Travel briefs

 

Oh, no. You lost your hotel room key.

That might not be a problem in the future.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the hotel giant whose brands include Sheraton, Westin, W and Aloft, is testing new technology that enables guests to check in and open their rooms with a smartphone.

If all goes well, some hotel guests won’t have to speak to any front desk workers.

Starwood is testing the technology in the next few months at the Aloft Harlem in New York and the Aloft Cupertino west of San Jose. It plans to expand the technology to its W hotels next.

Other hotel companies, such as Marriott International, already allow guests to use smartphones to book rooms and check in but still require a worker at the front desk to hand guests a key.

But the trend toward mobile check-in is on the decline, said Bruce Baltin, a senior vice president for PKF Consulting, because for many things, guests still want to talk to someone face to face.

“The industry has a history of trying to make technology more sophisticated than they need it to be,” he said.

If you fly on a low-cost airline, you may complain less about the service because your expectations for low-cost airlines are lower.

That is the conclusion of a new study by an MIT graduate student published in the Journal of Air Transport Management.

The study looked at complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation about service on major network carriers such as Delta and United as well as low-cost carriers like Southwest and JetBlue.

It found that even when airline service levels for such categories as delays, baggage handling and overbooking were similar among airlines, low-cost carriers had a significantly lower rate of complaints.

The author, Michael Wittman, said one reason passengers on low-cost airlines don’t complain as often may be that they paid less and have lower expectations.

More study is needed, he said, to find out whether fliers on low-cost airlines continue to choose the lowest airfare regardless of service quality.

• TAM Airlines has launched twice-a-week nonstop service between Miami and Belem, Brazil. The route between Miami and the capital of the Brazilian state of Para operates on Wednesdays and Sundays.

• InselAir Aruba has announced it will begin service between Miami and Oranjestad on April 11 with four weekly roundtrips on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

• Boliviana de Aviación (BoA), Bolivia’s national flag carrier, will commence scheduled passenger service between Miami and Santa Cruz on May 24. The service to Bolivia’s most populous city will operate four times weekly. Initially, the service will include a stop in Panama.

Miami Herald

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