Airlines change policies over Zika scare
Several major airlines are changing their policies on refunds and changes to travel plans for those headed to areas affected by the mosquito-related virus Zika. At least a dozen infections have been reported in the Wynwood district of Miami, according to health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recent travel advisory to parts of Florida. Spirit Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and Delta all have made changes to how passengers can adjust their travel plans because of warnings about the virus. The dates vary on when travelers have to meet deadlines to make the changes without facing penalties. Travelers are advised to check with their individual carrier.
Hotel chain gets personal
Room Mate Hotels (room-matehotels.com) was launched by three friends who were looking for hotels that they actually wanted to stay in. It began in Madrid and has expanded to 23 hotels in 12 cities in Europe, the United States, Mexico and Turkey. Each property in the group has its own name and distinctive decor. That personal approach extends to hotel guests, whom the staff is encouraged to treat as a friend, buddy or roommate. All hotels have a convenient central city location, offer breakfast until noon and free WiMate Total Wi-Fi good throughout the city. Room rates for Hotel Grace in New York were in the same range as those for hotel chains Hampton Inn, DoubleTree and Sheraton.
Los Angeles Times
American contests Delta's route from MSP to Tokyo
American Airlines is upset that the U.S. government has picked Delta Air Lines for a coveted route to Tokyo's Haneda Airport. The Dallas-based airline is contesting the Department of Transportation's decision that gave it to Delta for use at Minneapolis-St.Paul. Prior to a February agreement between the U.S. and Japan, Tokyo's more desirable Haneda Airport was only open to U.S. airlines during limited night slots. MSP was selected over American's hub at Dallas-Fort Worth for its geographic location. But if Delta does not use the route to its full potential, American argues, then the government should turn the route over to American for use at DFW. Delta wrote in its rebuttal, "The connectivity and traffic flow at [MSP] will help ensure access to travelers from a wide range of communities."
Escape rooms on land or sea
Escape rooms, in which players in a locked room filled with clues try to escape before time runs out, have made it to cruise ships. Royal Caribbean's new Harmony of the Seas has "Puzzle Break: Escape the Rubicon," in which 12 guests work together. Royal Caribbean introduced escape rooms, which are often billed as bonding exercises, on its Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas last year. On terra firma, escape rooms may incorporate Hollywood-style production design. "Paradiso: Chapter 1" in New York City uses holographic images and music and follows a narrative that is, said a creator, Michael Counts, "based loosely on 'The Divine Comedy' meets 'Blade Runner' meets 'Mr. Robot' in a Stanley Kubrick-ian style." Escape rooms also tend to pop up at temporary attractions. A Halloween park near Milwaukee called Wisconsin Fear Grounds plans to add a 5-minute escape feature to its haunted houses.
New York Times