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News Roundup: Winter Storm Jonas Rolls East, the Zika Virus Spreads and More

From a new brand of hotels hoping to bring in Millennial dollars to fears of a global pandemic, here are the biggest, baddest and most noteworthy travel news stories of the past week.

Talks Hope to Resume Direct U.S.Iran Flights

Matador Network reports that while nothing has been finalized, the lifting of Iran sanctions means the direct flight ban imposed following the 1979 revolution and hostage crisis could soon be erased. Direct flights between the U.S. and Iran could soon resume for the first time in 36 years.

Hilton Worldwide Unveils Mid-Scale Millennial Hotel Brand

In Millennial news, Hilton Worldwide joined the ranks of Starwood and Intercontinental this week by unveiling their new brand of mid-scale hotels geared toward Millennials: Tru by Hilton. The brand will feature free Wi-Fi (score!), mobile check-in, 55-inch TV sets and a social media wall.

All Tru hotels will be new construction, with the first expected to open by late 2016. The brand aims to capture the “Millennial mindset,” described as a “youthful energy and a zest for life.”

Though I, a Millennial, am hard-pressed to find a time I’ve felt particularly “zesty” about anything, the free Wi-Fi and low price point certainly appeal to my sensibilities.

No word yet on whether Tru by Hilton rooms will omit desks.

Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas swept across the eastern seaboard with unprecedented effects. There were at least 48 deaths, and a quarter of a million people lost power. It dumped three feet of snow in the mid-Atlantic, up to 30 inches in New York City and an incredible 42 inches in Glengary, West Virginia. Though the storm had passed by Sunday, parts of the eastern U.S. saw effects on travel and transit last well into the work week.

French Taxi Strikes Resurge

Massive strikes on Tuesday by taxi drivers, air traffic controllers and many other public sector employees took place across France. The New York Times reports that French taxi drivers have again taken to the streets to protest Uber and other ride-booking companies. They blocked traffic with taxis around Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports. One fifth of flights were also canceled and others delayed due to simultaneous protests by air traffic controllers.

Dawn of the Zika Virus

In pandemic news, the Zika virus has spread throughout the Americas. CNN reports that the WHO estimates between 3 and 4 million possible cases by April 2016. The mosquito-borne virus itself is not particularly fatal. Symptoms include rash, fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Some may not show any symptoms at all.

The real danger lies in the risk to fetuses, who risk being born with microcephaly if the mother contracts Zika in the first trimester of pregnancy. Unfortunately, a vaccine is years away.

In response to the outbreak, many airlines are offering refunds for tickets to Latin America. How this will affect attendance and participation in the upcoming Rio 2016 Summer Olympics is anyone’s guess.





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