PR Newswire | October 06, 2023
United Airlines today announced new technologies and policies to improve the travel experience for customers who use a wheelchair, including a new digital filter on united.com that helps determine which aircraft can accommodate different sized chairs, and refunding the fare difference if a higher-fare flight is needed to accommodate a specific wheelchair size. United expects to launch these new tools early next year.
"By offering customers an easy way to know if their personal wheelchair fits on a particular airplane, we can give them the peace of mind they deserve when they fly with us," said Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for United. "Plus, collecting this information ahead of time ensures our team can handle these special items with proper care and attention."
New Flight Filter and Fare Reimbursement
The new flight filter on united.com will enable customers to enter the unique dimensions of their personal wheelchair as part of the flight search. The search results will then prioritize flight options on aircraft with cargo hold doors large enough to accommodate the wheelchair dimensions. The size of aircraft cargo hold doors varies, so some aircraft are better able than others to handle larger motorized wheelchairs, which must travel upright.
If a customer is unable to take a preferred flight because their wheelchair will not fit through the aircraft's cargo door – and takes a United flight with a higher-fare that can accommodate their wheelchair on the same day and between the same origin and destination – the customer may seek a refund of the fare difference. Customers seeking a refund of the fare difference will need to follow United's process, including completing a short form after they've traveled. United will promptly ensure they receive the difference in fare after review.
Airport Experience Improvement Program
Later this year United will begin a six-month pilot program at George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport to explore ways to better accommodate customers in the unlikely event their wheelchair was damaged or delayed while traveling. The program will focus on the timeframe between a customer's arrival and when United returns the wheelchair or provides an appropriate loaner wheelchair if the original is damaged. United will collaborate with its Accessible Travel Advisory Board to explore several initiatives aimed at improving the airport experience during this challenging period, including providing specialized seating onsite and reimbursing the customer for transportation expenses should they choose to wait at a location other than the airport.
United entered an agreement earlier this month with the U.S. Department of Transportation to deliver these initiatives through a mutual commitment to increase accessibility and improve the travel experience for customers who require the use of a wheelchair. United carried about 150,000 wheelchairs in 2022.
United's other recent measures to improve accessibility include:
Providing ramp agents new mobile technology that indicates when a wheelchair is on a flight to ensure they are prepared to receive and load it. The technology also inhibits ramp agents from closing out a flight until they acknowledge that they've loaded all wheelchairs.
In August, United became the first U.S. airline to add Braille to aircraft interiors, helping millions of travelers with visual disabilities more easily navigate the cabin independently. United expects to outfit its entire mainline fleet with Braille by the end of 2026.
The United mobile app was recently redesigned to make it easier to use for people with visual disabilities with increased color contrast, more space between graphics and reordering how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with the screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack.
United's latest Inflight Seatback Entertainment screens offer a wide range of accessible features such as closed captioning, text-to-speech controls, magnification, explore-by-touch capabilities, audio-described movies, and adjustable and high-contrast text and color correction. As part of United Next, the airline's historic growth plan, the carrier expects to take delivery of about 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft by the end of 2032, all of which will include the latest in seatback screen entertainment options.
Through Bridge, United's Business Resource Group for people of all abilities, employees help create a workplace environment where all can strive to achieve their maximum potential and support our commitment to being an ally for customers with disabilities.
For the eighth-straight year, United was recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion and earned a top score on the Disability Equality Index benchmarking tool, a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN, to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities.
At United, Good Leads The WaySM. With U.S. hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., United operates the most comprehensive global route network among North American carriers and is now the largest airline in the world as measured by available seat miles. For more about how to join the United team, please visit www.united.com/careers and more information about the company is at www.united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc., the parent company of United Airlines, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".
Expedia Group | September 11, 2023
Expedia Group has launched the TAAP Autumn Sale, offering substantial savings to meet the rising demand for fall travel in 2023.
US travel advisors can provide travelers with 20% or more savings on global hotel bookings until September 24, 2023, making travel more affordable.
Expedia TAAP provides access to over three million properties, 200,000 activities, 175 car rental options, and 500 airlines. For streamlined booking and support, travel advisors can utilize tools like Virtual Agent and Live Agent Chat.
Expedia Group has launched the Expedia TAAP Autumn Sale, aimed at helping travel advisors meet the growing demand for fall/autumn travel in 2023 and boost bookings. This sale allows US travel advisors to provide travelers with 20% or more in savings on thousands of hotels worldwide for bookings until September 24, 2023. Travel under these offers is valid through March 31, 2023.
Expedia TAAP offers travel advisors an extensive inventory featuring over three million properties, 200,000 activities, 175 car rental options, and 500 airlines. It provides access to Expedia Group tools, including a Virtual Agent for quick assistance and a Live Agent Chat for more in-depth support, streamlining the booking process and enhancing the advisor's capabilities.
Travel advisors interested in the TAAP travel agent affiliate program can access comprehensive program details on how to become part of this extensive network on the official Expedia TAAP website. With the expansive range of resources available through Expedia TAAP, travel advisors can deliver exceptional service and options to their clients. Expedia Group's extensive family of brands, including Expedia, Hotels.com, Vrbo, Orbitz, and many others, ensures that travel advisors have a wide array of offerings to meet various travel needs and preferences.
Robin Lawther, Vice President of Expedia TAAP, mentioned,
"We are pleased to offer our advisors easy access to our travel offerings to help them drive more business.”
[Source – Travel Pulse]
Robin also mentioned that thousands of discounted properties are available for last-minute summer getaways, fall city trips, or early winter sun bookings. This gives travel advisors the flexibility to meet the needs of their travelers.
Travel + Leisure Co | September 25, 2023
Travel + Leisure Co. collaborates with Sports Hospitality Ventures to launch sports-themed resort complexes near college towns.
Introducing the Sports Illustrated Resorts vacation club, uniting sports enthusiasts and offering flexible bookings and amenities.
Sports Illustrated Resorts unveils residences, with fractional and wholly owned condominiums managed professionally.
Expansion plans include chic beach clubs and experience parks, with a Tuscaloosa resort expected to open in late 2025.
Travel + Leisure Co, a membership and leisure travel company, has partnered with Sports Hospitality Ventures, LLC, the hotel and resorts licensee for the esteemed Sports Illustrated brand in North America and the Caribbean. Together, they introduce an innovative vision for a series of sports-themed resort and lifestyle complexes strategically situated in vibrant college towns catering to passionate fan communities.
A novel addition to the Sports Illustrated Resorts portfolio is the vacation club. This innovative concept aims to unite fervent sports fans, friends, and families by elevating their accommodation experience. Club members will enjoy the flexibility to make repeat resort reservations and access a variety of amenities across the expanding Sports Illustrated Resorts portfolio. This endeavor is made possible through the partnership of Travel + Leisure Co., leveraging its expertise in managing brand collaborations.
Additionally, Sports Illustrated Resorts introduces residences, offering fractional and wholly owned condominiums managed professionally through the collaboration. The residences promise a range of signature services and amenities in line with the active lifestyle theme of Sports Illustrated Resorts. The inaugural college town resort in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is just the beginning, with plans for further expansion fueled by the collaboration between Sports Hospitality Ventures, Authentic Brands Group, and Kituwah LLC, representing the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who have committed $320 million to propel the growth of the Sports Illustrated Resorts brand.
With a vision to deliver immersive experiences celebrating the iconic moments of Sports Illustrated's outstanding history, Sports Illustrated Resorts has become a destination beyond conventional lodging. The resorts' unique design will transport guests and owners into the heart of sports culture, with diverse attractions, live sports and entertainment, fine dining, and wellness facilities. While the initial focus is on university locations, the broader portfolio will extend to chic beach clubs and experience parks in prime leisure destinations. Sports Illustrated Resorts is adopting an asset-light development financing model for its expansion, with the Tuscaloosa resort anticipated to welcome guests in late 2025. While Travel + Leisure Co. foresees no immediate earnings impact, it anticipates this venture will drive incremental growth from the latter half of 2025 onwards.