Google Assistant Will Now Alert You if Your Flight is Delayed

Boarding pass on smartphone

Thanks, Google.

Just in time for the busy holiday travel period, Google Assistant will begin notifying passengers if there’s a strong likelihood that their flight will be delayed.

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Google recently announced that its AI-powered virtual assistant will proactively send alerts to users’ phones so they can plan for an impending flight delay before arriving at the airport.

“Over the next few weeks the Assistant will begin proactively notifying you on your phone if we predict a flight delay and tell you the reason if we know it,” Richard Holden, Vice President, Product Management, Travel, wrote in a blog post on Monday.

Google has been sharing flight delay predictions with users since the early part of this year, informing passengers when it’s 85 percent confident that their flight will eventually be delayed based on analysis of historic flight status data combined with machine learning.

Users can always ask Google Assistant “Hey Google, is my flight on time?” to get up-to-date information on their flight but proactive alerts will make it even easier to stay in the know.

The latest enhancement to Google Assistant is just another example of how the tech giant is impacting the travel industry. Google recently made searching for hotel rooms easier and is also helping travel agents sell Disney.

Celebrate 45 Years of Fun with Funjet Vacations

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Suite

WHY IT RATES: Travelers can save big and receive resort perks when booking a vacation this month.—Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

Funjet Vacations is celebrating its 45th anniversary with its biggest sale of the year. Vacationers can save up to $200 with promo code ALLONSALE9 to top destinations like Mexico, the Caribbean, Las Vegas and New York City.

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Plus, select resorts are offering additional values like resort credits, room upgrades and more, and travel agents can earn up to $50 in Agent Bonus Cash on qualifying bookings. Packages must be booked by January 24, 2019, for travel through May 31, 2019.

Top deals include the following:

—Cancun: Reflect Krystal Grand Cancun—room upgrades and kids rates from $20.19 and up to 40 percent savings

—Riviera Maya: El Dorado Seaside Suites, a Spa Resort by Karisma—save up to 55 percent + reduced room upgrade from Luxury Jacuzzi Jr Suite to Beachfront Jacuzzi Suite

—Punta Cana: Chic Punta Cana—up to 64 percent savings, plus $600 resort credit for Diamond Club categories

—Las Vegas: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas—save 25 percent plus receive $100 food & beverage credit

—New York: Riu New York Times Square—up to 30 percent off room & buffet breakfast and room and buffet breakfast & dinner

“For 45 years, Funjet has been an industry leader in leisure vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean as well as popular domestic destinations,” said Ron Jacobs, Funjet Vacations President. “We’re excited to celebrate with big savings and extra values on our top resorts.”

For more information and restrictions, visit

SOURCE: Funjet Vacations press release.

Carnival Cruise Line Adding Five San Francisco Sailings to 2020 Schedule

San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset, California (photo via dell640 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Carnival Cruise Line recently revealed it is adding five voyages from San Francisco to the Carnival Miracle’s previously announced inaugural schedule in 2020.

With the added journeys, the Carnival Miracle will now offer a total of 27 voyages, including four-day sailings to Ensenada, Mexico; 10-day cruises to Alaska; and 15- and 16-day voyages to Hawaii.

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The itineraries will sail between March and September 2020, and all voyages are now open for reservations.

“After seeing the incredible reaction to Carnival Miracle’s initial San Francisco sailings announcement last month, we knew we had to continue to Choose Fun and bring even more options to the West Coast,” Carnival president Christine Duffy said in a statement. “And what better time to announce this amazing news than while the Carnival AirShip is flying over the city?”

Carnival already carries more passengers from California than any other cruise operator and will expand operations with the debut of the Carnival Panorama from Long Beach in December 2019, new cruise programs from San Diego starting in December 2019 and San Francisco in 2020.

The cruise line made the announcement the same day the Carnival AirShip blimp debuted in San Francisco.

Carnival Miracle’s five new voyages from San Francisco include:

—August 20, 2020, and September 3, 2020: four-day sailing to Ensenada, Mexico.

— August 24, 2020, and September 7, 2020: 10-day sailing to Alaska throughout the Last Frontier calling at Juneau, Skagway and Icy Strait Point.

— September 17, 2020: 16-day Carnival Journeys sailing to Hawaii calling at Maui (Kahului), Honolulu, Hilo, and Kauai.

Latest Updates on Winter Storms Impacting Travel in Midwest, Northeast

winter, snow, plane

Update: January 22, 2019 at 8:20 a.m. ET

The impact of Winter Storm Harper and the cold front that followed is still being felt, with almost 250 flights being canceled Tuesday morning and another 420-plus flights being delayed, according to

Airports in Chicago and Boston are feeling the most significant impact to flight operations.

Update: January 21, 2019 at 3:55 p.m. ET

The effects of Winter Storm Harper are still being felt in the travel industry Monday, as over 588 flights within, into or out of the country have been canceled and another 3,500-plus were delayed, according to as of 3:40 p.m. ET.

Only 24 flights have been canceled for Tuesday.

While airports are returning to full operations following Harper, Winter Storm Indra will be the next major cross-country storm, hitting the mountain West, Plains, Midwest and Northeast with heavy snow and ice this week.

Update: January 21, 2019 at 8:05 a.m. ET

Travelers taking to the skies Monday need to be on notice as the tail end of the impact from Winter Storm Harper continues to be felt in the Northeast United States.

According to as of 8 a.m. ET, over 250 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled Monday and another nearly 400 were delayed, mainly at airports in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

In total, the Northeast dealt with thousands of flight cancelations through the weekend in addition to the hundreds of reported crashes attributed to the storm. At least six people have died in accidents.

Update: January 20, 2019 at 3:30 p.m. ET

As of 11:05 a.m. ET, 4,280 flights have been canceled due to Winter Storm Harper. On Sunday alone, 1,455 flights had been canceled and 990 were delayed.

Travel disruptions will continue through Monday.

Update: January 20, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. ET

As of today, 4,100 flights have been canceled since Friday, with 1,350 of those flights canceled on Sunday alone. Another 564 flights have been delayed today.

Winter Storm Harper will continue to barrage travelers on Monday, as more than 110 flights have already been canceled, which includes 46 JetBlue flights and at least 58 American and American Eagle flights.

Overall, Boston Logan International Airport has been hit the hardest this weekend, though so far it looks like the most cancellations on Monday are centered on Washington Reagan National Airport, followed by Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and JFK in New York City.

Update: January 19, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. ET

As of this morning, 2,400 flights scheduled between Friday and Monday have been canceled due to Winter Storm Harper.

On Saturday, more than 1,135 flights were canceled and 537 were delayed nationwide. Airlines canceled 785 flights for Sunday and more than 36 flights have been canceled for Monday.

Chicago O’Hare airport had a combined 450 departures and arrivals canceled, which accounted for about 20 percent of their schedule. Boston canceled half of their scheduled flights on Sunday which comes out to about 400 flights.

New York’s JFK airport canceled 100 arrivals and departures for Sunday, with most being JetBlue flights.

Update: January 18, 2019 at 3:20 p.m. ET

Nearly 2,700 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been delayed and 400 more have been canceled as of Friday afternoon, according to flight-tracking website, as Winter Storm Harper continues to push east, bringing snow, ice and heavy winds to parts of the Midwest and Northeast.

As of 3:20 p.m. ET Friday, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports had experienced a combined 270 cancellations and 232 delays. Airports in Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City and New York were also being impacted.

Meanwhile, Amtrak announced it will operate modified service this weekend as a result of the severe winter weather. Amtrak said customers should check their train status on or the company’s smartphone apps prior to departing and allow extra time to get to their station.

“Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will typically be accommodated on trains with similar departure times or another day,” the passenger railroad service said. “Amtrak will gladly waive additional charges for customers looking to change their reservation during the modified schedule by calling our reservation center at 800-USA-RAIL.”

Travelers hitting the road this weekend should be keeping a close eye on two winter storms making their way across the United States as delays and cancellations are expected.

According to, the first storm is expected to impact travel in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia starting Friday and continuing through Saturday morning.

Forecasters believe the storm will produce enough snow to make roads slippery and may cause some flight delays and cancellations Friday.

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On the other hand, Winter Storm Harper is expected to bring heavy snow across Illinois and other northern portions of the Midwest Friday before hitting Pennsylvania, New York and northern New England.

According to, the storm system is expected to turn into an all-out blizzard in some areas, with as much as 12 inches in Albany, Boston and Pittsburgh. Areas of northern New England could see as much as 24 inches through Sunday.

Both storms are expected to cause road closures and flight cancellations in impacted areas.

As a result, several major airlines have started issuing travel waivers for customers flying to or from destinations expecting heavy snow. Many of the carriers are also waiving change fees for impacted flights.

American Airlines announced it is waiving change fees and fare differences for travel on January 19 and 20 to and from the Northeast, eastern Canada and 32 total airports. Passengers must complete their trip by January 23 to be eligible for the travel waivers.

Delta Air Lines is also getting ahead of the storms by issuing travel warnings for the Central Plains, Ohio Valley, Midwest and Northeast for the coming days. In total, travelers making their way through over 50 airports in impacted regions will be eligible to have their change fees waived. When rescheduled travel occurs beyond January 23, the change fee will not be waived.

As for United Airlines, the carrier is waiving change fees for flights in and out of more than 70 airports in the Midwest, central U.S. and Northeast between January 18 and 20. Passengers will have to rebook their trip by January 23 if they don’t want to pay a change fee or difference in fares.

Other carriers are also expected to issue travel waivers Friday. As always, airlines are asking travelers to call ahead to make sure their flights are not delayed or canceled before heading to the airport.

What to See and Do in Atlanta Super Bowl Weekend


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Now is a great time to visit Atlanta. If you’re visiting for Super Bowl LIII, there will be plenty of football fanfest throughout the city, but don’t forget to check out some of the local sites, too. With so much to do and see, you’ll need more than just a weekend to pack it all in, and I can’t wait to share my hometown with you.

Latest Travel Impact Updates on Winter Storm Jayden

airport, snow, winter

Update: January 29, 2019 at 4:20 p.m. ET

Winter Storm Jayden is continuing to impact travel as it moves east into the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and parts of the South on Tuesday afternoon. According to, nearly 1,300 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been canceled as of 4:10 p.m. ET Tuesday while another 2,000 have been delayed.

Meanwhile, more than 800 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been canceled for Wednesday.

Airports are being impacted across a large swath of the country, including places like Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, New York City and Washington, D.C., among other major cities.

Update: January 29, 2019 at 12:20 p.m. ET

The travel issues related to Winter Storm Jayden continue into Tuesday afternoon, as FlightAware is reporting over 1,080 flights within, into or out of the United States were already canceled and another 920-plus were delayed.

The airports being impacted most by the snow and ice associated with the storm include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Chicago Midway International and O’Hare International, which combined for over 750 cancelations so far Tuesday.

Update: January 29, 2019 at 6:20 a.m. ET

After Winter Storm Jayden blanketed the Midwest in snow Monday, the weather system is moving East Tuesday and will likely disrupt travel at important travel hubs along the East Coast throughout the day.

According to, over 970 flights within, into or out of the United States were already canceled Tuesday, with another 170-plus delayed. That is in addition to the nearly 2,000 flights canceled and the over 3,600 flights delayed Monday.

As Atlanta prepares for the Super Bowl this weekend, officials at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have preemptively canceled over 280 flights as of Tuesday morning to avoid the issues caused by the snow and ice.

Chicago’s two major airports, O’Hare and Midway International, continue to deal with the fall out from Winter Storm Jayden, as over 400 combined flights have been canceled so far Tuesday.

Airlines continue to waive change fees for travelers scheduled to fly through at least Tuesday to and from airports in the path of the storm.

Update: January 28, 2019 at 3:59 p.m. ET

Winter Storm Jayden is causing major headaches in Chicago Monday as about 790 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport and around 220 were canceled at Midway International Airport.

According to, over 1,500 flights in the United States were canceled through Monday afternoon and another 2,500-plus were delayed. The storm is also creating blizzard-like conditions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and other Midwestern states.

Winter Storm Jayden continues to impact travel in parts of the Plains and Midwest, the weather system is expected to keep moving toward the South and East early this week.

According to, Winter Storm Jayden dumped around six inches of snow on portions of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a snowfall rate of one inch per hour was reported at Chicago O’Hare and Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport early Monday morning.

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After causing havoc at the busiest Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee airports, Winter Storm Jayden is expected to impact travel in the South and the Northeast. Winter storm warnings and watches have been issued in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

As for the Northeast, winter storm watches have been issued for Monday through Wednesday for parts of New York, Pennsylvania and New England. To help customers scheduled to fly through airports likely to be impacted by the winter storm, airlines have started issuing travel waivers.

Delta Air Lines started waiving change fees for Tuesday and Wednesday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and 28 Northeast airports, including New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports.

Southwest Airlines also issued waivers through February 1 at airports in Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. In addition, United is waiving change fees for over 70 airports in the path of Winter Storm Jayden.

Virgin Voyages Says Bon Voyage to Non-Commissionable Fares

Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady rendering

Virgin Voyages is eliminating non-commissionable fares on its cruises as part of a broader effort to banish what it called the “nickel and diming” of travel advisors.

The company, which affectionately refers to travel advisors as its “First Mates,” said in a statement that the Virgin Voyages sales strategy is built on research conducted with travel professionals with the specific aim of abolishing long-standing pain-points.

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“You asked us to work with you to build a strong partnership, so we’re excited to announce one of the most rewarding travel partner programs ever created,” Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of Virgin Voyages said in a statement. “We are committed to delivering an ‘Epic Sea Change’ by getting rid of the things that annoy you and offering incredible value and experiences for your clients.”

No part of bookings with Virgin Voyages will be non-commissionable, the statement added. First Mates will earn across their client’s entire transaction. This includes all add-ons, such as flights, hotel stays, voyage protection, Shore Things (shore excursions), spa treatments, any premium package, Sailor Loot (onboard credits) and even taxes and fees.

“While the debate is often about this percent versus that one, the underlying issue travel professionals have is not being compensated for their hard work on the entire sale,” said Stacy Shaw, vice president of sales for Virgin Voyages. “With Virgin Voyages you will be. With our combination of premium pricing that includes so much more, no NCFs and the ability to earn on everything you sell, total dollars earned on every sale with us will be more. Percentages don’t matter, total dollars do .”

With a more inclusive Rebellious Luxe experience, First Mates have the opportunity to sell voyages based on the total value proposition rather than price and to reach a new client base, which translates to more commission earned.

And in a bit of good news for Virgin Voyages Sailors (passengers), the cruise line announced that it will be abolishing gratuities.

The base ticket fare for all Virgin Voyages sailings will include all eateries, group fitness classes, basic beverages and now gratuities. These things will always be included and are not tied to a short-term promotion, the company said.

Continuing with its industry altering changes, Virgin Voyages also confirmed that it is eliminating penalties and change fees. Booking policies have been designed to appeal to customers who are serious about sailing but also offer flexibility after booking, the company said.

Both Sailors (customers) and First Mates (travel professionals) can hold cabins for 24 hours with no money down.

“Once they’ve placed a 20 percent non-refundable deposit, they’ll have a grace period of seven days where they may change their mind for any reason at all,” continued the company’s statement. “Sailors and First Mates may also change voyage dates and names on bookings without penalties or fees.”

RockStar Suite, Virgin Voyages

In addition, Virgin Voyages is introducing a base commission of 10 percent on the entire transaction, with nothing held back or excluded. All travel advisors or affiliated organizations can earn a Red Hot Bonus paid annually on sailed revenue up to an additional six percent if they meet certain production thresholds.

“We’re giving ten a makeover. Our First Mates asked us for something simple and they’ll be able to earn more total dollars on every transaction with Virgin Voyages. So, it simply isn’t the same old 10, we call that ‘The Perfect 10,’” said Shaw. is currently registering travel agencies and individual travel sellers to do business with Virgin Voyages in advance of the company opening voyages for bookings on February 14.

All individual travel advisors who register to do business with Virgin Voyages before February 14 will have the opportunity to enter to win afternoon tea with Sir Richard Branson (must opt-in to sweepstakes by 11:59 EST on February 13).

Virgin Voyages will also host an immersive learning campaign beginning February 6 called Cabin Fever, which will help First Mates learn about cabins and RockStar suites, a key product differentiator.

Any agency or individual seeking assistance with registration from Virgin Voyages’ Sales Crew can reach out at or by call 1-833-VVSAILS.

WATCH: Rude Airline Passenger Has Middle Seat Meltdown

Emergency exit seat row in airplane

A video has surfaced on social media of a female passenger on a United Airlines flight earlier this month losing her cool after facing the prospect of sitting in a middle seat for a four-hour trip.

According to, the unidentified passenger had just boarded a United Flight from Las Vegas to Newark on January 2 when she realized she would be stuck between two larger passengers for the journey.

The video was taken by New Jersey resident Norma Rodgers, who was sitting next to the woman and the target of her outburst. Rodgers posted the meltdown on Facebook, where it has since gone viral with 2.5 million views.

“Oh, my goodness, I don’t know how I’m going to do this the next four hours,” the woman said in the video. “This is just impossible because they’re squishing me.”

“At least they’ll keep me warm,” she continued.

As flight attendants tried to handle the situation, Rodgers informed crew members that she didn’t want to sit next to someone who verbally abused her. As the disruptive passenger was moved to another seat at the back of the plane, other people onboard started to heckle her actions.

The Daily Mail reported the ignorant passenger was removed from the flight.

What's New at Crystal River Cruises?

Crystal River Cruises

Crystal River Cruises is sailing into 2019 with a renewed focus on its award-winning product. The line’s four newest vessels (Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Ravel) have earned a steady stream of accolades since their debut.

The all-suite, all-butler, all-balcony ships feature king-sized beds that face Panoramic Balcony-Windows; walk-in closets; personal IPads, dual bathroom vanities and more.

The ships also feature the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the industry. Some 68 crew members serve 106 guests.


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“The heart of the Crystal River Experience is, like all Crystal Experiences, the genuine warmth and personalized service from the best crew in the industry,” said the line’s Vice President and Managing Director Walter Littlejohn.

According to Littlejohn, the line’s success is all about anticipating what today’s travelers want.

One thing those travelers definitely want is sophisticated dining on board. Crystal has heeded that call, with farm-to-table cuisine in multiple, open-seating eateries. Guests can choose from the elegant Waterside Restaurant, signature Bistro cafés, intimate, exclusive Vintage Room or the Palm Court.

“Menus are designed to reflect both the classic cuisine of the regions explored – with extraordinary wine lists complementing the selections – as well as Crystal’s own take on modern cuisine. Small bites, wines, specialty coffees and other cravings are available 24/7,” said Littlejohn.

The line continues to innovate on the itinerary front, as well. In May 2019, the new Enchanting Moselle itinerary debuts aboard Crystal Bach. The ten-day round-trip from Amsterdam travels through Germany and the Netherlands. It includes five entirely new ports of call, plus the opportunity to explore one of Europe’s most scenic regions. The Moselle is known for its steep hillside vineyards, the source of world-class Rieslings. Guests will not only enjoy wine tastings, they’ll visit historic sites, such as the Roman ruins of Trier and the iconic Reichsburg Castle perched above Cochem.

Most significantly, they’ll visit Bonn and Dusseldorf, new calls for the line. The former is the birthplace of Beethoven, while the latter is one of Germany’s cultural hubs. Additional excursions include the war museums of Arnhem, Netherlands and day trips to Luxembourg.

Littlejohn notes that other changes are coming to the river cruise lineup in 2019.

“We are offering shorter voyages starting at seven days to provide our guests with numerous choices. Due to overwhelming demand, we’ve also added more seven-night cruises on the Rhine River aboard Crystal Bach, sailing between Amsterdam and Basel. These itineraries provide guests with the option to combine sailings with a stay at a five-star hotel in Amsterdam or Paris,” said Littlejohn.

Crystal River Cruises offers a collection of more than 200 shoreside experiences. And nearly every itinerary features an inclusive Signature Event. These are special events that offer rare access and musical performances in iconic landmarks, such as Vienna’s Belvedere Palace, Linz’s St. Florian Monastery, Rüdesheim’s Monastery Eberbach and others. Excursion groups are limited to no more than 15 guests.

Amtrak Offers 30 Percent Savings on Long Distance and State Trains

amtrak, train, rail

WHY IT RATES: Travel agents and advisors working with clients who prefer rail travel should consider the Amtrak savings promotion.—Donald Wood, Breaking News Senior Writer.

It’s time to sit in comfort, and not traffic for your spring, summer and holiday travel with Amtrak’s latest flash sale on long distance and state supported trains, exclusively available at

Starting Monday, Jan. 28 through Thursday, Jan. 31, customers can take advantage of the low prices from the sale, celebrate “National Plan for Vacation Day” on Tuesday, Jan. 29,and book travel across the entire national network on some of Amtrak’s most popular trains, including the Adirondack, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Downeaster, Lake Shore Limited, Lincoln Service, Silver Service/Palmetto, Wolverine and more from Monday, March 11 through Monday, July 8, with no blackout dates.

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Since the sale is valid during the spring and beginning of the summer, customers can leverage this sale for their Memorial Day and Fourth of July travel and other spring and summer trips. With large spacious seating and no middle seat on its trains, Amtrak customers can relax and ride the rails to visit the most popular cities in the country for their travel, whether it’s to catch a baseball game, experience a summer music festival, explore a new city, relax at the beach, or to enjoy an outdoor biking or hiking adventure.

Being able to easily travel from downtown to downtown, Amtrak offers free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times (no “airplane mode”), the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample leg room, no middle seat, and one of the most generous baggage policies in the travel industry, applicable for two personal items and two carry-on bags.

All prices will be automatically discounted from the standard fare price. No discount code is needed; prices are as shown and can’t be combined with other discount codes. Sale prices are available exclusively for one-way Coach Class fares; upgrades to Business Class or First Class are not permitted. Seating is limited; seats may not be available on all trains at all times. Fares are subject to availability. Other restrictions apply.

For more information, reach out to your local travel agent.

SOURCE: Amtrak press release.

Pleasant Holidays and Journese Expand Las Vegas Offerings

Sky Pool at ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas

WHY IT RATES: Travel agents can increase commissions by booking complete travel packages to Las Vegas. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand, Journese, announced the expansion of their Las Vegas vacation program with the addition of MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas hotels. All the company’s resorts are located on The Strip in the heart of the city’s most popular attractions, and travel advisors can book FIT and Groups with dynamic rates, real-time inventory, instant confirmations and last-room availability.

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“We are thrilled to partner with MGM Resorts, the leading hospitality and entertainment company in Las Vegas with best-in-class resorts, entertainment experiences, fine dining, shopping, spas, nightlife and more,” said Jack E. Richards, president and CEO.

MGM Resorts’ destinations in Las Vegas include:

ARIA Resort & Casino


Circus Circus Hotel, Casino & Theme Park

Delano Las Vegas

Excalibur Hotel & Casino

Luxor Hotel and Casino

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

The Mirage Hotel & Casino

New York-New York Hotel & Casino

NoMad Las Vegas

Park MGM

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Vdara Hotel & Spa

Travel advisors can increase commission income by booking complete vacation packages including flights, hotel rooms and suites, travel protection plans, sightseeing tours, activities, airport transfers, Hertz Car Rentals and more.

The Pleasant Holidays and Journese Protection Plan Plus coverage includes travel agent commission protection while providing comprehensive travel protection including benefits, coverage and assistance services designed to meet travelers’ needs at affordable rates.

For more information or to make a booking, travel advisors can visit or call 800-448-3333 or visit or call 800-442-9244. Pleasant Holidays and Journese are members of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and an active member of the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) and participate in the $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program.

SOURCE: Pleasant Holidays press release.

Blue Sky Tours Announces Exclusive Resort Offers

Humpback whales off of the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii

WHY IT RATES: Travelers can save big on trips to Hawaii with Blue Sky Tours.—Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

Blue Sky Tours kicked off its biggest sale of the yeara Whale of a Saleoffering exclusive offers on select hotels and a $200 promo code with code BESTWHALE19 on bookings made through January 24, 2019. Vacationers can also take 25 percent off their Alamo car rental. Travel dates are through September 30, 2019.

Vacationers can receive exclusive hotel offers like free nights, daily breakfast, triple promo code savings and food and beverage credits at popular resorts like Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui and Hilton Waikoloa Village.

A full list of resorts, offers and restrictions can be found on VAX VacationAccess.

January through March is peak whale watching season in Hawaii. Lucky vacationers can spot whales from their resort balconies or from the beach, or for a sure sighting, through a whale watch excursion.

About Blue Sky Tours

Blue Sky Tours, a leading wholesaler to Hawaii and the South Pacific, has been selling custom designed vacation packages since 1981.

Blue Sky Tours offers superior depth in Hawaii product in airlines, hotels and condominiums, cars and activities, as well as a “peace of mind” protection waiver, commission protection and comprehensive during-travel insurance. Blue Sky Tours sells ONLY through travel agents.

SOURCE: Blue Sky Tours press release.

Complete List of 2019 Travvy Awards Winners


2019 Travvy Awards statuettes

2019 Travvy Award Winners

The 2019 Travvy Awards were handed out at New York City’s Gotham Hall on Wednesday night. Read on to see which destinations, travel suppliers and industry players were recognized as the best of the best by travel agents this year.

Alaska's Todrillo Mountain Lodge Unveils Renovations

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge unveils renovations

WHY IT RATES: The redesigned lodge now offers a transformed summer guest experience to complement the existing winter heli-sking program.—Mia Taylor, TravelPulse Senior Writer.

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is unveiling a multi-million-dollar renovation as Alaska celebrates 60 years of statehood in 2019.

The redesigned main lodge offers a completely transformed summertime guest experience to complement their famous winter heli-skiing program. Construction improvements include five new chalets built with sustainably harvested four-sided log, an expanded yoga, and fitness studio and the first via ferrata (fixed steel cable climbing route) in Alaska.

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Nestled on the shores of the Talachulitna River and Judd Lake in the Tordrillo Mountains, and just a 40-minute floatplane flight from Anchorage, the remote Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is the perfect base for the Alaskan trip of a lifetime.

Owned by Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe and Alaskan heli-ski pioneer, Mike Overcast, together they redefined big mountain adventures when they started offering heli-skiing trips to this unexplored terrain over 20 years ago. Since then, they’ve expanded operations, bringing a five-star experience to the region and introducing a range of multi-sport wilderness adventures in the Tordrillo Mountains.

“We are excited about the growth and development of the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge since we opened almost two decades ago in 2006,” shares Mike Overcast. “Guests will have a new experience in 2019 from the stylish lodge ambiance, gourmet local cuisine prepared by private chefs and the many new summertime activities they can enjoy. We look forward to a new decade of adventure activity.”

Thrill-seeking guests of all abilities can experience endless summer activities to explore the rugged and beautiful Alaskan wilderness from helicopter accessed fat tire mountain biking, world-class fishing, kayaking, canoeing, white water rafting, and glacier hiking to wake surfing, waterskiing, wildlife viewing, and Northern Lights observation.

The extensive river system around the lodge is home to all of the Pacific salmon species, as well as rainbow trout, Arctic char, and grayling. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge’s remote location provides what feels like private water, accessed by helicopter directly or by floating in rafts inflated on-site at a backcountry river. Guest activities and itineraries are tailored to each group’s desires – from the menu to the adventure-

In the winter months, visitors have unrivaled access to the legendary Tordrillo Mountains for heli-skiing and snowboarding. The industry’s most accomplished and qualified guide team is ready to lead guests to steep couloirs, open powder fields, or to nab a first-descent.

On winter down-days, the lodge offers a range of activities including cross country/skate skiing and fat tire mountain biking on groomed trails around the property, snowshoeing, an ice plunge, and a hot tub.

For those looking for something ultra-exclusive, the Lakeside Retreat & Moose Hall sleeps eight and includes a private chef, masseuses and your own helicopter and landing pad. After a day of exploring the alpine surroundings, there are numerous luxurious amenities to round-off the stay including in-room spa treatments, a lakeside sauna, an outdoor copper tub, wine tastings, and an indulgent Alaskan gastronomical experience.

Summer packages from July 5 – September 15, 2019 start at $6,000 per person for three nights. Packages include round-trip float plane flights from Lake Hood, Anchorage to Judd Lake, lodging, two helicopter excursions, all gourmet meals, professional guide services, use of gear and fishing equipment, access to the fitness/yoga center, copper hot tub overlooking the lake and a wood-fired sauna.

Winter heli-skiing packages begin at $14,000 per person and include seven nights of lodging, seven days of heli-adventures and gourmet meals, safety equipment and ski/snowboard demos, five hobbs per group of four clients, transportation from Anchorage International Airport to The Hotel Captain Cook, one double occupancy room night at The Hotel Captain Cook the evening prior to your flight to TML, round trip flight between Lake Hood & Judd Lake with arrival on Saturday and departure on Saturday.

SOURCE: Tordrillo Mountain Lodge press release

2019 Travvy Awards Names Best Hotels & Resorts Around the World


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The World’s Best Hotels and Resorts

Hotels and resorts around the world continue to evolve and up their game in so many remarkable ways, from increased integration of technology to ever more innovative wellness offerings and uniquely local experiences.

The 2019 Travvy Awards recognized the planet’s standout properties on Wednesday night, feting those that consistently wowed us during the past year. Winners, selected with the help of travel agents across North America, were chosen in a variety of categories including Best All-Inclusive Luxury Resort, Best All-Inclusive Resort Spa & Wellness, Best Boutique Hotel Chain and far, far more. Need some inspiration for where to stay in 2019 and beyond? Scroll through the slideshow to find some.

Frontier Airlines’ New Kids Fly Free Program Deepens Commitment to Families

Frontier aircraft

WHY IT RATES: Travel agents and advisors working with families should be showcasing the new program from Frontier Airlines to clients.—Donald Wood, Breaking News Senior Writer.

Frontier Airlines is committed to families, and what better way to demonstrate that than helping America’s kids fly for free. That’s right, today the low-fare airline announced that children 14 years and younger can now fly free when travelling with an adult through the airline’s Discount Den travel club on qualifying flights.

With more than 100 destinations to choose from, Frontier is removing the obstacles for families to travel together whether it’s for a sunny vacation or a visit to grandma’s house.

“Kids Fly Free shows our continued commitment to being America’s affordable and family-friendly airline,” said Barry Biffle, President and CEO of Frontier Airlines. “We’re the only airline going all out for families in this way—it’s exactly what we mean at Frontier by Low Fares Done Right.”

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It’s easy to take advantage of Kids Fly Free. And the math is easy, too—one kid can fly free for every adult who books at Simply select a flight on a date that is qualified for Kids Fly Free which is easy to find as it’s marked with a Kids Fly Free logo beneath the Discount Den price. Additional information about Kids Fly Free, is available at

Kids Fly Free is a new feature of the airline’s discount travel club, the Discount Den. In addition to the Kids Fly Free benefit, customers also enjoy exclusive access to Frontier’s lowest available fares for up to six people on the member’s itinerary. And the benefits last for a full year from purchase for only $59.99. Becoming a member is easy and customers can join in advance or simply purchase during the flight booking process. More information about Discount Den is available at

Kids Fly Free is only one example of Frontier’s commitment to families. Last year, Frontier re-launched its frequent flyer program to include features such as Family Pooling and Elite Status benefits for the whole family. And unlike some airlines, Frontier provides families an option to pre-select their seats and even upgrade to our stretch seats for extra room.

The Discount Den travel club membership is good for the whole family with up to six people on the member’s itinerary! Families with young kids board with priority and get onboard directly after Zone 1. Parents can book stress-free with The Works bundle which allows families to make changes to their itinerary and even cancel their flight with a refund.

And since every Frontier aircraft features a unique animal on its tail—from Griz the Bear, to Otto the Owl, to Flo the Flamingo—kids will enjoy getting to know their new animal friends. Onboard, kids can ask their friendly Flight Attendant for a collectable trading card and Frontier offers plenty of kid-friendly snacks for the trip.

For more information, reach out to your local travel agent.

SOURCE: Frontier Airlines press release.

Two French Police Officers on Trial for Raping Tourist

police, officers, travel

Two police officers in France are set to go on trial for the gang rape of a Canadian tourist at Paris police headquarters.

According to The Associated Press, the two anti-gang officers are part of the BRI force and have been formally accused of raping the unidentified woman at 36 Quai des Orfevres, a famous police station depicted in many crime movies and novels.

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The woman claimed she met a group of officers in April 2014 at an Irish pub along the Seine River. After hanging with the officers and sharing a few drinks, they invited the woman to the police headquarters for a night tour.

Once inside the building, the woman claims she was raped several times by multiple officers.

While the case was initially thrown out by a judge, the Paris prosecutor filed a formal appeal on behalf of the Canadian tourist and won the chance to have the case brought to trial, which began Monday.

If convicted of the crimes, the accused officers could face up to 20 years in prison.

Experience All the Things That Make Loreto a Magic Town

An aerial view of Loreto in Baja California, Mexico (Photo via MiguelABriones / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The magical seaside town of Loreto, Mexico is one of the many places visitors to Baja California Sur won’t want to miss in 2019.

Historic, charming, scenic and romantic are just a few of the many words that come to mind.

Located several hours north of Los Cabos, Loreto boasts phenomenal history, gorgeous views of the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra de la Giganta mountains, stunning colonial architecture, some of Mexico’s friendliest locals, opportunities for whale watching and so much more.

Considered the first human settlement in Baja California Sur, Loreto is chock-full of one-of-a-kind attractions, none more iconic than the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó or The Mission of Our Lady of Loreto. Founded in 1697 by the Jesuits, the Mission Church closed nearly two centuries ago but remains a must-see attraction downtown.

Explore the Jesuit Mission Museum to uncover more than three centuries of history showcased through religious art and ancient documents, weapons, tools and more. Afterward, stroll Loreto’s unique cobblestone streets for more pleasant surprises, including delicious restaurants serving up scrumptious local food and drinks.

The beautiful but tiny Isla Coronado is another popular hangout spot located just a few miles from Loreto. Visitors will enjoy spectacular views, white-sand beaches, water sports and even close-up encounters with marine life, including sea lions, dolphins and whales.

Loreto Bay National Marine Park

Coronado is just one small part of the much larger Bahia de Loreto Maritime National Park, which comprises other islands such as Carmen, Danzantes, Monserrat and Santa Catalina as well as Concepcion Bay.

For adventure seekers, Loreto offers exciting opportunities to go kayaking, diving, snorkeling, hiking and fishing.

Affordability only adds to Loreto’s allure as travelers don’t have to break the bank to experience this Magic Town, which boasts cheap but inviting accommodations and wallet-friendly dining options at every turn.

For more information on Loreto and Baja California Sur, contact your travel agent or visit their website here.

ShoreTrips Delivers a Personal Touch

French Quarter, downtown New Orleans

ShoreTrips is known for offering some of the best and most unique opportunities for excursions around the world for both cruise trip passengers and FIT travelers alike.

They are experts in finding the best shore excursions, day activities and city sightseeing tours around the globe.

ShoreTrips journeys are held to high standards, allowing the company to create outstanding experiences along with helpful tools and expert staff, and they continually garner support from clients and partners.

Part of being experts means they need to know the places they are talking about around the world where they offer excursions, and that’s why they regularly visit each destination personally. This year, they covered half the globe.

Here are ShoreTrips favorite destinations from 2018:




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The Helicopter Icefield Excursion in Alaska was ShoreTrips’ shore excursions specialist Kelly Kaminski’s favorite during her trip.

“We had a perfectly clear day, so we were able to fly over the mountains as opposed to around them—which they have to do when there is poor visibility,” said Kaminski. “The pilot was very excited about this as it rarely happens. It was so beautiful.”

An added bonus: “They let you drink glacier water if you bring a water bottle—which I thoroughly enjoyed,” she added.


Andrea Khan, ShoreTrips Director of Marketing, visited Tunisia.

“Tunisia is a hidden gem,” said Khan. “It offers such a unique blend of French and Arabic culture. We visited the third-largest Roman colosseum in the world, El Jem, on a private tour.”

The best part for Khan was that there were fewer people visiting the region.

“The shocking part was there were no crowds like in Italy,” she said. “No lines to get in, just the opportunity to explore it all including underneath where they housed the lions and gladiators.”

“We loved our private tour which was customized just for us,” added Khan. “November, when we were there, is date season so all the palm trees were dripping with dates. It truly added to the beauty.”

South America

ShoreTrips co-founders, Barry and Julie Karp, traveled around South America.

“Highlights of the trip for us: a cooking class, dancing at one of the top samba schools and a tour of the carnival floats, all in Brazil,” said the Karps.

One of the other highlights was a day at sea during which they were surrounded by spectacular glaciers and also the penguins that greeted them in Argentina.


Shore excursion specialist Melanie Roland traveled to Montenegro and especially enjoyed visiting the sights around the Bay of Kotor.

“This was our group’s favorite city,” said Roland. “Vesna customized a tour for us that I deemed as “boot camp,” but we wanted to see as much as possible. We started with a short drive to Perast (pronounced Paris’t). What a charming, quaint town. From there, we took a small boat ride to the Island Lady of the Rock.”

Roland notes that, for religious groups, the Lady of the Rock Church is a must see.

“We continued on what they call ‘the Serpentine Road.’ It literally zig-zagged to the top, but the view was worth it,” Roland continued. “We stopped at the tiny village of Njesgusi, known for smoked prosciutto as well as delicious cheese and wine. We continued on to Cetinje—the original capital of Montenegro. This was a great stop for a coffee and to watch the locals.

“We quickly drove through Budva, which is a beautiful beach town. From June-September, this would be an ideal area to send families looking for surf and sand,” added Roland.

The last stop was the old city, which Roland noted was very charming but also swarming with tourists. However, it’s also just a short walk from the cruise pier.

New Orleans

Rachel Olson, who handles ShoreTrips vendor relations, visited New Orleans in 2018.

“New Orleans is unlike anywhere else in the world,” said Olson. “We loved our time in the city so much. The food, the drinks, the people, all wonderful.”

Olson enjoys getting to know a new place by traveling outside of the city for a more comprehensive cultural immersion.

“One of our favorite days was a trip to Oak Alley Plantation and a true Cajun Airboat Ride,” she said. “The natural beauty of the swamp was overwhelming and unlike anything we had experienced before. It is not to be missed.

Filming Locations for Top 2019 Oscar Nominated Movies


Oscar golden award in a souvenir store on Hollywood Boulevard

Where Oscar Nominees Filmed

Sadly, you can’t yet visit the Dagobah System or any other fictional locales. But you can always live vicariously through Hollywood’s lens by visiting the actual locations for 2018’s best films. The Oscars are coming up. While you have your duty to watch the nominees, we also invite you to consider enjoying where these movies took place.