Category Archives: USA

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! The Planetarium Aboard the Viking Ship

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Big Sur Road Is Coming Back

LA Times reports Big Sur road coming back: Highway 1, closed for a year and a half because of massive slide, to reopen by July 20 (that’s today!). Travelers soon will be able to do something they haven’t in a year and a half: drive the 650-plus miles of California’s Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Caltrans announced Tuesday that full access to the blocked area south of Gorda would reopen by 11 a.m. July 20. The new stretch of road could open to traffic a few days sooner, depending on when work is completed, according to Caltrans.

The Mud Creek Slide, which rained debris in one of the state’s largest landslides, destroyed a quarter-mile section of roadway on May 20, 2017. The road will be open to traffic in both directions, meaning there’s still time to take an uninterrupted summer road trip along the Big Sur coast. Last year, heavy rains led to slides and debris flow that wiped out a bridge and closed several points on Highway 1, including Paul’s Slide, roughly at Post Mile 21. The road is now open with a single lane and a traffic signal to direct drivers, which may cause some slowing. Construction crews worked round the clock seven days a week to complete the $54-million emergency repairs. They built new roadway across the slide, fortifying with embankments and other support features such as berms, rocks, netting and other materials.

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Courtesy of Silversea

Luxury Line Silversea To Cruise The Northeast Passage 

Silver Explorer will become the most luxurious cruise ship to sail the Northeast Passage through the Arctic when it sets sail from Nome, Alaska, to Tromso, Norway, on August 10, 2019. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Silversea’s expedition arm, the line is offering a rare cruise ship itinerary to the far northern reaches of the globe. The 25-night cruise will take in destinations in Alaska, Russia and Norway, including Wrangel Island, a UNESCO site where polar bears and walruses live; the otherworldly Champ Island with its mysterious stone spheres; Murmansk, a Russian city that dates to the early 20th century; and coastal villages like Chukotka’s Uelen, where passengers can interact with and learn about the native Chukchi and Yupik people who live there. A highlight will be the day Silver Explorer spends sailing as far north as it can toward the edge of the polar ice cap. The expedition team will be in search of seals, walruses and polar bears hanging out on the ice floes. Its onboard expedition leaders will offer lectures and workshops, and lead Zodiac trips and other shore excursions to educate passengers on the itinerary’s remote destinations. The ship carries a mere 144 passengers, and pampers them, even in rugged climates, with suite accommodations, butler service and all-inclusive fares that cover all drinks, gratuities and unlimited Wi-Fi. Fares for this sailing start at $37,260 per person, based on double occupancy. Note that all suite categories but the lowest three are currently showing waitlist status.

EU Gets Tough With AirBnB On Pricing and Policy

the European Commission and EU consumer authorities are calling on Airbnb to be more transparent with its pricing. They say Airbnb’s current pricing and some of its terms do not comply with EU rules and it has given the homeshare giant until the end of August to fall into line. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner. Airbnb has been told to show all fees and charges from the initial search or, where that’s not possible, clearly inform customers that additional fees might apply. It must also clearly identify if the accommodation offer is made by a private host or a professional, as consumer protection rules differ.

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American Airlines To Eliminate Plastic Straws From Cabins, Lounges

Reuters reports American Airlines on Tuesday said it plans to no longer offer plastic straws and stir sticks in its lounges and onboard its flights, amid a broader global push to abandon one-time use plastics. Starting this month, American said drinks in its airport lounges will no longer come with plastic utensils and will instead feature biodegradable straws and wooden stir sticks. The phase-out onboard its planes will begin in November, with plastic straws and stirrers to be replaced by environmentally friendly bamboo. The carrier will also transition to “eco-friendly” flatware in its lounges. American said that the move will eliminate more than 71,000 pounds (32,200 kg) of plastic each year. On Monday, Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffee chain, said it would no longer offer plastic straws at its 28,000 locations by 2020.

Disneyland Just Experienced The Hottest Day Ever At A Disney Park 

Travel + Leisure reports Disneyland just had its hottest day ever. While southern California experienced a heat wave temperatures in Anaheim (home of Disneyland) soared to 113°F on July 6. It is not only the hottest temperature on record since the park opened in 1955, it is the hottest temperature recorded at any of the Disney parks around the world (including Orlando, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong), according to Theme Park Insider. Because of the oppressive heat, park officials closed all outdoor rides, including Big Thunder and Mountain Railroad – several food vendors also shut down because of the heat. Those who went to the park on that day said that lines for rides were short, as the park was practically empty. Disney first aid staff were on call to help guests experiencing dehydration. “There was one medic run right after the other,” one park cast member said. Wait times for many popular attractions dropped to the point where it was basically possible to walk right on.

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This High-Tech Planetarium Is On A New VIKING Cruise Ship

The Explorers’ Dome is located on the second level of the Viking Orion’s Explorers’ Lounge. The newest Viking Ocean Cruise ship, made its debut in Italy on June 14, revealing a unique high-tech feature: a planetarium at sea. The ship is named after the constellation Orion (the hunter) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the first crewed capsule designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. The ship’s name also honors retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher, who is the “godmother” of Viking Orion and worked on the Orion spacecraft before retiring in May 2017.

The planetarium, called the Explorers’ Dome, features shows about space and exploration, including two 3D films: “Journey to Space” and “Under the Arctic Sky.” “The Explorers’ Dome onboard Viking Orion is currently the highest-definition 7K planetarium in the world,” Ralph de Klijn, Viking’s executive director of ocean operations, told Space.com. “The Explorers’ Dome is a versatile space that can operate as a high-tech planetarium, as well as show films and other programming in 2D or 3D.” Viking Orion is only the second cruise ship in the world to have a planetarium; the other is the Queen Mary 2.

Although Viking Orion is not the first cruise ship to offer a planetarium, the company says this one is the most advanced, with:

– Digistar 6 display system, five projectors and studio speakers.

– Viking resident astronomer. Howard Parkin, a Royal Astronomical Society fellow and founding member of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society

– lectures on the wonders of the cosmos

– offer guided tours of the night sky during stargazing sessions using Viking’s portable telescope.

While other Viking ships have resident historians, Orion is the only one with a resident astronomer and historian. Parkin will continue to offer lectures through the ship’s 2018 maiden season, de Klijn said.

Read more on Space.com: https://www.space.com/41145-space-cruise-vacation-viking-orion-reflections.html

Club Med Cancún Yucatán Introduces Expanded Family Area 

Club Med Cancún Yucatán has doubled the size of its Aguamarina family area, adding 60 rooms and a new pool. The Aguamarina family area now offers an additional 30 Club Rooms and 30 Deluxe Rooms. Both of the two-bedroom accommodation options provide oceanfront views. This expansion doubles the Aguamarina area’s capacity to 120 families. Club Med Cancún Yucatán also introduced a new Aguamarina reception area and concierge service. The resort also added a new family pool, offering water games, lounge areas and outdoor activities. After a long day in the water, guests can dine at the pool area’s new family bar La Marina. Here kids can visit the restaurant’s kids’ corner and the whole family can order special treats that change from day to day. Guests of the Aguamarina area receive all the benefits featured in a stay at Club Med Cancún Yucatán. This includes dining at the resort’s three restaurants, water and land sports such as snorkeling and flying trapeze, kids’ and teens’ clubs and nightly entertainment. The additions to the Aguamarina area follow a full renovation the resort completed at the end of 2017. The work included improvements to all the resort’s rooms, its meetings and events spaces and the 5-Trident Jade area. The property also introduced new wellness opportunities as well as new and improved dining options.

More glimpses of the family area here: https://www.clubmed.us/r/Cancun-Yucatan/y

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Paris Métro Ditches Paper Tickets, Moves to London-Like System 

Cntraveler reports Paris’s more-than-a-century-old, white paper Métro tickets are on their way out. Starting in 2019, entry to Paris’s efficient public transport system, including buses and express RER trains, will be done through contactless Navigo cards. The city’s transport agency, Ile-de-France Mobilités, announced Wednesday that it would be rolling out two different travel cards, in addition to the unlimited Navigo card for residents already available, over the next year for all sorts of travelers and commuters. If you’re visiting the city for a short time, you’ll need the Navigo Easy pass, available starting in April 2019. Almost identical to London’s Oyster card, the Easy pass costs €2 ($2.34) to buy. Then, you’ll load up the card with T+ rides, what the paper tickets represent now, which will cost the same in 2019 as they do today: €1.90 ($2.22) per ride or €14.90 ($17.39) for a pack of 10 rides. That’s a more than 20% discount, and will cover one-way Métro rides, RER trains in Zone 1 (central Paris), and bus trips. Much like the Oyster card in London, you can top the card up as needed at all transit stations so be sure not to throw yours away. There will be no time limit on them and the card is not nominative, meaning it can be given to a friend. You can also load Orlybus (to Paris Orly Airport) or Roissybus (to Charles de Gaulle Airport) tickets on the Easy pass as well.

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Travel News: Snakes on a Plane?

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TSA Finds Python Hidden In Hard Drive

ABC News reports airport security agents stopped a woman from boarding a plane with a python wrapped in a nylon stocking concealed in a computer hard drive Sunday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said its agents stopped a real-life version of “Snakes on a Plane” from happening after an agent noticed the ball python. “A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories!” the TSA continued. “While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight,” the TSA added. “Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking.”

If You Owe The IRS It Could Cost You Your Passport

EtN reports if you have a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS can certify that debt to the State Department for action, and that department generally will not issue a US passport to a potential traveler after receiving certification from the IRS. This is all in plain print at the IRS website: “Upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny your passport application and/or may revoke your current passport. If your passport application is denied or your passport revoked, and you are overseas, the State Department may issue you a limited validity passport good only for direct return to the United States. Seriously delinquent tax debt is an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a Notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or seriously delinquent tax debt is limited to liabilities incurred under Title 26 of the United States Code and does not include debts collected by the IRS such as the FBAR Penalty and Child Support.

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Anguilla Retains Best Caribbean Island Ranking

Travel + Leisure reports the Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is pleased to announce that for an unprecedented second year in a row, Anguilla has been ranked #1 island in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, honoring the top travel destinations and companies around the globe as rated by its readers. Frangipani Beach Resort has been ranked #1 in the Top 25 Caribbean Resort Hotels category and #3 in the Top Hotels Overall category. The Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Anguilla has been ranked #12 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category; Zemi Beach House was ranked #15; and Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort was ranked #18 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category. The World’s Best Awards appear in the August 2018 issue of Travel + Leisure, on sale July 27, and online: travelandleisure.com/worlds-best.

Singapore Airlines To Launch Non-Stop Flights From LAX To Singapore

By Christmastime, Singapore Airlines will be flying ten times a week between LAX and Singapore. If you don’t mind sitting on a plane for 17 and a half hours, getting from the West Coast to Singapore will be a whole lot easier and faster, thanks to the elimination of a layover in Seoul. Starting November 2, Singapore Airlines will bring back its nonstop route from Los Angeles International to Singapore Changi. The airline will will fly the route three times a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) until November 9; service will go daily after that. From December 7, three more flights a week will be added for ten total non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore per week. The fall kickoff date is notable for many reasons: It’s two weeks after Singapore restarts its longest-flight-in-the-world Newark-Singapore route (clocking in at nearly 19 hours), and just a week after Star Alliance member United ends its LAX-Singapore route. 
 

Airlines Load Factor Hits All-Time High

Forbes reports that if you think that airline flights are much more crowded than they used to be, you’re not wrong. The passenger load factor of commercial airlines has risen significantly over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had an average load factor of 75.2%, so on average, just three out of every four seats were sold. The recession of 2007-2010 stopped load factor growth. But by 2018, the average airline load factor hit 81.7% worldwide. In the US load factor has increased on domestic flights from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% in 2018, while the number of domestic flights has stayed almost constant, from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline industry has clearly gotten better in filling seats as revenue passenger miles rose from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017. The days of having a whole row to stretch out in coach, or even an empty middle seat separating you from your neighbor, increasingly seem like a distant memory. The airlines are busy shrinking seats and cramming in additional rows into smaller, more fuel-efficient jets.

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Amtrak Service Declines As It Becomes An Airline On Rails

Travellers United reports Amtrak service is becoming more airline-like with a former airline executive in charge, former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. His Amtrak service changes bring the railroad closer to service practices in the airline industry. Some of the changes: – Hot dining car meals prepared on-board, included in the fare for first-class sleeping car passengers, are being replaced with cold pre-prepared meals served in-room on the Chicago-New York and Chicago-Washington routes starting June 1.

– Amtrak no longer offers discounts to veterans, students and AAA members, and the minimum age of eligibility for the senior discount (which is now 10% rather than 15% was raised to 65 from 62.

– The railroad’s cancellation policy is now more airline-like. There is now a 25% penalty for most reservations canceled more than 24 hours after booking, even if the value is credited to the passenger as an eVoucher (redeemable for future ticket purchases) rather than as a cash refund. Luckily, Amtrak still does not charge change fees.

– First Class amenities like a lounge car for sleeping car passengers have been removed from several routes, and two routes have lost Business Class seating.

– A number of stations have lost their Amtrak Customer Service Representative(s), employees who do everything from selling tickets to handling baggage and assisting passengers with special needs.

– Amtrak has stopped operating charter and special trains in partnership with rail museums and preservation nonprofits, tour groups, sports teams and others, jettisoning a source of revenue and public goodwill in the name of operational convenience.

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Ethiopia Launches New E-Visa Services

Ethiopia, a treasure trove of history and culture, has become easier to get to with an all in one new e-visa service launched by the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines. The new service brings the travelers closer to authentic travel experiences and enables them to travel to Ethiopia. All the visitors have to do is process their visa online on a single webpage where they apply, pay and secure their entry visa online. Give it a try and you will get authorized via email to secure your passport stamped with visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Call Willamette Intl Travel to discuss a unique holiday in Ethiopia – you’ll be sure to love this beautiful country and the warm-hearted hospitality of its people.  

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Filed under Africa, Europe, News, Travel by Rail, USA