This week, in Phoenix, was the annual PhoCusWright Conference where folks from all corners of the travel industry gather to share ideas, forge partnerships, and announce some news. Well, we had some news of our own to announce. Here it is, as reported by Tnooz (the travel industry’s top trade news outlet):
“Yapta and MasterCard plan to begin a beta in December in which MasterCard consumer and small business cardholders purchasing flights with their cards would be able to receive Yapta’s price monitoring and price assurance services.
Yapta pledges that its services get air travelers refunds on the difference when the airfare drops below the price the flight was booked for.
The beta is a prelude to a full-fledged launch of the service with MasterCard in early 2011, Yapta says.
The MasterCard-Yapta partnership punctuates a shift for Yapta, which has been focusing in recent months on supplementing its consumer offering with business to business services.
“This is a significant partnership that will deliver real savings and value to a broader audience of travelers,” says Yapta co-founder and CEO Tom Romary. “It’s also consistent with our strategy to power travel services for travel management companies, online travel search companies and financial services companies.”
The beta will be available to a subset of MasterCard cardholders in December.
Yapta and MasterCard plan to implement a series of collaborative services early next year.”
Here’s some more news you can use:
- Airport security body scanners used by the TSA continue to gain negative publicity. John Tyner, a California software engineer, became an instant web celebrity this week when he declined both a body scan and the alternative – a groin check – and then used his iPhone’s video camera to capture the event. Tyner told TSA agents: “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.” He evaded the junk-touching, but wasn’t allowed to fly.
- John Tyner apparently isn’t alone in his detest of airport security body scanners. Others are organizing a “National Opt-Out Day” slated for November 24th — the day before Thanksgiving and probably busiest day of air travel this year. It’s a protest against the full-body scanners at airports. For all you planning to participate, you should know your rights.
- AirTran today launched a “Giving Thanks to Our Customers” airfare sale good for tickets purchased today through Monday. Fares are priced based on “peak,” “off-peak” and “super off-peak” travel dates. The lowest fares are for travel on Nov. 19, 21, 22, 26 and Nov. 30, with some discounts offered for flights on Thanksgiving Day. Also, there are no advance purchase requirements for this sale.
The USA Today reports that while United Airlines and Continental appear to be clear for merger take-off, some politicians who oppose the merger have threatened they might try to re-regulate the industry.
Chairman of the Houst Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, James Oberstar (D-Minn.), and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) are considering “legislation (that) would impose federal regulation of airline pricing and re-establish a government gatekeeper role similar to that played by the old Civil Aeronautics Board prior to deregulation in 1978.”
Deregulation has been credited with making airline travel affordable for the average American. But Oberstar pointed to the $2.7 billion the airlines earned in baggage fees in 2009 as evidence that consumers are no longer benefiting from the system. He said he believes there’s support in the House for re-regulation.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- San Francisco International Airport today said it would roll out free Wi-Fi. Its terminals will switch from T-Mobile’s paid service to free access on September 1.
- Credit cards for Delta and Continental Airlines now offer cardholders one free checked bag for up to nine people when reservations are charged to these cards.
- By the end of the year, 18 more airports will deploy Advanced Imaging Technology as part of their airport security tool-set. The machines – which are already in place in 32 other airports – use either electromagnetic waves or X-rays to render a nude image of the body. Fear not weary traveler, the images are blurred to eliminate facial features.
JetBlue announced a sale today on winter fares to 55 destinations, from sunny to wintry. The airline is offering fares as low as $39 on routes such as New York-Boston and San Francisco-Long Beach, Calif. Blackout dates and other restrictions apply. Sale fares will be available on JetBlue’s websitethrough Jan. 13th for travel through March 24th. Fares may require an advance purchase of up to 10 days.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- American Airlines is in the dog-house with the Federal Aviation Administration. Today the FAA announced that they are keeping a close eye on the airline after three landing mishaps within the last 30 days. During two separate landing attempts in North Carolina and Texas, the planes wingtips touches the ground. Also, one plane overshot the runway during heavy rain while trying to land in Jamaica.
- A power outage at Reagan National Airport today is causing delays for flights out of Washington. The power reportedly went out shortly after noon today. All flights were temporarily suspended, but some planes were able to land due to a backup power supply at the air control tower. Security checks were also being halted due to the power outage.
- The head of the Los Angeles airport police union this morning urged the federal government to require full-body scanners for every passenger at airport security checkpoints, saying metal detectors are no longer enough. Los Angeles is currently one of 19 airports nationwide that uses whole-body imagers, but only uses it on passengers selected for secondary screening.
- A security breach at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday evening forced the closure of a terminal for hours while authorities re-screened thousands of passengers. The incident happened at about 5:20 p.m. at Terminal C, when a man walked through an exit on the public side to the secure “sterile” side for passengers who had cleared screening, according to the TSA. All passengers had been re-screened by early Monday, according to the TSA. Flights from Terminal C were grounded until the process was completed. Ah, travel sure is going to be fun in 2010 with the heightened security.