Here is a round-up of this weeks travel news, from East Coast storms, cell phones, European air traffic control strikes, park and walk bridges, insensitive advertisements, to the World Cup. Enjoy!
Airlines Take Preemptive Approach to Latest East Coast Snow Storm
Airlines are no longer waiting for bad weather to hit before they start to cancel flights. More than 2,200 flights were cancelled on Tuesday – of which 1,900 were removed before snow flakes had even begun to fall in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
On the plus side, most big airlines have waived rebooking fees for travelers flying through airports affected by this week’s storm.
Fliers Get Chance to Influence Future Cell Phone Policy
The FCC has opened a 30-day public comment period for its proposal to give airlines the opportunity to allow cell phone calls mid-flight. The initiative, called Expanding Access to Mobile Services Onboard (proceeding number 13-301), has received a mixed response from airlines – although public sentiment appears to be largely negative so far.
Soccer Fans Get Price Break on Flights for the World Cup
Azul and Avianca Brasil have both said they will cap prices for flights to the upcoming World Cup, which opens June 12 in São Paulo and takes place in 12 stadiums across Brazil. The two Brazilian airlines will limit one-way fares to a maximum of 999 reais (US$ 425).
In related news, Brazil’s airlines have announced that they will add an additional 2,000 flights to cater for the hordes of football fans set to travel around the country. The extra flights will be largely operated by the nation’s four main carriers, TAM, Gol, Avianca and Azul.
Critics Blast New Travel Commercials
All Nippon Airways and Kayak.com seem to be the latest companies to have offended consumers through advertising.
ANA’s commercial, which is aimed at promoting international flights from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, drew criticism for racially stereotyping Westerners as having big noses and blond hair (characteristics generally thought desirable among Japanese). The company has since apologised to its customers and has said it will modify the advertisment.
For its part Kayak.com is drawing heat for its new 30-second spot, which critics claim is insensitive to the elderly. This is not the first time that Kayak.com has got into hot water for its advertising. Last year one of its commercials was banned in the U.K. over perceived insensitivity toward brain surgery patients.
European Air Traffic Control Strike Set to Impact Flights Next Week
The Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination(ATCEUC), which represents 14,000 flight overseers across 28 European countries, has revived plans to strike over planned safety and savings targets by the European Commission, which it says could endanger the safe provision of services. Scheduled to take place next Wednesday, the strike could lead to mass flight disruption in Europe.
Plans Underway for Bridge Connecting San Diego to Tijuana International Airport
Private investors are looking to build a bridge to Tijuana International Airport. Next year, if all goes according to plan, air travelers will be able to park their cars in the United States and then walk across an enclosed 325-foot passageway directly to Tijuana International – allowing passengers to land in one country and leave in another.
The U.S. State Department Releases Country Travel Alerts and Warnings
The State Department has released a Travel Warning for Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao in the Philippines due to consistent threats of terrorism and the high risk for international travelers being kidnapped. There is a Travel Alert for Thailand — mainly for the Bangkok area — due to political and social unrest. Additionally, a Travel Alert for U.S. citizens traveling to Asia Pacific has been issued as it is now cyclone season (through April 30, 2014).
Fly.com in the News
Traveling in 2014? Here are 14 things to know (Los Angeles Times)
If you’re looking to go to Europe for less, look to European low-cost carriers. Norwegian Air Shuttle “is just starting to penetrate the U.S. market,” says Warren Chang, vice president and general manager of Fly.com, an airfare search engine. In early January, I found an L.A.-Copenhagen round trip for randomly chosen May 15-22 for about $625 and a fare to Helsinki on the same dates for $799. Best fare I found on a U.S. carrier was $1,144 on United and $1,112 on American, respectively. (These fares may no longer be available.) Also check out Aeroflot (not generally a budget carrier but competitive), AirBerlin and FinnAir, among others.
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