New Law Will Refund Fees on Delayed Bags

Here’s a bit of good news regarding checked bag fees: a new law signed this month now requires airlines to refund checked bag fees should your bag be lost or delayed 12 hours from time of arrival for a domestic flight, or within 15 hours for an international flight. The new bill was part of the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization extension bill that passed earlier this month. This new rule will require airlines to “promptly provide to a passenger an automated refund for any ancillary fees paid by the passenger for checked baggage.” The U.S. Transportation Secretary is required to put the law into effect within a year.

Airfares Lowest since 2010

If you’ve been thinking about that perfect vacation, now might be the best time to start planning. According to data released on Tuesday by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the average roundtrip airfare for the first three months of 2016 is $361, which is $31 less than 2015 and after adjusting for inflation, the lowest since 2010. According to the article, there are three primary factors that contribute to the lower fares. The first is the plummeting cost of fuel in the last two years, which has saved airlines billions. These savings has allowed airlines to introduce new routes and use larger planes. However, the increase in seat capacity has outpaced the number of travelers, leading to empty seats the airlines have to fill by lowering airfare prices. And then there’s competition from budget airlines flying popular routes, forcing the bigger airlines to lower their pricing to compete. This statistic can be a bit deceiving however, as the average pricing doesn’t include taxes or ancillary fees such as checked bags. In the first quarter of the year, airlines have made almost $1 billion in bag fees alone, which is 27 percent more than 2010.

JetBlue First Commercial Flight to Cuba

If you’ve been itching to fly the first commercial flight from the U.S. to Cuba, mark your dates, as JetBlue Airways will begin service from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara’s Abel Santamaria Airport (three hours east of Havana) on Aug. 31, beating Silver Airlines’ first flight by one day, and American Airlines by seven days. Back in June, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) approved applications from six airlines to offer nonstop service to Cuba (not including Havana, which was approved later). The other three airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines, haven’t announced their launch dates yet. JetBlue’s flight, assuming the other three airlines don’t start their service earlier, will be the first scheduled flight between both countries in over 50 years. Flights start at $99 one-way or $210 roundtrip, and it includes Cuba-required health insurance coverage and taxes.

The Future of Luggage?

If you ever wished you can ride your suitcase because it’s too heavy to drag with you, check out the Modabag, where you can literally take your bag for a spin. The 19lbs, carry-on bag can travel up to 8 mph and is approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The bag comes with USB ports and location tracking, and can be yours for a hefty $995.

If that’s too rich for your blood, but still would like a motorized, smart suitcase, there’s the $429 Cowarobot. While you can’t ride this suitcase, it will follow you around like a puppy. Marketed as “world’s first autonomous suitcase,” this bag uses sensors and sonars that will always stay at arm’s length from the user using an included bracelet, and knows to avoid objects and stairs. It even has a “find me” function that’ll allow it to make its way to you if you somehow misplaced it. The company’s currently trying to raise funds and has an estimated ship date in October.

For something even cheaper and more low-tech, you can always opt for My Hitch, a hands-free accessory you attach to your pants or belt and the handle of your suitcase, allowing you to move around with your bag trailing behind you while leaving your hands free to do whatever you need to do (hunting for Pokémons, perhaps?). If you’re the type to wear loose-fitting pants, this accessory isn’t for you, as the inventor, 53 year old pilot Robert Lian says, “the product works well with either a tight waistband or a belt.” My Hitch is currently available for $17.95.

Random News Story of the Week: Man Wins Island Resort

It’s not every day someone wins an island resort in a raffle. But one lucky Australian, identified as Joshua from New South Wales, did just that and he only spent $49 on the raffle ticket. And this is not some abandoned getaway that would need a ton of money to update just to get it up and running again. The 16-room Kosrae Nautilus Resort, located on the Pacific island of Kosrae in Micronesia, is fully staffed with workers who have been with the resort for years and is currently debt free and profitable. The previous owners, Doug and Sally Beitz, started the business over 20 years ago and decided it’s time to retire and head back to Australia. They created the contest with hopes that the new owner would be “someone who was genuinely passionate about island life and respected the ecosystem, rather than the person with the deepest pockets.”

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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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