Whatever happened to the Boeing 717? In the Sixties, the sequence of number from the Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer jumped from the 707 to the 727, and has since reached 777. So No 717 is being applied to a new, small jet that was being developed by McDonnell Douglas before Boeing took it over last year.
It is a twin-jet seating about 100, and the engines are made by BMW/Rolls- Royce in Germany. This week the 717 was rolled out in Long Beach, California; next year the first commercial flight will take place. The launch customer is AirTran - the low-cost airline formerly known as ValuJet
If you were planning to sail to Belgium on the new ferry line Sally Direct (0845 600 2626), you won't have much luck. Passengers from Ramsgate to Ostend are not being allowed to disembark at the Belgian port. Once it has permission to land people there, the company will charge pounds 25 for a 24-hour return for a car plus five people.
However you get to Belgium, the unlimited travel deals on trains in Belgium are excellent value. The B-Tourrail card allows five days' unlimited travel for 2,100BF (pounds 35, or just pounds 7 per day). For the same price you can buy a ticket that allows 10 journeys between any two stations, at any time after 9am. Several people can use it; a group of five could travel from Ostend to Liege and back for pounds 7 each. More information from Belgian Railways in London (0171-976 0041); the tickets can be bought only in Belgium.
Hamburg's newest hotel, the ultra-swish Park Hyatt Hamburg, has a summer special of DM 245/285 single/ double until September. A double room rate of under pounds 100 is excellent value, and the Park Hyatt has the added benefit of some character; it occupies the top five floors of the Levantehaus, a 1911 warehouse. To book, call the UK number 0345 581666 or dial direct on 00 49 40 33 32 12 34.
If you book the Park Hyatt in Hamburg through the UK reservations number you'll be told that the above deal doesn't include breakfast; if you book direct, it does.
The traditional Eurostar picnic could be depleted or expensive this week. Until two days after the World Cup final (14 July), passengers are banned from bringing alcohol aboard the trains through the Channel Tunnel. This applies equally to services to Brussels and Paris. The cheapest on- board beer is a 33cl can for pounds 1.80, which works out at pounds 3 per pint; champagne, free in first class, costs pounds 19 a bottle.
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In Scotland, Continental Airlines (0800 776464) has a new non-stop flight from Glasgow to Newark. Continental's East Coast hub has connections all over the US.
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