Iceland Has Seen a Massive Decline in Tourism Due to the Demise of WOW Air

From alternative college spring break trips to a feature on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Iceland had become a prime vacation spot for just about every type of traveler over the last several years—partly because of how cheap it was to fly there.

It looks like that era has come to an end, and Condé Nast Traveler reports that it’s largely due to the March collapse of WOW air, one of Iceland’s two airlines. Known for its bright purple planes and “Wow”-worthy prices, the airline offered roundtrip, nonstop flights from major U.S. and European cities sometimes for as little as $100. The deals drew millions of frugal adventurers to seek out Iceland’s attractions, causing a peak of 38 percent year-over-year tourist growth in 2016, as Visit Iceland told USA Today. Aviation journalist Seth Kaplan explained to Condé Nast Traveler that the small island nation simply couldn’t handle servicing millions of people across two airlines in its capital city Reykjavik, and WOW air’s business model wasn’t sustainable.

This year’s statistics illustrate just how quickly the tourism numbers are plummeting. According to data from Diio by Cirium, the number of scheduled airplane seats for the rest of 2019 is down a devastating 27.5 percent from last year. Though WOW air’s demise heavily contributed to the drop, things aren’t running smoothly for Iceland’s other airline, Icelandair, either: It owns nine Boeing 737 MAXs, which haven’t been flown since the model’s official worldwide grounding in March. As a result, Icelandair has had to fire 45 pilots.

And, contrary to what the media surrounding the bargain flight prices might’ve made you think, Iceland is not a cheap country. Hotels, food, and alcohol are all significantly more expensive than throughout Europe, and many tourists aren’t prepared for it. Condé Nast Traveler travel specialist Chris Gordon said it caused chaos across the usually very safe country. “People were breaking into churches to sleep in them,” he said. “People were rampantly using lawns as toilets, and pristine landscapes—Iceland’s greatest attraction—became famously strewn with toilet paper.”

Without WOW air ferrying hoards of ill-equipped vacationers into the country, prices will probably level out. “I would expect you will have more of an equilibrium, where the cheapest flights will be gone but with fewer people in the country, the cost of other things should be dropping,” Kaplan says.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

How to Avoid Paying for Your Already-Booked Hotel Room When Your Flight Is Canceled

jacoblund/iStock via Getty Images
jacoblund/iStock via Getty Images

The news that your flight has been delayed or canceled is the last thing you want to hear on your way to the airport. Flight disruptions are more than just inconvenient—they can be expensive. If you planned your trip around arriving at your destination at an exact time, rearranging your itinerary and rescheduling bookings can end up significantly stretching your travel budget. Fortunately, canceling accommodations at the last minute doesn't always have to lead to financial loss. According to Lifehacker, there are tactics you can use to get a full refund on your hotel room.

In some cases, hotels will refund your money without any hassle. Take a look at the fine print of your reservation confirmation: Many major hotel chains give customers the leeway to change or cancel their stay up to 48 to 72 hours before they arrive.

If you're canceling due to a change in flight plans, you're likely scrambling to figure things out with little time to spare. But missing the official window to change your reservation doesn't necessarily mean you're out of luck. Call the hotel's front desk directly and explain your situation. There's a chance they'll take pity on you and refund your money or allow you to tweak your dates at no extra cost. If the reason for your rescheduled flight is a severe weather event that's also affecting your destination, it's especially likely that the hotel will be understanding—and possibly even overbooked and desperate to make room for other guests.

Of course, after trying every trick in your arsenal, the hotel may simply refuse to accommodate you and force you to pay full price for a reservation you can't make use of. When that happens, it's time to look elsewhere for compensation. Under the Montreal Convention, a treaty that covers most international travel, you can receive a payout of up to $5870 to cover financial loss caused by international flight delays in some cases. Here's how to receive the biggest reimbursement possible for the cancelled flight itself at the same time.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Here’s How to Find Out If Your MacBook Pro Was Just Banned by the FAA

shironosov/iStock via Getty Images
shironosov/iStock via Getty Images

Back in June, Apple issued a recall of approximately 460,000 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops sold between September 2015 and February 2017, stating that “the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk.” Now, Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned airlines to ban those batteries from flights.

Technically, airlines could have started banning the laptops as soon as Apple issued the recall, since 2016 airline safety instructions mandate that all recalled batteries may not fly as cargo or in carry-on baggage. The FAA has essentially alerted them to the recall and reminded them about the existing rules.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency banned the laptops in early August, which has been implemented so far by TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat. Domestic airlines in the U.S. are now following suit, so it’s worth finding out if your laptop battery is part of the recall if you have plans to fly soon. Even if you don’t have any current travel plans, it’s a good opportunity to get your recalled battery replaced—which Apple will do for free.

Fast Company outlines exactly how to check your device: Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen, and tap “About This Mac.” If you see “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15 inch, Mid 2015)” or a similar description, copy the serial number, and paste it into the box under the “Eligibility” section on this page. If your laptop was affected, scroll down and follow the directions to make an appointment for a replacement battery.

Once your battery is replaced, you’re free to fly with your MacBook; just make sure to bring documentation of your battery replacement to the airport, in case officials ask for proof.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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