AAA: Travel for Independence Day Expected to Go Down 2.5 Percent This Year

The recent decline of gas prices will not do much for economic indicators. Following a sustained period of high prices for fuel, as well as other vital goods, several economic indicators will see their growth offset this year.

One such indicator is the amount of travel in the US. One of the most anticipated holidays, the weekend for Independence Day, will not generate as much travel as in the previous years. Specifically, 39 million Americans will travel in June 30 to July 4 holiday time more than 50 miles, a drop of 2.5 percent from last year’s figures.

The estimate comes from AAA, which is projecting this decline based mostly on the gas prices, as the price per gallon is nearly one dollar higher than in 2010, said the director of Travel Services at AAA, Glen MacDonell. He added that high gas prices will also lead to a shift in Independence Day travel demographics, as the low-income households will be more severely affected than households with medium to high incomes.

Since fuel is a necessity, the sums spent on fuel are unlikely to change for day-to-day activities. However, in the case of households with low incomes, it is highly probable that leisure expenses will suffer some cuts, including fuel costs for Independence Day travel. According to AAA estimates, from households with incomes of up to 50,000 dollars only 33 percent will travel for Independence Day, down from last year’s 41 percent. Conversely, those from high-income households (100,000+ dollars annually) will travel more, the estimated number of Independence Day travelers going up to 35 percent, from 26 percent last year.

Harris Interactive: Gay and Lesbian Adults More Intent on Traveling This Summer

As the economy in US and around the world is showing signs of improvement, and the summer gets close to its peak, Harris Interactive conducted a national survey to take the pulse of travel intentions of Americans.

The results of the survey indicate that the members of the LGBT community are more intent on travelling this summer compared to that of last year. Some 65 percent of the surveyed gay adults had planned to travel this summer, compared to 60 percent last year. Furthermore, 18 percent of the LGBT responders said they had business travel plans this summer, three percent more than last year.

The survey also revealed that the spending plans also included higher amounts than last summer. In average, they were willing to spend about 1,300 dollars for business or leisure travels, up from 1,058 dollars last year.

Furthermore, about 9 percent of LGBT Americans plan to take more car trips this summer, while 63 percent said they weren’t planning on increasing the number of their summer car trips. Weekend trip intention presented a similar pattern. Some 12 percent of responders said they wanted to increase the number of weekend trips, while 60 percent said they would have just as many leisure weekends as last year. Two percent also indicated they planned to take longer trips.

The survey was conducted online between April 11-18 on behalf of Witeck-Combs Communications, with the participation of 2,576 Americans aged 18 or more. Among the participants, 331 identified themselves as transgender, bisexual, lesbian or gay.

Future Moms Want Information on When Flying Is Safe For Their Pregnancy

For many couples with a baby on the way, the holiday season can represent a last chance for spending time in two. As such, the season poses some problems for pregnant women, as travelling, flying especially, can be very stressful.

Future mothers are very confused about how risky flying is for their pregnancy, with 20 percent of them being unsure whether flying is at all safe when a baby is on the way. The finding comes from a new survey made by the Ultrasound Center in London and Netmums.

The survey also revealed that 85 percent of mothers to be want clear, standardized guidance to help them plan for holidays before the baby is born. Currently, the safety guidelines of airlines vary from 34 to 37 weeks of pregnancy as the most advanced term.

According to the founder of Netmums, Siobhan Freegard, explained that mothers-to-be wanted clear information, and standard guidelines from airlines would help them reduce the time spent on planning pre-baby holidays, as well as the associated stress.

Instead of relying on the varying guidelines of airline companies, 61 percent of the surveyed mothers took precautions before travel by checking the health of their pregnancy. Furthermore, 81 percent of mothers-to-be also consulted with their midwives before making any travel plans permanent.

Darryl Maxwell of the UItrasound Center in London recommends that women who plan to travel before the arrival of the baby find out if there is any chance of early delivery. He added that their pregnancy should be safe for flight before the 37th week or, in the case of twin pregnancies without complications, before the 34th week. ObGyn Maxwell further recommended that airlines respect these recommendations as well when issuing their guidelines.


Fall 2011 Brings Reduced Trans-Atlantic Capacity at Alitalia, Air France KLM and Delta Air Lines

The joint venture comprised of Air France KLM, Delta Air Lines and Alitalia announced that flight capacity between US and Europe will be reduced this fall by 7-9 percent in response to increasing prices of jet fuels and seasonal fluctuations in demand.

The three companies have decided to make this strategic decision in order to respond to the external cost and economic pressures, explained Air France KLM’s Bruno Matheu, executive VP for the company’s revenue management department.

The flight capacity will be adjusted by lowering the fall and winter flight frequency on some routes across the Atlantic. At the same time, the companies will be introducing seasonal flights to destinations with warm weather.

Since its establishment, the joint venture has managed to build a leading alliance in trans-Atlantic flights. Some of the most notable achievements are the approximately 5,000 joint sales for corporate and trade partners in the US and Europe and the creation of joint revenue and pricing management units.

The alliance operates more than 260 daily flights over the Atlantic with the help of 144 aircraft. The joint venture has seven main hubs – Rome Fiumicino, Paris-CDG, New York-JFK, Minneapolis, Detroit, Atlanta and Amsterdam. The alliance also operates from Salt Lake City, Memphis, Milan, Lyon and Cincinnati.

The flights of the joint venture reach 300 destinations beyond 26 gateways in North America and 200 more from the 33 gateways in Europe to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

The joint venture is responsible for 27 percent of the trans-Atlantic flights and generates revenues amounting to 11 billion dollars per year.

World’s Highest Hotel Opened in Hong Kong by Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-CarltonHong Kong has become the host of the highest-placed hotel in the world as Ritz-Carlton opened its latest venue.

The new hotel is located between the floors 102 – 118 of the International Commerce Center, and it is another luxury addition to the brand’s collection of hotels, which consists of 75 luxury venues worldwide. The hotel is the 16th opened by Ritz-Carlton in Asia.

According to Ritz-Carlton’s president and COO, Herve Humler, the opening of the hotel rewards years of dedication and hard work, as it takes the idea of a luxury hotel to new levels, both literally and figuratively.

The hotel has contemporary and stylish interiors. Guests are greeted at the ninth floor lobby, with a spectacular view of the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbor. They are then to be elevated to the 103rd floor, where the lobby of the newly-opened hotel shows them a panoramic view of the city.

The hotel has 312 rooms with spectacular views, from the Deluxe rooms of 530 square feet to the Ritz-Carlton Suite of 3,920 square feet. All the rooms have state-of-art design and the latest leisure and entertainment technologies.

Guests will be able to choose between six eating venues. The ninth floor comes with a stylish patisserie while the 103rd floor hosts a Chocolate Library – a lounge that revolves around chocolate. On floor 102, guests can choose between Cantonese cuisine at Tin Lung Heen, an open kitchen, or Southern Italian Cuisine at Tosca. Also on the 102nd floor is a Lounge & Bar that promises to impress with some of its design features, such as crystal fire pits. The Ozone restaurant and bar, located at the 118th floor, characterized by stylish and sleek design, will take socializing to a new level with a terrace at the highest altitude in the world.

Travelers Affected by the Earthquake in Japan Get Extra-options From United and Continental

continental airlinesContinental and United airlines announce their customers that if they were planning to travel to certain cities in Japan and they want to cancel their trips they now have the option to do so on the companies’ websites and receive a full refund. They can also reschedule their trips at no additional costs.

Except the Guam-Sendai flights, the flights of the two operators are taking place according to their regular schedules, but the companies are aware of potential customer wishes to cancel or reschedule, given the current conditions in Japan.

Until March 31, customers can make one reschedule of their time or itinerary to or from certain airports in Japan. The two companies waive all fees connected to the reschedule.

People can also cancel their flights until March 31, even if their flights were not affected. The offer extends to tickets purchased through OnePass and Mileage Plus programs. For these tickets, the customers will have their mileage refunded. Those who want to get a refund for their trip will have to submit a request using the forms that are available on the website of United and Continental air carriers.

The two airlines recommend travelers to use the websites for managing their reservations. They can also follow the status of their flights by using the EasyUpdate and TripAlert services from Unites and Continental, respectively.

United and Continental are supporting relief efforts by offering a bonus mileage to the OnePass and Mileage Plus travelers that make contributions to the American Red Cross.

Seawings Partners With Oman Air to Enhance Sightseeing Services

seawings and oman airThe official airline operator in the Sultanate of Oman has agreed to partner with Seawings, a company that organizes seaplane tours. The two companies promise to add Oman sightseeing tours to the portfolio of Seawings.

Oman was once one of the main hot spots of the spice trade in the Middle East. The country is also well-known for its historical architecture, the coasts and the Frankincense trees, which are used among other things for the production of aromatic oils.

Seawings operates several aerial tours to key landmarks, such as the artificial islands the World and Palm Jumeirah, as well as the red-sand desert Dubai Creek, or Burj Al Arab and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

According to the commercial manager of Seawings, Prerna Fogat, the venture aims to bring the company’s air sightseeing tours to Oman, for both tourists and residents. Seawings has created a special tour, Muscat by Seaplane, to present the natural attractions of Oman while offering an exciting Seawings flight. The Muscat by Seaplane tour takes roughly 40 minutes. Altogether, the tour promises to offer the best option for seeing the exceptional architecture, the mountains and the exquisite blue coast of Oman, in an atmosphere of punctuality and quality services. The price of the Muscat by Oman tour is of 110 riyals for children and 130 riyals for adults.

The tour will pick up the tourists from Muscat, at the Al Jissah Bay, and it will fly them over places such as Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Forts of Nizar.

Saudi Arabian Airlines Upgrade Fleet With Assistance From Boeing

Carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines plans to upgrade its fleet of Boeing 777-200ERs by enhancing traveler experience and environment inside the aircraft. The company made a partnership with Boeing, which will be assisting with performing modifications to the 22 Boeing 777-200ERs in the carrier’s fleet.

The move is part of the company’s program to modify passenger cabins, which started in 2009. Large-scale modifications of this type are normally done during heavy maintenance verifications. Most of the fleet has already had passenger cabins modified, and the planes have returned to service.

Saudi Arabian Airlines estimates that modifications will be completed in 2011.

The airplane manufacturer assisted the carrier with the development of a new layout for the passenger cabins that will provide superior comfort to passengers, as well as program integration and engineering services.

The airplanes will get new seats from Avio Interiors for economy, business and first class. Each seat will have wide-screen displays connected to state of the art entertainment systems, which feature music, games and movies on demand, as well as USB ports, laptop power connectors and RCA jacks.

Fourteen of the planes that get their interior refreshed have 327 economy class and 14 business class seats. The remaining eight airplanes have 170 economy class, 24 first class and 38 business class seats.

Boeing provided the necessary parts for the installation of new seats and entertainments systems. The company also contributed to the relocation and upgrade of floors, sidewalls and ceilings, class diving walls, luggage bins, plumbing and closets.

SkyMiles at Delta Air Lines have no expiration date

Delta Air Lines is eliminating expiration for SkyMiles mileage as of January 1, 2011. This makes Delta Air Lines the only US operator where mileage points do not have an expiration date.

Before this measure was implemented, the frequent Delta flyers would lose their mileage after 24 months of inactivity. The initiative constitutes a major gain for the company’s clients and it makes Delta Air Lines a leader of the market in terms of loyalty benefits.

The change is just the latest one that the company operated to the SkyMiles program. Among the changes made last year is the removal of mileage redemption fees and free-of-charge check in for the first luggage for American Express credit card holders.

Delta Air Lines plans to implement changes to its website this year. These changes will include an improved travel calendar, enhanced booking process and display of flight information. Further benefits will be extended to travelers with Platinum, Diamond or Gold Medallion membership that fly with select partners of Delta Air Lines, such as KLM, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia and Air France.

The 30-years-old SkyMiles is one of the longest loyalty programs in the travel industry. In 2010, travelers redeemed approximately 264 billion miles for 12 million rewards. The mileage reduction options include tickets, car rentals, mileage upgrades, hotel stays, a wide variety of gift cards, and many other perks.

Delta Air Lines operates in 66 countries, has 357 destinations and serves approximately 160 million travelers annually. Together with partner operators, the company offers more than 13,000 daily flights.