Alaska Ends Voluntary Point Transfers From Virgin America, All Points to be Converted by February 8

Alaska Ends Voluntary Point Transfers From Virgin America, All Points to be Converted by February 8

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The time has come for the Virgin America Elevate program to completely become a thing of the past. As Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America comes to a close — they’re now operating as one airline under a single operating certificate — the next thing to go is your stash of Elevate points.

While the Virgin America Elevate program officially ended on December 31, 2017, it was still possible to transfer any remaining Elevate points to Mileage Plan with a 30% bonus via a transaction on Points.com. As of Thursday, February 1, 2018, that portal has closed for Elevate members to transfer their points to Mileage Plan.

The good news that if you still have points in your Elevate account, they won’t disappear forever. You can still log in to your Elevate account. Once you do, you’ll get a reminder that the Elevate program has ended. You’ll then see both your Elevate and Mileage Plan balances side-by-side.

Although you can no longer manually transfer Elevate points to Mileage Plan miles, all remaining Elevate points in your account will automatically be converted to Mileage Plan miles by February 8, 2018.

Now that the Elevate program essentially now longer exists, it will officially be dead by February 8. The process of Alaska repainting Virgin’s Airbus aircraft with its new livery is underway, and the combined airline will roll out new uniforms by the end of 2019. Bit by bit, we’re seeing Virgin America slowly fade away.

Featured image by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.

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February 1, 2018 at 04:55PM

An Eccentric Masterwork Unearthed in Martin Scorsese’s MOMA Series

An Eccentric Masterwork Unearthed in Martin Scorsese’s MOMA Series

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The New York repertory film scene today is more vigorous, and more
invigorating, than at any time in the decades that I’ve been following
it. Many of the earlier theatres are gone; they closed to a clamor of
nostalgic hand-wringing over the end of an era. But new venues have
arisen and new programmers have emerged, resulting not necessarily in
numerically more choices each day but in a wider range of films. For a
person trying to see everything worth seeing, it’s impossibly
challenging; regarding the state of cinema, it’s illuminating.

With many of the acknowledged classics readily available in something
like library form, via home video, programmers are digging deeper into
the history of cinema and revealing it to be more diverse than it is
often held to be—both in the identities of its creators and in the
artistic forms of creation. Those two forms of diversity are unfailingly
conjoined: the daring and challenging artistic originality of many
directors who are female, people of color, or both, is a major reason
(added, of course, to the industry’s unredressed and even unacknowledged
prejudices) for their films’ unjust obscurity and their makers’
marginalized or thwarted careers. To this end, many repertory houses now also
offer premières of notable new independent films, making clear the
vital connection between the rediscovery of hidden classics and the
revelation of new works outside the industry’s mainstream.

A quick sampling of the series at hand includes “ ’60s Verité,” at Film
Forum; “Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women’s Stories,” at Metrograph;
“Fight the Power: Black Superheroes on Film,” at BAM Cinématek;
“Documentarists for a Day,” at Anthology Film Archives; retrospectives
of the films of Ingmar Bergman (forty-seven of them!), at Film Forum,
and of Raúl Ruiz, at Film Society of Lincoln Center; the periodic
“Underexposed” series at Quad Cinema, which returns on February 13th
with a restoration of Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky’s rarely shown
independent films from the nineties, “Half-Cocked” and “Radiation”; and
films from the Prelinger Archives, at Museum of the Moving Image.

But much of classic-era Hollywood, too, and much of the best of it,
remains little-known and rarely seen, and MOMA is helping out there,
with a two-week series that starts on Thursday, “Martin Scorsese
Presents Republic Rediscovered: New Restorations from Paramount Pictures.” The series offers a variety of engaging curiosities and at
least one electrifying, eccentric masterwork: “Driftwood,” from 1947,
starring the nine-year-old Natalie Wood and directed by Allan Dwan. (It
screens February 2nd and February 8th.)

Republic was a studio that specialized in B-movies, low-budget films,
and it afforded Dwan, a Hollywood pioneer in the literal sense, whose
directing career began in 1911 (and ran through 1961, with more than a
hundred features and about three hundred short films), an unusually free
hand in his choice of subjects. In “Driftwood,” Wood plays one of the
most idiosyncratic and original child characters I’ve seen in a
Hollywood movie, a girl named Jenny Hollingsworth, who lives in a
Colorado ghost town with her great-grandfather (H. B. Warner, whose
first film credit is dated 1900), a preacher whose congregation is now
one—Jenny. When he dies suddenly, she wanders through the desert and is
rescued by Steve Webster (Dean Jagger), a young doctor who’s driving
back to his nearby home town. He takes her in, or, rather, he takes her
into the home of his crusty landlord and friend, Murph (Walter Brennan),
the town pharmacist, and also entrusts her to the care of his fiancée,
Susan Moore (Ruth Warrick), a teacher, whom he can’t marry yet because
his practice and his research (into a grave tick-borne disease) hardly
pays. (The movie looks sardonically at the venerable form of male vanity
that resists a working woman becoming the family breadwinner.)

Jenny, raised by her great-grandfather on a strict diet of the Bible,
can quote it as plentifully, as aptly, and as insightfully as he could.
Moreover, raised in isolation with none of the social trimmings learned
in the playground, in school, or, for that matter, in sociably rooted
families, Jenny’s a relentlessly truth-telling, undiplomatic innocent
who blithely blurts out gossip to its subjects and behind-the-back
sarcasms to their targets. She’s a sort of holy innocent who is also, in
her way, possessed of a religious ecstasy that she can’t even name, and
who, with her sharp hearing, quick discernment, perfect memory, and
unfiltered playback, shatters the small town’s veneer of hypocritical
civility.

Although the themes of the film are earnest, the tone is, for the most
part, bright and comedic (until it veers into near-tragedy). Steve’s a
serious scientist awaiting an appointment to a San Francisco institute,
both to advance his work in a serious laboratory and to escape from the
small town, where his devoted efforts for his neighbors are in vain—they
refuse to let him vaccinate them and their children against spotted
fever, and the mayor (Jerome Cowan) funded a park instead of a
much-needed hospital. The fulcrum of the action is Jenny’s dog,
Hollingsworth, a stray that she picked up after her great-grandfather’s
death. When she’s bullied by the mayor’s son, Hollingsworth chases the
boy off—and the mayor, already seething at Steve’s criticisms, seeks his
revenge. It’s hardly a spoiler to say that the return of spotted fever
to the town becomes a key plot line, and no surprise (certainly not for
anyone who’s seen a few classic Hollywood movies) that science and faith
join forces to achieve progress.

“Driftwood” both typifies and expands Dwan’s core inspiration: his
dramatization of a thick tangle of social connections and conflicting
lines of power and passion that seemingly bring the town itself to life
along with its individual characters. Dwan is classic Hollywood’s great
sociologist, a delineator of deep bonds with deft touches and vital
details, whose teeming visions of small-town life come packed with sharp
and discerning criticism. This sensibility rose to a tragic pitch in
Westerns ( “Tennessee’s Partner” and “Silver Lode”) crime dramas
(“Slightly Scarlet” and “The River’s Edge”), musicals (“I Dream of
Jeanie
”), and even science fiction (“Most Dangerous Man Alive”). The
vigor and immediacy of “Driftwood” can be traced in part to its
quasi-documentary origins, which Dwan discusses in a book of interviews
with him done by Peter Bogdanovich, which is one of the most plainspoken
and insightful movie books I know. The screenwriter Mary Loos (with whom
Dwan worked often at Republic), he said, learned of the real-life
outbreak of an animal-borne disease, and they (along with Loos’s
husband, Richard Sale) worked up a story on the basis of that news.

Dwan’s next film, “The Inside Story,” from 1948, which is also included
in the MOMA series, is set in a small Vermont town. It’s also written by
Loos and Sale and it draws on many similar elements and cognate
characters. It illustrates an idea, about banking, money, and civic
responsibility, that traces back to the Depression (when the story, told
mainly in flashbacks, takes place). It’s lively, too, and features many
thematic similarities to “Driftwood”—but not its near-journalistic
devotion to detail or its range of intellectual and visionary impulses.
It’s recognizably the product of the same artist, but a lesser work; the
difference between the two films is the difference between an intriguing
oddity and a vital creation. And the recognition of that difference is a
question not of historical research or knowledge but of aesthetic
sensibility—of pleasure—which is, ultimately, the touchstone of the
current outpouring of repertory rediscoveries in New York movie houses.

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February 1, 2018 at 04:28PM

Five reasons why travel companies should watch Fliggy

Five reasons why travel companies should watch Fliggy

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This is an article from China Travel Daily.It appears as part of the tnooz sponsored content initiative.

Amazon, Facebook, Google are already good examples of ecosystems that cannot be ignored by merchants and advertisers. But, the challenge is more pressing for foreign brands, including travel companies, when it comes to dealing with the trio of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT).

A marketing technology stack that a foreign company has set up for a non-Chinese market isn’t likely to operate straight out of the box in China. Another example, as shared by IHG, is a market-specific consideration of demand side platforms and data management platforms  as far as China is concerned.

The trio of BAT operates in silos, inhibiting the ability to run data-driven campaigns. And with massive traffic that resides in these ecosystems  users continuously find more reasons to stick to them, brands, too, need to go with the flow.

In this context, what Alibaba is doing, clearly indicates that the group isn’t just focused on digital commerce, but rather it is about being an integral part of the lifestyle of the consumers. Be it for flagship stores, loyalty benefits, content consumption (reviews, destination content etc.) and facilitating payment via Alipay, brands like Lufthansa, Marriott and American Airlines have signed significant deals in the last eight to 12 months to capitalize on what Alibaba’s Fliggy has to offer.

Other than facilitating transactions, there is plenty more to read into why Fliggy is being favored by foreign travel brands at this juncture. The answer lies in what is being done to capitalise on the activity of more than 550 million monthly active mobile users on Alibaba’s retail marketplaces by leveraging cloud computing, data and technology:

Stickiness via innovation:

Alibaba is shaping up new experiences and this means users wouldn’t venture out of the ecosystem. The inquisitiveness about what new technology can do, be it for shopping, viewing content or any activity, keeps a user going.

Examples are new experiences via AliOS operating system for IoT device networks (so as part of offering for connected devices, information on the windshield of the car rather than the smartphone), cloud technology (opening the lock of a bike hired via an app) and video streaming (for instance “See Now Buy Now”, buying something what a model is wearing during a live fashion show). All of this has been witnessed in the last few months – CES 2018 or Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.

Consumption of a product isn’t about only paying for it. For instance, Starbucks opened its most interactive location to date in Shanghai. Identification of an app user from the moment they enter in a location to personalized page as per the preferences to engaging with content about products, fun visuals and animations via augmented reality, all of this is being powered by Alibaba.

Digging deeper into a user’s life:

Alibaba has built on the entire platform model on the belief that data only has value when it’s aggregated, analyzed and, to some extent, shared. So if a traveller on Fliggy.com is clicking on certain sections, then via reinforcement learning done in real-time, Alibaba strives to make an apt recommendation. And this recommendation is a result of what a user does in different areas of life, incorporating preferences in travel buying.

This one of the reasons why groups like Alibaba and Amazon are looking at customers’ behavioral data at the grocery store. So by being a part of a true platform environment, featuring the connectivity of a robust database coupled with the technology of Alibaba and its group companies, organisations can bank on data and the science behind it to come to grips with the trends within one industry, understanding the consumer behavior and all of this across the whole consumer journey – whether they eat, shop, sleep or play. It is fascinating to assess how Alibaba is capitalising on machine learning by training “data” around its massive user base.

So if the open platform is facilitating sharing of data, can it facilitate experiences never experienced before? Say, a consumer regularly orders a fresh food item, a dessert via an online retailer, and this same item is available on a flight. Can it be served to the same consumer on a flight?

“With data, connectivity and the ability to map data, anything is possible. By attaining a single view of the customer, and since consumers are heavy users of Alibaba commerce apps for their activities, and one can further learn about preferences, spending pattern, likes and dislikes, and this can even be shared with other partners. Again, the permission to share is still with the consumer. But this (provisional) sharing becomes a catalyst for shaping up the journey or experiences that they are likely to appreciate. This is the prowess of the platform solution,” shared a source.

Algorithms for valuing loyalty:

One of the major developments as part of the Alibaba’s “New Retail” push has been the merging of Tmall and Taobao Marketplace loyalty programs into a single membership club, 88 Membership program. Unlike the increasing trend of revenue-based loyalty programs of airlines, loyalty in case of Alibaba looks beyond metrics of pure transaction. So the algorithm for loyalty isn’t just about rewarding for purchases, but even for stores visited, the types of goods bought, sharing product pages to social media, writing sharing product reviews etc.

There are more than 50 brands, including global ones, and loyalty schemes of each brand can be connected to Alibaba’s membership system. Also, if there is a hotel or any travel brand, then there could be an exchange and redeeming of points between the two programs for travel planning and retail purchases.

As per the recent deal with American Airlines, there will be a collaboration with the airline’s loyalty program, AAdvantage. It would depend upon the level of a user’s membership with Fliggy. For example, Fliggy F1 members will earn preferred boarding when taking an economy class flight.

Similarly, Marriott and Alibaba are also running an initiative for delivering personalized trip-planning services, VIP travel experiences and exclusive benefits to each company’s membership clubs.

Paying with Alipay:

One of the reasons why Fliggy is being chosen is also owing to the fact the ecosystem can facilitate completion of a transaction via Alipay. Rather than committing an error (that can result in banning of a service) or taking time in localization for any offering, including payments, foreign brands are tying up with WeChat Pay and Alipay to be a part of a streamlined mobile payments process. So be it for a transaction that takes place within China or offline, at a location outside China, it is much more convenient for foreign brands to close the loop with a payment option.

Unified ID:

Alibaba is focusing on crafting one id of the shoppers, naming it as “Unified ID”. Based on the activity within the ecosystem, the team is offering an online dashboard that shows brands who is interested in their products and where they are in that product lifecycle. But realistically speaking, describing a lot about a particular customer to a merchant isn’t going to happen, and privacy issue is one of the major reasons. “The information is going to be shared in a subtle manner, what a consumer’s likes and dislikes are,” a source said. “These dashboards, as Alibaba asserts, are going to help in identifying, targeting, reach and retain buyers. All of this would be powerful enough to come up with relevant product recommendations, personalize the storefronts in the digital domain.”

It is clear that where shoppers are spending time, travel brands need to be there.

So if Alibaba’s platform model can trigger an action from the shopper, make every offline and online touchpoint relevant, contextual, and reward their userbase for money they spend with any merchant on their platform, then travel e-commerce players would find it tough to ignore the prowess of the Alibaba’s platform model.

Related reading:

Fliggy, the online travel platform you (probably) haven’t heard of

How WeChat and Fliggy are keeping one airline awake at night 

This is an article from China Travel Daily.It appears as part of the tnooz sponsored content initiative.

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February 1, 2018 at 04:21PM

News: Aeroflot signs $5bn order for 50 MC-21 planes

News: Aeroflot signs $5bn order for 50 MC-21 planes

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Aeroflot will become the largest customer for the latest Russian-built medium-range aircraft, the MC-21, following a deal between the flag-carrier and Rostec.

Under the terms of the order, Rostec, a leasing subsidiary of Aviacapital-Service, will supply Aeroflot with 50 MC-21-300 aircraft.

The leasing payments and reserves for maintenance will total more than US$5 billion.

The aircraft will be configured for Aeroflot to carry 169 passengers, with 16 business-class and 153 economy-class seats.

In the first phase of the contract the aircraft will be delivered with engines produced outside Russia.

From the 26th aircraft Aeroflot has the option to receive aircraft with new Russian-built PD-14 engines, which are currently undergoing certification testing.

The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery to Aeroflot in the first quarter of 2020, with the order planned to be completely fulfilled by 2026.

Each aircraft will be leased for a term of 12 years, with the option of two-year extensions on the lease no more than three times.

Aeroflot plans to operate the aircraft on both domestic and international routes.

Vitaly Saveliev, chief executive of Aeroflot, said: “The signing of a firm order for 50 MC-21 aircraft is a landmark event not just for our two companies, but for our country.

“Russian manufacturers have created the first next-generation passenger aircraft, marking Russia’s return as a global leader in the aviation industry.

“In today’s geopolitical context we believe it is essential that there is competitive Russian-made technology, and that it is of the highest quality and competitively priced.

“For this reason, our partnership with Rostec, our largest partner and a shareholder of Aeroflot, is of critical importance.”

The MC-21 is a medium-haul, narrow-body aircraft produced by Irkut Corporation (part of United Aircraft Corp) in cooperation with leading Russian manufacturers.

Rostec subsidiaries involved in the production of the aircraft were VSMPO-AVISMA, United Engine Corporation, Technodinamika, Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies, and RT-Chemcomposite.

The MC-21 boasts an innovative ergonomic cabin for pilots and improved capabilities thanks to the unique engineering solutions deployed.

Sergey Chemezov, chief executive of Rostec, said: “This agreement underscores that Russia’s civil aviation industry is making a comeback and taking its place among leading global manufacturers.

“The MC-21 represents a genuine breakthrough achievement for the aviation industry.

“The aircraft uses cutting-edge materials and the latest generation of systems, created by leading Russian companies.

“Elements of the MC-21 that Rostec produces include titanium and composite parts, on-board electronics, chassis components, other systems, and the ‘heart’ of the aircraft – the PD-14 engine.

“We believe that this engine will be selected by Aeroflot as the primary power plant for the MC-21.”

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February 1, 2018 at 03:48PM

News: Oman Air takes delivery of first 737 MAX from Boeing

News: Oman Air takes delivery of first 737 MAX from Boeing

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Boeing and Oman Air celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first 737 MAX airplane, one of 30 that Oman Air will operate as it expands its fleet and service.

The flag carrier of the Sultanate of Oman has long operated the efficient and reliable Boeing 737. 

With the MAX, Oman Air will be able to achieve a double-digit percentage improvement in fuel efficiency.

“At Oman Air, offering the best possible on-board experience is key to our success and the 737 MAX has already earned a reputation for its exceptional performance, efficiency and guest experience,” said Abdulaziz Al-Raisi, acting chief exective, Oman Air.

“The aircraft will be a perfect complement to our 737 family as we continue to expand our operations and play an increasingly active role in promoting Oman for business as well as a unique tourism destination, which is growing rapidly in popularity with every passing year.”

The 737 MAX is a family of airplanes that incorporate the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays, and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

In Oman Air’s configuration, its MAX 8 airplane will seat 162 passengers.

Oman Air’s commitment to enhancing the inflight experience will be evident in both its business and economy class on board the 737 MAX.

The 12 new, specially-designed business class seats will be electrically-controlled offering passengers more privacy with enhanced trim and finishes, whilst the 150 seats in economy will also feature a refreshed interior.

Oman Air ordered 20 MAX airplanes in October 2015 and has since entered into a lease agreement for ten more of the jets.

The new airplanes will grow the Muscat-based carrier’s fleet of 27 737s and seven 787 Dreamliners.

“Today marks another milestone in our 25-year partnership with Oman Air.

“We are proud to have supported their growth and we look forward to the 737 MAX taking the airline to new heights,” said Marty Bentrott, sales vice president, Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Central Asia & Africa, Boeing.

The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating more than 4,300 orders to date from 92 customers worldwide.

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February 1, 2018 at 03:33PM

TSA PreCheck Now Available With Five New International and Domestic Airlines

TSA PreCheck Now Available With Five New International and Domestic Airlines

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TSA PreCheck is a must, even for passengers who don’t travel all that frequently. And, one of the best parts of the program is that it’s consistently expanding by adding new airlines. On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it’s adding five additional domestic and international airlines to the PreCheck program.

The five new partnering airlines include:

With Thursday’s announcement, a total of 47 airlines — both domestic and international — offer PreCheck as an option to passengers. All of the major US carriers now participate in the program, which offers expedited screening, including not needing to remove shoes and laptops from bags, at more than 200 airports around the country. Some US territories, such as Puerto Rico and Guam, also offer PreCheck for eligible passengers.

While there are many airlines that now offer PreCheck to passengers departing the US, there are still some exceptions, such as if your boarding pass is tagged with the dreaded Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS). That being said, PreCheck is worth having — especially knowing that it comes for free with a fee credit from several credit cards.

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February 1, 2018 at 03:15PM

News: Voting opens for World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony 2018

News: Voting opens for World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony 2018

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The worldwide voting window for the World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony 2018 is now open.

Industry insiders, consumers, and stakeholders from around the globe have been invited to cast their votes for the Middle Eastern organisations they consider the very best in the business, ahead of the event.

Ras Al Khaimah – one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE – will host World Travel Awards’ much anticipated ceremony on April 19th at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah.

It will be the first time that World Travel Awards has visited the UAE’s most northerly emirate, which recently entered the global spotlight with the launch of the world’s longest zipline, Jebel Jais Flight, on the UAE’s highest mountain.

World Travel Awards founder, Graham Cooke, said: “It will be an absolute pleasure to visit Ras Al Khaimah for the very first time.

“Fringed by the majestic Al Hajar Mountains amid swathes of terracotta coloured dunes, Ras Al Khaimah promises an authentic Arabian experience.

“With voting now open for our Middle East region, it’s time to make your voice heard.

“Recognition by World Travel Awards is rightly seen as the highest accolade in the industry, and your vote can really make a difference.”

Interested parties are invited to register to vote here.

As part of the Grand Tour 2018, World Travel Awards will also visit Greek capital Athens, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Guayaquil in Ecuador, the South African city of Durban, and Portuguese tourism hotspot Lisbon.

For more information on World Travel Awards, please visit the official website.

More Information

World Travel Awards celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and is acknowledged across the globe as the ultimate travel accolade.

Attended by senior executives from major travel companies, operators, destinations, WTA events are universally respected as providing established, top level networking opportunities, regionally and globally.

The brand aims to celebrate those organisations who push the boundaries of industry excellence.

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February 1, 2018 at 02:49PM

News: Delta rolls of RFID tags for Heathrow luggage

News: Delta rolls of RFID tags for Heathrow luggage

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Delta’s focus on innovation has moved up a gear with the roll out of a new service which allows customers to keep track of their checked bags on its flights between London Heathrow to the United States via their mobile phones. 

Radio Frequency Identification bag tags are added to all checked luggage enabling customers to receive real-time updates on the whereabouts of their luggage from check-in to the arrival carousel.

The tags are read by RFID antennas at various points along the journey and customers receive push notifications via their phones on the Fly Delta app, setting new standards for what customers can expect when they travel with Delta. 

“Carrying more than 1.3 million bags between London Heathrow and the United States each year, our new service gives customers peace of mind because they know we’re looking after their bags every step of the way,” said Corneel Koster, Delta senior vice president, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India.

“Following a successful roll-out in the US, we are on track to equip all of our international stations, including Heathrow, with this technology as part of our continued efforts to improve our customer experience.” 

Initial results of RFID-tagged items show they are tracked at a 99.9 percent success rate, ensuring proper routing and loading.

In addition to live updates, customers can also access a map view of their bag’s journey when travelling in the United States through the Delta Fly app.

Delta – considered North America’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards – has invested more than $50 million to ensure the accurate routing and loading of the 180 million bags it handles each year.

This commitment to reliability has been recognised with Delta recording the lowest mishandled bag numbers in US Department for Transportation data six times in recent months.

The airline’s additional European hubs, Amsterdam and Paris, are due to come online in the coming months with every one of Delta’s 344 airports across the globe scheduled to receive the technology.

Customers who book Delta-operated flights through its partner Virgin Atlantic, can use the bag tracking service on flights departing London Heathrow.

The Fly Delta app is available to download free of charge on all Apple and Android devices.

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February 1, 2018 at 02:24PM

News: Guinness World Records honours Ras Al Khaimah with World’s Longest Zipline title

News: Guinness World Records honours Ras Al Khaimah with World’s Longest Zipline title

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The emirates of Ras Al Khaimah achieved a Guinness World Records title earlier with its latest adventure tourism product – Jebel Jais Flight: The World’s Longest Zipline.

The official certification was handed over to sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, by Hoda Khachab, the official adjudicator from Guinness World Records, earlier. 

Ahmad bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi himself was the first to trial the new zipline this morning, following the official certification.

“This is a great achievement for Ras Al Khaimah’s international tourism ambitions,” said Haitham Mattar, chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

“We are now receiving our largest-ever number of visitor arrivals and are confident that Jebel Jais Flight: the world’s longest zipline, will earn the UAE’s emirate of Ras Al Khaimah considerable recognition on the local, regional and global stage and propel the destination into the major leagues of global adventure tourism.

“The Jebel Jais Flight will become Ras Al Khaimah’s flagship tourism product and will cement Jebel Jais as the adventure tourism hub of the Middle East.

“We are expecting to see an increasing number of adventure tourists coming from across the globe to try this bucket list experience.”

The zipline, measuring 2.83 kilometres, the equivalent to over 28 soccer fields, and spanning the chasm of Jebel Jais, the UAE’s largest mountain peak at over 1,680 metres above sea level, opened to the public today.

It is expected to achieve a strong following among thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies from across the world.

The Ras Al Khaimah zipline is being operated by Toroverde Ras Al Khaimah, the world’s most experienced zipline managers.

“Toro Verde brings to Ras Al Khaimah immense zipline management experience earned through previous projects in Central and South America, including Toroverde Puerto Rico – the ‘Monster’ – which, at 2.2 kilometres, previously held the zipline record now claimed by this ambitious emirate,” said Ricardo Lizano, chief operating officer of Toro Verde.


Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, was presented with the prestigious honour earlier today

Delivery of the zipline, which features a steel cable weighing more than six tonnes and is suspended 1,680 metres above sea level, has been in the planning phase for over a year.

The process involved extensive feasibility studies, master-planning, comprehensive surveys, soil tests and construction simulations.

Maintaining sustainable environmental practices within all construction acts, strong anchor holes were drilled into the rugged Hajar Mountains that alone took over six months.

Thrill-seekers will be suspended above the mountain as they prepare to take the flight headfirst in a ‘superman’ style position.

The experience will see participants fitted with a special suit and equipment for the adventure, with the longest flight itself taking approximately two to three minutes.

Once completed, guests will finish the bucket list flight on a suspended landing platform – unique in the world – where they will be transferred to a second line, measuring in at one kilometre, to complete their journey back to the ground.

“It actually comprises two main zipline cables, allowing friends and family members to experience and race together, adding to the fun and competitiveness of the facility.

“Zipline pilots will experience a flight like never before while being secure and safe.

“While the time and speed they complete the flight in is dependent on weight and weather conditions, the whole experience is expected to last around two to three minutes, with top speeds reaching between 120 and 150 kilometres per hour.

“We anticipate the attraction accommodating a rider every five minutes on the two zip lines, equating to approximately 200 people per day, and around 100,000 per year,” explained Jorge Jorge, chief executive of Toro Verde RAK.

“We also believe given its location in Jebel Jais, which is traditionally 10 degrees cooler than average UAE temperatures, we can operate during the summer months,” added Jorge.

The launch of the world’s longest zipline is another milestone in Ras Al Khaimah’s campaign to transform the emirate into the region’s adventure and activity tourism hub.

With the emirate benefitting from diverse landscape – including the Hajar Mountains and Jebel Jais – it has already built a following among walkers, hikers and cyclists with the campaign taking a leap forward in 2016 with the opening of the highly successful Jebel Jais Via Ferrata (Iron Path), hiking, climbing and ziplining product.

Later this year the developing emirates will also welcome the World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony 2018.

The event, which will take place alongside the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, will take place on April 19th at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah.

Hundreds of industry leaders are expected to be in attendance with more information on the official website.

For more information on, and booking for, Jebel Jais Flight, please log here.

Travel

via Breaking Travel News http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/

February 1, 2018 at 02:09PM

The Anxiety of the Olympics in Korea

The Anxiety of the Olympics in Korea

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One week after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the United States
colonels Charles (Tic) Bonesteel and Dean Rusk, the future Secretary of
State, pondered what to do about Korea. Having extracted Tokyo’s
surrender, the U.S. and Russia were left to deal with (i.e., divvy up)
what had been a Japanese colony. “Neither Tic nor I was a Korea expert,
but it seemed to us that Seoul, the capital, should be in the American
sector,” Rusk later wrote. “Using a National Geographic map, we looked
just north of Seoul for a convenient dividing line.” The Thirty-eighth Parallel,
which divides North and South to this day, had historical
precedent—Japan and Russia had haggled unsuccessfully over the same
boundary in the late nineteenth century. But for Bonesteel and Rusk, as
the journalist Barbara Demick notes, “The division was very random.”

The Thirty-eighth Parallel remains a simmering hot plate in an
otherwise Cold War. It’s also the starting point for an understanding of
inter-Korean and U.S.-Korean relations, even when it comes to a cheery
event like the Winter Olympics. “The Anxiety of the Olympics in Korea” is
a compact guide to the swirl of politics and history unfolding in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This month, as a symbolic rejoinder
to the unnerving exchanges between Washington and Seoul, athletes from
the two Koreas will march under a united flag. “Kim Jong Un saw a great
opportunity with these Olympics to try to neutralize the effect of
international condemnation,” Demick explains. “South Koreans are very
vulnerable to North Korea’s tantrums.”

The games in Pyeongchang come thirty years after Korea hosted its first
Olympics, in Seoul. Months before the 1988 Summer Games,
tens of thousands of South Koreans had risen up against the country’s
authoritarian regime and forced a reasonably democratic Presidential
election. I recall watching the lavish opening ceremonies with my
immigrant parents, on a small Sony TV. As lines of traditional
dancers entered the stadium, to the tune of Korean taepyeongso and changgu drums, I wondered if Mom and Dad felt homesick.

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February 1, 2018 at 02:06PM