Travel briefs

Are you bringing batteries on a plane? If so, make sure they’re carefully packaged.

Two recent fires on airplanes have prompted the Transportation Department to issue a safety advisory for passengers traveling with batteries or battery-powered devices.

The agency says air travelers should keep spare batteries in their original retail packaging or wrap insulating tape around loose batteries to keep them from coming in contact with metal objects. The agency said batteries should be packed in carry-on, not checked, luggage. They should also be protected from getting crushed or punctured.

The agency said that a preliminary investigation of a Feb. 10 fire in an overhead baggage compartment on a JetBlue flight indicated one or more loose batteries may have been the source.

On March 18, the agency received a report that a battery overheated or ignited on an American Airlines plane from Argentina.

In both cases, the fires were extinguished quickly.

Cell phones in flight

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says the agency is considering dropping a proposal to allow in-flight cell phone use.

Currently cell phone use is banned in flight, but the commission began considering removal of the ban in late 2004.

FCC Chair Kevin Martin told reporters after a board meeting March 22 that the wireless telecommunications industry indicated in recent comments to the FCC that mobile phone calls in flying planes would interfere with their networks on the ground.

Two agencies claim regulatory jurisdiction over the issue. The FCC is focused on whether in-flight calling interferes with ground-based networks, while the Federal Aviation Administration considers safety issues.

Both agencies would have to approve lifting the ban for passengers to be able legally to make calls while in flight, an FCC spokeswoman said.

Marvel Comics theme park to open in Dubai

The Persian Gulf city of Dubai is already home to man-made resort islands shaped like palm trees, a mall with indoor skiing in the desert, and a building that will be the world’s tallest when completed next year.

Now add to the list of wonders a billion-dollar amusement park with a Marvel comics theme.

Marvel Entertainment announced the deal in New York on March 21, saying that Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and the other Marvel heroes will be the focus of the park.

The park will be developed by United Arab Emirates-based Al Ahli Group and is scheduled to open in 2011. Investment in the project will total $1 billion, according to the agency handling publicity in New York, Dan Klores Communications.

Guide to Hawaiian culture published

Mahimahi – the fish – is spelled as one word. A carved wooden idol is a ki’i, not a tiki. And making piles of stones along highways or parks is not a Hawaiian tradition.

These are a few of the lessons the Hawaii Tourism Authority is hoping to impart in a new guide to educate travel journalists, advertising executives and public relations specialists about Hawaiian culture.

The new “Style &Resource Guide” targets those who promote or write about Hawaii by including common mistakes.

The 20-page guide is partly in response to concerns that the tourism industry isn’t sensitive enough to cultural issues, said Frank Haas, marketing director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

“A lot of stuff that’s done poorly or is insensitive isn’t done on purpose, it’s just that people don’t know better,” he said. “It’s important for us to understand how to respectfully promote the culture and to deal with the Hawaiian cultural community.”

Travel classes, seminars

Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door presents free travel classes from 10 to 11:30 a.m. most Saturdays at the Edmonds Theater, 415 Main St., Edmonds.

  • Women’s Seminar: Packing Light &Right with Joan Robinson, 10 a.m., April 7.
  • Women’s Seminar: Women Traveling Solo with Lisa Friend, noon, April 7.
  • Paris with Steve Smith, 10 a.m., April 14.
  • Italy with Dave Hoerlein, 10 a.m., April 21.
  • European Rail Skills with Laura Terrenzio, 10 a.m., April 28.

    Reservations are recommended. Call 425-771-8303, ext. 298, or visit

    The Savvy Traveler offers travel seminars at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. most Saturdays at 112 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds.

  • Egypt, 10 a.m., April 7.
  • Top 10 Italian Travel Secrets, 10 a.m., April 14.
  • Wanderlust and Lipstick, 1 p.m., April 14.
  • German For Travelers, 6 p.m. Thursdays, April 26 to May 24.

    Classes are free, reservations recommended. Call 425-744-6076 or 877-225-1994 or visit

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