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Therapy Animals on Planes, West Elm Hotels, 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 airplanes, hotels, and bouncy houses.


At the moment, there are very few regulations limiting the kinds of animals that can be carried onto commercial airplanes, as long as the given dog, pig, hamster, rooster, capuchin monkey, or what have you has been designated a provider of emotional support for its owner.
That could change, however, once a committee of airline representatives and disabled-rights advocates that has been meeting since April in Washington, D.C., finally comes up with a new set of rules governing the types of therapy animals allowed on commercial aircraft and listing the documentation required to prove you need them with you in the cabin. 
Keep in mind we're not talking about service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs, but emotional support animals that comfort those with psychological or emotional conditions. Both types of creatures are allowed to fly with passengers at no additonal charge. 
Some members of the group, which is called the Accessible Air Transportation advisory committee, advocate limiting emotional support animals to dogs, cats, rabbits, and possibly birds—though not chickens, ducks, or turkeys. 
Airlines, for their part, say that many passengers falsely claim their pets are therapy animals, and they get away with it because they don't have to carry a note from a doctor or other expert confirming the necessity of the animal in the cabin.
Mental health advocates counter that requiring such a document would be stigmatizing. 
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation, meanwhile, worries about all that pet dander circulating in an enclosed space. 
So there's still a lot to consider before the meetings draw to a close next month.


Furniture seller West Elm is getting into the boutique hotel business. 
Partnering with hospitality management and development company DDK, the retailer (which is part of Williams-Sonoma) will design, furnish, and market two hotels—one in Detroit, the other in Savannah—expected to open in 2018. 
West Elm, which has experienced a lot of growth in recent years, sees the hotel project as a way of expanding further without simply adding more stores. 
Experts say it's a good time to open a boutique hotel. Many travelers now prefer unique experiences instead of the standardization associated with chains, yet boutique hotel rooms still account for only 2% of available units, according to figures reported by the Wall Street Journal. Other non-hospitality companies planning hotels include Restoration Hardware and Equinox fitness clubs.  
Rooms at West Elm properties will feature custom furniture as well as items from local artists and craftsmen. Three other locations are in the works: in Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. 
Rates start at around $175 per night—and yes, if you like the furnishings in your room, you can buy them through an app or West Elm's website. 


A company called V-Formation has created what's being billed as the world's largest bouncy house. 
Dubbed The Beast, the inflatable behemoth stretches across a length of 893 feet—though the company would like to extend that to a nice round 1,000 feet.
It's not just for kids and it's not just for jumping. Crossing the entire thing requires bouncing your way through a snaking obstacle course full of slides, climbing walls, rings, ramps, and more.  
The Beast can currently be found in Belgium, but the company says there are plans to take it to the U.K., India, and wherever dreamers dream.
Check out the promotional video below to see the Beast for yourself.

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