This week’s travel news

Sleeping at airports or trainstations, aircraft seating, hotel rates, tipping on a cruise:

This Week’s Take offers you a capsule summary of the high and low lights of’s Daily Dispatches from the past seven days.


Suzanne Christie is standing in for Bruce who is taking a much needed holiday this week

Need A Nap… Slip Into A Sleepbox
Clever Russian architects from the Arch Group have developed a snug personal enclave as the perfect spot to sleep in airports or train stations. The idea is a step up from the acrobatics of involved in stretching out on a row of chairs. The Sleepbox is 2 metres long by 1.4 metres wide – just room enough for a narrow bed and a tiny desk. Time would be purchased in a similar fashion to a parking space – and the beds are equipped with an automatic linen changing conveyor belt apparatus (sort of like those public washroom toilet seats). The only glitch… airports may not want to be the purveyors of an ideal spot for a quickie of another variety, so, we’re not sure if this restful idea will take off, eh.

Line Up… Single File…. March…
Seats are so yesterday. First it was Ryanair’s idea-junky, Michael O’Leary, suggesting he would create aircraft where passengers would be strapped into a standing position, and now we have British firm Design Q suggesting that face to face rows of seating, military aircraft style, would work on commercial aircraft. They say their MaxCabin will be cheaper to build and cram in more passengers. Their design guru points out that inward facing seating is used on other forms of public transportation… subways and buses, but does admit it would take some getting used to and really only suits short haul flights. Very short, we hope.

A Step Up…
Since we’re on the topic of travelling comfortably, Boston’s Jacob Innovations has introduced the concept of two tier business class seating – sort of a bunk bed concept for stretching out in private space.

Roomier Bargains…
Hotel rates have been on a downward trajectory over the past year and while the economy is creeping back up, hotel rates are not expected to keep pace. It’s anticipated that average daily rates will continue to slide well into 2010 as many new hotels flooded onto the market at the wrong time. Hotels being static structures aren’t able to adapt the capacity on offer, so unlike the airline segment of the travel industry, are still battling the supply and demand dilemma by competing with lower pricing.

Upping The Offer…
While continuing to lower their rates, hotels are also upping the quality of the offer. More hotels and resorts have achieved the Five Star rating category this year than ever. Hoteliers are apparently working harder than ever to offer a top notch lodging experience… at a lower price than ever. The number of properties in the U.S., Canada and China that have achieved Forbes Travel Guide Five Star ranking has increased over the past year as have AAA’s diamond awards to hotels and resorts in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

We’ll Tip When We Bloody Well Feel Like Tipping…
Consumers are rebelling against the cruise lines’ endemic system of automatically adding gratuities to all their services, regardless of the … service. Passengers are indicating they’re mad as hell about it, and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

Consumer displeasure at subsidizing crew salaries with institutionalized tipping has shaken up cruise giant Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines who have advised they are “rethinking” their policy. In theory, tipping is discretionary, but, with several lines including Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard and MSC, it is hard to avoid since they automatically charge gratuities to passengers’ onboard accounts. Other operators, such as Celebrity, P&O and Royal Caribbean, provide passengers with envelopes into which it is suggested they tip at a recommended rate. The cruise lines would prefer their guests pay their gratuities up front when they book their cruise… but, even if policies change, the result may be the same should they attempt to make up the shortfall with an increase in pricing.

Bruce Parkinson is a travel industry journalist and regular contributor to as well as sister company,

Photo Credits:,,,

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.