According to an estimate released Thursday by Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation’s airlines, nearly 209 million people will fly on U.S.-based airlines, up 1% over last year. While that would mark the fourth year in a row that passenger totals have increased, it is still off from the all-time high of nearly 218 million in 2007. Nine of the 11 busiest travel days of 2013 will be in June through August, and the average plane will be 86% to 87% full throughout the summer. The Airlines for America forecast did not predict airfares for the summer, but travelers should expect no drastic increases for the next few months as long as fuel prices don’t surge. (LA Times, 5/17/2013)
American Airlines is now offering passengers who carry just a personal item that fits under the seat — no rolling suitcases — the opportunity to board before most others. American said the change will allow flights to take off sooner, helping the airline improve its on-time performance. American tested the new boarding procedure at seven airports and began applying it to all flights Thursday, May 16. Passengers carrying a purse, backpack, computer bag or other personal item small enough to fit under the seat may now board immediately after Group 1 premium passengers. (Seattle Times/AP, 5/16/2013)
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has expanded its PreCheck expedited screening program to include international flights. PreCheck passengers traveling from 40 airports on Alaska, American, Delta, United, or US Airways will be allowed to leave on shoes, jackets, and belts, and leave laptops in cases. This program is open to U.S. citizens who are members of certain airline frequent flier programs or of CBP Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS. Canadian citizens who are NEXUS members are also eligible. The TSA is committed to implementing innovative ways to move recognized travelers through check-in quickly and placing the focus on those passengers about whom less is known.
According to TravelSupermarket—a travel website that offers people in the UK comparison tools for use when planning travel—extra charges imposed by low-cost airlines have soared by as much as 67 percent—24 times the rate of inflation—during the last year. Such charges include baggage fees, overweight luggage fees, booking fees, administrative charges, name change fees, and fees for travelling with an infant. Airlines serving the U.K. whose fees have risen in certain categories include Thomson, EasyJet, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Flybe and Jet2. (eTurboNews and Telegraph.co.uk, 4/29/2013)
Many hotels are quietly taking a hard line stance when enforcing new cancellation policies. Changes vary by market and hotel. At some properties, you can still cancel your room by 6pm on the arrival date without charge while at others the cancellation window is within 48 or 72 hours of your arrival. Taking a page from the airline industry’s “no waivers, no favors” playbook, some hotels refuse to be flexible even when a guest can’t make it for reasons beyond control. Hotel companies often place cancellation terms in the fine print. Know the cancel terms before you guarantee and prepare to consider an alternative property or appropriate travel insurance.
US Airways passengers can now track their checked bags—in real time—by going to the US Airways website and typing in bag claim information. Passengers can track bags by smartphone, iPad or in-flight WiFi from check-in to landing. Passengers transferring from another airline, however, can track their bags only after they have been handed over and scanned by US Airways. The airline’s new service matches Delta, who was the first U.S. carrier to launch real-time baggage tracking, via the Delta website or by downloading a free app to pull up information from the bar code on their bag-claim ticket. (Philly.com, 3/29/13)
You know spring is here when the cherry blossoms pop in Washington, DC. Peak bloom is expected to come March 26 through 30, when 70% of the blossoms are open. The nation’s capital welcomes thousands of tourists at this time each year, visiting to see the beautiful blooms. This year marks the 101st anniversary of the gift of the trees from Japan to the U. S. Japan sent a variety of more than 3,000 cherry trees which were planted around the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and on the White House property. To catch the peak bloom, you can monitor the National Park Service live web cam of the Tidal Basin. (Delray.patch.com, 3/12/13)
Thousands of sharks are migrating north along the South Florida coast, coming so near to shore that authorities have ordered swimmers out of the water. From Boca Raton to Jupiter, a 50-mile stretch of beach is off-limits for the next few days. (TravelWeekly.com, 3/7/13)
The U.S. Department of State has cautioned Americans in Turkey against visiting the U.S. consulates in Istanbul or Adana, or the embassy in Ankara, until further notice, due to the recent suicide bombing at the embassy where two were killed and the outer wall of the embassy and gatehouse were damaged.
Reacting to recent violence against women, the U.S. and other foreign embassies are warning women not to travel alone in India, saying they are “at risk and should exercise vigilance.” (TravelPulse and eTurboNews, 2/4/13)
Be sure to update your airline travel profiles now to ensure you receive your frequent flyer upgrades. You must use your exact same name as it appears on your passport and/or drivers’ license—including, e.g., use/lack of middle initial. Name mismatches could lead to loss of miles and denial of upgrades.