News on the state of the travel world.
DIY CHECK-IN This summer, Marriott will follow Starwood's and Hilton's lead by adding check-in kiosks in hotel lobbies. The kiosks, which the company plans to install at 20 properties, will let you sign in and change your room, type of bed, and length of stay. Eventually, Marriott hopes to integrate the kiosks with airline check-in systems.
BLUE SKIES JetBlue just launched direct flights from JFK to Portland, Oregon, with a round-trip fare of $198 before taxes and fees. At press time, the low-cost carrier was also considering regular Boston New York service starting at $100 round-trip. (That's lower than Amtrak's Acela Express between the two cities.)
BYE-BYE PERKS In yet another cost-cutting measure, US Airways is closing airport lounges in three cities: West Palm Beach, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Orlando's lounge, which closed after last fall's hurricanes, will not be re-opening.
BAGGAGE FEES American Airlines recently reduced the weight allotment for checked bags on international flights from 70 pounds each to 50 pounds. (Travelers can still check two pieces of luggage.) Customers who bought tickets on or after March 1 will have to pay a $25 fee for each bag that weighs between 51 and 70 pounds. The new rules also apply on flights to and from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
QUIET SKIES A survey of 702 air passengers, conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants and the National Consumers League, found that 63 percent would like to keep cell phones off airplanes. Participants said the current restrictions should stay in place, because cell phones on planes are disruptive to passengers who wish to nap or read. The Federal Communications Commission is considering lifting its ban on cell phones on aircraft; the final decision, however, lies with the Federal Aviation Administration.
UGANDA BOUND In an effort to increase tourism to Uganda, the country's tourist board has launched a new Web site, www.visituganda.com. The extensive site includes descriptions and photos of the country's attractions (gorillas, birds, lakes, national parks). It also provides maps, travel tips, and a list of reputable tour operators.