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Travel Briefs: JFK house tours to mark day of 1963 mourning

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

The National Park Service will open John F. Kennedy's boyhood home in Massachusetts to tours Nov. 25 to mark the 49th anniversary of the national day of mourning that followed his assassination.

The nine-room house at 83 Beals St. in Brookline is a national historic site where the 35th American president spent his early boyhood.

The town put a memorial in front of the residence after JFK's 1963 death.

The Kennedy family repurchased the home from other owners a few years later before gifting it to the National Park Service in 1969.

Tours from National Park rangers will include a look at Kennedy family furnishings, photographs and other mementos.

The historic site closes in the winter and reopens to the public next May.

Ryanair chief is against seat belts

Seat belts on airplanes are useless.

That was the latest rant by Michael O'Leary, the chief executive for Ryanair, the ultra low-cost airline based in Ireland.

O'Leary, who opposes seat belts because he is pushing for standing-room sections of his planes, called aviation authorities who disagree with him “plonkers.”

“Seat belts don't matter,” O'Leary told the Telegraph. “If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seat belt won't save you.”

Car-rental firms' ratings are up

American travelers are increasingly dissatisfied with the nation's airlines, but they seem pretty happy with the country's car-rental companies.

For the first nine months of this year, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics got 12,145 consumer complaints about airline services, up 33.5 percent from a year earlier. Based on complaints filed in September alone, the biggest sources of aggravation for fliers were flight delays, cancellations, problems with baggage, ticketing and reservations and, of course, customer service.

Meanwhile, customer satisfaction with rental-car companies has increased for the third consecutive year, according to a study released last week by J.D. Power & Associates. In fact, the satisfaction level — reaching 769 on a 1,000-point scale — is the highest in seven years.

The greatest improvement in the satisfaction rating came from the shuttle van or bus service that car rental companies use to transport customers and the daily rates and fees, according to the study.

Another big factor in higher satisfaction: a warm smile. The study found that car rental customers give an average rating of 795 when they are greeted at the counter with a smile; those who don't get a smile give an average rating of 647.

Land Between Lakes visitors have new scenic trail

Visitors to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area will be able to hike and bike along a new scenic trail between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

The Central Hardwoods Scenic Trail runs east and west, parallel to U.S. 68/Kentucky 80.

Land Between The Lakes Trails Manager Bill Ryan says the 3.2-mile eastern portion of the trail is paved, and gives shoreline views of Lake Barkley and opportunities to view wildlife in open areas. The central and western portion is 8.5 miles and uses a compacted stone surface. Ryan says traveling along the trail gives visitors a chance to explore rolling hills and ridge tops of the central hardwood forest ecosystem.

Trails Unlimited, one of the Forest Service's 17 enterprise units, helped design and build the trail.

— Wire reports

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