Monday, July 14, 2014

News Update: Alaska Airlines Offers More Overhead Space, Greyhound Adapts to Next Generation and Airport Charges for Breathing Clean Air

Alaska Airlines to Increase Size of Overhead Bins

Los Angeles Times - July 14, 2014

Boeing's Next-Generation 737 and 737 Max planes © Marian Lockhart / Boeing
Alaska Airlines announced that it will be the first airline to get Boeing's Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX planes, which are equipped with overhead bins designed to handle 50% more luggage than standard bins. The new bins will hang a few inches lower than traditional bins, and are said to hold about 174 standard carry-on bags. This will allow more passengers to carry on their personal items without worrying about overhead storage space running out.

#MyTake: The boarding process has gotten a little ridiculous in recent years, especially after airlines started charging for checked bags a few years ago. Now, people are cramming as much as they can into their carry-ons so they don't have to pay, and bins are filling up quickly because people's bags are incredibly large (yet still manage to fit up there, somehow). In order to snag that limited space, people line up around the door and crowd in as quickly as they can. It's a nightmare. So having more overhead bin space is a great solution, and Boeing has guaranteed that at least 50 more bags will be able to fit in the bins of its new planes. That is a lot of extra baggage–no pun intended–people can take with them.

European Travel is Up...

Travel Pulse - July 14, 2014

Europe is still the world's No. 1 tourist destination, according to the results of the European Travel Commission report "European Tourism 2014 - Trends & Prospects." The report found that Europe had 563 million international arrivals and more than 50 percent of the market share for worldwide tourism. Despite the positive news, it's uncertain how long Europe will hold the top spot, especially with all the other alternatives out there. The ETC acknowledged that it must continue to innovate with its offerings and marketing to inspire and excite potential travelers.

#MyTake: Europe has long been a popular destination, so it's no surprise that it's at the top of the tourist destination list. However, I am slightly taken aback that other destinations have not overtaken it yet. Think about it, so many places around the world are much more accessible thanks to the advances in airline technology and the expansion of populations – not to mention all those modern-day adventurers exposing us to the lesser-known places. The fact is that travelers are evolving, and Europe is no longer the exotic destination it once was even five years ago. The unfamiliar coasts of Southeast Asia have gotten a lot of attention from travelers lately. I can count at least a dozen people I know who have visited Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in the last six months. Europe has a lot to compete with, especially as more and more destinations entice travelers seeking the new and undiscovered.

Greyhound Revamps its Image for the Next Generation

USA Today - July 14, 2014

Greyhound has been around for 100 years (2014 marks that moments birthday!), and the company has been revamping its image to appeal to the next generation of travelers. The company now offers free Wi-Fi on much of its upgraded fleet, offers new express routes with non-stop service to major cities and will roll out a mobile app for more convenient booking. Greyhound is also touting its extra leg room (something you don't get on a plane without spending more money) and its complimentary internet that keeps you connected the whole trip (again, unlike airlines that charge for that perk). The company says it plans for more than 90% of its coaches to be either brand new or refurbished by the end of the summer, and these upgrades include leather seats, power outlets and free Wi-Fi. Bus stations have also been updated with plasma TVs and eco-friendly amenities.

#MyTake: While bus travel lost much of its appeal when airlines and trains took off, it is still a convenient and economical way to travel. And many Millennials can take advantage of a cheap ticket and a trip that lets them stay connected the entire time. Plus, the hassle of airports (security lines, baggage fees, long wait times, weather delays) has given Greyhound an opening to promote it's frequent trips, low fares, no wait times and plenty of storage space. Those sound pretty nice to someone who might be fed up with airlines. Still, the time factor continues to be something to combat. Even with getting to the airport two hours early, a flight from one end of the country to the other is still much faster than a bus.

Airport Charges Passengers for Breathing Clean Air

CNN - July 11, 2014

In a world of never-ending travel fees, we're used to paying for priority seating and checked bags. Now, one airport in Venezuela has started charging for "clean air." Basically, anyone flying out of Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas has to pay a fee of $18 (127 bolivars) to pay for a new air conditioning unit that the airport says "eliminates contaminants" and injects ozone into the atmosphere to improve the environment. 

#MyTake: I have almost become numb to all the new fees that keep popping up in air travel. But this is just petty. I really don't have any analysis of why the airport thinks this is necessary. And according to twitter comments, the airport should be focusing on other things besides the air quality. Apparently the bathrooms are horrible, the toilets have no water and there are stray dogs wandering around. Also, this newfangled AC doesn't seem to actually make the airport any cooler, according to travelers. So, basically, this is just annoying and shouldn't have been implemented.

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