ICYMI – This week in Travel News (1 January 2016)

In Case You Missed It, here are just a few highlights from the past week in Travel News, recapping the last week of 2015. There is so much that happens in the travel industry every week, and only a portion of it makes it to TravelLatte or other travel blogs. We’ll capture some of the highlights each week with this new recurring feature. Please let us know you like it with a comment!

Don’t Bite the Hand that Flies You

Air Canada Jet in The Week in Travel via @TravelLatte

(Photo: Air Canada)

There are some things you would think the world takes for granted. Such as, don’t bite the flight attendant. Unless your aim is to get tossed off the plane, which is exactly what happened to a passenger on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to New Delhi.

Jaskaran Sidhu was apparently upset that his previous flight had been cancelled, forcing him to sleep in the airport, and the current flight was running late. Because, winter. As often happens when traveling in December, bad weather was wreaking havoc and Mr. Sidhu decided to take out his frustrations by verbally and physically assaulting a flight attendant. #NotSmart.

Long story short, everybody got a bonus trip back to Toronto where they were put up in a hotel. Except Mr. Bitey, who got to go to jail, charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft, assault causing bodily harm, and two counts of mischief.

Weather delays are frustrating, but they’re going to change for you or anybody else. One of our 5 Traveling New Year Resolutions is to not let events beyond our control ruin our travels. Or worse, land us in jail!

Feeling Valued in the UK

VAT at Duty Free shops in The Week in Travel, via @TravelLatte

VAT at Duty Free shops will be reviewed by the UK. (Photo: Daily Mail)

VAT is a tricky thing. As a traveler with a hundred other things on your mind, you’re often left wondering on your flight out of the UK whether you actually saved anything in those duty free shops.

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Chancellor George Osborne must have wondered the same. Last week, he confirmed a government review of airport sales to ensure VAT savings are passed on to shoppers. The chancellor claims that some airside retailers are keeping up to an estimated 50p of every £1 of potential VAT savings instead of passing those savings on to shoppers.

“For families flying out of the UK for a winter-getaway, airports should be the ideal place to pick-up a bargain,” Osborne said. “VAT relief at airports is intended to cut prices for those travellers – not be a windfall gain for shops.” The review is expected to be completed by early 2016 and will also cover all other airside shopping taxes.

What Happened in Vegas…

Las Vegas sets records in The Week in Travel via @TravelLatte

More people than ever were welcomed to Las Vegas last year! (Photo: LVCVM)

Las Vegas is officially more popular than ever. Last year, visitors to Sin City topped 40 million for the first time ever, posting a record 41.1 million. So what does Las Vegas do for an encore? The only thing it ever does: It got bigger.

Vegas is expecting set another tourism record with 42 million visitors in 2015 (official results are due in early 2016). Much of the increase has been attributed to increased convention attendance and more non-stop flights, making the bright lights of the Strip more accessible than ever. Over the past decade, Las Vegas has become more of a vacation destination than ever with luxury resort experiences, world-class dining, and entertainment often found nowhere else in the world. Tourism now generates more than $50 billion annually in Las Vegas, roughly five times the revenue from gaming.

The New Empress of Miami

RCI's Empress of the Seas in The Week in Travel via @TravelLatte

Royal Caribbean’s updated Empress of the Seas returns to service in March. (Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

Royal Caribbean International announced this week that its newly-enhanced Empress of the Seas will return to the fleet in March 2016, with Miami as her home port. The company promises her arrival will bring short Caribbean getaways to a whole new level with daily ‘Sunday’ brunches, My Time Dining with no formal nights, a new Vegas-style “Sequins & Feathers” show, and the newly reimagined Boleros Latin Lounge. Empress of the Seas also will offer fast pier-to-ship boarding, and earlier departure times (11:00 and 06:30), to help guests maximize their vacation time.

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As Miami’s newest hometown ship, Empress of the Seas will offer four and five-night getaways to Nassau, Bahamas; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman, and Key West, Florida, including overnight stays in Cozumel on select five-night itineraries.

Empress of the Seas will offer signature features including a rock-climbing wall, a Vitality Spa with an extensive treatment menu, and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. New pools and whirlpools include an adults-only Solarium. Dining options including the casual Windjammer Café, and Royal Caribbean’s signature fine dining steakhouse, Chops Grille.

Michael Bayley, president of Royal Caribbean, says “Empress’s short Caribbean getaways will give adventure-seekers the opportunity to party, chill and repeat. They will feel like it’s the weekend every day on Empress.”

Hilton Revises Hotel Points Categories

It’s the beginning of another year, which means we should start seeing hotel chains shuffling around the properties in their portfolio into different point/price categories. These are not changes in the loyalty programs, but rather changes in how many points you’ll need to stay for a night at the properties. Every year, most chains have minor changes, and Hilton has come out with some of theirs already. The experts at The Points Guy have all the details.

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