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This Week’s Top 5 Travel News Highlights

Qantas' fleet of A380s are still grounded for inspections (Photo: Tamsin Slater via Flickr)

There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in the travel news world this week… here are the top 5 stories you might want to know about:

1. Free Wifi This Winter

Google is partnering with three major U.S. airlines to offer free wireless Internet access on domestic flights this holiday season. The free Wi-Fi will be available for travelers on AirTran, Delta and Virgin America from Nov. 20, 2010, to Jan. 2, 2011, according to a blog post by Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google. This is awesome news for anyone flying home this holiday season!

2. Hotels Are Ditching The Front Desk

You read right – some hotels are cutting costs by removing the front desk. Andaz, a boutique brand owned by Hyatt, now has kiosks to check-into your room. MSNBC reports “Traditional front desks, however, may be destined for a scrap heap teeming with bygone lobby fixtures like key boxes, desk bells and hat racks. Some mid-market chains already are dumping imposing check-in counters for cozy, one-on-one welcomes or for virtual check-ins through kiosks or mobile devices.”

Hotels are saying they want to lure in a “younger, more tech savvy consumer”, like the wonderful readers of ChronicWanderlust. So what do you think about this automation in hotels?

3. National Parks are FREE This Thursday (Nov. 11th)

In honor of Veterans Day, national parks will not be charging any entrance fees on Nov. 11. It’s one of several fee-free days the park system has offered this year. Some outfitters, shops and lodges based in the national parks offer two-for-one deals and other discounts in conjunction with the fee-free program; details at http://www.parkpartners.org/Special-Offers-for-2010.html.

4.  JetBlue Comes to D.C.

Traveling to Washington D.C. just got much easier… JetBlue Airways launched service Monday at Washington’s Reagan National Airport with daily flights to Boston and Florida. Great news for snowbirds, lobbyists and school groups.

5. Qantas A380’s Still Grounded

Qantas has grounded its six Airbus A380s for at least 72 more hours, following a discovery of oil leaks in three engines, says a report by the Associated Press Monday.

Engineers from the Australian carrier conducted tests on the double-decker jets after an engine burst on a flight last week over Indonesia’s Batam island. The Sydney-bound flight returned and made an emergency landing in Singapore. No one was hurt.


Travel News Tidbits: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Here’s the rundown of the important tidbits of travel news you should know about…

The Good

Government says US airfares fell in 4th quarter

AP reports that average airfares in the U.S. fell 7.4 percent in the last three months of 2009, the biggest year-over-year decline since 2001, the Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics said Wednesday.

Airfares in the fourth quarter of last year were also the lowest for that three-month period since 2006. But fourth-quarter fares were up 4.2 percent compared with the third quarter.

Airlines were still struggling with low passenger demand in the last three months of 2009, although the fourth quarter is typically a strong period that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas. Prices have generally increased so far in 2010. The average fare in the fourth quarter was $319. That’s down from an all-time high of $358 in the third quarter of 2008.

Frontier Airlines will begin offering service to Cancun!

The nonstop service will start in December between its Milwaukee hub and Cancun, Mexico. They said Tuesday that Frontier Airlines will operate two weekly roundtrip flights between Dec. 18 and May 1. A third flight will be in effect Feb. 1 through April 15 in Airbus A320’s.

Behold, The Almighty Roadtrip!

More Americans will hit the highways and airports over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but they’ll probably spend much less than last year, according to a study released Thursday by AAA. They said about 32.1 million people are expected to take trips during the final weekend in May. About 30.5 million Americans traveled during the same weekend last year. The improving economy will convince more people to get out of the house this year.

The Bad

More Arizona Immigration Law Fallout

The Los Angeles City Council overwhelmingly approved a boycott of Arizona-based businesses and governments Wednesday unless the state repeals a new law giving police the power to question a detainee’s immigration status.

Several other California cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, have already adopted resolutions requesting city departments to not sign any new contracts with Arizona companies. California isn’t the only state restricting business with Arizona; Minnesota, Washington and Colorado are also on the list. Bad news for Arizona hotels!

The Ugly

British Airways goes on strike!

BA’s cabin crews plan to strike for 5 days starting Monday 24th, according to their union. Earlier this week, a British court overturned a ban on the strike. Needless to say, BA is not happy about this and neither are the passengers.

The schedule at Heathrow Airport will be similar to that previously announced ahead of the canceled first strike period. British Airways said it intends to operate more than 60%  of long-haul flights and more than 50% of short-haul flights in the May 24-to-May 28 strike period and it will add to this schedule where possible.

At this stage, British Airways expects to fly more than 70 percent of customers who hold a booking from May 24 to May 28. The airline said it will operate most of its revised short-haul schedule at Heathrow using its own aircraft and cabin crews, but will supplement its schedule by leasing up to eight aircraft with pilots and cabin crews from other UK or European airlines.

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