Iceland Is Closing Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

iStock.com/Thomas Schnitzler
iStock.com/Thomas Schnitzler

Despite the high prices, Iceland is a wildly popular vacation spot for foreigners—and American travelers in particular. But tourists visiting Iceland in the spring and early summer may be disappointed to find that one of the island's most beautiful locations is off-limits. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon will be closed until June, and Justin Bieber is being blamed.

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a 1-mile-long, 330-foot-deep canyon located in the southern part of the country. The river that runs through it is shallow enough to hike in, making it a popular spot for tourists looking to experience Iceland's vegetation and geology up close.

But in recent years, Fjaðrárgljúfur has become too popular for its own good. The number of visitors to the canyon rose from 150,000 in 2016 and to 282,000 in 2017, forcing the site to close for recovery a few times since then.

What's the reason for the dramatic spike? Some people say Justin Bieber had something to do with it: In 2015, he released his music video for "I'll Show You," which shows him walking around and looking moody in what was once a hidden gem of Iceland.

But the pop star doesn't deserve all the blame. Iceland's overall number of foreign visitors quadrupled between 2010 and 2017, thanks in part to cheap airfare and innovative tourism campaigns. Fjaðrárgljúfur is just one example of how the small island nation has struggled to accommodate the influx of tourists.

"It's just a natural wonder that wasn't meant to be that popular," Inga Hlin Palsdottir, the director of Iceland's tourism agency, told CNN Travel. "We need to build a better infrastructure there so we can invite people all year round."

In the springtime, the ice and snow in Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon thaw, leaving trails wet and muddy. Not only is this dangerous for hikers, but it makes the canyon more vulnerable to the dangers of constant foot traffic.

After the canyon has a few months to recover, it will open back up to tourists in time for the busy summer season. If you're planning a trip to Iceland before then, there are plenty of sites to check out that are just as impressive.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

What Do the Numbers and Letters on a Boarding Pass Mean?

iStock.com/Laurence Dutton
iStock.com/Laurence Dutton

Picture this: You're about to embark on a vacation or business trip, and you have to fly to reach your destination. You get to the airport, make it through the security checkpoint, and breathe a sigh of relief. What do you do next? After putting your shoes back on, you'll probably look at your boarding pass to double-check your gate number and boarding time. You might scan the information screen for your flight number to see if your plane will arrive on schedule, and at some point before boarding, you'll also probably check your zone and seat numbers.

Aside from these key nuggets of information, the other letters and numbers on your boarding pass might seem like gobbledygook. If you find this layout confusing, you're not the only one. Designer and creative director Tyler Thompson once commented that it was almost as if "someone put on a blindfold, drank a fifth of whiskey, spun around 100 times, got kicked in the face by a mule … and then just started puking numbers and letters onto the boarding pass at random."

Of course, these seemingly secret codes aren't exactly secret, and they aren't random either. So let's break it down, starting with the six-character code you'll see somewhere on your boarding pass. This is your Passenger Name Reference (or PNR for short). On some boarding passes—like the one shown below—it may be referred to as a record locator or reservation code.

A boarding pass
Piergiuliano Chesi, Wikimedia Commons // Public domain

These alphanumeric codes are randomly generated, but they're also unique to your personal travel itinerary. They give airlines access to key information about your contact information and reservation—even your meal preferences. This is why it's ill-advised to post a photo of your boarding pass to social media while waiting at your airport gate. A hacker could theoretically use that PNR to access your account, and from there they could claim your frequent flier miles, change your flight details, or cancel your trip altogether.

You might also see a random standalone letter on your boarding pass. This references your booking class. "A" and "F," for instance, are typically used for first-class seats. The letter "Y" generally stands for economy class, while "Q" is an economy ticket purchased at a discounted rate. If you see a "B" you might be in luck—it means you could be eligible for a seat upgrade.

There might be other letters, too. "S/O," which is short for stopover, means you have a layover that lasts longer than four hours in the U.S. or more than 24 hours in another country. Likewise, "STPC" means "stopover paid by carrier," so you'll likely be put up in a hotel free of charge. Score!

One code you probably don’t want to see is "SSSS," which means your chances of getting stopped by TSA agents for a "Secondary Security Screening Selection" are high. For whatever reason, you've been identified as a higher security risk. This could be because you've booked last-minute or international one-way flights, or perhaps you've traveled to a "high-risk country." It could also be completely random.

Still confused? For a visual of what that all these codes look like on a boarding pass, check out this helpful infographic published by Lifehacker.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, send it to bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Taco Bell is Opening a Taco-Themed Hotel in Palm Springs This Summer

Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp.

For some, having a Taco Bell and its cheese-filled menu within driving distance is enough. For others, only a Taco Bell destination vacation will do. This August, the popular fast food chain is going to convert an existing Palm Springs, California, hotel into a burrito-filled Taco Bell getaway for a limited time.

The Bell Hotel will have all the usual amenities—rooms, food, gifts, and a salon—operating with a taco-themed cosmetic facelift. The nail salon, for example, will feature Taco Bell-inspired nail art. (Though we're not entirely sure what that consists of—possibly nails that resemble hot sauce packets.) The gift shop will feature Taco Bell apparel. Guests can also enjoy the standard variety of Taco Bell menu items. According to Thrillist, some new additions to their line-up are expected to be unveiled.

The as-yet-undisclosed hotel in Palm Springs will be operating as a Taco Bell partner for five nights total. As with pop-up stores and other publicity campaigns, the expectation is that guests will share their bizarre Taco Bell resort experience on social media and create some buzz around the brand. Taco Bell is no stranger to audacious marketing, as in the case of their Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, which books weddings. Recently, the company also began making home deliveries via GrubHub.

The Bell Hotel website is now accepting sign-ups so fans can be notified when reservations open. The facility is expected to open August 9.

[h/t CNBC]

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