New York Times | The airlines have been doing it. Expect the hotels to follow suit. Over the last few years, the airlines have been adding and increasing fees on checked bags, exit row seats and more, much to the benefit of their bottom lines. And for similar reasons, hotels are likely to add more fees and more stringently enforce or even raise existing charges for cutting a stay short, for example, or for storing luggage.
A new study by Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality Tourism and Sports Management at New York University, found that while total fees and surcharges collected by hotels in the United States declined to $1.55 billion in last year’s faltering economy, they will rise this year. Mr. Hanson said he expected hotel surcharges to climb back up to $1.7 billion this year as a result of an expected rise of 3 to 4 percent in occupied hotel rooms, broader adoption of fees and more aggressive enforcement of and increases in existing fees.
The fees and surcharges were initially charged by high-end hotel brands in the late 1990s for access to resort amenities like the swimming pool, putting greens and tennis courts.
Here at T+L, we've gotten a bit of a bad rap, because folks seem to think we have some major beef with the lovely city of Philadelphia. Why's that? Well, for a few years now, the City of Brotherly Love has gotten some not-so-favorable results in our annual America's Favorite Cities survey. But I want to remind you: those numbers are entirely based on reader response to our poll, which is open to the public for voting. And I can assure you, we—especially yours truly—are actually quite fond of the sometimes underappreciated city. The only beef we do have with the city comes in the delicious form of a greasy cheesesteak.
That being said, I recently learned about a newly opened project at the 92-acre Morris Arboretum, in northern Philly's Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Though it's a bit of a trek (some 10 or so miles) from the über touristy Old City—home to the Liberty Bell, former City Hall, and Philadelphia Mint, among other historic attractions—this looks to be well worth the trip.
New York Times | United Airlines and Continental Airlines on Monday announced a $3 billion merger that would create the world’s biggest airline.
The all-stock deal would form a coast-to-coast American behemoth with a leading presence in the top domestic markets, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, along with an extended network to Asia, Latin America and Europe.
The deal was completed in a remarkably short three weeks, and would give the airlines the muscle to fend off low-cost rivals at home and to take on foreign carriers abroad. United is buying Continental, and the combined company will keep the United name and be based in Chicago. It will, however, keep the Continental logo, livery and colors and maintain a large presence in Houston.
Looking forward to your summer vacation already? Get your plans in motion and save some money at the same time, because Discover America, America’s official travel website, just launched a daily getaway travel promotion today that features deeply discounted travel deals within the United States, some offering great behind-the-scenes travel experiences (like today's trip to New York's Fashion Week).
Every weekday from today until June 4, there will be specially priced travel products and trips available on www.DailyGetways.com with up to 50 percent off from some of America’s best hotels, airlines, rental cars, attractions, theme parks, restaurants and shops.
USA Today | United and Continental airlines have reached the precipice of a merger agreement that their executives hope to announce on Monday, a source involved in the negotiations said Friday.
The announcement hinges on the boards of both airlines approving the deal, said the source, who is not authorized to speak for the airlines and requested anonymity. The board of United's parent, UAL, is to meet today. Continental's board is supposed to meet today and Sunday.
A union between Chicago-based United, the third-largest U.S. carrier, and No. 5 Continental, based in Houston, would create the biggest airline in the world. Based on passenger miles flown in 2009, the combination would be about 10% larger than the current world leader, Delta Air Lines.
The last time I visited Denver I fell in love with Little Man Ice Cream (or, rather, its banana chocolate chip frozen custard, with a dollop of hot fudge). Now that the city is offering up 500 red Trek cycles in its bike-sharing program, I’ll pedal there myself, and order up a double scoop to celebrate the calories I’ve burned.
Riding on the heels (or wheels?) of similar initiatives in Montreal and Mexico City, Denver B-Cycle is the nation’s first citywide bike-share, and incredibly cheap (it was sponsored by various big-money partners, including Kaiser Permanente). Purchase a 24-hour membership for $5 with your credit card at any of 40 ubiquitous B-cycle stations (above, see map here), and soon enough you’ll be free-wheelin’ it throughout the Mile High City. Legs getting sore? Just return your bike to its hub (stations are everywhere from the Denver Art Museum to the Highlands, the nabe Little Man Ice Cream calls home).
I just flew in from Ft. Lauderdale to New York, and, boy, am I tired! No, seriously though, I am. Because Spirit Airways has decided to change out their old seats for a new “lightweight, leather” model that doesn’t recline at all, I didn’t doze one bit on my 7 a.m. jaunt up the coast.
Just last week, Spirit released an absurd statement (one rivaled in ridiculous spin only by the airline’s own proud announcement in March that it would begin charging for carry-ons) that touted its new paralyzed seatbacks as a positive development for passengers. The claim:
1. The seats offer comfort throughout the entire flight, since you don’t need to put them in their full upright position during take-off and landing (right, because the lean-forward, lean-back thing is such an exhausting part of travel).
2. Customers appreciate that “there is no longer interference from the seat in front of you moving up and down throughout the flight.”
Yes, the inconsiderate gent in 14B sprawling back just as you dig into your chicken-flavored Cup-O’-Noodles is annoying. But not being able to recline at all? That’s plain infuriating. And, on any flight over two hours, as I can attest, terribly uncomfortable.
Network World | The Federal Aviation Administration this week took a step closer to setting up a central hub for the development of key commercial space transportation technologies such as space launch and traffic management applications and setting orbital safety standards.
The hub, known as the Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation would have a $1 million yearly budget and tie together universities, industry players and the government for cost-sharing research and development. The FAA expects the center to be up and running this year.
The new center would be an offshoot of other FAA Centers for Excellence that through myriad partnerships develop and set all manner of aviation standards from aircraft noise and emissions to airport systems. According to the FAA the center's purpose is to create a world-class consortium that will identify solutions for existing and anticipated commercial space transportation problems.
Prepare yourself for big hats and even bigger bourbon hangovers, because this Saturday is the 136th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Since the actual horse race doesn’t last very long (the derby is often called "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports"), there will be plenty of time to explore downtown Louisville, especially the part of Main Street once known as “Whiskey Row,” now home to the Urban Bourbon Trail, a group of nine restaurants and bars offering bourbon flights and special bourbon cocktails like the mint julep, the official drink of the Derby.
Call me a 25-year-old crybaby, but I feel the only thing more exhausting than running a marathon is watching one. I just returned from the 114th-annual Boston Marathon, where my best friend in the world zipped along the requisite 26.2 miles (past the Ashland Clock Tower, Lake Cochituate, and Wellesley College girls offering runners smooches) at record speed. (That's three hours, 41 minutes, 13 seconds. Go Rachel Go!) And I got so tired searching for her gorgeous face among all those rolling past me in varying stages of elation and pain that I thought, “Never again! Never again will I sit on these sidelines without a box of Mike’s Pastry napoleons to keep me going!!”