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Today's travel intel

By Sean O'Neill
updated February 21, 2017

Southwest Airlines may change its boarding procedure. In a test that began this week in San Antonio, passengers are asked to board the plane one-by-one in an assigned order, rather than board in one of three groups. When passengers check-in for their flight, they're assigned individual boarding numbers. Once they board the plane, they still have their choice of seats on a first-come, first-served basis. [Dallas Morning News]

Tour operator Jet-A-Way Holidays has gone belly up. If you have an outstanding trip, contact the company by email. [Modern Agent]

New airport X-ray machines may speed up security lines. Screeners at Cleveland airport's Concourse C checkpoint are permitting laptop computers and liquid-filled containers to be screened inside their carry-on bags--sparing travelers from having to remove items from their bags. New equipment allows the screeners to peer inside bags using three-dimensional images. Dallas-Fort Worth and Baltimore-Washington International airports will be next to get the machines. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

More workers are buying additional vacation days. Seven out of every 50 large companies now permit employees to purchase additional vacation days, according to a report in BusinessWeek.

If your company does not currently offer this service, consider suggesting it to your benefits department. The cost of the additional vacation time is deducted from your pay over the year, often in pretax dollars. Xerox began offering the benefit this year, and about 2800 of its 28,400 U.S. workers purchased an additional week.

Disney-MGM Studios will change its name in January. The new name will be Disney Hollywood Studios. [The Mercury News]

Avoiding America may be the latest travel trend. Air New Zealand is offering round-the-world tickets that avoid stopovers in the U.S., aiming to attract travelers from Australia and New Zealand who are heading to Europe. Some non-Americans like to avoid the U.S. because our country requires passengers hopping planes to other countries without leaving our airports to be fingerprinted and to have their baggage rechecked.

Air New Zealand's round-the-world (RTW) service from Auckland to Europe provides a hassle-free transfer at Vancouver, British Columbia, skipping layovers in L.A. or Hawaii. This program is part of a larger trend of people avoiding the U.S.

But don't think that Air New Zealand is anti-American. They're just pro-business. In fact, for trips starting October 26, the airline is catering to Americans by offering round-the-world tickets departing out of L.A, with stops in Auckland, Hong Kong, and London, for a starting price of $3,110. That rate is an unusually good value when compared with the starting prices for RTW tickets on the three major airline alliances.

New Iraqi airline bans Iraqis. [Jaunted]

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