News: Breaking Travel News Special Edition: Arabian Travel Market 2017

News: Breaking Travel News Special Edition: Arabian Travel Market 2017

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Arabian Travel Market, the Middle East’s leading travel industry showcase, opens its doors four days of business networking opportunities, insightful seminar sessions and top level ministerial discussions.

Here Breaking Travel News brings you all the latest new from the key players at this year’s event in our Special Edition magazine.

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April 23, 2017 at 10:03PM

Cartoons from the May 1, 2017, Issue

Cartoons from the May 1, 2017, Issue

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April 23, 2017 at 10:02PM

“We Run Away from Desperation:” Thoughts on Pursuing a Creative Idea

“We Run Away from Desperation:” Thoughts on Pursuing a Creative Idea

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I recently recorded a Side Hustle School episode about Michelle D’Avella, a designer who spent several years building a blog before turning it into a full-time income. The episode comes out next week, and ever since I made the recording I’ve been thinking about something she said.

The first year she started her blog, she made $0. Last year, after experimenting with a series of virtual workshops and mentoring sessions, she made $50,000. The success isn’t just about making money, it’s also (maybe even more importantly) about finding work she believes in.

Her advice to others is to create from a place of joy.

Don’t put so much pressure on figuring it all out, but make sure what you’re doing is something you can feel good about. When we create from joy, people feel it. When we create from lack, people feel it too. Human beings are attracted to abundance. We run away from desperation. So make sure the thing you are doing is something you believe in.”

I’ve been pondering this because as I look back over the past decade, I can clearly identify the seasons in which I was “creating with joy.” I felt energized and motivated. I worked hard, often early in the morning until late at night, but with a sense of purpose. Alternatively, I can also identify seasons in which I was creating with an intention that was less-than-joyful. In my case, I’m not sure I was doing so out of desperation, but I certainly wasn’t doing so from my true self.

That’s a great way to frame your intentions: choose joy, not desperation.

Looking back, I also realize that creating from a sense of joy often begins with more of a feeling than a well-developed concept. You don’t always know where you’re going or what the end result will be. When I started writing, that’s how it was for me: I felt as though I was guided by an internal compass. Sometimes I got off track, but when I stayed with that sense of joy and delight, everything I did was easier.

What I did during those seasons of creative joy was also more successful in terms of response. These two values—creating something you believe in and creating work that elicits a positive response—are not always so closely interlinked, but it’s nice when you find the overlap.

What project are you working on—and how can you create from a sense of joy?

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Image: Ian

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April 23, 2017 at 03:55PM

Eyewitness Accounts Differ Dramatically in AA Stroller Incident

Eyewitness Accounts Differ Dramatically in AA Stroller Incident

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More details are emerging about what really happened on American Flight 591, in which an AA employee got into a verbal altercation with a passenger after taking a stroller away from a woman with a baby. The main question is what exactly transpired in the minutes before the video started. And in this case, there are more than two sides of the story.

First, there are the brief comments from Surain Adyanthaya, the original uploader of the video, who wrote in the text included with the video on Facebook that an “AA Flight attendant violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby.” Aside from a comment soon afterward — that “they just in-voluntarily escorted the mother and her kids off the flight and let the flight attendant back on, who tried to fight a passenger” — we haven’t heard anything more from Mr. Adyanthaya as of this writing.

The New York Times and Tribune Media have tracked down witnesses who were passengers on the flight. Tom Watson, who saw the incident from his seat in the front of the economy cabin, told Tribune Media that “the lady and her two children were seated near the back of the plane. She was somehow able to get her stroller on board and back near her seat.” He said the flight attendant then approached the woman, telling her she couldn’t keep her stroller, but she refused to give it up. “She was almost to the point of shouting,” he said.

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The captain of AA Flight 591 and the woman with the stroller. Photo by Surain Adyanthaya.

Watson said the woman and the flight attendant then made their way to the front of the cabin, where Olivia Morgan, a passenger on the flight, was standing in the doorway with her young daughter as the episode unfolded. Morgan says she witnessed the flight attendant wrestle the stroller away from the sobbing woman. “He jerked it away from her and almost hit the baby in the head,” she said to The New York Times. Watson also confirmed that the flight attendant nearly hit the woman’s children with the stroller.

However, late Saturday night another story appeared on Facebook courtesy of Gailen Lee David, a former American flight attendant who was sued by the airline in 2012. David posted an alleged eyewitness account from a man named Eric, who says in part:

“I was on this flight directly across the aisle from the woman filming the video… The flight attendant picked up the stroller and lifted it over his head to try and move past the woman. As he was doing this she pushed him and the stroller fell a bit and struck her in the face. She began crying loudly and dramatically. Shortly after this is where the video begins.”

This account conflicts with the others in that it puts partial blame on the woman rather than on the flight attendant. However, the eyewitness also claims to have been sitting across from “the woman filming the video.” In fact, Surain Adyanthaya, the person who uploaded the video, is a man, which casts some doubt on Eric’s explanation.

All three witnesses agree that the woman was able to bring a large stroller on board the aircraft. Whether the woman was told to leave the stroller at the end of the jetway to be checked as baggage is unknown, but at the least she should have been stopped at the cabin door if there wasn’t room for the stroller.

Both eyewitnesses who saw the beginning of the incident — the third eyewitness was at the front of the plane and only saw that portion of the confrontation — also agree that the woman refused to give up the stroller and became agitated. Obviously that doesn’t excuse the flight attendant’s aggressiveness (and the behavior of the AA employee in the video is unacceptable no matter what the circumstances, regardless of what the airline’s union might believe). Airline personnel should attempt to calm a heated situation, not throw gas on the fire.

We have not yet heard from the two key people in this incident — the American employee involved in the altercation and the woman with the stroller. Given AA’s investigation, it’s unlikely we’ll hear directly from the employee anytime soon, and the woman, who is reportedly from Argentina, was on her way out of the country and is no longer in the US.

So unless another video appears showing the origins of this event, we’ll likely have to continue to slowly put this story together bit by bit.

H/T: Live and Let’s Fly

Featured image courtesy of Juanmonino/Getty Images.

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April 23, 2017 at 03:16PM

Plastc Shuts Down Without Ever Producing an Actual Product

Plastc Shuts Down Without Ever Producing an Actual Product

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Earning lots of points and miles means having lots of credit cards, and having lots of credit cards means either carrying around an enormous wallet or being forced to leave most of your cards at home. So a few years ago, several companies announced plans to create all-in-one “smart card” devices, with the idea being that you’d electronically “load” your multiple cards into one credit card device which would then be the only card you’d carry in your wallet.

Unfortunately, this has always been an idea that’s easier to propose than execute. Banks are understandably not thrilled with the idea of devices that “copy” information from credit cards, and with EMV chip technology now more common across the US credit card market, creating a device that could work everywhere at a reasonable cost was always a difficult prospect.

So perhaps it shouldn’t be that surprising that Plastc, a company that claimed to be producing such a device, informed customers in a letter posted to its website on April 20 that instead of doing so, it has laid off all its staff and will file for bankruptcy:

IMG-plastc-shut-down-website

The letter goes on to explain that two different rounds of expected additional investor funding fell through, resulting in the company being unable to move into production. The really bad news here is that folks who pre-ordered a Plastc card but will never actually get it won’t be getting any of their money back either.

Plastc isn’t the first all-in-one smart card to kick the bucket. The Coin card, which was announced in 2013 and actually made it into production, was shut down this past February after the service was purchased by Fitbit in 2016, although you can still use an existing Coin card until the battery runs out so long as you don’t need to load any new credit cards to it. But the bigger issue in this case is that Plastc — which is unrelated to the similarly named bill payment service Plastiq — raised a reported $9 million in pre-orders, yet those customers who paid up to $155 in advance for a card are out of luck.

It’s always risky to pre-pay for a product that doesn’t exist yet, but when it comes to smart cards, at this point one should probably be ultra wary of any startups claiming to have cracked the code. In the meantime, while you can’t use mobile payments everywhere yet, at least you probably don’t have to worry about the companies behind Apple Pay or Android Pay disappearing anytime soon.

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April 23, 2017 at 12:00PM

On This Week’s Episode of Generic Medical Drama

On This Week’s Episode of Generic Medical Drama

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April 23, 2017 at 10:13AM

Is Mercury in Retrograde Causing These Airline Incidents?

Is Mercury in Retrograde Causing These Airline Incidents?

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I’ve been doing a lot of press around all these recent airline incidents, and the question is why is this happening? It seems like there’s been an increase in these crazy incidents, and certainly the severity level of them.

If you ask the union chief of American Airlines’ flight attendants, there are a lot of factors at play, including shrinking overhead bins and increased flight attendant schedules. After the United incident, I wrote a post about 4 Ways We Can Bring Humanity Back to American Aviation and the solutions are complex. But why would all these incidents be happening now?

Well, I found out the answer and it’s going to shock you… Mercury is in retrograde.

Solar System - Planet Mercury. Elements of this image furnished by NASA
Damn you, Mercury! Stop wreaking havoc on our already stressed aviation system! Elements of this image furnished by NASA. Courtesy Getty Images.

Per the vaunted Old Farmer’s Almanac, here’s what “Mercury in retrograde” actually is:

Several times a year, it appears as if Mercury is going backwards. This time was traditionally associated with confusions, delay, and frustration.

The planet Mercury rules communication, travel, contracts, automobiles, and such. So, when Mercury is retrograde, remain flexible, allow time for extra travel, and avoid signing contracts.

You can’t stop your life, but plan ahead, have back-up plans, and be prepared for angrier people and miscommunication.

You tell me if that doesn’t sound exactly like what’s been happening. And look at the timeline of events:

April 9 — Mercury goes into retrograde. The exact same day, the United #BumpGate incident occurs, kicking things off with a bang!

April 16 — United throws a bride and groom off their flight enroute to their wedding.

April 21 — An American Airlines employee gets into a verbal altercation with a passenger that nearly comes to blows.

April 23-May 2 — ?!?!?! (Delta, you’re up next!)

May 3 — The last day Mercury will be in retrograde for now. Everyone should remain on high alert until this day.

danger level conceptual meter indicate hundred per cent, isolated on white background
Remain on high alert until May 3. This is not a drill. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

For future travel reference, there are two other sets of dates in 2017 you’ll need to watch out for since Mercury will be in retrograde again. They are August 13 through September 5 and December 3 to 23.

Luckily my flights have been uneventful thus far, but I will personally be on high alert until we’re out of danger. What do you think? Am I crazy here?

Featured image courtesy of pidjoe/Getty Images.

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April 23, 2017 at 10:10AM

News: Arabian Travel Market 2017: Retail therapy booms in Middle Eastern hospitality

News: Arabian Travel Market 2017: Retail therapy booms in Middle Eastern hospitality

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Arabian Travel Market 2017: Retail therapy booms in Middle Eastern hospitality

Hotels developed in and around the Middle East’s shopping malls can expect to post an average daily rate a quarter higher than hotels that are not co-located with a major retail development.

The findings are published in a report by Colliers International, released for Arabian Travel Market.

As part of its experiential travel series, Colliers concluded that hotels such as those clustered around Dubai’s Mall of The Emirates and The Dubai Mall, enjoy stronger business performance overall – not only beating seasonal fluctuations in tourist arrivals, but contributing in the drive to attract more tourists over the traditionally quiet summer season.

Simon Press, senior exhibition director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “In the UAE, the idea of a combined retail, leisure and entertainment destination has really taken off.

“We have hotels attached to malls and, as such, these are much sought after properties.

“There is massive demand for urban tourism from Indian, Arab and Chinese visitors.

“Since the opening of Mall of the Emirates in 2006, the number of hotels and serviced apartments in the area has risen from four to 58 in 2017, totalling 8,654 keys.

“While only two of these hotels are physically part of the mall building, the remaining 56 have also demonstrated strength across all performance metrics.”

For retail tourists, shopping malls and the facilities they feature – from indoor ski slopes to aquariums – form an integral part of trips to the UAE.
Hotels capitalise on this by offering promotional packages and free transportation, as well as cross marketing discounts and free vouchers with retail partners.

“The theme behind Arabian Travel Market 2017 is experiential travel and that brings with it a desire for bigger and more compelling experiences.

“The retail landscape of the GCC and UAE in particular, certainly performs in line with this,” added Press.

The UAE has the strongest retail tourism sector in the region and Dubai takes the lead among the seven emirates – with retail accounting for more than 40 per cent of total tourism spending.

According to Press, Dubai’s strength has been underlined over recent years with the introduction of retail events throughout the year, including Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises.

He said: “Not only are we seeing more mega-retail developments with onsite hospitality facilities, but we are seeing more and more packed into these malls, adding to the excitement in this sector.

“The regional retail industry is incredibly innovative.

“The evolution of shopping malls into leisure and entertainment destinations in their own right has brought huge value to the tourism industry and, as a result, local hotels too.”

While Dubai and Abu Dhabi have more than 626,887 sq. m. of retail space currently under development, other major GCC cities are also looking to replicate the success with Muscat, Riyadh and Doha all currently engaged in similar retail projects.

In Oman, Muscat’s seasonal tourism industry will receive a boost from the development of Palm Mall, which will span 157,000 sq. m. upon completion later this year. In line with the trends identified by Colliers, the mall will feature the Oman Aquarium, an indoor snow park, cinemas, food courts, an amphitheatre and a hypermarket.

Muscat’s second major retail development, Al Araimi Boulevard Mall, which covers 128,000sqm will feature a dedicated kids’ zone, hypermarket, fashion brands and food and beverage outlets.

In the capital of Saudi Arabia, where mega-malls have already become commonplace on the fast-changing skyline, two mega-projects planned in Riyadh over the coming years.

The first, to be completed in 2018, will be Mall of Arabia, with a Gross Leasable Area of 167,000sqm and highlights including landscaped gardens, water features, retail stores and a co-located hotel.

This will be joined by the first phase of Mall of Saudi in 2022, with GLA of 300,000sqm, comprising shops, restaurants, entertainment areas, offices, a hotel and indoor ski facilities similar to those seen in the UAE.

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April 23, 2017 at 04:48AM

News: Arabian Travel Market 2017: IATA predicts strong growth for Middle East aviation

News: Arabian Travel Market 2017: IATA predicts strong growth for Middle East aviation

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Despite sluggish global economic growth, low oil prices, ‘Trumponomics’ and Brexit, the UAE will lead Middle East passenger growth in 2017 with an annual increase of more than 6.3 per cent, according to estimates from the International Air Transport Association.

However, aviation-related discussions during Arabian Travel Market this year will no doubt be dominated by the recent US-led ban on electronic devices and the repercussions for regional airlines.

Aviation features heavily in the seminar programme at ATM.

The sessions will be moderated by John Strickland, director, JLS Consulting, who, with 34 years of industry experience, is an authority on the business models of regional, global, legacy and low cost carriers.

Strickland said: “This year presents a much more challenging picture for the airline industry in the Middle East, particularly in light of the recent electronics ban enforced by the US and UK.

“The immediate reaction was to allow passengers to use their laptops right up until boarding, but more recently Tim Clark, president of Emirates, revealed they had considered loaning laptops to passengers.”

The ban includes tablets, laptops, eReaders and anything that measures larger than 16cm x 9.3cm.

Airlines affected by the US ban include: Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

While the UK ban includes: British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.

Overall the policy affects about 50 flights a day to the US, meaning the ban could impact over 15,000 passengers daily.

Emirates currently operates 18 daily flights to 12 US airports; Etihad runs 45 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and six US cities; and Qatar Airways flies directly from Doha to ten US cities.

Despite these setbacks, it is a good news story for the Middle East’s major carriers and airports, as IATA forecasts an additional 258 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the Middle East by 2035.

While the region will require 58,000 new pilots by that time to meet the increase in demand.

Strickland, who was instrumental in KLM’s decision to establish the low-cost operator Buzz and also worked for British Caledonian, British Airways and KLMuk, will also lead delegates, through a number of sessions, taking place over the course of the four-day show, addressing a wide range of issues facing the aviation industry today and in the future.

“Elsewhere in the industry, security threats have already dented traffic in a number of markets whilst political changes, including the UK’s ‘Brexit’ and a new US government, are creating further uncertainties.

“Although oil prices are edging upwards, within the region, Emirates reported an AED786 million ($214 million) profit for the six months to September 30 2016, down 75 per cent on the same period the previous year, and revenues also declined slightly to $11.4bn (down from $11.5bn).

“While Etihad has indicated a likely change in its investment strategy, particularly into other airlines,” added Strickland.

With a number of aviation mega-projects underway across the GCC and wider Middle East, airports are expanding slightly ahead of the curve in demand, with capacity in 2016 increasing by 13.9 per cent and a forecast for 2017 of 10.1 per cent.

Meanwhile, Middle East passenger numbers are only expected to rise by nine per cent this year, a further dip compared to 2016’s 10.8 per cent growth.

“Aviation is integral to the Arabian Travel Market show and plays a significant role not only during the seminars but also on the exhibition floor.

“With investment in transport infrastructure, especially the expansion of airports, prevalent throughout the region, the growth in passenger numbers will continue unabated,” commented Simon Press, senior exhibition director, Arabian Travel Market.

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April 23, 2017 at 04:39AM

The AA Flight Attendant Union Releases Insane Statement

The AA Flight Attendant Union Releases Insane Statement

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While American Airlines’ corporate PR responded swiftly and well (in my opinion) to this weekend’s airline PR crisis, the union representing American Airlines’ flight attendants took a much different approach in their response.

Per AP’s David Koenig:

I understand that the union is there to protect their members and this whole situation reflects extremely poorly on AA’s flight attendants, but to brush over the belligerent, aggressive behavior of the flight attendant is crazy. To blame this behavior on scheduling and shrinking seats is also crazy and myopic. As he says, we should wait for the facts before making judgement, but if it turns out that the flight attendant truly was aggressive and hit the woman — accidental or not — it is inexcusable to blame that behavior on overhead bin sizes.

I will agree that we need to address the issue of passenger rage, but to do it after dismissing a clearly distressing situation is not the way to do it. I went on CNN earlier and agreed that the male passenger who threatened the flight attendant (in front of the pilot) should have been kicked off the plane.

While I think his intentions were good initially, to threaten a visibly agitated flight attendant is never a good idea, and I do think that while the flight attendant should not have responded in the way he did encouraging the altercation, both parties are responsible.

There are always two sides of a story, but what we see in the video is a lack of leadership on AA’s frontline staff. Watching the video, there were many ways for the flight attendants and pilots to deescalate the situation, but for some reason the distraught flight attendant was left to fix the situation that he was a part of, which was a recipe for disaster. Luckily they didn’t get into another fight in the air and in the end no children were hurt, but this is another reminder that we need more compassion in air travel and that needs to come from both the airlines and passengers

H/T: David Koeing via Twitter

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April 22, 2017 at 05:06PM