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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 <span class="cutline_leadin">RainRap Rain Poncho</span>

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    Reigning rain wrap

    Sometimes a raincoat is too bulky to schlep; a plastic poncho too tacky. That may be just the time for a RainRap. This softer, classier water-repellant polyester wrapping poncho has a double-sided button closure and a built-in hood. And it’s reversible, with a range of bright and/or muted color combinations, from black/grey to hot pink/orange, and a black/leopard print. The RainRap has a cape-like flow and drapes to about 26 inches in length at the back. A longer version, the SpiritRap is 35 inches long, and comes in a variety of team color combinations for wet days at the stadium. The fast-drying light-weight (8 ounces) cover-up is one-size-fits-all and stashes in an included travel pouch, which in turn stashes unobtrusively in a purse or knapsack until needed.

This July 1, 2014 photo provided by Little Prince Park shows children on swings at the parks opening day in Ungersheim, in the Alsace region of eastern France. The park is themed on one of French literatures most beloved characters, The Little Prince, or Le Petit Prince, from the 1943 novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The park offers gentle attractions for young children.

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