This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from Lufthansa to charge €16 on tickets from OTAs and other airlines considering doing the same, Delta tests preloading carry-on bags, and airline trade group suggests smaller carry-ons, to Boeing shrinks toilets to add more seats, Carnival’s new brand focuses on “social impact travel”, and student changes name to avoid fee. Enjoy!

Lufthansa to Charge €16 Fee on Ticket from OTAs

It looks like airlines are looking for ways to make comparison shopping for airfares trickier. Recently, Delta started removing its data from select airfare comparison websites like Fly.com, TripAdvisor and Hipmunk. And now, Lufthansa Group has announced that all its airlines, including Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and SWISS, will start charging a €16 (US$18) fee from September 1 on if you purchase a ticket on any of those airlines through a third party online travel agency (OTA), like Orbitz, Expedia and the like. Their hope is that this fee will encourage travelers to purchase tickets directly through them to avoid a fee that OTAs charge the airlines for every ticket sold.

The other downside to this is the potential of other airlines following suit.

Delta Tests Preloading Carry-On Bags

In an effort to speed up boarding, this past Monday Delta Air Lines is rolling out its Early Valet service in about two dozen flights from Delta’s hubs in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle. This service, currently free, will have Delta employees bring the carry-on bags onto the plane and store them above the assigned seats. Delta plans to expand this service to more flights in June, plan to offer the service until August. This service is currently limited to flights with a large numbers of vacationers, and tested this service successfully last year on flights from Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Smaller Carry-Ons?

While on the subject of carry-on bags, fliers might suddenly find their carry-on bags to be too big, if the airlines have anything to do with it. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group that represents numerous big airlines around the world, on Tuesday issued a statement that suggests that carry-on bags should be smaller. According to IATA, then optimal luggage size is 21.5 inches tall x 13.5 inches wide x 7.5 inches deep, versus the current allowed size on major U.S. airlines of 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches. IATA claims that if all airlines streamline the size of carry-on bags, “theoretically everyone should have a chance to store their carry-on bags on board aircraft of 120 seats or larger.” But whether airlines actually enforce this rule should they choose to adopt it, is another question.

Boeing Shrinks Toilets to Add More Seats

If given a choice between a smaller toilet or one fewer toilet in planes, which would you choose? Earlier this year Airbus started rolling out a new configuration of their A320s for budget European airlines Vueling and easyJet that involved removing a toilet to fit six extra seats. Not to be left behind, Boeing is planning on announcing a new layout for its 777-300ER model that will have 14 extra seats by shrinking the already minuscule size of the toilets, revamping the overhead bins and cutting down on the space currently used for pipes, wiring and support brackets. A Boeing spokesperson claims these new designs will also lighten the plane by 1,200lbs and increase “the space available to passengers. It’s a smarter design.” The new 777 will be unveiled at the Paris Air Show that runs from June 12 to 21. Sounds like Boeing wins this round.

Carnival’s New Brand Focuses on “Social Impact Travel”

Carnival Corp. is going to launch a new cruise brand called fathom (with the lower case “f”), and instead of focusing on size, entertainment or new technological advancements, the new brand will set its sights on social projects and missions via “social impact travel.” Think of it like Habitat for Humanity on a cruise ship. The new brand’s first cruise will start in April 2016 from Miami to the Dominican Republic where guests will help teach English, work on reforestation and water purification projects, or help a women’s cooperative harvest cocoa and make chocolate. While the cruise does work off a social responsibility model, at the end of the day, it’s a for-profit business, and a seven-day cruise starts at $1,540.

Random Story of the Week: Student Changes Name to Avoid Fee

What would you do to avoid paying an exorbitant fee? For 19-year old Adam Armstrong from Leeds, England, he’s willing to change his last name. Armstrong’s plane ticket was purchased by his girlfriend’s stepfather, who thought his Facebook name, Adam West, was his real last name, and not reference to the actor who played Batman on tv. When faced with the prospect of paying Ryanair £220 (approximately US$340) in administrative fees to change the name on his ticket, Armstrong decided to change his name at no cost, drive one and a half hours to Liverpool, and put a rush on a new passport for £103, saving himself £117 (US$182), minus gas money and time. I’m more curious of the fact that the girlfriend’s stepfather appears to know very little about his stepdaughter’s boyfriend.

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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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