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Record-Breaking Holiday Travel Season & 6 Other Stories You May Have Missed This Week


Though FlyerTalk attempts to cover a full range of stories, every week a few fall through the cracks. Here are 7 stories we didn’t get around to writing, but are still worth knowing.

Holiday Travel Season is Projected to be the Busiest Ever

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting 2014 will close with the busiest holiday travel season on record. AAA is attributing the historic rise in plane and car travelers this holiday season to a healing economy and lower fuel costs allowing more Americans to afford holiday trips. The agency predicts 98.6 million Americans will make a journey 50 miles or more from home this year-end season, representing an increase of 4 percent, up from the 94.8 million people who traveled during the holiday season in 2013. AAA is forecasting that nearly 5.7 million of this year’s holiday travelers will fly home for the holidays this year.

Marriott Taps Verizon to Manage New Cloud-Based Switchboards 

Marriott is trading switchboard and phone lines for a unified cloud-based voice communications system managed by Verizon. The hotel group became the first to contract Verizon to provide its new Hospitality Communications Express service. The new communications network will provide voice, phone and data service for guests as well as employees at Marriott properties and corporate offices around the word. The Hospitality Communications Express scheme will reduce the need for onsite equipment and allow Verizon to manage IT support from a centralized location.

Airbnd & KLM Agree to Long-Term Partnership

Only three winners out of more than 10,000 entries won the chance to spend the night in an Airbnb apartment in a converted KLM plane on top of the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), but the two companies have even bigger plans in mind for the future. The airline is growing a program which allows passengers to book Airbnb accommodations at destinations around the world when booking flights. The City of Amsterdam — home of KLM’s main hub — recently reached a first-of-its-kind agreement with Airbnb to formalize regulations and tourist tax collection for apartment sharing and renting managed through the Airbnb website.


Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants Vote to Accept New Contract

Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines have voted to ratify a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. The airline’s 3,400 members of the Association of Flight Attendants union have been working under an expired contract since May of 2012.  Alaska Airlines Vice President Andy Schneider said the new pact was a long time coming, “We are pleased to have a ratified deal after three years of negotiations and thank our flight attendants for their professionalism and the outstanding service they provide our customers every day.” The new agreement makes Alaska Airlines cabin crews among the highest paid in the industry.

Aer Lingus Refuses British Takeover Attempt 

Aer Lingus has reportedly rejected a takeover bid from IAG, the parent company of British Airways. IAG confirmed on Thursday that Aer Lingus declined its offer to purchase the Irish carrier. Aer Lingus has the third greatest number of daily flights at London Heathrow Airport (LHR), where British Airways is based. The takeover bid was viewed as an attempt by IAG to gain more influence over valuable gate space at the notoriously congested airport. IAG’s rejected offer comes as Ryanair is in the midst of appealing a court order to divest its 30 percent stake at Aer Lingus. IAG CEO Willie Walsh previously served as CEO at Aer Lingus prior to taking over the helm at British Airways.

Hawaiian Airlines Inks Deal to Buy 6 New Airbus A330-800neo

Hawaiian Airlines has signed an agreement with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus to purchase six new A330-800neo. The airline is slated to take delivery of the new planes starting in 2019. The new order replaces an order with Airbus already in place for six A350-800 planes. The wide-body A330-800neo is similar in size to the A330-200 wide-body aircraft that serve as a staple of Hawaiian Airlines’ long-haul flights. The new A330-800neo, however, has a 400-mile greater range and 14 percent better fuel economy. The agreement with Airbus gives the carrier the option of purchasing six additional A330-800neo aircraft beyond the six already slated for delivery. Details of the deal were not made public, but the sticker price of the aircraft included in the deal totals roughly $2.9 billion.


British Airways Considers New Design for Club World Cabins

British Airways is said to be pondering a new design and seat configuration for the Club World cabin when the airline’s new Airbus A350 aircraft enter service less than three years from now. In an interview with Business Traveller, British Airways CCO Andrew Crawley refused to rule out a move away from the patented “yin-yang” seat configuration currently found in Club World cabins, stating: “Weight and space utilization will be two of the restraints we will be giving our designers, plus some of the things we know our customers would like us to fix, such as the middle seat, and small details such as the light with the little slider and [creating] somewhere to put your glasses.” Crawley told the magazine it would again use Tangerine, the design firm responsible for the original back-to-front-facing “yin-yang” seats.

[Photos: iStock; Airbnb; Airbus]

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