Airlines Sue the TSA, Hilton Guests Can Choose Rooms & More
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Here’s a recap of points, miles and travel industry news from the past week:
Airlines Suing the TSA Over Security Fee Uncapping: This past Wednesday, July 30, 2014, two airline lobbying groups – Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association – sued the TSA over one key detail of the administration’s recent security fee hike. With Congress’ approval, the TSA has raised its security fee from $2.50 to $5.60 for each leg of a flight, but they also made the non-Congress-approved decision to uncap the previous cap of $5.60 on each one-way trip and to levy an additional $5.60 on any domestic stop of four hours or international stop of 12 hours. The airline groups bringing the lawsuit contend that the removal of this fee cap, which can significantly raise the price of a multi-stop flight itinerary, violates federal law. (h/t Dallas News Business)
Hilton Gives HHonors Members the Freedom to Choose Their Own Rooms: By the end of this summer, Hilton Worldwide plans to roll out updated HHonors desktop and mobile apps that would allow members to choose their own rooms at Waldorf Astoria properties, Conrad Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Hilton Garden Inns, Homewood Suites, and Home2 Suites. In the Fall, Hilton plans to add US-based DoubleTree and Embassy Suites properties as well. These apps would allow guests to sign into their program accounts as early as a day prior to their stay to view digital floor plans and choose specific rooms (based on availability), as well as make special requests for in-room amenities. (h/t Skift)
New Low-Budget Canadian Airline Jetlines Plans to Launch in Spring, 2015: A new Canadian budget airline called Jetlines hopes to secure funding by October 2014 and launch next spring, offering airfare for travel in Canada that will be as much as 40% cheaper than WestJet and Air Canada. Based out of Vancouver with a fleet of Airbus A319s, the carrier plans to save its customers money by cutting every possible amenity and providing most of its service at secondary airports throughout the Great White North. (h/t Global News)
Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld Part Ways: In the wake of the bad publicity from the documentary “Blackfish,” as well as urgings from advocacy groups P.E.T.A. and Change.org, Southwest has decided to end its 26-year partnership with marine mammal park SeaWorld. The two entities will no longer cultivate opportunities between their passengers and visitors, and Southwest will return its three planes with Sea World-customized paint jobs to the company’s usual color scheme. (h/t USA Today)
Virgin America Files for IPO: Low-cost airline Virgin America, Inc. looks poised to expand its presence in the recovering US airline market, having just filed for an initial public offering of shares. The top-ranked airline, in which Sir Richard Branson has a 22% stake, presently offers flights to 22 cities in the US and Mexico. Virgin America’s biggest shareholder is VAI Partners, with a 76.1% stake, and Barclays and Deutsche Bank Securities are the lead underwriters for this offering. The number of shares and the listing exchange have yet to be announced. (h/t Reuters)
Delta to Offer Free Entertainment on Domestic Flights: In case you missed it, yesterday (August 1st) Delta Airlines rolled out Delta Studio, the carrier’s own branding of a Gogo wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) system called Gogo Vision, and now offers free access to movies, TV shows, music and video games on all of its domestic flights that last 90 minutes or more. Delta passengers can access free Delta Studio entertainment through seat-back screens where available or via a video player app downloaded on their own smartphones, tablets or laptops. I’m hoping this kicks off an industry trend!
Air France/KLM 50% Off Flying Blue Promo Awards for October-November: Also in case you missed it, now through August 31, you can book Promo Awards for Flying Blue, the mileage program of SkyTeam partners Air France, KLM and Air Europa, for as little as 50% of the miles normally needed on certain routes and in specific cabins for travel October 1-November 30. While these awards used to be released every two months, Flying Blue now updates them each month instead.