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High-Tech Screens, Bluetooth and Improved Wi-Fi: How Airlines are Stepping Up Inflight Entertainment

By Sean Cudahy

Posted on 11/02/2023, 6:30 PM

Last month United Airlines announced an ambitious, high-tech plan for its on-board passenger experience. By 2032, the airline revealed, more than 800 of its aircraft will be equipped for passengers to connect their Bluetooth headphones to the seatback entertainment systems. Today, only about 100 United jets have that capability. Made possible by the airline’s biggest influx of new planes ever, the...

Charges for Gratuities on Royal Caribbean Going Up—as the Company Reports Huge Profits

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 11/01/2023, 6:00 PM

Royal Caribbean quietly increased its automatic gratuity charge this week. Starting November 11, the cruise line's service charge added to each passenger's bill will be $18 per day for guests in most staterooms. People staying in suites will be automatically charged an extra $20.50 per day for tips for crew members. It's not a dramatic jump from Royal Caribbean's current auto gratuity of $16 (or...

“If It Is Not Closed, It Will Collapse”: Converted Hagia Sophia Is Now Crowded and Crumbling

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 10/31/2023, 5:45 PM

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul's iconic cathedral-turned-mosque-turned-museum-turned-mosque, will begin charging foreign tourists an entrance fee starting January 15, 2024, Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy announced this week. The 1,500-year-old structure—easily one of the world's most significant architectural landmarks—has been free to enter since 2020, when the government ...

As Most Travel Companies Slash Point Value, Southwest Airlines Does Flyers a Favor

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 10/20/2023, 10:45 AM

Almost a year ago, Frommer's warned readers that big corporations were preparing to reduce the value of loyalty points and frequent flyer miles.Since then, we've seen the predicted onslaught come true. Delta Air Lines made it harder for customers to obtain elite status and use the carrier's much-hyped airport lounges. American Airlines made redemption flights more expensive during busier periods. M...

Travel Influencer Sued for Telling "Increasingly Bold Lies" to Build Her Brand

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 10/16/2023, 12:00 PM

This story was published in April 2022. An update to this story is posted below.A travel influencer with more than half a million Instagram followers and more than 207,000 TikTok followers is being sued by the consumer protection group Travelers United over allegations that she told "increasingly bold lies" to amass followers and seduce investors into lucrative sponsorship deals. Cassie De Pecol, ...

Disney Just Raised Prices on a List of Things—by More Than Twice the Inflation Rate

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 10/11/2023, 5:30 PM

Dwindling cash reserves, huge corporate acquisitions to pay off, crazy costs to lift the Disney+ streaming service off the ground, boardroom battles . . . the Walt Disney Company sure is dealing with a lot of financial woes right now.It's a good thing Disney has vacationers to milk for cash!Open your wallets, travelers, because that's where Disney will make the magic it needs to save the castle.Dis...

California Bans Deceptive Resort Fees: See What's Affected and When

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 10/09/2023, 5:00 PM

The resort fee dam is breaking.California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a new law, SB 478, that reins in the practice of slipping extra fees into travelers' bills.While some media coverage has portrayed the act as a "ban" on resort fees, the measure actually just enforces disclosure of the fees at all stages of a transaction. Now, any business, whether it deals in travel, concert tickets, or anythin...

No ETIAS Authorization Fee to Enter Europe in 2024 After All: More Delays

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 10/05/2023, 1:30 PM

Proving that Americans aren't the only ones who have difficulties getting their border entry procedures in working order, Europeans have had to postpone introduction of their European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, yet again. The new travel authorization process and entry fee were supposed to take effect in 2024. Before that, they were supposed to start in 2022. Then they...

Which Airlines Have the Worst Extra Fees? Someone Did the Math

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 09/26/2023, 3:30 PM

Everyone knows that travel booking has become an industry of fake-outs and skullduggery, a netherworld of mounting hidden fees that only reveal themselves after you're deep into the reservations process. Buying travel is now a spendy striptease that bleeds accounts by a thousand cuts. The big airlines love to claim they "unbundled" core services like seat selection, checked baggage, and printing b...

Thinking of Renting an EV? You'll Need to Make These Adjustments to Your Plans

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 09/14/2023, 7:15 AM

The major car rental agencies now offer electric vehicles (EVs) as part of their standard inventory, but knowing what it takes to operate an EV may not yet be a part of your own repertoire. At rental lots operated by Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National, and many others, EVs are being loaned to many drivers for the first time. You can practically hear the naive exclamations at the rental counters: I'...

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