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!
United Attempts New Record
The days after the Doctor Dao incident on United Flight 3411 probably seemed like the longest ever. As the airline puts that into its checkered past, it looks forward to setting a new record for the longest non-stop flight from/to the United States. Pending government approval, United will fly 8,700 between Singapore (SIN) and Los Angeles (LAX), non-stop, starting in October. The flight will last 17 hours, 55 minutes westbound, and 15 hours, 15 minutes eastbound. Thanks to the International Dateline, the westbound flight lands two days after it leaves. Eastboud flights will leave Changi Airport at 11:00 a.m. daily, arriving at LAX at 10:15 a.m. the same day.
The route is planned on an efficient Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Frequent long-haul fliers and fans of the airline (yes, they exist) may note that plane does not feature United’s new Polaris business class with lie-flat seats. Those seats are, for now, limited to the fleet’s 777s. Because the route has not yet been approved, no ticket information is available. The flight is still marketed as having 48 Polaris Business Class seats, and 88 seats in Economy Plus, which offer up to five inches of extra legroom. The plane will also hold 116 passengers in basic economy.
Current ultra-long-haul record holders:
- 9,032 miles / 16 hours 10 minutes – Doha to Auckland, New Zealand on Qatar Airways
- 8,824 miles / 16 hours 5 minutes – Dubai to Auckland on Emirates
- 8,578 miles / 15 hours 25 minutes – Sydney to Dallas on Qantas (Currently the longest flight to/from the United States.)
- 8,446 miles / 17 hours 15 minutes – San Francisco to Singapore on United Airlines and Singapore Airlines (The longest flight operated by a U.S. airline today.)
USA to Rome or the Caribbean via…Norway?
Low-cost Norwegian Air announced new routes from three U.S. cities this week, with introductory fares as low as $189 to Rome’s Leonardo da Vince-Fiumicino Airport aboard brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners:
- New York/Newark Liberty International: Service launches 9 November, operating four times a week until February 2018, when it increases to six per week.
- Los Angeles International: Service begins 11 November, twice weekly until February, then three times weekly.
- Oakland International: Begins 6 February 2018 with twice weekly service.
Meanwhile, the budget carrier will launch nonstop service to Guadeloupe and Martinique from Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport in October, with launch fares of $79 each way. Further south, Norwegian will also increase service from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to three weekly flights to the same French Caribbean islands for the 2017/18 winter season.
Norwegian is the fastest growing airline at the moment, and plans on launching at least 25 new routes out of the U.S. this year. The airline now offers 52 transatlantic flights from 13 U.S. airports, and six routes to the French Caribbean.
Can you put your finger on the future of travel?
You actually can, thanks to a trial program by Delta Airlines at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA). SkyMiles members who are also enrolled in the expedited airport security program Clear can gain entry to Sky Club Lounges with a touch of their finger. Fingerprint scanners are used verify the passenger’s identity. The next phase may allow passengers to check bags and board their flight using the same fingerprint scan technology instead of flashing a boarding pass.
JetBlue has partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and information-technology company SITA to test facial recognition. A custom-designed camera will transmit your photo to authorities to compare it against databases of passport, visa, and immigration photos. A display will notify travelers when they are cleared to board. That program begins in June on flights from Boston to Aruba.
While these are the first trials of biometric authorization in U.S. airports, KLM has been testing facial recognition for scanning since February at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
Turn Around, Bright Eyes
This August, the United States will see a fairly rare phenomenon: a total solar eclipse. A narrow Path of Totality will wrap the country in darkness along a route from South Carolina to Oregon on August 21st. There are some fantastic places to view the event, including Nashville, Tennessee, Casper, Wyoming, and Madras, Oregon.
Of course, the eclipse doesn’t just pass over land. Royal Caribbean has noted that several of its ships will be in the Caribbean at the time of the eclipse, including Oasis of the Seas. The giant cruise ship’s August 20th itinerary has been altered to give passengers an unparalleled view from “the optimal spot at sea” for the Total Eclipse Cruise.
The seven-night, Eastern Caribbean cruise will feature a special live concert (artist TBD) and exclipse-themed activities for the whole family. Look for special menu items also, including the Cosmic Cosmo cocktail and the classic Moon Pie. The cruise sails from Port Canaveral in Orland, and ports of call include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Nassau, Bahamas.
Hilton Buffs Up
Just going by the numbers, there’s about a 50/50 chance that you’ll plan to go use the gym on your next hotel stay. And there’s about a one-in-five chance that you’ll actually do it. (So says the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.) The question is, would you do it if the gym was right in your room?
Hilton is betting the answer is yes, and is rolling out a new room design they call Five Feet to Fitness. In select rooms, there is a work out zone featuring more than eleven different fitness equipment and accessory options. At the heart of the concept is the Fitness Kiosk, Gym Rax training station with a touch-screen monitor that provides tutorials and guided routines for cardio, cycling, Yoga, strength, endurance, or interval training.
While Hilton claims it’s the “biggest change in the fitness hospitality space,” the move is similar to efforts by Westin, EVEN Hotels by IHG, and others. In fact, Westin debuted a new partnership with cycling company Peloton at 31 hotels with WestinWORKOUT rooms throughout the U.S. in April.
Five Feet to Fitness rooms are available at the Parc 55 San Francisco, and Hilton McClean Tysons Corner. The company plans to add as many as 100 of these rooms available throughout the U.S. by the end of this year. Costs for guests are about $45 above the best available room rate.
Coming Up: Paris
Paris is a dream destination for many, and summer is a great time to visit with lots of events for the entire family. A few summer highlights in the City of Lights:
- Champs-Elysees Film Festival – 15 to 22 June
- If you feel foreign films are best left to foreigners, remember that, in Paris, you’re the foreigner. This annual film festival showcases American films and documentaries at events spread throughout the city.
- Paris Jazz Festival – 17 June to 30 July
- Paris is undeniably cool on its own. Stir in some jazz from around the world, and you’ve got an intoxicating musical cocktail. The PJF includes free weekend shows and workshops at the Parc Floral de Paris in the 12th Arrondissement, and concerts on the Jazz Barge every Sunday. (Parc admission is &Euro;2.50 for adults, &Euro;1.50 for kids.)
- 34th Festival Chopin a Paris – 17 June to 14 July
- The Chopin Society pays tribute to one of the world’s great romantic composers with performances at the Orangerie in the Parc de Bagatelle. Ticket prices vary by recital.
- Bastille Day Parade & Fireworks – 14 July 2017
- Paris celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, and the beginning of the French Revolution, with an impressive military parade on the Champs-Elysees, and an evening fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower. No better time to be in Paris!
- Tour de France – 23 July
- After pedaling over 2,000 miles in three weeks, the world’s most famous bicycle race crosses the finish line in Paris on the Champs-Elysees.
- Paris Plages – July and August
- Just because the city is landlocked doesn’t mean Parisians don’t love a day at the beach! Every July and August, some of the roads along the River Seine are transformed into a beach, complete with sand, beach umbrellas, and deck chairs. Weekends feature concerts, sports events, and fun summer activities.
Deal of the Week
If you’re going to Paris (or select other cities), we have savings for you on City Passes, through the 7th of June:
- Paris: Save 15% on the 6 Day Pass, or 10% on 3 and 4 Day Passes
- Save 20% off a 5 Day Pass, and 15% off a 3 Day Pass for New Orleans or Las Vegas
- Get 20% off a 10 Day London Pass, or 15% off a 6 Day Pass
- 10% off any Barcelona or select Rome City Passes
Don’t forget, these sale prices end on 7 June 2017!
The Weekly Win
You may notice a trend: Paris! It’s always a good time for Paris, especially when you can win your way there! Be sure to enter the Discover Paris with Vichy travel sweepstakes on The Weekly Win!