Spring 2023: Interesting and Impactful News From the Travel Industry
Hello, fellow travel lovers!
As the days grow warmer and the flowers begin to bloom, we can’t help but feel that familiar feeling.
The one that has us pinning our maps and scrolling through airline sites like they’re Facebook.
It can only be one thing – we’ve been bitten by the spring travel bug!
Luckily, the condition is curable. They say the best treatment is planning an amazing trip to a dream destination! And spring is the perfect time for adventurers like us to spread our wings and map out new horizons.
But like many industries, the state of travel is ever-changing. Here are some of the most interesting things happening right now related to travel!
The Passenger Bill of Rights
Though it’s incredible that we are able to travel around the world as easily as hopping on a plane, many travelers are very familiar with some of the frustrations faced by frequent fliers. From delays to cancellations to missing suitcases, many airlines can be quick to say, “Nothing we can do!” when something goes amiss.
In fact, that was the case for many holiday travelers this past December when airlines like Southwest canceled nearly 17,000 flights right before Christmas, leaving thousands of people stranded far from their homes and families with no idea when they would be able to reschedule.
In response to this customer service disaster, two US senators have introduced the Passenger Bill of Rights to provide stronger consumer protections for airline customers. It hasn’t been made into a law just yet, but with the US Senate moving forward with their hearing to investigate the actions of Southwest Airlines during that time, it could become a welcome reality for many travelers.
A few of the initiatives included in the Airline Passenger Bills of Rights include:
- Airlines must offer a minimum of $1,350 USD to passengers that are not allowed to book their flight due to the airline overbooking.
- Airlines are required to refund or compensate travelers for any delays or cancellations caused by the airline.
- Airlines must refund all baggage fees for lost or missing luggage.
- Airlines are required to provide refunds, lodging, food, and transportation for passengers of flights delayed for more than 4 hours, while flights delayed 1-4 hours only require refunds and alternative transportation.
Amtrak is resuming Adirondack train service between New York City and Montreal
After shutting down the service line between NYC and Montreal during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amtrak has announced that it is reopening as of April 3rd! This is great news for many travelers, who have sorely missed the easy trip to Canada.
The entire train ride typically lasts between 11-12 hours, and has many interesting stops along the way in places like Poughkeepsie and Saratoga Springs. Connecting trains can take you to Baltimore, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C., and you can hop on board at any stop along the way.
You can learn more and book your trip here!
East coast beach travel could be impacted by… seaweed?
This might be one you haven’t heard before! CNN reported that a huge blob of seaweed twice the size of the US is headed toward Florida and other coastlines along the Gulf of Mexico.
This particular variety of seaweed is called sargassum, and it has been growing more quickly every year since 2011. While it seems like a bit of seaweed at the beach is no big deal, this phenomenon does impact tourism in the affected areas.
Sargassum can pile up on beaches in piles as large as 6 feet tall, and it gives off a stinky odor similar to rotten eggs. It can also negatively impact ocean life. By its nature, it sucks oxygen out of the water, which can create “dead zones” where no fish or ocean life can thrive.
Cleanup can be a difficult initiative that requires hundreds of hours of work. In the most severe cases, it requires trucks or tractors to properly rake the beaches, which can be deadly to wildlife like sea turtles that lay eggs in the sand.
But don’t let seaweed stop you from planning your spring beach getaway! Research potential destinations carefully to find out if they will be affected by this unprecedented sargassum bloom.
Your future trips could be planned by AI.
OpenAI, the company behind the now-famous ChatGPT AI service, announced that they are allowing the Expedia group (think hotels.com, VRBO, Travelocity, and more) to utilize a plugin that allows customers to plan their trips with the help of artificial intelligence.
Travelers can have a whole discussion with the chat service about what we want out of our trip, where we want to go, how much we want to spend, and more. The chatbot has access to Expedia’s immense amount of travel data, so it can easily help us plan every part of our trip. Once that part is done, users can easily navigate directly to Expedia’s websites to access rewards or discounts and book the trip itself.
While the service will only be available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers upon launch, it is expected to be available to all users at a later date. Planning a trip can be stressful, so any help there is always welcome!