Sun Country to go no-frill
Sun Country Airlines’ new CEO, Jude Bricker, is overhauling how the carrier operates — and customers will feel the changes. In a memo sent to staff last Tuesday, Bricker praised Sun Country’s strong reputation, but stressed the need to cut costs, increase revenue through add-on fees and expand beyond its hub at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Bricker’s formula mirrors the model of ultralow-cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit airlines, which charge passengers for things like carry-on luggage and in-flight beverages. A former executive at no-frills Allegiant Air, Bricker joined Sun Country in July. Under his plan, Sun Country will cut costs in a variety of ways and put more seats on airplanes, which provides more revenue opportunity but leaves less legroom for passengers. The airline will also add new fees, including charging for overhead bin space. As Travel goes to press, Sun Country has so far declined to provide details, including when any such changes could go into effect.
Kristen Leigh Painter
In Vegas, robot bartenders
The Tipsy Robot — where robot bartenders mix drinks — opened last month inside the Miracle Mile Shops next to Planet Hollywood Casino, squeezing its way onto the Las Vegas Strip along with a roller coaster atop a tower, replicas of iconic world landmarks and a 24/7 world of gambling, booze and quirkiness. The futuristic setting inside the Tipsy Robot feels like a mash-up of a bar, an Apple store and a car manufacturing plant. The centerpiece is the two bartender robots affixed to a stage-like bar. They are white, mechanized assembly-line arms moving with jerky fluidity. Bar owner Rino Armeni swears this isn’t yet another move to replace humans. “It’s entertainment — like the Bellagio fountains.”
Los Angeles Times
For rent: Trump’s first home
Airbnb now lists Donald Trump’s place. No, not 1600 Pennsylvania Av., but Trump’s childhood home in Queens. Trump’s father, Fred, built the five-bedroom, 3½-bath home, dubbed Jamaica Estates. The circa 1940 Tudor-style house is available for $725 a night. “Not much has been changed since the Trumps lived here,” the listing reads. “The kitchen is original and the opulent furnishings represent the style and affluence in which the Trumps would have lived.” The listing boasts an amenity you probably won’t find anywhere else: a giant cutout of the president in the living room, “a great companion for watching Fox News late into the night.”
Summer’s sharing economy
Travelers are much more familiar with sharing economy services than they were two years ago, and the result is an increased willingness to use platforms such as Lyft, Uber and Airbnb for summer travel. According to Allianz Global Assistance USA’s third annual Travel Insurance Sharing Economy Index, 50 percent of Americans are somewhat or very likely to use sharing economy services for travel booking this summer, compared with 17 percent in 2015 and 36 percent last year. The first-of-its-kind year-on-year study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs discovered that the rise in use correlates with a spike in familiarity. Nearly eight out of 10 travelers (78 percent) are familiar with sharing economy services in 2017, compared with 66 percent last year and 47 percent in 2015.