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Travel and Tourism

Delta Takes Airline Seat Shenanigans To New Level With Five-Tiered System

delta planeDelta Airlines is launching a five-tiered seating system on March 1. At the bottom of this mountain of options is “Basic Economy,” which will be the least expensive, but won’t allow for seat selection, seat changes or refunds. Next will be “Main Cabin,” which will offer customers the opportunity to choose a seat and change their flight under certain circumstances. On international flights, it will also include a sleep kit, an alcoholic beverage and a meal.

Next is “Delta Comfort+,” which will offer priority boarding, reserved bin space, more leg room, better snacks and entertainment, and fancy seats.

“First Class” will now be split with “Delta One.” The latter will have flat beds and a chef, for instance, as well as access to Delta Sky Clubs.

All of this is, of course, about money. These “a la carte” travel options are the latest thing in air travel, and it’s making airlines tons of cash. Passenger fees for checked bags and flight changes profited the industry $1.67 billion last year. Delta made the most off of these fees, according to CNN, with $1.67 billion last year.

And while passengers have resigned themselves to being nickel-and-dimed and herded onto and off of uncomfortable flights lacking in what used to be basic amenities, this new system might be so blatant as to backfire.

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Mediabistro Job Fair

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VP of Korean Air Lines Resigns After Tantrum Over Macadamia Nuts Delays Flight

Korean_Air_Boeing_777-200ER_HL7526_SVO_2011-6-17

There are some valid reasons for an airline executive to delay a flight, but we’re betting the plane full of people recently forced to embark on their trip 20 minutes late wouldn’t consider a bag of macadamia nuts one of them.

As a recent Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Incheon, South Korea sat on a runway at JFK preparing to depart, Cho Hyun-ah, the airline’s vice president in charge of in-flight experience, was served a bag of macadamia nuts by a junior flight attendant. What’s the problem with that, you ask? Well, Ms. Hyun-ah was traveling first class, and the airline’s guidelines for proper service apparently state that no first class passenger should ever suffer the indignity of opening their own package of nuts — the macadamias were supposed to be served on a plate.

Upset over the rookie attendant’s mistake, Hyun-ah called over the senior flight attendant. But when he failed to produce the proper manual for flight service, Cho reportedly shouted, ordered the plane to return to the gate, and forced the senior flight attendant to disembark.

The debacle caused the flight to leave New York about 20 minutes behind schedule (presumably a bit more inconvenient for Cho’s customers than an unopened bag of nuts). Read more

JetBlue Unveils Plans To Make People Unhappy

jetblue tweetJetBlue has unveiled the details of a plan that intends to make no one happy it seems, except investors. Starting in 2015, the company will start charging for the first checked bag for certain fares. Also, by 2016 there will be five percent less legroom as the airline plans to add 15 seats to planes. (Though, at 33.1 inches, that’s still more than some other airlines, JetBlue says.) And there will now be different classes to separate passengers: one at a “basic fare” that wll include that aforementioned baggage fee; and then two higher classes that will include the free bag and other perks (but will cost more for the ticket).

Basically, JetBlue is moving to become more like other airlines, which will impact their messaging. How do you stand out when you’re doing the same thing that other companies do?

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Delta Loses Another Pet, Says Proper Procedures Were Followed

delta planeDelta Airlines says that it continues to investigate how another dog went missing this time at LAX, but maintains that preliminary findings show the company’s procedures were followed. Even still, the airline has offered passenger Frank Romano $200 towards another flight. There are so many things wrong here.

First there’s the issue of missing pets that Delta is developing a reputation for. LAist has three examples since 2010; one dog was killed by a car. And in one separate case cited just to bring the point home, the airline mixed up two children and sent them to the wrong cities.

Being detail-oriented about getting people, pets and cargo from one place to another is a basic that Delta has to master for the sake of its reputation. And whoever wrote the statement in this case isn’t doing the company any favors.

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New Hawaiian Campaign: ‘Welcome to Paradise…Unless You’re Homeless.’

magnum piEver heard of the Institute for Human Services?

This social services agency is focused on ending homelessness. A great cause in a place facing a serious issue because it’s so ridiculously difficult to manage a mortgage on the Hawaiian islands. And while Captain Machismo Tom Selleck enjoyed the finer things in life during his time there, thousands of people do not.

Great PSA, right? It should be… 

The non-profit organization is “embarking on a $1.3 million effort that includes plans to fly 120 homeless people back to the mainland.” Ah yes, nothing quite says PR success like dropping home ownership values.

 

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Sir Richard Branson Tries To Convince Us To Stick With Virgin Galactic After Crash

sir richard bransonSir Richard Branson made the morning news show rounds this morning, stammering through a couple of interviews about Friday’s crash of a Virgin Galactic test flight that took the life of a 39-year-old pilot. Since the project was announced, it has been positioned as the future of space travel, with the wealthy and the famous such as Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio ponying up $250,000 for a ticket. Part science fiction, part modern-day technological innovation, Virgin Galactic made it seem like space travel for the average person wasn’t too far behind.

[Note: VG signed with Edelman for PR services back in April and is currently "leaning on" the firm in dealing with its most recent setback.]

Images of the wreckage pushed all of those ideas back into the realm of fantasy. So Sir Branson’s appearances and comments in the days after have sought to both reassure the public that commercial space travel will be safe when it’s available and convince everyone to dream, once again, about rocketing beyond the clouds.

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There Are Safety Instructions Somewhere In Air New Zealand’s New ‘Hobbit’-Themed Video

Air New Zealand is back with their latest safety video, this time starring many of the cast members from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which opens December 17th. Amid all of the giant birds, wizards and celebrity cameos, there might be one thing that gets lost: the safety message.
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TripAdvisor’s Jetsetter Brand Soars into Hashtag Heaven with #Jetsettering

Jetsetter Image FinalCatchy hashtags aren’t new to Aaron Clossey, social media manager at Jetsetter, the travel arm of Gilt Groupe that TripAdvisor acquired last year. After all, his personal twitter handle is #clossboss. So when he needed an evergreen hashtag for brand users to rally around, he used the simple yet action-oriented #jetsettering. Members of the site have responded in force with tweets and photos of activities ranging from snorkeling to canal rides in Venice.

Clossey presented recently at BDI/Business Development Institute’s Food, Beverage and Hospitality Social Media Marketing Summit in New York about Jetsetter’s efforts to harness visual social media content. The brand’s initiatives have involved contests, partnerships and influencers, all in keeping with its whimsical, irreverent persona.

While Jetsetter got its start with exclusive flash sales in the luxury travel segment for its invitation-only upscale subscriber members, the brand has evolved since then. “We’re a lifestyle brand, not just an OTA”, [online travel agent] Clossey said. Now Jetsetter also does personal travel planning, for trips like honeymoons. In addition, the brand offers a trove of content on its site that’s accessible to more than its current 20 million members.

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STUDY: Media Coverage Has Little Influence on Consumers’ Travel Decisions

If only I'd read this BEFORE I bought tickets

Here’s an interesting, somewhat contradictory finding from our friends at travel blog Skift.

Turns out that media coverage of a given destination wields little, if any, influence when it comes to determining where consumers will take their next vacations.

If true, this finding might require some travel/leisure-focused firms to adjust their strategies…

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Now the Sultan of Brunei Has His Eye on The Plaza Hotel in New York

plaza hotelThe Sultan of Brunei is looking to expand his holdings with the possible purchase of The Plaza hotel in New York City. That hotel plus two others come with a price tag of $2.2 billion. The current owner,  Subrata Roy, head of the Sahara Group, would like to sell in order to get his hands on some cash to get out of prison. He was arrested in India earlier this year on money laundering charges.

Back in May, the Sultan — and by extension, the Beverly Hills Hotel — faced some high-profile protesters including Jay Leno, Richard Branson and Ellen DeGeneres because of Sharia laws he put in place in April. These laws promise to inflict harsh punishments such as incarceration, stonings and amputation for “crimes” such as homosexuality, abortion and adultery.

“Christopher Cowdrey, CEO of the Dorchester Collection, which owns the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, has been quick to respond, speaking to the media directly about the issue. But what he’s been saying is terrible,” we wrote at the time. The Sultan’s investment agency owns the Dorchester Collection.

These big-name Hollywood celebs asked for a boycott and promised to keep away from events held at these hotels until there was change. It cost $2 million in business.

New York has its fair share of celebrities. But more than that, what New York has is a lot of business travel in addition to millions of tourists per year. And a lot of high-end hospitality competition. Criticism on the East coast could be just as, if not more, potent.

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