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New York, Geneva (AirGuide - Regional News Europe) Jan 22, 2012

Guide to booking a round-the-world trip It's the ultimate trip: circumnavigating the planet, and stopping off wherever takes your fancy. Great for travelers who want to see it all, or who are just plain indecisive. But booking a round-the-world (RTW) trip can be a complex business. Here's our guide to getting started. How to do it The most economical way to circumnavigate is to buy a round-the-world air ticket that uses one airline alliance. Theoretically, any routing is possible, but knowing how the RTW booking system works will make your trip cheaper. For example, the Star Alliance, a coalition of 27 airlines, offers a RTW ticket with a maximum of 15 stops. Its member airlines fly to 1185 airports in 185 countries. There are rules: you must follow one global direction (east or west -- no backtracking); you must start and finish in the same country; and you must book all your flights before departure, though you can change them later (which may incur extra charges). How long you need You could whip round the world in a weekend if you flew non-stop. However, the minimum duration of most RTW tickets is ten days -- still a breathless romp. Consider stock-piling annual leave, tagging on public holidays or even arranging a sabbatical in order to take off two months, ideally six to 12. The maximum duration of a RTW ticket is one year. When to go The weather will never be ideal in all your stops. So, focus on what you want to do most and research conditions there: if a Himalaya trek is your highlight, don't land in Nepal mid-monsoon; if you want to swim with whale sharks off Western Australia, be there April-July. Then accept you'll be in some regions at the "wrong" time -- though this might offer unexpected benefits (for example, Zambia in wet season means lush landscapes and cheaper prices). In general, city sightseeing can be done year-round (escape extreme heat/cold/rain in museums and cafs) but outdoor adventures are more reliant on -- and enjoyable in -- the right weather. Where to go The classic (and cheapest) RTW tickets flit between a few big cities, for example London -- Bangkok -- Singapore -- Sydney -- LA. If you want to link more offbeat hubs (Baku -- Kinshasa -- Paramaribo, anyone?), prices will climb considerably. The cost of the ticket is based on the total distance covered or the number of countries visited. Remember, you don't have to fly between each point: in Australia you could land in Perth, travel overland, and fly out of Cairns. Or fly into Moscow, board the Trans-Siberian train, and fly onwards from Beijing. Pick some personal highlights and string the rest of your itinerary around those. For instance, if you're a keen trekker, flesh out a Peru (Inca Trail), New Zealand (Milford Track) and Nepal (Everest Base Camp) itinerary with Brazil (Rio's a good access point for South America), Australia and North India. If budget's an issue, spend more time in less expensive countries. Your daily outgoings will be far higher in Western Europe and North America than South-East Asia; Indonesia, Bolivia and India are particularly cheap. Tips, tricks & pitfalls -- Talk to an expert before you book: you may have an itinerary in mind but an experienced RTW flight booker will know which routings work best and cost least -- a few tweaks could mean big savings. -- Be flexible: moving your departure date by a few days can save money; mid-week flights are generally cheaper, as are flights on Christmas Day. -- Think about internal travel: it CAN be cheaper to book internal flights at the same time as booking your RTW ticket -- but, with the global increase of low-cost airlines, you may find it better (and more flexible) to buy them separately as you go. -- Be warned: if you don't board one of your booked flights (say, on a whim, you decide to travel overland from Bangkok to Singapore rather than fly it) your airline is likely to cancel all subsequent flights. Jan 20, 2012

EU is willing to make airline emissions deal with U.S. EU leaders say in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that they are open to negotiating an exemption for U.S. carriers from its emissions-trading system on one leg of a round trip to the EU if the U.S. commits to reduce its airline emissions in some other way. The EU's coverage of aircraft operators from the U.S. and other countries flying routes to and from the region under the EU carbon trading market has been a source of diplomatic tension. Forty-one countries have declared the unilateral rules in breach of international law, although the European Court of Justice has ruled them legal. Jan 20, 2012

"Leap second" gets a reprieve, for now Diplomats from dozens of nations met this week to debate whether it still makes sense to occasionally add an extra second to the world's clocks to keep them in sync with the Earth's rotation. In the end, the delegates -- some of whom feared that abandoning the so-called "leap second" could disrupt financial markets -- postponed a decision for another three years. Jan 20, 2012

Hotels ramp up property improvements amid ballooning steel prices Brand demands and an improving economy allowed more hotel owners to renovate their properties last year, construction companies say. The lack of available lending also forced owners to settle for upgrades to drive business rather than launching new construction. However, the steadily increasing cost of steel -- now about USD980 per ton -- is complicating work for developers, they say. Jan 19, 2012

U.S., EU will work on space code of conduct The United States and Europe will again work together to hash out an agreement on space conduct with particular regard to space debris, the Obama administration says. The U.S. previously declined to sign an EU draft code of conduct because it believed that the code would restrict U.S. military activities. "Unless the international community addresses these challenges, the environment around our planet will become increasingly hazardous to human spaceflight and satellite systems," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Jan 18, 2012

Tourists find history, culture outside Copenhagen, Denmark Magnificent castles and a variety of museums entice travelers to venture out of Denmark's capital of Copenhagen and out into the glorious countryside. Visitors can take a tour around the Museum of National History in Frederiksborg Castle, which is itself a striking piece of historic architecture. The town of Roskilde, once the royal capital of the Danish empire, houses a 12th-century cathedral and the Viking Ship Museum, which features five restored Viking ships. Jan 18, 2012

Congresswoman: Costa accident highlights need for more regulation Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., pointed to last weekend's tragedy involving the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy as evidence for the necessity of increased regulation of the cruise industry. She earlier sponsored the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which passed Congress last year and has become law. "While this was a major step forward in oversight of the highly unregulated cruise line industry, the incident in Italy shows that still more must be done to protect passengers," Matsui said in a statement. Jan 18, 2012

ICAO chief promises global emissions proposal by end 2012 The head of ICAO pledged Tuesday to have a proposal on how to regulate airline emissions on a global basis by the end of this year. Speaking at the International Aviation Club in Washington, ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin said that in the same way as airline safety is a global program, so the industryOs environmental program is also a global issue. OWhile there are clear differences among member states, we still have to come to a global solution,O he said. Raymond declined to give details on what the emissions proposal might contain. But he said it would use the ICAO resolution that was agreed in 2010 as a framework and it would be put on the table by the end of the year. OYou have my word on thatO. With specific regard to the controversial EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that went into effect Jan. 1, Benjamin said he preferred not to resort to using Article 84 of the Chicago Convention to resolve the dispute between the European Commission and those who are against the ECOs unilateral imposition of an emissions tax. Article 84 gives the ICAO council the authority to decide on disputes that cannot be settled between member states and was ultimately used to settle the hushkit dispute between the US and Europe. Article 84 would not progress the issue and would deviate resources, Benjamin said. OI am very happy that I donOt have Article 84 [legal proceedings] right now because that means we can keep working on the issue,O Benjamin said. But he added, OI am sure the legal file is ready.O Jan 18, 2012

Russian authorities postpone implementation of new TCAS regulations Russian aviation authorities have postponed implementing new regulations requiring all Russian aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of more than 5,700 kilos to be equipped with a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) and an enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). The new rules, which were to take effect Jan. 1, were delayed because Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin said during his December trip to the Russian Far East that carriers were not prepared for it. Airline experts say that regional carriers will suffer the most from the new regulations because the cost of the new equipment, including installation, is estimated to be RUR6-10 million (USD192,000-USD320,000) per airplane. It is not profitable to install it on old Tupolev Tu-134s and Antonov An-24s, the base of most Russian regional airlinesO fleet. Some carriers have announced plans to significantly reduce their Soviet-built fleets. At the end of 2011, authorities changed the minimum requirements to receive an air operatorOs certificate from 10 to...

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