December 2023 E-E-newsletter Recap

Amex GBT Ovation’s (Ovation™) weekly shopper e-newsletter, the Knowledgeable Traveler, retains readers up to date on journey trade information and developments.

Following is a recap of December’s prime 5 (most clicked by Ovation purchasers) e-newsletter tales.

1. TSA WILL BEGIN TESTING A SELF-SERVICE SCREENING OPTION IN JANUARY

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) will start trialing a self-service screening possibility in January 2024 at Harry Reid Worldwide Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, stories Journey Market Report. The trial will allow vacationers with TSA PreCheck eligibility to pick out a self-service screening possibility to hurry up the safety course of. The brand new expertise will ship PreCheck members down one checkpoint lane with 4 built-in stations, every containing a video monitor with directions and a assist button that connects to a TSA officer if extra help is required. Vacationers should go the necessities of every station earlier than transferring on to the subsequent one. TSA Administrator David Pekoske mentioned the thought behind the Las Vegas set up is to supply one other profit to PreCheck members. “For the reason that system is designed to be used in PreCheck lanes, highlighting the advantages to PreCheck vacationers needs to be a precedence. We wish them to grasp the worth we’re making an attempt to convey to them for taking the time to be pre-cleared for journey,” he mentioned. Finally, the TSA’s mission is to hurry up the safety course of at US airports, whereas additionally permitting TSA officers to direct their consideration elsewhere.

2. NEW CULINARY AND GATE DELIVERY OPTIONS ARE COMING TO AIRPORTS IN NORTH AMERICA

New culinary and gate supply choices are coming to a number of airports in North America over the subsequent yr, stories Forbes. Airport culinary concessionaire OTG has developed a cellular app that can enable vacationers the power to order freshly ready meals as much as 24 hours upfront and both be picked up or delivered to their connecting gate. Known as Order Forward, it’s scheduled to be obtainable by Q1 2024 within the 11 North American airports the place OTG operates 350 retailers in 23 terminals. “No matter whether or not a traveler prefers a full-scale eating expertise or the pace and comfort of fast-casual, we all know each visitor values recent, high-quality meals,” mentioned Rick Blatstein, OTG CEO. “Shopper preferences are extraordinarily numerous throughout our airports, so we attempt to concentrate on constantly providing dishes ready with recent, domestically sourced substances that spotlight the distinctive flavors of the encompassing area.” For instance, when the corporate opens Sundown Loop Bar & Grill at Denver Worldwide Airport (DEN) subsequent spring, the menu will embody objects equivalent to steak and eggs with domestically sourced ribeye and Rocky Mountain Trout Salad ready with native trout and produce from close by farms.

3. UNITED AIRLINES INTRODUCES NEW SNACK STATION ON SELECT FLIGHTS

United Airways is introducing a brand new snack station aboard sure choose flights, stories Journey Pulse. The ‘Seize-N-Go’ station will probably be free and options conventional snacks and bottles of water. In response to the service, the complementary snacks will probably be on a first-come, first-served foundation. The brand new characteristic rolled out at the start of December on a flight from Houston to Chicago. The snack station will solely be obtainable on United’s fleet of latest A321neo plane after the primary cabin has been served. A United spokesperson mentioned that the choice of the snacks will probably be depending on the size of the flight, with availability on flights of 801 miles or extra in its introductory phases. The brand new snack station is simply a part of a number of adjustments being made by United. The service additionally plans to revamp its leisure system on choose planes by 2025.

4. US PASSPORT WAIT TIMES RETURNING TO NORMAL

The US State Division has said that processing instances for passport functions are again to pre-pandemic ranges, stories CNN. The return to regular wait instances comes after a number of years of delays because the division labored by means of a backlog triggered largely by COVID-19. Processing time for routine service is now six to eight weeks and two to a few weeks for expedited service, the division mentioned. The up to date instances apply for functions submitted on or after December 18. “With this replace, now we have fulfilled our dedication to return to benchmarks from March 2020. This displays the work of devoted workers working for the American individuals,” the division mentioned. Processing instances for passports reached 18 weeks in 2021 when the State Division confronted unprecedented demand and a backlog of practically 2 million functions. This October, processing instances have been decreased to eight to eleven weeks.

5. DOT TO INVESTIGATE AIRLINE FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS

The US Division of Transportation (DOT) is wanting into airline frequent flyer packages for potential misleading or unfair practices, stories Reuters. In response to the DOT’s report, the company has been wanting into transparency when reserving award tickets, transferability of award miles, and see given earlier than making adjustments to such packages. One different key problem DOT is taking a look at is the devaluation of frequent flyer miles over time that makes it tougher to e-book award tickets. “We plan to fastidiously evaluation complaints concerning loyalty packages and train our authority to research airways for unfair and misleading practices that harm vacationers as warranted,” a division spokesperson mentioned. “DOT officers are actively assembly with US airways and gathering extra info on this problem.” The conferences come as some members of Congress have raised considerations about frequent flyer packages. In October, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Roger Marshal requested the Transportation Division and Shopper Monetary Safety Bureau about “troubling stories” of unfair and misleading practices in airways’ frequent flyer and loyalty packages.