Regional News - North America.


New York (AirGuide - Regional News North America) Jan 8, 2012

Airlines waived fees for passengers who want to change their flying dates Several big airlines waived fees for passengers who want to change their flying dates to avoid potentially serious winter storms in the East, including New York. So-called weather waivers were issued on Thursday by Delta, United, Continental, US Airways, and AirTran. Passengers who change their tickets, however, must rebook on flights within the next few days. The waivers from Continental, United, and US Airways apply to flights through Sunday. United said its waivers apply to tickets for travel passing through Washington, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia on United, United Express or United code-share flights. Travelers who change their ticket have to keep the same origin and destination, and rescheduled travel must take place within seven days of original travel date. Customers with canceled flights are eligible for a full refund. The policy covers flights to and from New York's LaGuardia; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Allentown and Harrisburg, Pa.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Baltimore-Washington; and Reagan National, Dulles, Newport News and Richmond airports in Virginia. Jan 7, 2012

N.H. lawmakers pass bill requiring police to track TSA abuses The New Hampshire House of Representatives this week approved legislation that will require state police to track aggressive or abusive tactics by Transportation Security Administration agents. The legislation would establish a database to track the abuses and give travelers the right to record or videotape a search by an agent. "We need accountability to make sure people who file complaints do not get brushed off. We can actually get citizens in our state tracking and protection,O said Republican state Rep. George Lambert, a sponsor of the bill. Jan 6, 2012

Court says groin searches allowed in some circumstances A federal appeals court this week ruled that a Transportation Security Administration agent may pat down a traveler's groin area as long as the agent and passenger are the same gender and the passenger does not object. The court upheld the search of a traveler's groin area, reasoning that narcotics are often hidden in that area and that the traveler had given unrestricted consent to the search. Jan 6, 2012

Winter desert camping in Southern Calif. offers surreal landscapes The stark beauty of a desert landscape in winter draws tourists to the freezing cold in Southern California during the off-season. The cooler temperatures provide the perfect weather for rock climbing and hiking, and at night, the clear winter sky offers a spectacular view of the stars. Jan 6, 2012

Three labor unions ratify contracts with freight railroads The U.S. railroad industry's contract negotiations moved forward yesterday as three unions ratified new agreements, which include recommendations from the Presidential Emergency Board. The agreements' coverage will be extended to around 33,170 workers represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Jan 6, 2012

DOT: Surface trade among NAFTA partners reached USD79B in October Surface trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico was valued at USD79 billion in October, registering a 12% gain from year-ago levels, according to the Department of Transportation. The growth of U.S. trade in the same period climbed 28.7% from October 2009, and increased 8.7% compared to the same month in 2008. Jan 6, 2012

AAR reports gains for annual rail traffic The Association of American Railroads on Thursday reported gains in 2011 rail traffic compared with last year, with U.S. railroads originating 15.2 million carloads, up 2.2% over 2010 and up 9.7% over 2009. Total U.S. rail intermodal volume in 2011 was 11.9 million trailers and containers, up 5.4% over 2010 and up 20.4% over 2009. Jan 6, 2012

White House calls for a focus on cybersecurity The White House's new defense strategy calls for shoring up cybersecurity, along with greater technological investments in intelligence systems and research, despite cutbacks in the defense budget. The Pentagon has budgeted USD3.2 billion for cybersecurity this year. Jan 6, 2012

Patagonia signs up for "Benefit Corporation" status Patagonia has signed up to become one of California's first "Benefit Corporations" under a new law designed to allow companies to put environmental and social goals ahead of financial priorities. The law is one of two new California statutes seeking to encourage and regulate socially responsible businesses. Jan 6, 2012

Visitors BureauOs Hafa Adai Pledge to strengthen Guam brand The US Department of the InteriorOs Office of Insular Affairs recently funded a buy local program on Guam. The targeted marketing education campaign was developed by the University of Guam (UOG) Pacific Center for Economic Initiatives and Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) to promote the economic benefits of supporting Guam-based businesses and organizations and Guam-based hiring. It is intended to motivate Guam consumers, businesses, and other organizations to shift spending by at least 10 percent towards Guam-based businesses. It will also promote the increase of jobs for Guam residents. It is hoped GuamOs local tax base will expand to support public health care, safety, and education; roads and water systems; public parks; reduced carbon footprint; and better balance of trade. The campaign encourages the support of Guam Visitors BureauOs Hafa Adai Pledge to strengthen the Guam brand. The Hafa Adai Pledge is an organizationOs commitment to introduce, contribute, and practice elements of Chamorro and Guam culture into their business protocols, reinforcing the islandOs unique identity. Organizations participate by integrating cultural practices into daily business protocols. Simple gestures like greeting everyone in person, on the phone, in letters or email with OHafa Adai,O as well as displaying the Guam brand signature mark on their business letterhead, the adoption of Hafa Adai Fridays, or supporting handicrafts, performing arts, and other examples are documented with a pledge of support to solidify GuamOs identity. OThe Hafa Adai Pledge finds its origin in the inherent spirit of the Chamorro people, the native inhabitants of Guam,O GVB General Manager, Joann Camacho, said, OBy coupling the pledge with the OBuy LocalO initiative, we are able to support local businesses on Guam and offer more local products to our visitors. This makes for an authentic cultural experience on our island and perpetuates the Hafa Adai spirit for which this community is known.O Jan 5, 2012

Cruising 2012: New smoking policies, hot destinations, onboard fees Looking at what's in store for cruisers in 2012, here's a list of what is -- and what isn't -- likely to make waves in the next twelve months. Making Waves in 2012 The Ka-ching Factor: Knowing that price hikes are unlikely to be viable in the current economy and without new berths to sell, cruise lines need to bring in new cash through any other means they can, from increased tips to restaurant cover charges. The trend for more for-fee options and upgrades is likely to continue as the cruise lines attempt to scrape every last dollar out of consumers. Smoking is Being Stubbed Out: New policies to cut back smoking onboard cruise ships go into effect in January on several lines. Based on feedback from the Cruise Critic community, whose members are becoming increasingly upset by smoke-filled vessels, lines are clearly responding to pressure from their customers. It's good news if you don't smoke, great news if you want to quit, but bad news for ardent smokers. Cruising's Worst Moment, Celebrated: The 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy will be observed in April 2012, and memorial cruises on Fred. Olsen's Balmoral and Azamara Journey will mark the occasion. Although most agree that it's an event that should be remembered, debate continues as to whether events commemorating the sinking of the "unsinkable" are in good taste or not. Ship Launches Come With a Sense of Deja Vu: For the most part, cruise lines launching new ships in 2012 will not be offering anything entirely new. All the large new ships coming out in 2012 are siblings to existing vessels with some design tweaks, including those from Disney, Oceania, Costa, AIDA, MSC Cruises, Carnival and Celebrity. Refurbs, Not New-builds: The pace of cruise-ship orders has slowed, but cruise lines continue to pour millions into upgrading older ships in lieu of building new ones. To see which ships will get a facelift in 2012, check out Cruise Critic's Refurbishment Chart ( Steady Stream of River Ships: In contrast to their oceangoing counterparts, the river cruise lines continue to float out new ships, and Viking, which will launch six new-builds in 2012, is leading the way. River vessels have long been spartan and basic, but the more astute cruise lines -- especially Uniworld -- are redefining the concept so ships are as much a part of the experience as the ports. Tighter Quarters: With refurbishments and new-builds alike, cruise lines are adding extra cabins -- and either taking space away from public areas or not expanding them to meet the extra capacity. This puts a lot of pressure on public facilities and dining venues, in particular. Revival of U.S. River Cruising: The Mississippi gets two new ships in 2012. The first, the Great American Steamboat Company's American Queen, will commence regular sailings in April, following extensive refurbishment. In August, American Cruise Lines will unveil Queen of the Mississippi, the first completely new ship built for the Mississippi in 15 years. Destinations to Watch: They include Australia, Libya, North Africa and Banana Coast. Australia is a...

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