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Hurricane Maria continues to impact travel

Hurricane Maria has regained strength this morning as it heads towards Turks and Caicos, which is still recovering from Irma. The storm is then expected to make its way toward Southeast Bahamas.

Maria devastated Puerto Rico and left the majority of the island without power. Catastrophic flash flooding is expected to continue. Puerto Rico's airports will be closed until Friday at the earliest.

Other Caribbean islands that were in Maria's path are working to recover. Dominica which sustained very significant damage is reported to be in "survival mode" as food and water are scarce and widespread looting is rampant. Dominican Republic also sustained significant damage and is now braced for flooding. Airports have been shut down but are expected to reopen later today. In Guadeloupe many roads are blocked and 40 percent of the population remains without power. The Virgin Islands which sustained significant damage from Irma and Maria were declared a major disaster area by the Trump administration and thus now qualify for federal funding.

The extended forecast for Maria remains unclear. Early models do not show Maria making a direct hit on the US mainland. However, forecasters say tracking models are good for only three to five days and thus warn that those who live along the East Coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts should continue to monitor the storm for possible changes.

As airports work to reopen and airlines effort to restore regular flight schedules to these storm-ravaged areas, travelers are urged to check local conditions as recovery will take months in some locations. Airlines are continuing to extend existing waivers and are issuing new ones as needed as they not only monitor the recovery efforts from destinations already impacted by these storms but also watch areas that could be affected as Maria tracks northward.

Mexico City flights resume after latest quake

Recovery efforts continue after a magnitude 7.1 Earthquake struck a large area around Mexico City Tuesday afternoon. The epicenter was located in Puebla, some 75 miles south-east of Mexico City. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has since reopened. The Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City has also reopened and airlines are resuming flight operations. However, carriers are still offering waivers for those who wish to postpone their trip. Travelers are advised to monitor local conditions as hundreds of buildings collapsed, power outages continue in some areas and some ground transportation is still impacted.

White House hints at stricter travel ban

After President Trump hinted at an expanded travel ban in response to the terrorist attack in London last week, national security advisor H.R. McMaster followed up by saying that the White House is indeed considering a new travel policy noting that limiting travel is necessary to combat terrorism. "Part of the strategy must be to interdict these (terrorist) networks, interdict them from how they use information and communicate, but how they move physically as well... their ability to travel and to move and to move people and money and weapons internationally," McMaster said.

Ryanair cancels flights due to pilot shortages; faces potential strikes

Ryaniar canceled up to 50 flights a day through the end of October after it realized it would be facing pilot shortages due to an error in properly accounting for annual vacation leave after new regulations were implemented. The carrier has since offered pilots a 12K GBP bonus to give up some of their vacation time in order to avoid cancelling more flights. However, the Irish Air Line Pilots Association is now scrutinizing the offer as it emphasizes the importance of pilot leave to reduce fatigue. The approximately 400,000 passengers whose flights were cancelled may be entitled to some type of compensation as well as a refund.

Meanwhile the pilots are threatening to cause further issues for Ryanair as they are looking at launching some form of industrial action against the carrier.

New Amtrak trains and tracks to reduce travel time and improve reliability in Illinois

Faster and more reliable locomotives along with new and improved signals and tracks will reduce travel time between Chicago and St. Louis by an hour starting next year. Amtrak has already received 12 of the new locomotives that will serve passenger lines in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri. Another 21 new locomotives will be delivered by January. Amtrak officials said that while not all routes will see a major reduction in time at first, each will still become more reliable with the new enhancements. Passengers will also enjoy a smoother and quieter ride.

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AIRLINE BRIEFS

Aer Lingus

New direct flights are now available between Dublin and Miami. A special feature of this service is that passengers can pre-clear U.S. Customs and Immigration in Ireland, which means less time at the airport upon arrival.

Austrian Airlines

Following the lead of other carriers, Austrian Airlines said it will offer Premium Economy Class seating starting March 6, 2018. The new product offering will bring the carrier in line with its parent airline, Lufthansa, which itself came late to the game behind rivals such as Air France and British Airways.

Delta Air Lines

Delta continues to lead its U.S. competitors in on-time performance with an on-time rate of 84.7 in August according to Flightstats. The average for North American carriers was just 77.6 percent in August.

Delta unveiled plans for new service between Indianapolis and Paris starting May 24, 2018. The flights will be operated with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft featuring 25 lie-flat seats in Delta One, 29 seats in premium economy and 171 seats in regular economy. Delta will also launch seasonal service to Vail and Telluride from Salt Lake City and to Vancouver from Atlanta starting Dec. 21 in addition to increasing flight frequencies to existing western ski destinations.

Ukraine International Airlines

Starting Oct. 1, economy class passengers will be charged a fee of 10 euros for checking in at the airport ticket counter when traveling on domestic and medium-haul international flights. There will be no fee for online check-in via the carrier's website and app. Travelers can also use the free auto-check-in option at the time of booking.

Virgin Atlantic

According to Virgin Atlantic, it has become the first airline in Europe to offer Wi-Fi across its entire fleet. The carrier says it is "at least a year ahead of other European long-haul carriers." Wi-Fi rates start at 2.99 GBP. The max package, which covers the entire flight, is 14.99 GBP.

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ADELMAN VACATIONS

Team Adelman gets a first-hand look at Apple Vacations' best-of-the-best and 2018 season while enjoying Chicago

Adelman's Deana Crouch at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, site of the 2017 Apple Vacations Awards Gala

Adelman's Shelly Williams and Deana Crouch represented our vacations team at the annual Apple Vacations Awards Gala in Chicago. As a top agency with Apple, Adelman was invited to attend the black-tie event, which took place at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. The Apple Awards acknowledges the "Best of the Best" in various categories. Golden Apple Awards are given to hotels and resorts that deliver exemplary levels of excellence in serving Apple's customers.

According to Shelly, "It was an honor to attend the Apple Vacations Awards Gala. It was a beautiful event and we were fortunate to meet with many hoteliers and travel representatives from all over the world." Since the Golden Apple designation can have a major influence on customer purchase decisions, it was indeed a great opportunity for Shelly and Deana to network with these world-class suppliers.

After the gala, Shelly and Deana attended the Apple Vacations annual tradeshow, which featured 120 booths and served as the official kick-off to their 2018 season. Representatives from major airlines, ground operators, car rental companies, tourism boards and hotels were present at this premier event. Shelly noted, "It was a great opportunity to learn first-hand about the new developments and properties in Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Panama, Costa Rica and more."

Shelly and Deana also enjoyed sightseeing around Chicago. According to Deana, "Chicago is a wonderful city and offers so many opportunities for those looking to add some leisure time to a business trip. The Museum of Science and Industry is fascinating and the river architecture tour is amazing as it gives participants a great look at the many hidden architectural gems among Chicago's many famous landmarks." Shelly also enjoyed all the great sights, shopping and even her stop at a café dedicated to Nutella. "It was fantastic, they have everything from breakfast and lunch items to gelato that are all Nutella inspired."

Winter will be here before you know it. If you would like to learn about the newest opportunities and promotions for a relaxing Apple Vacation getaway, contact Shelly Williams or one of our other professional vacation advisors. And, if you would like to take in Chicago on a long weekend or as an extension to a business trip, our team of travel consultants can help you with that as well. Simply give us a call at 800-749-7116.



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FEATURED ARTICLES

Delta continues to test new technologies to enhance the airport experience

As part of its commitment to making air travel hassle-free Delta has launched a series of initiatives that use state-of-the-art technologies. While many are still in the test phase at select airports, the carrier hopes to bring these options to more airports in the coming months. Technology-based initiatives include:

  • - Handheld nomad devices that allow agents to assist customers with a variety of needs while moving freely about the airport are in use in Atlanta. Delta also added boarding pillars that improve traffic flow around the gate area.
  • - Biometric boarding passes are in use for select passengers at Reagan Washington National Airport. In addition, Delta is piloting a program that allows customers to connect face-to-face with Delta specialists via video chat at Delta Sky Assist.
  • - Self-service bag drop machines are being tested in Minneapolis. The units use facial recognition technology so that customers can quickly, security and easily check their own luggage.

Delta is also currently modernizing its facilities at LaGuardia, Los Angeles and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to bring new conveniences and an enhanced experience to travelers.

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ADELMAN HOTEL COLLECTION

Earn a free night after just two stays at Choice

This fall, members of the Choice Privileges® Rewards Program can earn a free night when making two separate qualifying stays before November 11. Customers who have four qualifying stays will earn two nights and those with six stays will earn three nights. To take advantage of this great offer, Choice Privileges Rewards members must simply register for the promotion at ChoiceHotels.com/FreeNight and then start staying to get rewarded.

Hilton to launch new Honors option, locations and a refresh

In an industry first, members of Hilton's Honors rewards program can now use their points to shop at Amazon. Members must link their Hilton Honors and Amazon.com accounts by visiting Amazon.com/HiltonHonors.

Changes are on the way at Hilton Garden Inn as the brand is undergoing a refresh. Among the many updates, food and beverage will be enhanced to include healthier and organic menus with new cooked-to-order dishes, small plate items and shareable desserts, along with new cocktails, locally-sourced wines and craft beers. The 24-hour Grab and Go space will offer new items including fresh sandwiches and salads.

Hilton also said it is moving ahead with plans to open 30 new hotels in the UK over the next two years.

InterContinental Group Hotels

IHG will be launching a new midscale brand called Avid over the next 18 months. IHG is describing the Avid brand as "a straightforward hotel for straightforward people with "the essentials done exceptionally well."" The price point for Avid properties is expected to be $10 to $15 cheaper than IGH's Holiday Inn Express. Avid will feature complimentary breakfast, a food marketplace and high-speed Wi-Fi via IHG Connect.



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TRAVEL TIPS

Are you faced with a tight international connection at O'Hare?

Star Alliance has introduced a new Connection Service at O'Hare to help arriving passengers who are facing a sudden tight connection for their onward Star Alliance flight. The Connection Service will be deployed if an incoming flight is delayed. According to officials, "software monitors the transfer window for customers with an onward flight and flags any cases where a customer and any checked bags appear in danger of missing a connection. Designated Connection Service staff members are alerted and then meet the customer on arrival and take the necessary steps to ensure that the customer and the bags are expedited and reach their onward flight." If the passenger still misconnects the staff member will assist with the rebooking.

A similar passenger assistance service is already available in Frankfurt, Houston and Munich. Star Alliance officials say they plan to further expand the service to other airports.

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