Delta’s high-tech vision
From exoskeletons for cargo workers to an airport jumbo screen that displays different words to everyone reading it, Delta Air Lines envisions a near-future of air travel that is far more personal. Chief executive Ed Bastian outlined the company’s five-year vision during the keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Bastian revealed the airline’s plans for an expanded Fly Delta app that can act as a “digital concierge” by allowing other companies to plug in directly to travelers’ itineraries and plan everything from when their Lyft will pick them up to having bags and dry-cleaning delivered to their hotel room. Later this year, the app will begin notifying customers when their actual seat is boarding rather than the more general flight boarding time.
Kristen Leigh Painter
Chasing annual fees
Since 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been the darling of the travel credit card world, with triple points on travel and dining and premium perks like insurance, airport lounge access and Global Entry. The Points Guy website confirmed that the card’s annual fee will increase from $450 to $550, though it will still be offset by a $300 annual credit toward travel spending. Cardholders may or may not be mollified by two new benefits: a free membership to Lyft Pink (15% off rides) and a $60 credit for the DoorDash food delivery service. With other elite cards — such as the American Express Platinum — similarly raising their annual fees lately, has the golden age of the premium travel rewards card already peaked?
Simon Peter Groebner
Don’t pout over Eelpout
There will be a winter party in Walker, Minn., next month. But for the first time since 1979, it won’t be the International Eelpout Festival, which was unexpectedly canceled last week. The festival often draws 10,000 or more people to the city of about 930 on Leech Lake. Instead, the town will inaugurate the Frozen Block Party, an outdoor festival in downtown Walker and the Chase on the Lake Resort, featuring live entertainment and an outdoor bar under a big top tent. The party will run Feb. 20-22 (chaseonthelake.com).
JetBlue goes carbon-neutral
JetBlue plans to go carbon-neutral on all domestic flights starting in July, a first for a major U.S. airline. The company’s plan involves both taking steps to reduce its flights’ overall carbon emissions and increasing its investment in carbon offsets, environmental projects that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. JetBlue will calculate each flight’s carbon emissions and then offset the amount via forest conservation projects, solar and wind farms, and other efforts through Carbonfund.org, EcoAct, Neste and South Pole. Delta Air Lines introduced its own carbon-neutral flights and more sustainable fuel options last year.
Free days in national parks
The National Park Service has announced its five annual days that will be free to the public in 2020: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 20), the first day of National Park Week (April 18), the National Park Service Birthday (Aug. 25), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 26) and Veterans Day (Nov. 11). Most of America’s 419 national park units are already free, according to Travel+Leisure. But 111 of the most visited — think Yosemite — charge $5 to $35 per vehicle. If you plan to visit several national parks in 2020, consider getting the all-access America the Beautiful pass for $80 (nps.gov).