AIRLINES

Passengers can reserve their in-flight meal

After hiring a high-end chef to cook up the kind of meals you don't expect at 30,000 feet, American Airlines has announced that it will let first- and business-class passengers reserve their in-flight meal via the airline's website.

You get to choose from two or three entrees -- the same choices you get when you board the plane. The advantage, American says, is that you are guaranteed the meal you ordered and are not stuck with whatever food is left when the flight attendant gets to your row.

American, which is not charging an extra fee for the service, says it is the first domestic airline to offer the option.

The meal reservation option is available for flights between Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, among a few other routes. The service will be expanded Nov. 15 to flights between San Francisco International Airport and JFK and Los Angeles and O'Hare International Airport, among others.

-- Los Angeles Times

EUROPE

France opens gardens of Elysee Palace to public

Hundreds of Parisians and tourists lined up Oct. 28 to get a rare chance to visit the gardens of France's presidential palace.


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Visitors were taking advantage of a new policy inaugurated by President Francois Hollande to open the 18th-century Elysee Palace gardens to the public on the last Sunday of each month. In the past, the palace and gardens were open to the public only once a year: on France's Heritage Days weekend in September.

Access to the gardens is just off the Champs Elysee via an ornate wrought-iron gate topped with gilt rooster, the French national symbol.

The gardens are open from noon to 5 p.m. the last Sunday of the month from October to March, and from 1 to 7 p.m. from April to September.

-- Associated Press

Confusing new policies on Dutch 'weed' cafes

The incoming Dutch government has ditched plans for a national "weed pass" that would have been available only to residents and would have effectively banned tourists from Amsterdam's marijuana cafes.

However, under a provisional governing pact just unveiled, cities can bar foreigners from weed shops if they choose.

The pact says that it wants only Dutch residents to have access to marijuana cafes, but it leaves enforcement up to cities. Amsterdam opposes a ban, which would hurt tourism.

Some cafe owners said they are satisfied that Dutch weed policy will remain unchanged, while others criticized the lack of clarity.

Marijuana trafficking is illegal in the Netherlands, but people can't be prosecuted for possession of small amounts. In addition the drug is sold openly in designated "coffee shops."

-- Associated Press

HOTELS

Red Roof Inn discovers improvements pay off

Give the people what they want. That was the sentiment behind a $120 million redesign effort launched last year by Red Roof Inn at nearly 121 hotels across the country.

The hotel improvements were made based on comments the Columbus, Ohio-based hotel chain received from thousands of guests staying in hotels in Texas, Georgia and Ohio.

And it appears that the upgrades have been a success.

The hotels that received the face lifts have seen a 10.6 percent increase in sales, compared with a 6 percent increase among all 350 hotels in the chain, according to company officials.

Based on the earlier guest comments, the chain replaced in-room carpeting with hardwood floors, swapped out Formica counter tops with granite and added outlets above the nightstand, among other improvements. Such upgrades have been made at Red Roof Inn hotels in San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento.

-- Los Angeles Times