Tag Archives: travel news

Travel News: TSA ramping up for Spring Break

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TSA getting ready for Spring Break Travelers

The Transportation Security Administration is gearing up for the Spring Break travel period, which usually begins around the end of February and continues into April. According to a release, the TSA expects to screen about 62 million travelers at airports across the country in March alone, and it expects to hit a ten-year high traffic volume. “As we approach the Spring Break travel period, security remains our top priority, and we are taking every measure, both seen and unseen, to protect the millions of air travelers,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia. The agency is also collaborating with vendors, airlines and airports to open automated screening lanes in the coming months. Such lanes are designed to improve the screening process by automating many of the functions and allowing passengers to move more quickly through a security checkpoint. Automated screening lanes are currently available at Newark Liberty International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International.

Record Number of Cruise Ships On Order 

When 2017 opened, there were a record 73 cruise ships on order, and now, according to the 2017-2018 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, that number has surged to 82 with recent orders from Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and a small unnamed luxury brand. The orderbook now totals at least 82 ships, not including a number of known options, meaning the cruise industry is looking a decade of solid growth even as older, smaller vessels are retired. The orderbook is well up from another previous record of 70 ships on order, set in 2016, which eclipsed the year 2000, which saw some 67 ships on order early in the year, according to data from Cruise Industry News. While ship volume is a record, the average size of ships is staying put at approximately 3,000 passengers, offset by smaller luxury and expedition ships. The average tonnage of ships on order is approximately 117,256. 

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One For The Record Book: Holland America Line’s Eurodam’s 11th Perfect USPH Score

Kudos to Holland America Line’s Eurodam as it earned its 11th consecutive 100 score on a routine US Public Health inspection, a run that’s unprecedented both for the company and the cruise industry. The inspection was held Jan. 14 during a turnaround at Port Everglades at the start of a seven-day Caribbean cruise. This follows on the heels of sister ship Koningsdam achieving a perfect score on its first USPH inspection in December. In 2016 five additional HAL ships aced USPH: Eurodam, Maasdam, Veendam, Noordam and Westerdam. The year before 10 perfect scores were received by seven HAL ships: Eurodam, Noordam, Veendam, Zuiderdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Ryndam and Statendam.

British Airways strike for 7 days

Unite, the trade union of British Airways’s cabin crew, has announced another strike for seven consecutive days from March 3. The mixed fleet crew, who make up around 15 percent of the total BA cabin staff, have been in a long-running dispute over pay and Unite said that the solid results announced earlier on Friday by BA’s owner IAG meant they could meet the union’s demands. If you’re booked on British Airways, please check their website for updates before your flight. 

American Airlines boards passengers based on ticket cost

American has announced an update to its boarding process that will take the new fare into account. The company says that starting March 1, boarding groups will no longer be called by their current name. Instead, travelers will now board as part of a group ranging from Group 1 to Group 9. The changes may spark some confusion amongst travelers, who are used to the airline only using four groups to designate main boarding lanes. Now, however, groups 1-4 designate priority boarding lanes, while groups 5-9 represent main boarding lanes. Basic Economy travelers will be the last to board. Other airlines are likely to follow if this boarding method proves effective. Read more here: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/american-airlines-announces-new-boarding-process-022717.html

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Jimmy Fallon Loves Travel Agents

What better spokesman could there be for the new Jimmy Fallon ride at Universal Orlando than Jimmy Fallon himself? Jimmy turned up in person at a reception for members of the travel press to showcase the new ride and Universal Orlando Resort’s new water theme park, Volcano Bay, coming in April and May, respectively. And there was even a nod to travel agents. “Of course I use a travel agent. Travel agents get you the best rooms and the best rates,” Jimmy said when asked by TMR. “I was friends with a travel agent growing up in Saugerties, NY; I’ve used a travel agent my whole life. I don’t even know how to book my own trip.”

Egypt’s Visa Fee To More Than Double

Egypt is increasing fees for entry visas from $25 to $60 for incoming tourists starting 1 March. The foreign ministry informed airport security officials about the fee increase earlier this week. Egypt last raised the fee for its visa in April 2014, when it was increased from $15 to $25. Several tour operators have said that the decision would cause problems for tourists who booked trips based on the old rate. Some in the tourism sector say the decision should have been announced several months beforehand, expressing fears that the move might affect the country’s efforts to revive tourism, a pillar of the economy and a key source of foreign currency. 

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Pisa Is Adding A Ferris Wheel To Attract Tourists

Pisa, Italy, known for its leaning tower, is adding a Ferris wheel to attract tourists. Andrea Ferrante, Pisa’s culture commissioner, announced details about the wheel on state television, the Associated Press reported. The wheel will be more than 165-feet tall. (The tower is about 183-feet tall.) Italia Nostra, an organization dedicated to preserving Italy’s history, has come out against the ride, saying it will “clash” with Pisa’s Medieval architecture, AP reported. Controversial or not, the attraction is set to rise in a parking lot this summer to test if tourists like it. In addition to getting a bird’s eye view of the leaning tower, riders will also be able to see the Mediterranean. Pisa is on Italy’s western coast, about an hour’s drive from Florence. Ferris wheels have become popular as tourist attractions in several cities around the world. The London Eye may be the most well-known.

Elvis still a star

Nearly four decades after Elvis sang his last tune, his legacy got a US $45 million boost with the Thursday opening of a major new attraction at his Graceland estate – an entertainment complex that Priscilla Presley says gives “the full gamut” of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. About 200 people streamed into “Elvis Presley’s Memphis” after the late singer’s wife cut a ribbon and allowed fans to see the complex for the first time. Resembling an outdoor mall, the 200,000-square-foot campus sits across the street from Graceland, Presley’s longtime home-turned-museum. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played, a showcase of the cars he owned and used, a soundstage, a theatre, two restaurants and retail stores.

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Travel News: London Loses Its Position As World’s Second Most Visited City

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London Loses Its Position As World’s Second Most Visited City
Bangkok overtook London as the second most visited city in the world in 2015, according to latest figures from Euromonitor International. Hong Kong held on to the number one spot for the seventh year, despite an almost 4% drop in visitors to 26.7 million, while a near 7% increase in arrivals in London wasn’t enough to avoid it being bumped into third place. Bangkok leapfrogged into second place after seeing a 10% rise in visitors in 2015, to a total of 18.7 million. London attracted 18.6 million. Singapore came in fourth place with almost 16.9 million and Paris fifth with 15 million.Overall, there was a 5.5% increase in international travel to the world’s top 100 cities in 2015 compared with the previous year.

Hotel VAT Refund ‘Will Boost Tourism To Argentina’
Argentina’s decision to exempt foreign tourists from paying VAT on hotel stays has been welcomed by the Latin America Tourism Association. Tourists will receive a refund for the VAT, which today stands at 21%, when they pay for their accommodation. To receive the refund, they must pay with a foreign credit or debit card, provide their passport number and confirm their address. Tour operators and travel agents who take bookings must provide this information on their behalf. This new law, combined with the development of tourism infrastructure and the launch of new direct flights from Europe to the region, reflect the efforts being made by governments to open up Latin America to international tourism and to better promote the destination.

TSA Adds 11 Airlines To Precheck
Eleven additional airlines now are participating in the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s Precheck program, including Avianca, Emirates, Spirit Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, the TSA announced. Other newly added carriers include Aruba Airlines, Boutique Air, Key Lime Air, Miami Air International, Southern Airways Express, Sunwing and Xtra Airways. Thirty airlines now participate in the program, which gives travelers access to expedited screening at more than 180 U.S. airports.

Magnitude 8 Earthquake Hits Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
A powerful magnitude 8 earthquake hit the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands on Sunday, but no tsunami was reported hours after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for nearby islands. The quake struck at a depth of 103 miles under Papua New Guinea’s most eastern province of Bougainville, where the two South Pacific countries meet in a continuous archipelago. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. 

HAL Culinary Council Named ‘Best Culinary Initiative’ in Porthole Cruise Magazine

Holland America Line’s Culinary Council, a team of world-class celebrity chefs, was named “Best Culinary Initiative” in Porthole Cruise Magazine’s 2016 Editor-in-Chief Awards. The annual awards are chosen by Bill Panoff, the magazine’s editor-in-chief and publisher, who honors his favorite travel experiences that left an impression in terms of service, quality and memorable moments. The winners were announced in the Jan./Feb. 2017 issue of Porthole Cruise Magazine. The Culinary Council is a collaboration of some of the greatest international chefs, chaired by Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, a past recipient of Panoff’s “Best Cruise Line Chef” Editor-in-Chief Award. 

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Australia To Replace Passports With Facial Recognition Technology
Australia’s international airports are in the process of automating 90% of air traveler processing by 2020 by implementing facial recognition technology that involves biometric recognition of faces, irises and/or fingerprints, hence eliminating the need to carry essential traveling documents such as passports.

Elton John Announces Spring 2017 Performance Dates At The Colosseum At Caesars Palace
Returning to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace to perform his most iconic hits, tickets for performances of Elton John’s critically-acclaimed show, “The Million Dollar Piano” for the following April 2017 and May 2017 dates have gone on sale. The dates for the show are: April 25-26 Tuesday, Wednesday, April 28-29 Friday, Saturday, May 1 Monday. May 3-4 Wednesday, Thursday and May 5 Friday. At the centerpiece of the performance is the show’s namesake piano, an engineering marvel featuring more than 68 LED video screens created by Yamaha. “The Million Dollar Piano” features iconic hits and classic album tracks from Elton’s incredible five-decade career, all enhanced by the most elaborate stage design Elton has ever used.

Emirates To Fly To US Via Athens
Reuters reports Emirates is to start flying to the US with a stop for passengers in Greece, its second so-called fifth freedom flight and a move that could anger US competitors who accuse it of competing unfairly through state subsidies.
The airline said Monday it would start daily flights to New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport via Athens on March 12. Dubai-based Emirates already operates four daily flights to JFK in New York, including one with a stop off in Milan. Fifth freedom rights allow an airline to fly between foreign countries as a part of services to and from its home country. 

Lindblad Expeditions Names Next Ship National Geographic Venture

Lindblad Expeditions has named its newest addition to its fleet the National Geographic Venture, which is currently being built in Seattle and will make her inaugural voyage in June 2018, according to a statement. Sister ship to the National Geographic Quest which is launching in June 2017, they are the first newbuilds in Lindblad’s history and the only purpose-built expedition ships designed and built from scratch in the USA. The 100-guest National Geographic Venture will launch in June 2018 and will have 50 cabins, 22 with balconies, and six sets of connecting cabins for families and groups; all category 5 cabins can accommodate a third guest. The ship will be outfitted with a fleet of 24 sea kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, and Zodiacs, according to Lindblad. Her inaugural voyage will be on the June 24, 2018 departure of “Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska & British Columbia.”

Sandals To Operate Marriott Hotel In Jamaica
Resort operator Sandals will manage a new hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, but on a very different model to its usual all-inclusive concept. Sandals has teamed up with Marriott International to bring the AC Hotels by Marriott brand to the Caribbean for the first time. It will be the first time Sandals has been involved in the management of a non-proprietary brand. The new build will feature 220 rooms and a 10,000-square foot conference centre, and is expected to open in 2019. Full service restaurants, a car rental facility, a wellness salon and retail units will also be housed in the mixed-use site.

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Royal Caribbean To Offer PADI Dive Courses

Royal Caribbean cruisers can now become certified scuba divers, as the line has added onboard PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Five Star Dive Centers. Programs range from a 30-minute Try Dive program for newbies to PADI’s Reactivate Program for certified divers wanting a refresher course. Prices are reasonable, the Try Dive class costs $29 per person, while the Reactivate class is $59 per person. A third option is PADI’s Open Water Diver course, which allows passengers to complete their scuba diving certification; prices start from $599 per person. This course starts before the cruise with participants attending an online course using either the PADI Touch app for mobile devices or PADI eLearning online system for desktop and laptop computers. Once onboard, divers will begin in the ship’s pool before heading out to open waters for four mandatory, open-water training dives. The training dives will be split among two different ports of call. Courses will be offered on Royal Caribbean itineraries in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. 

American Airlines is Doing Away With The Seatback TV In Its New Planes
The new 737 MAX’s that will start arriving later this year for American Airlines won’t have seatback television screens, the airline said in a letter to employees. The reason is the abundance of smart phones, tablets and other electronics passengers bring on the plane for entertainment. American said more than 90% of flyers bring a device onboard with them. “Those phones and tablets are continually upgraded, they’re easy to use, and most importantly they are the technology that our customers have chosen,” the letter reads. “So it makes sense for American to focus on giving customers the best entertainment and fast connection options rather than installing seatback monitors that will be obsolete within a few years.” 

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This Week in Travel News

Delta begins flights Portland to London nonstop next May!

Starting May 26, Delta Airlines will operate a Portland to London nonstop flight! The PDX-LHR will fly Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, departing 5pm arriving at 10:50am the next day. The return London to Portland operates Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday, departing 12:30pm arriving at 3:15pm. Airplanes will land at Terminal 4 in Heathrow.

Alaska Airlines launches new nonstop Portland to Newark from November

From November 10 Alaska will fly a daily nonstop Portland to Newark flight.This new PDX to EWR route continues the airline’s expansion of its Portland hub which includes other recently added destinations such as Minneapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Orlando; Omaha, Nebraska; and Atlanta. “We thank the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for their efforts to increase competition in the New York metro area,” said John Kirby, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of capacity planning. “Since 2015, Alaska has launched 28 new routes from our West Coast hubs and focus cities. With our new expanded service to Newark, we continue to grow our West Coast footprint by offering our valued customers more nonstop flights to popular business and leisure destinations.” 

Travel + Leisure Says Paul Gauguin Cruises The #1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line”

Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is pleased to announce that the line was awarded “#1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” by readers in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016. The annual readers’ survey reveals favorite cities, hotels, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, airports, and more. Cruise ships are rated in categories of cabins/facilities, restaurants/food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities, and value. In 2015, Paul Gauguin Cruises was voted by readers “#2 Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” in the Travel + Leisure 2015 World’s Best Awards. The line was also voted “#1 Small-Ship Cruise Line” and “#1 Small-Ship Cruise Line for Families” by readers in the Travel + Leisure 2014 World’s Best Awards. More recently, Paul Gauguin Cruises was awarded #2 in the category of “Top Small Cruise Lines” in the Condé Nast Traveler 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards and recognized on the publication’s 2016 “Gold List.” 

United Airlines, TSA To Modernize Airport Screening Experience At Hub Cities

As part of a joint initiative with TSA to improve the overall screening experience for customers, United will install state-of-the-art, automated security lanes, add permanent TSA Precheck® enrollment centers at convenient locations and redesign security checkpoints at several of the airline’s most-frequented hub airports. United will debut the automated lanes at Newark Liberty International Airport this fall. When United, in collaboration with the TSA, completes the installation, the entire centralized security checkpoint at Terminal C in Newark Liberty will feature 17 automated lanes.

Seabourn Launches South Pole Treks

Seabourn is introducing pre-cruise excursions to the South Pole with select ‘Antarctica & Patagonia’ itineraries during the 2016/17 season. Travelers bound for the White Continent aboard Seabourn Quest can extend their adventure with two new packages that also travel to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The packages are ‘Polar Quest & Patagonia’ and ‘Polar Quest, Tierra del Fuego & Iguazu Falls.’ Both include stays at Union Glacier Camp in the southern Ellsworth Mountains, one of a few private seasonally occupied camps in Antarctica. Operated by land-based tour operator Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, the full-service camp offers spacious, double-occupancy sleeping tents; freshly prepared gourmet cuisine; and a spectacular setting for activities from scenic excursions to technical climbs and ski tours. The 14-night ‘Polar Quest & Patagonia’ includes a trans-Antarctic flight and landing at the South Pole and an exploration of UNESCO World Heritage Site Torres del Paine National Park in southernmost Chile. Participants can choose from a variety of included excursions providing daily opportunities to explore the various environments, including blue ice pools, raw glacial moraines and abundant wildlife, from guanacos to Andean condors. Departures in December and January. 

Celebrity Equinox To Leave The Med In 2017

Celebrity Cruises will enter a competitive year-round Caribbean market in 2017 as the company has pulled the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Equinox out of the Western Mediterranean for the 2017 summer. Instead, the ship will sail a variety of itineraries from Miami, including seven-night cruises in June, July and August with Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries offered. Beginning next April, the 2,850-passenger ship will offer a total of 24 cruises from its new homeport, including seven-night itineraries between June and August, and 10- and 11-night itineraries throughout the rest of the year. In addition to a year-round presence in the Caribbean, Celebrity will debut a new family program with an array of new enrichment options for kids. “Summer Camp at Sea” will include activities such as video creation, cooking classes and marine biology lessons. The new “Taste of the Caribbean” program will feature complimentary activities like cooking and mixology demos, rum and reggae parties on the Lawn Club, and brunch and bubbles. Foodies can even splurge on more exclusive experiences such as a fresh pasta and mozzarella making class with lunch in Tuscan Grille, and a five-course tasting dinner with Celebrity chefs.

Port Everglades Cruise Terminal Adds BorderXpress Kiosks

Port Everglades and its cruise line partners have announced the opening of two BorderXpress Automated Passport Control kiosks at the Florida cruise terminal. As part of a three-month pilot program, officials from Port Everglades, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency and the Vancouver Airport Authority have added the BorderXpress kiosks to increase passenger processing rates following cruises. The self-service BorderXpress kiosks will be available to users at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area at Port Everglades, and will feature on-screen instructions to speed up the customs declaration process. 

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This Week in Travel News

Join us every Friday for the latest news from the Travel Industry.

Chinese HNA Group To Buy Carlson Hotels
HNA Group has agreed to buy Carlson Hotels, which owns brands including Radisson and Country Inns and Suites, the latest in a flurry of overseas investments by Chinese companies. HNA Tourism Group will acquire all of Carlson Hotels Inc., the companies said in a joint statement released late Wednesday that did not disclose the purchase price. Carlson’s headquarters would remain in Minnetonka, Minn., after the deal is completed. The purchase is the latest in a string of global transactions by Chinese companies as they diversify abroad to counter slowing growth at home while also scooping up foreign expertise and technology. As part of the deal, the Chinese company will also acquire a 51.3 percent stake in Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group AB, which operates Carlson hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Carlson has 1,400 hotels in 115 countries and territories and employs about 90,000 staff worldwide. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.

JetBlue To Launch NY LaGuardia-Boston Flights, Aiming At Business Travelers
Reuters reports JetBlue Airways Corp said Thursday that it will start six round-trip flights per weekday between New York’s space-constrained LaGuardia airport and Boston, in a bid to capture business travelers on the heavily trafficked route. JetBlue said it would move some of its LaGuardia-Florida flights to nearby Newark Liberty airport in order to free up take-off slots for the endeavor, now that the US Federal Aviation Administration has made it easier for airlines to grow at Newark.

United Airlines Cutting Chicago To London Flights June 30
The airline has been flying the route for the past seven years. United gave no warning and has not formally announced the cancellation. Travellers only found out last week when told by airport counter staff and when the United website would not book direct London-Toronto flights past June 30. A United spokesperson said last week the Chicago-London route was canceled because a regular review found it was “not meeting expectations.” London International Airport president Mike Seabrook said United was cutting a number of Canadian services because the low Canadian dollar was making the flights unprofitable.

Her Majesty Queen Máxima Of The Netherlands Named Godmother Of Koningsdam
Holland America Line’s tradition will continue when Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands christens Holland America Line’s new Pinnacle-class ship, Koningsdam, in a ceremony in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 20, 2016. embers of the Dutch Royal Family have launched 11 Holland America Line ships. Most recently, then-Princess Máxima christened ms Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010 and then-Queen Beatrix served as ms Eurodam’s godmother in 2008.

London’s Big Ben To Go Silent For Several Years
The British Parliament announced Tuesday that the chimes of Big Ben that have rung out across the British capital for more than 150 years are set to fall silent for “several months” to make “urgent” repairs. Big Ben is one of London’s most famous icons, and its “bongs” are broadcast live on BBC Radio. Urgent repairs are needed on the Great Clock and the tower that houses Big Ben. While almost everyone refers to the clock tower as “Big Ben,” that’s not technically true. Big Ben is the nickname given to the 13.5-ton bell that resides inside the Elizabeth Tower. The clock itself is known as the Great Clock.

Anne Frank House In Amsterdam Aims To Cut Queues With Timed Tickets
The Anne Frank House is introducing a new timed ticketing system to reduce the length of queues outside one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors who want to see the museum before 3.30 pm will have to book their tickets online before they go. They will be allocated a 15-minute time slot so they can go in without having to wait outside. After 3.30 pm tourists will be able to pay at the desk as before and pre-purchased tickets will not be valid.

Australians Sue Scenic Over Flood-Disrupted European River Cruises
A class action against Australian-owned Scenic has begun in the New South Wales Supreme Court with 1,265 plaintiffs claiming ‘expensive luxury river cruises’ turned into ‘cheap second-rate bus tours’ because of extensive flooding in Europe in 2013. Heavy rain in France and Germany in April and May 2013 caused extensive flooding and water levels on the Rhine, Saone, Rhone and Danube rivers rose so high that river cruise ships were unable to operate as scheduled for about six weeks.

Biggest Theme Park In The Dubai Region To Open In October
It’s been two years in the making, but Motiongate Dubai’s development is on schedule; it will open its doors as the biggest theme park in the region this October. Motiongate is a park themed to DreamWorks, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Smurfs Village and Studio Central animation characters emerged to take the form of Dubai’s newest leisure and entertainment destination in 2014. Motiongate Dubai will be part of a larger complex of theme parks, which will include Bollywood Parks Dubai and Legoland Dubai. The entire complex will estimated to cost Dh10.5 billion that will cover 25 million square feet on the south side of Dubai near the border with Abu Dhabi. The complex is expected to attract 6.7 million visitors in its first year of operations. Motiongate Dubai will boast 27 attractions, with dining, retail and entertainment options throughout the area.

British Airways Takes on Budget Carriers With New Fares
British Airways has launched new fares in a bid to simplify short-haul travel and compete with its low-cost rivals. There are three new fare types – Basic, Plus and Plus Flex are now on sale, replacing the airline’s six existing options. Basic is the cheapest of the new fares and doesn’t include checked luggage. The new Plus fare includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance and allows free flight changes until the day of departure, up to one hour before the scheduled take off, though fare differences may apply. The Plus Flex fare, meanwhile, is fully refundable and includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance, free flight changes on the day, free seat selection at booking and free advance changes subject to fare difference.

Delta Air Lines Just Abolished One of the Most Hated Fees
Delta Air Lines has abruptly stopped charging extra for booking seats offline. “It is much simpler for our customers to not have to worry if they will pay a fee for ticketing with Delta,” Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s incoming president, said in a prepared statement. Phone reservation fees are among the most least popular charges in the travel industry. A recent survey found 49% of travelers “hated” them. The announcement came as a surprise, given that the airline industry lately has based its business model on ancillary fees, like these: $25 per ticket when purchased over the phone through reservation sales and $35 per ticket when purchased at airports and other ticket office.

Venezuela To Ration Electricity
On 21 April 2016, the Venezuelan government announced that it will begin rationing electricity nationwide for four hours each day, starting on 25 April. The electricity cuts will be in place for 40 days or until water levels at the Guri Dam, which provides the majority of electricity in Venezuela, stabilize. The schedule of cuts will be published on a daily basis in newspapers and on ministerial websites. Only the oil sector will be exempt from the rationing. The announcement is the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing Venezuela’s electricity usage, including plans to shift the country’s time zone forward by 30 minutes on 1 May, reducing government workers’ workdays to six hours and giving them Fridays off for the next two months, and ordering shops and hotels to ration electricity.

Germany Rolls Out ‘Women Only’ Train Compartments
Special train compartments exclusively for women have been introduced by a German rail company. The areas for female passengers only are regularly checked by workers on services run by Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn (MRB) in the east of the country. Women-only train cars are in use in many cities – including Cairo, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur – but none are believed to be in the heart of Europe. Now, in a highly controversial decision, a private German railway company wants to adopt the idea as well. According to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, women-only carriages will be available on trains running between Leipzig and Chemnitz.

FAA Orders Fix For GE Engines On 787 Dreamliners
Another problem for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The FAA has ordered an urgent fix for General Electric engines on up to 150 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a step to avoid engine failure in icy conditions. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was requiring modifications to prevent fan blades from rubbing against the engine casing, which can cause “damage and a possible in-flight non-restartable power loss of one or both engines.” The measure was prompted by a report in January that such rubbing caused vibrations, leading the pilot to shut down the engine, a GE spokesman said.

Maryland And Royal Caribbean Sign New Contract
The Maryland Port Administration announced a new contract with Royal Caribbean International that will extend the cruise line’s year-round departures from the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore through June 2020. Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas will continue to offer a wide range of cruising experiences from Maryland to the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and New England/Canada. The Grandeur of the Seas will continue offering five, nine and 12-night roundtrip itineraries from Baltimore, including a new nine-night voyage to Nassau. In 2015, nearly 200,000 passengers sailed on 90 cruises from the Port of Baltimore. The Port ranks 6th on the East Coast, 11th in the U.S. and 20th in the world for cruise passengers.

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Travel News: Update on the REAL ID Act

There have been a lot of recent updates in the news covering the REAL ID Act and  acceptable travel identification for US-citizens. We’re happy to share the latest with our readers here on our blog, and to clear up any confusion. Contact your Willamette Intl Travel agent if you have more questions. 

Use Of Acceptable ID By The TSA
The following is from the website of the TSA as of this morning, January 8th. If traveling by air, residents from ANY state are still able to use a driver’s license, or any of the various other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry cards, U.S. military IDs, airline or airport-issued IDs, federally recognized, and tribal-issued photo IDs). Adult passengers 18 and over must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel.

Rumors And Facts

Rumor: TSA isn’t going to accept my driver’s license starting on January 1, 2016
Fact: DHS is in the process of scheduling plans for REAL ID enforcement at airports and will ensure that the traveling public has ample notice- at least 120 days- before any changes are made that might affect their travel. If traveling by air, residents from ANY state are still able to use a driver’s license, or any of the various other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry cards, U.S. military IDs, airline or airport-issued IDs, federally recognized, and tribal-issued photo IDs. See the full list on the TSA website.)

Rumor: I need to get a new driver’s license or passport
Fact: The REAL ID Act places the responsibility for action on the state, not residents of the state. Overall, states have made considerable progress in meeting this key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to make driver’s licenses and other identification more secure. Every state has a more secure driver’s license today than before the passage of the Act.

Our agents at Willamette Intl Travel stay informed and up-to-date with all current travel trends and news. Subscribe to our blog for weekly updates, or email info@wittravel.com to sign up for our e-blast list and receive deals and discounts. 

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Strikes & Star Wars! Headlines from This Week’s Travel News

Headlines from This Week’s Travel News! Our Agents read and keep abreast of all the latest travel news.

Follow us on Twitter to stay in touch with the newest travel tips and tricks!

Here’s this week’s roundup of top news highlights:

LH Strike

German airline Lufthansa began to strike late today Friday GMT, affecting around 290 flights and 37,500 passengers.

Passport changes ahead?

Passport policies all around the world are going through major changes. Several countries, such as Nepal and Australia, have made small but significant adjustments that may change the way we think about passports and their necessity. The Australian government announced that it will test an electronic cloud-based passport on a sample group of citizens. This may make paper passports obsolete. (no more colorful stamps! 😦 )

Cruises return to Ukraine

After a 2-year absence, Viking River Cruises announced a scheduled return to Ukraine in 2016. The voyage will include Kiev, Odessa and the Black Sea, but will not fall into the Crimean region annexed by Russia in 2014.

Seaboard returns to Alaska/BC in 2017

After a 15-year absence, small ship cruise line Seaboard has announced its return to Alaska and British Colombia in 2017, in response to high demand.

World Air Quality Index

There is now a guide comparing air pollution levels of the world’s top vacation destinations. The research compares 28 cities in 19 countries, including Germany, India, Thailand and U.S. The higher the number, the more polluted the air: Beijing and Dubai score high, Mexico City and Amsterdam are moderate, and the city with the lowest score is Bangkok.

AA renews LAX-SYD-LAX route

For the first time since 1992, American Airlines will fly a Boeing 777 roundtrip Los Angeles to Sydney.

USA Pre-clearance at Dublin Airport

You will soon be able to pass US customs and immigration while still in Ireland. Automated Passport Control Kiosks are being delivered to Dublin Airport, which will cut down on lines and passenger processing time in the States. Dublin is the only airport in Europe that allows U.S. pre-clearance, but who knows how the program will expand.

Crystal River Cruises

Crystal will launch five luxury river yachts starting in 2016, and they will debut in June and August!

English-speaking hotlines introduced for tourists in Japan

Privately-owned multilingual hotlines are now available for the nearly two million foreigners who visit Japan annually. Hotlines are available in 13 different languages and staffed 24 hours.

Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Montreal will close for renovations

To execute the renovations, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth will close in mid-June 2016 and will reopen in June 2017.

Finally, the Trevi Fountain will lose its scaffolding

You can know see the world-famous Trevi Fountain or Rome in all its glory! The basin was refilled with water on Thursday after 17 months of restoration work drew to an end. Tourists applauded at one of the final stages of the renovation, which began in June last year and cost more than 2 million euros, financed entirely by fashion house Fendi. Official reopening day was November 3!

Major maintenance concerns about Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air, which has been under fire over its maintenance issues – including from its own pilots – is again facing increased scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration over recent maintenance problems on multiple airplanes.

Disney Dream gets Star Wars upgrade

The Disney Dream is back in the water at Port Canaveral as of last Friday after getting some upgrades. The ship had been in dry dock for three weeks for the installation of Star Wars themed play areas. “You can fly the Millennium Falcon. You can play with R2D2. There is also lots of entertainment programming we offer,” said Tony Giordano of Walt Disney Entertainment.

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TRAVEL NEWS: DHS Issues New ID Requirement for Certain States

Be forewarned: beginning in 2016, residents of New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire or American Samoa will likely need more than a driver’s license as ID when traveling within the US.

According to the US Department of Homeland Security, driver’s licenses do not comply with minimum federal ID standards. The REAL ID Act, implemented in 2014, requires all DMV records to include social security numbers, photographs, and home addresses of the drivers. All states were given until 2016 to comply with these standards, and all but these four states now meet them.

What will this mean for residents? Although the consequences of not complying are still unclear, travelers from these states are advised to carry their passport or passport card as ID at the airport. If they fail to do so, they may be unable to board domestic flights or cruises whatsoever.

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