The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently relaxed
its rules for airplane carry-on items and said it would allow
airline passengers to carry small amounts of liquids, gels and
aerosols onboard. Effective Sept. 26, travelers are allowed to
carry travel-sized toiletries of three ounces or less if they are
contained in one quart-sized, clear plastic zip-top bag.
Additionally, beverages purchased in the secure areas of the
airport can now be taken on the aircraft.
The TSA said it was “unlikely” that the restrictions on liquids
and gels would be changed further in the near future.
Kip Hawley, the TSA’s assistant secretary, said in a statement
that the agency had “learned enough from the U.K. investigation to
say with confidence that small, travel-size liquids are safe to
bring through security checkpoints in limited numbers.”
Larger amounts of required medications, baby formula and
diabetic glucose treatments have been exempt from the liquid ban,
although travelers must present them to screeners at security
On Sept. 25, the TSA said it also would be enhancing security
measures throughout airports, including adding more random
screening of employees, more canine patrols and tighter cargo
screening and deploying more officers trained in bomb appraisal and
screening by observation techniques.
VIRGIN GROUP GOES GREEN
With former President Bill Clinton looking on, Virgin Group
chairman Richard Branson recently pledged to use $3 billion from
the profits of the Virgin Group airlines and Virgin trains over the
next decade to spur the development of renewable energy sources and
to combat global warming.
In a press conference at the Clinton Global Initiative
conference in New York, Branson said the money would be poured into
a new investment unit, Virgin Fuels. “We must rapidly wean
ourselves off our dependence on coal and fossil fuels,” Branson
Branson’s $3 billion pledge closely followed the Virgin
conglomerate’s announcement about the formation of Virgin Fuels,
which puts into practice the Virgin chairman’s belief that
transportation companies should be in the forefront of backing the
development of clean energy sources. Branson said Virgin Fuels
would invest $400 million in targeted companies’ renewable-energy
projects over the next three years.
The first recipient of Virgin Fuel funding is Goshen,
Calif.-headquartered Cilion, which aims to build and operate
ethanol plants that would reduce the need to use fossil fuel in
“This is only the beginning of our investment program, which
begins in the U.S. and will expand to the U.K., mainland Europe and
other parts of the world,” Branson stated, adding that Virgin Fuel
would set its sights beyond ethanol and invest in other biofuel
AMADEUS/NORTHWEST RANCH AGREEMENT
Amadeus and Northwest reached a “provisional agreement,”
retroactive to Sept. 1, that protects Amadeus agents from
Northwest’s $3.50 fees and retains access to “full content” from
Northwest and KLM, Amadeus stated. Amadeus agencies in the U.S.,
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will not be receiving bills
from the airline for bookings they made in September. Northwest
previously said that it would charge agencies fees for booking
through Amadeus because the distribution system had not agreed to a
competitive content agreement.
The temporary agreement announced designates Amadeus as a
preferred distribution channel for Northwest, and the two parties
are working on a long-term contract.
“This agreement is another example of our ongoing commitment to
make our product widely, easily and affordably available to
consumers in ways that provide Northwest with competitive
distribution cost economics,” stated Al Lenza, Northwest’s vice
president of distribution and e-commerce. “It also ensures our
travel agency partners of both full content and protection from
having to pay segment surcharges.”
Terms of the interim agreement were not disclosed.
For now, however, the two sides decided to postpone any further
legal battles over the issue, pending the conclusion of a
Prior to the provisional agreement, Amadeus, facing pressure
from subscribers, including agencies that were refusing to renew
their GDS contracts, agreed to reimburse agencies for Northwest’s
$3.50 fees, and the two companies faced off in court. Amadeus has
agreed to reimburse agents for the fees American imposed Sept. 1,
and said it would protect agents from Delta-imposed fees, without
specifying what that entails.
MasterCard launched a premium credit card platform that includes a
package of travel benefits provided by Virtuoso members. The World
Elite MasterCard, which was designed for consumers with household
incomes greater than $250,000 a year, will come in various
cobranded forms; the first, the Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite
MasterCard, was rolled out Sept. 13.
Another version of World Elite will be launched in 2007,
targeting small businesses and executives of large
For its part, Virtuoso will provide the services of member
counselors; airline benefits, including companion tickets or
upgrades; tailored shore excursions and exclusive onboard events
for cruisers; room upgrades and other VIP amenities at hotels; and
STARWOOD SPA COLLECTION’s NEW MEMBERS
Starwood Hotels & Resorts recently announced eight new members
to The Starwood Spa Collection, one of the world’s largest
assemblages of premier spas, comprised of nearly 40 hotels and
resorts in 18 countries.
“The Starwood Spa Collection features some of the world’s most
renowned spas,” said Mia Kyricos, director of spa development and
marketing, Luxury Spa Brands, “and we are honored to welcome our
new members to be part of the prestigious collection.”
Starwood Spa’s newest members include: St. Regis Resort, Bora
Bora (French Polynesia), The Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa
(Arizona), Convento do Espinheiro Heritage Hotel & Spa
(Portugal), The Westin Casuarina Hotel Casino & Spa (Las
Vegas), The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa (Fiji), Sheraton
Colonia Golf & Spa Resort (Uruguay), Sheraton La Caleta Resort
& Spa (Spain) and the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Tower
WITIA’S FIRST FAM
Women in Tourism International Alliance (WITIA) will offer its
first fam trip, a five-day tour of New Orleans and Baton Rouge,
La., and Mobile, Ala., from Nov. 28-Dec. 2.
Open to all travel professionals, the tour will focus on the
area’s many attractions post Hurricane Katrina, including a jazz
brunch at Three Sisters in the French Quarter, and a tour of
parishes, museums and historic homes. The tour price of $399 per
person, double, includes accommodations, ground transportation,
touring per the itinerary and some meals.