Travel briefs


Central Florida

Theme parks building hotels

For the first time in years, three central Florida theme park hotels are under construction, with two of them scheduled to be completed this summer.

The first phase of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort — 600 family suites — will open March 31. The full 1800-room hotel, Universal’s fourth, is expected to have its grand opening this summer, feature value-priced rooms and suites.

Four Seasons Resort announced last week that its new 444-room hotel at Disney World will open in August.

Legoland Florida held a ceremonial groundbreaking on its first hotel in November. Legoland Hotel, scheduled to open in 2015, will have 152 Lego-themed rooms.

Airline merger

Frequent flier programs changing

American Airlines and US Airways are merging, but it will take awhile for the two airlines to fully integrate and operate as one. Frequent fliers, however, are seeing some changes.

Members can now earn and redeem miles on both carriers but must choose between banking miles with American’s AAdvantage or US Airways’ Dividend Miles for each flight. The two programs won’t unite until 2015.

Another change is that US Airways will exit the Star Alliance on March 30 and join the Oneworld program on March 31.

The Oneworld program includes American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Qantas, airberlin and other airlines.

The downside is that US Airways miles will no longer be redeemed for award travel on United, Lufthansa and other Star Alliance members. If you want to redeem on a Star Alliance partner airline, do so by March 30, with travel up to 330 days from your date of booking.


Carriers post improved safety

Grouse all you want about shrinking airline seats and annoying fees for onboard food, drinks and entertainment, but the industry’s safety record is looking up.

The world’s airlines had one of their safest years on record in 2013. There were 29 airline accidents last year, which, combined, resulted in a record-low 265 fatalities, according to the Aviation Safety Network, a private research group in the Netherlands. That’s out of about 31 million commercial flights worldwide.

The world’s airlines had a pretty safe year in 2012 as well, with 475 fatalities from 23 airline accidents, including passenger and cargo flights, the research group said.

The last two years represented a dramatic drop from the 10-year average of 720 fatalities a year.

The deadliest accident in 2013 took place in Kazan, Russia, on Nov. 17 when a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on approach, killing 50 people.

Harro Ranter, president of the research group, attributes the improved safety record to the efforts of international aviation groups to impose safety guidelines on airlines around the world.

Miami Herald

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