This Week in Travel News
Active travelers have a need to know! Every week, there are things that can and do impact the art and act of travelling. Things you need to know about. We’ll report the highlights here, so you can focus on what you do best: Travelling! In case you missed it, here’s what happened This Week in Travel News!
Electronics Ban Hokie Pokie
Put your laptop in, take your laptop out…do the hokie pokie and watch travelers back out.
Persistent reports of a Trump administration ban on electronics just won’t die away. In recent reports, the ban has been called everything from possible to definite…to dubious. As of yet, though, it has not been implemented.
During the past week, travel intelligence company Skift reported that an official with a major U.S. airline told them the Department of Homeland Security has briefed carriers on possible plans, but gave no indication if or when a ban might be implemented. Skift also reported that a DHS representative said plans to expand the electronics ban have yet to be finalized, but are under consideration. The Daily Beast, meanwhile, claimed European officials indicated a new ban would be announced on 11 May. (It wasn’t.)
At this point, it seems nobody – including the administration – has a clear idea of what may or may not happen. Our money is on “no ban.” The economic impact is huge, and there are literally dozens of rules regulating lithium batteries (like those found in tablets and laptops) in the cargo hold, leading us to believe that a large-scale ban would be challenged.
Our Love / Hate Relationship with Airlines
It seems lately that we can’t go a week without some skirmish – in some cases, full blown knock down drag out – involving airlines and passengers. And yet…
Consumer research company J.D. Power released its 2017 North America Airline Satisfaction Study this week, and it found overall satisfaction increased by 30 points since last year. On a 1,000-point scale, airline satisfaction climbed to 756. That’s an all-time high for the fifth year in a row.
J.D. Power surveyed more than 11,000 passengers flying between April 2016, and March 2017. (So all of the meltdowns – passenger, flight attendant, and systems – in April and May were not included.) Passengers cited improvement in lower fares, on-time performance, lost baggage, and involuntary bumps. Government data from the U.S. Department of Transportation also shows these statistics improving. Despite performance improvements, customers are still not enamored of the airlines. Customer Satisfaction ratings in other travel sectors is much higher.
The J.D. Power survey awarded airlines with one to five stars, denoting their performance. Their survey did not include Hawaiian Airlines, Spirit Airlines, or Alegiant Air, which did not meet their criteria. And the winners of the are:
|2017 North America Airline Satisfaction Study|
|Southwest Airlines||807||5 Stars|
|JetBlue Airways||803||5 Stars|
|Alaska Airlines||765||5 Stars|
|Southwest Airlines||807||5 Stars|
|Delta Air Lines||758||4 Stars|
|American Airlines||736||3 Stars|
|WestJet Airlines||736||2 Stars|
|United Airlines||716||2 Stars|
|Air Canada||709||2 Stars|
|Frontier Airlines||663||2 Stars|
A Frequent Flyer Maternity Leave?
New parents tend to travel less. And when you fly less, you tend to lose status with the airlines. Until now, on Alaska Airlines.
After a new mother approached the airline asking if they could delay her status expiration due to her new arrival, the airline considered it. Specifically, Alaska’s director of brand loyalty, a mother of two, considered it. And this week, Alaska said yes.
According to the new policy, new parents who have status with Alaska or Virgin America, and take work leave in 2017, will have elite status expire at the end of 2018. Parents will be eligible for the perk as many times as they need it, provided they re-qualify for elite-level status between children. Several other airlines have similar policies, including Air Canada, Qantas, and British Airways, which announced their new policy earlier this month.
Alaska has been working overtime to strengthen its loyalty program at a time when other carriers keep degrading theirs. Betting that offering more generous perks can win passengers, Alaska is the only U.S. airline that still awards customers miles based on miles flown rather than price paid for their tickets. Now, most flyers earn more miles with Alaska than on any other U.S. carrier.
Travel Up, Costs Down since 2013
Cheapo Air released a new report this week for National Travel & Tourism Week, which shows travel booming and costs down for American travelers. The company examined first quarter trends since 2013 and found domestic travel in 2017 is up 50% since 2013. International travel has exploded, up 170% in the same time.
The survey also found that prices to international destinations were down over 17% since 2013, with an average ticket price of $728.78. While domestic flights in 2017 were slightly higher than 2016, the price was still 15% lower than 2013. The average price of a domestic ticket in Q1 2017 was $346.75.
Court Upholds Costa Concordia Conviction
The former captain of the Costa Concordia was sentenced to 16 years in prison this week by Italy’s highest court. Francesco Schettino was originally found guilty in 2015 of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning passengers. This week’s ruling was the end of the appeals process, with the court upholding the verdict.
In 2012, Schettino was at the helm when the cruise ship hit rocks of Giglio and eventually capsized. Of the more than 4,200 passengers and crew, 32 died. The Captain has maintained that he was not solely responsible for the disaster, after being branded as “Captain Coward” for leaving the ship during the rescue operations.
His lawyer has said he may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, contended that there have been “serious abuses.”
Deal of the Week
Actually, two of them this week, as an airline and a hotel chain offer lots of points and miles when you jump through a few hoops.
American Airlines AAdvantage Offers
Members of AA’s AAdvantage Program can earn up to 10,ooo bonus miles for completing some miles-earning transactions with their partners through 15 June:
- Earn 2,000 bonus miles by completing two partner transactions.
- Earn 5,000 bonus miles by completing three partner transactions.
- Earn 10,000 bonus miles by completing four partner transactions.
So, what’s a partner transaction?
- An AAdvantage Dining meal costing at least $25.
- An AAdvantage eShopping purchase of at least $50.
- Any 1-800-Flowers.com purchase.
- Enrolling in Vinesse wine club.
Points hounds should be using AAdvantage eShopping regularly, and AAdvantage Dining when available. It’s worth noting that the Vinesse wine club membership awards 3,000 miles for the first and second shipments. If you’re a wine enthusiast, this is a decent way to rack up a fair amount of bonus points easily.
IHG Accelerate Offers
Members of InterContinental Hotel Group’s loyalty program can earn at least 30,000 bonus points for completing specific tasks in the new Accelerate promotion. The program is personalized for each member, and tailored to their individual stay and earnings history. Once registered, you’ll see a set of objectives with a point value for achieving each one. Yours will likely be different than ours, but could include something like 2500 bonus points for completing your first stay. You get more bonus points for completing two, three, or all of your objectives. Members members must register in advance by logging into their IHG Rewards account, from May 15 through August 31.
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