Business Travel News | The U.S. State Department on July 13 will raise the price for visas, passports and other consular services—some by more than $300—to reflect what the department determined is the true cost to provide such services.
For an adult passport, the State Department will begin charging $110—$35 more than the current price—plus a $25 execution fee, which is not retained by the department. Meanwhile, the cost for some visas will jump by even greater amount. For example, an employment-based immigrant visa will cost $720 under the new pricing scheme, compared with the previous $355. (Photo credit: Lyndsey Matthews)
Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you're standing by the carousel at the airport, watching suitcase after suitcase pass by—none of them yours—until finally, the carousel, now empty, turns off? It's a wretched feeling, especially at the start of a vacation.
One way to avoid this situation altogether is to ship your belongings ahead of time. The UPS Store just announced its new Luggage Boxes—and the cost is pretty reasonable. Shipping between NYC and L.A. costs about $66 for the small box or about $92 for the large. Just be sure to ship far enough in advance, and give your hotel the heads up! For a price comparison, here are the checked bag fees from five major domestic airlines:
USA Today | Many meals served to passengers on major airlines are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions that could lead to illness, government documents examined by USA TODAY show.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors have cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food for suspected health and sanitation violations following inspections of their kitchens this year and last, according to inspection reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
The inspections were at U.S. facilities of two of the world's biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and another large caterer, Flying Food Group. The three caterers operate 91 kitchens that provide more than 100 million meals annually to U.S. and foreign airlines at U.S. airports. They provide meals for nearly all big airlines, including Delta, American, United, US Airways and Continental. (Photo credit: iStock)
Philadelphia Inquirer (AP) | Gasoline prices rose over the weekend in the region and nationally, AAA Mid-Atlantic said Monday.
While pump prices rose an average 2 cents per gallon for the country as a whole—to $2.74 a gallon—the average in Southeastern Pennsylvania rose just a penny, to $2.76 per gallon. In South Jersey, the average rose 3 cents to $2.56, the auto club said.
Photo credit: iStock
USA Today | Spirit Airlines is canceling all of its flights through Tuesday, stranding thousands more passengers as a pilot's strike continues into its second day.
The discount carrier said on its website Sunday that all Spirit Airlines flights have been cancelled through June 15. Spirit pilots walked off the job Saturday amid an ongoing contract dispute with the airline that has lasted for more than three years. Spirit pilots have said their pay lags behind competitors such as AirTran Airways and JetBlue.
"None of the planes are moving and none of our pilots have crossed the picket line," Paul Hopkins, strike committee chairman of Spirit's unit of The Air Line Pilots Association, said Sunday.
CBS/AP | Giving up your airline seat may become a little less painful.
Federal officials are expected to announce this week a plan to raise the maximum amount that airlines must pay passengers who get bumped off an oversold flight, currently at $400 or $800 depending on how long a trip is delayed.
Bumpings rose in three of the past four years and jumped 10 percent to 762,422 in 2009, the highest total since 2002. They soared 17 percent in this year's first quarter.
The potential inconvenience is greater now, too. Airlines have cut back on flights and planes are more crowded, so bumped passengers could wait hours or even days to find alternate arrangements.
"It might not be hours, but days before you get to where you're going," Pauline Frommer, creator of Pauline Frommer Guidebooks, told CBS News correspondent White Johnson. "There simply aren't enough airplane seats out there for the number of people who want to fly."
The Sun Sentinel | They are nature's most powerful storms, able to wrench off roofs, blow out windows, rip down trees and otherwise ravage a large metropolitan area.
Major hurricanes—Categories 3, 4 and 5—produce sustained winds from 110 mph to as much as 185 mph and can generate storm surges more than 20 feet above normal tide levels.
With the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season starting today, experts say there is a significant chance one or more of these monsters will strike the U.S. coast over the next six months. The reason: It could be an extremely active year with up to 14 hurricanes, seven major, forecasters said.
"In general, more active seasons have more landfalling hurricanes.Therefore, the odds of a major hurricane making U.S. landfall increases," said Phil Klotzbach, the Colorado State University climatologist who develops seasonal outlooks with William Gray.
New York Times | As soon as Continental and United announced their proposed merger, news media outlets began reporting on how the union might affect travelers—less competition and higher fares being the primary concerns.
But some airline experts see those worries as overblown. First, the two airlines had effectively moved in together before deciding to get married, aligning their flights through a code-share partnership and linking their frequent-flier programs, so they were more partners than rivals even before the merger was announced. More important, most analysts believe that airfares are likely to increase regardless of whether these carriers tie the knot.
Associated Press | It’s been a month now, and Iceland’s volcano shows no sign it will stop belching ash across Europe anytime soon. The rolling eruptions threaten more havoc for summer vacation plans and higher costs for struggling airlines.
Although the global disruption of last month’s massive eruption has faded, smaller ash plumes snarled air services intermittently over the last week all the way to Turkey—more than 2,500 miles from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano.
Air-control authorities and geologists agree that the continent must brace indefinitely for rapid shutdowns of air services as computerized projections try to pinpoint where the ash clouds will float next at the whim of shifting winds.
Washington Post | Hotels want to know who you are. Especially if you're reviewing them anonymously.
An increasing number of image-conscious properties have begun connecting the dots between unbylined write-ups that appear on such popular travel sites as TripAdvisor or Yelp, and your personal information, such as your loyalty program preferences.
If you write a positive review, you might expect a reward from the hotel—a gift basket or a discount on your next stay. Pan a property, and you could get a concerned e-mail from the general manager asking you to reconsider your review. Or even a black mark against you in the chain's guest database.
John Baird, a lodging consultant in Jacksonville, Fla., says that hotels now use locations, dates and usernames that appear online to triangulate a guest's identity. Once they find a likely match, the review is added to a hotel's guest preference records, next to information such as frequent-guest number, newspaper choice and preferred room type.