In its latest salvo against the traveling public, Spirit Airlines said it is considering a new surcharge—a fee to speak with Spirit airport employees. Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza told ABC News that it is considering such a fee in light of its airport kiosks that allow customers to buy tickets, check-in, and select or change seats without any human interaction. Baldanza told ABC News that flyers won’t see this new surcharge “any time soon.” What customers are seeing this week, however, is Spirit’s newest surcharge—a fee of up to $45 for carry-on bags placed in an overhead bin. That new fee began on Sunday, August 1.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also the international editor at Travel + Leisure.
Travel Pulse | GulfTravelUpdate.com, a portal site that centralizes links to up-to-date travel and recovery information on Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi—the states directly affected by the BP Oil Spill. GulfTravelUpdate.com includes links to traveler information from federal, state and local sources, plus oil spill news coverage and a map featuring the spill's impact on gulf shores from media partner USA Today. Deals and special offers for travel to the Gulf Coast region are also available.
“This site compiles a tremendous amount of information from states, destinations and agencies on the status of beaches and coastal communities along affected areas of the Gulf Coast," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. (...) Photo courtesy of GulfTravelUpdate.com.
M&H News | UNESCO has elected to remove The Galapagos Islands from the List of World Heritage in Danger due to significant progress in protecting its ecosystem, but the degradation of the Everglades National Park means it has been added to the at-risk list.
Described as a unique living museum and showcase of evolution, the islands were threatened by invasive species, rampant tourism and over-fishing, however, significant progress has been made by Ecuador in the past few years to address these problems, particularly in dealing with introduced species.
The same cannot be said of the Everglades.
The national park contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere, the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie and the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America, but serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem have seen it inscribed onto the list at the request of the United States. (Photo credit: Blue Footed Boobie, Courtesy of International Expeditions)
MSNBC / Associated Press — The House voted Wednesday to toughen regulations on pilot training, qualifications and work schedules, a response to a fatal crash in upstate New York in February and other accidents involving regional airlines.
The bill, which was approved 409-11, would require all pilots that fly for a passenger-carrying airline to have an Air Transport Pilot certificate, effectively raising the number of flying hours an entry-level airline pilot must have from the current 250 hours to 1,500 hours.
The bill allows the FAA to credit course work at specific flight training schools toward the requirements for receiving an Air Transport certificate. The schools had expressed concern that would-be pilots would skip the schooling to concentrate on accumulating flying time.
Yesterday Times Square welcomed the InterContinental to the neighborhood. On the corner of 44th Street and 8th Avenue, this is the newest hotel to be built from the ground up in Manhattan in the past eight years. The eco-friendly hotel, which had a "vine-cutting" ceremony at the grand opening ceremony, is currently seeking silver LEED certification, and if granted, it will be the largest new-build hotel on the East Coast to attain this environmental badge of honor due to green initiatives such as low-flow toilets, local and recycled construction materials, and two green roofs on the seventh and second floors.
USA Today | Boarding a plane without an agent to inspect or take your pass has arrived in the USA.
Continental Airlines has confirmed it's testing the procedure at a gate at its hub in Houston Intercontinental. It's the first experiment at what's called "self-boarding" in the U.S.
In self-boarding, passengers — much like customers of the New York City subway—swipe their boarding passes at a kiosk reader at the gate. That opens a turnstile or door to the jet-bridge. Although an agent isn't there to take the pass, one is typically present to handle problems and other customer service tasks.
New York Times | You may think of this as the summer of the heat wave. I prefer to think of it as the summer of the body scanner.
Transportation Security Administration buys these machines and installs them at more and more airport checkpoints, a lot of travelers are having their initial encounters with them. And while I hear from large numbers of readers who hate the idea, it’s becoming increasingly clear that body scanners will soon be a standard part of the air travel experience.
Today, 142 body scanners are in use at 41 airports, and the security administration says it will have more than 450 installed by the end of the year.
The Huffington Post, the popular news site, today launched HuffPost Travel, their first travel section. HuffPost Travel will provide both practical information (hot deals, travel tips, hotel reviews) and inspirational blog posts from people like designer Kimberly Ovitz, chef Mario Batali, and hotelier Andre Balasz. The Huffington Post's active community will also be encouraged to contribute their travel tips, photos, and reviews.
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, said, "Some of my happiest - and most enriching - moments have come through travel: my first trip out of Athens when I was 11 (to Paris); my first trip to America when I was 16; traveling around India at 17, riding third-class, but getting a first-class education."
Even though HuffPost Travel just launched today, the site already has a wealth of content including video travel tips (Jet Lag Do's And Dont's), photo posts and polls (The 8 Sexiest Subway Systems In The World), and news stories (Charging Bison FLIPS Yellowstone Tourist). If the Huffington Post's lively online community is any indicator of what's to come, the travel section should soon have a great deal of reader feedback and advice for travelers to discover.
Lyndsey Matthews is the online editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.