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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: Spain promises Extra Security

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Spain Promises Extra Security In Tourist Areas

The Spanish Government has said it will increase security at tourist sites across the country following last week’s terror attacks. Interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said areas deemed to be potential terror targets would be given special protection. There will also be increased security at the Spain/France border, while Italy is putting up barriers at popular landmarks. The Times reports barriers appeared over the weekend in central Milan, they will also be erected in Palermo and Rome, while security has been tightened up in other areas, such as Bologna. Italian interior minister Marco Minniti is reported to have said he is ‘amazed a van could have driven undisturbed down La Ramblas’. The driver of the van has now been found and killed. Despite last week’s attacks, Spain’s terror threat level has not been increased and remains at four.

Rome Experiments with Controlled Flow of Tourists at Trevi Fountain

Italy Magazine reports Rome is experimenting with a new measure aimed at controlling the crowds at one of its most iconic monuments, the Trevi Fountain. This comes during a summer when problems caused by mass tourism have become more apparent than ever in a number of Italian destinations. From 9 am until midnight, ten volunteers (retired Carabinieri and traffic policemen) will take turns patrolling the area around the Trevi Fountain, directing the flow of visitors and making sure people don’t misbehave. During peak hours, visitors will have to follow a specific path, accessing the fountain from the central entrance and exiting from the one on the left. “This measure is intended to allow everyone to enjoy the monument more effectively,” Diego Porta, commander of Rome’s municipal police, told La Repubblica. “Tourists can throw their coins, take a photo and then leave in order to make room for others.” The volunteers are also tasked with presiding over the monument, and sanction possible inappropriate behavior, such as eating, playing in the water, sitting or leaning on the fountain, which would violate the ordinance signed in June by Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi to safeguard the city’s artistic fountains. “We’ll make sure that tourists don’t eat in the area adjacent to the monument and don’t sit on the edge of the fountain,” added Porta. The experiment, which began at the end of July and is scheduled to continue for 80 days, will become permanent in October if the results are deemed positive. The Trevi Fountain reopened in November 2015 after a $2.2 million restoration funded by the Italian fashion house Fendi.

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Antwerp Plans New Terminal for 2020

Nadine Brasseur, who heads up cruise operations for the city of Antwerp said the city has plans to build a new cruise terminal, that should be finished in 2020. “Our current cruise terminal is located directly in the city center,” she said. “Passengers like that. They can walk two minutes and enjoy the Christmas markets, for example, eat in one of many restaurants, have a Belgian beer or visit museums.” A 28,000-passenger season this year will be highlighted by a first-time call from Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus, which will become the biggest ship to ever call at the Belgian port. Also scheduled is a first time call from Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator, and another exceptional news item: a first time turnaround call from the Crystal Symphony, said Brasseur.

American Airlines To Offer Premium Economy On Hawaii Flights

American Airlines is selling Premium Economy tickets on flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and three Hawaiian cities, beginning on December 15th. American is launching service with Premium Economy fares from DFW to Kahului Airport beginning in December and from DFW to Kona International Airport and Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport set to begin on June 7th, 2018. Also, AA will launch Premium Economy seats from Los Angeles International Airport to HNL, beginning on December 15th until January 7th. The routes will be operated on retrofitted Boeing 777-200s. This is the first time a domestic route will include the larger seats and elevated service Premium Economy offers with its 2-4-2 layout. American Airlines’ Premium Economy offers seven more inches of legroom than standard seats. Customers receive noise-reducing headphones, an amenity kit, blankets and pillows, meal service, and free alcoholic beverages. It was launched earlier this year on international flights to Barcelona in Spain, and Seoul in South Korea.

IHG Goes To 24-Hour Cancellation Policy

Travel Weekly reports InterContinental Hotels Group is introducing a policy enabling customers at most hotels to cancel without penalty if they give at least 24 hours’ notice. The move comes about a month after Marriott International tightened its cancellation policy, requiring guests at most hotels to give 48 hours’ notice to cancel without penalty. IHG’s new policy will go into effect next month across most of IHG’s chains (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Even and Candlewood Suites) in the Americas and Europe, and by October for the Middle East, Africa and Asia, excluding China (where most hotels already have a same-day cancellation policy). Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants chain will retain its 48-hour cancellation policy.

American Airlines Will Now Alert You If Your Bags Get Lost 

American Airlines has launched a program that alerts travelers when their bags don’t arrive at the same airport. Airline passengers often must wait at the baggage carousel until every suitcase has been picked up before realizing that their bags didn’t land with them. Now, Fort Worth-based American Airlines is giving travelers a digital alert if their bags don’t arrive at the same destination at the same time. The alert comes through the contact information provided by the fliers during the booking or check-in process. Loyalty reward members at American Airlines can also get notices through the airline app. The alert tells travelers if their luggage has arrived early or will arrive later. If the luggage is arriving late, the alert informs the traveler to head to the Baggage Service Office to arrange a pickup later or notifies the passenger to fill out a mobile baggage order to have the airline deliver the bag to the traveler’s home, office or lodging. American Airlines’ system relies on bar codes that are printed on each bag label. To keep track of the bags, the bar codes are scanned at several points in the loading and transportation process.

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Glasgow Could Have Water Taxi Service To Airport

A Venetian-style entry to Glasgow has been proposed with plans for a water taxi service from the airport. Arriving passengers would be whisked up the Clyde into the city centre in 25 minutes. Boats would operate from a pontoon on the White Cart Water about 500 m east of the airport. The plans include passengers transferring from the terminal in golf buggy-style vehicles. These would eventually be replaced by a travellator, a moving walkway which would have to go either over or under Abbotsinch Road. The scheme has been devised by John Hillis, who runs power boat trips on the Clyde in Glasgow. He said the route would provide visitors with a stunning introduction to the city. Hillis also said more transport options to the airport were required as it continued to grow, It handled more than 1 million passengers for the first time in June and the annual total has grown by 7 per cent, to 9.7m. 

Conservation-Themed Murals At Honolulu Airport Are Under Threat Of Destruction 

Two of Hawaii’s landmark conservation-themed murals are under threat of destruction by Hawaiian Airlines. The 35,000-square-foot murals “Hawaiian Humpbacks” and “New Millennium” painted in 1999 by renowned marine life artist and muralist Wyland, were created as a gifts to the city of Honolulu to recognize the past, present, and future of Hawaii’s fragile marine life ecosystems. The murals at the Pacifica Airport Center Building, 3049 Ualena Street, Honolulu, were among 100 murals painted in 17 countries by the artist over a 30-year period as part of one of the world’s largest arts-in-public places projects. In every instance, the artist donated his time and services, receiving no compensation, while project partners provided support. The murals are intended to raise global environmental awareness. Hawaiian Airlines, which recently purchased the Airport Center Building, has threatened to remove the mural, “painting it over with a neutral color.” The Airline has threatened to begin destruction of the mural as early as last Friday. Hawaiian Airlines has maintained they will only allow Wyland to restore the mural pending a signed agreement that would remove any protections the public has for the artwork – and allow the company to move forward with the destruction of the mural, regardless of the artist’s efforts to save it. The airline is using building repairs or spalling to set an artificial deadline to pressure the artist into signing an agreement. Wyland has agreed to donate his time and services to repaint the mural and provide all insurance. The murals stand as important beacons to the people of Hawaii and the millions of visitors who come to the Islands every year.

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