This Week in Travel News

It’s Friday, and Time to Tune in with Willamette Intl Travel’s News! Read on for the latest stories on airlines, hotels, and more! Subscribe to our blog to receive these updates every Friday in your inbox. 

Taxis In London To Accept Card Payments By October.

Regulatory body Transport for London has ordered all the UK capital’s 22,500 licensed black taxis to accept card payments by October. At present, only around half accept cards. Drivers will not be permitted to surcharge according to payment method. The announcement exemplifies the increasing potential for almost all business trip expenses to be captured through card payment.

Eurowings Delays Las Vegas Launch to June 2016

Eurowings, a European airline, is delaying its 2nd planned US service, as Cologne – Las Vegas flight is being delayed to June 1. This 2 weekly A330 service was previously scheduled to begin on May 4. Reservation for flights during the month of May 2016 are no longer available.

US Company To Launch ‘First LGBT Cruise Line’

A company claiming to be the world’s first dedicated LGBT cruise line is due to make its debut next year. Miami-based Anteros Cruises plans to run a 400-passenger yacht-like ship which can access small ports in the Mediterranean in summer and Caribbean in winter. Itineraries will range from between five and 14 days, co-ordinated with LGBT events such as Pride celebrations. No details of the vessel to be used by the start-up have been disclosed. The ship will offer passengers “world-class cuisine, signature amenities, and as much or little internet connectivity as they desire”. Company director, David Huang, said: “Every aspect of the Anteros Cruises experience is designed with LGBT community members in mind. “Our number one priority is making our guests feel comfortable, relaxed, and open, so they can be themselves while enjoying our luxury yacht-like cruise experience.” 

EU Seeks Curbs On Airline Subsidies

Reuters reports the European Union is seeking tough limits on public subsidies to airlines and the option of revoking their traffic rights as part of new commercial aviation agreements it wants to negotiate with several countries including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. A draft “fair competition clause”, which the EU executive wants to include in air transport agreements, lists the forms of public support that could be considered unfair, such as protection from bankruptcy, provision of capital, tax relief and cross-subsidy. The clause proposes a consultation period of 30 days in cases of disputes over unfair subsidies to an airline. Should talks fail, the complaining country would be able to suspend or revoke the airline’s air traffic rights as well as impose duties. The European Commission is seeking a mandate from EU governments to begin talks on air transport agreements with a number of countries including China, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. The issue has become politically charged since some European legacy carriers, notably Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, as well as major US airlines, have accused Gulf carriers of receiving unfair state subsidies, allegations they have rejected.

Crystal Cruises promises to Restore Historic Ocean Liner, SS United States

Crystal Cruises has signed a purchase option to restore the SSUS, a historic ocean liner that’s been out of commission for 47 years. It’s expected to cost $60K per month and be completed by end of 2016. Crystal plans to turn it into a 800-passenger luxury liner with 400 suites that measure 350 square feet. Original features like the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be modernized and retained. Known as “the Big U” and “America’s Flagship,” S.S. United States has a history that harks back to the golden age of ocean liners. The ship is 590 feet long, about five city blocks, and is longer than the Titanic was. To prevent it from burning, no wood was used in its construction. The luxury ship had many famous passengers during its time at sea, including four U.S. presidents (Bill Clinton sailed it when he went to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar) and a Who’s Who of Old Hollywood: Marlon Brando, Coco Chanel, Gary Cooper, Walt Disney, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne and Bob Hope. Royalty onboard included Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Demand for Air Travel Is the Highest in 5 Years

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that global air travel demand rose 6.5% over the past year, all across the world. “This the strongest result since the post-Global Financial Crisis rebound in 2010, and well above the 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5%,” the airline organization states.

Congress Considers Some Items In FAA Funding Bill

Congress is considering whether U.S. air traffic control should be transferred from the Federal Aviation Administration to a not-for-profit corporation. Apart from the headline-grabbing changes, the two Republicans who wrote the bill also stuck a few items further down in the 273-page document that consumers may like, and airlines may not. 

These items would be good news for many travelers, and past polls have shown broad support for them. None of these mandates would cost airlines much financially, even though some will likely lead to fierce lobbying. 

  • Refunds for bag fees if bags go missing. 
  • Refund a checked-bag fee if a bag and its owner aren’t reunited within 24 hours of a flight’s arrival. 
  • A warning for parents they might not sit with their child. 
  • Require airlines to notify customers before a ticket purchase that they might not be able to sit next to their children age 13 and younger. 
    • This rule would potentially target the kind of seat swapping flight attendants are often forced to oversee when a parent is assigned a seat far away from their child. 
    • It also could affect seat assignment fees many airlines charge when passengers choose an aisle or window, and whether customers should have to pay a fee when there are no free seats left. 
  • Lactation rooms at airports. The bill would ensure all airports have lactation rooms for mothers to express their milk. 
  • Cell phone calls banned on flights. 

Have a great weekend, and if you’re traveling, Bon Voyage!

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