This Week in Travel News

Dallas Forth Worth Becomes First US Airport To Launch Apple Watch App
USA. Dallas Fort Worth International says it has become the first airport in the USA to launch an Apple Watch app. An upgraded version of its mobile app has also been released. The Apple Watch must first be synced with the mobile app
The Apple Watch app provides flight information and notifications on the smartwatch after it is synced with the DFW Mobile App on a smartphone. Six additional languages, including Korean, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, have been added to the mobile app, which was developed by M2mobi. M2mobi said both the DFW Mobile App and Apple Watch app were designed to “reduce the stress of the traveller. This is accomplished by focusing on the traveller’s basic needs through the intuitive wayfinding functionalities, interactive maps, personalised flight information, and simple yet powerful search capabilities.”

LA Skyscraper Gets a Glass Slide
Visitors to a US tower block can get a bit more excitement from their trip – with a 70th-floor glass slide. The slide (thankfully enclosed) is being attached to Los Angeles’ tallest building, the 72-storey US Bank Tower, linking the 69th and 70th floors. Only a few centimetres of glass lie between sliders and the ground below. Built from 3.2cm thick glass, the Skyslide’s entrance is 1.2 metres wide and its length about 14m, leaving only a brief time to take in the views from inside the chute. The slide is due to open in June and is part of a US$50 million makeover of the tower, built in 1990. Other new attractions will include an observation deck and bar on top floors. Anyone aged five or older, provided they meet height and weight requirements, will be able to use the slide for a cost of US$11 on top of the US$35 ticket to the Skyspace observation deck. Like other traditional office buildings the tower, owned by Singapore-based OUE, was facing competition from renovated historic buildings popular with internet companies and other creative businesses, the Los Angeles Times reported. The US Bank Tower will be overtaken as LA’s tallest building when the 335m Wilshire Grand Center is completed in 2017.

Schengen Collapse Would Force Costly Terminal Redesigns
Reuters reports a collapse of Europe’s 26-nation Schengen zone of passport-free travel would create major congestion and cost larger airports hundreds of millions of euros to redesign terminals, airports association ACI Europe said. The Schengen zone, which also has four non-European Union countries as members, was created more than 30 years ago and airports have as a result designed terminals to have separate Schengen and non-Schengen zones. The free-travel agreement has come under increasing strain due to the refugee crisis, with several countries imposing temporary border checks in order to stem the flow of people from countries such as Syria. Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said while it was not on the cards, any moves to reinstate air border controls between Schengen states would have a drastic impact and that restructuring airport facilities could easily cost hundreds of millions of euros for the largest airports. There are around 443 airports located within the Schengen zone, used by around 1.2 billion people in 2015, said ACI. It would also lead to longer travel times because airports would no longer be able to guarantee connection times between flights, he said. The shortest connections are about 45 minutes at present.

Wrong Airline, Wrong Name – But Passenger Allowed To Board
This story is hard to believe with today’s security at airports. A female pax at TPE managed to board the wrong plane on the wrong airline under the wrong name and gender. The incredible security lapse took place as a female passenger, identified only as Ms. Hong, was flying to HKG. The 1st error was hers, when she accidentally checked in at the CX desk, instead of HX, the airline she was ticketed with. Incredibly, she was then processed with a boarding pass under a man’s identity, who happened to have the same surname (Hong is the 15th most common surname in Taiwan) flying to HKG. She was then able to board the plane without a problem. The flights had been booked by Ms. Hong’s boyfriend, and when he was told she had not boarded the HX flight out of Taiwan, the mix-up came to light. Ms. Hong said “the name on the air ticket wasn’t me. Even the sex on the air ticket was not right. This is ridiculous.” CX and HX worked together to ensure the Taiwanese resident made a safe return trip, and she was afforded the use of CX’s executive lounge.

BA Will No Longer Accept Unaccompanied Minors Under 12
British Airways has dropped its ‘unaccompanied minor’ service, meaning children under 12 will no longer be able to fly on their own on its flights. Until this past week, the airline was one of only a few carries to provide nannies to accompany babies and young children flying alone. It charged £90 to £108 per flight for the service, on top of the airfare, but it said that, due to dwindling demand and cost cutting, it will now no longer offer it. Existing bookings will be honoured but the airline is not accepting any new bookings. It said: “The airline will continue to take bookings for 12 to 18-year-olds who wish to fly independently. However children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult aged 16 or over.”

Disney Boosts Ticket Costs By 20%
Walt Disney Co. is raising the cost to visit its US theme parks as much as 20% during the busiest times of year and lowering them on typically slow days at its California resorts. The six parks in Orlando and Anaheim, are shifting to a policy that charges visitors different prices based on anticipated demand, with weekdays during the school year much cheaper than holidays. Previously, the parks charged the same price for a one-day pass any time of year. The move is designed to help manage traffic at the parks, which had record visits in the final three months of 2015. It is also likely to boost total revenue since most visitors will pay more for their tickets.

Santorini To Impose Cruise Passenger Limits
The busy Greek port of Santorini is introducing a daily limit for cruise passengers of 8,000. The port will cap passengers arrivals at the 8,000 mark, and ask ships to re-plan itineraries starting in 2017. The system will be flexible in 2016 as itineraries have already been planned.

Hilton Drops Cancellation Fee After Pilot Project Ends

Hilton Worldwide has decided against enacting a $50 cancellation fee at its hotels, for now. Hilton launched a pilot in November at a handful of its hotels, charging guests a $50 penalty if a reservation was canceled anytime after booking. CEO Christopher Nassetta said the company implemented the program in “a really blunt-force way” to gauge customer reactions. “Customers hated it, but that’s not really surprising,” he said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. Cancellation penalties have become the new frontier for hoteliers looking to recoup costs from last minute-cancellations and to change how the industry does business. 

NASA Begins Work On Quieter Supersonic Passenger Jet
The return of supersonic passenger air travel is one step closer to reality with NASA’s award of a contract for the preliminary design of a “low boom” flight demonstration aircraft. This is the first in a series of ‘X-planes’ in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. “NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter, all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently.” It’s been almost 70 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 as part of our predecessor agency’s high speed research. NASA selected a team led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California, to complete a preliminary design for Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST). NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project asked industry teams to submit design concepts for a piloted test aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds, creating a supersonic “heartbeat” — a soft thump rather than the disruptive boom currently associated with supersonic flight.

Crystal To Reprise Northwest Passage Voyage In 2017
Crystal Cruises will return to the Northwest Passage in August 2017, following the ‘tremendous response’ to its inaugural Northwest Passage sailing this year. Beginning Aug. 15, 2017, Crystal Serenity will sail a 32-day expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean from Seward, Alaska, to New York City via the legendary route 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, first completed successfully by Roald Amundsen more than 100 years ago. Sales open March 7 with all-inclusive ‘Book Now’ fares starting at $21,855 per person, double occupancy, if booked by April 29, 2016. This August Crystal will become the largest luxury cruise line to ever navigate the route, maneuvering through 900 miles of waterways lined with glaciers, towering fjords and vast, unspoiled landscapes north of mainland Canada.

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