Tag: Yan Baczkowski

Boeing readies high-flying celebration for 100th anniversary

WASHINGTON — When Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg heads to the Farnborough Airshow near London next month, he’ll tackle his usual tasks: trying to win new airplane orders and more aerospace work for the U.S. manufacturing giant.

He will have an additional mission at this year’s show, where he’ll help lead the centennial celebration for the iconic U.S. aerospace giant launched by William Boeing in 1916.

“Having this role as we approach our centennial, you have this sense of humbleness about the significance of the company,” Muilenburg said in an interview with USA TODAY. “You think about what happened over the last 100 years. We went literally from walking on Earth to walking on the moon … from riding horses to flying in airplanes and spaceships.”

That legacy will be something Boeing puts on display at Farnborough, where the company’s “birthday” fortuitously falls in the middle of the biennial airshow. The show, which alternates annually with its sister show in Paris, is one of the most important events in aviation.

Even before Farnborough, Boeing had kicked off a year-long promotional blitz for the anniversary of its founding date: July 15, 1916.

Farnborough organizers unveiled an aerial display that pays homage to Boeing’s roots, and flights by the B-17 bomber and P-51 Mustang are likely. Boeing might send its new 737 MAX for what would be its debut appearance at a major airshow.

That the Farnborough Airshow also will mark its 100-year anniversary in 2016 will add to the festive theme  this year.

Still business to do at Farnborough

Centennials aside, the show will feature many of its usual story lines.

There will be displays of military and civilian aircraft and technology, allowing manufacturers to show off their latest and greatest products to prospective big-ticket buyers.

On the commercial aviation front, rivals Boeing and Airbus will seek airline orders — and headlines — for their passenger planes as they battle for supremacy in that market.

Though the centennial events may help lighten the vibe at the airshow, it’s still all about competition, said Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at the Virginia-based Teal Group.

“Frankly, what matters more is booking business,” Aboulafia said. “It’s been a long time since airshows were over the top. There’s a lot more business being done than mere parties.”

In a year in which Boeing hopes to leverage its centennial, Aboulafia warned Boeing’s buzz could be dampened by what’s expected to be a weak year for overall orders at the airshow.

“This does not appear to be a great year to book business,” Aboulafia said. “We might get fewer orders than deliveries, which would be the first time in five or six years that’s happened. The positive historical news might be a little bit sidelined by concerns about the market itself.”

Boeing’s centennial in the spotlight

Regardless of how plane orders stack up, 2016 could be a difficult year for rivals to wrest the spotlight from Boeing as it celebrates its centennial.

Launched by William Boeing in 1916, the company has become the face of American aviation, growing into a global behemoth that’s  one of the USA’s largest exporters.

The Boeing name graces flying machines such as the new-age Dreamliner — the company’s latest commercial passenger aircraft that revolutionized the use of composites and has since opened  dozens of  airline routes around the world.

There’s the 747 — the world’s first jumbo jet — that may be the one single plane with which Boeing is most associated. And the 737, the best-selling commercial aircraft in history — and one that’s still going strong.

On the defense side, there are a range of military aircraft in Boeing’s portfolio, some of which will be on display at Farnborough.

“It’s a global company,” Aboulafia said. “Everyone thinks in terms of an American icon, but it’s a global company. Sending that message of being an international aircraft producer is very important at shows like this.”

Boeing’s century-long rise to become one of the world’s pre-eminent manufacturers is something that stokes pride in Muilenburg, who started at the company as an intern in 1985.

“You think about the transformation that happened along the way,” Muilenburg said, “the introduction of the commercial jet age, the introduction of all-new composite aircraft. These transformational things are extraordinary events and things that we’ve been involved in.”

Boeing faces its own transformational challenges as it enters its second century.

The company’s defense business remains important, even as commercial aircraft sales account for an increasingly larger chunk of Boeing’s business.

Elsewhere, Boeing is aggressively courting new business in outer space, which includes everything from rocket and satellite technology to deep space exploration and even space tourism.

“I’m not sure how many people in the country know it, but we are today building the rocket that’s going to take the first human to Mars,” Muilenburg said enthusiastically. “It’s about 50% bigger than the Saturn V that took humans to the moon.”

Muilenburg predicted “low-Earth-orbit space travels … will be a groundbreaker to a broader low-Earth-orbit market as more destinations evolve.”

“These could be tourism destinations (or) industrial destinations where you can take advantage of zero-gravity manufacturing,” he said. “Efficient low-Earth-orbit space travel will become a real bona fide marketplace. And we aim to lead in that marketplace.”

Most Americans probably associate Boeing with its commercial airplanes — the ones that fly them to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or across the Atlantic for an exotic summer vacation. That remains the top overall anchor for the company.

“Our commercial airplane business today is 60% to 70% of our business base,” Muilenburg said. “It’s got a great historic past and huge growth opportunities ahead. That is at our very core, and we’ll continue to build and leverage that.”

Best Wi-Fi options for travelers

How to always have a Wi-Fi signal when you travel

Name three things you can’t travel without. We bet Wi-Fi made the cut. This summer, businesses (and cities) are making it even easier for you to plug in and stream.

Whether he’s exploring the Ecuador’s Amazon Basin or sightseeing in Madagascar, Ron Force starts every trip the same way: by finding a wireless hotspot.

You, too? It sounds a little extreme, but in an always-on world, we can’t live without our connections. This summer, our appetite for bandwidth seems to know no limits.

Force, a retired librarian from Moscow, Idaho, says he looks for the nearestStarbucks or McDonald’s, and if that fails, he pulls out his Google Fi phone, for a quick wireless fix.

“The only place I can’t connect is one of those expensive hotels in the U.S. which have outrageous access fees,” he jokes. (Well, technically you can get hooked up, but it’ll cost you.)

Americans are voracious bandwidth consumers, and they’re getting hungrier by the minute. Mobile data traffic is expected to more than double in the next three years, surging from 1,329 petabytes a month this year to 2,515 petabytes a month in 2018, according to the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA), an industry trade group for wireless companies. (A petabyte is a million gigabytes, or roughly 500 billion pages of standard printed text.)

Almost nine of 10 U.S. households have a smartphone, and more than one-third use Wi-Fi calling to stay in touch, according to research by Parks Associates. “To many travelers, including my teenage daughter, the three life essentials are food, water and Wi-Fi,” says Harry Wang, a senior research director at Parks Associates.

Fortunately, there are new strategies and new ways of connecting that can save you time and money and help you get on with your trip. They range from better ways of deploying a mobile hot spot, to connecting to a conventional wireless access point, to rigging something up that works almost anywhere.

Maybe the most convenient way to get connected is to carry your own hot spot. Like Force, I’m a Google Fi (fi.google.com) subscriber, and it’s a lifesaver when you’re traveling internationally and need to stay connected. But there are significant limitations. You can use it only with a Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X or Nexus 6, and at $10 per GB, it’s not the best option for bandwidth hogs such as me.

T-Mobile (t-mobile.com) offers attractive plans that let you connect overseas. For example, its Simple Choice Plan offers unlimited data and texting at no extra cost to your plan in more than 140 countries worldwide. Plus, flat-rate calls are just 20 cents a minute. I took my Samsung Galaxy S7 to Canada a few weeks ago and used the phone to stay connected. Cool feature: You can text in-flight on planes that use GoGo Inflight Internet. Texting is included in your plan.

Chris Pontine, an Internet marketer from Port Huron, Mich., who is always looking for a fast connection, says thinking differently about Wi-Fi is a key to success this summer. He recommends a good wireless finder app — a program such as Avast (avast.com) uses crowdsourcing to find the clearest connections — and to look where others don’t.

“Comcast allows you to connect to many hot spots as long as you have a Comcast account,” he says.

That’s true. Sometimes, you already have the ability to connect, whether it’s an AT&T account, a subscription TV account or a service such as Boingo (boingo.com). Actually, Boingo is a particularly appealing option at airports, where it provides no-cost wireless service, and recently launched a faster network for subscribers, featuring speeds up to 50 Mbps. You may qualify for the higher-speed access without knowing it; select American Express cardholders and Starwood Preferred guests can log in without paying extra.

If you’re a grizzled road warrior who gulps down data by the gigabyte, then you’re probably shaking your head right about now. I get it. You need more for less, but you are not alone.

Consider Mel Candea, who has been driving through Europe with her husband for the past four years. She’s a freelance writer, and he’s a filmmaker, so they have to stay connected no matter where they are. They have a total pro rig: a Huawei E5770s-320 mobile hot spot ($179) that allows them to swap out data cards, depending on which country they’re visiting. Every time they cross a border, they buy a new SIM card. They use Wi-Fi maps to find cafes for larger uploads and downloads. “We have a Wi-Fi booster for more remote areas,” she says.

If you need more power — and who doesn’t? — you could try the Worldsim Tri-Fi (worldsim.com), a pocket-sized combination of hot spot and powerbank ($164). The Worldsim comes with a data roaming SIM card that can be used to get low-cost data in 188 countries, and it’s unlocked, so you can easily swap out your cards like Candea.

Overkill? You tell me. You’re probably reading this online. How would you feel if the connection were lost?

Three convenient Wi-Fi alternatives

• The phone booth. Cities are busy networking their cities for wireless access. For example, if you’re headed to New York, you’ll be able to access Wi-Fi hot spots across the five boroughs at no charge with the new LinkNYC kiosks being installed. By July, 500 of them will offer not only high-speed internet but also phone calls and device charging ports. By 2024, New York expects to have as many as 7,500 of these kiosks.

• The car. Don’t look now, but several car manufacturers, including Audi and GM, have begun equipping their cars with Wi-Fi. Or you could bring your own a wireless device such as the AT&T Unite Explore mobile Wi-Fi hot spot by Netgear(att.com/uniteexplore, $50), a mobile access point that offers up to 22 hours of continuous use on a single charge. If you’re a power user, your plan will run out before the hot spot stops working.

• The service station. Many forward-looking gas stations offer Wi-Fi to customers. For instance, Pilot Flying J, a chain of truck stops in the USA and Canada, just put the finishing touches on an overhaul of its Wi-Fi networks. Flying J doesn’t charge guests to use Wi-Fi inside its travel centers.

The World’s Most Powerful Passport Is…



New rankings by a London-based firm reveal a European country has the best global access.

Despite recent tensions over waves of refugees crossing its border, Germany, in recent months, has banked some good press as well: It led U.S. News & World Report‘s “Best Countries” index, had not one—but three—cities appear on the “10 Best Cities for Expats” list, and even had Chancellor Angela Merkel, its indomitable leader, named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. New results from Henley & Partners, a London-based consulting firm specializing in citizenship services, continue to enforce the European nation’s status on the world stage by deeming a German passport the most powerful in the world.

The annual study, produced in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (which has the world’s largest database of travel information), judged the top passports in the world by how much visa-free travel they allow. Germany, which has held the top spot for three years in a row, has visa-free access to 177 countries out of a total of 218. Sweden, in second, has a ranking of 176, and a larger group of countries sitting in third place (Finland, France, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.) allow visa-free access to 175 countries. The U.S. passport, along with ones from Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands, comes in fourth place, with entry to 174 countries.

The least useful passport of the 199 evaluated? Afghanistan, which allows visa-free access to just 25 countries—fewer than North Korea (42), Syria (32), and Iraq (30).


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Traveling With Pets: Why Your Pet Needs a Passport


What, you thought those blue booklets were just for humans?

For travelers, few things are as valuable as a passport: they can get you across borders and onto ships, planes, and trains, and also serve as a tangible record of the places you’ve been. It makes sense, then, that there are similar documents for animals. Taking your cat, dog, pig, or turkey abroad sometime soon? Here’s what you need to know.


Be aware that each country has its own set of rules and regulations, and that what works for Djibouti may not work for Greece. Well in advance of your trip, contact the local embassy or consulate of the country you (and Fido) are traveling to, and start by asking about three things: what documentation and forms you’ll need to enter the country; what vaccinations your pet must have; and if there are any other restrictions. After determining how your pet will fly, contact the airline for their specific regulations, too, as there may be cases where a country does not require particular certification, but an airline does. For example of fine print, most airlines require pet health certificates that are no more than 10 days old—but more on that later.


Much like you might go to the doctor’s office to get the MMR or yellow fever vaccine before overseas travel, your animal companion needs to do the same. Look at the required vaccination list, note certain stipulations—say, if a pet has to have had the shot one week prior to travel—and take the list to your veterinarian, who will be able to help walk you through the process. Once the vet has given your pet the required vaccinations and filled out the paperwork, prepare to have the forms endorsed by your local Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office, if (most likely) required. Make a copy of any relevant lab work results, as the documentation will only help your case move forward smoothly.


If certification is required, you’ll need to send the paperwork by mail or courier to your state’s USDA-APHIS office. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or a pre-paid Federal Express envelope, along with the inspecting veterinarian’s name and daytime contact information. Should you wish to deliver the paperwork in person, call 24 to 48 hours in advance for an appointment. Note: There is a USDA endorsement fee for cats and dogs, so call the office to determine the fee, and include it with your paperwork.


Ok, ok. So maybe those blue booklets for pets in the U.S. aren’t exactly blue booklets—they’re more like neatly filed forms. Still, actual pet passports are part of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) program in the United Kingdom, which allows registered pets to skip quarantine before getting on the plane for the U.K. For starters, animals must have one of two things: an identity microchip implanted under the skin, or a tattooed serial number. Their microchip or tattoo number will be noted anywhere from a pink A4 paper form to a small book, and will also include the pet’s vaccination certificate, and other veterinarian notes. Under the PETS program, pets from most Western European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and several Caribbean island countries can travel to the U.K. If you’re moving your dog, cat, or ferretbetween European Union countries, you can simply present a certified rabies vaccination in a pet passport or another health certificate, though requirements vary slightly by member state.


Bringing a pet back into the U.S. is a whole other ballgame. Prior to your travel date, check with your state of destination and with the airline to learn about requisite paperwork and policies.

The Cheapest (and Most Expensive) Flights in the World

June 11, 2016

Any guesses as to how much the cheapest flight in the world costs?

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts.

Search online for “Why is airfare so expensive?” and you’ll find no shortage of theories. But try to find information on what air travel actually does cost by factors including miles, fuel, and amenities—kind of essential for determining if it’s expensive in the first place—and you’ll find a lot fewer resources.

Thankfully, someone crunched the numbers: for a recent infographic, Seats and Stools, a residential and commercial seating manufacturer, looked at another type of seat—ones aboard airlines. Findings, based on searches conducted in early May for flights the last week of June via Google Flights, as well as historical research for bespoke forms of air travel, run the gamut.


Unsurprisingly, space travel is the most expensive option for air travel. A 12-day ride on the International Space Station—with round-trip transportation—cost Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté a reported $35 million in 2009, the last time a civilian boarded the ISS. (In case you’re wondering, Laliberté totally thought it was worth it.) Though it’s still theoretical at this point, a suborbital flight on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, designed to take a crew of two pilots and up to six passengers to space, is $250,000—approximately $83,000 per minute of weightlessness.

For a terrestrial aviation, the most expensive commercially available option is a $64,000 round-trip ride inEtihad Airways’ penthouse cabin, “The Residence,” between New York City to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Featuring a three-room suite with a butler, this option should probably be categorized as a short-term luxury apartment rental rather than an airplane ride. Do the math, after all, and this seat price equates to about $4,752 per hour.

Other expensive seats of note? A seat on a flight from Portland, Maine to Billings, Montana on United Airlines is the most expensive economy class ticket in the U.S. ($1,585); and the average cost of a seat on an eight-person private plane from New York City to Los Angeles is $33,900—per person. Time to start saving…


On the other end of the price spectrum, there are flight deals to be had: According to Seats and Stools data, the cheapest flight in the world is $11 for a one-way trip from Warsaw to Brussels on Ryanair. Sure, the low-cost carrier is notorious for its no-frills fares (at one point, its CEO was considering charging people to use the lavatory mid-flight), but regardless of which way you slice it, $11 for a ticket is a steal.

In terms of value, which the study calculated as cost per mile, an American Airlines flight from New York City to Miami took top domestic honors at $0.60 a mile. And at $3.70 a mile, the worst value unearthed was a United flight from Newark to Washington, D.C. So much for the destination driving the price.

Yan Baczkowski

Unusual Potato Chip Flavors Around the World

June 12th, 2016

Prepare your taste buds for a global tour of this beloved snack food, and vote for the unique flavor you’d most like to try.
Clockwise from top left: pickle, whisky and haggis, spicy cheese, ketchup, Magic Masala, Marmite, ají (chili pepper), Flamin’ Hot, and octopus


Call them chips or call them crisps—whatever you call them, these humble snacks are the crunch heard around the world. Potato chips are the affordable souvenir that can be scooped up at a bodega, vending machine, or train terminal. The flavor, however, varies by location. Ali Payne, vice president of global snacks innovation at PepsiCo, explains how cultural cravings affect seasonings. If travelers want to eat like a local, look no further than inside a shiny bag.

Why are some flavors so popular around the world?

Most are popular because of their familiar profiles, like picanha (beef) in Brazil, masala in India, and barbecue in the U.S., while other flavors, like cucumber in China, are popular because they’re unexpected. Even within the U.S., there are regional preferences: Limón on the West Coast, salt and vinegar on the East Coast, and spicy flavors in the South.

When creating chip flavors for various countries, what factors do you consider?

While we keep a close eye on emerging flavor trends, local cuisines are the tastes that resonate most. In our Do Us a Flavor program, where we invite consumers to invent new Lay’s flavors, we’ve seen time and again that preferences are largely in line with local comfort food. In the U.K., winning flavors include pulled pork in a barbecue sauce and Builder’s Breakfast, which captures all of the elements of a full English breakfast, while in the U.S., winners include southern biscuits and gravy and cheesy garlic bread.
What are the emerging flavor trends?

We’re definitely seeing flavor trends transfer from the restaurant world into snacks. Years ago you never would have seen sriracha on a chip, but the condiment has made its way into our restaurants, our kitchens, and our Lay’s as one of the 2013 Do Us a Flavor finalists in the U.S.

We’re also seeing interest in ingredients from other countries, since people are increasingly exposed to flavors around the world through travel and social media. A flavor like wasabi and ginger, which may have once been considered exotic in the U.S., is now a hugely popular flavor thanks to the prevalence of Japanese cuisine, and Italian red meat is now one of the most popular flavors in China.

Which country favors the spiciest flavors?

Mexico has the spiciest flavors in their portfolio. However, we continue to see the spice trend grow globally.

What goes in to researching a new potato chip flavor?

Once we decide on a flavor, our chefs create dozens of versions of the dish to identify the ideal flavor profile, which they then replicate on a chip. It can take four or five months to develop and perfect the new flavor.

Which country has the most flavor variety?

The U.S. has the most flavor variety of any country.

Yan Baczkowski

Common taxi scams, and how to avoid them

Taxi drivers are a diverse lot. From the white-gloved drivers of Japan to the proud professionals of the United Kingdom and Ireland that must pass rigorous local geography tests before taking to the wheel, most are out to make an honest living. In other places, regulations are patchwork (or nonexistent) and drivers and operators may be looking for extra ways to separate you from your money.

If you find yourself hailing a taxi the old-fashioned way, beware these common taxi cab scams:

Broken machines. Before closing the door, double check the meter and credit card machine (if you plan to pay that way) are working. In some instances, rides are already priced at a flat rate (between New York’s airports and the city, for example), but in other cases, if the driver says the meter or machine is broken, it is easier for the driver to take advantage of you once you arrive. Drivers are loathe to pay fees charged by credit cards, which is why their machine may be conveniently “broken” once you arrive, leaving you scrambling for an ATM if you’re low on cash. If meters are not common or it is indeed broken, establish a price before darting off.

Scenic route. A smart move for those with a smartphone is to monitor your route in a mapping app as you go. While highway design, traffic congestion or construction work can make a circuitous route the best choice, there are some occasions where a driver knows that out-of-towners may have no idea if they are being taken for a ride (literally). If a driver asks how long you are in town, it is wise to say you have been there for a while or are familiar with the city. This might deter them from taking you on a roundabout drive to beef up the meter. Avoid saying you are leaving town soon (that same or the following day), which leaves little time for you to pursue further action if they cheat you.

No change. Someone driving around all day (even at the start of their shift) should have enough currency to make change for reasonably large bills. Forking over a $100 bill for a $10 ride is one thing, but if the driver says there is no change for a $20, red flags should be raised. It could be a bid to seek a higher tip. To avoid this petty trick, offer to have the driver wait while you seek out change (as your luggage is being unloaded). Never argue over price while your luggage is still in the trunk or while seated inside the car.

Sleight of hand. The truly no-good might even swap out bills that you hand over (especially for tourists unfamiliar with the currency) and say you gave a smaller bill rather than the larger one you used. Hand over bills one at a time if you are not familiar with the currency.

Keep in mind that many cities do indeed charge supplements for extra bags to and from the airport, or for trips on toll roads or nighttime travel. These are not necessarily a scam, although legally they should be posted somewhere in the car.  When in doubt, take down the driver’s license plate.

Missing bags. Keep an eye out to assure your bags are loaded. If you get inside without seeing them, you could arrive at your destination missing some valuables (perhaps sneakily snagged by another driver or cohort at your origin). Your driver may claim that he never saw your bag in the first place.

Baggage claim solicitations. If a driver approaches you in the arrivals area of an airport, be wary. Most airports require taxis to wait in an official queue, and licensed limo or sedan drivers are not allowed by many airports to solicit rides. If you cannot arrange transportation in advance to a new city, approach an information desk to ask where to get an official taxi, limo, shared shuttle or public transportation.

Driver recommendations. Never fall for this age-old trick. En route to your destination, the driver makes small talk in an effort to win you over. Once you’ve seemingly made a new pal, the driver suggests a pit stop at a recommended restaurant, shop or nightclub. Even if the passenger resists, the driver encourages a quick stop to “take a look.” The next thing you know, you’re being charmed by a shop owner or bar server with a free sample, but later pressured to buy something more. If you find yourself in this situation, mention that a local friend is meeting you at your destination and you cannot be late. Act like you are familiar with the area to avoid unwanted suggestions.

Postal pilgrimage


In an era of instant communication, the old-fashioned stamp still has a huge following. More than 50,000 people are expected to attend theWorld Stamp Show in New York, running May 28-June 4. The once-a-decade event includes rare stamp displays like the One-Cent Magenta fromBritish Guiana, which sold in 2014 for a record $9.5 million. “Before the Internet, stamp collecting was a way to learn about the world,” says Ken Martin of the American Philatelic Society, adding that many people now collect for relaxation or investment. But if you can’t make the show, he shares some favorite stamp sites withLarry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Hoolehua, Hawaii
Why bother with a postcard? This Molokai post office provides visitors free coconuts to address, stamp and mail — no packaging required. The fruits are piled up in a plastic postal bin for the picking and the postmaster even supplies Sharpies for addressing and decorating. Depending on the size of the fruit, postage may run about $20, Martin says. 808-567-6144; usps.com

Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Washington, D.C.
From the world’s rarest stamps to the surprisingly daring accomplishments of the U.S. Postal Inspection Services, visitors are amazed by the topics covered at this museum next to Washington’s Union Station, which attracted more than 350,000 visitors last year. “It’s the Smithsonian in all its glory,” Martin says. Current exhibits include PostSecret, a global Internet-based art project that collects anonymous confessions submitted on postcards. postalmuseum.si.edu


Australia in 360: Experience your next dream vacation

Smallest post office
Ochopee, Fla.
The tiny shed near this Everglades community once held irrigation equipment for a tomato farm. But after the town’s post office burned down in 1953, it was repurposed to handle mail. The 7-by-8-foot post office attracts visitors eager to send postcards. “You’re not going to get more than five people in there at the same time,” Martin says. 239-695-4131; paradisecoast.com

B. Free Franklin Post Office and Museum
Don’t look for a ballpoint pen or an American flag at this post office. The clerks dress in colonial garb and work exclusively with quill and inkwell. And since the flag hadn’t been created when Benjamin Franklin served as the first Postmaster General, you won’t find it flying outside. Collectors come for the unique “B. Free Franklin” hand-stamped postmark, which is believed to be Franklin’s protest against British rule. 215-599-0776; uwishunu.com

Pony Express National Museum
St. Joseph, Mo.
Long before overnight mail, galloping horses were the quickest way to deliver a package, and the Pony Express could get mail to California in under two weeks. “It saved a huge amount of time,” Martin says. At the museum, kids can sort mail, try on Western clothes and see the original stables. 816-232-8206, ponyexpress.org

Museum of Stamps and Coins
While mostly remembered for marrying Hollywood star Grace Kelly, the late Prince Rainier was also an avid stamp collector who personally approved the stamp designs released by his tiny principality. He founded this expansive museum which tracks the country’s history through its stamps, from its royal family to Grand Prix racing. 212-286-3330;visitmonaco.com

Postal History Foundation
See a 19th-century frontier post office made from a mail-order kit at this museum with historic postal memorabilia and exhibits. You’ll also find Mexican stamps and a working post office, which receives more new U.S. postal issues than any in the state.520-623-6652; postalhistoryfoundation.org

American Philatelic Center
Bellefonte, Pa.
The leading stamp collecting society brings the hobby alive at this restored 19th-century match factory that was once a stop on the New York-to-Chicago airmail route. Highlights include an 1860 post office and general store on loan from the Smithsonian, along with postal rarities. “There’s a lot of interest even from people who aren’t stamp collectors,” Martin says. 814-933-3803; stamps.org

National Postmark Museum
Bellevue, Ohio
For some collectors, stamps are just the start. This museum strives to preserve an example of every unique stamp cancellation, about two million and counting. “There’s not a right way or a wrong way to collect. Each person decides what’s best for them,” Martin says. Highlights include first-day covers, an envelope postmarked on a stamp’s first day of issue. postmarks.org

Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History
Weston, Mass.
This gallery on the Regis College campus claims to be the nation’s first devoted to stamp collecting. “It has lots of aspects of a bigger museum, but on a smaller scale,” Martin says. It was founded by a former New York archbishop, whose career spanned the golden age of stamp collecting in the 1930s, and has more than two million artifacts, including President Dwight Eisenhower’s stamp collection. Visiting children receive a free packet of stamps. 781-768-8367; spellmanmuseum.org

Why People Are Cranky About Super-Cheap Flights to Europe

Norwegian Air faces ever more opposition as it tries to increase traffic across the Atlantic.

If you’ve been waiting for Norwegian Air’s deeply discounted flights between Boston and Ireland this summer, don’t pack your bags just yet. Norwegian has been waiting for the U.S. Department of Transportation to greenlight the new route for two years, and while the agency is wrapping up its work this week, it hasn’t said when it’ll make a final decision.

What’s the holdup? Norwegian Air, after all, already flies from the U.S. to Europe, via London Gatwick and several Scandinavian gateways, and it also offers seasonal flights from the U.S. to the French Caribbean. But those flights are operated by a Norwegian company called Norwegian Air Shuttle; Norwegian has another subsidiary, based in Ireland—Norwegian Air International—that was set up to take advantage of greater freedoms out of that nation. (Norway is not a member of the European Union; Ireland is.) And it’s this newer company, NAI, that’s the launch pad for a raft of new flights from Irish airports at cut-rate fares and the source of all the ongoing controversy.

That’s because a powerful coalition of U.S. airlines and their employee unions are labeling this offshoot operation as a major threat to the U.S. aviation industry, charging that it will pay low wages and, as one union official said, could cost thousands of U.S. jobs (allegedly because some U.S. carriers would drop routes rather than compete with this interloper). And they’ve gotten the ear of politicians—this is, after all, an election year—with Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both urging the DOT to reject the new services. In a statement on his website, Bernie Sanders wrote: “The U.S. Department of Transportation should not be rewarding [Norwegian Air International] with a foreign air carrier permit that would allow it to undercut the wages and benefits of airline workers throughout this country… We must do everything we can to prevent a global race to the bottom in the airline industry.”

“We think it’s a very dangerous situation,” said Ed Wytkind, head of the transportation trades division of the AFL-CIO. “They will go for the cheapest employees.”

Although the DOT recently issued a tentative decision in favor of Norwegian, a bill opposing the airline has landed in the House of Representatives and is garnering support. Norwegian has struck back, however. “Our opponents have created a wildly inaccurate fear-mongering situation,” said spokesman Anders Lindstrom. “We have filed a document with the U.S. pledging that NAI’s U.S. flights would be operated by U.S. and European crew,” he said, adding that the employees are paid market wages. He also claimed Norwegian already has more U.S.-based crew than any other foreign airline and plans to add additional American crew.

With all the heated rhetoric, it can be hard to sort out the facts, but one that’s often cited by Norwegian and its supporters (consumer group Travelers United among them) is that the airline business has become highly concentrated. In fact, the three major U.S. international carriers (Delta, American, and United) and their alliance partners control roughly 80 percent of the airline passenger traffic across the North Atlantic.

“The union efforts and claims are totally misdirected and are bad for consumers and the national economy,” said Charlie Leocha, head of Travelers United. Asked by Condé Nast Traveler to comment, a DOT spokeswoman would only say that once all the comments are in this week, there’s no deadline for the agency to act. In other words, super-cheap flights to Europe may not arrive in time for this year’s summer season.

Norwegian Air announces another U.S. route

Norwegian Air plans to launch nonstop service between Las Vegas and London’s Gatwick airport, the carrier announced Monday.

The route would give fast-growing Norwegian its fourth route out of Las Vegas. The low-cost carrier already flies to its bases in Stockholm and Copenhagen. Las Vegas-Oslo flights are set to begin in November.

But the Gatwick flights will test whether there’s enough demand for a third carrier to fly between Las Vegas and London. Virgin Atlantic already offers daily round-trip service from Las Vegas to London Gatwick. British Airways flies daily between Las Vegas and its hub at London Heathrow.

Norwegian would fly two flights a week on the route using 291-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The service starts Oct. 31.