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!
American Ups the Ante on Amenities
More than ten years after abolishing the in-flight snack, American Airlines is the latest carrier to bring the morsels back. The company announced that complimentary Biscoff cookies (on morning flights) and pretzels (later in the day) will be available on transcontinental flights (New York to San Francisco/Los Angeles) this month, expanding to all domestic flights in April. Other upgrades include in-flight meals on the Dallas-Hawaii route starting in May, and expanded entertainment options on domestic flights with in-seat TV.
In-Flight Entertainment has been a popular target for airlines seeking to improve the passenger experience, and American jumps on the bandstand with up to 300 music albums on its menu, along with up to 40 movies and 60 TV shows. Passengers can plug in for free, proved their flight has in-seat screens.
Up in the front of the plane, American has partnered with four luxury brands on this year’s First and Business Class amenity kits. Starting in March, passengers will receive kits featuring products from Cole Haan, 3LAB Skincare, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, and Clark’s Botanicals, coupons for 20% off of skincare products, and for $75 towards a future Cole Haan purchase. Which amenities are included will be determined by cabin and class of service.
While the updates are getting a lot of attention, we’re a bit jaded and think it’s a sort of diversionary tactic to keep us from complaining about bag fees, lack of legroom, and cramped seats. But hey, enjoy your free cookie.
Out with the old…In with more Wi-Fi
Delta Airlines’ board of directors this week announced the upcoming retirement of CEO Richard Anderson, but the big chief isn’t going far. Effective May 2nd, Anderson moves from the CEO office to the position of Executive Chairman of the Delta board.
But don’t expect a big shake-up or power vacuum in Delta’s executive offices. For the past several years, Anderson has been building a plan of succession, which the board not only approved but praised. According to that plan, current president Ed Bastian will become CDO, and Glen Hauenstein, now an executive VP, will assume the role of President. It is to this team that the board attributes Delta’s success. Chairman Dan Carp says Anderson’s leadership has led Delta to become “the most profitable and best run airline that consistently delivers excellent customer service.”
Meanwhile, Delta has begun offering high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi on all trans-Atlantic flights between the US and UK, mainland Europe, Israel, and West Africa. Passengers can also enjoy Delta Studio, the airline’s in-flight streaming service, for free. Options include on-demand movies and TV streamed to passengers’ own mobile devices, in addition to the in-flight entertainment.
With international satellite-based Wi-Fi now installed on Delta’s wide-body fleet (which includes Airbus A330s, Boeing 767s, 747s, and transoceanic 757s), the airline operates the world’s largest Wi-Fi equipped fleet.
From Cuba to Iran
With the gates opening on Havana, many travelers’ attention is now shifting to Tehran. With recent easing of sanctions against Iran, the country is expected to be one of the most popular up-and-coming destinations for 2016 and 2017.
While flying to Tehran today is easier than getting the paperwork done, it’s about to get easier, especially for British Airways loyalists. The airline will resume direct flights to the Iranian capital in July, with six flights weekly from Heathrow Terminal 5. The route will increase to daily flights by winter.
Iran is already known as a tourist destination for intrepid travelers. The region has a rich culture and heritage, along with world-class cuisine, and unique art and architecture, including Tehran’s stunning Tachara Palace.
SS United States to Sail Again
Crystal Cruises is coming to the rescue of the SS United States, the one-time hallmark of luxury cruising. Together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal Cruises today announced it will embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service.
In October 2015, the Conservancy’s board announced that the challenge of covering monthly expenses compelled them to explore the potential sale of the ship to be responsibly recycled. Crystal Cruises, among thousands of others, responded and has committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the historic ship. The journey begins with a technical feasibility study, expected to be completed by the end of 2016. That will determine whether the ship can be transformed into a sophisticated luxury cruise liner for the modern era. The vessel will have to be extensively re-built in order to meet maritime rules instituted in the 35 years since she was decommissioned.
Plans include capacity for 800 guests in 400 luxury suites, along with dining, spa and entertainment amenities true to the ship’s history. Original features, such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge, will be retained. New engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to ensure the SS United States remains the fastest cruise ship in the water.
Founded in 1988, Crystal Cruises was acquired by global hospitality leader Genting Hong Kong in 2015. The company operates the two top-rated luxury ships in the world: the 922-guest Crystal Symphony® and the 1,070-guest Crystal Serenity®, along with the new Crystal Esprit christened in December 2015. Future plans include three new ocean liners (with residences for purchase), five river yachts, and a new luxury air program, Crystal Charter Air, launching with private Dreamliner jets in March.