Olympic cruising in Japan
Remember when Olympic organizers in Rio de Janeiro slept on cruise ships and called them “floating hotels”? Tokyo will do the same. From July 24 to Aug. 9, the city is chartering at least one large ship to serve as a floating hotel in response to a shortage of rooms on dry land. You’d be better off going a more traditional route: Two of Royal Caribbean’s ships will offer itineraries that overnight at Tokyo’s new cruise terminal. Passengers with tickets can easily get to events and then sail on to less frenetic parts of the country. Windstar Cruises is betting that television coverage will drum up tourism interest for Japan in general, so it’s skipping the Games entirely and sending its all-suite Star Breeze to the country for a series of temple- and garden-centric sailings this fall (10-night sailing from $3,599 per person). But the most peaceful way to sail might be a three-night trip on Guntû, a 38-passenger design ship that’s like a floating ryokan on the Seto Inland Sea, complete with traditional open-air onsen baths in some of its suites.
Airline adds gender options
American Airlines is adding “U” and “X” options for gender when passengers buy tickets. “U” stands for unspecified or undisclosed, and “X” has become a standard marker for those who don’t identify as male or female. But American is urging passengers to stick with the gender on their government-issued driver’s licenses or ID cards, even if it doesn’t match personal preferences. That’s because booking information needs to match details in federal databases for use in TSA security lines. (A dozen states, including Minnesota, now issue licenses or IDs with nonbinary or “X” options.) United Airlines was the first major airline to make the adjustment last year; Southwest Airlines is looking at changes but isn’t sure when that will happen.
Dallas Morning News
Seaplane goes electric
Harbour Air’s de Havilland Beaver seaplane first lumbered into the skies in 1956. Last month, the aircraft received a trailblazing retrofit. Harbour Air, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, swapped the six-seater’s gas-guzzling, exhaust-emitting engine for a modern, battery-powered electric one. The move gives the vintage plane a new and sustainable lease on life. The regional airline with 40 seaplanes operates half-hour flights carrying up to 19 passengers between Vancouver, Seattle and coastal British Columbia — short flights that are well-suited for a battery-powered engine. Harbour chief executive Gene McDougall flew the 10-minute test flight himself last month, a first step required by regulators. Regulatory review will take two to three years, at which point Harbour Air can install the engines and begin accepting paying passengers on all-electric aircraft.
New York Times
Delta uniform crisis
Delta Air Lines recently issued new uniforms to some 60,000 employees that were created by fashion designer Zac Posen. But the bad news came quickly in the form of several lawsuits filed by flight attendants who alleged the uniforms caused various health issues, such as shortness of breath, rashes, blisters and hair loss. The suits against the manufacturer, Lands’ End, are currently pending in federal courts while flight attendants and others are working to discover the causes of their health symptoms and the identity and total number of chemicals present in their uniforms. The entire situation is up in the air until the many various issues are resolved.