Tag Archives: airlines

Travel News: Changes for the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Your Checked Bags

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Rome’s Colosseum Opens Top Levels To Public

Seats on the fifth level of the amphitheatre were once reserved for ancient Roman society’s lowest commoner: the plebeian. The highest level of Rome’s ancient Colosseum opened to the public for the first time in 40 years on November 1. The seats boasted a breathtaking view, not only of the gladiator battles far below, but of the heart of the empire. Far below, tourists peering down into the maze of galleries in the monument’s belly appear as tiny specks, showing just how far away the commoners were from the arena floor, where terrified prisoners were forced to fight wild beasts. Those squeezed together on wooden benches had a long way to climb to get to their seats – but the tickets were free. Once they were there spectators were protected by a large canvas from sudden downpours. Visitors will have to book guided tours, which will take groups of a maximum of 25 people up into the gods level at a time. They will start with an exceptionally well-preserved corridor between the second and third floors, where traces of the lavatories can still be seen. There is also evidence of restorations to the walls following a fire sparked by lightning in 217 AD. The tour will continue to the third floor, where the middle-classes sat, and on to the fourth, where merchants and traders enjoyed the famously grisly shows. The first level was reserved for the emperor and his senators. Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was the biggest amphitheater built during the Roman empire. Standing 48.5 meters (159 feet) high, it was capable of hosting 80,000 spectators for feasts of entertainment that encapsulated the brutality, hedonism and engineering genius that were among the defining features of ancient Rome. The first phase of a major makeover of the venue was completed in July 2016, with a number of sections structurally strengthened and most of the remaining walls water-sprayed to remove centuries of encrusted dirt and grime. 

Rome Eyes Trevi Fountain Cash To Bolster City Finances

Rome is going through a budgetary crisis at the moment, and with cash in short supply, officials are now even eyeing the city’s iconic Trevi Fountain. Every year, millions of tourists flock to the former seat of empire to view the city’s many sites. A good deal of them toss coins into the near 300-year-old fountain, the haul of which reportedly hit $1.5 million in 2016 alone, chump change compared to the city’s estimated €12 billion ($14 billion) debt. It’s believed that anyone who turns their back on the baroque masterpiece and tosses a coin into the fountain is destined to return. The cash is usually scooped up and given to Catholic charity Caritas, but not from April 2018, if Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi has her way. It’s not only the Trevi Fountain that is being targeted but all of the city’s monumental fountains. Raggi has reportedly earmarked the coveted cash for projects yet to be decided on by city hall, although il Giornale reports that some of the money will be redirected to “social welfare projects.” The city’s debt essentially consists of financial and commercial debt, with other types affecting the figure to a lesser extent. Basically, and perhaps unsurprisingly, more than half of the debt is in the hands of banks, whereas private debt makes up just over a quarter of the €12 billion.

 

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Trevi Fountain

 

TSA PreCheck Program Has Added More Airlines

Five more airlines recently joined TSA PreCheck, bringing the total number of domestic and international carriers to 42. If you still don’t have TSA PreCheck, Its just $85 (covering a five-year membership), your PreCheck will work at more than 180 U.S. airports. and All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Korean Air, and charter airline Contour Aviation all agreed to recognize the trusted traveler program, the Transportation Security Administration announced. Etihad Airways was the only foreign airline outside of North America to offer this perk to passengers until September 2016, when German carrier Lufthansa became the first European airline to join the PreCheck program. (A number of other international carriers jumped on the bandwagon shortly thereafter.) And while other airlines are no doubt interested in joining the PreCheck club, the process is far from simple: Carriers have to meet all TSA security requirements and upgrade reservations systems to sync with the U.S. government’s Secure Flight prescreening system; after all, even if you’re an existing TSA PreCheck member, it’s the airline that issues the boarding pass, and it’s that document that displays your PreCheck eligibility to the agent manning the entrance to the checkpoint.

Visa Introduces New Payment Wearables For Fans Attending Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018

ETN reports Visa, the exclusive payment technology partner at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has introduced three commercially available wearable payment devices. In the spirit of the Olympic Winter Games, Visa created NFC-enabled payment gloves, commemorative stickers and Olympic pins that allow fans and athletes to complete seamless and secure payments with a simple tap at any contactless-enabled terminal. Visa teamed up with Lotte Card, the financial arm of South Korean-based retail giant, Lotte Department Store, to produce and make these new prepaid payment wearables, now available for purchase, in Korea.

  • Commemorative Olympic Pin: Visa is bringing to market four unique lapel pins featuring custom PyeongChang 2018 designs to offer a payment-enabled collectable for fans and athletes to utilize on-site. Cost per pin is KRW5,000 plus desired embedded prepaid amounts valued at KRW30,000 or KRW50,000.
  • Payment-Enabled Gloves: The average temperature in PyeongChang will be – 4.8 degree celsius, so gloves will be a must-have! This payment glove will offer fans a way to pay safely and securely without having to get cold hands. The gloves contain a dual interface chip housed with a contactless antenna capable of completing purchases throughout official Olympic Venues and compatible readers globally. The gloves will come with embedded prepaid amounts valued at KRW30,000 or KRW50,000.

 

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Viking Ocean

 

Viking Offers Ocean And River Combination Cruises In 2018

Taking advantage of its ocean and river ship fleet, Viking is offering combination cruises where passengers do both types of itineraries in one trip. Called Ocean & River Voyages, the sailings allow passengers to easily go between two cruises by transferring them between ships in a single port. The line also notes that a combo trip means you only have to fly overseas once, yet enjoy two different voyages. Two itineraries are available for 2018. The first combines the traditional Rhine River cruise with Viking Ocean’s popular Norwegian Fjords itinerary; passengers transfer between a Viking Longship and Viking Sun in Amsterdam. The 15-day July trip runs between Basel and Bergen. The second itinerary also begins on the Rhine River, on a Viking Longship, starting in Basel and ending in Amsterdam. Instead of heading north, passengers will take Viking Sky to Le Havre to visit Paris, cross the English Channel to Portsmouth and then sail south to Spain, stopping in Vigo, Granada and Cartagena. The 18-day September 29 cruise ends in Barcelona.

Best Western Rolls Out Systemwide Mobile Platform For Guests

Best Western Hotels & Resorts has launched a mobile platform to enhance guest engagement before, during and after a stay. Previously active at 360 properties and now being rolled out globally, the Best Western Mobile Guest Engagement Platform features a number of capabilities, such as mobile check-in and check-out, including late check-out functions; email or text communication with the system and with property staff; purchasing upgrades and ordering Ubers, and mobile room key capabilities also are coming soon. The technology, which does not require users to download a smartphone app, is provided in partnership with Runtriz. The properties that have tested the platform saw increases in both guest satisfaction and room revenue via upselling and advertising functions, and Medallia Net Promoter Scores, which measure customers’ willingness to recommend products, increased by as much as 18 points among guests using the mobile requests feature.

 

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises

 

Regent Names New Ship Seven Seas Splendor

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced its 2020 newbuild will be named Seven Seas Splendor and is now scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2020. As part of the naming process, Regent Seven Seas Cruises sought suggestions from its valued travel agents, loyal guests and employees for the ship’s name in a sweepstakes held in September. Seven Seas Splendor was chosen among nearly 2,600 unique names from more than 14,000 submissions, the company said. 

Airlines Ordered To Keep A Much Closer Watch On Your Bags

Airlines have been told to improve the tracking of luggage during flights as figures showed that almost 22 million items went missing last year. Regulations will be introduced next summer in an attempt to cut the number of bags being lost after it emerged that mistakes cost the air industry $2.1 billion in 12 months. A new duty will be introduced by IATA in June next year that requires airlines to track bags at four critical points during a journey. This instantly flags up if bags have been lost, rather than putting the onus on passengers to report losses when luggage fails to turn up on the collection belt. It will also force them to share data on bags between carriers. It is expected that the system will cut baggage losses by up to 30%. At present there are no universal obligations towards tracking and recording bags. More than 21 million pieces of luggage went missing worldwide last year after check-in. Almost half were lost during the transfer process when passengers connected between aircrafts. More than 90 per cent were reunited with their owners, although one in six was damaged or had contents stolen. The remaining unclaimed bags were auctioned by airlines or given to charity. 

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Travel News: Walt Disney World To Build Star Wars Hotel

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Walt Disney World To Build Star Wars Hotel

Walt Disney World used this weekend’s Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim to announce it will build a Star Wars-themed hotel. The hotel will be built at Walt Disney World in Orlando and has been described as ‘the most experiential’ luxury resort ever attempted by the company. Each guest will have their own unique experiences following their own individual storyline throughout their stay while dressed up in realistic Star Wars attire. In the rooms ‘every single window has a view into space’. There is no confirmed date yet on an expected opening. Meanwhile Disney said the upcoming Star Wars themed lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will be named ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’.

New Destination For River Cruises Near Amsterdam

The development of two berths to handle river cruise vessels up to 135 meters has begun at Huizen, an old fishing village in the North Holland province of the Netherlands not far from Amsterdam. The berths are expected to be ready early next year. According to Amsterdam Cruise Port’s latest newsletter, the municipality of Huizen aims to become an additional destination for the many river cruises in the region. Huizen offers a charming old port area and can serve as a gateway for tours to Utrecht and other destinations. Funfact: Utrecht is a “friendship” city with Portland, on its way to becoming a sister city.

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Sandals Temporarily Closing Antigua Resort

Sandals Resorts International is temporarily closing Sandals Grande Antigua for important maintenance projects. The work, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 20, is anticipated to take five months, however, Sandals is in the process of completing a full and detailed assessment and say the timing may actually be shorter. This is the first time Sandals Grande Antigua, the only Sandals property in this destination, has closed since opening in 1992. 

Inbound International Airlines now requiring 3-hour check-in

More and more flights booked with international airlines that are flying into the USA are now requiring a 3-hour check-in. Keep this in mind the next time you’re flying back home!

Congress Set To Finally Push Back Against Shrinking Airline Seats 

Yahoo reports cabin seats have been shrinking over the past few decades. Since the 1970s, the average economy seat pitch, the distance between the seats, has shrunk from 35 inches to 31 inches, further pressurizing cabins and passengers’ tempers. This has allowed airlines to squeeze more seats in, or to make more room for larger seats they can sell at a premium. Today, travelers need to purchase premium economy seats for the same amount of legroom they used to get with the old economy. In May American Airlines said it would be shaving two inches of legroom in economy class, going from 31 to 29. Public blowback led the airline to partially reverse its decision and only cut one inch from most rows. But passengers’ knees, legs, and elbows are on track to get a reprieve thanks to the dogged efforts of one member of Congress, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). Cohen is finally looking at a win in his third year waging war against shrinking seats, having steered a version of his Safe Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act into the FAA reauthorization bill as an amendment, after failing numerous times.

22 Cruise Ships Earned Perfect 100 Health Scores So Far In 2017

Twice a year, each cruise ship that sails to or from a US cruise port goes through a surprise public health inspection. This inspection is done by the VSP (Vessel Sanitation Program at the Centers for Disease Control) to determine how well the ships are operating and to the check the sanitation standards on board. For a full list, click here: http://cruisefever.net/22-cruise-ships-earned-perfect-100-health-scores-far-2017/

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Tourism In Antarctica Funds Scientific Expeditions

tourism-review.com reports there are two things that are increasing in the Antarctic Peninsula: temperature and tourism. An unprecedented temperature of 17.5°C was recorded by the World Meteorological Organization at Base Esperanza, in Argentina in March 2015. As of July 2017, there are 63 vessels registered in the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, including Hurtigruten, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Silversea and Celebrity Cruises. They brought a total of 38,500 visitors on tourist expeditions to the white continent in the 2015-2016 season, an increase of almost 10,000 compared to the last decade. The scheme of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators has agreed to require best practices to minimize the impact on the environment. The registered routes of the Association are limited to no more than 500 passengers on the ships, with only 100 of them on land at a specific time. And before approaching the Antarctic Peninsula, ships must comply with rigorous decontamination processes. At Palmer Station, a research base in the United States, is located the southernmost souvenir shop in the world, with t-shirts, sweatshirts and decals for sale. Clearly, it was put there for the arrival of tourists. Hundreds of thousands of coat-clad tourists will come to visit penguins on the ice in the 2017-2018 season, profits from responsibly managed tourism in Antarctica will help fund scientific expeditions to the continent.

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Is Economy Plus Really Worth It?

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Heard of Economy Plus or Economy Comfort but not sure what it means?

Economy Plus or Economy Comfort (both terms are correct and interchangeable, which term utilized depends on the airline) is the front section of economy/coach class that typically offers more comfortable seats. If you have purchased economy class on a flight, you are eligible to purchase one of these “plus” seats, at anywhere from $20-$120. International seats are typically more expensive than domestic seats.

Though generally not as cozy or as serviced as business/first class, this special seating offers more comfort to take the edge off a long flight. Understandably, many of our clients prefer this seating on long-haul international flights. Note that Economy Plus seats are NOT available with all airlines or on all airplanes. Delta, United, Virgin America, Frontier and JetBlue all offer economy plus/comfort on select flights.

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Economy Plus/Comfort CAN (but are not guaranteed to) include:

  • up to 1-2 extra inches of seat width
  • up to 2-3 extra inches of seat recline
  • up to 3-4 extra inches of legroom
  • Premium food service
  • Priority boarding
  • Seating in the first few rows of the economy cabin

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Don’t Confuse Economy Plus/Comfort with Premium Economy, which is a separate section–seats between Economy and Business/First. Premium Economy is only offered on select airlines, and can offer even more benefits at a different fare level.

Some airlines, such as United, allows complimentary access to Economy Plus seating for their Premier members and up to 8 of their traveling companions.

United Airlines is now offering an economy plus annual subscription, which automatically upgrades your seat to one on economy plus if available. If you do more than two international trips per year, it’s definitely worth it. The subscription also provides for two checked bags per flight for the subscriber and up to 8 companions. For more information and to book, check it out on United’s website.

This is just one of the insider tips that travel agents can offer. Ask your Willamette Intl Travel agent to book the best flights with guaranteed economy plus/comfort for you and your family. Call 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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SPECIAL AIRFARE: Hawaiian Airlines + New Zealand

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ALOHA SPECIAL: Roundtrip New Zealand airfare from 1210$!!!

Hawaiian Airlines has recently opened up its flights to New Zealand, and are running a special promotion package!! Book a Roundtrip package to New Zealand from select West Coast Gateways, starting at $1210 per person! Call Willamette Intl Travel Today at 503-224-0180 to book!

copyright kayadams.com, creative commons

Book Today through to September 27 for this limited time offer!

Travel Dates:

–          Today to Oct 3, 2013

–          Oct 19 – 18 December, 2013

–          February 1 – 23 April, 2014

PACKAGE INCLUDES:

  • Round-trip airfare via Hawaiian Airlines West Coast Gateways to Auckland. All Taxes, Fuel Surcharges, Security Charges included.
  • 1 FREE night at Copthorne Auckland City Hotel with Breakfast Included
  • 7 days FREE Travella Car Rental from Jucy Rentals (Nissan Pulsar or similar)

Willamette Intl Travel Agents Pam, Barb, Nancy and Linda have all been to New Zealand and would love to share their insight with you! Call us to book this limited time offer at 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com!

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Dubai

This weekend our agent Pam is in Dubai, escorted and hosted by the world-renown airline Emirates. She’s coming back next week, and we can’t wait for her report! Today we’re taking a closer look at the popular city-state.

photo by Shenli Leong, Creative Commons

Dubai has boomed as a major destination in the past 10 years, and these days draws tourists and business travelers from all across the globe. There’s a plethora of sights, enchanting landscapes and luxury attractions for every type of traveler to enjoy. Here are some top sights:

–         Experience the old Bastakiya Quarter and cultural centers: the Al Fahidi Fort, the Dubai Museum, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, and the Jumeirah Mosque

–         Head over to the Abra Dock and ride in a wooden boat taxi for a memorable cruise

–         Wander the souqs, marketplaces of spices, textiles, perfumes and jewelry

photo by Emmanuel Eragne, Creative Commons

–         View the Dubai Fountain, in Burj Khalifa Lake. The fountain, designed by the creators of the Fountains of the Bellagio, shoots water up to 500 feet!

–         Visit the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,722 feet.

–         Fancy a break from the desert? Head over to the Dubai Mall of the Emirates, to Ski Dubai, the world’s third largest indoor ski slope. Complete with trainers, a chair life and t-bar, ski down 6,000 tons of snow to your heart’s delight.

–         Head out of the city and enjoy sandy beaches, striking deserts, water slides, golf, and a hot air balloon ride. Who knows—you may be able to catch a camel race in the winter.

–        Ride on the sand with professional guides and go dune-bashing

photo by Robert Young, Creative Commons

Interested in a vacation to Dubai? Whether you’re a luxury or adventurous traveler, we can help you plan your ideal vacation. Just passing through? Emirates connects the world with top destinations in Africa and Asia. Willamette Intl Travel regularly books tourists heading to safaris in Kenya or conferences in Hyderabad.

Emirates flies a nonstop from Seattle and other major U.S. hubs to Dubai. Call Willamette Intl Travel for the best times/dates to fly! Call 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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WIT Agent off to Dubai, UAE

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Our agent Pam is heading out tomorrow to Dubai on our vendor Emirates. She will depart on January 31 from Seattle on the nonstop to Dubai, and return on Feb 4.

Her outbound and return flights will be on the Boeing 777-200LR, and will be approximately 14 hours and 30 minutes. There are private suites in first class, and lie-flat seats in business class. All seats feature ice, the award-winning inflight entertainment system, offering up to 1,200 channels. We regularly book our clients in first and business class, and recommend these highly.

Emirates is currently the fastest-growing Middle Eastern airline. They stirred up some excitement for travelers when they announced a direct flight between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Dubai on March 1, 2011. Emirates flies to more than 100 destinations from Dubai, including Islamabad, Delhi, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Manila, Nairobi, Seychelles, Johannesburg and Dakar.

Pam will do three nights in Dubai with her Emirates hosts, seeing beautiful Dubai, the world’s tallest building, and learning the ins and outs of the airline and the city. She’ll travel with a local guide and discover this urban jewel of the Arabian desert, and it’s world-class service and attractions.

This is a terrific opportunity to see the inside workings of an airline—so stay tuned for her report!

Willamette Intl Travel can connect you with contract fares on Emirates to hot destinations in Africa, Arabia and Asia! We work side by side with our Emirates representatives to ensure you have an exceptional travel experience. Traveling first or business class? Emirates offers some incredible high-end classes at low-end rates! Call us today at 503.224.0180 or email info@witravel.com.

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Filed under Airlines, Emirates, Middle East, UAE, Vendors, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?