Week in Review: More Air Travel Upgrades, Cruises Avoid Red Sea

Last week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed the bipartisan Senate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2023. The legislation, among other initiatives, increases FAA safety inspectors, air traffic controllers and FAA oversight of foreign repair stations, and sets refund standards for non-refundable tickets, protects vouchers for five years, prohibits fees for family seating and triples fines for airline consumer violations.

While that bill still needs to be passed by both full chambers of Congress before it’s enacted, there is more good news for air travel. The FAA on Thursday said it is awarding $970 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Investing in America agenda to 114 airports across the country, spanning 44 states and three territories. The funding will launch projects that will improve passenger experience, accessibility and sustainability. Investments enhancing the passenger experience include new baggage systems, larger security checkpoints, increasing gate capacity, and modernizing aging infrastructure throughout terminals and ground transportation. These investments further increase terminal sustainability and improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

In addition to the above, many grants:

  • Will address the needs of aging air traffic control towers
  • Contain an element that will build new or expanded terminal facilities
  • Will increase access to other modes of transportation or improve roadways
  • Contain an element that will go to improving airport access in smaller communities

Cruises Cancel Red Sea Voyages

Crystal Symphony
Crystal Symphony's March 27 sailing from Mumbai to Athens has been canceled.

Due to the current situation in the Red Sea, Crystal Cruises has canceled the sailing from Mumbai to Piraeus (Athens) on Crystal Symphony from March 27 to April 13. It is additionally rerouting several segments of the 2024 World Cruise on Crystal Serenity to avoid this area. This will not, however, affect the overall voyage length and the ship will arrive in Miami as originally scheduled on June 8, 2024.

Crystal is not the first cruise line to cancel or alter sailings originally scheduled to pass through the Red Sea as a result of the attacks by Yemen's Houthi group on commercial ships. Previously, Virgin Voyages altered Resilient Lady’s repositioning from the Red Sea/Suez Canal to the western coast of Africa. MSC Cruises also canceled three “Grand Voyages” in April, departing from South Africa and the United Arab Emirates en route to Europe.

In other cruise news, Princess Cruises on Wednesday took delivery of its already-delayed Sun Princess from Fincantieri, which was building the ship on an entirely new platform designed by the shipyard exclusively for the cruise line. That said, additional work in the shipyard is still required and its February 18 voyage has been canceled as a result. The new debut of Sun Princess is currently slated for February 28.

Guests who were booked on the February 18 voyage will receive a full refund of the cruise fare along with any additional onboard services that were pre-purchased, as well as a 50 future cruise credit (FCC) that can be used on a future Princess voyage. The cruise line is also offering financial reimbursement for select travel costs for guests who have already arrived ahead of their sailing and for guests who have not yet started their travel as it relates to changes fees for flights. As well, Princess will be protecting travel advisor commissions.

How Gen Z Is Traveling

Gen Zers
Gen Z is increasingly willing to pay for a carbon offset when they travel. (Getty Images)

Gen Z travelers prefer taking “dry vacations,” see travel as a career investment and a way to improve mental well-being, and have a concern for the environment, which is driving some to actively choose to abstain from traveling by air. These findings come from StudentUniverse’s annual “State of Student & Youth Travel Report,” delving into the latest travel sentiments among those aged 18 to 25.

Notably, a minority of student and youth travelers (13 percent) indicate they won’t travel by plane due to emissions, while an additional 21 percent know someone who refuses to travel by air. That said, 23 percent indicated they are willing to pay a carbon offset fee when booking and 50 percent indicated they will prioritize booking through a platform with strong green credentials.

The top destinations among younger travelers include: Italy, Japan, Greece, the U.K., France, Spain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Brazil.

In other travel trends, International Medical Group's annual “Travel Outlook Survey” shows that 96 percent of respondents plan to travel internationally in 2024—a continued increase over the past three years. Travelers are also planning on taking more international trips (in total) throughout the year, with 47 percent of respondents planning to travel internationally three-plus times in 2024.

Growing in popularity are “bleisure travel” and multi-generational travel. Half of the respondents are planning to travel for business this year, with over three-quarters of them (78 percent) planning to participate in “bleisure travel” by adding personal vacation time before or after at least one business trip. Results also show that 35 percent of families have a domestic or international trip planned with multiple generations.

Tauck’s New Leadership

Tauck leadership transition
(From left) Jeremy Palmer, Dan Mahar, Arthur Tauck Jr and Jennifer Tombaugh. (Tauck)

Tauck this week announced a leadership transition plan. Effective October 2024, Arthur Tauck Jr., chairman, will become chairman emeritus; Dan Mahar, Tauck CEO since 2008 will become chairman of the board; Jennifer Tombaugh, Tauck president since 2011 will become CEO; and Jeremy Palmer, Tauck chief operating officer since 2019, will become president.

30Under30 Nominations Now Open

Nominations for Travel Agent's 30Under30 for 2024 are now open! You may nominate yourself or pass the word along to a qualified candidate you know.

What to know: Nominees must be 30 years old or younger as of December 31, 2024, currently work at any level as a travel consultant, have completed a significant project for his or her travel agency, and be recognized by leaders of his or her organization as an emerging leader. The deadline to be considered for the 17th edition of the program is March 1, 2024.

Please make sure to fill out the form in its entirety and don't be shy about bragging a little—it will help us make our decisions! We hope to hear from you and good luck!

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