Delta plans to improve Wi-Fi service

Delta Air Lines said it is expanding Wi-Fi coverage to flights to Latin America and the Caribbean and upgrading its existing in-flight Wi-Fi service. The Atlanta-based airline will put satellite-based Wi-Fi on planes that fly long domestic routes and on planes that fly to Latin America and the Caribbean starting in 2016. It will also upgrade the technology on air-to-ground Wi-Fi systems on planes that fly short domestic routes. Delta first launched its satellite-based Wi-Fi service last year on routes to Asia, and now has the technology on a third of its long-haul international planes.

American Express raises rates on some cards

American Express increased interest rates on some of its credit card accounts by an average of 2.5 percentage points in recent weeks, a spokeswoman for the company said. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Crosta declined to say how many of its roughly 42 million cards would be affected. But she said it was a “small percentage” of its customers. American Express had been charging a lower interest rate, as much as 3.25 percentage points, on its credit cards compared with rates its competitors charge for customers with similar credit scores, Crosta said. The rate increase was authorized after an analysis showed the difference. Customers affected will be notified and will have the option to keep the card at the higher interest rate or cancel their cards. The new interest rate only affects new purchases and balance transfers.

West Coast flights considered at LaGuardia

The Port Authority is considering lifting a 30-year-old rule that restricts flights longer than 1,500 miles from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, which would allow routes to the West Coast. The agency said in a statement that it’s reviewing the so-called perimeter rule “to determine whether it remains in the best interest of the region’s air travelers.” Any change would occur “only after a thorough study and analysis and consultation with all interested parties in a public and transparent manner,” according to the statement. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey controls the New York City area’s three major airports. The two others, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International, have transcontinental flights.

Global tourists spent $222B here last year

Neither epic ice storms, Ebola outbreaks nor rising airfares slowed travel to the U.S. last year, as international visitors spent a record $222 billion while in the country, according to a new federal estimate. Spending by international visitors to the U.S. increased 4 percent last year, compared with 2013, when travelers from abroad spent $215 billion to fly into and stay in the country, according to an estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. International travelers spent $43 billion on travel expenses, with the remaining $179 billion going toward hotels, food, drinks, souvenirs and other expenses, according to the report. In contrast, Americans spent an estimated $147 billion to travel abroad, resulting in a $75.7 billion trade surplus, according to the report.

‘60 Minutes’ looks at Lumber Liquidators

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc.’s stock plunged after Chief Executive Robert Lynch said “60 Minutes” will feature the retailer in an unfavorable light. The shares fell 26 percent to $50.63 at the close, the largest single-day drop since July 7, 2011. The company had gained 3.7 percent this year through Tuesday. The report by the CBS Corp.-owned television show will focus on product sourcing and a lawsuit brought against the company, Lynch said on a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter results. The lawsuit Lynch mentioned was filed in California and alleges the company violated safety laws with its use of formaldehyde, according to a regulatory filing. Lynch said that he didn’t know when the episode would air, but that it may be this weekend.

A Nickelodeon channel for mobile devices

Nickelodeon is creating new content for its $6-a-month mobile channel Noggin, aimed at preschoolers. The ad-free service will debut next week on Apple mobile devices. There’s no immediate word on an Android version. And on the heels of a successful “SpongeBob” movie, Nickelodeon is developing a musical for a potential run on Broadway. The company said it’s still in the early stages of planning, and there’s no word on when it might debut. Although a few cable channels such as HBO are planning stand-alone streaming subscriptions as alternatives to a cable package, most channels are sticking with existing distributors. In this case, Nickelodeon says it’s in talks with pay-TV providers to bundle Noggin with cable and satellite packages.

Takata ordered to preserve air bag parts

U.S. safety regulators have ordered Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. to preserve air bag parts from recalled cars for government investigators and attorneys who are suing the company. The order issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers air bag inflator mechanisms that can explode with too much force, spewing metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least six people have been killed and 64 others injured from the problem. Ten different automakers have recalled about 17 million cars and trucks in the U.S., and recovered inflators have been sent to Takata. The order stops Takata from destroying inflators except when they are tested and requires the company to set aside 10 percent of them for testing by plaintiffs’ lawyers.

NEWS SERVICES