Basic Wi-Fi access now is free across the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces portfolio,
the company announced this week. Guests at Taj properties are able to connect on up to three devices at no charge, while guests at Vivanta by Taj and Gateway Hotels can connect on up to two devices, according to the policy. The hotels will offer higher-bandwidth connections for a fee. The Taj group consists of 93 hotels, largely in India as well as 16 properties around the globe, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.
Total revenue for Serko increased 50 percent year over year for the six months ending Sept. 30,
the New Zealand-based online booking and expense software provider announced Thursday. Revenue increased to NZ$4.7 million (US$3.7 million), with revenue from travel bookings, Serko's "core revenue growth engine," up 36 percent year over year. Online transaction volume rose 32 percent. Serko's net loss widened to NZ$3.6 million (US$2.8 million) from NZ$347,000 (US$272,000) for the prior-year period, which CFO Tim Bluett attributed to "the planned investment we have made in growing our organization and operational capacity to support the pipeline of growth for the business."
Virgin Atlantic as of Friday will require a $40 fee for advance seat reservations on all long-haul flights besides Tokyo routes,
though many corporate bookings will be exempt from the fee, the carrier announced this week. Among those exempt from the seat-selection fee are corporate travelers using negotiated corporate fares, premium and premium-economy passengers, tickets in the B and Y economy-fare codes and Delta SkyMiles or Virgin Flying Club members with at least gold status. The carrier also noted that travel agents will be able to assign seats in global distribution systems for travelers in the premium and premium-economy cabins and Y and B classes, but that all other exempt categories would have to request specific seats through the Virgin Atlantic website. All travelers still will be able to pick their seats without charge when checking in within 24 hours of their flight.
MasterCard and Conferma globally expanded their existing integration,
Conferma announced Tuesday. The partnership, first signed in 2011 and dubbed In Control for Business Travel, previously was available only in Europe. With In Control, clients can create virtual card numbers for individual transactions and reconcile booking data. The integration gives In Control clients, including corporate clients and issuing banks, access to Conferma's network of travel management companies, global distribution systems, self-booking tools and online travel agencies to "streamline and modernize [clients'] travel payment and reconciliation processes" regardless of the booking platform used and across all payment categories, according to Conferma.
The number of international air passengers flying in premium classes in September increased 2.3 percent year over year,
according to the International Air Transport Association. The rate of increase was the same as that of economy class, and while IATA noted it was "relatively weak" compared with earlier months in the third quarter, the association added that premium markets have grown slightly this year, meaning "that the share of premium travel still seems to be trending upward from the low point reached at the bottom of the economic cycle in late 2012." Premium travel on the busy North Atlantic routes increased 2.8 percent year over year in September, which IATA noted was "slower than the trend so far this year" but still a big driver of premium traffic growth during the month. The routes with the largest premium traffic growth included those between Africa and the Middle East (17.8 percent), mid-Atlantic routes (15.8 percent) and routes between the Middle East and the Far East (15.7 percent). The biggest premium traffic percentage declines included routes within South America (down 12.2 percent), routes within Africa (down 10.5 percent), and routes between Africa and the Far East (down 8.4 percent) and Africa and Europe (down 8.3 percent).
South Korea's transport ministry has ordered a 45-day suspension of Asiana Airlines flights into San Francisco
as punishment for safety violations related to the carrier's deadly crash at San Francisco International Airport last year, news agencies are reporting. The minimum suspension for an accident with casualties is usually 90 days, but the ministry cut it by half because of the crew's effort to minimize casualties, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. Three people died and more than 180 were injured when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed into a runway seawall during landing on July 6, 2013. Asiana plans to ask the ministry to review the suspension decision, which would take effect within six months pending that action.