Traveller's Checks

Airlines cocoon loungers from the scroungers Tour the world from your desk Author turns gamekeeper


Airlines cocoon loungers from the scroungers I have a problem with the word "lounge". It reeks of phoney, piano-playing sophistication on the one hand, and of people asleep on their rucksacks on the other. But lounges represent the new apartheid of travel, and companies are unloading vast amounts of money and hiring swanky designers to get them right.

Airlines cocoon loungers from the scroungers I have a problem with the word "lounge". It reeks of phoney, piano-playing sophistication on the one hand, and of people asleep on their rucksacks on the other. But lounges represent the new apartheid of travel, and companies are unloading vast amounts of money and hiring swanky designers to get them right.

Airlines fighting for business travellers are doing so with carefully honed "brand values" expressed as lounges. Business travellers on Continental are invited to a batch of identical "President's Clubs" around the world - these dens are masculine, seriously panelled, high on technology, low on spa stuff. Malaysian Airlines play the Eastern well-being card with a sea of Zen-like beige and bamboo and boulders, while Virgin sexily suggests more than "sit, shave, shower" with a massage service and luxurious bath.

For economy passengers there was, last week, a glimpse of better lounge life with the launch at Heathrow Terminal 3 of The Island which is open to anyone paying a £25 entrance tariff. At last it seemed that the showers and snacks, the leather chairs and digital distractions might be ours. But absurdly it turns out to be intended for arriving passengers (that is, men in suits before meetings) and is open only until 2pm. The reason, of course, is that BAA wants to keep us on the concourse before flights so that we can do what it most loves us to do - go shopping.

On cruise ships, where interiors tend to be Tivoli Gardens meets Brent Cross shopping centre, new standards are about to be set by the Queen Mary 2, where the main event is a 1,100-seat lounge in which audiences will watch West End shows. Not to be outdone, the "cruise ship of the skies", the A3XX, recently unveiled as a lifesize mock-up by Airbus, has the posh end of its 555 passenger load swanning around in a lounge of bookcases and easy chairs that convert to beds. In the upper dining-room and lounge bar, champagne and dinner will be served. Ominously, the space that will be occupied by the remaining 400 economy passengers was an empty void, half the size of a football pitch. The two classes of passenger - the loungers and the scroungers - will not see each other at all on the new planes.

Tour the world from your desk Virtual tourism is closer to home than you think. Britain's foremost authority on Virtual Reality, Professor Bob Stone, tells me that buying a £10 game such as Unreal for Christmas will now allow access to hugely sophisticated virtual worlds. The game's 3D toolkit (www.vrndproject.com) will handle a trip through Notre Dame in Paris; you can fly through the building and up to the stained-glass windows, while watching the monks scurrying through the nave below. Stone, who is working with the DTI on kits which will be available to help heritage organisations into VR, thinks that virtual global access to sensitive sites, such as the caves of Lascaux, is about to increase dramatically. VR travellers can already take in the Golden Temple of Kyoto, Pompeii, Stonehenge and the terracotta warriors of Xian, or fly by airboat through the Everglades of the southern USA, stopping to interrogate plants en route; www.virtualheritage.net is the site to watch. Meanwhile a virtual balloon ride is the highlight of the new £2m Shropshire's Secret Hills Discovery Centre at Craven Arms which opens in February. In London two open-top tourist buses which go nowhere but offer visitors a virtual tour of the capital have just taken up their parking spaces at Hyde Park Corner and Victoria. Build in a personal snapshot facility and the problem of tourist honeypots could be solved.

Author turns gamekeeper Rather late in the day, Peter Benchley, author of Jaws and enemy of seaside entrepreneurs and Lilo manufacturers, decided that sharks are misunderstood. The man who with Steven Spielberg did for sea bathing what Hitchcock did for taking a shower has become an eco warrior. He now works supporting WildAid, the charity that encourages tourists and others to conserve wildlife on land and water. Recent figures confirm that only 15 people a year die from shark attacks: fewer than die falling in their bathtubs. But a million great white sharks are killed every year, many of them hunted for their fins which are an Asian delicacy and alleged aphrodisiac. So we're looking forward to the new film in which Richard Dreyfuss goes on holiday to hunt down thousands of superstitious people who think that fin soup will help them keep their peckers up. Sounds like an epic.

s.marling@independent.co.uk

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea