JODY VICTOR®

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Fortune reports Hilton is planning to create several new hotel brands in the coming years to fill space in its current portfolio. The most eye-catching announcement was the plan for an urban micro-brand, which the company will look to formally introduce sometime next year.

The rooms would likely be between 125 and 150 square feet with an emphasis placed on connectability, flexibility, and a local vibe.

“We have a lot of customers that want to now be in these urban environments, that even with our lowest-priced products can’t afford to be in these cities, so we’re giving up a lot of business. We’re not getting customers in that environment through our system early in their travel lives,” Christopher Nassetta, Hilton CEO said in an interview at the Skift Global Forum in New York Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Hilton is planning a new five-star soft brand, “Hilton Plus.” Hilton is beta-testing “the connected room,” which is being used currently in some hotels. This smart room would know a traveler’s preferences, among its features.

Hilton’s new hotels will also include trendy restaurant and bar areas to attract locals. That, the company believes, will help travelers feel like they’re connecting with their destination rather than simply observing it.

“It’s very trendy in a sense, sort of like a hostel on steroids. But a lot of steroids,” Nassetta said of the new hotel concept, what he called an “urban micro brand.” The CEO first mentioned the ultra-small hotel idea in 2016.

The chain could launch the connected room globally in 2018.

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MSN Travel News reports a suspicious passenger traveling via the Sri Lankan airport was stopped by security stopped him. Customs officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport noticed a 45-year-old man from Sri Lanka walking with difficulty and appearing to be in pain.

When the man was searched by security officials, they discovered an estimated $30,000 worth of gold stashed in his rectum. Security officers found gold biscuits, three pieces of gold, six gold jewelry articles and two silver-plated yellow gold jewelry articles all inside the man’s body cavity. The unnamed man was waiting for his flight to India Sunday when authorities noticed him constantly looking around, causing security officers to stop him. The search authorities conducted revealed the man had hidden the more-than two pounds of gold in four plastic bags inside him.

Bandaranaike International Airport officials were not surprised by the incident. Many smugglers attempt to take gold into India to make a higher profit. Transporting the gold in this manner is one of the most popular, but uncomfortable forms of smuggling.

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As far as the airlines are concerned, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Rates for particularly popular itineraries are already on the rise. And even if price isn’t an issue, booking your preferred trip will become increasingly difficult, according to USA Today.

Thanksgiving Day is almost always the cheapest day to fly for the holiday. This should be no surprise. But how do the other travel days surrounding the holiday compare?

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after—avoid flying on these days if at all possible. They are the busiest travel dates and most expensive. The price of this itinerary has been rising since late August and is currently increasing on average by $1.50 a day, which jumps to about $2.50 a day in October. This could add up to almost $200 in additional fare per ticket.

A cheaper itinerary would be the Tuesday before and the Monday after Thanksgiving. If you don’t have to worry about school or work schedules, try flying the Saturday before to the Monday after and you may see exceptional savings.

Jody Victor

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Pittsburgh International Airport will be the first in the U.S. to allow non-fliers past security into the gate areas of their airport since new security regulations were put in place after the 9/11 terror attacks.

According to Pittsburgh Intl. spokes people, all those wishing to enter the gates will go through the same security scrutiny, there will be no reduction in security measures. Pittsburgh Intl. will begin its “myPITpass” program on Sept. 5, under which non-flying visitors can get a day-pass in the airport ticketing area. If the program is popular, PIT may expand the passes beyond the weekday, 9-5 access.

This is a major, positive move for PIT, which was one of the first airports to sport the modern design which included a collection of stores for guests to shop in. Their “Airmall”.

Even today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes “Airmall is home to several stores or restaurants like Hugo Boss, Armani Jeans, and Bar Symon that are not found elsewhere in Pittsburgh.”

In its early days, the retail area proved to be hugely popular with both local residents and with fliers. The airport even touted “street pricing” for Airmall stores, promising customers there wouldn’t be a big mark-up just for shopping in the terminal.

“When the airport first opened, we used to come Christmas shopping out here because you have specialty shops,” local resident Tony Purcell tells Pittsburgh TV station KDKA while discussing the impending change in access there.

But post-9/11 security changes that restricted terminal access to ticketed fliers abruptly curtailed access to the airport shops. PIT hopes to change that with its myPITpass program and rekindle the cities love of the Airmall specialty shops.

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London’s beloved landmark, Big Ben, is set to fall into silence until 2021. The decommissioning period is set to begin next Monday. Big Ben has known 157 years of uninterrupted time keeping in London. Big Ben will, however, continue to chime for special events such as New Years and Remembrance Sunday.

Parliament’s heritage team began a renovation of Elizabeth Tower, which houses the bell, earlier this year. As part of the project, the tower’s iconic clock will be restored, and each of the dials will be cleaned and repaired, although one working clock face will remain visible at all times. The Ayrton Light, which shines when Parliament is in session, and the tower’s cast-iron roof will also be conserved.

The almost 14 ton bell chimed its first chime on July 11, 1859. It has continued to chime a well-pitched E note every hour since. Other silences from the clock include a period in 2007 and during the 1983-85 restoration.

“Big Ben falling silent is a significant milestone in this crucial conservation project,” Steve Jaggs, Keeper of the Great Clock, said in a statement. “As Keeper of the Great Clock, I have the great honor of ensuring this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering is in top condition on a daily basis. This essential program of works will safeguard the clock on a long-term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home—the Elizabeth Tower.”

The renovation of the UNESCO World Heritage site will cost about $37 million and is intended to ensure that Big Ben will chime for at least another 157 years.

Find out more.

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