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Airlines revamp customer service policies

Several airlines are making changes to their service policies after a few incidents, including a situation where a passenger was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight, have sparked customer outrage. Most notably, airlines' overbooking policies are being targeted. Federal law does allow US airlines to overbook flights and bump customers against their will. And while there are legal guides in place, airlines typically set their own policies, which customers agree to under the "contract of carriage" agreement that is part of the ticket purchase.

American Airlines is addressing the situation by changing its carriage contract so that passengers will never be removed from a plane after they have already boarded in order to make room for someone else.

Delta Air Lines announced it will make it more appealing for passengers to voluntarily give up their seat by increasing the maximum allowable compensation limit to nearly $10,000 in extreme situations. Before the cap was $1,350.

United announced that it would no longer use law enforcement to remove passengers from a flight, except in matters of security or safety. It also changed its policy so that arrangements for crew movement must now be done at least 60 minutes prior to departure. Then, following Delta's announcement, United also said it would raise its denied-boarding compensation cap to $10,000 as well. The carrier will modify its overbooking levels especially on flights that historically have fewer volunteers. Then, coming in June, United said it will boost its compensation for lost bags up to $1,500

DOT and DHS provide new travel resources

In response to continuing concern over airline overbooking practices and passenger rights, the US Department of Transportation has unveiled a new page on its website that provides details on airlines' overbooking best practices along with the compensation required for passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding. The site also includes information about consumer rights relating to fare increases, tarmac delays, cancelations, and baggage compensation claims. It also lists minimum requirements that airlines must provide for travelers with disabilities. Visitors to the site will find links to a web form for customers to file any complaints direct with the DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. Details can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/flights-and-rights.

The Department of Homeland Security launched a new web page to help fliers decide which of the expedited security screening programs will best suit their travel needs. The site not only illustrates the advantages of each program along with providing cost information, it also offers a questionnaire that asks site visitors about their travel patterns to help users determine which program might be the best match. The programs highlighted on this site include TSA's PreCheck, Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri and Fast. For more information visit https://www.dhs.gov/trusted-traveler-program-comparison.



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AIRPORT SPOTLIGHT

American Airlines grows and enhances its offering to Asia Pacific region

Over recent months American has made several significant moves to expand and enhance its service offerings to the Asia Pacific region. Among the many initiatives, American has joined forces with China Southern Airlines through its commitment to invest US&200 million in China's largest airline. While American already offers daily service to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, the deal will give its customers access to nearly 40 destinations beyond Beijing and more than 30 destinations beyond Shanghai. The deal is anticipated to include through-bag checking and loyalty club reciprocity as well.

Through its long standing partnership with Japan Airlines, American also continues to increase its presences in Japan with new daily nonstop service between New York's JFK and Tokyo Haneda, which commenced on April 1.

American is also enhancing the customer experience by offering a world-class product across the Asia Pacific region. Next generation Flagship First Class suites and Business Class cabins are offered on Boeing 777-200, 777-300 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Customers will enjoy lie-flat seats and all-aisle access in first and business class along with Wi-Fi on nearly every flight. Award-winning chefs and culinary teams are creating new menus to provide a restaurant-like experience. Plus, American is offering top-notch inflight entertainment with personal in-seat, on-demand free options including up to 250 movies, 160 TV shows, 13 radio channels, 375 albums and 20 games. On the ground, American is upgrading all of its Flagship Lounges and access will be expanded to travelers flying in business class in addition to first class passengers on trans-Pacific flights.



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ADELMAN VACATIONS

Loaded with new attractions, Orlando continues to be the premier family destination

With summer just around the corner it's time to start planning your family getaway. Always a perennial favorite, Orlando continues to be a family pleaser as the area's sites are always launching new activities and attractions to keep things exciting and fresh. Adelman's Sarah Van Elsen just returned from a comprehensive tour of Orlando so she could experience firsthand the many new offerings.

Universal Studios

Universal's newest attraction is Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. According to Sarah, "It is amazing, even if you aren't a Jimmy Fallon fan." Guests are first treated to an interesting look at the history of the Tonight Show, which includes fascinating artifacts, props and other memorabilia. The ride itself is a virtual reality simulator that has audience members competing against the comedian in a raucous race around iconic New York City sites. "Everyone in our group loved it!" Sarah said. She added, "Universal is going to be offering a virtual line where guests can make a reservation to experience the attraction by either signing up onsite or by using Universal's app."

The grand opening for Universal's Volcano Bay is May 25, 2017. This all-new water theme park features 18 incredible attractions that guests can experience without having to worry about waiting in line or carrying around rafts when using the TapuTapu wrist wearable, which will hold your place in the ride lines. Sarah notes, "Volcano Bay will only be available to people with multi-park passes."

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to be hugely popular with visitors of all ages. Besides the Diagon Alley area where fans will find many of the Wizarding World's most famous sites, other top features include the multi-dimensional thrill ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Hogwarts Express and Hogwarts Express: King's Cross Station.

For families that want the ultimate park experience, Sarah recommends booking a VIP access package. "After experiencing the VIP access, trust me, there is no going back. The VIP guides take you through the exits of the attractions and place you right onto the ride. There's no waiting and no lines, plus the guides share a wealth of information about the park...It's amazing!"

Sea World

Coming this summer, Sea World's popular Kraken Roller Coaster will become even more exciting as the park adds a virtual reality component to it making it the only ride of its type in Florida. Guests will receive virtual reality goggles when boarding the coaster so while on the ride, they will experience it as if they are underwater.

Also coming this summer, SeaWorld's Dolphin Nursery will offer a more interactive experience and guests will enjoy a new end-of-day spectacle event, Electric Ocean, which features a glowing sea of wonder with bioluminescent lighting and music.

Sarah really enjoyed her time at Sea World. "I think Sea World is a bit forgotten when compared with Universal and Disney, but they have some of the best rides in Orlando," she said. "For example, the new Mako roller coaster that opened last summer is the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in Orlando." Of course the unique wildlife exhibits also make Sea World worth the visit. Sarah highly recommends the Antarctica exhibit and ride. "It is fantastic... I have never been as close to penguins as I was in this exhibit. You could almost touch them."

Disney World

Not to be outdone by its competitors, Disney World will also be unveiling several new attractions this spring and summer including Pandora - The World of Avatar, which is slated to officially open on May 27 and is inspired by James Cameron's 2009 movie. There will also be two new Disney exclusive shows, Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular, which will light up the night sky above Cinderella's Castle and The Music of Pixar LIVE A Symphony of Characters.

For more information or help with planning your ultimate Orlando experience give Sarah or one of our other knowledgeable vacation advisors a call at 800-749-7116.



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FEATURED ARTICLES

The big move coming soon at LAX

As a reminder, 21 airlines serving Los Angeles International Airport will be moving to new locations within the airport over the course of several nights starting on May 12, with a completion date scheduled for May 17.

Affected airlines include Delta, Air Canada, Allegiant, Avianca, Boutique Air, Copa, Frontier, Hainan, Hawaiian, InterJet, JetBlue, Qatar, Southwest International, Spirit, Sun Country, Thomas Cook, Virgin America, Virgin Australia, Volaris, WestJet and XL France.

The various moves will occur after the last flight of the day for each of the impacted carriers on its assigned night(s). During the course of the relocation process, Delta will have flights operating out of as many as four terminals (2, 3, 5 and 6) on certain days until it finishes moving from its current locations in Terminals 5 and 6 to its new home in Terminals 2 and 3. Delta will provide continuous updates to customers through its Fly Delta app, text messages, emails, digital signage and various other means. Passengers using LAX for flights with other carriers should watch for updates from their airline but can also keep up to date on all the terminal moves at http://www.laxishappening.com/laxonthemove.aspx. A comprehensive fact sheet can also be found on the site http://www.lawa.org/uploadedFiles/LAXisHappening/pdf/Public-FactSheet-LAXonthemove-20170419.pdf.

All passengers are encouraged to verify gate information before getting to the airport in addition to arriving earlier than usual.

The big move is all part of a master upgrade plan to transform LAX into a "Gold Standard Airport." Delta is spending $1.9 billion to modernize and upgrade its facilities. Immediate benefits for Delta customers include faster access in and out of the airport along with easier connections to flights operated by Delta joint venture and SkyTeam partners. Customers will also enjoy the upgrades already completed in Terminal 2 and new concessions in both Terminals 2 and 3.



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HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS

Hilton Garden Inn

As part of a large-scale initiative to expand and enhance the brand, Hilton Garden Inn unveiled new food and beverage offerings. Hotels will feature a refreshed breakfast buffet with cooked-to-order options and local specials, new in-room dining options and new retail spaces offering a more enticing range of desired options including locally-sourced food and craft beer. Properties will also feature redesigned spaces that will shift purpose and feel as the day progresses.

Hyatt Hotels and Resorts

Hyatt is teaming up with streaming provider Sonifi to offer news services through the World of Hyatt mobile app. Using the in-room TV, guests will be able to stream individual favorites such as Netflix and Spotify along with personal files including videos, photos or work documents such as business presentations. The service is already available at 14 U.S. properties and will be expanded to more locations in the near future.

Intercontinental Hotel Group

IHG has unveiled a new industry-leading internet solution for guests. With IHG Connect, customers only need to sign in once to access hotel Wi-Fi at all IHG Connect-enabled hotels. Users will receive unlimited connectivity across multiple devices. The Wi-Fi service will be dedicated to better accommodate increased demand and volume. IHG expects to have 1,500 hotels across the Americas set up by the end of the year and will continue to roll out the program to all 5,000 plus IHG hotels worldwide.

In other news, IGH Rewards Club launched this year's PointsBreak promotion, which enables members to book stays at over 100 hotels across the globe for just 5,000 points per night. This promotion is valid on stays through July 31, 2017. Restrictions and limitations apply.

Starwood Capital Group

Starwood Capital launched a new extended stay brand called Uptown Suites, which is designed to offer upscale amenities at an economy price. Hotels will be located within walking distance of dining, entertainment or retail outlets in urban locations and smaller markets. Rooms will feature full kitchens, smart TV's, fireplaces, electric vehicle charging stations and more.



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AIRLINE BREIFS

Alitalia

Long troubled Italian airline, Alitalia, is likely headed towards bankruptcy after its workers voted down a $2.2 billion recapitalization plan. For more than a decade Alitalia has been dealing with financial troubles that included a stint in bankruptcy in 2008. The Italian government says it has no plans to nationalize the carrier. Barring unforeseen outside help, bankruptcy would then be Alitalia's only option.

American Airlines

In a Harris Poll EquiTrend Study, American Airlines was named the 2017 Brand of the Year in the Full Service Airline travel category. The study polled more than 100,000 U.S. consumers. American also received top accolades earlier this year when it was named Air Transport World's 2017 Airline of the year.

As a reminder, American's bonus promotion for customers who are members of its Business Extra program runs through June 30, 2017. Registered customers will earn double points for qualifying travel from anywhere in North America to London, Madrid, Paris or Zurich. Customers traveling between select U.S. cities to select airports in London will receive an additional 250 bonus points. The promotion code for this bonus program is AJB2Q17.

Delta Air Lines

While other carriers are already cutting service to Cuba, Delta revealed plans to add an extra daily nonstop between Miami and Havana. The new flight would commence Dec. 15, 2017 pending government approval.

Delta said it will launch new service from Boston to Austin, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Kansas City and Norfolk starting in September. The carrier will also expand its service to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach in time for the Christmas holiday season.

Emirates Airlines

Airline officials at Emirates said the carrier will cut service on five U.S. routes. "The recent actions taken by the U.S. government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting and restrictions on electronics in aircraft cabins have had a direct impact on demand for air travel into the U.S.," an Emirates spokeswoman said. Impacted airports include Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles and Seattle. Emirates is the largest international airline by passenger traffic.

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