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Travel News: Virgin Atlantic Pilots Plan Christmas Strike

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Virgin Atlantic pilots plan Christmas strike

BBC Reports that some Virgin Atlantic pilots will strike from 22 December to Christmas Day in a dispute over union recognition. The union, which represents about a third of pilots at the airline, said it was excluded from talks over proposed changes to pilot benefits. It said this was the first of a series of one to four-day strikes it wants to hold until the dispute is resolved. Virgin Atlantic said it did not expect any disruption to its schedule. The PPU said 72% of its Virgin Atlantic members turned out for a ballot, and 71.5% of those who voted backed strike action. The other strikes are planned for 30 December to 2 January and 4 January to 7 January inclusive.

Super Sensitive High Tech Scanner To Shorten Airport Queues

Airlineratings reports a super-sensitive passenger scanner that reveals hidden security threats is being trialed in the UK. The walk-through scanner, which uses space technology to image human body heat, is the result of a collaboration between Sequestim Ltd. and Cardiff University scientists. Computer learning allows the scanner to distinguish between threats and non-threats but without the need for passengers to keep still or remove outer clothing. Globally, around 12 million passengers travel by plane every day on 120,000 flights. The technology has the potential to cut queues at airport terminals as it screens people on the move. It will also impact on the effectiveness of security and help keep passengers safe. “Passenger numbers are expected to double in 20 years, putting airport security facilities under immense pressure,” said Ken Wood, Sales and Marketing Director of Sequestim Ltd, a joint venture between Cardiff University and QMC Instruments Ltd. “Our scanner combines a number of world-leading technologies developed by our team here in the UK. It uses the human body as a source of “light”, in contrast with existing scanners which process reflected and scattered millimetre-waves while the passenger is required to strike a pose.” “Our system only needs a few seconds to do its work. Passengers walking normally through security would no longer need to take off coats and jackets, or remove personal items such as phones.” The trial takes place privately, by invitation only, from 4 to 7 December 2018 at Cardiff Airport and will not affect passenger journeys.

Delta Air Lines Unveils First Biometric Terminal In Atlanta 

Travel Market Reports Delta’s Atlanta customers flying direct to an international destination will be able to use facial recognition to check in at the self-service kiosk. Passengers at the Delta terminal in Atlanta can use facial recognition technology “from curb to gate,” in what the airline is touting as the first biometric terminal. Delta has been installing biometric features in Terminal F at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport since announcing its plans earlier this fall. Passengers flying with Delta’s partner airlines, Aeromexico, Air France-KLM or Virgin Atlantic, will also have access to the facial recognition technology. Delta customers flying direct to an international destination will be able to use facial recognition to check in at the self-service kiosks; drop checked baggage at the counters; serve as identification at the TSA checkpoint; board a flight at any gate in Terminal F; and go through Customs and Border Protection processing for international travelers arriving into the US. “We’re removing the need for a customer checking a bag to present their passport up to four times per departure,” said Gil West, Delta’s COO. According to the carrier, the facial recognition option is saving an average of two seconds for each customer at boarding, or nine minutes when boarding a widebody aircraft, based on initial data. Since coming online in October, Delta said nearly all 25,000 customers who travel through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta’s Terminal F each week have chosen this process, with less than 2% opting out.

UK and EU Must ‘Wake Up’ To Risk Of Grounded Flights After Brexit 

CNBC.com reports A body representing 50 airlines has written to the European Commission warning that it must take urgent action to prevent the grounding of flights after the UK leaves the European Union. “We get the sense from the politicians and officials that on the morning of March 30, the aviation industry will wake up and go to work as usual, even if there is a hard Brexit,” Andrew Kelly, president of the European Regions Airlines Association (ERA), said in a press release on Tuesday. “It won’t, it can’t, and the UK and EU need to wake up to that fact now, before it’s too late.” The UK is due to depart the EU on March 29. The letter to officials in Brussels claimed that a “no-deal” Brexit could have “disastrous consequences,” impacting routes, aviation safety and border security. The ERA has estimated that 1.8 million routes across Europe will be affected in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Delta Revamps Menu: ‘Pre-Select’ Meals To Expand, Drink Prices Bumped 

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports Delta’s pre-select meal option will soon be available on all Delta One routes, expanding the food option to more business customers traveling between the US and Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. Beginning today, pre-select meals will be available in more than 200 markets around the world, marking a relatively speedy expansion since its initial launch in March. Delta One is the airline’s latest update to its business-class cabin that features lie-flat beds and sliding privacy doors. The pre-select meal program is part of Delta Air Lines Inc.’s multi-billion dollar investment in the overall customer experience, which heavily focuses on onboard personalization. The pre-select option allows passengers to pick their meal of choice ahead of time. Delta said the pre-select expansion comes following “rave reviews” in initial markets, which included Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport to Europe. The airline’s pre-select markets expanded in June to Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City. “Customers continue to tell us how much they value having control over their in-flight experience,” said Lisa Bauer, Delta’s vice president of on-board services. 

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Travel News: Pilotless Planes on the Horizon?

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Disney Cruise Lines Is Rumored To Be Buying Jack Sparrow Island For Their Own Caribbean island 

With three new ships in the works for Disney Cruise Lines, bringing the fleet up to seven ships, it comes as no surprise that Disney is reportedly looking for a second Caribbean island. Disney Cruise Lines has been expanding its non-Florida itineraries in recent years, adding a number of West Coast and Mediterranean tours, while Asian itineraries have been strongly rumored for some time, but the bread and butter of the award-winning cruise line are its Florida-based cruises. Disney Cruise Lines already owns one private island, Castaway Cay. This island, formerly known as Gorda Cay, just won Best Cruise Line Private Island by Cruise Critic for the second year in a row. Cruise Critic noted that the island is “easy to navigate, offers large swaths of pristine beach and free buffet lunch, as well as dedicated areas for kids and adults.” Some cruise itineraries include two stops at Castaway Cay and things could get crowded when the larger ships visit. 
 

The Next Frontier In Automation: Self-Driving Wheelchairs

The Daily Mail reports Canadian researchers have developed the technology for self-driving wheelchairs. Trials will begin in Tokyo for the self driving wheelchairs to ferry passengers around airports during the 2020 Olympic Games. Autonomous wheel chairs are being tested in a Japan airport for disabled flyers. Using sensors, they can navigate to a gate or shop via a destination input. They can also connect to luggage carts and other wheel chairs for group travel. Air travelers with disabilities will have a much easier time navigating one of Japan’s main airports, thanks to new smart wheel chairs. Haneda Airport outside Tokyo is beginning tests of the WHILL NEXT, an app-controlled self-driving wheel chair that can take users around the airport and even bring their luggage in a separate wireless vehicle behind them. It is hoped the system will be in place, alongside new smart billboards and navigation apps, in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
 
 

US Airlines Bump Fewer Passengers After United’s Dragging Incident

Following widespread outrage over a passenger who was violently dragged off an overbooked plane, U.S. airlines are bumping customers at the lowest rate in at least two decades. The Transportation Department said yesterday that just one in every 19,000 passengers was kicked off an overbooked flight in the first six months of this year. That’s the lowest rate since the government started keeping track in 1995. The biggest decline took place between April and June, partly because airlines began paying many more passengers to give up their seats. Airlines have routinely overbooked flights for years in the expectation that some passengers won’t show up. When a flight is overbooked, airlines typically offer travel vouchers to encourage a few passengers to take a later flight. Since then, United and other large U.S. airlines have introduced new measures to reduce overbooking, and raised the maximum amount that passengers can be offered to give up a seat. 
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New Italian Motorway Links Italy’s Tourist Destinations From Top To Boot Toe

The new A2, the former A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria Italian motorway, has been renamed to the Autostrada del Mediterraneo (Mediterranean motorway). It is a completely different way of thinking about motorways: not just the infrastructure and a comfortable road, but also a work through which to arrive in so many territories of southern Italy, crossed by its route. The Autostrada A1, or Autostrada del Sole, literally “Sun Motorway” or Autosole, is an Italian motorway that connects Milan with Naples via Bologna, Florence, and Rome. At 754 km, it is the longest Italian motorway and is considered the spinal cord of the country’s road network. 
 

Pilotless Planes Could Save Airlines $35 Billion, UBS Says 

CNBC reports a UBS note said “Reducing the intervention of human pilots on aircraft could bring material economic benefits and improve safety.” The bank stated that there could be a material profit opportunity of over $35 billion per year for the aerospace and aviation industry. A recent UBS Evidence Lab Survey of 8,000 people however showed that 54% of participants were reluctant to take a pilotless flight. Pilotless planes could not only be a future method of transport, but an economically-beneficial one too, according to new research by Swiss bank UBS which claims that they could save airlines billions of dollars. 

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