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The Airlines' Baggage Fee Windfall, SpongeBob's Pineapple Inspires a Hotel Suite, and More: Today's Travel Briefing

A roundup of travel news from all over
Good morning! Here are the latest happenings from the world's hotels, airports, and beaches.


Your luggage is making the major airlines a fortune.
According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, passengers have paid an estimated $26.2 billion in mandatory baggage fees since 2007, around the time when many carriers began charging extra to check your first bag. 
As the Daily Mail points out, that's enough money to buy United Airlines, currently valued at $17.1 billion, and still have change left over to buy JetBlue Airways, valued at $6.6 billion.
And you'd still be left with $2.5 billion.
Airlines introduced the extra fees to help cover high fuel costs, but those have gone down while the fees remain in place.
At least the companies have passed along the benefits of what has become a $974.5-million-per-quarter jackpot in the form of more seating space, extra features, and, overall, not treating passengers like recalcitrant livestock.
Oh, wait. 

* BOMB-SNIFFING DOGS FAILED NUMEROUS TESTS AT U.S. AIRPORTS (NBC News). The readiness of the Transportation Security Administration's bomb-sniffing dogs has been called into question by an investigation conducted by NBC News. 
Via a Freedom of Information Act request, the outlet found that between January 1, 2013, and June 15, 2015 (the most recent period for which records were provided), K-9 teams at 10 major U.S. airports—including those in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Dallas, and elsewhere—failed annual certification tests a total of 52 times. Some teams couldn't find explosives during testing, while others had too many false alarms that could cause unnecessary airport evacuations.
Overall, TSA's success rate for dog teams during the period was 87%. Teams that fail are pulled out of service and aren't allowed to work in airports again until they pass.
But aviation safety experts are concerned that multiple failures in certain cities—21 in L.A., for instance—could suggest that dogs might not be getting enough training to stay sharp. Since actually finding explosives is extremely rare, K-9 handlers constantly have to stay on guard against dogs losing interest in the job.


It's not quite living in a pineapple under the sea, but it's as close as you're likely to get. 
At the new Nickelodeon-themed beach resort in the Dominican Republic—not to be confused with Orlando's old Nick Suites, which ended its branding in February—you can stay in a two-bedroom, three-bathroom luxury suite built to resemble the home of everybody's favorite absorbent hero, SpongeBob SquarePants (To be fair, his only real competition in that category is the Brawny man.)

Home sweet pineapple! #NickResortPuntaCana

A photo posted by Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana (@nickresortpuntacana) on Sep 8, 2016 at 7:43am PDT

Though inspired by the beloved cartoon, the colorful suite is a notch or two above what you'd find in Bikini Bottom. It comes with 1,500 square feet of space, a private pool, butler service, and your own cupcake bar, among other features.
But you might have to flip a lot of Krabby Patties to afford the place—the rate is a whopping $940 per night.


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