May 16-22: Delta Shuns Travel Sites, United Hacking Campaign, Southwest Goes International, Airlines Remove Toilet for More Seats, & more

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news — from Delta shunning travel sites, United hacking campaign, Southwest goes international, and Disney bans selfie-sticks on rides, to airlines removing toilet in favor of more seats, start-up airlines using crowdfunding to raise capital, and airline captain suspended after showing up drunk for the third time. Enjoy!

Delta Shuns Travel Sites

If you have used airfare comparison sites in the past few months (such as, you might have noticed that Delta Air Lines is conspicuously missing from the results. This is because Delta has removed its schedule and fare data from those sites, claiming those sites don’t have the right to use its information. In a report that was released on Wednesday, Travel Technology Association, a trade group for those sites states that Delta’s flight information is no longer available on over a dozen websites including, TripAdivosr and Hipmunk. Delta said it “reserves the right to determine who it does business with, and where and how its information is displayed.” Here’s to hoping the other airlines won’t follow suit (Southwest notwithstanding, as their flight and fare information has never been available on other websites), or soon travelers will have to revert back to checking every airline’s website for the best available deals.

Hack United & Win Miles

Do you have crazy computer skills and could use 1 million Mileage Plus miles? United Airlines is currently running a “bug bounty” program where if you are able to find a bug that affects their websites, apps and/or online portals, you could win anywhere from 50,000 up to 1 million Mileage Plus miles, depending on the severity of the bug. This came about around the same time the FBI’s warrant for computer security expert Chris Roberts was made public. Roberts claimed back in April that he was able to access a United Airlines flight controls via its in-flight entertainment system and made the plane climb and move sideways. While Roberts hasn’t been formally charged by the FBI, perhaps United has already found its winner.

Southwest Adds Domestic and International Flights

Southwest Airlines’ new international routes to Central America and Mexico (including Cancun, Belize City and San Jose, Costa Rica) don’t start until October 15, but major U.S. airlines are already cutting their prices to compete. Unfortunately for the major airlines, Southwest isn’t done expanding yet, as they plan to soon add Liberia, Costa Rica, and Montego Bay, Jamaica, to the list, as well as expanding service to/from Houston starting November 1, stating that it’s “an opportunity where airfares were currently higher than they should have been,” and seeing “a unique opportunity here to help both Southwest Airlines, as well as flyers in the Houston area.”

Disney Bans Selfie Sticks on Rides

The banning of selfie-sticks continues. Disney World in Orlando has put a partial ban on the ubiquitous selfie-sticks, posting signs on Magic Kingdom’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and several other rides about the ban. This came about after the ride had to be stopped several times because guests were using the device while the ride was still moving. Disneyland in California has similar restrictions on its rides such as Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Guests, however, are still allowed to use the selfie-sticks around the park. Just don’t pull it out on a ride, which really should be common sense..

Vueling & easyJet Removes Toilet

You have no doubt joked about what airlines will do next in their continuing effort to squeeze more seats into a plane, and one of those jokes is now a reality. Back in March, Vueling, a low-cost carrier out of Barcelona, received delivery of a newly configured A320 that has 186 seats compared to a typical A320 that only had 180 seats. Since the plane didn’t physically get bigger, a few things had to be sacrificed to fit the extra six seats, namely a toilet and the galley. Now easyJet, a low-cost carrier based in London, has ordered several new Airbus A320 with the same configuration with expected delivery starting May 2016, and plans to retrofit its current fleet starting in winter 2016. The one positive to come out of this: the single toilet in the rear of the plane is now bigger, giving full access to Persons with Reduced Mobility. Will U.S. airlines soon follow suit? Perhaps American Airlines’ nonfunctioning toilet from a flight between Westchester to Chicago a few weeks ago really is their way of secretly testing the waters of removing toilets in favor of more seats.

Start-Up Airline Turns to Crowdfunding

Would you contribute to a start-up airline’s crowdfunding efforts? Avatar Airlines (no, not owned by James Cameron) recently started its campaign to raise $5 million through after its efforts to raise money through crowdfunding site Indiegogo failed when it was removed from the website. Donations can range anywhere from $5 to $9,750, and if you donate $5,000 you’ll be guaranteed an interview for a captain’s position. The airline is planning to be offer low airfares within the continental U.S. and Hawaii, and plans to offer fares as low as $79 one-way between New York City and Los Angeles.

Random Story of the Week: Captain Suspended for Showing up Drunk

Last week, we reported on a co-pilot who was barred from flying when he was found with four times the legal limit of alcohol in his system. A few days after that incident, an Air India captain was stopped by security officials from flying when he showed up drunk at Sharjah Airport in the U.A.E. He was said to be “heavily intoxicated” and has since been suspended for five years by the Indian Directorate General Civil Aviation, as this is his third such incident. Are these two incidents just a coincidence, or do more pilots show up drunk than we realize?

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