In other hotel, aviation and travel industry news last week…
- Last year, Chicago took the top spot as being the city that charges the most taxes to travelers in the country and effective January 1, 2012, they’ve raised hotel taxes another percentage point. It brings the hotel portion on par now with New York and Las Vegas. Another article, however, states they don’t see “any move to raise taxes on the travel industry.”
- Checks are beginning to arrive in mailboxes across the country with refunds of fees charged for using credit cards overseas. A class-action lawsuit that required filing a claim back in 2008 is finally being settled and people are getting surprises in the mail ranging from $18.04 to thousands of dollars. I quite honestly don’t remember if I filed a claim. I hope so, because the travel period was from February 1, 1996 through November 8, 2006 and I was overseas quite a bit during those 10 years. Were you?
- The Department of Transportation extended the deadline for airlines to advertise fares inclusive of taxes and fees by two days. Now effective January 26th, American Airlines requested the delay since they claimed Tuesdays are the busiest day of the week for their website and the previous January 24th requirement would have been too burdensome. No other airlines objected.
- Boeing orders are up 52% this year compared to last, in part due to a record-setting year for the 777. The manufacturer delivered 477 aircraft in 2011, but has a backlog of 3,771 unfilled orders. President and CEO Jim Albaugh stated, “As our current commitments become firm orders and we add even more customers, I have no doubt that 2012 will be the ‘Year of the 737 MAX’.”
- A subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, MLT Vacations, is now the travel wholesaler selling Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations. They also run the Delta Vacations brand. Vacation packagers receive bulk fare contracts from airlines, hotels and other travel providers and then combine them to sell complete vacations at a price cheaper than what you’d be able to book individually with each unit. I worked for a couple of these outfits in the 1990s and really enjoyed a unique side of the industry not known by many.
- Online retailer Overstock.com launched a travel page on their popular website. Powered by Priceline, you can book complete vacation packages or individual air, car and hotel reservations. It really acts like a portal, though, because as soon as you enter any type of search criteria, it redirects you to Priceline.
- On January 1st, the former Las Vegas Hilton rebranded as The Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, ending its more than 40 years as a chain hotel. This past Tuesday, workers removed the Hilton logo from the side of the building.
- GDS firm Travelport modified their planned re-pricing of certain functionality within Apollo, Galileo and Worldspan that would have cost travel agencies approximately $35 per month per terminal. Not unlike airlines, the company unbundled several integral features of the systems that were once free and wanted to start charging for those services. After backlash from agency groups, they relented and modified their planned changes.
- Finally, a proposal for a third runway at Hong Kong’s airport has been submitted to the government for consideration. Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, as well as the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, backed a study supporting the expansion to keep Hong Kong as “the regional and international leading aviation center.”