Whatever next?

Whose singer-songwriter's musician son drowned in 1997? Who gave birth to Odin's eight-legged horse? And what does Hooke's Law describe? If you can answer these, you should be in with a shot of winning one of Singapore Airlines' new in-flight quizzes.

The SIA Inflight Challenge is being introduced this month on the airline's KrisWorld inflight entertainment system. However, don't be tempted by heady thoughts of a mile-high Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Although up to 100 passengers on a plane are able to compete with each other, the airline says a typical gift for winners would be a torch. The other difference is that the questions are quite challenging – and the chances of Chris Tarrant being on board are remote.

Passengers who prefer less trivial entertainment can play chess or mahjong. (If you're stumped, here are the answers: Tim Buckley, Loki and the force exerted by a stretched spring.)

 

What's hot

The mobile phone is now assuming the role of tour guide thanks to Urban Safaris (www. urban-safari.com), a new way of seeing Paris.

Tourists sign up via the website for one of several tours – from ChocoSafari to ArtistikSafari. They meet at a pre-arranged location and then receive text messages directing them to various points of interest. The TechnoSafari includes a mixing session with a DJ, while those on the ArtistikSafari visit studios to watch artists at work and football fans on the SafariFoot meet a professional coach.

Ken Kelling of the English Tourism Council notes that the human element is missing. "Some people think that you can't beat an interesting tour guide; you get lots of anecdotes." But, he adds: "If it proves popular there's no reason why it couldn't be done here."

 

Patent of the Week – the suitcase that follows you round

We've all seen them: the frantic families hurtling towards the arrivals desk, luggage piled high on a wobbly trolley, Dad searching for the airline tickets with one hand, dragging a bulging suitcase with the other and the children disappearing into the wrong queue. How much simpler it would be if your luggage respectfully trotted along behind you, giving you the chance to keep an eye on the children.

This may be the vision of Sarteep Kader of Middlesex who has registered a patent for a robotic suitcase design (proper title: self-propelled remote-controlled luggage). The suitcase is fitted with a sensor that homes in on infrared signals from a transmitter worn by the owner, recognising only one particular code. The sensor guides the suitcase's electrically driven wheels.

Should the invention catch on, imagine an arrivals hall as travellers and motorised suitcases enact a complex, if not chaotic, ballet.

 

New and improved

The company behind the London Pass, a £24 smart-card that allows free entry to scores of attractions in the capital, has launched two more city passes this summer – for Bath and York.

The Bath Pass (www. bathpass. com) permits entry to about 30 attractions in and around the city, including the Roman Baths and Longleat. A one-day pass costs £19 for adults and £12 for children, while a three-day pass costs £39 for adults and £25 for children.

The York Pass (www.yorkpass.com) also permits entry to about 30 attractions, including Castle Howard, Jorvik and the National Railway Museum. A one-day pass costs £21 for adults and £15 for children, while a three-day pass costs £39 for adults and £29 for children.

The new cards are slightly cheaper than the London Pass. But bear in mind that because there are fewer attractions, the passes cover a wider area. For example, the Bath Pass allows you into @Bristol and Glastonbury Abbey – so you may not fit in quite so much in a day as you can in the capital. The attractions also tend to be cheaper– so do your arithmetic to check you are getting value for money.

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