In brief: Japan's Sendai Airport reopens
US travellers flying domestically this week may qualify for taxes they paid on their tickets, the world's "best" restaurant is closing this week, Japan's Sendai Airport reopens to travellers, Chilean tourism remains under a dark cloud, and more. Here is what travellers are buzzing about:
Some US fliers are entitled to a refund from the IRS
A partisan impasse in US politics means that the Federal Aviation Administration may not be collecting federal taxes on plane tickets for the near future. If you purchased a domestic ticket before 23 July, and are flying during a period when federal aviation taxes have lapsed, you may be entitled to a refund from the IRS. In an official statement, the IRS tells travellers to hold off applying for refunds until it has more understanding of what the rules for processing will be. JetBlue will provide refunds out of its own pocket for customers, but Virgin America refuses to offer refunds until it hears from the IRS, a position taken by other major airlines as well. The taxes work out to more than 8% of the average domestic ticket price, reports the Wall Street Journal.
In a milestone, Japan's Sendai Airport reopens for business
Sendai Airport, whose devastation four months ago by a tsunami was captured by this video, reopened for commercial air service yesterday, reports the Daily Yomiuri. Flights by airlines such as Continental, which will be passing through to destinations such as Guam, will help the local economy recover. But the airport's re-opening will also give a boost to volunteer vacations for disaster relief, where you spend a few days helping with local recovery efforts in return for free lodging and food. A list of volunteer trips is provided by the Japan Civil Network for Disaster Relief in East Japan, a coalition of non-profit organisations.
El Bulli's last supper
Said to be the world's greatest restaurant by annual surveys of about 800 critics, chefs and restaurant owners, El Bulli is closing. Located near Barcelona, the Michelin three-star restaurant was famous for its nearly scientific approach to innovation, reports the Times of London. Think you are familiar with many of the dishes served since 1985? Try Slate's El Bulli Menu Quiz. Replacing El Bulli in status is Noma in Copenhagen, reports Der Spiegel.
Accidental shooting at airport in New Orleans
Yesterday, a United Airlines employee was shot by a passenger checking a hunting rifle for a flight at Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, New Orleans, reports the Times-Picayune. For the record, guns are allowed in checked baggage in the US as long as they are unloaded and stored in a locked container. Fortunately, in this case, the bullet was removed from the victim's body and the man's injury was not considered life threatening.
Travel video going viral
Designer Michael Kreil has posted a video that uses voluntarily donated cell phone location data to visualise people's travels on a map, reports Protein. The clusters on the map glow like fireflies. It’s worth a quick look.
Chilean tourism still under a dark cloud
The six-week long eruption of the Cordon Caulle volcano continues to rain dust down on many parts of Chile, hurting tourism during the peak winter season, reports Yahoo. Scientists aren't sure when the eruption will stop, though they note it has been lessening over time. Other Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, have been benefiting from visits by travellers who would otherwise have visited Chile.
Atlanta picked as world's most efficient airport
Atlanta Hartsfield has been named the most efficient in an annual report from the Air Transport Research Society. The report factored in delays and cost relative to size. The news that may come as a surprise to travellers who have had bad anecdotal experiences of passing through the airport, which claims to be the world's busiest by passenger volume.
The mega re-tweet
We scour Twitter to highlight a standout travel tweet.
"Aloha shirts to the rescue? As much of U.S. swelters, Hawaii's 'wearable postcards' turn 75 http://usat.ly/oab01G" ~
-- @laurably a.k.a., Laura Bly, a travel writer at USA Today.