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News Roundup: Virgin America for Sale, Ebola Risk Downgraded and More

Updates on the EgyptAir hijacking, Virgin America up for grabs, Ebola no longer a worldwide threat and more—this week in travel news.

JetBlue launches lie-flat business class from Boston

Great news for my east coast frequent flyers (and fans of reclining). Travel blog Points, Miles & Martinis reports that JetBlue flights between Boston and San Francisco, as well as Boston to Barbados, now have lie-flat business class seating. The option is available in JetBlue’s Mint Class on their new A321 planes.

EgyptAir hijack: Egypt requests suspect’s extradition

BBC News reports that Egypt has requested Cyprus extradite Seif al-Din Mustafa, the man accused of hijacking an EgyptAir flight on Tuesday. Egyptian prosecutors reference a 1996 bilateral extradition treaty.

Mustafa diverted an EgyptAir flight to Cyprus by threatening to detonate a belt of explosives. The belt turned out to be fake. He could be charged with kidnapping and air piracy. All 56 passengers, 6 crew and a security officer of the flight were freed unharmed–including Ben Innes, who climbed aboard the viral claim to fame train with this selfie he took alongside Mustafa and his fake bomb.

Ebola risk downgraded

The WHO has downgraded the public health risk Ebola poses to countries outside those affected in West Africa. BBC News reports that though a few cases still linger in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Libera have not seen any new cases in months.

As of March 13, 2016 there have been 28,639 documented cases of Ebola and 11,316 deaths reported since the outbreak began.

TSA PreCheck shortfalls mean long summer lines

Four years after rolling out expedited screening, the TSA still doesn’t have enough PreCheck participants to put a dent in security lines. Skift reports that inadequate enrollment, coupled with staff cuts and increased security concerns, will lead to security gridlock.

Passengers in Charlotte, NC had 75 minute waits recently. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reports lines as long as 90 minutes. The situation is only expected to worsen as peak travel season approaches. On the bright side, longer lines have increased PreCheck enrollment.

Virgin America for sale

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has put his majority shares of airline Virgin America up for sale. Skift reports that both JetBlue and Alaska Airlines are vying for the shares. Virgin could announce results as early as next week.

Introducing Europe’s newest low-cost carrier

Travel Pulse reports that French airline French Blue plans to join the long-haul, low-cost carrier game. The first route opens later this year. It will run between Paris and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Pending success, French Blue plans to expand in 2017 with routes to Mauritius and Reunion.

Argentina suspends reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens

The Argentinian Embassy in the U.S. announced last Thursday that Argentina will no longer be charging U.S. citizens a $160 reciprocity fee for entry. Travel blog One Mile at a Time reports that this change is only valid for 90 days pending further executive action. It is unlikely the fee will be reinstated.

This policy change came in the wake of negotiations to reinstate Argentina into the Visa Waiver Program in 2017.





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