Could it be that the years of bad news for travelers with diminished services and higher prices are finally going to take a turn for the better? Well yes, in fact, there’s finally some good news on the horizon for travel trends in 2015. So let’s take a look at some of the most important changes in store for the new year that are sure to cheer all you bedraggled road warriors.
More Hotels (including major brands) Offering Free WiFi
Surely one of the most irritating aspects of staying in an up-market hotel is their insistence on charging a fee for WiFi connectivity. While budget and mid-market chains (Hampton, Comfort, Fairfield, etc) have gladly offered free WiFi for years, deluxe properties like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton etc. had doggedly insisted on charging fees for guests to connect to the internet. Apparently they have finally heard our grumbling, because beginning in the first quarter of 2015 a number of major brands will be providing complimentary WiFi for guests who belong to the hotels’ frequent guest program and who book their reservation directly with the hotel. Here’s a sampling of brands who will now offer complimentary WiFi to their loyal guests: Marriott, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Starwood Hotels which includes Sheraton, Westin, W and St. Regis hotels.
JetBlue has two great amenity ideas for the new year
#1 JetBlue is partnering with HarperCollins publishing to offer a selection of free bestselling e-books as oart if their rollout of its upcoming Fly-Fi platforms. Customers on planes equipped with in-flight WiFi Will be able to read samples of over 20 top selling books with a convenient ‘buy’ button if they choose to download the complete book.
#2 Especially for cold winter airports (JFK, Terminal 5 to start) JetBlue is partnering with CoatChex to provide a coat check app so you can leave your big winter coat at the airport before boarding your flight south and then pick it up again on your return. A special app will track your return flight, time and date, so your coat will be ready on your return. No coat check slip is required as the app tags your coat with your picture and arrival time. Prices start at $2 per day or $10 per week.
Alaska Airlines is streamlining the baggage tag process with Self-Tag Express.
Alaska Airlines is giving you a faster way to the gate by allowing passengers to print their luggage tag at home or at special self-tag express kiosks at the airport. Passengers can tag their bag at home during the online check-in process and then just drop the luggage at the designated bag drop area at the airport and be on their way to their departure gate.
With Oil Prices Coming Way Down, One Airline Is Leading The Way To Reduce Fuel Surcharges
Funny how extra fees are quick to go up but slow to come back down again!! Grumblings have started, asking airlines if they anticipate reducing or eliminating their fuel surcharges, especially on international flights. There’s some good news on the horizon. JAL is the first airline to step to the plate. Beginning on February 1, 2015, JAL’s fuel fees will be based on the actual cost of fuel and will fluctuate with oil prices. Here’s hoping other international airlines will follow their lead!
Cuba Travel Is On Everyone’s Bucket List
With the recent announcement of improving international relations between the US and the Cuban government, the clamor for travel to Cuba is building. At present, only ‘cultural’, government approved tours are allowed from the United States. With the anticipated removal of travel restrictions and the introduction of credit card use on the island, travel to Cuba is expected to balloon. Look for cruise ships to be the first to offer new tours to Cuba by adding the island to their Caribbean itineraries. Many cruise lines have been planning for this eventuality for years and have itineraries and facilities already in place and are just waiting for the go-ahead to begin visiting Cuba in 2015.
But, it’s not all good news….
Marriott and Hilton Hotels have each announced that they will no longer allow same-day room cancellation. Each of these hotel companies will now require that a room be canceled by midnight on the day previous to your arrival, unless the property has a longer cancellation policy in place. Anyone cancelling on the day of arrival will be charged a one night fee. So be certain to check your hotel’s cancellation policy carefully before completing your reservation!