Airline unveils a blast from the past

JetBlue rolled out a special "RetroJet" livery on one of its Airbus jets Friday. Dubbed "What's Old Is Blue Again," JetBlue says the A320 features "a one-of-a-kind paint scheme designed to celebrate the iconic jet age of air travel and to highlight JetBlue's innovative style." What makes this retro livery unusual is that JetBlue is a relatively new airline, having inaugurated service just in 2000. Since JetBlue did not have a decades-old "retro" look of its own, the New York-based company had to be creative in coming up with the special paint scheme. To do that, JetBlue says it "dug into an archive of popular logos and notable companies from the mid-1960s to essentially reverse-engineer the JetBlue brand and envision what the customer-friendly carrier of today might have looked like some five decades ago." JetBlue is sending off the RetroJet livery with a special ceremony at JFK that will include former TWA flight attendants modeling "original uniforms from various eras of air travel at TWA." The TWA theme is a nod not only to the broader retro motif, but also to the iconic 1962 TWA Flight Center building that remains standing at JFK adjacent to JetBlue's Terminal 5. The crew on Friday's flight wore retro uniforms that featured hats, scarves, ties and pins unique to the flight. Customers also received special retro amenity kits. "The Palm Springs route was selected because of the desert destination's mid-century modern architecture and style. Greater Palm Springs has experienced a comeback by blending its nostalgic past as a playground for Hollywood with hip new development attracting a new generation of trendy travelers," JetBlue explains in its statement. USA Today

Marriott, MGM Grand create rooms for health-conscious guests

Health-obsessed jet-setters can now pay to stay in a "wellness" hotel room.For an upcharge of about $30 a night, select Marriott and MGM Grand hotels in America are offering "Stay Well" hotel rooms decked out with vitamin C-infused showers (for healthier hair and skin), organic mattresses and anti-microbial countertops so you can supposedly breathe easier.The suites also contain spa amenities like air purifiers, circadian mood lighting and aromatherapy. Guests can also use the Stay Well app, which has a meditation-training podcast.These aren't the first wellness-focused hotels. In 2012, InterContinental Hotels Group launched a health-conscious hospitality chain called Even, which provides nutritious menu items and boutique gym-style workout classes. Another chain, Wyndham, features "fitness rooms" at some of its Tryp hotels, with each room containing an exercise mat and a treadmill, elliptical machine or stationary bike.New York Post

Dec. 1 debut planned for United Airlines' Polaris lounge at Chicago O'Hare

The airline hopes to instill a sense of wonder in travelers visiting the lounge.That sense will be stimulated big time when visitors enter the Polaris lounge and gaze upon a new light fixture/sculpture that will be a centerpiece of the plush new facility.Titled "North Star Chicago," the sculpture was created by artist Wolfgang Buttress specifically for the Chicago Polaris lounge. If the new sculpture itself isn't enough to inspire wonder in those who pass beneath it, United hopes the rest of the layout at the lounge will do the trick. The Polaris lounge is being outfitted with private seating stations, a secluded relaxation area with dim lighting and white noise, as well as shower facilities. Restaurant-style meals will be served in the lounge from a menu devised by Oprah's former chef Art Smith.The Dec. 1 debut of the Polaris lounge at O'Hare dovetails with the launch of the new Polaris service onboard United flights around the world. Every aspect of the new Polaris experience — menus, service utensils and bedding — will be available as of Dec. 1, with the exception of the new iteration of lie-flat seats. The first of those will be available on new Boeing 777-300 jets United will start rolling out on routes in February. United's existing aircraft will be retrofitted with the new Polaris seats over a period of time.Chicago Business Journal

US airlines adding more premium economy options for travelers

As space in economy class becomes ever more constrained, airlines have devised a more spacious cabin product for passengers priced out of business class but determined to escape the indignities of steerage.Called "premium economy," this section of added frills between coach and business aims to address a widening gap that has emerged between those cabins—and to extract more money from passengers. The premium economy cabin has been a staple of large international airlines for several years but is just now beginning to appear on American carriers.American is the first U.S. airline to introduce the new cabin, on its Boeing 787-9, with 21 seats in a 2-3-2 across layout, far roomier than the 3-3-3 arrangement in the back of the plane.The new cabin offers 38 inches of seat pitch, and a six-inch recline. Each seat also comes with an 11-inch screen, two inches larger than what you get in back, and those blessed noise-reducing headphones. While premium economy represents a silver lining for travelers hoping to improve economy-class travel, there's a downside for those who are fine with flying cattle class. For some airlines, the "nicer" coach cabin could represent an incentive to make regular economy even more spartan. For travelers, the question really becomes: Is it worth it? Is a six-hour flight too short to pony up for the extra room? What about 10 or 11 hours? And if the economy seat is fine for you, does a slightly larger video screen or a glass of wine before departure matter? Bloomberg

Marriott matches Starwood rewards status for members

Marriott International has linked its Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs with the Starwood Preferred Guest program. "We immediately enabled our loyal travelers to earn points in one program and redeem in the other," President and CEO Arne Sorenson said. Getting the loyalty programs right was a top priority for Marriott, he said. Only 16% of the combined 85 million members were members of both programs before the acquisition, he said, which puts the company in a position to capture incremental business.HotelNewsNow

Travel Agents Kept the Customers Moving While Delta Was Down

There's nothing like a worldwide airline glitch to show off why travelers should use a travel agent. Delta set the stage with its systemwide outage that stymied travelers trying to get home, to go on vacation, or to conduct business around the world.But those who had a human travel agent to turn to found their way.To get clients to their destinations, agents performed a number of tasks, including waiting hours to speak to a Delta rep, getting tickets reissued and making car rental reservations.There are thousands of stories over those days of travelers whose plans were altered by Delta's computer glitch. And once again, the ones with the happy endings tend to be the ones where live travel agents picked up the phone—and picked up the pieces—to get their luxury and leisure and corporate customers where they needed to go.Travel Market Report

Netflix is coming to more hotel rooms worldwide

Netflix and an Enseo, the makers of an in-room entertainment platform for the hospitality industry, today announced an expanded agreement that will see the Netflix app offered in more hotel rooms around the world. Through the Enseo system, hotel guests will be able to log in to their Netflix accounts from their rooms, allowing them to stream Netflix's collection of TV and shows, as well as access their own personalized settings, lists, and other content.Enseo has deals in place in hundreds of hotels in the U.S., including those at Marriott, Hilton and La Quinta properties.TechCrunch

Chicago Midway Adds Passport Control Kiosks

The Chicago Department of Aviation announced that it has upgraded and expanded automated passport control (APC) and Global Entry technology at Midway International.Four additional APC kiosks have been installed in Midway's Federal Inspection Service area for a total of 10 kiosks now available for travelers. All of the APC kiosks have been upgraded with fingerprint readers, light bars and additional language options. These are the first major enhancements made to the APC system at Midway since it was first installed in March 2014, according to the department.In addition, a new Global Entry kiosk has been installed in Midway's FIS area, bringing to four the number of kiosks available. Midway now has three Global Entry kiosks available for travelers.Aviation News Today

Join the Mile-High Club—of Exclusive Airline Pajamas

The world's premium airlines have rushed to make their first and business-class cabins pleasure domes of comfort. Champagne, caviar, celebrity chefs, and seats that recline 180 degrees into beds are now mandatory if you're going to compete for the globe's top trotters.A less-visible industry trend now accompanies these high-tech thrones, and the battle for supremacy is just as fierce: Yes, the airlines have gone to war over your pajamas.Passengers riding the premium cabin want to deplane looking crisp and fresh. Some carriers also offer showers at airport clubs so you can be as fresh as your suit—Emirates even moved theirs onboard, but you get just five minutes of water.U.S. carriers have also begun touting sleepwear as an amenity. Their aim is to get ever closer to the big leagues of lavish service in which Asian and Middle Eastern carriers hold sway. Those airlines have long considered leisure apparel de rigueur.The pajamasare also meant to complement the high-tech seating now found in all premium cabins, pleasure centers that can cost airlines upward of $500,000 each. Some offer massage, and all recline flat, an amenity often listed in passenger surveys as the most critical component of a long flight.Popular or not, wearing lounge wear at 35,000 feet has another attribute rarely seen outside the Playboy Mansion. As airline blogger Ben Schlappig put it last year: "Where else do you get to wear pajamas and drink cocktails in public?"Bloomberg Pursuits

Design trends: How hotels will look in 2017

Traditional front desks are on their way out from hotels while living room-like public areas coming in, and dual color tones and designs centered on culture are making their way into new hotel projects and redesigns, hotel design experts said.Removing standard check-in desks and designing more social public spaces is a focus throughout the hotel industry, and design leaders said this is likely to continue.Stephanie Tyler, president of International Design Concepts, said her team is designing more welcoming public spaces at hotels."We're seeing that traditional check-in desk really go out, especially in the boutique market," she said. "We've gone from stand-up counters to sit-down, comfortable concierge desks to now we're really seeing a sort of sofa side kind of check-in with things being done on iPads…It's a little more welcoming, where you might sit down, be offered a cocktail…And check in that way."HotelNewsNow

TSA PreCheck Temporary Enrollment Center now open

In an effort to reduce the wait that travelers are experiencing when enrolling in the agency's PreCheck trusted traveler program thanks to a flood of applications in recent months, the Transportation Security Administration announced plans for multiple temporary enrollment centers, including Madison. The Dane County Regional Airport will operate a TSA Pre-Check enrollment center from July 11 to July 29. Travelers can make an appointment or walk-in, but must register in-person. The application center will open on weekdays from 10 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 7 PM. Frequent Business Traveler/WKOW

American touts comfort available aboard new Dreamliner aircraft

The new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners joining the American Airlines fleet will feature larger seats and more legroom for passengers in premium economy class. "The 787-9 is going to be a fantastic addition to our widebody fleet, with international Wi-Fi and an inflight experience that's second to none," said Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Nocella. The 787-9s, larger version of the 787-8 Dreamliner, are set to begin service out of DFW International Airport in November. American will be the first U.S. carrier to introduce the new class, which offers more amenities than a typical coach fare but costs less than sitting in pricey business class. Several foreign carriers offer premium economy on international routes. The premium economy class will be line-fitted on all future 787-9 and Airbus A350 deliveries, and American said it plans to retrofit most of the rest of its widebody fleet with the new seats over the next several years. The premium economy seats feature 38 inches of pitch compared with 31 inches in a typical coach seat, along with extendable foot, head and leg rests. On international flights, premium economy customers will receive amenity kits and enhanced meal service with complimentary alcoholic beverages, American said. Dallas Morning News

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina opens its doors

A much-awaited Four Seasons resort, the first on the island of Oahu, has opened - and it's far from the crowds of Waikiki. The luxury, oceanfront resort is the result of an extensive remodel of the former JW Marriott property not far from Disney's Aulani Resort. Nearly all of the Four Seasons' 371 rooms and suites face the water and feature floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces. The hotel's five restaurants and lounges include Fish House; Noe, which features what a news release described as "Italian-meets-island cuisine"; and the casual Waterman Bar & Grill. While families can enjoy a sheltered beach lagoon complete with water toys, as well as a family pool, adults seeking quiet time can easily find it. The resort has an adults-only beach and pool, and private, waterfront massages are also available. The 17-story hotel is next door to Lanikuhonua, a private estate where Hawaiian royalty once relaxed. The property hosts a variety of cultural activities. Los Angeles Times

Cruise terminal planned at PortMiami

For nearly a decade, the cruise capital of the world has been unable to host the largest cruise ships in the world. But all that is about to change. Royal Caribbean Cruises and Miami-Dade County announced that they have reached a deal to build one of the biggest cruise terminals in the country at PortMiami, a move that will — finally — bring Royal Caribbean International's massive Oasis-class ships home. The $247 million project at PortMiami includes construction of an almost 200,000-square-foot building and 1,000 parking spaces and could open in 2018. The dock at the proposed Terminal A would have space for a 1,300-foot long ship (the Oasis ships are nearly 1,200 feet long). Royal Caribbean's current PortMiami dock at Terminal G only fits ships that are about 1,000 feet long. The cruise line hasn't yet announced which Oasis ship or ships will port at Miami's Terminal A. Itineraries beginning in Fort Lauderdale are already set through April 2018. It is unclear how many Oasis-class ships will continue sailing from Port Everglades once the Miami terminal opens.

The new mega ships are expected to attract an additional 1 million travelers to PortMiami, for a total of 1.8 million Royal Caribbean passengers a year. Royal Caribbean would then be responsible for more than 30 percent of traveler traffic to the port, up from 15 percent currently. The agreement would keep the ships in PortMiami for at least 20 years and as many as 60 years. Miami Herald

Vegas hotels bidding farewell to traditional minibar

Las Vegas is a hot market for minibars, but it won't be forever. The current model of hotel minibar use is not sustainable. On average, it costs hotels too much money to employ people to check and restock minibars, driving the prices of the items up and deterring guests from purchasing them. In many instances, high minibar prices lead guests to grab a more affordable bottle of liquor, for instance, from a drugstore or liquor store near their hotel, or creatively steal those pricey bottles of water or minibottles of vodka and whatever else may be offered. Some hotels, such the Marriott and one of the newest Caesars Entertainment properties on the Strip, The Linq, have nixed in-room minibars. Many others have opted instead for an empty in-room refrigerator. On average, a minibottle of vodka offered in Las Vegas hotels is $12.67, while peanuts are $12, and a bottle of water is $6.67. Las Vegas Review-Journal

Customs tests facial comparison tech at Atlanta airport

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the beginning of its testing of facial comparison technology at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The agency will require passengers to present their boarding passes while a digital photo is taken of them. This procedure will occur before passengers enter the loading bridge connected to the plane. Once the photo is taken, CBP will compare the image to a previously provided photo of the passenger. The digital images taken at the airport will be held in a secure data system for a post-departure evaluation. U.S. passport holders will not have their data stored once it is confirmed that they are who they say they are. The photos and data will be deleted after the evaluation according to CBP, in order to protect travelers' privacy. For now, this test will only affect one flight per day going from the U.S. to Japan until September 30, but CBP is planning and conducting new biometric technologies in multiple environments in 2016. CBP currently relies on biometric screenings such as digital fingerprints to secure the border. The Department of Homeland Security says it is committed to implementing new biometric exit technologies by 2018. Washington Examiner

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