This Week in Travel News

Delta To Become First US Based Airline To Offer Free On-Board Movies And TV
According to a press release, Delta Studio, the airline’s onboard entertainment suite, will be free for all customers on two-class aircraft by July 1. This includes nearly 90% of Delta’s fleet. Delta Studio offers up to 300 movies, 750 TV shows, 100 foreign film titles, 2,400 songs, 18 channels of live satellite TV on select aircraft and a selection of games on aircraft with seat-back entertainment systems. The airline said customers can enjoy a range of popular movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; The Jungle Book as well as premium TV options like Showtime’s Billions and HBO’s Vinyl. Live TV is available on more than 240 aircraft. Delta claims it operates the world’s largest in-flight entertainment-equipped fleet, with more than 1,000 aircraft offering Delta Studio via streaming through laptops, mobile devices and tablets.

United is taking these steps to shorten your TSA wait

United has issued a release the details how they have addressed the longer-than-normal wait times at airport security checkpoints. They are redeploying United employees for additional assistance to TSA staff, enlisting volunteers at Chicago O’Hare airport, improving effective communication with TSA, and redesigning checkpoints in Newark, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. United has also installed TSA PreCheck enrollment centers at US hub airports. Please visit the TSA PreCheck website for more information. Enrollment costs $85 and is valid for five years. More information about United efforts at

American Airlines to Move to Revenue-Based Frequent-Flier Program

American announced yesterday it will change its frequent-flier program to award miles based on ticket price rather than distance flown, becoming the largest carrier to shift its loyalty program to favor bigger spenders. American said its AAdvantage program, which has about 100 million members, will change beginning August 1. Starting then, customers who have no status in the plan will receive 5 miles for each dollar spent on tickets, excluding government taxes and fees. The number of miles awarded will increase based on the passenger’s elite status, with the lower “gold” members receiving 7 miles to a dollar and top-tier “executive platinum” fliers getting 11 miles per dollar spent. American also said that effective January 1, it will add minimum annual spending levels fliers must meet to reach elite status the following year. To be a gold level flier, a customer will have to spend $3,000, along with flying 25,000 miles or flying 30 segments in a given year. A platinum flier will need to spend $6,000 and fly 50,000 miles or 60 segments, and so on. The outlines of the new AAdvantage elements closely mirror changes already made to the loyalty programs of Delta, the No. 2 carrier by traffic, and United Continental, No. 3. Other carriers including Southwest Airlines Co., JetBlue Airways Corp., and Virgin America Inc., also already have moved to the so-called revenue model, intended to reward frequent fliers who spend more money. One change it will also make in January is to add a new elite tier, “Platinum Pro” between its Platinum and Executive Platinum levels. Pro will require fliers to travel 75,000 miles or 90 segments and spend $9,000 on tickets. This tier will provide complimentary automatic upgrades on all eligible flights in North American, two free checked bags and pay 9 award miles per dollar spent. Changes to the program for customers who use co-branded American credit cards to book travel are still under review, the company said.

Victory Cruise Lines To Operate Former Saint Laurent In The Great Lakes
The cruise line will operate the former Saint Laurent from Montreal July 8th through October 28. Cruise industry veteran Bruce Nierenberg plans to bring back the former Saint Laurent to sail from Montréal and the Great Lakes this summer, with Cuba to follow in November. The ship which previously sailed on charter to Haimark Line, has been renovated, with 101 total cabins and renamed the Victory 1. The renovated ship’s inaugural cruise from Montréal to the Great Lakes is planned to sail July 8 to ports in Canada and on the U.S. Great Lakes. The region will be home to the ship though the summer and early fall this year and next. Victory Cruise Lines aims to provide high-quality personal service on board. Shore excursions will be included in the cruise fare, along with wine and beer at lunch and dinner at no additional charge. Nierenberg said his first planned Cuba cruise will be a six-night voyage from Port Canaveral on Oct. 28. It will be the first Cuba cruise ever to depart from Central Florida. After that, a fall/winter series of three- to 14-day Cuba cruises are scheduled from PortMiami through April 2017. Shore excursions in port will be included in the cruise fare, along with wine and beer at lunch and dinner at no additional charge.

Celebrity Cruises Names New Expedition Cruise Ships: Xperience & Xploration
Keeping with its signature “X”, Celebrity Cruises released the names of the two cruise ships joining Xpedition in the Galapagos: Celebrity Xperience and Celebrity Xploration. First announced in March, the ships come from Ocean Adventures, a local tour operating company in the Galapagos, which was acquired by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The expedition ships, Xploration, a 16-passenger catamaran and Xperience, a 48-passenger cruise ship, will officially join the Celebrity fleet after undergoing refurbishment in January 2017. The cruise line promises more details will be announced soon.

Global Cruise Passenger Numbers Reach Highest Ever Figure of 23.2 Million
The number of ocean cruise passengers hit 23.2 million people in 2015, the highest ever, according to figures released by the Cruise Lines International Association. CLIA has also revised its projections up for 2016, predicting that cruise passenger numbers will hit 24.2 million by year end. The growth is largely attributable to emerging regions of the world, with Asia experiencing the highest year-over-year increase of 24%, with more than 2 million ocean cruise passengers last year. The Australia region, which includes Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, had a 14% percent year-on-year increase in ocean cruise passengers from 2014 to 2015, topping 1.1 million. Cruise travel is predicted as the travel sector with the highest long-term growth potential since it represents only 2% of the total leisure travel market.

World’s Tallest Tower Will Be “A Destination”
Dubai’s latest landmark, The Tower, was announced as being “a notch higher” than the 828-meter Burj Khalifa—and is due to . “Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava Valls is the mastermind behind the Dh3.65 billion tower’s design, which will be located at the Dubai Creek Harbour in Ras Al Khor. Alabbar also confirmed that construction on the project will begin in July, and that “the tower will have a boutique hotel, few floors of gardens, restaurants, observation [decks] and function halls. “The plaza will be much bigger than this Downtown plaza because of the sheer size of the tower and the cables… but what we will do with the plaza and how we beautify it and real estate around it will be quite a job,” he said. According to previous reports, The Tower will be the centerpiece of a six-square-kilometer master development, which will have multiple observation decks and leisure options overlooking a sprawling city landscape. “With designs influenced by the natural contours of the lily and the region’s Islamic culture, The Tower will be crowned by The Pinnacle Room, which opens to grand views of the sky,” said Emaar on its website. The developer had also said: “it will be a destination for the world to visit, enjoy and celebrate life as Dubai prepares to host the Expo 2020′.

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