Category Archives: North America

Travel News: Europe Reaches Peak Temperatures

Europe reaches peak temperatures

The countries of Austria / Belgium / Czech Republic / Denmark / France / Germany / Hungary / Luxembourg / Netherlands / Switzerland / United Kingdom / Italy are expected to experience high temperatures as a heat wave sweeps across Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Temperatures are expected to rise to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) from central France to northern Spain, while temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius and above are expected across other European countries. Authorities have issued alerts across Western Europe and implemented measures, such as opening fountains, pools and mist machines, and limiting the circulation of vehicles in larger cities, as a means to combat the rise in temperatures. Bus and train operations in several countries have been disrupted due to malfunctioning air conditioning and due to the temperatures of the train tracks. Officials have warned of continued transportation disruptions and asked people to stay hydrated and avoid getting overheated. Hot air moving north from Africa caused the heat wave and is expected to continue to cause above average temperatures until 30 June.

Virgin Trains Break Ground On Orlando Track Expansion

Orlando Sentinal reports Virgin Trains, formerly Brightline, broke ground Monday to expand passenger rail service to Orlando in a $4bn effort, the nation’s largest privately funded infrastructure project. This will serve to transport travelers, including cruisers, between Orlando International Airport and South Florida. ‘Connecting Orlando and Miami, two of our nation’s greatest cities, will provide tremendous economic and environmental benefits that will be an asset to Florida for generations,’ Virgin Trains President Patrick Goddard said at a commemorative ceremony. Goddard noted the service will ‘effortlessly connect the “Tourism Capital of the World” to the “Cruise Capital of the World.”‘ Virgin Trains’ Virgin MiamiCentral hub is located near PortMiami, and the Miami-Dade County Commission is deliberating the feasibility of a station directly at PortMiami.

JetBlue Can Now Expand Europe Long-Haul Strategy With Airbus XLR Order

Skift reports JetBlue Airways’ European strategy became clearer when the airline committed to an airplane capable of flying not only from the US East Coast to London or Dublin but also from Boston and New York to south, central, and northern Europe. JetBlue became the third US carrier to say it plans to fly Airbus’ newest narrowbody jet, the A321XLR. Airbus introduced the single-aisle airplane, which should fly as far as 4,700 nautical miles,last week at the Paris Air Show. American Airlines committed to 50 earlier in the week, while Frontier Airlines said it would take 18. In April JetBlue announced it would fly from its Boston and New York focus cities to London by 2021. But JetBlue didn’t say where else in Europe it might fly, likely because it didn’t have the right aircraft for Continental Europe. For London JetBlue had committed to the A321LR, which has a 600-mile range gap compared to its XLR cousin. JetBlue said it will take 13 A321XLRs, with first delivery in 2023.

Emirates Is First Major Airline To Launch Basic Business Class Fare

Skift reports Emirates has fired the first salvo in the unbundling of business class fares. Now you can buy just the seat, with none of the other trimmings that travelers are used to with top-tier carriers. It’s a brilliant and pragmatic strategy, one that gives more choice to travelers. The tension will now be maintaining that great luxury brand halo and still letting the premium cabins do the marketing hard yards for the carrier. The airline industry has seen a lot in terms of unbundling of economy fares. For better or for worse, that segment of the market now has a ton of options for consumers. As Skift forecasted in our 2019 Megatrend that premium mediocre has gone mainstream, travel companies, hotels, tour operators, and yes, airlines too, are increasingly looking for new ways to sell average products at luxury prices. You can buy a deeply discounted, basic economy fare that doesn’t include any overhead space, or, if you want more perks, you can pay incrementally more for priority boarding and civil treatment. The same currently cannot be said for business class. Typically you’re all-in on the fare, sometimes as much as $7,000 from New York to Paris. In some cases it comes standard with extras, like chauffeur service and lounge access, and in other cases it comes with a sad meal in a preflight lounge and a non fully flat bed.

Tim Clark, CEO of Emirates, told Skift when asked of the prospect of discounting business class: “You might just say, ‘OK, I’ll give you a special price, just for the [business-class] bed. I won’t give you the incentives. I won’t give you ground. You’ll get the business product in the air only, and that’s it.’ No chauffeur drive, no business-class lounge, no expedited [security] search. No uplifting your baggage allowance, et cetera. You just pay for the bed. I’ll give you a price for that. Maybe, if you’ve got business class seats going begging, that’s the easy way to go, rather than create a completely new product, which is going to upend the distribution systems, upend service delivery, and upend the logistical management on the operational side.” Emirates has rolled out what they hinted at two years ago. With a new slate of fares, dubbed “special fares,” customers are essentially just buying the seat. There’s no lounge access (unless you qualify with status), there’s no chauffeur-driven car, there’s only selecting a seat when check-in opens, and predictably, there is reduced mileage earning. Not only has Emirates rolled out this basic business-class seat but in 2020 the airline will also launch premium economy, thereby offering two different stepping stones for flyers ready to upgrade. Emirates is testing out the special fares on select routes and appears to be rolling them out slowly.

Passport Agency Boosts Minimum Routine Application Wait Time By 50%
WaPo reports just after news broke about the possibility of longer lines at airport security checkpoints, information now emerges about longer waits for international travelers before they get to the airport. The State Department’s Passport Services agency has increased the processing time for routine service to six to eight weeks. Until May 31, the interval between application and delivery was four to six weeks, meaning the new timeline is a 50% increase for the minimum wait. For those who can’t wait, expedited service is available at a cost. “Customers who need their passports more urgently than our routine processing time allows may request expedited service for an additional $60,” said a State Department official who requested anonymity. “For expedited service, processing time remains two to three weeks door-to-door.” Once they get inside the airport door, international and domestic passengers could face longer security lines. Earlier this week we reported that the Trump administration requested a 2.5 percent increase in airport checkpoint screeners for fiscal 2020 but expects a 4.5 percent increase in airline passengers. That’s a recipe for long lines. The department official declined to answer several basic questions about the longer wait, including the reasons for it. But the department did provide information indicating short staffing is the cause. In each of the past two years, more than 21 million passports and passport cards were delivered, “all-time record numbers,” according to the State Department. About 18.6 million applications are expected this fiscal year. In fiscal 2018, 137.5 million citizens had valid passports, representing a growth of almost 100 percent over the past decade. “To address high passport workload levels this summer,” he said, “the Department is leveraging all available resources to ensure processing times do not rise further and that they return to lower levels by September.” Leveraging includes temporarily assigning employees to assist with increased demand and setting up two satellite passport units with employees from other parts of the department.

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Travel News: Four-Hour Limit For First Guests To Disneyland’s Star Wars Land 

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Four-Hour Limit For First Guests To Disneyland’s Star Wars Land

Travelmole reports the first guests to visit Disneyland’s hotly anticipated new Star Wars land will be racing against the clock to experience it all. They will only get four hours to see it when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens to the public on May 31. Disney has set a four-hour window for guests presumably to minimize long lines but it is unclear how the company will enforce it. Disneyland sent out emails to guests who are guaranteed a first look at the land after booking stays at the resort’s three hotels. There were a few glitches with this as guests were allocated days before their hotel stay was due to start and in some cases even before the attraction’s official opening date. Disney says it has now rectified this. Disney also announced non-hotel guests can make free reservations to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge via Disneyland’s website from May 2.

Rooftop Infinity Pool At JFK’s New TWA Hotel Overlooks Runway

Open Jaw reports passengers flying from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City will soon be able to witness spectacular views of its famous runways from what could be one of the coolest pools on the planet. Due to launch on May 15, the highly anticipated TWA Hotel features an impressive rooftop infinity pool complete with an observation deck where you can see as far as Jamaica Bay. The pool, which measures 64 feet long, is said to have been inspired by the infinity edge pool at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes. Open 365 days a year, it will transform into a “pool-cuzzi” during winter, when its filtered water can be heated to up to 100 Fahrenheit. “Our rooftop pool provides a JFK runway view that rivals an air traffic controller’s vantage point,” says Tyler Morse, CEO and managing partner of MCR and MORSE Development, the developer and lead investor of the hotel project. “There’s simply no better place for plane spotting, and enjoying a cocktail, in a room which overlooks runway 4L/22R. Based in two low-rise buildings, the TWA Hotel will boast 512 guest rooms featuring classic Hollywood-inspired interiors and floor-to-ceiling, full-width soundproof windows. There are also six restaurants and eight bars, one of which is based inside a Lockheed Constellation L-1649A Starliner, along with a 10,000-square-foot fitness center that’s been dubbed the ‘world’s biggest hotel gym.” The TWA Hotel also holds a museum with exhibits devoted to the glamorous jet age as well as the history of TWA.

Tallest Modular Hotel In The World Will Be Built In New York City

Travelwirenews reports each “module” will contain a fully outfitted guest room. with beds, sheets, pillows, flooring and even toiletries. The world’s tallest modular hotel, which will carry the brand of Marriott International, is on track to be stacked in late fall in New York City with prefabricated and pre-furnished guestrooms. Once erected over a 90-day period, the 360-foot-tall tower will represent a milestone for Marriott’s ongoing initiative to encourage hotel developers in North America to embrace modular for new construction projects. To be topped with a modular roof and modular rooftop bar, the world’s tallest modular hotel is expected to open in late 2020 as the AC Hotel New York NoMad. The 168-room, 26-story AC Hotel New York NoMad is scheduled to rise at 842 Sixth Avenue with prefabricated guestrooms arriving at the hotel site fully constructed, inside and out. Besides finished, painted walls, each “module” will contain a fully outfitted guest room, with beds, sheets, pillows, flooring and even toiletries. The hotel’s roof and rooftop bar are expected to be produced using modular construction, and its more customized public areas such as the restaurant and lobby are expected to be constructed using traditional methods. Prefabrication is a process that Marriott has found typically reduces the construction timeline, curbs site waste and noise, and results in a higher-quality product produced with factory level precision. The time savings comes from the ability to perform two crucial functions simultaneously – building the public spaces on site while manufacturing the guest rooms offsite. Marriott, which has the largest pipeline of hotels in North America, began researching modular construction in 2014 to offset lengthening hotel construction times, a trend attributed to the nation’s building boom and resulting labor shortages. Since 2011, Marriott has seen the average time to build and open a hotel in North America increase by as much 50%, depending on factors such as location and size of the property.

US Travel To Cuba Made More Difficult Again With Non-Family Visits Barred

Skift reports when the Trump administration took office in 2017, the popular wisdom was that it would eliminate US travel to Cuba. The changes have turned out to be incremental, but now it appears that non-family travel to Cuba will be all but gone. The unraveling of the Obama administration’s opening up of US citizen travel to Cuba is just about complete. The US Treasury Department will issue new restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba as part of a multifaceted effort by the Trump administration to clamp down on the Cuban regime, and Americans’ freedom to travel. Details were sparse and there were no guidelines about the policy change on the US Treasury Department website. A Treasury Department spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The new restrictions on Americans’ travel to Cuba were part of a series of measures, including tighter limits on remittances that Cuban-Americans can send to families in Cuba and loosening restrictions on lawsuits designed to recover damages for properties confiscated on the island, designed to pressure the Cuban government. “U.S. travel and remittances are the lifeblood of the private-sector entrepreneurs in Cuba,” said James Williams, president of the Washington-based Engage Cuba coalition, a non-profit lobbying group. “These restrictions are a cruel betrayal and a knife in the back of Cuban civil society and the prospects for a growing independent private sector in Cuba. The Cuban people are already struggling under tremendous difficulties, and these actions only make it worse. We need a policy that focuses on empowering the Cuban people and advancing American interests, not continuing a 60-year failed policy that only serves fringe domestic politics in South Florida.” Bolton said the new Treasury Department restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba and the series of other measures he announced would bar American money from propping up Cuban military and security services “who control the tourism industry in Cuba.” Several US cruise lines, such as Carnival and Norwegian, as well as major airlines,  began cruises and flights to Cuba following the Obama administration lifting restrictions. With little guidance from the Treasury Department about the travel policy changes that Bolton announced, it’s unclear just how radically they will affect US travelers, as well as cruise lines, tour operators, and airlines. But the moves can’t be welcome news for the US travel industry or travelers. 

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Travel News: 6% More US Citizens Traveled Outside The Country In 2018

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6% More US Citizens Traveled Outside The Country In 2018
Skift reports more Americans traveled outside the United States than ever before last year, spurred by a growing economy, favorable exchange rates, and high consumer confidence. According to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, the number of US citizens traveling outside the country for business and leisure jumped by 6% last year, reaching a total of 93 million. Of those, 45% or 41.8 million flew to overseas destinations, 9% more than in 2018. Europe had the highest numbers and saw the biggest gain, up more than 12%, though the data also includes travelers going through Europe to other destinations. Other big gains came from travelers heading to Oceania, South America, and Asia. 

Isla Bella Beach Resort Opens In Marathon Key
Caribbean News Digital reports the Florida Keys’ highly anticipated Isla Bella Beach Resort officially opened to guests Monday. The five-star oceanfront resort is the first full-service luxury hotel in Marathon and the largest newly built private waterfront hotel in the Keys. Located at the entryway of the iconic Seven Mile Bridge, Isla Bella Beach Resort is two hours from Miami and just an hour from Key West. Highlights include 199 rooms and suites ranging from one to five bedrooms, one mile of private beach, five swimming pools, four dining outlets and more than 24,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Isla Bella Beach Resort also features convenient on-site water sports, a fishing pier and a marina. A full-service spa, fitness center and a marketplace retail and cafe concept will be added in May. The 4,000-square-foot spa will feature a relaxation room along with five dedicated treatment rooms, a lounge, couples massage room, steam room and a spa garden. The Spiaggia Suite will offer guests hair treatments, makeup application and other services while the 1,000-square-foot fitness center will boast state-of-the-art Peloton treadmills and bicycles in addition to free weights and other equipment. Activities and experiences available to guests will include complimentary kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling and fishing as well as games such as badminton, bocce, croquet, giant chess, cornhole and volleyball, among others.

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One-hour London-New York Flights Move A Step Closer To Reality
Travelmole reports hypersonic jet travel has become a step closer to reality after UK researchers completed a milestone test in its plan to operate an aircraft capable of flying London-New York in under an hour. Reaction Engines has tested the aircraft at simulated speeds of Mach 3.3, three times the speed of sound, using ‘pre-cooler’ technology that allows the aircraft to travel at high speed without causing the engine to melt. The next stage will see the technology tested at Mach 5.5 (4,200 mph). At top speed, it could lead to superfast transatlantic flights, with aircraft traveling at up to Mach 25, or 25 times the speed of sound. That is the equivalent of flying London-New York in under an hour. Reaction Engines, based in Oxfordshire, built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine to replicate the conditions that the vehicle will experience at hypersonic speeds. The firm hopes to make a reusable vehicle that would combine the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power and speed of a rocket. The pre-cooler is designed to lower the temperature of compressed air rushing through an engine from more than 1,000C to room temperature in one-twentieth of a second, according to The Times. The new experimental engine would be called Sabre and would work like an ‘air-breathing rocket engine’. From take-off to Mach 5.5, the Sabre would draw oxygen from the atmosphere where it would be ignited in a rocket combustion chamber alongside stored liquid hydrogen. It would then switch to burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen from onboard fuel tanks, allowing it to reach 25 times the speed of sound to enter space. Mark Thomas, the Reaction Engines chief executive, told The Times: “If you can pull it off, it’s a game changer. It kicks conventional rocket engines into touch.”

Aegean Airlines Named ‘Best Regional Airline in Europe’ 2019
Greece’s Aegean Airlines has been named “‘Best Regional Airline in Europe” for 2019 at the Traveler’s Choice Awards for Airlines, according to travel website TripAdvisor. Aegean Airlines is also named Best Regional Business Class Europe and Best Airline in Greece for 2019. Aegean, the leading airline in Greece and member of the Star Alliance, carried 14 million passengers in 2018. The Greek airline had also received the same award in the 2018 Traveler’s Choice Awards for Airlines. It was also honored with the Skytrax World Airline award, as the best European Regional Airline for 2018.

Aloha! Hawaiian Airlines’ Debuts Boston To Honolulu Flights As Longest Route Between States

USA TODAY reports the airline’s Flight 90 made history Friday as the country’s longest interstate route, traveling from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) on Thursday and arriving at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) on Friday morning. Hawaiian Airlines announced the new route in September. Boston was the biggest US market that didn’t have nonstop service to Hawaii before today. Going west, from Boston to Honolulu, the flight runs approximately 11.5 hours, and Honolulu to Boston runs about 10 hours. Travelers will fly 5,095 miles.

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Great Lakes May Be The Next Cruise Ship Hot Spot 

Travel+Leisure reports cruise ship operators on the Great Lakes are adding trips this season, and lines that left the destination are returning. According to the Chicago Tribune, industry experts are predicting that companies who have never traveled the Great Lakes area will be coming on board. Routes on the Great Lakes include an eight-day loop around Lake Michigan that begins and ends in Chicago, a 10-day trip between Toronto and Chicago, and a 16-day trip from Chicago to New York City on Great American Waterways passes through four Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. Many of the ships cater to fewer than 100 passengers, keeping the experience intimate. Blount Small Ship Adventures Pearl Seas Cruises, and Victory Cruise Lines are all either expanding their routes or adding new vessels. Ponant, a French luxury cruise line that hasn’t sailed the Great Lakes in a decade, is returning this season alongside the German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. New to the scene is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which will start cruising in early 2020 and has expressed plans to eventually expand its fleet to the area. In addition, there are rumors that cruise giant Viking Cruises is considering the Great Lakes.

TSA’s New 3D Scanners Will Let Travelers Keep Laptops In Carry-On Bags

Open Jaw reports the new machines, with more advanced technology to detect explosives and other threats, will be phased into select airports this summer. New 3D scanners coming to airports across the country will allow travelers to keep laptops, liquids and other materials in their carry-on bags for inspection. The Transportation Security The roll-out will continue into next year. TSA began testing the 3D scanners at airports in Phoenix and Boston in June 2017. Since then, the machines have been expanded to 12 more locations. “These state-of-the-art 3D scanners will enable our screening officers to detect explosives and other threats to commercial aviation with unprecedented precision,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “The nation’s transportation systems are now better off, more secure, as a result of their [Congress’] work on funding this technology.” While the current 2D scanners only provide a few images from certain angles, the new machines use computed tomography (CT) to take hundreds of images per second with a spinning X-ray camera, building an interactive image that can be rotated and analyzed from 360 degrees by screening staff.

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Travel News: Hawaiian Airlines Embraces ‘Olelo Hawai’i with New Language Certification

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Hawaiian Airlines Embraces ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i With New Language Certification

He ‘ōlelo Hawai’i anei ‘oe? (Are you a Hawaiian language speaker?) Hawaiian Airlines has marked an important cultural milestone as Hawai’i’s airline by establishing ōlelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian language) certification program for employees. Launched in time to celebrate ‘ōlelo Hawai’i Month, the certification, which is available at no cost to any of Hawaiian’s 7,200-plus employees, broadens the carrier’s commitment to honor and perpetuate Hawai’i’s rich culture throughout its operations. “Adding ‘ōlelo Hawai’i as a recognized language was a natural move for Hawaiian since the majority of our ‘ohana was either born or raised on our islands,” said Jim Lynde, senior vice president of human resources at Hawaiian Airlines. “We believe the Hawaiian language certification will inspire and empower even more team members to share ‘ōlelo Hawai’i with our guests.” The airline developed the certification program in consultation with numerous Hawaiian language experts, including Dr. Larry Kimura, who is considered the grandfather of Hawaiian language revitalization, and Dr. Leilani Basham, a professor at the University of Hawai’i – West O’ahu who is renowned for perpetuating Hawaiian culture in academia.

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EU And UK Reach Post-Brexit Visa-Free Travel Agreement

Travelwire news reports the endless debate regarding the forthcoming Brexit rules between Europe and the Unite Kingdom seems to have come to a final agreement that will allow UK citizens visa-free travel in EU for up to 90 days. This seems to be the agreement in view of Brexit between Europe and the United Kingdom that would put an end to the uncertainty in the travel sector. It is the most awaited article, in fact, in the proposed law on which the presidency of the EU Council will open negotiations with the British government in the coming days. The new entry visa regulation will allow UK citizens to travel to the Schengen area for a short stay – up to 90 days in a six month period – without a visa. And the same rule will apply to citizens of EU countries traveling to the UK, according to the rule of reciprocity. In fact, according to the European Union legislation, the UK visa exemption is granted only on the condition of equivalence. The solution was reached after the recent impasse when the British government had opposed the definition used in the draft regulation on Gibraltar, defined as a colony. Having removed this term inimical to British representatives, the UK government has already stated that it does not intend to require a visa for European citizens traveling to the United Kingdom for short stays. In the event that the United Kingdom introduces a visa requirement for nationals of at least one Member State in the future, the existing reciprocity mechanism would apply and the three institutions and member states would commit themselves to act without delay in applying the mechanism.

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Air Canada To Begin Reducing Single-Use Plastics in 2019

Air Canada is reducing single-use plastics onboard aircrafts and in its workplaces as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to curtail waste.

Startinin summer 2019Air Canada will replace plastic with wood stir sticks in drinks served on all flights, a move that will save 35 million plastic stir sticks annually, enough if laid end-to-end to join Halifax and Vancouver. Air Canada‘s stir stick replacement will be made of bamboo and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which assures products come from responsible sources so that forests remain thriving environments for generations to come, accordinto the company. Air Canada‘s ongoing plastic reduction efforts also include researching and rethinking important decisions made at various stages of the supply chain. The company is supporting this work in partnership with the University of Toronto graduate students in their final year of their Master of Science in Sustainability Management program. The students are working with AirCanada to identify alternatives to plastic use onboard aircraft. Looking out to 2020, AirCanada has set environmental targets to reduce waste sent to landfills from offices, facilities and Maple Leaf Lounges by 20%, or just under the equivalent weight of two empty Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, and to recycle 50% of approved items onboard. Waste reduction at Air Canada is about more than recycling paper and aluminum cans. For example, since 2016, Air Canada has partnered with Partners in Project Green to distribute lightly used duvets to social service agencies that assist people in need and other duvets are donated to local kennels. To date, more than 13,000 duvets have been donated, equivalent to more than 20,000 kilograms of material. Additionally, when AirCanada announced new uniforms in 2017, solutions to reduce landfill waste were identified: Employee uniform pieces were donated to Brands for Canada, which removed all branding and offered the items to people re-entering the workforce, without the means to purchase new clothes and hopinto begin new careers. Uniforms shredded and repurposed into stuffing for punching bags were donated to community centers, converted into alternative items such as automotive stuffing or incinerated to generate energy. 

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Travel News: Owner of Famed French Hotel may have left it to the Dogs

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Owner Of Famed French Hotel May Have Left It To The Dogs

Uncertainty surrounds the future of one of the most famous grand hotels in Europe after the property’s flamboyant owner and chief executive died at the age of 95 without an heir, amid speculation that she may have left her hotel to animals. Jeanne Augier personally ran the striking pink-domed Negresco Hotel, in the French Riviera city of Nice, for more than 60 years after inheriting it from her father in 1957. She died this week in her 96th year and legal disputes are reportedly already underway about what will happen to the hotel. In 2009, it was reported that Augier planned to leave the hotel and its profits to a new foundation devoted to animals and the poor. A great lover of dogs, she championed both causes, and she was determined to keep the hotel out of the clutches of international hotel chains. Whether dogs will inherit her hotel has not yet been determined. The Negresco opened in 1913 in Nice and quickly became a favorite with European royalty. It has more than 140 rooms, each with its own unique furnishings and French art “collection pieces.” The property has always been open to pets and guests are encouraged to bring them along. Augier famously told Microsoft founder Bill Gates that he was not rich enough to buy her fabulous hotel. In an interview with French newspaper Liberation in 2009, she said: “I must have a hundred offers a year to buy the Negresco. It’s out of the question.”

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Courtesy of Le Negresco

United Airlines Replaces Delta As World’s Second-Largest Carrier

Travelmole reports United Airlines has reclaimed the world’s number-two spot for passenger traffic. It edged in front of Delta thanks to mostly domestic expansion with capacity increases at hubs like Chicago, Houston and Denver. Capacity has been increasing by up to 6%. United recorded 230.2 billion revenue passenger miles last year, ahead of Delta’s 225.2 billion. Delta overtook United as the second largest airline in 2015. United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said: “Our goal is not to be the biggest. We want to be the best and as we implement our strategy, we are looking to build on this momentum in 2019.” Following a couple of years in the doldrums after several high profile missteps, United’s share price has rebounded. While other major US airline stock values have contracted, United saw a 24% bump last year. American Airlines hasn’t released its full-year traffic results yet but is expected to remain the world’s largest airline.

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New Zealand Tourism App Adds Enhanced Reality

An “augmented reality” (AR) app is giving New Zealand visitors the chance to experience a once-famous geological formation that disappeared over 130 years ago. The Pink and White Terraces were once known as the “eighth wonder of the world” and were obliterated by the Mount Tarawera eruption in 1886. They were located 20 km from Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. In the 19th century, intrepid tourists traveled from around the world to visit the terraces, which became the most famous tourist attraction in the country. Visitors would gather on the terrace shores to experience the natural spa and health benefits that continue to be a feature in the Rotorua region. The popularity of the terraces signaled the start of organized tourism in New Zealand. Old reference photos and paintings, plus work by early explorers and scientists, have been used to recreate the terraces in augmented reality. The terraces have been brought to life again with a specially developed app launched as an eco-tourism experience. Visitors can download the free app and experience the recreated terraces on daily cruises across Lake Rotomahana to the place where the terraces once were. Users need only hold up their device to explore the site and discover its hidden secrets. The Pink and White Terraces were formed over thousands of years, as silica-rich water emerging from springs and boiling geysers crystallized into giant tiered staircases. The White Terrace covered more than three hectares while the smaller Pink Terrace was used for bathing on the lower levels.

Hawaii Issues Warning Of High Bacterial Levels At Several Beaches

HawaiiNewsNow reports high bacterial levels were detected Wednesday at several beaches across Oahu, and have even prompted the closure of a popular spot. The state Department of Health Clean Water Branch said inspectors found elevated levels of enterococci at the following beaches: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Ala Moana Regional Park, and two sites at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki. The normal level for enterococci doesn’t surpass 130% per 100 mL. DOH officials issue alerts when levels exceed 130. Due to the elevated levels, a city spokesperson said Hanauma Bay would be closed Thursday. The upper viewing area, parking lot, and visitor center will remain open. Officials say swimming in waters with elevated bacteria counts could make you sick. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable. The most common symptoms associated with swimming in affected waters include nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. But the warning wasn’t enough to keep many beachgoers out of the water here in Waikiki. “The water was nice and clean from what I could see,” said Canadian visitor John Jonker. “We didn’t see any problem in the water at all, and we never noticed anything on the shore either. Everything is nice and clean.” The advisories will remain in effect for the beaches until levels return to normal. In addition, a Brown Water Advisory has been issued for Punaluu Beach Park in Windward O’ahu.

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Turkey Has Introduced A Passenger Security Tax

Travelwirenwews reports Turkey has introduced an airline passenger security tax of 1,5€ applicable as from 1 January 2018 without any advance notification. In addition, the Turkish Tourism Minister is considering changes to the tourism strategy and marketing activities. He wants to cut the state-financed budget for tour operators promoting Turkish destinations and plans a more centralized approach focusing on high-end products.

This App Will Deliver Food Right To Your Boarding Gate

Airwise reports most people-and certainly most underrated comedy writers-agree that airline food is bad. Luckily a food delivery app wants to make sure that you never fly hungry again and won’t be tempted to eat whatever it is the airlines are serving. AtYourGate is a food delivery service that will bring you food while you loom around the boarding gate, even though you’re sitting in Row 44. The delivery team doesn’t have to bring your loaded baked potato through security, though, because for better or worse, the app only lets users choose from options within the airport. To use it, just download the app, browse the options, make your selection, and they will run it over to you, usually within 20-30 minutes. AtYourGate has just announced it is landing in the New York area, making it easier for passengers flying through Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, and Terminal 7 of John F. Kennedy International to decide whether it’s worth paying someone to bring them an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. (New York and New Jersey airport travelers who download the app qualify for free delivery on their first purchase by entering the promotion code AYGFREE. There is no minimum order requirement.) The app is still pretty new, with only New York City, San Diego, and Minneapolis St. Paul airports on board, but if it rolls out nationwide, those traveling through Portland International Airport (hello, Country Cat) or O’Hare (where Rick Bayless has a torta restaurant) may never eat airplane food again.

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Survive Thanksgiving Travel with your Sanity Intact: Tips from WIT Agents

Important! WIT Holiday Office Hours: November 22-25 closed for Thanksgiving weekend. 

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Want a stress-free holiday this Thanksgiving? Of course you do! Here are some of our best tips and tricks to surviving the holidays with your sanity intact.

Before Your Flight 

  • If you’re traveling domestically, be sure to check in online within 24 hours of departure. Most airlines allow check in 24 hours prior to a flight, and depending on your status, you may even get 48 hours. Go online on the airline’s website, check in, pay any domestic baggage fees if necessary, and, if you can, print your boarding pass. This can greatly reduce wait times at the airport and settle any possible seat issues early.
  • Travel with as little carry-on luggage as possible. This frees up your arms and allows you to stay mobile and stress-free.
  • Arrive 2-3 hours prior to your flight. This ensures ample time to check in your luggage, collect your boarding pass and pass through security.
  • If you’re bringing any gifts, be sure to leave your presents unwrapped while they are in your luggage, on the chance that the TSA may want to inspect your bag.
  • Fully charge your cell phone before leaving home. Keep your charger in your carry-on bag. Don’t keep your cell phone with your credit card, in case you misplace one. Many phone cases include sleeves where you can keep your cash and cards, but we advise you not to use these, as cell phones have a chance of being stolen.
  • If your flight is cancelled and you are directed to a re-accommodation line, get in that line ASAP. If your agent at Willamette Intl Travel issued your ticket, call us ASAP and we will help you handle it.
  • Unfortunately, luggage has a risk of getting lost these days. If you’re traveling with someone, divide everyone’s items over the bags, so if 1 bag goes missing, everyone still has a change of clothes. Also be sure to keep a change of clothes in your carry-on bag, together with toiletries and medications, each packed in their own respective see-through plastic bag.
  • Dress in layers as temperature can vary in airports or aircraft cabins. 

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During Your Trip

  • Be aware of your surroundings and people around you, especially in crowded and busy locations.
  • Keep your purse or day pack on you; a cross body bag is excellent since you can pull it in front of you and anchor with your arm and hand.
  • Think before setting your bag somewhere in public. Is 100% of the bag visible? Keep it in your sight. A bag under your chair can be taken behind your back.
  • Traveling with others? Always have a meeting place defined before you split up in airports, cities, stores. 
  • Be aware of hotel scams. Do not give your credit card information over the hotel’s phone line—always go down to the front desk. Scammers often call people in hotel rooms posing as hotel staff to collect your sensitive info. Read our post for more possible travel scams.
  • If you misplace your room key at a hotel, don’t ask for another key. If they make a copy, the old key is still floating around and cab be used to enter your room. Ask the hotel instead to reset the lock and issue you a new set of keys. 

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For those traveling with Alaska Air and bringing wines, we have a few tip for you: 

Wines Fly Free from 29 cities on Alaska Air

The Wines Fly Free program from Alaska Airlines is available on nonstop domestic flights to 29 cities in California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

While it’s limited to members of the Alaska Airline frequent flier program (Mileage Plan), it’s free to become a member and includes the potential for other perks.

Wines Fly Free has been so well-received that the coverage has continually expanded, including new 18 cities earlier this year.

The complimentary wine “bag” check can be claimed by adding a valid frequent flier number to the flight reservation and Alaska Airlines will issue a $25 fee waiver to check a case of 12 bottles of properly-packed wine. Appropriate shipping containers are available at participating wineries or mailing services.

When checking in, guests should notify Alaska Airlines customer service that wine is being checked and it will be marked fragile.

Wines Fly Free airports include:

  • Eugene, Medford, Portland, and Redmond in Oregon;
  • Burbank, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Oakland, Ontario, Orange County, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Santa Rosa in California;
  • Boise, Idaho;
  • Bellingham, Pasco, Pullman, Seattle, Spokane, Walla Walla, Wenatchee, and Yakima in Washington.

Read more at Alaska Airlines: https://blog.alaskaair.com/travel-tips/how-to-check-a-case-of-wine-for-free/

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EXTRAS

PLUS… Top Travel Destinations for 2019, for designers lovers from Architectural Digest. 

Check out our Thanksgiving Reading List

Have an Emergency or urgent need concerning your travel plans? Call 503-224-0180 and our after hours service can connect you to one of our agents if needed.

 

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Travel News: Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 

 
Hapag-Lloyd Releases Statement Following Polar Bear Incident
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises released a statement on Sunday morning following a weekend incident that left a polar bear dead in Spitsbergen. ” This Saturday on a trip ashore in Spitsbergen during a BREMEN cruise an accident occurred: a polar bear guard, an expert employed by the cruise line, was attacked on land by a polar bear. The guard suffered head injuries, however, he was responsive after the attack and was airlifted. He is out of danger, with no threat to life. In an act of self-defence, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead. We very much regret this incident. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife. To prepare for a shore leave, the polar bear guards go ashore in advance after sighting the landing site as a group and without passengers. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight. As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately. The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave. One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person. The injured person was immediately provided with medical care and flown to a hospital with a rescue helicopter. We are in personal, direct contact with him. His condition is stable and he remains responsive. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has worked comprehensively and co-operatively with the Norwegian authorities to reconstruct and clarify the incident on the ground and will continue to do so.
Southwest Airlines Promises They Still Won’t Charge for Bags 
Condé Nast Traveler reports at least one airline has some good news about fees you don’t have to worry about. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in an earnings call on Thursday that the airline will continue with its policies of free checked bags, no change fees, and open seating for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that they’re potentially leaving billions of dollars on the table by doing so. I don’t think we need to change the essence of what Southwest Airlines is to still find opportunities to drive revenues,” Kelly said. While he said the company was exploring new ways to make money, he didn’t divulge details, only adding that they were “very handsome opportunities.” No need to sweat the small stuff: customers won’t see the changes for awhile, not in 2018, and perhaps not even in 2019, Kelly said. Southwest is largely fee-free, but it doesn’t assign seats; instead, passengers can shell out $15 for EarlyBird Check-In to improve their place in the boarding line so they can nab that precious window seat. They also can pay around $50 for each leg of their trip to board with the first group of passengers. The airline’s hands-off, free-bags-and-change-fees approach hits a note with travelers. The Dallas-based airline routinely bests JetBlue, Delta, United, and American when it comes to value for the money, credit card perks, and, uh, flight attendant friendliness. The airline even announced yesterday that despite rising fuel costs, its ticket prices were falling. 

Arizona Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 
Travelwirenews reports a Arizona startup plans to send tourists to the edge of space using high-altitude helium balloons, but tickets will definitely cost at least $75,000 each. World View Enterprises has plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. The firm will use high-altitude balloons for a ride proponents say will undoubtedly be a lot more peaceful than rocket-based systems. World View currently launches missions primarily for the government, with roughly 50 within the last year. For passenger flights, World View is rolling out a capsule dubbed Voyager, which includes windows on all sides. While it will not reach official boundary of space, passengers should be able to see Earth fall away beneath them. In just a couple of years, wealthy tourists could see themselves going for a relaxing visit to the edge of space, towed by way of a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon. World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system during the last couple of years before plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. World View has conducted over 50 flights within the last year. In 2015, a then-Google exec completed a record-breaking free fall from about 136,000 feet, counting on a suit and balloon developed by World View over the course of three years. At present the firm primarily conducts missions for the government, including a recently available effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico.
 
 
Inca Rail Upgrades Trains To Machu Picchu 
Travel Market Reports that Inca Rail in Peru was acquired by the Carlyle Groupsome two years ago and has now rebranded as Machu Picchu Trains by Inca Rail and significantly upgraded its product offering. With a $10 million investment from Carlyle, the company has refurbished its cars, enhanced the onboard experience, ratcheted up the amenities, added a 360-degree panoramic-view observation deck with an outdoor terrace, and offers a private charter service. The company expanded its first-class offering from 30 seats to 60 seats, adding a second 30-seat car, and adding an observatory lounge car between the two cars. The 360-degree observatory lounge is unique in the market, “not only because we have more panoramic windows, but it is the only train with an open terrace. It’s wonderful because since we want to deliver as full an experience as possible, this is the way the customer can experience the journey with the five senses, to see, to smell, to hear and to feel more of the journey. There are no windows so you can take pictures.” Inca Rail also upgraded the technology on the train to accommodate the needs of today’s wired travelers. “It’s also the first train that offers state-of-the-art technology, with a USB port for ISP to charge phones and iPads if you want to take pictures and don’t have batteries. It’s also the only train that has an entertainment system that lets passengers follow the trip with their phones. They can see where the train is going. There are many things to see along the way. They can hear the narration in different languages and find out what is outside, the Incan ruins or the Urubamba River. There is also music and video from the Andes. So, it’s a unique train. The company now offers four classes of service: private, first class, 360 Degree and the standard Voyager service. “For the top luxury class, we offer a private service on a chartered basis, it’s unique in market. You can charter the whole car and it’s at your disposal. You travel with a chef, staff and butler service. It includes upscale dining with a five-course meal, whisky, live music, a lounge and a bar. It’s for one to 10 people. It could be couples, families or friends. You charter the service and it’s completely private, the only private charter in the market.” Passengers can catch the train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo. From Cuzco, the train leaves from Poroy Station, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Cuzco. The trip to Machu Picchu is about three hours. From Ollantaytambo, passengers catch the train near the site itself and the trip takes about an hour and a half. The train drops passengers off at the Machu Pichu Pueblo Hotel, formerly known as Aguas Caliente, at the foot of the final climb to the Citadel. The final leg of the trip is taken by bus. With its new, upgraded service, Inca Rail is including a private bus for the final climb. The Peruvian government implemented some restrictions, last July. There are two shifts for visitation: in the morning between 6 a.m. and noon, or from noon to 5:30 p.m. In addition, the authorities mandated that visitors have to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide so they know where to walk without damaging the site.


 
Virgin Galactic Completes Rocket Powered Test Flight
CNN reports the race to put tourists into space seems to be a glacially slow one most of the time, and then it suddenly takes a supersonic leap forward. That is what happened with Richard Branson’s long-delayed Virgin Galactic project, which last Thursday completed a rocket-powered test flight at 2.47 times the speed of sound. Carried up to an altitude of 46,500 feet over the Mojave Desert in California, Virgin’s VSS Unity was released from its mother ship before blasting into the stratosphere. With rockets blazing for 42 seconds, it then entered a near-vertical climb to 170,800 feet, approximately halfway to the edge of space. The ship then glided back down to Earth, making a successful landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The third rocket-powered outing in less than four months was hailed as the most successful yet for the project, which eventually aims to carry passengers and commercial payloads into space. It was the first to reach the mesosphere, which Virgin Galactic describes as an “under-studied atmospheric layer” because it’s beyond the range of balloon flight. “This was a new altitude record for both of us in the cockpit, not to mention our mannequin in the back, and the views of Earth from the black sky were magnificent,” Mackay added. Branson predicted it would be up and running by December in an interview released on the eve of the latest test. If Virgin Galactic gets up and running, passengers paying north of $250,000 will experience a two-and-a-half-hour flight to the edge of space. The flight will culminate with several minutes of weightlessness during which they’ll be able to float from their seats.
 
 
 
Hawaii’s Honolulu Airport Will Run On Thousands Of Solar Panels
Hawaii is doing the most when it comes to environmental conservation. The state officially banned all chemical sunscreens, which contain coral-bleaching ingredients, in early July. A number of hotels across the islands have gotten rid of plastic straws and single-use plastics (read our full list of companies that are saying no to single-use plastics). And the state has pushed to use exclusively clean energy by 2045. Hawaii’s Department of Transportation took another step, announcing that Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will be outfitted with 4,260 solar panels by the end of November, with the aim to cut the airport’s electricity bill in half. Thousands of solar panels will cover the roof of Terminal 1’s parking garage to help capture the rays of Honolulu’s 270 days of sun a year. There also are plans to add more to Terminal 2’s parking garage in the coming years (and, ultimately, a whopping 21,000 across all of Hawaii’s airports). More than 98,000 light fixtures at Honolulu’s airport will be replaced with LEDs as well, the state’s DOT reports. Honolulu is far from the only airport trying to decrease its carbon footprint. George Airport (2,000 solar panels), between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and Cochin International Airport (46,000 panels) in India’s southwestern Kerala region are both run completely by solar energy. The South African airport hopes to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the Indian airport,-which serves nearly eight million passengers annually-hopes to reduce its carbon emissions by 330,000 tons over the next 25 years. Gatwick Airport in London is officially carbon neutral as of last summer, using 100 percent renewable energy, emphasizing electric car rentals, and building the world’s first airport waste management plant to turn cabin waste into energy on-site.
 
 
New TSA Scanners Could Allow Travelers to Keep Their Liquids and Laptops 
Open Jaw reports the TSA plans to have up to 40 units in place at 15 US airports by the end of this year, with plans for another 100 or so more by the end of the government’s fiscal year 2019. The Transportation Security Administration announced plans to expand testing of a new carry-on bag screening technology that it says could detect the kinds of materials that caused it to issue a ban on liquids and powders. The new checkpoint technology is expected to result in fewer bag checks. In the future, the agency said, “passengers may also be able to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.” The computed tomography scanners (CT) utilize 3-D technology similar to the kind doctors use to view and rotate images of the human body. “TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience. Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By leveraging strong partnerships with industry, we are able to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.” CT technology testing started in 2017 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport, with John F. Kennedy International Airport receiving the third such machine. Abroad, London’s Heathrow International Airport is among several international airports testing the 3D technology.

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