Travel News of the Week

Not ignoring the regrettable events in Nice, but assuming everyone is up to date…

Online passport renewal as of next year 

The U.S. State Department has announced that in 2017, the department will focus on creating an online passport renewal system, which will expedite the process. To protect passports from fraud and tampering, it will implement a redesign with a polycarbonate data page, laser engravings, micro-text and special inks.

Delta cuts flights due to Brexit, OTA’s report drop in bookings

Delta Airline is cutting flights between the US and UK by 6% for this winter, guessing that fewer Brits will take trips to the US due to the 12% drop in the Pound vs. USD. The plan is to cut London flight frequency on some days, fly smaller aircraft from some UK markets, and reduce flights that primarily service leisure markets. OTA’s in the UK report as much as a 35% drop in bookings that happened immediately after the vote.

PHL workers to strike July 25 -28, during Democratic Party Convention

Employees at Philadelphia International Airport have now voted to make a strike in late July during the Democratic National Convention official. According to ABCNews.com, baggage handlers, airport security workers, wheelchair attendants and aircraft cleaners at Philadelphia International Airport have voted to strike July 25-28. 

Travelers can pay for bag transfer for two-ticket flights on some carriers

American Airlines and British Airways, along with their affiliates, will start charging a transfer fee for checked bags when a flight is booked with two separate tickets: A press release from American explains: American will ‘through-check’ bags when separate tickets have been issued for travel on the following carriers: American Airlines and American Eagle, oneworld partner airline and affiliates. American is unable to ‘through-check’ bags when the customer has 2 separate tickets when traveling on American and non-oneworld carriers. This results in airport check-in representatives collecting the required baggage fees based on each airline’s established policies

Say goodbye to Las Vegas hotel minibars

Las Vegas is a hot market for minibars, but it won’t be forever. The hospitality industry is on the cusp of seeing a new type of guest amenity in place of minibars: robots. The current model of hotel minibar use is not sustainable. On average, it costs hotels too much money to employ people to check and restock minibars, driving the prices of the items up and deterring guests from purchasing them. Many hotels have switched from minibars that require hotel staff to manually track inventory and charges of minibar items to an automated minibar system in cost-cutting efforts.

Mobile Passport 

A new app named Mobile Passport now works at about 15 airports in the USA, with more to come. Testing was done at ATL, beginning two years ago. With the app, citizens returning to the USA from abroad and not having Global Entry/GOES, can still avoid the regular long lines at Passport Control. First link here is from a Wall Street Journal article about Mobile Passport  WSJ Mobile Passport article; second is from US Border Control, US Border Patrol re Mobile Passport.  NOTE:  If anyone can see something negative about this app, please let me know. Seems too good to be true! Sally Watkins, CTC

Legislation to ensure families can sit together

Two U.S. Congressmen have included a provision in the latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization funding that will make it easier for families to sit together on flights. Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have put forth the provision to require airlines to ensure children ages 13 and younger are seated adjacent to an adult traveling with them or an older child traveling with them. One airline association said such a law is not needed, as “Airlines have always worked to accommodate customers who are traveling together, including those traveling with children, and will continue to do so – without unnecessary federal mandates.”  

Scent memories from your cruise soon available

Seabourn and Molton Brown are collaborating to ensure your day is as beautifully scented as possible. The same scents that make stays aboard its lines memorable will be the same ones that you can purchase come 2017. Christopher Prelog is the vice president of hotel operations for Seabourn and had this to say about this collaboration: “Our new Seabourn Signature Scents are the result of genuine collaboration with Molton Brown, with several months spent developing distinctive scent combinations that will serve to remind guests of the experience of their Seabourn cruise long after they’ve returned home.”

Skytrax Names World’s Best Airlines
The world’s best airline for 2016 is Emirates, according to a survey of millions of airline passengers conducted by Skytrax. The international airline, based in Dubai, won the top honors at Tuesday’s Skytrax World Airline Awards ceremony at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. The survey underscores the consistency of the quality service among the world’s top carriers, said Edward Plaisted, Skytrax CEO. “The Middle East airlines have continued to dominate,” Plaisted said after the ceremony. “Virgin America continues dominating on the customer side in North America. Turkish Airlines is a big favorite.” The top airlines are: 

  1. Emirates
  2. Qatar Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. ANA All Nippon Airways
  6. Etihad Airways
  7. Turkish Airlines
  8. EVA Air
  9. Qantas Airways
  10. Lufthansa.

Best Transatlantic Airline: Lufthansa. Best Transpacific Airline: Eva Air. Best North American Regional Airline: Porter Airline. Best Airline Staff in Asia: ANA airlines.

MistRider Zipline to the Niagara Falls Opens July 15

Adrenaline junkies won’t have to wait much longer before they get to experience Niagara’s newest attraction, Wildplay’s MistRider ZipLine to the Falls. It opens to the public July 15, but staff have already been testing the four high-speed, side-by-side lines that descend a distance of 2,200 feet) from Niagara Parks Commission’s Grand View Marketplace into the Niagara Gorge below. It has four parallel ziplines and you get up to speeds of about 60 kilometres per hour. You put on a seated harness, the guides do all the work for you getting things ready, there’s a gating system at the top, and once all the four lines are clear, the gating system will open and the guide will release the rider. An automatic braking system is engaged once the rider gets to the bottom. Shuttle vans are used to bring riders back up to street level.

First Aquatic Roller Coaster In North America Inaugurated
Super Aqua Club in Point-Calumet has unveiled its brand new attraction called Tsunami, which will entertain thrill-seekers of all ages. This aquatic rollercoaster, exclusive to the park, is comparable to a giant slalom descent that lasts around two minutes. Requiring an investment of 3.5 million dollars, this new attraction allows the Super Aqua Club to confirm its position as industry leader in the summer entertainment industry. Designed and manufactured by the Canadian company Proslide, the only other one in existence is a prototype at Siam Park in Spain.

Crystal’s First River Ship, Crystal Mozart, Christened in Vienna
Crystal River Cruises christened its first riverboat, Crystal Mozart, in Vienna. The naming ceremony marks the entry of luxury cruise operator, Crystal Cruises, into the river cruise market. Crystal Mozart is the first of seven planned riverboats (four are scheduled to launch in summer 2017). Crystal Mozart is a “reimagined” ship, having previously sailed as the MS Mozart, the largest river cruise vessel in Europe, for Peter Deilmann. Crystal River Cruises is also building six riverboats from scratch. Crystal Bach, Crystal Mahler, Crystal Ravel and Crystal Debussy debut in summer 2017. The recently announced fifth and sixth ships do not yet have names or launch dates. Crystal wants to can turn the river cruise industry on its head by bringing its hallmark luxury touches from its ocean ships to Europe’s rivers.

KLM Airlines Launching World’s First On-Tap Draught Beer On Flights
Passengers who have thirsted for a better beer experience on a flight are in luck, a tasty addition to the drinks menu is coming to one of Europe’s major airlines. Dutch airline KLM is premiering the first ever in-flight beer draft system. This game-changing development follows years of experimenting with keg designs to produce the perfect schooner at high altitude. Dutch brewing giant Heineken found the winning formula with an innovative keg design, and the prototype will be used on KLM’s European flights. 

Travel + Leisure Name Viking #1 Ocean Cruise Line In 2016 World’s Best Awards
In its first year of service, Viking Ocean Cruises®, the first entirely new cruise line in a decade, has been named the #1 Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2016 World’s Best Awards. Viking launched its first ocean ship, Viking Star®, in April 2015, and this win comes on the heels of the new cruise line launching its second ocean ship, Viking Sea®, in April 2016. Viking’s win of the #1 Ocean Cruise Line unseats luxury cruise line, Crystal Cruises, which held the title in the category for 20 years in a row. Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards are based on results from an annual survey, where readers are asked to cast their votes for the very best in cruising with considerations in the following cruise features: cabins/facilities, restaurants/food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities and value.

Call your travel agent at Willamette Intl Travel for the best advice and bookings today! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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