boston, Massachusetts  $154.62
4. Santa Barbara, California  $143.33
5. Washington, D.C.  $140.33
6. Miami, Florida  $139.58
7. Chicago, Illinois  $133.93
8. Idaho Falls, Idaho  $132.53
9. New Orleans, Louisiana  $132.27
10. Monterey, California  $131.93

Bora Bora (image credits: L.P.)
On the flipside, the most expensive cities in the world to visit were strictly for those with deep pockets willing to indulge. Many are resort destinations catering to the wealthy.

1. Bora Bora  $605.95
2. Somerset, England  $531.87
3. Anacapri, Italy  $459.58
4. Hamilton, Bermuda  $404.12
5. Tremezzo, Italy  $366.90
6. Paradise Island, Bahamas  $365.69
7. Wailea (Maui), U.S.  $363.92
8.  Southampton, England  $347.66
9.  Paget, Bermuda  $325.07
10. Manalapan, Florida  $323.10

The HPI is a regular survey of hotel prices in major city destinations across the world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Western Airlines: The Only Way to Fly

Since the 1970s many domestic airlines have gone belly up or absorbed into the network of today's legacy airlines. But of these lost airlines one stands out particularly because of a memorable advertising campaign. In a television commercial that combined a talking animated bird and a memorable slogan, Wally Bird was always hitching a ride on top of the fuselage of a Western Airlines jet. His distinctive delivery of the slogan "The only way to fly" is forever part of the pop culture of era.

Western Airlines began flying in 1926 and ceased operations in 1987. The year prior, the airline entered into a planned merger with Delta Airlines which eventually discontinued the brand. The airline was headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Western's major hubs were in LAX, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Salt Lake City. At its peak, the airline flew to major cities across the western U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Coffee Shops in the Sky

Starbucks on United (image credit: Mark'n Markus)
No more are airlines peddling mystery coffee or using grounds found on the average supermarket shelf. Sorry Maxwell House. Airlines are touting the specialty coffee shop brands for their in-flight service. The benefit to passengers is a finer cup of coffee. For the airlines, they are likely reaping some sort of benefit to display the coffee brand's name and logo in lieu of or in addition to their own.

American Airlines
Java City became the supplier for the airline's official in-flight coffee in November 2010. Served in a larger 10 ounce cup, the coffee is an eco-friendly, hand-roasted blend of 100 percent Arabica Beans and grown on sustainably managed farms. Founded in 1985, Java City is a specialty coffee roaster with eight retail cafes in California and  in partnership operates an additional 500 branded cafes and 30 franchise locations in Korea.

Delta Airlines
Effective March 1, 2010 Delta began featuring Seattle's Best Coffee in flight. The airline began with their customers participating in an in-flight coffee taste test to choose which of the brands blends would be served. The choice is Level 4 based on roast intensity ranked from 1 to 5. Seattle's Best is part of the Starbucks Corporation.

The Hopeful Traveler dares an airline to
offer 100% Kona Coffee in flight.
(image credit: ABCstores)
United Airlines
In 2007, United continued America's habit of enjoying Starbucks Coffee on the ground and extended it to the friendly skies.

Alaska Airlines
Ditto Seattle's Best Coffee.

Continental Airlines
For a legacy carrier they still serve something called Fresh Brew Coffee from a Houston based company. The airline reports it's a blend of the highest-quality Arabica beans specially created for the carrier. With the merger with United in the works, it's unlikely coffee to match its competitors is on the mind of Continental executives.

For the record other brands of coffee have an in-flight audience. Dunkin' Donuts coffee is served on JetBlue and the illy brand of coffee is offered on Virgin America. Now if Hawaiian Airlines would only serve 100% Kona coffee instead of the blend stuff (10% Kona coffee). That would be the best deal among in-flight complimentary coffeedom. Imagine passengers bringing their own cups on board and asking flight attendants to fill it up.
Seattle's Best Coffee on Alaska Airlines (image credit: -Ken-'s)

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