Aug. 1-7: Senate Wants to Crackdown on Airlines’ Hidden Fees; U.S. Airlines Ban Hunting Trophy; Airbus Patents Hypersonic Jet; & More

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from Senate wants to crackdown on airlines’ hidden fees, U.S. airlines hunting trophy ban, and Airbus patents hypersonic jet, to Ryanair sets monthly passenger record, Norwegian announces Cuba sailings, and North Korea creates own time zone. Enjoy!

Senate Wants to Crackdown on Airlines’ Hidden Fees

The Senate Commerce Committee this week released a report that airlines ancillary fees, such as priority boarding, preferred and advance seat selection and cancellation fees, are getting out of hand. Jean Medina, a representative for Airlines For America which represents some domestic airlines states that “It would be difficult to find an industry that is more transparent than airlines in their pricing. The fact that a record number of people are traveling this summer further demonstrates that customers always know what they are buying before they purchase.” Based on the report, the senate made several recommendations including clearer disclosures that preferred seat charges are optional; requiring airlines to promptly refund baggage fees for luggage delayed more than six hours on a domestic flight; and the government require a disclosure chart listing all the fees.

U.S. Airlines Ban Hunting Trophy

In light of the American dentist who was accused of illegally killing Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, all three U.S. legacy airlines have decided to ban the shipping of hunting trophies. Delta Air Lines lead the charge by making the announcement first on Monday, followed by American Airlines, United Airlines. The move by American is mostly symbolic as American doesn’t fly to Africa, according to American spokesman Ross Feinstein. Interestingly, just last month South African Airways lifted its ban on the shipment of so-called trophies after putting a ban in place for a few months. Amongst the airlines that made the change in their rules are Air Canada, Air France, KLM, Singapore Airlines and Qantas. Big game hunters who are planning on visiting Alaska as some point can rest easy knowing that Delta’s ban doesn’t necessarily include game from Alaska, while Alaska Airlines said, “Our existing policy works well for the people in the Lower 48 and in Alaska, and we’re not making any policy changes.”

Airbus Patents Hypersonic Jet

Get ready for flights across the Atlantic Ocean that will take just an hour! Airbus, the company responsible for the double-decker behemoth of a plane known as the A380, recently received approval from the US Patent and Trademark Office for an for an “ultra-rapid air vehicle and related method of aerial locomotion.” Airbus claims the jet can go up to four and half times the speed of sound at Mach 4.5; that’s twice as fast as Concorde’s maximum speed which topped out at a measly Mach 2.04. Traveling at Mach 4.5 will shorten the flying time between London and New York City to just one hour (the Concorde took three and half hours), while it’ll only take three hours to fly between Paris and San Francisco or Tokyo and Los Angeles. Before you get too excited about traveling at supersonic speeds, remember that the average cost of a roundtrip trans-Atlantic ticket on the Concorde towards the end of its service lifetime was $10,000.

Ryanair Sets Monthly Passenger Record

For an airline that’s generally universally disliked, Ryanair certainly does fly a lot of people. Europe’s budget airline just announced that in July they transported 10.14 million passengers, an 11 percent increase over the same period last year, making them the first airline to fly more than 10 million travelers in a month. By comparison, Ryanair’s rival, Aer Lingus only flew 9.77 million passengers in all of 2014.

Norwegian Jumps on Cuba Bandwagon

Just last week, we mentioned four companies that have already announced Cuba sailings in 2016. On Tuesday, Norwegian Cruise Lines joins the ever growing list! Norwegian however hasn’t laid out a timeline of when they’ll start the cruises, as it is all dependent on approval from U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, president and CEO Frank Del Rio did reveal that the first cruises from the company could be from one of its brands that runs smaller ships.

Random Story of the Week: North Korea Creates Its Own Time Zone

On Wednesday, North Korea announced that starting on August 15 — the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula’s liberation from Japan — clocks around the country will switch over to “Pyongyang Time,” which sets it at GMT +830, which is 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan. According to North Korea’s news agency, “The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling down its land.” South Korea made a similar move back in 1954 by moving their time back 30 minutes as a move to distance themselves from Japan, but changed it back in 1961.

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