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News Roundup: Zika Updates, UberMOTO and Flights to Cuba

Disney parks play with pricing, U.S. airlines sign up to fly to Cuba and a senator fights hidden fees—this week in travel news.

Zika update: Nine pregnant tourists test positive

Skift reports that, as of February 27, the Centers for Disease Control has found nine cases of pregnant American women testing positive for Zika after traveling to affected countries. Of the five who carried to full term, one has since given birth to an infant with severe microcephaly, while two others gave birth to healthy infants. Two more have yet to give birth but have had no known complications.

Zika is currently circulating in at least 31 countries and territories since first detection in Brazil last year. Though the links between Zika and microcephaly haven’t been definitely established, evidence is mounting.

UberMOTO brings motorbikes to Bangkok

NBC News reports that Uber has launched a new motorbike service in Bangkok. Dubbed UberMOTO, the service allows users in the city’s three central neighborhoods to request a ride on a motorbike. Every driver will have a helmet available for passengers. No word yet on how tuk-tuk drivers feel about this new service.

Lawmakers crack down on hidden resort fees

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, has introduced legislation that would prohibit hotels and resorts from charging hidden “mandatory” resort fees. Travel blog The Gate reports that this legislation specifically targets fees that are not initially listed when booking, but are charged often when checking in or out. The legislation would require all hotels and resorts to advertise all required fees upfront.

Hotel and resort managements argue that these fees, which can be as much as 50% of the room rate, are imposed to cover the cost of amenities and services for all guests—even if the services go unused by individual consumers. However they never seem to justify why these fees need to be hidden from buyers. The Federal Trade Commission has attempted to crack down on hidden fees in the past, but with little success.

Disney changes pricing protocol

Skift reports that, as of February 29, Walt Disney World and Disneyland are using a new seasonal pricing plan. Using crowd data, Disney now assigns each calendar day with one of three pricing categories: value, regular and peak pricing. Variable prices only apply to one day, one park tickets; multi-day ticket prices were raised across the board.

Disney World now costs $124 per ticket on-peak; Disneyland on-peak is $119.

U.S. Airlines apply for Cuban flightpaths

CNN reports that American, Alaska Airlines, Delta, Southwest, United and JetBlue have all applied with the U.S. government to fly to Cuba. This comes soon after the U.S. and Cuba agreed to resume commercial flights for the first time in more than 50 years. In fact, the airlines requested so many flights that they exceeded the government cap.

Since the U.S. embargo still stands, the flights won’t be carrying tourists. U.S. citizens still need to qualify for one of the 12 categories of authorized travel. Still, it’ll be nice to be able to use points and miles to fly straight to Havana even if it’s not technically as a tourist.





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