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News Roundup: Airline Fee Crackdowns and Self-Cleaning Lavatories!

Adjusting a flight to view a solar eclipse, the world’s priciest cities, European low-fare carriers are coming to the US and more in this week’s travel news.The world’s most expensive city is…

CNN reports that, for the third year in a row, Singapore is the world’s most expensive city. The stats come from the Economist’s 2016 Cost of Living survey, which measures costs in  of food and drink, utility bills, private schools and housing, etc., in 133 cities. Singapore scored highest in all categories aside from cost of food. For example, transit prices are 2.7x higher there than in New York City, which comes in at number 7.

 Here are the top 10 for 2016:

1.  Singapore
2.  Zurich
2.  Hong Kong
4.  Geneva
5.  Paris
6.  London
7.  New York City
8.  Copenhagen
8.  Seoul
8.  Los Angeles

Alaska Airlines adjusts flight plan for better view of solar eclipse

In time for the solar eclipse visible over much of the South Pacific on Tuesday, Alaska Airlines altered the flight plan on their route from Anchorage to Honolulu to give passengers a spectacular view of the celestial event. The flight’s departure was pushed back by 25 minutes so that it would cross the eclipse’s path 695 miles north of Honolulu.

Congress hopes to crack down on airline fees

Continuing the trend of travel legislation, The New York Times reports that senators introduced a bill to limit airline fees for checked bags, ticket changes and cancellations. The aptly named Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous Fees Act (or FAIR Fees Act) would require airlines to only charge amounts to cover the cost of paying agents and bag handlers, or to cover the cost of processing a new ticket and any potential loss in revenue.

Bag fees alone gave airlines $2.85 billion in the first three quarters of 2015. An additional $2.3 billion were collected from change and cancellation fees.

Citymaps introduces offline functionality

Online travel guidebook Citymaps rolls out a new functionality this week that will allow its users to download interactive maps of over 5,000 world cities. Users will have access to recommendations, location reviews and suggestions of what to do and see, based on personal preferences and interests, without needing Wi-Fi. So you can still figure out where to have dinner, or what museum to check out next, even if you don’t have an international cell plan and there’s no Internet in sight.

European low-fare carriers set sights on the states this summer

Travel blog Today in Travel reports that Norwegian Airlines, WOW Air, and XL Airways France are all launching new low-cost, transatlantic routes in time for peak travel season this summer.

Norwegian is adding seven new lines including Boston to Gatwick, Copenhagen and Oslo as well as Flights from Orly to Ft. Lauderdale, LAX and JFK. Their Cork, Ireland to Boston route is pending U.S. government approval.

Icelandic carrier WOW will fly from Baltimore, Boston, LA, Montreal, SFO and Toronto through Reykjavík and on to European destinations. These routes include $99 fares from Boston and Baltimore to Reykjavík. Iceland is heating up as a vacation spot; get there while you can.

XL Airways France adds a non-stop from LA to Paris in addition to its Miami, JFK and SFO routes. So fly to Europe on the cheap before travel gets more complicated across the pond.

Airplane bathrooms . . . of the future!

Germaphobes rejoice! USA Today reports that Boeing has filed a patent for a self-cleaning airplane lavatory. The design uses ultraviolet light to sterilize all surfaces in about three seconds when the bathroom is unoccupied. The design includes touchless faucets, soap dispensers, toilet lids and hand dryers; a hands-free door latch is also in the works.

But don’t expect to see these new bathrooms any time soon. Engineers are still working away at perfecting the design; and, once completed, it could be years before airlines fully update their aircraft with the new technology.





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