Runway work at LAX. Los Angeles International Airport has started work on an improvement project for all four of its runways that will continue almost uninterrupted for the next two years. The job will require the closure of one runway at a time, and as a result, “passengers may begin experiencing impacts such as delays or a slight increase in wait times aboard aircraft,” the airport authority said. It noted that the biggest impact might be on the operations of Airbus A380s and 747-800s, which can only use two of the airport’s runways. The project includes the addition of so-called “Runway Safety Areas” at the ends of each runway to give pilots a little more leeway if they undershoot or overshoot their landings. A similar project at San Francisco International last year had little impact on flight operations, and actually wrapped up ahead of schedule.
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Customs kiosks come to SFO, LAS. Those automated passport control (APC) kiosks continue to proliferate at major U.S. airports — a good thing for flyers, since they can cut down the line time for those re-entering the country by up to 40 percent. This week, San Francisco International is hosting a media event to show off the first of 40 new APCs it is installing in its U.S. Customs arrivals facilities. (SFO’s a little late to the show, since more than 30 airports already have them.) Meanwhile, Las Vegas McCarran last week unveiled a number of newly installed APC kiosks in the Customs Arrivals Hall in Terminal 3. And Miami International — one of the first airports to deploy the devices — said it has ordered 44 more APC kiosks, which will give it a total of 80. Passengers use the devices to enter their personal information and scan their passports, receiving a receipt to present to a Customs officer. Important: These kiosks are not Global Entry kiosks.
New elite tier at IHG Rewards. InterContinental Hotels Group said it will add a new top membership level to its IHG Rewards Club in July, for those who earn 75,000 points in a year or stay 75 nights. Those who achieve this new tier will get 100 percent bonus points on qualifying stays, and a choice of 25,000 bonus points or the upgrading of a family member or friend to Platinum level in the program. In addition, “The qualification requirements for all membership levels have been restructured to make it easier for members to be rewarded for their loyalty,” IHG said — e.g., 10,000 points or 10 stays will earn a Gold membership, and 40,000 points/40 nights will qualify a Gold member for Platinum.
How to get $50 from Best Western. Best Western’s new spring “Jump Start” promo can help cut the cost of your summer trip, which by most indicators, could be one of the most expensive in recent memory due to high demand. All you have to do is stay at Best Western twice between now and May 25, and you’ll get a $50 gift card to use this summer. Registration required
Starwood’s new brand. Marriott has its Autograph Collection, Hilton has Curio, Choice Hotels has the Ascend Collection, and now Starwood has introduced its own new brand of independent but affiliated hotels. It’s called the Tribute Portfolio, and Starwood said its members will be “four star upper-upscale hotels.” The first Tribute property is the Royal Palm South Beach Miami, and others will soon join in Asheville, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Savannah, Ga.; and Charleston, S.C., the company said. Tribute properties will retain their independent names and designs, but will take advantage of Starwood’s booking channels and will be a part of the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program. Starwood said it expects to have 100 members in the Tribute Portfolio in five years.
Hot cars at Waldorf-Astorias. Like to drive really hot cars that you would never dream of buying yourself? Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria brand has just introduced a new program called Waldorf Astoria Driving Experiences at 12 of its properties in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. Participants can book a package that includes a hotel stay and a “premier supercar driving experience” that puts them behind the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren MP4-12C, Porsche GT3, Lamborghini Huracan, or Lamborghini Gallardo. They’ll also get driving tips from racing pros and suggested local touring routes to follow.
Oldie but goodie: Don’t make these 8 mistakes when visiting San Francisco!
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