This Week in Travel News

A Total Eclipse Is Coming In 2017
Hotels are already selling out as people prepare for the total eclipse happening August 21, 2017. As the first one in the United States in decades, it’s no surprise everyone wants to get a front row seat to it. The path of the celestial event will hit a number of states in the 65-mile-wide “totality zone,” including particular cities in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Though the eclipse will only last 30 to 161 seconds, people are booking trips in advance just to watch. Nashville is the largest city with prime viewing, but since visibility is related to weather conditions, higher-altitude spots tend to be more favorable. The biggest city in the path of the totality zone will be Nashville, Tennessee, but it’s less climatically reliable. Several blogs are ranking the top ten destinations for next summer’s event, with hotels selling out in places like Casper, Wyoming, which is hosting AstroCon2017. Madras, Oregon is hosting a SolarFest, and there’s even going to be eclipse-themed tours of Yellowstone National Park. The next total eclipse will be on July 2, 2019, in parts of Chile and Argentina.

Can Cuba Handle The US Tourist Boom?
The number of US visitors to Cuba has nearly doubled this year as the island races to build hotels and expand Havana Airport to keep up with demand. Tourism has taken off since Cuba and the United States announced they would work to bury the Cold War hatchet in December 2014. The Caribbean island received a record 3.5 million visitors last year. The influx has pushed capacity to the limit, prompting hotels to increase prices sharply and raising questions about how Cuba will absorb additional visitors when scheduled US commercial airline service starts later this year. The number of visitors so far in 2016 jumped 13.5% on the year to 1.5 million tourists. Of those, 94,000 were Americans, a 93% jump on the year, and more than 115,000 were Cuban-Americans.

Air Canada Offering Refunds To Fort McMurray Wildfire Evacuees Who Paid Over-Inflated Ticket Prices
Air Canada is offering partial refunds for Fort McMurray fire evacuees who paid over-inflated ticket prices as they fled the region, the airline says. The announcement came Friday after allegations of price-gouging, with photos showing ticket prices above $4,000 circulating on social media. However, Air Canada insisted it did not intentionally raise prices and this is what they said “Contrary to allegations in social media, fares were not raised in response to this devastating situation. In some cases, customers booking last minute on May 3 and 4 on flights from Fort McMurray and Edmonton have paid premium fares. This was a result of Air Canada’s computerized revenue management system, which automatically manages fares. Regrettably, we were unable to intervene in advance to manually adjust fares and in those instances we’re contacting customers who paid a premium to adjust the fare to the normally available, lowest advance fare and refund the difference. Air Canada says it has since dropped ticket prices, and is waiving baggage and pet transportation fees.

US Airlines Want Flyers to Complain Online About Airport Security Delays
Reuters reports US airlines have been pressing the government to act to reduce the intolerably long security lines at the nation’s airports. Now, they’re even asking passengers for help by sharing their frustration on social media. Lines during peak hours at some airports have topped 90 minutes. The airlines already are warning customers to arrive at the airport two hours in advance, and are fearful the situation will only get worse with a record number of travelers expected this summer. Airlines for America, the industry’s trade group, just launched a website called iHateTheWait.com , encouraging fliers to post photos of the lines on Twitter and Instagram along with the hashtag #iHateTheWait. 

Vatican Museums Will Stay Open Late On Friday Nights
The Vatican Museums will remain open every Friday evening from 19.00-23.00 from 6 May to 29 July, and from 2 September until 28 October. Online booking is mandatory, with last admission at 21.30 and exit from the museums beginning 30 minutes prior to closing time. The visit includes the Pio-Clementine museum, the Egyptian museum, the upper galleries, the Raphael rooms, the Borgia apartment, the collection of modern religious art, and the Sistine Chapel. As in previous years, the popular Friday night initiative will be enriched with a special season of live music, from Russian choirs to Argentine tango to jazz concerts.

Gogo’s Next-Generation Of Inflight Wi-Fi Has Gone Live
Late last month, Gogo announced that its newest Wi-Fi technology has gone live, with launch customer AeroMexico. Gogo’s original network was fed by a grid of ground-based antennas, to which the planes connected as they passed over at cruising altitude. While it was a marvel when it was introduced, passenger expectations rose over the years, as they wanted an experience that paralleled the connections they have at home. The new benchmark for Wi-Fi is, is “can you stream Netflix?” With Gogo’s 2Ku, yes, you can. You can stream Netflix, YouTube and live television shows. The trend for airline passengers is that many are bringing their own devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, so they depend less on bulky and costly screens installed in the back of each seat.

Tourist Destroys Historic 16th-Century Statue In Portugal

An attempted selfie led to the destruction of a 126-year-old statue in Lisbon, Portugal. Just before midnight last Tuesday, a 24-year-old tourist scaled the facade of the capital’s Rossio train station to take a selfie with the statue of Dom Sebastiao, a Portuguese king from the 16th century. The selfie did not go as planned, however, and the statue fell to the ground and shattered. The offender reportedly tried to flee the scene, but was apprehended by authorities and is awaiting trial for destruction of public property. Selfies have, in the past, killed a baby dolphin, traumatized tigers, been deemed more dangerous than shark attacks, and been banned in landmarks around the world from the Mumbai waterfront to the Forbidden City because of the hazards they pose.

Alaska Air, Japan Airlines Agree To A Codeshare Deal

Alaska Air has announced plans for a codeshare agreement and frequent flier partnership with Japan Airlines. Alaska Air has become an attractive partner to Asian airlines looking for extra revenue from connecting passengers to flights within the United States, after it agreed to buy Virgin America for USD$2.6 billion in April. The codeshare agreement between Alaska Air and Japan Airlines will take effect from June 29 pending government approval.

Hawaiian Airlines To Add About 74,000 Seats For Summer Travel
According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, visitor arrivals to Hawaii soared 3.6% to more than 2.1 million people through the end of March, setting new records. This summer, experts are predicting the busiest travel season yet for Americans. To accommodate the demand, airlines are increasing the number of available seats, including Hawaiian Airlines, which will add nearly 74,000 air seats during a 14 week period. Beginning May 27, Hawaiian Airlines will offer three weekly flights from Oakland to Kauai and Kona, four weekly flights from Los Angeles to Kona, and increase its regular nonstop service between Los Angeles and Kauai to four-times weekly. From mid-June through September 5, service to Kauai from Oakland and Los Angeles will be offered daily.

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