Travel News – May 1, 2014



Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Screen for MERS
On 29 April 2014 health officials in Kuala Lumpur announced that all passengers entering Malaysia through Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang will be subjected to a screening for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. The respiratory virus, which is similar to SARS, was first reported in Malaysia on 13 April after a man returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia and later died from the disease. The screening will be performed regardless of the passenger’s departure point. According to the World Health Organization, the MERS CoV has infected 238 people globally, resulting in 92 deaths.

Amtrak Starts Trials to Allow Pets on Trains
Earlier this week Amtrak announced a six-month pilot project (PDF release) to allow small dogs and cats aboard its trains between Chicago and Quincy. Their owners will have to pay $25. The test is a partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation and will run from May 5 through Nov. 2. The results of the program will provide a basis for possibly extending the pets-on-trains option nationally. Travel with pets can begin only at stations in Chicago, Naperville and Galesburg, and advance reservations are required. Dogs or cats up to 20 pounds will be accepted in carriers such as those used in airplane cabins and placed at the feet and under the seat of each pet owner on the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains. The trains operate to and from Chicago, La Grange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb and Quincy. Amtrak already allows service animals on trains at no charge and that policy is unchanged. Amtrak previously allowed pets on trains in the late 1970s, but the animals were relegated to baggage cars, which are not heated or air-conditioned.

Thomas Cook Adds New Flights to Miami and New York
Thomas Cook Airlines will operate a three times a week service to New York from Manchester UK airport from next May. The airline will also start flying to Miami from Manchester twice weekly and said the new Miami route would cater for the family market. The new routes will see the introduction of a new ‘premium service’ across the entire airline’s long-haul routes. Customers will be able to reserve seats in advance and will have priority check-in. The premium offering will include a dedicated cabin team with a new on-demand touch screen in-flight entertainment system being introduced. Thomas Cook has also launched seven summer 2015 brochures including Thomas Cook Signature and Air Tours Holidays which will be on sale from May 1.

AT&T to Launch High Speed 4G in-Flight Connectivity Service
AT&T said “We are building on AT&T’s significant strengths to develop in-flight connectivity technology unlike any other that exists today, based on 4G LTE standards.” They will be competing against GoGo, a much smaller company that offers a similar service. AT&T said it will build an air-to-ground network in the continental U.S., to provide speed and efficient utilization of spectrum already owned by AT&T.

Air Canada to Offer Customers In-Flight Wi-Fi Connectivity Across North America
Air Canada, the first Canadian carrier to offer customers in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, plans to begin rolling out connectivity across its North American fleet in May under an agreement with Gogo®. The agreement will also provide for future type-testing of Gogo satellite solutions for Wi-Fi on international flights. Air Canada presently has two Wi- Fi-equipped Airbus 319 aircraft operating in Canada and the U.S. and, subject to a final agreement with Gogo, plans to begin outfitting its remaining Airbus A319, A320 and A321 and Embraer 190 fleet types, as well as its Air Canada Express CRJ-705 and Embraer 175 aircraft, with Air-To-Ground Wi-Fi connectivity. The installations are to begin in May with the goal of equipping 29 aircraft in 2014 and a targeted completion date of December 2015 for the designated 130 narrow-body aircraft. The system offers peak connection speeds comparable to mobile broadband services available on the ground. Pricing will be competitive with other in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity offerings. Gogo has also provided Air Canada the opportunity to type-trial two satellite-based systems, using Gogo 2KU and Inmarsat Global Xpress KA-band solutions. These tests are expected to be conducted in 2015. The results will help determine future connectivity options that can be considered as the technology continues to evolve.

Flight Operations at LAX Getting Back to Normal
Flight operations at Los Angeles International and other area airports came to a stop Wednesday afternoon after technical problems at a Southern California control center prompted a temporary grounding of departing flights. At 8.30 pm California time operations resumed and airport authorities released this assessment statement: After completing an assessment of flight operations of the nearly 60 passenger airlines at LAX, LAX Airport Operations reports the following impacts resulting from today’s ground stop through midnight tonight: 27 arriving flights were cancelled, 212 were delayed and 27 diverted to other airports; Departing flights: a total of 23 flights were cancelled and 216 were delayed; No international arriving or departing flights were cancelled. The number of passengers on the 50 total arriving and departing cancelled flights is estimated at nearly 6,800. The FAA said a computer outage forced a halt to departures at airports in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and other airports out west.

Two Holland America Line Ships Returning to Asia
Starting next winter through spring 2015, Holland America Line will have two ships in the Far East. The 1,432-passenger ms Volendam will sail a series of 14- to 17-day cruises and nonrepeating itineraries, while the 1,404-passenger ms Rotterdam takes an epic 90-day “Passage to the Far East” journey. All of the cruises feature exotic ports of call with extended and overnight stays at some of Asia’s most iconic cities.

News is courtesy of ARTA Online.