Travel News: Marriott Offering To Replace Passports Of Impacted Customers

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New Rule Requires Airlines To Report Number Of Lost Bags, Broken Wheelchairs
A new rule will require airlines for the first time to report how many checked bags, wheelchairs and motorized scooters they damage or mishandle each month. The US Department of Transportation implemented the rule starting on Tuesday, December 4. It’s expected to lower the number of wheelchairs that airlines damage each year and “bring a new level of transparency for passengers with disabilities that will help inform their travel decisions.” “Every airline passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too often that is not the case. Travelers should be able to find out if certain airlines have high rates of breaking wheelchairs and other equipment that people depend on, just like we can find out if certain airlines have high rates of flight delays or cancellations,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth.  

Marriott Offering To Replace Passports Of Impacted Customers
After the massive data breach that impacted as many as 500 million records in its Starwood Hotels reservation system, Marriott is offering to pay impacted customers to replace their passport if fraud has been detected. According to MarketWatch.com, New York Senator Chuck Schumer said Marriott should replace all passports for those who have had their information stolen, but the hotel giant said it would only replace them if fraud was reported. “Marriott must personally and immediately notify customers under the greatest security risk and then foot the bill for those folks to acquire a new passport and number should they request it,” Senator Schumer told Market Watch. The comments come after Marriott revealed 327 million of the estimated 500 million customers impacted by the data hack had their passport numbers stolen. As a result of the breach, experts said impacted travelers should change their passport numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.  

Virgin Atlantic Pilots Plan Christmas Strike 
BBC reports some Virgin Atlantic pilots will strike from 22 December to Christmas Day in a dispute over union recognition, the Professional Pilots Union has said. The union, which represents about a third of pilots at the airline, said it was excluded from talks over proposed changes to pilot benefits. It said this was the first of a series of one to four-day strikes it wants to hold until the dispute is resolved. Virgin Atlantic said it did not expect any disruption to its schedule. The PPU said 72% of its Virgin Atlantic members turned out for a ballot, and 71.5% of those who voted backed strike action. The other strikes are planned for 30 December to 2 January and 4 January to 7 January inclusive. PPU spokesman Steve Johnson, a former Virgin pilot, said the union had conducted a work-to-rule action for two years to secure recognition by Virgin. He said it was the “last straw” when the union was left out of negotiations after Virgin Atlantic “consistently refused to recognise the PPU as a legitimate and independent union”. 

Fiji Airways Joins As A Connect Member In Oneworld
Fiji Airways has officially joined as the first oneworld connect partner, a new membership platform for the alliance. As a oneworld connect member, oneworld elite flyers will be able to enjoy certain benefits such as priority check-in and boarding when traveling on Fiji Airways as they may do on full-fledged oneworld carriers. Additional benefits across Fiji Airways and sponsoring carriers such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas will be phased in over the next few weeks and integration with American Airlines is expected to happen in the first quarter of 2019. As a connect member, the majority of benefits are reserved mainly for passengers of the sponsoring airlines and vice versa. Customers from the sponsoring airlines will be able to use most of their oneworld benefits on the connect airline while it appears that other non-sponsoring airlines will not be as lucky. Fiji Airways elite members will also receive benefits such as priority check-in, priority boarding and lounge access when flying on sponsor airlines. Moving forward Fiji Airways will display oneworld connect branding on all signage and aircraft. The first aircraft to wear the purple and white oneworld sticker was the airline’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8, delivered to the airline earlier this month.

 China To Create Underwater Bullet Train Route
CNN reports there’s no slowing China’s high-speed rail ambitions. Beijing has just green lighted a project to create the country’s first underwater bullet train route. The relative line will connect Ningbo, a port city south of Shanghai, to Zhoushan, an archipelago off the east coast. The proposed underwater tunnel is a area of the 77-kilometer Yong-Zhou Railway plan (Yong may be the nickname of Ningbo) to improve tourism and develop a two-hour-commute zone within China’s Zhejiang Province, mentioned in a government transportation plan in 2005. The feasibility study of the Yong-Zhou Railway plan was approved by Beijing in November. Within the 77 km (47.8 miles) railway route, some 70.92 km of tracks will be built newly, including a 16.2 km undersea section. The brand new rail route will significantly shorten the journey between Zhoushan and Hangzhou. When completed, the Yong-Zhou Railway will connect Ningbo East Station and Zhoushan (Baiquan) Station by high-speed trains that hit a maximum speed of 250 kilometers each hour. The new route, connecting to the prevailing vast high-speed rail network in China, will transport travelers from Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang, to Zhoushan in 80 minutes. The current journey takes 4 about.5 hours by bus or perhaps a 2.5-hour drive by personal vehicle. Seven, including four new stations and three redeveloped ones will be built. In addition to the undersea tunnel, a road-rail bridge will be created to link elements of the archipelago. Ningbo-Zhoushan Port may be the busiest in the global world with regard to cargo throughput. Zhoushan can be home to American aircraft maker Boeing’s first overseas factory when it begins operation in December. 

New Train Lines Which Could Transform The Way You Travel
CNN reports it’s been an excellent year for fans of rail travel, with speedy new train services opening round the global world, linking major cities and slashing rail journey times. Whether travelers are trying to find an alternative solution to flying, or want a faster train ride just, these ongoing services are providing new travel opportunities. Here are some of the new routes: 

– Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. Hong Kong high speed rail China West Kowloon. The high-speed connection from the West Kowloon station links Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou 80 miles (130 km) away and onto China’s national rail network. 

– The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway, Israel’s first electric train line, partially opened in September. It links Ben Gurion Airport currently, 13 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, to the Jerusalem-Yitzhak Navon railway station. The journey takes around 20 minutes. 

– Tangier-Casablanca high-speed line: Tangier is on the northwestern coast of Africa, where in fact the Atlantic Ocean meets the Med and beyond. London-Amsterdam Eurostar: In April 2018, Eurostar launched the initial direct service between London and Amsterdam ever, which takes three hours and 41 minutes. There is absolutely no direct return, however, as the British and Dutch governments haven’t yet reached an agreement regarding border control. 

– Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway: The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway (BTK) actually opened in 2017. Connecting the capitals of Azerbaijan and Georgia with the ancient city of Kars in Turkey, the BTK stretches 513 miles. While journey times on the routes haven’t been announced, the direct services will be a massive improvement on existing train lines. Currently, those traveling by train need to endure a 40-hour journey with multiple stopovers to obtain between your two capitals. Trains from Baku to Istanbul take three days. You should read the full article here: https://travelwirenews.com/new-train-lines-which-could-transform-the-way-you-travel-2-1218969/

Delta To Change How Passengers Board Planes In 2019 
Atlantic Business Chronicle reports Delta is changing the way its passengers board flights through a new system called ‘branded boarding. The Atlanta-based carrier is doing away with traditional zone boarding and implementing a color-coded boarding system associated with fare tiers by Jan. 23, 2019. Delta said the new ‘branded fare’ system will make the boarding process simpler and easier for passengers. If passengers are flying first class, for example, they will be assigned a specific color from booking through boarding. The same concept applies to basic economy, main cabin, comfort plus, and Delta One tickets. Passengers with SkyMiles, Delta’s frequent flyer program, looking for extra leg room or a better seat can now purchase upgrades with miles instead of cash. The new initiative will increase the number of boarding groups, with the intention to encourage fewer passengers to wait in line at the gate.

First American Biometric Boarding Trial Starts In Los Angeles
Airlineratings reports American has started its first-ever biometric boarding trial at Los Angeles International Airport as a possible prelude to wider use of the technology in its global network. American customers traveling on select international departures from LAX Terminal 4 will be able to use the one-step facial recognition program that aims to streamline the boarding process. The system scans a customer and then verifies that passenger’s identity with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in seconds at the gate.

Delta Air Says No More Support Kittens, Puppies On Flights 
Bloomberg reports Delta is barring emotional-support and service animals that are less than four months old, while banning all support animals from flights longer than eight hours. The changes will take effect for tickets issued on or after Dec. 18, the carrier said Monday. Passengers who bought tickets before then and who already requested to travel with an emotional support animal will be allowed a grace period to fly as originally planned until a full ban starts Feb. 1. The changes don’t affect pets that customers pay to take into the cabin in enclosed carriers. Delta is tightening rules for emotional-support animals after recording an 84% increase in incidents during the two year period ending in 2017. One attack involved a 50-pound dog, the carrier said. The airline also had incidents in which animals bit, urinated and defecated on planes. “These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs, such as veterans with disabilities, to travel with trained service and support animals,” said John Laughter, the company’s senior vice president for corporate safety, security and compliance. 

New Zealand Now Fining Cruisers Who Unintentionally Take Ashore Food Or Other Items 
Seatrade reports Biosecurity New Zealand has introduced a fine of NZ$400 (US$275) for passengers who unintentionally take ashore food or other items that could carry dangerous pests or diseases. Currently the fine only applies to passengers permanently leaving a ship, but Biosecurity New Zealand is working to extend it to transit passengers. The agency already has the power to prosecute passengers who intentionally smuggle risk goods ashore. ‘This is about empowering our officers to send a clear message about how important biosecurity is to New Zealand,’ Steve Gilbert, border clearance services director, said. ‘So far we haven’t had to issue any fines, which suggests the cruise lines are doing a good job of informing passengers about their biosecurity responsibilities,’ Gilbert said. ‘Cruise ships go to considerable trouble to let guests know on board that they cannot take food off the ship,’ Kevin O’Sullivan, ceo of the New Zealand Cruise Association, said. ‘They broadcast frequent messages in various languages, but despite this there is still the occasional person who comes ashore with food. ‘Now ships will be able to broadcast that any lack of compliance, even if it is unintentional, will carry a fine.’ 

Air New Zealand Passengers Face Christmas Strike
Airlineratings reports more than 40,000 travelers on Air New Zealand face potential disruption to their Christmas travel due to planned industrial action over pay increases and overtime, Unions representing Air New Zealand’s aircraft maintenance engineers, aircraft logistics and related staff served notice of a planned strike on December 21, four days out from Christmas and on what the airline says is its busiest travel day of the year. Air New Zealand said the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association (AMEA) notified it Thursday evening of a total strike by almost a thousand unionized employees on the Friday before Christmas with further industrial action to follow. It said close to 42,000 customers booked to travel domestically and internationally on December 21 now face potential flight cancellations. 

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