Categories
Travel

Cruise Lines to Miss Out on Relief From US Stimulus Bill


The cruise industry is among the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, but the $2 trillion stimulus bill working its way through the government will not provide bailout funds for cruise companies.

a boat in the water: Manhattan, Cruise, Terminal

According to The Washington Post, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the bill would allot $500 billion in loans or guarantees to distressed businesses, but he revealed the companies must be based in or work primarily from the U.S.

Several of the top cruise lines in the world are not incorporated in the U.S. as a way to avoid paying higher taxes and the country’s more stringent minimum wage requirements, including Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) applauded the stimulus package Thursday thanks to its inclusion of relief for more than 30,000 CLIA travel agent members. The industry trade group thanked lawmakers for “reaching a historic agreement to address the unprecedented crisis.”

The CLIA said it would continue working with the government to protect the cruise industry as companies continue to secure loans to improve liquidity, which experts believe should become an industry-wide trend.

“As it relates to the rescue package, cruise lines are not lobbying for a bailout. CLIA and our members agree that the most important stimulus the government can provide on behalf of the wider cruise community in the United States is help for small- and medium-sized businesses, including a vast network of travel agencies, tour operators and suppliers, with a presence in all 50 states,” CLIA spokeswoman Bari Golin-Blaugrund wrote in an email.

The possible exclusion of cruise companies in the bill came as a shock to some considering U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his desire in previous interviews to help the pillars of the hard-hit travel industry, including cruise lines, airlines and hotels.

In addition, executives from the cruise industry recently met with Vice President Mike Pence.

During a press conference Thursday, President Trump said he would support cruise lines being forced to register in the U.S. to receive aid from the government, saying, “We’re going to work very hard on the cruise line business and we’re going to figure something out.”

The stimulus bill also provides $10 billion in direct assistance to airports across the country, but they would be required to retain at least 90 percent of their workforce through the end of 2020 in exchange for the funds.

For travel agents and advisors, the legislation includes assistance for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

WATCH: President Trump speaks about cruise companies (provided by Fox Business)


  • a cup of coffee

    How to decide if you’ll be traveling this summer
    A lot of people are re-evaluating their summer travel plans. Veuer’s Natasha Abellard has the story.

    Veuer Logo
    Veuer

  • Living alone on a paradise island

    Living alone on a paradise island
    In 1989, Mauro Morandi's boat docked on Budelli Island in Italy. Discovering that the island's caretaker was retiring within the next two days, Mauro decided to extend his stay indefinitely. – Great Big Story

    CNN Logo
    CNN

  • Determined to still travel, then a forced change

    Determined to still travel, then a forced change
    Maria Cousins, who's from New Zealand, was set to start some big travel plans despite the coronavirus outbreak, but a development beyond her control halted her plans.

    CNN Logo
    CNN



Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

6 Flight Attendants On How Their Jobs Have Changed Since Coronavirus



a group of people standing in a room

United has reduced its flights in April and May by 90 percent. Delta has cut 80 percent of international flights, and 70 percent of its network overall. As for the third of the Big Three, American—which was already on wobblier financial ground than its rivals—has removed 75 percent of international flights from its network though early May. And on Sunday JetBlue joined them in drastically slashing services, telling employees that it will only operate essential flights, which includes less than half its usual network this week.

Of course, the employees providing service to fliers on those essential flights are the flight attendants. “It’s been tough, on a personal [and] psychological level,” says Mathew, 40, a New York-based flight attendant who’s been with one of the major airlines for 12 years. “Folks keep asking ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ They mean well, but it’s traumatizing.” It’s a reminder, he says, of the challenges he currently faces simply by turning up for work.

Paul Bowles, 24, has been flying for just two years, and is based out of Minneapolis. “It’s depressing. I worked a trip last weekend, and my friend was trying to fight back tears as we did the beverage service on an almost empty flight,” he says. “I am keeping my bags in the garage when I get home, and washing my uniform after the trip.”

Another New York-based flight attendant, who is in her late 30s and asked to be referred to as LJ, also works for a major carrier continuing to fly; under current guidelines, if she does not work as rostered, her income will be impacted. “I feel like a walking Petri dish. We are exposed to so much and we live all over the country, so we are carting back whatever we have been exposed to back to our homes,” she says. “I would rather be home and self-quarantined for everyone’s safety.” Onboard, she’s resorted to ad hoc remedies which she hopes will ward off sickness: lining her nose with Vick’s vaporub and taking Airborne regularly. “Hand sanitizer is the daily norm for me, all day every day, so my hands look like the crypt keeper.”

a.

While the largest union representing flight attendants, AFA-CWA, issued a press release earlier this month outlining its demands to protect cabin crew in flight, it did not call for mandatory self-isolation. For Dana, a three-decade veteran of the skies based out of LAX, the issue is broader than perceived cleanliness of aircraft right now. “Many flight attendants don’t understand how they can be allowed to work on planes with more than 50 people when cities, states, and nations are calling for ‘social distancing’ and to avoid large groups,” she says, noting that on international routes, many countries now require self-quarantine for travelers on arrival. Flight crews, however, are usually exempt.

Airlines official policies on how to implement social distancing at 30,000 feet differ. According to a United spokesperson, the airline now follows the directives of CDC when seating fliers. “We would like to give customers the opportunity to do so when flight loads permit. Therefore when possible, United is trying to seat customers in such a way that there is an acceptable distance between them, in accordance with CDC recommendations, unless they are traveling together. We believe this will help to lessen traveler anxiety.” A Delta spokesperson says that the airline has updated its operational weight and balance policy so that customers can distance themselves on board, and gate agents will also be primed to help with seat reallocation.

There have been other changes made, too. Onboard service standards have adjusted to address the health of both staff and travelers: no more glassware or hot towel service in many premium cabins, and no self-serve snack stations. The rules against wearing plastic gloves while conducting food service have been relaxed, and cleaning of the aircraft intensified: Delta, for example, published details on its various social channels showing how it is fogging interiors. (The process essentially coats every surface with an EPA-approved disinfectant, which can be then cleaned before customers board.) The airline has also co-opted its own museum into a reservation center so that reps can continue handling the enormous volumes of calls from passengers while maintaining social distance for their safety.

GALLERY: The world’s most beautiful libraries

Slide 1 of 23: While we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this is one case in which evaluating something based on its appearance is not only accepted, but encouraged. From Seattle to Tokyo, these beautiful libraries are known for noteworthy exteriors—think soaring architecture and bountiful gardens—and interiors featuring designs like frescoed ceilings or walls made entirely of glass. And that's nothing compared to the millions of books housed within their walls. So whether you're a bookworm or an architecture lover, start adding these 22 libraries to your must-visit list. This article was originally published in September 2014 and has been updated.
Slide 2 of 23: Easily one of the most beautiful libraries in the U.S., the George Peabody Library (part of Johns Hopkins University) contains over 300,000 volumes stacked in five decorative tiers. The books are impressive, sure, but the cathedral like-atrium, marble floors, and wrought-iron details are the main draw here. Is it any wonder the library has become one of the most popular wedding venues in Baltimore?
Slide 3 of 23: Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the Seattle Public Library's central branch building juts out of the downtown skyline. The glass-and-steel edifice stands 11 stories tall, and due to its location on a hill you can enter and exit on different floors. The inside pops thanks to a vivid green color used as a decorative touch on walls and in the elevator—fitting, since Seattle’s nickname is “the Emerald City.” Head to the 10th-floor reading room to take in views of the city, including Elliott Bay.
Slide 4 of 23: If the Vancouver Central Public Library looks familiar to you, that’s because it was modeled after another famous building: Rome’s iconic Colosseum. The nine-floor library complex takes up an entire city block, and includes office space, coffee shops, and retail on the ground floor. One of its most striking features is a rooftop garden designed by Safdie Architects.

Slide 5 of 23: Not only is this Spanish library a work of art, it’s also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally commissioned by King Philip II in the 16th century, the library’s most dazzling feature is a series of seven frescoes that depict the liberal arts (music, rhetoric, astronomy, and so on). The town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which is about 45 minutes outside of Madrid, has long been a favorite of Spanish royals, and there’s plenty more to see here beyond the library, including a monastery, gardens, and the pantheons of former princes and kings.
Slide 6 of 23: Completed in 2007, Tokyo's Tama Art University Library may be modern in design—think concrete arches, glass walls, minimalist furniture, and tidy rows of computers—but it still manages to have a classic, almost ancient feel. Perhaps the 100,000 books add a touch of archaism, or perhaps it's because the sleek structure sort of resembles a vaulted wine cellar. Either way, this complex structure certainly belongs on every architecture lover's bucket list.
Slide 7 of 23: This particular temple to books was originally built in 1648, but was renovated to its current state in 1999. It's colloquially known as the “black diamond” thanks to the shiny black metal segments on either side of the clear glass middle section. Inside, you'll find a veritable treasure trove of European works with a special focus on Denmark (of course), with all of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s original manuscripts and the original copy of the first-known Danish book. The building is also home to the national photography museum, a café, a performance hall, and a large abstract fresco by renowned Danish artist Per Kirkeby on the inside of the ceiling.
Slide 8 of 23: The Strahov monastery in Prague was originally founded in 1143. Despite wars, fires, and other disasters, the order endured and built its library in 1679. The library's best-known features are its remarkable ceiling, which is covered in Biblical frescoes, and the "compilation wheel" that turns to rotate shelves in order to make books easier to find without knocking any of them over.
Slide 9 of 23: Yes, this is a library, but really, it's more like a palace devoted to books. Its limestone exterior was inspired by the famous Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, where it was built before being shipped to Rio de Janeiro. And the interior is just as stunning: There’s a red, white, and blue stained glass window letting natural light in through the ceiling, while a silver, marble, and ivory altar welcomes visitors into the building.

Slide 10 of 23: If China's Tianjin Binhai Library looks familiar, it's probably because photos of the building's futuristic design went viral when the building opened its door in 2017. (It received over 10,000 visitors per day back then, and continues to be Tianjin's top tourist attraction.) Designed by Dutch firm MVRDV, the library features a huge luminous sphere (called 'The Eye') in the middle of an auditorium, cathedral-like vaulted arches, and undulating floor-to-ceiling shelves. There's just one catch: The highest, inaccessible shelves don't actually have books on them—instead, they hold aluminum plates printed with book images. But hey, smoke and mirrors can be beautiful too.
Slide 11 of 23: Stockholm's public library was designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, who is also known for his work on the Skandia cinema and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Woodland Cemetery. The round main hall has books in every Nordic language and a white, textured roof that was designed to look like clouds.
Slide 12 of 23: The next time you're in London, set aside some time to take a day trip to Oxford—specifically the Bodleian Library. The library has been in use since the 1300s (that's practically a thousand years), and its 12 million printed items continue to attract researchers and travelers from around the world. Aside from housing museum-worthy tomes (like the first editions of Jane Austen’s Emma and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species), the library's many buildings are as beautiful as they come—make sure to stop by the 15th-century Divinity School and Old Bodleian Library.
Slide 13 of 23: Located next to Senate Square and the Helsinki Cathedral, the National Library of Finland is easily one of the most stunning buildings in the country. The main building was designed in the early 19th century, with architect C.L. Engel pulling inspiration from Classicism with Corinthian columns, central rotunda, and halls coated with coated with stucco marble. Renovations in the 2010s restored the building's wooden floors and ceiling murals to their former glory and added an underground kirjaluola (Finnish for “book cave”) to store some of the library's three million books.
Slide 14 of 23: If you've ever wondered what a multimillionaire's personal library looks like, look no further than the Morgan Library & Museum. Spread among three buildings once owned by financier J.P. Morgan, this Madison Avenue landmark includes galleries, libraries, a performance hall, and, of course, Morgan's private book collection. Trust us, the library is worth the hype, with gold decorations, fresco-covered ceilings, and three floors of bookshelves—some connected by secret passageways.

Slide 15 of 23: Situated in a concrete cube in the heart of southern Germany, this isn't your average library. The main attraction—a five-story reading room shaped like an upside-down pyramid—looks more like an M.C. Escher drawing than a library, until you notice the hundreds of thousands of neatly stacked books, that is. Cozy? Not really. Beautiful? You bet.
Slide 16 of 23: The Welsh capital has a long history of supporting libraries: Its first one was built in 1861, mostly with public money. The latest incarnation, completed in 2009, is patterned with tall, thin panels of blue, black, and green glass designed to resemble the spines of books. A steel sculpture called Alliance, which represents Cardiff’s journey from past to present, sits in front of the library. At night, the sculpture glows as words in Welsh and English are projected on it.
Slide 17 of 23: Dublin's Trinity College houses the Book of Kells, a ninth-century manuscript penned by monks in amazingly intricate fonts and illustrations. Each page is like its own work of art. When you’re done perusing the famous tome, pay a visit to the library’s Long Room; staring down the 200-foot-long hallway stacked with 200,000 old books might just give you chills.
Slide 18 of 23: As much as we love them, printed books may not be the most eco-friendly things in the world. But everything else about the Beitou Public Library in Taipei, Taiwan, is ultra-green, thanks to a design meant to keep energy and water consumption at a minimum. The two-story wooden building's slanted roof almost makes the library look like it’s winking at you. There are balconies along the sides, too, complete with rocking chairs where you can curl up with your favorite novel.
Slide 19 of 23: Located near the southernmost tip of Norway, Vennesla's library is more than a collection of books—it's a city cultural center and meeting place. The building hosts a coffee shop, open meeting spaces, classrooms for adult education courses, and a cinema. The long, thin wooden beams on the library's interior were designed to look like the inside of a whale.
Slide 20 of 23: Biblioteca Vasconcelos is truly something to behold. Inside, you'll find more than 470,000 books stacked in hanging shelves, with curious details like see-through floors and a white whale skeleton on display. Outside, the 820-foot building (made of concrete, steel, and glass) sits in the middle of a lush botanical garden containing flora native to Mexico. So if you're looking for a little nature with your culture, you know where to go.
Slide 21 of 23: Alexandria was once home to the most famous library in the world. Now, Egypt pays homage to its biblio-heritage with this sleek granite building. The circular structure, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta, is covered in carvings done by local artists and sits next to a large reflecting pool. Although there are plenty of books in three languages (Arabic, French, and English), there are also museums, a planetarium, and a lab dedicated to restoring and preserving ancient manuscripts.
Slide 22 of 23: This library is a study in contrasts. On the outside, it’s an ultramodern glass box, but the inside of the building looks like it could have been a set on a Harry Potter movie. Located in Adelaide, this library places particular emphasis on Australian history, works by indigenous authors, and maps. For modernists, the library maintains a Flickr account where people can submit their own images of South Australian life.
Slide 23 of 23: The Central Library is one of downtown Los Angeles's most significant buildings. On the outside, it's a prominent example of Art Deco design, but on the inside, there's an elegant rotunda whose centerpiece is a bronze chandelier, a sweeping staircase that used to lead to the card catalogues (everything's digitized now, of course), and decorative stencils depicting important moments in California history.

While we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this is one case in which evaluating something based on its appearance is not only accepted, but encouraged. From Seattle to Tokyo, these beautiful libraries are known for noteworthy exteriors—think soaring architecture and bountiful gardens—and interiors featuring designs like frescoed ceilings or walls made entirely of glass. And that’s nothing compared to the millions of books housed within their walls. 

This article was originally published in September 2014 and has been updated.

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

Central Public Library Branch, Seattle

Central Public Library, Vancouver

The Library of El Escorial, Spain

Tama Art University Library, Tokyo

Royal Library of Denmark, Copenhagen

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

Tianjin Binhai Library, China

Stockholm Public Library, Sweden

Bodleian Library, Oxford, England

National Library of Finland, Helsinki

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City

Stuttgart City Library, Germany

Cardiff Central Library, Wales

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Beitou Public Library, Taiwan

Vennesla Library and Culture House, Norway

Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

Richard J. Riordan Central Library, Los Angeles

And as airlines—and the airports that service them—are looking for major bailouts from the government, flight attendants are as concerned for their financial wellbeing as their health. There are persistent rumors that restrictions on flying might extend to an outright ban on domestic service, and much like after 9/11 or during the 2008 recession, many expect furloughs—effectively unpaid, extended leave until economic conditions improve. According to Bowles, his colleagues are already prepping for such a scenario. “I’ve seen threads on Facebook where we’re sharing our side hustles so we can support one another, as some take a personal leave of absence,” he says. “I’m offering to review and revamp resumes for those who take that leave and are looking for work.” Bowles is concerned for his own future as well. He and his husband, also a flight attendant, have a rental property they use to generate extra income—unfortunately, the tenants are cabin crew, too.

“It’s extremely tense, as people are worried about their jobs. Think of it like a reality television show where you are waiting to be eliminated,” says Joe Thomas, 47, who has been cabin crew for 12 years and runs the blog Flight Attendant Joe. “It’s not only tough for airline employees, but for the families they have to leave behind. I have a hard time explaining to my husband that I have to go to work, because he wants me to be home and safe.” Thomas says that many crews are posting more goofy videos than ever about life working on a plane. “Humor in a time like this is helpful.”

There is, however, hope in a return to normalcy. “Our customers have been so very supportive, and they’re grateful to get where they’re going because now they have to, not just want to,” Mathew says. “We’ll be on this carousel for a few months and come July or so, we’ll be back to talking about how expensive tickets are and calming down someone who was forced to check their bag.”

In the interim, however long that may turn out to be, most attendants are taking it day by day. “There is a certain level of grief that comes with this virus. I actually miss people and the beauty behind traveling,” says Jennifer Jaki Johnson, 36, who has been working for a major carrier for six years, while running the travel and style site Jetsetter Chic. But she also notes that many of the flights still operating serve vital purposes: transporting soldiers home to loved ones, rescue animals to new homes, and even donated organs in cargo to key hospitals. “The flights may not be filled—there might only be 10 people—but we’re saving lives. On the bright side, that’s a beautiful thing.”

WATCH: 50 people from 50 states explain how not to offend the locals



a cup of coffee
Veuer Logo
Living alone on a paradise island
CNN Logo
Determined to still travel, then a forced change
CNN Logo


Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Holiday

Disney Halts Work on Avengers Campus

Fans of Marvel’s Avengers franchise will be disappointed.

Temporarily, hopefully.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have temporarily halted construction due to the coronavirus outbreak that closed all Disney parks in the U.S. on March 13. The move affects the work on the Avengers Campus-themed land at Disney California Adventure, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway dark ride at Disneyland, both located in Anaheim, Calif.

The decision was in line with direction from government and health officials, Disney officials said in a statement as reported by the Orange County Register.

The Marvel-themed Avengers Campus is scheduled to open on July 18 while the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction in Toontown is set to debut in 2022.

In addition to those projects, the Register reported that Disneyland also has plans for:

– A $100,000 “crown castle” antenna cell site on the roof of a building in the new Marvel-themed Avengers Campus.

– A $7.5 million attraction building with offices, restrooms and break room for cast members. Referred to as Building 6205, the 120,000-square-foot site sounds like the location for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway behind Mickey’s Toontown.

– Refurbishment of Indiana Jones Adventure attraction. Previous permits revealed Disneyland crews would replace a plank bridge and its steel structure in the show set of the Indy attraction and refurbish rockwork. The latest permits call for the replacement of a motor control center and work on the lighting in the motion-based dark ride.

– A $200,000 renovation of Disneyland’s Frontierland entrance. The project calls for the widening of an existing bridge and the replacement of a pair of 15-foot-tall faux wooden gates and a 16-foot-long marquee.

– A $350,000 reroof of the Cider Mill and Blacksmith shop on Tom Sawyer’s Island. The work includes the removal and reinstallation of a scenic prop platform. The rustic building on the tip of Tom Sawyer’s Island serves as the centerpiece for Disneyland’s nightly Fantasmic water show.

– A $115,000 reroof of Mickey’s House in Toontown where visitors meet the famous mouse and pose for photos.

– A $1.1 million Space Mountain emergency exit exterior staircase.

– Electrical and lighting work in the Westward Ho Trading Co. retail shop in Frontierland.

– And a $30,000 shade canopy in the Simba parking lot used by Downtown Disney shoppers.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Cruises

ASTA calling on airlines to shore up agent protections coronavirus

The U.S. airlines are currently seeking $58 billion in
federal relief due to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis, and ASTA wants airlines to better clarify ticket refund and exchange
procedures as a part of any deal.

The Society has released a list of things it wants to airlines
to do for travel agent bookings:

• Ensuring travelers who have booked through an agency are
advised to contact their advisor to process refunds and exchanges rather than
directly on the carrier’s website.

• Ensuring all tickets are fully refundable and not merely
credited for future travel.

• Permitting travel advisors to process all refunds via ARC.

• Protecting original agency commissions/incentives on air
bookings should the tickets be exchanged or rebooked. 

• Protecting advisor commissions on refunded tickets.

• Confirming and/or clarifying that penalty charges or
change fees will not apply for canceled or rebooked flights during the Covid-19
crisis.

• Ensuring travelers the opportunity to use any credit
issued for unused tickets for a minimum of two years from the original
departure date.

• For those tickets booked on or after March 1, extending
the window for rebooking flights to one year from date of travel with no change
fees.

• Ensuring ancillary fees are fully refunded to the traveler
for any travel booked in 2020 and subsequently canceled.

In a statement, ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said he
commended suppliers that have already relaxed rebooking and cancellation
requirements, but that more relief is necessary. 

Kerby also specifically thanked suppliers who are paying
commissions and incentives at the time of booking, not at the time of travel.
He asked airlines to do the same.

“Recognizing the value travel advisors play in the booking
process and the trusted place in advisors by the traveling public will help
ensure the long-term success of the travel industry as it rebounds in a
post-Covid-19 world,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

WATCH: Passenger Spits On and Slaps Flight Attendant

A passenger is in hot water after a video recently surfaced of him spitting in the face of a flight attendant and slapping her.

According to the Daily Mirror, the incident reportedly took place on a Brussels Airlines flight between a male passenger who said he was struck by a flight attendant after reporting an assault by another traveler on his mother.

The video began with a male crew member trying to restrain a male passenger and the verbal altercation that ensued. Eventually, a female supervisor intervenes and tries to calm the situation down before it gets out of hand.

The woman taping the ordeal said the male passenger had been struck by a crew member and didn’t do anything wrong. Below is the video of the incident shared online (WARNING: caption and audio NSFW):

Passenger SLAPS THE DOGSHIT out of Belgian flight attendant for not social distancing enough. #ChineseVirus pic.twitter.com/z6Dm3yKffK

As the man continues yelling in the female flight attendant’s face, he appears to spit on her as his words become more aggressive. The woman raised her hand to strike him, but he hit her hard in the cheek with a slap of his own.

Passengers watching the situation unfold immediately jumped into action and subdued the man as the video ends with screaming from everyone involved.

Earlier this month, a female passenger flying with Thai Airways last week was restrained after allegedly coughing on an attendant. The flight had been held after landing for more than seven hours while waiting to undergo coronavirus health screenings.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Cruises

MGM Resorts' Statement On COVID-19 Case Involving Guest At The Mirage

WHY IT RATES: In cooperation with the Southern Nevada Health District, MGM Resorts is alerting recent guests and employees of The Mirage who may have had close-up, prolonged contact with one woman who later tested positive for COVID-19. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer

On March 11, 2020, MGM Resorts International (the “Company” or “MGM Resorts”) informed guests and employees that the Southern Nevada Health District has confirmed a case of the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) involving a guest at The Mirage. The Company released the following statement:

“We were informed that an individual from New York who was a guest at The Mirage and an attendee of the Women of Power Summit from March 5-8 has tested positive for coronavirus. Upon learning of the individual’s symptoms, Mirage staff worked in coordination with the state health district to implement MGM Resorts’ health and safety protocol.

Professional cleaners with expertise in this area are deep cleaning and sanitizing the individual’s room, as outlined in the Company’s health and safety procedures and in accordance with CDC guidelines for eliminating the presence of the virus. Access to the room remains restricted as it undergoes this comprehensive cleaning and disinfectant process.

In addition to its pre-existing high standards of cleanliness, maintenance and sanitation at its properties, MGM Resorts in recent weeks implemented temporary enhanced cleaning procedures with a heavy emphasis on public areas.

We are currently coordinating with the Southern Nevada Health District to notify guests and employees who may have had close, prolonged contact with the individual and are directing our employees to follow all self-quarantine requests.

We wish the individual well and offer our support in her recovery. The health and safety of our guests and employees is our highest priority, and we will continue implementing the health and safety steps we’ve taken to prepare for potential health and safety risks and combat the impact of this virus.”

Information on MGM Resorts’ health and safety protocols:

MGM Resorts has maintained close coordination with health officials since the virus first became known and proactively communicates CDC prevention guidelines with guests and employees. The company has taken several steps to plan for potential health and safety risks, including investing time and resources to ensure its properties are prepared for the potential impacts of the coronavirus.

In addition to its pre-existing high standards of cleanliness, maintenance and sanitation at its properties, MGM Resorts in recent weeks implemented temporary enhanced cleaning procedures and protocols. They include:

—Placing hand sanitizer dispensing stations in high-traffic, visible areas such as entrances, exits, elevator landings, and hotel lobbies.

—Increasing the frequency of disinfectant procedures, with a focus on:

– Faucets and toilet flush levers

– Doorknobs and locks

– Entrance and exit doors and door handles

– Handrails

– Slot machine handles and armrests

– Elevator buttons

– Light switches

For more information, visit mgmresorts.com.

SOURCE: MGM Resorts International press release.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Cruises

Royal Caribbean Comments on Liquidity Actions and 2020 Outlook

WHY IT RATES: Royal Caribbean Cruises is increasing liquidity in order to compensate for the detrimental effects of the coronavirus scare and has retracted its previously-released 2020 guidance. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer

Royal Caribbean Cruises today announced that, due to the spread and recent developments related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the company has increased its revolving credit capacity by $550 million, bolstering the company’s liquidity.

The company is pursuing additional actions to improve its liquidity by reducing capital expenditures, operating expenses and taking other actions to improve liquidity by at least a further $1.7 billion in 2020. The company is also planning reductions to the 2021 capital expenditures and operating expenses.

The company had previously communicated that its 2020 guidance did not include the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the recent government actions and the heightened impact and uncertainty of changes in the magnitude, duration and geographic reach of COVID-19, the company is withdrawing its first quarter and full-year 2020 guidance.

“These are extraordinary times and we are taking these steps to manage the company prudently and conservatively,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO. “I am proud of the work our teams are doing to address this unprecedented situation.”

For more information, visit rclcorporate.com.

SOURCE: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. press release.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

Delta CEO Sends Message on Coronavirus

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has sent a personal email to its customers, telling them that the carrier has been preparing for something like the coronavirus for more than a decade.

Looking to reassure a world that is suddenly skittish about getting on a plane or a cruise ship in close quarters, Bastian wrote that it’s important to travel smarter and more consciously.

“As a global airline, we have strong relationships in place with health experts including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local health authorities worldwide. We are in constant contact with them to make sure our policies and procedures meet or exceed their guidelines,” he wrote.

“Operations are our lifeblood. We’ve learned from past experience with outbreaks like H1N1 and Ebola, and have continually refined and improved our ability to protect our customers. That includes the way we circulate clean and fresh air in our aircraft with highly advanced HEPA filters, the new fogging procedures in our cleaning process, how we sanitize aircraft between flights and how we respond if a customer is displaying symptoms.”

Delta has issued a full report on the measures it is taking on its website.

A command center in Atlanta has been stood up to guide Delta’s response, leading a global team of thousands of Delta professionals dedicated to giving customers what it calls ‘a healthy flying experience.’

“This world-class group of airline employees has your back, and I have never been prouder of the women and men of Delta,” he wrote.

In addition to providing customers with the valuable commodity of information, Bastian wrote that he understands the need for travel and financial flexibility. To that end, Delta is offering waivers to all.

“We understand that in today’s world, travel is fundamental to our business and our lives, which is why it can’t – and shouldn’t – simply stop,” he wrote. “I believe Delta’s mission of connecting the world and creating opportunities is never more important than at times like this.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

Still the happiest place on Earth — even as coronavirus hits Florida


ORLANDO — The Disney trip had been planned for months when reports of coronavirus hit the news, and leaders of the children’s cancer charity weren’t about to cancel.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: The Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., shown here in January, has continued to bustle despite the Orlando area beginning to feel the impacts of coronavirus fears. (John Raoux/Associated Press)

They ushered seven kids through the crowded gates of the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, toward the pale-pink Cinderella’s Castle. They snapped photographs as the group posed with Rapunzel and Tiana, a face mask covering one little girl’s smile. They screamed through the gentle twists and turns of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and stayed late into the night for Space Mountain.

Although experts say coronavirus poses a higher risk to those with underlying conditions, there have been few reports of children becoming sick. Among this group, accompanied by a doctor who tended to their medical needs, the virus wasn’t anyone’s top concern.

Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

“When you’re fighting for your life and you have this opportunity to come to Disney,” said Chinos Liner, founder of the Cancun-based Chinos Cause for Cancer, “I think you forget about what happens in the world.”

Beyond the polished grounds of the park this week, anxiety over the virus mounted. The death toll surpassed 3,400 by Saturday as countries reported ever-increasing numbers of infections and global financial markets reeled.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared a state of emergency Sunday after two people tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, in areas outside of Orlando. At a press briefing Monday, Vice President Pence did not directly answer a question about whether he would feel comfortable bringing his family to Disney World during the outbreak, offering only: “I travel across this country all the time.”

Four additional cases were discovered during the week, bringing the state’s total to six. Late Friday, the Department of Health announced the state’s first deaths, two patients in their 70s who each returned from international trips. Meanwhile, 278 people were being monitored.

On financial websites and Disney fan blogs this week, observers fretted over vacations to the parks and investments in the company. They raised the specter of Disney closing its theme park locations in the United States — something that’s happened only during hurricanes and the 9/11 terrorist attacks but became more tangible to some after Disney’s Asia parks shuttered late last month.

a group of palm trees and a fence: A closure sign stands in front of the entrance to Walt Disney Co.'s Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong, temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, on March 5. (Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

“It’s not outlandish to think that we could eventually bump up against the world’s leading theme park operator temporarily closing down its iconic theme parks on both coasts,” analyst Rick Munarriz wrote on the investment advice site the Motley Fool. “Even if Disney doesn’t resort to locking down its entrance turnstiles, the growing number of worrisome headlines will eventually weigh on travel plans.”

There has not been official guidance on travel to unaffected parts of the United States or to large gatherings of people. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the virus inevitably will spread widely within the country, potentially requiring communities to “modify, postpone, or cancel mass gatherings.”

This week, though, busloads of people streamed into the Magic Kingdom, the world’s most-visited theme park. Children cheered as Mickey and Minnie skipped across the steps of Cinderella’s Castle. Costumed Disney characters embraced fans and held them close for photos. Lines for rides stretched an hour long late into the afternoon; conversations revolved around which rides to try or memories of past visits.

The coronavirus was on the front pages of the newspapers stacked in Disney resorts but not on the forefront of visitors’ minds.

“It’s here, right? It’s not like you can bunker down and become a hermit,” said Patrick White, 57, who came from Chicago with his adult daughter. “Or you can, but to me that would be very lonely.”

There was the occasional sight of someone whipping out a bottle of Purell, and park officials reported adding hand sanitizer stations throughout the parks — although few were visible at the Magic Kingdom Wednesday. Employees at two stores said they had none left for sale.

“Right now, all the parks are in planning stages,” said Duncan Dickson, a former Disney executive and retired professor from the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “They’re playing ‘What if.’ What if this happens? What if this happens? They’re making contingency plans.”

‘Still open for business’

Orlando is the tourism capital of the United States, the driver of a $75 billion industry in Central Florida. Even as fear over the coronavirus crept closer, with the cancellation of five conferences dealing an estimated $186 million blow to Orange County by the end of the week, some seemed reluctant to discuss its potential impact.

The city’s mayor and at least one commissioner offered only a prepared statement declaring that the city “will continue to monitor and work closely with the County and State Health Department.” The University of Central Florida barred a hospitality professor from giving interviews about the virus’s potential impact on tourism, instead referring inquiries to top administrators.

Becca Bides, vice president of marketing for Orlando’s tourism bureau, said in prepared comments that there had been “no significant impact” to leisure visitation, adding that 91 percent of visitors come from within the United States. She said the region “does not have direct air service to China or any country currently under a U.S. travel advisory.”

Disney representatives did not respond to multiple interview requests from The Washington Post. In a post on the company’s blog, chief medical officer Dr. Pamela Hymel wrote Disney was “in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance.” She noted the parks have “high standards of cleanliness” and are implementing preventive measures in line with CDC recommendations.

Similarly, Universal Orlando Resort said in a statement officials were reinforcing health and hygiene procedures, enhancing cleaning protocols and “ready to act as needed.”

In the wake of the first three convention cancellations, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings at a news conference Thursday said the county remained free of confirmed cases. He called the risk to the community “very low,” adding that leisure travel remained strong.

“We invite families and others to consider vacationing here, especially during spring break,” said the mayor, the husband of U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D). “We are still open for business here in Orange County.”

a group of people posing for a photo: Children with Chinos Cause for Cancer pose with a princess at the Magic Kingdom. (Jamie Bachant)

But elsewhere in the Sunshine State, even areas without confirmed cases were seeing tourism ramifications. On Friday, Miami leaders called off Ultra Music Festival, a three-day event set to begin March 20. With about 170,000 attendees last year, the festival’s economic impact in Miami-Dade County has been estimated at $168 million.

Some in the Orlando tourism industry said they fear for the spring and summer months. Orlando Travel Company owner Ashley Moss, whose family has been in the business for three decades, said she had been moving “full steam ahead” — until the second half of the week.

Bookings remained stable, but her optimism slipped as she read news reports and contacted vendors about availability for April and beyond.

“The hard part about this is there’s really no way to prepare for it, and there’s really no way to tell which direction this is going to go,” Moss said. “Is it going to get worse, or is it going to get better at some point? I’ve never seen anything like this. My family’s been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

At Fun Spot, a small, family-owned park just off the touristy International Drive, carts of people sped up and down the White Lightning and Freedom Flyer roller coasters. It was a normal day, said John Chidester, the park’s vice president of marketing. There had been no downturn in sales or interest.

“I think we’re all waiting,” he said. “We’re waiting to see how the story unfolds. I don’t think anyone is taking it any further than that, because nobody knows what will end up occurring. Are we hopeful? Yes.”

Albert Ko, a professor of epidemiology and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health, said the country appeared to be entering a phase of the virus where people might need to consider reducing unnecessary travel and avoiding large gatherings in close quarters.

At that stage, he said, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive.

“When do you pull the trigger?” Ko said. “That’s kind of the unknown, or the uncharted territory.”

For now, Orlando International Airport remained crowded with visitors. Demings, the Orange County mayor, said in an interview he was optimistic leisure tourism would stay strong, believing that even amid a public health crisis “people will want to travel, will want to relax in environments where they feel safe.”


  • Crew member performs beatbox routine for passengers

    Crew member performs beatbox routine for passengers
    Passengers on Matthew Viers’s Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas, Nevada, were treated to a short beatbox performance by a crew member on March 5, 2020. The video shows a crew member beatboxing at breakneck speed into the public-address system. Passengers can be heard cheering him on at the end of his performance. Viers told Storyful that the crew member had just finished reciting the emergency procedures before he broke into the vocal performance. Viers captioned the video, “How does @SouthwestAir hire this talent and have the best customer service in the industry?” Credit: matthewviers via Storyful
    Storyful Logo
    Storyful

  • Why you shouldn't use seat pockets

    Why you shouldn’t use seat pockets
    Flights are becoming less and less pleasant, and with everything going on right now it’s okay to be paranoid and take a bit of extra precaution. Flight attendants have found some pretty nasty things inside of the seat pockets and advise travelers not to use them. Veuer’s Johana Restrepo has more.
    Veuer Logo
    Veuer

  • a car in a cage

    The best and worst airline to travel with your pet
    Traveling with your pet can get expensive, but we have a list of a few airline that charge affordable fees. Buzz60’s Taisha Henry has the story.
    Buzz60 Logo
    Buzz60


The Washington Post Logo
Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

How to get a refund on a nonrefundable hotel room


Look at your travel itinerary. Notice anything? Look closely, because your hotel reservation may be totally nonrefundable.

Hotel Room. Yina Ma/Getty Images

What that means is, if you have second thoughts about traveling and want to get a refund on a nonrefundable hotel room, you might be out of luck.

Sometimes, you don’t even have a choice. Consider what happened to Liam Goodman. He booked a last-minute nonrefundable hotel room in New York from Priceline. When the property ran out of rooms and he had to stay at another hotel, Priceline didn’t refund his money.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

“Priceline says I never checked in and was a no-show,” says Goodman, a photographer from Beacon, New York.

Nonrefundable hotel rooms are becoming more popular

Nonrefundable – or “prepaid” – hotel rooms seem to be becoming more common. The deal is simple: You pay in advance for a hotel room, and you get a modest discount. Unlike airline tickets, there’s no chance for a refund, even if you change your mind within 24 hours of making the reservation.

If you’re stuck with one of these nonrefundable hotel rooms, don’t worry. There are actually ways to get your money back. But maybe the best strategy is to avoid these tricky hotel reservations in the first place.

Goodman wishes he had. He could have avoided the trouble by asking his original hotel to “walk” him to a comparable property, which is a hotel industry standard practice. Instead, he contacted Priceline for help – and got turned down. I asked Priceline about his case. The company reviewed its records and discovered that he wasn’t a no-show after all, and the agency offered him a full refund.

So you want a refund for a nonrefundable room?

I asked frequent travelers how they’ve received refunds for nonrefundable rooms. Turns out, many have:

When the hotel isn’t as advertised. I’ve seen many cases where the hotel fell short of expectations. All bets are off when that happens. Take a lot of photos and appeal to the highest level possible – and, if necessary, to your credit card company. If the answer is still “no,” you might be able to salvage your stay. For example, when Heidi Vanderlee discovered she’d have to share a bathroom with another guest in her London hotel, she appealed to her online travel agent. After a lot of back and forth, the online agency fixed her reservation, allowing her to upgrade to quarters with a private bathroom. “Could have been a much worse outcome,” says Vanderlee, a publicist who lives in New York.

When you’re sick. That’s what Grant Sabatier discovered recently when he fell ill and canceled a nonrefundable hotel room in Washington, D.C. A valid medical excuse can secure a full refund. But he had to call the hotel three times before it saw things his way. “This has only worked for me when booking directly with a hotel,” adds Sabatier, the founder of the financial advice site Millennial Money. 

When your circumstances change. Hotels understand that your plans can change. Chris Michaels recently asked for a refund for two nonrefundable nights at a chain hotel in Chicago. “In a friendly manner, I explained to a front-desk employee that I was part of the large tournament in town and that my team had been eliminated from the tournament. I also said I was a rewards member of the chain and I’ve stayed at that location in the past,” recalls Michaels,the founder of a personal finance site Frugal Reality. “The hotel offered to charge me a $50 cleaning fee to get out of the remaining balance for the night. Needless to say, I paid it and headed home.”

When you have a death in the family. Alex Beene had to cancel a nonrefundable reservation when a relative died. The hotel forwarded him to a “skeptical” manager. “But when I offered to provide documentation, he offered to go on and refund my stay and offered me condolences,” says Beene, who works for the state of Tennessee. “Just the idea that you have written justification for canceling a nonrefundable stay will show the hotel how serious you are about the claim.”

What if you don’t have a case?

Sometimes, people just want a refund on a nonrefundable room without a valid reason. And why not? Hotels can often resell the rooms, so it’s only fair that we should receive at least some of the money back, right?

Frequent hotel guests like Anna DiTommaso, who owns a web design firm in Dallas, say it’s worth a try at least. 

“The hotel has the legal right to keep the money,” she says. “But I’ve found that if you have a reasonable excuse for canceling the room, most places will offer you a refund without you even having to ask.” 

I agree. “Prepaid” rooms and nonrefundable rates are not customer-friendly. The discounts are too small and the risks too big. Often, guests don’t even know they have a nonrefundable rate until it’s too late. Yep, hotels bury the terms in their fine print, just like other travel companies.  

Bottom line: Nonrefundable hotel rooms shouldn’t exist. But they do. Now you may have a way around them.

Ways to avoid getting stuck with a nonrefundable hotel room

Travel insurance. If you have to cancel your hotel stay for a covered reason, you can receive reimbursement for your nonrefundable hotel cost from your insurance company. Seven Corners CEO Justin Tysdal recommends a “cancel for any reason” benefit. “It allows you to cancel your trip for any reason you wish,” he says. “That way, should anything unexpected occur, you can cancel your trip and receive at least 75% of your nonrefundable trip cost back.”

Change the date of your reservation. Sometimes, nonrefundable hotel rooms can be changed to a future date. Andy Abramson, who runs a communications firm in Los Angeles, says for some hotels, once you move the date, you can ask for – and receive – a refund. “I’ve used this trick several times.”

Resell the room. Yes, it’s possible. “You can resell your nonrefundable hotel bookings to other people and receive a refund that way,” says Galena Stavreva, CEO of SpareFare.net, which facilitates these room changes. She says hotels allow for changes of the name of the main guest under the reservation. Booking and Expedia facilitate name changes as well. You can recover some or all of your hotel room costs.


  • Crew member performs beatbox routine for passengers

    Crew member performs beatbox routine for passengers
    Passengers on Matthew Viers’s Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas, Nevada, were treated to a short beatbox performance by a crew member on March 5, 2020. The video shows a crew member beatboxing at breakneck speed into the public-address system. Passengers can be heard cheering him on at the end of his performance. Viers told Storyful that the crew member had just finished reciting the emergency procedures before he broke into the vocal performance. Viers captioned the video, “How does @SouthwestAir hire this talent and have the best customer service in the industry?” Credit: matthewviers via Storyful
    Storyful Logo
    Storyful

  • Why you shouldn't use seat pockets

    Why you shouldn’t use seat pockets
    Flights are becoming less and less pleasant, and with everything going on right now it’s okay to be paranoid and take a bit of extra precaution. Flight attendants have found some pretty nasty things inside of the seat pockets and advise travelers not to use them. Veuer’s Johana Restrepo has more.
    Veuer Logo
    Veuer

  • a car in a cage

    The best and worst airline to travel with your pet
    Traveling with your pet can get expensive, but we have a list of a few airline that charge affordable fees. Buzz60’s Taisha Henry has the story.
    Buzz60 Logo
    Buzz60


USA TODAY Logo
Source: Read Full Article