Travel News: Wow Air, Viking Sky

Disney Doing Away With Smoking Areas, Oversized Strollers

Orlando Sentinel reports Disney announced Thursday that it will be removing all smoking areas from theme parks and banning oversized strollers. On May 1, Disney is going smoke-free. Smoking will be prohibited in all parks, but designated smoking areas will be available outside the entrances of the parks, and in designated areas at Disney Springs and at Disney resort hotels. Also, starting on May 1, strollers will have to be no wider than 31 inches, which is a reduction from the current 36-inch limit.

Viking Sky Cruise Ship Engines Failed Because Of Low Oil Levels,

USA TODAY reports Norwegian authorities are investigating why the Viking Sky cruise ship sailed despite a weather warning, leading to engine failure, a mayday call, and air evacuations. The Viking Sky cruise ship that had to be evacuated off the coast of Norway over the weekend had low oil levels that led to engine failure, according to the Norwegian Maritime Authority, which has been investigating the incident.

Norwegian officials opened an investigation into the incident Monday. The NMA indicated in a press release that while oil in the tanks was relatively low, it was within set limits. But as the ship crossed rocky seas, movement of oil in the tanks triggered an alarm. Norwegian media reported gusts up to 43 mph and waves over 26 feet. “The heavy seas in Hustadvika probably caused movements in the tanks so large that the supply to the lubricating oil pumps stopped,” Alvestad said. “This triggered an alarm indicating a low level of lubrication oil, which in turn shortly thereafter caused an automatic shutdown of the engines.”


Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport Has Banned Irregular-Shaped Bags

New rules for checking in bags of irregular shape and size have come into effect at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport from Monday, March 25, 2019.

The new rules are aimed at preventing blockages and breakdowns in the baggage handling system caused by bags that do not have any flat surfaces or that have long straps or grips as per the International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines. The new rules have been agreed to after extensive consultations with the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) and other bodies representing airlines. Effective, March 25, 2019, only regular-shaped bags will be allowed at check-in counters; The bags must have at least one flat surface to be accepted on the check-in system; Round or irregular-shaped bags will not be allowed at check-in counters; Bags with longs straps will not be allowed at check-in counters. Passengers trying to check-in bags that do not conform to these rules will be offered the option of having their baggage wrapped with one flat side at the airport approved baggage wrapping stations.

United Airlines Announced It Will Be The First Airline To Offer Nonbinary Gender Options For Customers To Book Flights

The airline said the decision was made to “lead the industry in LGBT inclusivity.” United Airlines announced Friday that it has become the first US airline to allow customers to have the option to book flights with a nonbinary gender prefix and title, “Mx.” In a press release shared by the company, United said customers “now have the ability to identify themselves as M(male), F(female), U(undisclosed) or X(unspecified), corresponding with what is indicated on their passports or identification.” The airline said the decision was made to “lead the industry in LGBT inclusivity” and “to exhibit our care for” its customers. As part of its security screenings, federal Transportation Security Administration regulations require all flying passengers to disclose their gender identity prior to their flight, but TSA agents will accept any gender identification as long as it’s consistent with what’s listed on the flyer’s government-issued ID. Several states now offer IDs that allow people to identify as something other than male or female.


Amsterdam Bans Red Light District Tours, Sold As Shore Excursion On Cruises

Cruise Critic reports Amsterdam is banning all tours of its Red Light District as part of an ongoing effort to address tourist congestion and to show respect for the city’s sex workers. Tours of the city’s Red Light District are popular excursions offered by many cruise lines, oceangoing and river, as well as independent tour operators. Each week, more than 1,000 guided tour groups pass through Oudekerksplein, the Red Light District’s main square, according to the city. During peak hours, between 11 a.m. and noon, and 7 and 8 p.m, more than 25 groups routinely crowd the area, disturbing businesses, and residents. The implementation will be gradual: As of April 1, guides will be forced to end tours by 7 p.m. as opposed to 11 p.m. The full ban goes into effect on January 1, 2020. “We are banning tours that take visitors along sex workers’ windows, not only because we want to prevent overcrowding in the Red Light District, but also because it is not respectful to sex workers,” Deputy Mayor Udo Kock said in a statement. “It is outdated to treat sex workers as a tourist attraction.” 

Wow Air Collapses

Wow Air has officially ceased operations after it failed to secure a rescue deal. The cash-strapped airline had already canceled some flights earlier this week after a potential rescue deal with rival Icelandair fell through for a second time. Icelandair had reopened talks with Wow after the low-cost carrier lost the support of a potential US financial backer last week, but discussions broke down over the weekend. Icelandair announced on Sunday that ‘its possible involvement with Wow Air’s operations, as announced on 20 March 2019, will not materialize’. Chief executive of Icelandair Group Bogi Nils Bogason added: “The financial position and operations are such that we did not see any reason to continue.” The airline, which operates low-cost flights from the UK to Reykjavik and onwards to the US and Canada, has been scrapping unprofitable routes since late last year. It is telling passengers to rebook with other airlines and says these might be offering special ‘rescue’ fares. “Passengers whose ticket was paid with a credit card are advised to contact their credit card company to check whether a refund of the ticket cost will be issued. Those passengers are advised to contact their travel agent to arrange an alternative flight. “Passengers who may have bought travel protection, or those passengers whose credit card terms may include such protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to delays or travel disruption. 

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