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!
Delta ups their Islands service AND their Cabin service!
“Winter is coming. If only there were just more opportunity to escape to the Caribbean.” – Jon Snow
Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what he said, but that wish comes true at Delta adds more flights to/from the eastern Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. New weekly service from Delta’s New York-JFK hub to St. Kitts Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) is now available for sale, operating every Saturday beginning December 23rd. The airline is also increasing seasonal flights from Atlanta Hartsfield to SKB, adding a 10am Tuesday flight to the already scheduled weekly Saturday and Wednesday service. That route flies 9 January through 27 March, 2018. Just last week, the airline added daily service from JFK to Rio de Janeiro, starting in December.
You’re already looking a little pale there, buddy. You better take a sick day come this winter.
The airline also announced this week that their “Best of Union Square Hospitality” menu will return on the 1st of June. The menu features favorites like pastrami beef brisket, grilled filet mignon, and signature dishes designed by the chefs at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Entrees will be paired with premium wines selected by Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. Passengers in the Delta One cabin on select trans-Atlantic routes to Europe, and transcontinental flights between JFK and LAX/SFO, will also be treated to Union Square Café’s signature bar nuts with their cocktails.
Not flying First Class? Chin up, bucky. Last week Delta added KIND Bars and three gluten-free options to Main Cabin snacks. However, what snacks you’re offered will depend on how long you’re in the air. Passengers on flights of 250 to 600 miles will get either Pretzel Perfection Olive Oil & Sea Salt Pretzels, or the signature Biscoff cookies. If your flight is over 600 miles, you will also have the option of Squirrel brand almonds, and KIND Healthy Grains Oats & Honey bars.
TSA Expands PreCheck
The Transportation Security Administration has expanded the PreCheck expedited screening process to include seven new domestic and international carriers. That brings the total of participating airlines to 37, with PreCheck lanes available at more 180 U.S. airports. The seven new partnering airlines are:
- Copa Airlines – Panama
- Dominican Wings – Dominican Republic
- InterCaribbean Airways – Turks & Caicos Islands
- Silver Airways – US airline based in Fort Lauderdale
- Singapore Airlines – Singapore
- Swift Air – US airline based in Phoenix
- Turkish Airlines – Turkey
Ed. Note: We were as surprised as anyone to find out Swift Air was not Taylor Swift’s upgraded touring transportation.
If you’re not familiar with the program, TSA PreCheck allows low-risk travelers to pass through security screening at more than 180 U.S. airports without removing their shoes, belts, or light jackets. Laptops and 3-1-1 liquids can stay in their bags, also. Travelers must apply and be accepted for PreCheck, which also has an $85 fee for a five-year term. Eligibility is limited to U.S. citizens and nationals, and lawful permanent residents. Travelers who are already enrolled in Global Entry, Nexus, and SENTRI are also eligible, as are those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
So Close and yet So Far
Cuba is only 90 miles away from the United States mainland, but for most of the past 50-plus years, it’s been off limits for American travelers. That is, until the Obama administration announced in 2014 that the United States would restore diplomatic relations with the island nation. Soon after, travel restrictions were eased but, in 2015, a bi-partisan bill to end restrictions altogether never made it to a vote. It had the support of roughly eight Senators.
While the restrictions remain in place, the appetite for ending them seems to be growing. The Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017, co-authored by Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, and Vermont Democrat Sentator Patrick Leahy, drew support from 52 other Senators this year. The bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, though, and leaders did not allow the bill onto the Senate floor.
Despite Trump’s vow to reverse the reversal on relations with Cuba, it seems a majority of Senators now support the bill. In a written statement, Senator Flake said, “Recognizing the inherent right of Americans to travel to Cuba isn’t a concession to dictators, it is an expression of freedom. It is Americans who are penalized by our travel ban, not the Cuban government.” If you agree, this might be a good time to contact your Senator.
London for breakfast, Amsterdam by lunch
What kind of dreamy itinerary is that? The kind you can actually plan on once Eurostar completes its new London to Amsterdam route!
Set to begin operations by the end of this year, the direct route between the two European gems will take just under four hours. A second new route will shuttle travelers from London to Rotterdam. The new routes were announced in the wake of Eurostar’s introduction of the e320 series high-speed train. The company hopes the new trains, which accommodate about 20% more passengers, will compete with Europe’s budget airlines in attracting travelers looking for quick, affordable transportation to/from the continent.
No word on when the new routes will open for sale, but we’re already penciling in vacation requests to coincide with Christmas markets. You know, just in case.
Travel in America on Shaky Ground
The latest budget proposal from the Trump administration seeks to defund Brand USA, and shift what it perceives as revenue to the Customs and Border Protection. It’s a move that perplexes tourism officials and makes absolutely no economic sense. Here’s why:
Brand USA was a bipartisan effort led by Republicans, which passed both chambers of Congress, and now works to promote travel to the United States from foreign markets. According to Oxford Economics, the agency added nearly $9-billion ot the U.S. economy. That international visitation is the USA’s second largest export, supporting 15 million American jobs. According to the Office of Management and Budget, Brand USA reduces the deficit by $50-million, and eliminating it would actually increase the federal deficit. All at zero cost to taxpayers; U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow notes that Brand USA is not funded by taxpayer money.
We know better than to expect common sense from the Trump administration, but this budget cut comes at a particularly bad time for U.S. tourism and its contribution to the American economy. Last week, the Global Business Travel Association forecast a $1.3-billion loss in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States in 2017. The report attributed the loss to political instability, ranging from the Brexit vote to Trump’s maligned travel ban, and the misguided bag on large electronics in airline cabins.
And shakier still
The Trump budget proposal has also drawn criticism from travel industry organizations over a plan to cut funding for airport security programs while raising passenger security fees on airline tickets.
According to the USA Today, the proposal calls for raising ticket fees one dollar for each connecting flight, which would generate about $530-million in additional revenue. At the same time, the budget would result in neary 1,800 fewer TSA officiers in airports, and reduce the number of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, from 31 to just eight. The VIPR teams patrol public areas of airports. And finally, the budget would eliminate a grant program which reimburses state and local police for airport security.
Coming Up: San Diego
Fair Warning: Comic Con is coming up! If you haven’t made arrangements to attend this year, you’re on the border of being too late! But there is a lot coming up in one of our favorite seaside playgrounds, San Diego!
- San Diego County Fair – 2 June to 4 July
- California’s biggest county fair is at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and features the Toyota Summer Concert Series with performers from Aloe Blacc to War! Admission: $5 to $18.
- San Diego International Boat Show – 15 to 18 June
- Southern California’s premier summer boating event sails into Spanish Landing Park on Harbor Island with more than 140 boats for sale, including 80’ and larger super yachts! Admission: $15 for adults, with free admission for 12s and under.
- San Diego International Beer Festival – 16 to 18 June
- Nearly 200 breweries from around the world will be represented at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, along with food pairings and demonstrations by industry pros. Tickets: $55 to $110.
- 23rd Annual Taste of Gaslamp – 17 June
- San Diego’s original culinary tour with more than 25 restaurants participating in the Gaslamp Quarter. Tickets: $30 to $70.
- CONCACAF Gold Cup – 9 July
- Group C’s opening round double-header at Qualcomm Stadium features Mexico vs El Salvador, and Curacao vs. Jamaica. Tickets: $30 to $125.
- San Diego Comic Con International – 20 to 23 July
- Sadly, Comic Con at the San Diego Convention Center is officially sold out, but you can always try to score tickets from that guy on the corner. No? Well, there are usually events all around town, and lots of fun in and around the official convention. Tickets: Sold Out
For more events and information, Explore San Diego!
Deal of the Week
Tour Savings from Viator:
- Save 20% – Rome in One Day Segway Tour with Lunch, through 10 June 2017.
- Save 20% – Segway tour of Appian Way in Rome, through 10 June 2017.
- Save 25% – Charleston Macabre Ghost Tour, through 1 July 2017.
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The Weekly Win
Before the current regime shuts down any hope of visiting Cuba, maybe you can win a trip! Our favorite geeky guys at General Assembly are giving away a trip and we have details in The Weekly Win.