Friday, March 9, 2012

Food Etiquette Rules When You Travel

(photo credit:
We should always display our best table manners no matter where we are. But many would be surprised at the table etiquette observed around the world. Budget Travel details some of these rules to keep in mind.

  • In Thailand, don't put food in your mouth with a fork. A fork is used to only to push food onto your spoon.
  • In Japan, never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice. Chopsticks should be placed together on the right in front of you parallel to the edge of the table. During funerals the rice of bowl of the deceased is placed before their coffin with their chopsticks upright in the rice.
  • In the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, don't eat with your left hand. The left hand is associated with bodily functions and therefore considered dirty.
  • At a traditional feast in the Republic of Georgia, it's rude to sip your wine. Glasses tend to be small so down the whole glass at once.
  • In Mexico, never eat tacos with a fork and a knife. Mexicans think it looks silly and snobby to do so.
  • In Italy, drink a cappuccino only before noon. Order it afterwards and you'll be branded a tourist. Order an espresso instead. Italians feel that a late-day cappuccino upsets the stomach.
(photo credit: dairygoodness)
  • In Britain, always pass the port to the left (and remember the Bishop of Norwich). The origins of why this tradition is important are unclear. If you're at a meal and the decanter stalls, then ask the person with it, "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" If they say they don't know him reply, "He's a very good chap, but he always forgets to pass the port." Passing the decanter to the right is a big gaffe.
  • In France, don't eat your bread as an appetizer before a meal. Eat it as an accompaniment to your food, especially to the cheese course at the end of the meal. Placing bread directly on the table is acceptable and preferred in France.
  • In China, don't flip your fish. It's bad luck to flip your fish after finishing one side. The most superstitious Chinese will leave the bottom part untouched, while others will pull off the bone to get to the bottom.
  • In Italy, don't ask for parmesan for your pizza. Putting parmesan on pizza is seen as a sin and many dishes in Italy aren't meant for parmesan. It they don't offer it, don't ask.
(photo credit:
  • Don't eat anything, even fries, with your hands at a meal in Chile. Manners are more formal in this country than in other South American counties. So while it may be practical to eat with your fingers, don't do it.
  • In Korea, if an older person offers you a drink, lift your glass to receive it with both hands. Doing so is a sign of respect for elders, an important tenet of Korean culture. After accepting the pour, you should turn your head and take a discreet sip. Also don't start eating until the eldest male has done so and don't' leave the table until that person has finished.
  • Never mix (or turn down) vodka in Russia. The beverage is always drunk neat not even with ice. Adding anything is seen as polluting the drink's purity. Also offering a drink is a sign of friendship. If offered one it's a good idea to take it.
  • When drinking coffee with Bedouins in the Middle East, shake the cup at the end. Unless you shake the cup, anyone Bedouin will continually pour you more coffee. Shaking the cup is done by tilting the cup two or three times when you hand it back.
  • In Brazil, play your tokens wisely. At a Brazilian steakhouse servers circle with cuts of meat and diners use tokens to place an order. Use your token for something you want by placing it on the table with the green side up. If you don't want anymore, flip with the red side up.

Click HERE to read the full article on

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

American Airlines Announces Main Cabin Extra

In 2000, American Airlines implemented "more room throughout coach" that the airline heavily advertised which added extra leg room on several of their aircrafts by removing at least two rows of seats. By 2004 and with the difficult economy, American replaced the removed seats to squeeze in more passengers to generate more revenue.

This month the airline announced that select rows in the front of the coach cabin in their aircrafts will include extra legroom (approximately four to six inches) classified as Main Cabin Extra. The changes in American Airlines cabins will begin later this year. Those seated in these rows will also enjoy priority boarding privileges.

The first jets that will include Main Cabin Extra is the airline's new Boeing 777-300ER which will fly select international routes starting in December.

Main Cabin Extra will be complimentary to elite mileage members who hold Aadvantage Executive Platinum and Aadvantage Platinum status as well as those holding a full-fare economy ticket. Until December 2013, Aadvantage Gold members will be able to gain complimentary access to the cabin as well. After that date, Gold members and other passengers interested in Main Cabin Extra will be able to purchase the privilege when booking a flight or up until airport check-in cut-off time. Prices will range between $8 and $108 per segment. The longer the airline flight, the longer the segment and the higher cost for Main Cabin Extra.

As an elite member I'm looking forward to this change. Up to now the only way to get the extra leg room in coach on American was to reserve a seat in the exit row located mid-way in the coach cabin where some of the seats did not recline. This feature will allow extra leg room but access to the front of the coach cabin and allow not only early boarding but also allow these passengers to be among the first to deplane.

Visit for more information and FAQ about Main Cabin Extra.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Times Square in New York City Transformed to Cherry Blossom Square For One Day

(photos credit: Japan Culture NYC)
It's been 100 years since the cherry blossom was brought from Japan to the United States and Japan is celebrating the centennial in New York City.

The special event of turning Times Square cherry blossom pink was a kick-off to a week of celebrations. The display which officially launched on March 1st will repeat a few times each hour during the month.

Other events include Grand Central Station's Vanderbilt Hall transformed on March 3rd into a showcase for Japanese food and merchandise and will include performances (think drums and harps) and cooking demonstrations. A Japan Booth at the New York Times Travel Booth at the Javits Convention Center on March 2nd-4th welcomed visitors to explore their dream Japan vacation.

Visit for more information on the week of special events.

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