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CRUISE LINES

PRINCESS TAPS ITS OWN BEER LINE

Princess Cruises will introduce the first in a line of craft beers when its newest ship, the Regal Princess, is christened in Fort Lauderdale in November.

Seawitch West Coast IPA beer, named after the company’s logo, will commemorate the cruise line’s 50th anniversary. Although the anniversary isn’t until December 2015, Princess will launch the celebration this year with the christening of Regal Princess.

Seawitch will be brewed by Strike Brewing Co. in San Jose, California, near San Francisco, a Princess home port. Other craft beers in the series will represent other Princess destinations.

Seawitch West Coast IPA will retail for $6.25 and be available first on Regal Princess, which will be doing Caribbean cruises out of Port Everglades. The beer is expected to be available fleetwide by early 2015.

AIR TRAVEL

ACTUALLY, WE’RE BEHAVING BETTER

Three commercial flights were diverted in the span of nine days recently because of passenger squabbles over reclining seats, prompting the question: Has shrinking legroom pushed fliers to their breaking point?

But if more passengers are having meltdowns over airline service, federal statistics do not show it.

The number of “unruly passengers” cited with interfering with the duties of a crew member has declined over the last decade, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Such passengers can face criminal charges with a sentence of up to 20 years in prison or fines of up to $25,000, depending on the severity of the incident.

In 2004, 330 passengers were charged with being unruly and interfering with the duties of a crew member, compared with 167 passengers in 2013, according to the FAA. In the first half of 2014, only 59 passengers were charged with interfering with a crew, putting 2014 on pace for the least number of unruly passenger cases in nearly 20 years.

But frequent fliers say tensions in the cabins remain high.

“Airline travel with all the attendant anxieties is bad enough, without the tension and stress generated by confined space,” said Gerry Hallom, a musician from England who flies often to the United States.

AIRLINE SPENDING ON FOOD DROPS

United Airlines and Virgin America recently announced new menu items, including turkey and Swiss cheese on a cranberry baguette and a soy-and-ginger-marinated salmon salad.

But the nation’s airlines still spend much less money on passenger food than they did before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which led to a decade of financial hardship. In 2001, the major airlines spent an average of $4.79 per passenger on food, compared with $3.62 per passenger in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Over the last few years, airlines have stopped offering free meals to most economy-class passengers and reduced the quality of the meals served to premium-class fliers.

“Most U.S. airlines offer food on par with Grade B dinners,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. “You’ll have a better meal at Denny’s than you’ll have at most airlines.”

Miami Herald

wire services

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