This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from five China airlines creating their own blacklist, couple charged £2,000 in change fees, and Celestyal Cruises takes US travelers to Cuba, to full scale Titanic replica set to sail in 2018, Rome raises fines for littering tourists, and British Airways reverses no-pants rule for new female crew. Enjoy!

China’s Airlines Launch Blacklist

Last year, the Civil Aviation Administration of China created a blacklist of ill-behaving Chinese travelers whose behavior have caused delays and disrupted flights. Travelers on that list could potentially face a travel ban from two to 10 years. If that wasn’t enough reason to start behaving on flights, this week’s news might: Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, and Spring Air have banded together to create their own blacklist, banning unruly passengers from their planes. If a passenger causes trouble of any kind on one flight, said passenger will be barred from flying on all five airlines.

Couple Charged £2,000 in Change Fees

A couple in their 80s who had planned to vacation to Australasia for their diamond anniversary recently encountered an issue many travelers face: a change fee. Unfortunately for Audrey and Brian Kay, they were charged £2,000 (approximately USD$2,900) for making two changes to their plane ticket that cost only £143 each (USD$207). Mr. Kay didn’t think twice about paying the exorbitant fees but when their son Richard found out about it, he contacted the ticketing agency several times but never got a reply. After alerting The Independent about the situation, the online company claims that the fees were a mistake and reimbursed the Kays £1,608 (USD$2,300) and issued a statement that they are “reviewing its checks and measures to reduce the likelihood of human error during a booking amendment.” While change fees are hard to void, this list will at least give you some ideas on how to avoid it or at the very least, not pay so much.

Celestyal Cruises Takes US Travelers to Cuba

If you’ve been impatiently waiting for a cruise line to start taking passengers to Cuba, your wait is over. U.S. based cruise companies are still awaiting final approval from the Cuban government to sail to Cuba, but cruise lines based outside the U.S. have already been granted the right to sail there. Cyprus-based Celestyal Cruises will be sailing to Cuba for the third year, and this time it’ll be allowed to carry U.S. passengers through its new People-to-People Cruise & Land itinerary. U.S. citizens who wish to partake in one of the sailings will have to make their reservations through a U.S. tour operator partner or directly with Cuba Cruise. The cruise, available through April, will cost $1,529 per person, based on double occupancy and sail roundtrip from Montego Bay in Jamaica with stops at Santiago de Cuba, Havana, Maria la Gorda and Cienfuegos.

Titanic II Set to Sail in 2018

Nope, not a sequel to the 1997 movie, but rather a full scale replica of the RMS Titanic that sank on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg. Back in 2012, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer announced that he’ll build a high-tech replica with a sail date of late 2016. After running into a few issues, Mr. Palmer has announced that the sail date has been pushed back to 2018. While the new ship will take a lot of cues from the original, including three classes of service and amenities like a swimming pool and Turkish baths, it will be four yards wider and built to today’s safety standards including a welded hull instead of rivets, and come complete with modern evacuation systems, satellite controls, digital navigation and radar systems, and of course, enough lifeboats for the 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members.

And that is not the only Titanic replica in the works as a Chinese State-run shipbuilder is said to be working on their own ship that will be permanently docked at a theme park on the Daying Qi River in Sichuan. Visitors to the park will be able to spend a night on the ship for £315 (USD$457) and experience the moment the Titanic hit the iceberg through a high-tech simulator. This attraction is set to open in October 2017. Who would have through that there’s a market for not one but two Titanic replicas?

Rome Raises Fines for Littering Tourists

In an effort to combat the increasing rat population the Eternal City is facing, the city’s officials are now imposing a fine on anyone caught littering. This came about after an expensive and ultimately ineffective clean-up effort back in 2013. Coupled with a mild winter, rats currently outnumber the humans two to one in parts of Rome. Also, officials are targeting their rat-fighting efforts on known “rat hubs” like schools and restaurants. The article didn’t specify the amount of the fine, but if you find yourself in Rome anytime soon, make sure you don’t go around dropping your trash on the street.

Random Story of the Week: Let Them Wear Pants

Female flight attendants hired by British Airways starting in 2012 finally won the right to wear pants on flights after a two-year fight. Female crew members who were hired prior to 2012 have always been allowed to wear pants, but after strikes in 2010 and 2011, new rules were put in place that limited new women crew members to skirts. After BA’s reversal of skirt restriction, regional officer Matt Smith of Unite, the crew’s union, said, “Female cabin crew no longer have to shiver in the cold, wet and snow of wintery climates, but also can be afforded the protection of trousers at destinations where there is a risk of malaria or the Zika virus.”

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Kim has been hunting flight deals and writing travel articles for over 13 years. His articles have appeared in the Boston Herald, Chicago Daily Herald, and Frommer’s Budget Travel, among other publications. Amsterdam, Bangkok, Rome, and Sydney are some of his favorite destinations and he aspires to one day live in Italy. La dolce vita!

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