A NEW BRIDGE TO TIJUANA AIRPORT
A new border-spanning bridge now connects fliers at Tijuana A.L. Rodriguez International Airport in Mexico with San Diego. Staffed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, the 390-foot Cross Border Xpress is open only to ticketed passengers who must pay $18 each way to cross it. The new bridge allows Americans to park on the domestic side of the border, roughly 22 miles from downtown San Diego, and walk to their flight on the Mexican side. Tijuana offers flights throughout Mexico as well as Asia. Bridge tolls are being waved as part the span’s introduction through Dec. 18.
AIRLINES BAN HOVERBOARDS
American, Delta and United have banned hoverboards, the personal transportation devices that resemble self-propelling skateboards, from all flights. In a statement, Delta said the lithium-ion batteries that power hoverboards are potential problems, and often exceed the 160-watt-hour limit permitted aboard planes. “While occurrences are uncommon, these batteries can spontaneously overheat and pose a fire hazard risk,” according to a company press release. The big three join Alaska, JetBlue, Hawaiian and others in the ban.
UNITED BRINGS BACK SNACKS
Under the “little things that count” file, United Airlines has announced it is bringing back free snacks on flights within North America and Latin America. Beginning in February 2016, flight attendants will be serving a caramel waffle cookie before 9:45 a.m. After that time, they will offer snack mixes such as an Asian-style rice cracker mix or a ranch-flavored mix of pretzels and soy nuts. This month, United added complimentary meals and free beer and wine on more flights to and from Latin America.
AMERICAN ADDS PREMIUM ECONOMY ON INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS
American Airlines announced last week that it will add Premium Economy seating to international flights in late 2016. The cabin, located directly behind Business Class, offers up to six inches more legroom, wider seats, upgraded meals, noise-canceling headphones, larger seat back screens, priority check-in and boarding and two fee-free checked bags. The first planes with Premium Economy seating will be the carrier’s Boeing 787-9 which will include three rows of Premium Economy in a 2-3-2 configuration. It will be rolled out to most others in the next three years.
AT AIRPORTS, SALES AND SURPRISE GIFTS
The retail company Westfield, which operates many airport concessions, has announced a series of holiday-inspired surprises for travelers that may include randomly bestowed gifts, sidewalk sales, concerts and gift drives for charity. Promotions will take place at Boston Logan (Dec. 19), Houston Intercontinental (Dec. 17 to 18, and 21 to 24), Los Angeles (Dec. 16), Miami (daily through Dec. 24), Newark (Dec. 16 and 18), Orlando (Dec. 14).
SILVERCAR OPENS IN LAS VEGAS
Silvercar, the service that allows car renters to reserve an Audi and seamlessly access it via its app, has announced it will open in Las Vegas on Jan. 4. The electronic-based system does away with car rental desks and paperwork, allowing users to unlock cars by scanning a QR code on the car windshield. Rates in Las Vegas start at $69 a day. Las Vegas is the twelfth market for Silvercar, which also operates at airports in San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Chicago and New York.
CRUISES GET MUSICAL
Royal Caribbean International has announced that its new ship, Harmony of the Seas, launching in May 2016, will have the industry’s first production of the musical “Grease.” The line will also introduce the show on its ship Independence of the Seas in July.
Cunard plans a trans-Atlantic sailing aboard the Queen Mary 2 devoted to the jazz musician Herbie Hancock. He will headline three shows during the eight-night cruise from Southampton to New York, Aug. 1 to 9.
Carnival Live, the live music program offered on Carnival ships during stops in Nassau, St. Thomas or Cozumel, has already announced dates with Gladys Knight, Journey and KC and the Sunshine Band. Now it plans to vary its musical diet with two shows by the comedian Kathy Griffin in February.
A CRUISE IN THE ARCTIC
The new travel company Exploring Circle, devoted to discussing environmental and social issues in regions impacted by them, has announced a research cruise in the Arctic. The operator is partnering with 5 Gyres, a nonprofit devoted to ocean plastic pollution eradication and awareness, on a 13-day cruise in the Northwest Passage from Greenland to Nunavut. Researchers with 5 Gyres will join the 92-passenger ship Akademik Sergey Vavilov to survey and discuss the effect of plastics on wildlife and the environment. Guests can assist with the research when not polar bear viewing, whale watching, hiking or taking tours by Zodiac. The trip, Aug. 12 to 24, starts at $8,895, and proceeds from it support 5 Gyres.