By Eric Hanson
While booking holiday-time flights is an expensive endeavor even in a “normal” year, conditions in 2022 have conspired to create particularly astronomical airfare prices on flights for the festive season.
From the start of the year, rising fuel costs and overall economic inflation, along with the aviation industry's notorious staffing shortages—resulting in widespread flight delays, cancellations and schedule cutbacks—have compounded to create serious headaches for American travelers.
Between the first and second quarters of 2022 alone, the national average cost of domestic airfare increased by almost 21 percent, from $328 to $397. Such a high rate of increase in pricing hasn’t been seen since 2014, according to a SmartAsset report released earlier this month.
Some U.S. cities have seen flight costs skyrocket at even higher percentage rates than the national average, as much as 30 percent. SmartAsset recently conducted a study analyzing pricing changes at the nation’s 100 busiest airports, which were identified using 2021 domestic passenger numbers.
Based on Bureau of Transportation Statistics data for Q2 2022, researchers compared airports across three metrics: average airfare cost, one-year percent change in airfare and the one-year dollar change in airfare. In each case, comparisons were drawn between the second quarter of this year and the same period one year earlier.
SmartAsset found these to be the 10 most expensive U.S. airports to fly from.
1. Madison, Wisconsin — Dane County Regional-Truax Field
Average fare: $526
Percent increase: 34.54 percent
Dollar amount increase: $135
2. Washington, D.C. — Washington Dulles International Airport
Average fare: $526
Percent increase: 33.06 percent
Dollar amount increase: $131
3. Birmingham, Alabama — Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International
Average fare: $503
Percent increase: 37.52 percent
Dollar amount increase: $137
4. San Francisco — San Francisco International
Average fare: $499
Percent increase: 28 percent
Dollar amount increase: $109
5. Greer, South Carolina — Greenville-Spartanburg International
Average fare: $490
Percent increase: 35.62 percent
Dollar amount increase: $129
6. Greensboro, North Carolina — Piedmont Triad International
Average fare: $486
Percent increase: 35.41 percent
Dollar amount increase: $127
7. Fresno, California — Fresno Yosemite International
Average fare: $474
Percent increase: 42.15 percent
Dollar amount increase: $140
8. Tucson, Arizona — Tucson International
Average fare: $470
Percent increase: 37.6 percent
Dollar amount increase: $128
9. Little Rock, Arkansas — Bill and Hillary Clinton Nat Adams Field
Average fare: $466
Percent increase: 36.22 percent
Dollar amount increase: $124
10. Pensacola, Florida — Pensacola International
Average fare: $462
Percent increase: 51.28 percent
Dollar amount increase: $157
While the price of flights may seem outrageously high right now, there are still tactics you can try to lock in lower fares. One of the main strategies is booking your trip as far ahead of time as possible.
Founder of travel consultancy Poses Travel & Co., Amanda Poses, advises booking your flight the minute you decide to take a future trip. “The sooner you book your flights, the less money you’ll spend,” she told CNBC Make It. In theory, booking far ahead of your actual departure date should secure the lowest prices on your seats well before demand for your flight increases.
Poses also recommends taking advantage of the option to check your luggage online before you arrive at the airport, if available. She said that, oftentimes, it’s less expensive to add a bag to your ticket purchase online than it is to check it in person.
In the same vein, Poses also suggests making solid arrangements in advance for as many aspects of your vacation as possible. “Even if your plans are booked, you should be booking transfers, dining and anything you want so you get the most value out of your trip,” she said.
By Suzanne Edgewater
West Coast Bureau
While the leisure segment has been the first to really bounce back from the massive blow the travel industry suffered at the hands of COVID-19, business travel, it seems, is slowly climbing back also. Yet, this type of travel today faces new and different obstacles to complete recovery, mainly caused by global economic conditions, Business Travel News reported.
According to a new survey conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in which the organization polled a group of 594 members—consisting of travel buyers and suppliers—the recovery of international business travel has hit the halfway mark, but now economic concerns have replaced COVID-19 as the segment’s main roadblock.
Travel managers who participated in the survey, which GBTA conducted September 20 – 26, reported that domestic business travel has regained 63 percent of 2019 volumes, while international business travel has reached 50 percent of its 2019 levels.
Roughly one-quarter of the buyers polled said that international travel has reattained over 70 percent of pre-pandemic volumes. The majority of buyers reported that their companies again allow non-essential business travel, policies which 86 percent of respondents said now apply to domestic and 74 percent said apply to international trips.
"We continue to see progress as business travel makes its way back to being a $1.4 trillion global industry, pre-pandemic," GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang, said in a statement. "It is also important to understand the context of global business travel's recovery. Asia is still opening its borders, international business travel, in general, started picking up only earlier this year across the globe, and the U.S. has only permitted unrestricted travel since June."
When it came to expressing their expectations for the coming year, just four percent of travel suppliers surveyed said they believe COVID-19 will be the most likely cause of reduced business travel bookings. By comparison, 80 percent of suppliers felt that the greatest threat to bookings is posed by travel budgets being frozen or reduced due to record-high inflation or an impending recession.
Nevertheless, both suppliers and buyers at this point believe that business travel will fare better in 2023 than it has in 2022. Almost 80 percent of travel managers indicated that their employees are set to take more business trips next year than did this, and roughly two-thirds thought that 2023 would see both internal and external travel increase year-over-year. Among suppliers, 80 percent expected that their corporate clients’ travel spending will rise next year, and 85 percent predicted that year-over-year bookings will increase in 2023.
By Suzanne Edgewater
West Coast Bureau
Say goodbye to reaching out to Frontier Airlines via a phone call. Or, actually, you can’t "say" goodbye. That service no longer exists.
As of last week, if you have a problem with the ultra-low-cost carrier you can no longer just pick up the phone – landline or cell – and call the budget carrier to discuss your issue with a live human being.
According to CNBC, Frontier decided to eliminate live phone calls in a cost-cutting and time-saving measure. Taking away the phone call option stops lengthy calls and frees up agents for other issues. This allows customers to receive “the information they need as expeditiously and efficiently as possible,” spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz told the news outlet in an e-mailed statement.
“At Frontier, we offer the lowest fares in the industry by operating our airline as efficiently as possible. We want our customers to be able to operate efficiently as well, which is why we make it easy to find what you need at Flyfrontier.com or on our mobile app.”
Whether any automatic or text service will have an option to switch to a live service agent remains to be seen. But as some people know – perhaps not the majority, but many – not every question has a suitable online or prerecorded response that is pertinent to a customer’s problem. But as many callers also already know, calls to other businesses have gone this route no matter how frustrating it might be to not speak to an actual agent.
CNBC did note that callers can still converse with a Frontier agent by receiving a dedicated link to have a text conversation.
“We are supporting higher labor rates in the voice channel, and we’re limited to this one-to-one interaction,” Jack Filene, Frontier’s senior vice president of customers, told CNBC. “Think about the most sort of obscure question a customer might ask that would take a call center agent many, many minutes to research and find an answer to. The chatbot can answer that very quickly.”
Frontier is not the only airline eliminating live phone service, just the latest. Upstart budget carrier Breeze Airways also does not offer live telephone support.
By Carla Martilotti
Virgin Voyages believes that the holiday season is a time for us to show our appreciation both for others and ourselves and the award-winning adults-only cruise line has an awesome deal for both situations.
Book by December 5, and you’ll get 50 percent off your second sailor’s voyage plus a $100 bar tab bonus.
Maybe you would like a little solitude instead. In that case, pick any Caribbean voyage through April 2023, and celebrate sailing solo with no single supplements and a $100 bar tab bonus on bookings made before December 5.
Or, take advantage of Cyber Week. Now through Monday, November 28 at midnight, guests can lock in one of Virgin's seven specially-selected December sailings for as low as $99 per night per sailor in addition to securing a $100 Bar Tab bonus.
Terms and conditions apply, so contact your travel advisor or visit VirginVoyages.com for more information
By Carla Martilotti
Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental announced the extension of several loyalty benefits set to expire soon as part of an effort to show support for its loyal customers.
National Car Rental’s Emerald Club program free rental days were previously set to expire on December 31, but the company revealed they would roll over through September 4, 2023.
National also extended the elite tier status for qualifying loyalty program members, which includes Emerald Club Executive and Executive Elite whose status was set to expire on February 28. If those members make at least one qualifying rental by the end of 2022, their elite status will be extended until February 28, 2024.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s “Plus Your Points” promotion has returned to enable registered Enterprise Plus members to earn double points on qualifying rentals. The promotion also extends elite tier status for Enterprise Plus Silver, Gold and Platinum members whose status was set to expire on February 28, 2023.
To qualify for tier extension, Enterprise Plus members must register for the “Plus Your Points” promotion and then make one qualifying rental by the end of 2022, extending their elite status through February 28, 2024.
“These extensions give Emerald Club members flexibility to use their free days through next summer and offer many Emerald Club and Enterprise Plus members an extra year to enjoy the benefits of their elite status,” Enterprise Holdings Vice President of Global Brand Strategy Liz Ott said.
The annual promotion offers Enterprise Plus customers the opportunity to earn free rental days faster. Available to customers in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Germany, the program runs through the end of January 2023.
Membership in both loyalty programs is free and open to anyone 21 years and older.
“We are excited to offer greater flexibility so customers can use their benefits when and how they want to use them.” Ott continued.
By Michael Sinclair
Disney's announcement on Sunday that Bob Iger has returned as CEO likely means that Disney wants Iger to address the company's growing but unprofitable streaming business.
The CEO change, however, likely won't mean price drops in Disney parks, where Disney implemented paid line-skipping services Genie Plus and Lightning Lanes under the leadership of Bob Chapek, Disney's ousted CEO. Those products have padded the bottom line of Disney's theme parks, but they have been a sore subject for many Disney guests.
Addressing the streaming business, J.P. Morgan analyst Christian Crosby said in a note to investors, "Remember that Iger has always been a content and broadcast guy." Iger's tenure at Disney was highlighted by acquisitions of big-name franchises Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. "We imagine that Iger's first order of business will be to address [streaming]."
In August, Disney lowered its forecast for Disney Plus streaming subscribers, pointed out Barclays analyst Kannan Venkat in a note to investors. Streaming's unprofitability has hurt Disney's stock price, and earlier this month Chapek announced that Disney would implement cost-cutting measures that would likely include layoffs and a hiring freeze.
Disney's primary streaming product is Disney Plus, which features original programming plus a library of Disney, Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar films. It is not Disney's only streaming product, as the company operates Hulu and ESPN Plus.
Despite streaming's struggles, Chapek's ouster was surprising because Disney gave Chapek a three-year extension in June, Venkat said.
While Iger will likely initially focus on Disney's streaming strategy, many are wondering what the change means for the theme parks.
Crosby said that a "common investor gripe" about Chapek was "squeezing parks customers."
"We have to admit that many of the issues currently facing the firm -- specifically the soft ad market, parks inflation and the bloodbath that is the [streaming] space -- were in some ways unavoidable for Chapek," he said. "Those are all largely industry/macro driven, and it will be interesting to see what Iger can and does do to address these items."
J.P. Morgan analyst Philip Cusick said the pace of increases in theme park prices "could slow." But he said the theme park price increase that will go into effect on Dec. 8 is likely to stick. He didn't specifically address Genie Plus and Lightning Lanes, but those products likely aren't going away because they've been big revenue generators despite their unpopularity with many guests.
"The fact is that Disney still has too much demand for its limited supply, and driving prices higher may be the best way to manage that," Cusick said.
Disney stock was up more than 5% on Monday.
By Steve Fortz
West Coast Bureau
Mexico proudly promotes LGBTQ+ tourism, given that this segment represents at least 35 million travelers worldwide, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). These tourists spend up to 15 percent more than other segments and travel at any time of the year, growing as a segment annually at 10.3 percent.
According to figures from Mexico's Ministry of Tourism ( SECTUR), every year around 3.5 million members of the LGBTQ+ community visit the destination.
Here's a look at the top five destinations where LGBTQ+ travelers will not only feel welcome but can enjoy many exciting dining options, lively clubs and culture in bunches.
One of the most beautiful beaches in the state of Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta is famous for being one of the favorite tourist destinations for the LGBTQ+ community. In 2017 it got approval as a "gay tourist destination" by gaytravel.com and even more, Puerto Vallarta has been considered the "Mexican San Francisco."
Located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea in Quintana Roo, this paradise of white-sand beaches and turquoise waters offers a wide variety of options for couples and members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as sprawling beaches, gastronomy, nightlife and historical sites.
Mexico City is considered among the most
LGBTQ+ friendly options because it not only recognizes but also protects the rights of people who are part of this community. Among the most visited neighborhoods are the so-called "Zona Rosa" offering a wide range of recreation to make the most of the night, as well as Roma, Condesa and Juarez.
The capital of Jalisco is also considered the "Gay Capital of Mexico" due to its openness towards the LGBTQ+ community. It is among the five most LGBTQ+ Friendly cities in Latin America along with cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago de Chile and the aforementioned Mexico City.
Acapulco's nightlife is one of the most lively in Mexico, so you'll have no problem finding bars and restaurants with shows as well as "discos" and nightclubs.
Mexico's government works with the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) and the company Queer Destinations, promoting the segment to achieve the accreditation of destinations and companies in 2022.
In the second quarter of the year, Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur, and some hotels, already have this accreditation, such as W Mexico City and Hyatt Regency Mexico City, in Mexico City; Thompson Playa del Carmen, Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen, and TRS Coral Hotel, in Quintana Roo; The Westin Guadalajara, in Jalisco; Hostik Hostal and TRS Yucatán Hotel, in Yucatán; as well as 19 properties of the City Hotels chain and AVASA-Hertz, a car rental company.
"We provide security, quality attention to the traveler of this segment, in addition to comfortable spaces and free of all discrimination, promoting inclusive and diverse tourism," explained the Secretary of Tourism, Miguel Torruco Marqués.
In Mexico, according to a National Survey on Sexual and Gender Diversity conducted in 2021 by the Statistics, Geography National Institute (INEGI), 5 million people identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ population, and 64.3 percent of this total is economically active, making it a vital niche for the recovery of the tourism industry in this phase of the pandemic.
By Jane Pearson
East Coast Bureau
Based on results from the Global Rescue Fall 2022 Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey, travelers are waving off inflation and working around anticipated flight disruptions for the holidays. In addition, business travelers are overwhelmingly planning for ‘bleisure’ travel.
Despite inflation and the increasing cost of travel, the majority of travelers (77 percent) have not canceled or postponed a domestic or international trip. To overcome airline staff shortages during the fall and winter holidays, more than half of travelers are booking nonstop flights.
“In the face of airline disruptions and the rising cost of travel, travelers are sticking with plans to travel," said Dan Richars, CEO of Global Rescue, the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“Travel is back to pre-pandemic levels and that means heavy crowds at airports. Travelers should book nonstop flights whenever possible to avoid delays or cancellations due to airline staff shortages. They should join a trusted traveler program like TSA PreCheck to move through security faster,” explained Harding Bush, a former Navy SEAL and manager of security operations for Global Rescue.
According to the survey of more than 1,000 of its current and former members, two-thirds of travelers have planned domestic Thanksgiving or similar holiday travel at the end of November, and 59 percent will travel domestically during December.
The survey also revealed a growth in business travel, though not quite back to pre-pandemic levels. The growing trend of bleisure travel —business travelers tacking leisure days onto a work-related trip may increase growth numbers as the majority of business travelers (73%) plan to use bleisure travel and take a few extra days for personal enjoyment following a business trip.
By John Stutz
East Coast Bureau
According to a new Bankrate study released on November 17, 2022, a majority of U.S. adults have opted out of certain events due to the state of the economy.
The study reports that not just major financial milestones are being delayed, but 58 percent of Americans have opted out of certain activities or events in the past year due to concerns about the economy like taking a vacation (37 percent) and dining out with friends or family (28 percent).
Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s Chief Financial Analyst said in a statement “whether it be inflation, rising interest rates, recession fears, market volatility, or something similar, concerns about the economy are high, with the majority of Americans delaying financial milestones and opting out of certain activities or events because of it. The overwhelming sentiment is that the state of the economy has had a negative impact on Americans’ quality of life over the past year, with just one in eight saying the impact has been positive."
McBride goes on to say that “revenge spending in travel has been particularly robust, with full flights and sold-out hotels. But just how much stronger could it have been? Over one in three (37 percent) of Americans have skipped taking a vacation in the past year due to the state of the economy. This tends to be the first discretionary expense to get cut when households are queasy about the economic path ahead.”
Key highlights of the Bankrate study include:
–Those negatively impacted by the economy are more likely to delay a major financial milestone than those either positively or not at all impacted.
–Millennials (ages 26-41) are the most likely generation to make delays in financial milestones.
–Many are opting out of activities. About two-thirds of millennials and Gen Zers (ages 18-25) are opting out of activities due to the economy compared to 59 percent of Gen Xers (42-57) and 50 percent of Baby Boomers.
–Women and middle-income earners are more negatively impacted.
By Suze Miller
West Coast Bureau
Southwest Airlines announced the addition of a new travel portal that makes it easier to manage business travel, dubbed Southwest Business Assist.
The self-service tool will enable corporate travel buyers, travel decision makers and travel management companies to better manage their Southwest business travel using unique dashboards, reports, automated processing of contractual benefits, receiving or requesting customer service and more.
The new portal will be available to current business partners starting on August 24.
“Southwest Business Assist is a transformational one-stop shop for our Southwest Business customers as we deliver industry-leading capabilities on one of the most advanced platforms available today,” Southwest Business Vice President Dave Harvey said.
“The on-demand self-service tool will provide easy access to real-time information, reporting, and benefits designed to improve efficiencies and communication for our business travel Partners and continues our journey of making it easy to manage business travel on Southwest,” Harvey continued.
As part of the first phase of Southwest Business Assist’s unveiling, customers will have a variety of new options, including travel funds management, enhanced insight into contractual benefits, expanded sustainability reporting and increased automation with real-time capabilities.
More features are planned as additional phases of the portal are released, including duty of care reporting, the ability for travel managers to manage eligible flight credits, and additional automated functions.
Several other carriers have made similar changes in recent weeks. Delta Air Lines announced it would rebrand its business travel tools, products and services under one, all-encompassing travel solution name: Delta Business.
United Airlines also recently announced a new platform to allow corporate customers to fully customize their business travel program contracts with the carrier.
By Richard Alexander
West Coast Bureau
Mexico's Yucatan region is a romantic destination by nature, nestled amid an atmosphere of mysticism, magic, color, and history. With places taken as if from a romantic movie, and, in addition, one of the most exquisite cuisines in Mexico, it is the ideal place to live and celebrate love.
In 2021, the state of Yucatan passed laws that made same-sex weddings legal in the state. Earlier this year, those laws went into effect, making the millennia-rich destination an alternative to set the scene for this important occasion.
Yucatan is home to many professional wedding planners who can coordinate all of the necessary details of a same-sex couple's special day. The capital city, Merida's international airport offers nonstop flights from Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Diego and California's Bay Area.
Same-Sex Weddings are now legal in 30 countries, including Mexico.
In the Yucatan, you will find some locations ready to help visitors to find their best wedding destination:
Chable Resort & Spa is a magical backdrop for destination weddings. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the luxury complex radiates romance and sophistication. Tropical gardens boast a marvelous view of the original 19th-century walls of the former Hacienda, while the exquisite cenote deck is situated in the heart of the Wellness Spa. The property can accommodate weddings of up to 100 people.
Hacienda Xcanatun by Angsana is surrounded by four acres of private gardens filled with lush vegetation and bright tropical flowers that highlight the beauty that made it one of the most important haciendas in the Yucatan.
Just 15 minutes away from downtown Merida the property was restored to its 18th-century grandeur as one of the most iconic henequen (sisal) haciendas in the Yucatan. The resort features 18 historic suites that fuse contemporary details with local touches and 36 brand new, exquisitely designed suites, offering the effortless harmony between nature and modern spaces.
Zazil Tunich is a 65 feet deep Cavern-Cenote located in Valladolid and features more than 500 thousand years of stone formations, Zazil Tunich has been appointed one of the most spectacular cenotes in the region, with thousands of stalagmites and stalactites. It is the biggest cenote in Yucatan.
For those not looking to do a western wedding ceremony, the location offers the opportunity to have a Maya commitment ceremony or a purification ceremony in the sacred water of Xibalba inside the Zazil Tunich Cavern-Cenote. The cenote is surrounded by Hacienda Selva Maya, which can hold large wedding celebrations.
By Eric Hanson
Now this is not exactly what you want during Thanksgiving week air travel.
A couple who arrived at their gate late and then tried to board a Frontier Airlines flight without boarding passes caused quite the upheaval at an undisclosed airport, forcing the carrier to disembark the entire flight.
According to an eyewitness on the same flight, and relayed by the New York Post, the couple tried to avoid paying an extra baggage fee and then made a mad dash to the gate to try to board the flight. When flight crew quickly realized what was going on, they asked the couple to depart the plane. The couple refused, forcing officials to clear the entire flight of passengers who were already in their seats and preparing for takeoff.
According to the news outlet, the late-arriving couple then started screaming at fellow passengers and crew, and refused to depart the plane, screaming “We’re tired!” and “We paid for our ticket just like y’all. We paid just like y’all. I’m not getting off the plane!”
Law enforcement had other ideas, however, and the couple was removed from the flight.
While Frontier Airlines did not respond to an inquiry regarding the incident, footage was posted to social media.
By Carla Martilotti
Flying over the busy Thanksgiving travel period is bound to be stressful, but passengers aboard one flight earlier this week had a particularly nerve-wracking time of it, thanks to a seemingly unhinged man brandishing a straight-edge razor blade.
Traveling aboard JetBlue Flight 871 from New York’s JFK Airport to Salt Lake City on Monday, an inebriated male passenger allegedly threatened the woman seated next to him, holding a straight razor he had somehow smuggled onboard inches away from her throat.
The man—41-year-old Merrill Darrell Fackrell of Syracuse, Utah—was arrested upon arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport and was charged Tuesday in a criminal federal complaint on counts of Carrying a Weapon on an Aircraft and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Utah.
Authorities have yet to determine how Fackrell snuck the concealed weapon—a wood-handled straight-edge razor blade measuring between one and two inches long—through standard TSA security screenings at JFK.
Per Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations, air passengers are prohibited from bringing straight razors aboard aircraft in their carry-on luggage, allowing them to fly only in checked bags. The TSA did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s emailed inquiry about the incident this morning.
After settling into window seat 6A, Fackrell evidently struck up a conversation with the woman in the middle seat next to him, whose husband was seated next to her on the opposite side. Fackrell engaged her in a “long and varied” conversation while consuming several alcoholic drinks, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday in a Utah federal court.
When the woman decided to put on her headphones and start streaming in-flight entertainment, Fackrell reportedly continued talking to himself, though she ignored him. He then, allegedly, put his hand in front of her screen and demanded that she pause the movie.
It was then that she realized he was holding a blade (what she perceived to be a knife) just “inches” from her skin, authorities said. Fackrell told the woman’s husband—who had been wearing his own headphones all the while—to leave, as he ran to alert the flight crew.
"He was going to get help because he knew something was really off," the woman, who chose to withhold her name, told local NBC affiliate KSL. "(My husband) was only a few steps ahead of me when I lunged into the aisle. He didn't knowingly leave me to handle a man with a weapon all by myself."
According to the affidavit, Fackrell then stood up and shouted, “She’s going to be okay” and “No one needs to worry.” She lunged toward the aisle as Fackrell allegedly attempted to prevent her escape, but she managed to fight him off and ran for the front of the plane.
At that point, a man seated across the aisle intervened and managed to persuade Fackrell to put down the blade, which he grabbed and turned over to the flight crew. This unnamed Good Samaritan then sat next to Fackrell for the rest of the flight.
Fackrell remained in a Utah jail after a judge denied his request to be released on bail Wednesday. According to court documents, the alleged victims are seeking a no-contact order. The case is also being investigated by Salt Lake City Police Department and an FBI Task Force Officer.
By Alex Johnson
West Coast Bureau
Disneyland Resort announced that two limited-time festivals—the Lunar New Year celebration and the Disney California Food & Wine Festival—will return to the California Adventure Park in early 2023.
The Lunar New Year celebration will take place from January 20 through February 15, 2023, and honor the Year of the Rabbit, as well as the Year of the Cat (in recognition of the Vietnamese zodiac calendar).
Highlights of the New Year’s festivities include the return of the vibrant Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, the addition of two new Lunar New Year Marketplaces, the nighttime water show Hurry Home - Lunar New Year Celebration, festival arts and crafts and Disney characters such as Mulan, Mushu, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in festive attire.
As for the Disney California Food & Wine Festival, the party will run between March 3 and April 25, 2023. The foodie celebration features the best of what California offers across 12 festival marketplaces, family-friendly entertainment and more festival-inspired dishes at select restaurants in the Downtown Disney District.
Travelers of all ages will also enjoy crafts, complimentary weekend culinary demonstrations, artist events and signings. In addition, Soarin’ Over California will return for a limited time during the festival.
On November 11, Disneyland officially kicked off the holiday season with festive foods, sparkling decor, new musical performances, Christmas parades and fireworks featuring magical snowfall. The events will run through January 8.
Earlier this month, Disneyland revealed its popular Mickey’s Toontown area would reopen to the public on March 8, 2023. The ‘Adventureland Treehouse Inspired by Walt Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson’ attraction is also slated to reopen next year.
By Eric Hanson
In partnership with Delta, Latam will begin thrice-weekly service between Los Angeles and Sao Paolo on July 1.
The route is the first new service the carriers have announced under their joint venture approved in late September. It will also be the lone nonstop service connecting Los Angeles to Sao Paulo.
Latam and Delta will jointly operate the route on a Latam Boeing 777 aircraft configured with business, premium economy and economy cabins.
The new route comes on top of frequency additions between the U.S. and South America that Delta and Latam have recently announced. Delta has recently upped frequencies on Atlanta-Santiago (Chile) and New York JFK-Sao Paolo, and next month will increase seasonal frequency on Atlanta-Sao Paolo.
Latam has plans to add frequencies on five U.S. routes through next fall: Santiago-Los Angeles, Sao Paolo-Orlando, Lima-Miami, Lima-JFK and Lima-Los Angeles.
By Glenn Tune
West Coast Bureau
The robotics industry is expected to grow within the travel and tourism sector, but without harming human employment opportunities, according to a new “Robotics in Travel and Tourism” report by GlobalData.
The service robotics industry is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of over 21 percent in 2030, reaching $216 billion. Consumer and logistics robots are expected to grow by 29 percent and 21 percent between 2020 and 2030, as they are implemented as cleaning fleets, language translation check-in assistants and in other assistive roles to their human counterparts.
Cloud robotics is also expected to grow within the hospitality industry, with Huazhu Hotels Group and BTG Homeinns Hotels Group, which comprise approximately 7 and 5.5 percent of the global market share, investing in Shenzhen ExcelLand Technology, a robotics mobile platform provider.
“Robotics in travel and tourism was considered as a gimmick in the past, used as early as 2015 for guest experiences without improving efficiency for staff,” said Sarah Coop, Analyst at GlobalData. “But, as the technology improved, investment has started increasing, resulting in robots for room service deliveries, cleaning services using UV light, inspection services using drones, translation services, and customer service to improve operational efficiency.”
Additionally, the report noted the growth of robotics being mentioned within tourism and travel industry company filings from 2016 to 2022, which grew from 2018 to 2019 and remained stable throughout the pandemic as they were implemented in airports and hotels to disinfect on a higher level than human ability could.
By Cedric Johnson
West Coast Bureau
A popular spot in Grand Canyon National Park has been renamed to honor the Havasupai Tribe.
The spot, formerly known as the Indian Garden, will now be called Havasupai Gardens, according to the National Park Service. The change was made after the U.S. Board of Geographic Names voted unanimously to approve a formal request submitted by the NPS on behalf of the Havasupai Tribe.
The renamed spot sits along the Bright Angel Trail, which the NPS said is frequently visited by day hikers and backpackers.
“The Grand Canyon National Park team was proud to work alongside the Havasupai Tribal Council in our joint effort to rename this culturally significant location at the Grand Canyon,” Superintendent Ed Keable said in a statement. “The Havasupai people have actively occupied this area since time immemorial, before the land’s designation as a National Park and until the park forcibly removed them in 1926. This renaming is long overdue. It is a measure of respect for the undue hardship imposed by the park on the Havasupai people.”
The NPS is currently working to update signs, the website, and other materials. A rededication ceremony is planned for early spring 2023.
Originally, the area was called Ha’a Gyoh, but the Havasupai people were eventually forced out, and the last Havasupai resident was forcibly removed in 1928.
“The eviction of Havasupai residents from Ha’a Gyoh coupled with the offensive name, Indian Garden, has had detrimental and lasting impacts on the Havasupai families that lived there and their descendants,” Chairman of the Havasupai tribal council Thomas Siyuja, Sr., said in the statement. “Every year, approximately 100,000 people visit the area while hiking the Bright Angel Trail, largely unaware of this history. The renaming of this sacred place to Havasupai Gardens will finally right that wrong.”
This isn’t the first time a significant landmark has been renamed to honor its native roots. In 2015, for example, Mount McKinley in Alaska was renamed Denali, The New York Times reported at the time, restoring an Alaska Native name.
By Steven Alexander
Call it a Thanksgiving Miracle.
A cruise ship passenger who was believed to have fallen overboard and been in the Gulf of Mexico for up to 15 hours was miraculously found alive following a search and rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The incident happened aboard the Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Valor, which was sailing out of New Orleans on Wednesday.
According to several news outlets, including CNN, the man was traveling with his sister and went to an onboard bar. But he never rejoined his sister, who did not find him in his stateroom, either, and reported him missing on Thursday.
That was anywhere from 10 to 15 hours after she had last seen him at the bar.
The Coast Guard was summoned out of fear that the man had fallen overboard and an air and sea search ensued. A fellow passenger told CNN that cruise ship officials had been combing the ship with a picture of the man, as well as making onboard announcements for the man to check in with authorities. However, it was to no avail a Carnival spokesperson told CNN.
Security began to search the boat and the ship's first port of call in Cozumel, Mexico was delayed, but still no official announcement had been made about what was going on. The ship turned around to assist officials in the search.
A Coast Guard lieutenant said more than 200 square miles of sea was searched and a distress call was made to all mariners in the Gulf.
Then, late Thursday, crew on another boat spotted the missing man in the water. A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched to recover the man, who was responsive.
In a 17-year career, the Coast Guard spokesman told CNN "this case is unlike anything I've been a part of. I think it kind of blows the norm, the normalcy, out of the water here, and really just shows the will to live is something that you need to account for in every search-and-rescue case."
The man was taken to a hospital to be evaluated and the ship returned course for Cozumel.