ICYMI – This week in Travel News (26 February 2016)

In Case You Missed It: There is so much that happens in the travel industry every week and only a portion of it is reported in TravelLatte or other travel blogs. Each week, we aim to capture some of the highlights from the past week in Travel News. Please let us know you like it with a comment!

Fiji ravaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston

It’s been a winter of challenging weather around the globe, and the idyllic paradise of Fiji has not been spared. The island nation took a direct hit from Cyclone Winston last week, suffering widespread devastation and at least 42 casualties. A number authorities fear could climb as searches are just now reaching some of the more remote islands.

Widespread damage across Fiji via ABC

Destruction from Tropical Cyclone Winston was widespread across Fiji.
(Photo: Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

If your vacation plans included Fiji this spring or summer, the best advice is to attempt contacting your resort to confirm whether they are still open, or when they might re-open. Though most of the country’s hotels remain open, many areas will require months of rebuilding, and several resorts are closed. While we have not seen a complete list, we do know:

  • Several resorts have sustained considerable damage and will be closed until further notice:
    • The Naigani Island Resort
    • Castaway Island
    • Korovou Eco Tour Resort
    • White Sandy Beach Resort
    • Castaway Island evacuated guests, and the property remains closed until further notice.
  • Mana Island Resort and Spa was severely damaged, and will be closed for repairs until 28 July.
  • Sheraton Resort and Spa Tokoriki Island will be closed until at least 31 May.
  • Koro Sun Resort will remain closed until 1 April.
  • Damage has forced the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort to push back its opening date until the end of March.
  • Matangi Island Resort should reopen 21 March.
  • Nanuya Island Resort expects to reopen 19 March.
  • The LikuLiku Lagoon Resort will be closed until March 4.
  • Tokoriki Island Resort, Malolo Island Resort, Blue Lagoon Beach Resort and Nanuku Auberge Resort have said they will be reopening between 27 February and 1 March.

There is much hard work ahead for Fiji. Hundreds of thousands have been left hungry and homeless, and most of the country’s crops have been wiped out. If you care to help, donations can be made through the Australian Red Cross and Save the Children.

American Airlines is Sorry, Not Sorry

You know the feeling: All you want to do is download a report, or maybe stream a movie while soaring miles above Everywhere, USA, but that darn in-flight internet is soooo ssllooww… American Airlines feels your pain.

Photo: American Airlines vintage jet via @TravelLatte

Earlier in February, the airline let its inflight wireless provider Gogo know that we want, no, NEED faster Wi-Fi. So much so, that it filed suit to drop the provider on 200 planes. Their contract reportedly allows AA to do so if and when a better solution is available. That better solution, according to the airline, is a company called ViaSat.

Currently, Gogo supplies American’s domestic and regional planes with an early-generation ground-to-air internet service. (The airline uses Panasonic satellite-based Internet services for international flights.) Competing carriers United, JetBlue and Virgin America are already using ViaSat’s internet service which, as you probably guessed, is satellite-based and much faster. American wants that level of service across the fleet to keep up with customer demands.

Gogo responded by saying “We’re working on it,” and promised a competing offer utilizing their 2Ku satellite-based solution. In turn, this week American dropped the suit…for now. That means the flying public is waiting things out but, with faster speeds on the horizon, things can only get better. We just hope that Gogo’s not relying on their ground-to-air connection to deliver that new proposal.

It’s still time to write your Congressman!

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about Congressman Steve Cohen’s proposal to establish minimum seating requirements as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Reauthorization Bill, still working its way around Capital Hill. Known as the SEAT Act, the amendment was killed, but Rep. Cohen is continuing the fight to pass HR4490, and is gaining support. The Congressman – and your own Congressman – would sincerely appreciate your love letter to legroom and/or desperate please for relief.

Also apparently dead is the AAIR Act, which would have spun flight control off to its own private corporation, among other things. The US Travel Association was also pushing for the Act to lift the cap on Passenger Facility Charges and drop taxes on airline tickets, arguing that the move would generate more money for airports on a local level. That money could be used to modernize US airports, which currently lag far behind international airports as infrastructure spending has dropped.

Privatizing America’s flight control system has been a controversial proposal. So much so that the House of Representatives removed the AAIR Act and is moving forward with a streamlined funding bill for the FAA. The Senate is doing the same.

No More Weird. Which in itself is kind of weird.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has had enough.

A couple years ago, he called on architects to stop building such ostentatious buildings, but now he means business. After years of building for form and ignoring function, China’s State Council says new guidelines will ban “bizarre architecture” that isn’t “economical, functional, aesthetically pleasing, or environmentally friendly”. Nobody asked us, but we think the famed Star Trek building is practically a universe of cultural heritage, and the Galaxy Soho Building is both beautiful and eco-friendly. The “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, on the other hand…well, the President has a point there.

Galaxy Soho Building by Hufton & Crow via @TravelLatte

The Galaxy Soho Building is just one example of the “bizarre” buildings China’s State Council objects to but tourists flock to see. (Photo: Hufton & Crow)

Despite the fact that the unique buildings have brought the country attention and tourists – and, granted, sometimes snickers – President Jinping thinks they are too strange, and too Western. We are dying to know what he thinks of the town of Jackson Hole (…wait for it…) China.

Jackson Hole, China by Allision Smith Design via @TravelLatte

A little bit of the American West resides about 150 miles from the Great Wall of China. (Photo: Allison Smith Design)

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