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Travel News: Chicago O'Hare, SouthWest for Business, and a Family Friendly European River Cruise

Chicago O'Hare Airport's Terminal 5 Gets Boost with 10 New Gates and $1.3 Billion Expansion

The Chicago Department of Aviation has unveiled its latest renovation project, with the opening of 10 new gates in the East Concourse of Terminal 5 at O'Hare International Airport. The gates are part of a larger $1.3 billion expansion and renovation of the terminal, which aims to improve passenger experience and accommodate growing demand.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony on January 31 was attended by officials, including Chicago Department of Aviation commissioner Jamie Rhee, who expressed excitement about the project. Rhee stated in a statement, "The state-of-the-art Terminal 5 is now equipped to handle the growing demand we expect O'Hare to see in the coming years, while offering an improved passenger experience, with new gates, increased passenger amenities, a more efficient baggage-handling system, and expanded security checkpoints and customs facilities."

The construction of the Terminal 5 project began in 2019 and is expected to be completed by next year, with several new facilities already in place. Delta moved into 10 renovated gates in the terminal's west wing last year and opened a new Sky Club. The construction of a new parking garage is also underway, which is expected to be completed by next year.

The expansion has increased Terminal 5's capacity by 25%, as the building was expanded by 350,000 square feet and an additional 750,000 square feet of space has been renovated. Nine out of the 10 new East Concourse gates utilize multiple airport ramp systems (MARS), which can accommodate either narrowbody or widebody aircraft. At these MARS gates, the space required for two widebodies can be used to park three single-aisle planes.

The expansion and renovation of Terminal 5 at O'Hare International Airport will provide a better passenger experience, accommodate growing demand, and bring the airport to the forefront of modern airport design.

Southwest Airlines Upgrades Southwest Business Assist Portal for Corporate Customers

SouthWest Airlines has made travel easier for its corporate customers by updating its Southwest Business Assist portal, which was launched in August. The carrier announced the new features and functionality during a Southwest Business town hall for corporate buyers on Monday. The new features and improvements are aimed at making the travel experience more convenient, efficient, and sustainable for corporate customers.

One of the key new features is the "partner benefits" section, which some buyers refer to as "waivers and favors." This section provides corporate customers with a credit bank tied to their contract, allowing them to earn and redeem credits for A-List and A-List Preferred upgrades, name changes, and visibility to a no-show report. According to Southwest, this provides "flexibility for how you want to spend those credits tied to your contract."

In addition to the credit bank, the updated portal also includes the ability to grant companion passes to customers, transfer Southwest flight credits to a UATP card, and refund a nonrefundable flight credit. The benefits have an assigned value redeemed via Southwest Business Assist, and credits are earned via upfront negotiations and meeting quarterly performance targets.

Live chat is now available to all corporate customers, not just those with the B2B premier partner service desk. The "Pay by Link" functionality within the reservation system allows agents to collect payment for tickets or changes within the chat, without having to pick up the phone. The secure link in the chat allows customers to input their payment method, which will be applied to the booking or modification, and the agent can then close the transaction.

Corporate customers can now transfer Southwest flight credits to another traveler, except for Wanna Get Away fares. There is also expanded sustainability reporting with an emissions calculator, and real-time traveler tracking, which provides customers with information about all their travelers, including flight status and check-in information.

Further features include additional contract dashboards for customers enrolled in Rapid Rewards Business to track points, sustainable aviation fuel agreement tracking, and performance rebate tracking and reporting for participating customers. With these new features and functionality, SouthWest Airlines is committed to providing corporate customers with a more convenient, efficient, and Sustainable Travel experience.

Emerald Cruises Offers a Family-Friendly Way to Explore Europe This Summer

Are you planning to travel abroad with your family this summer and looking for a hassle-free, family-friendly vacation experience? Look no further! Emerald Cruises is offering a solution to make traveling with kids and extended family to Europe easier than ever before. This summer, they are introducing two dedicated family river cruises on board their award-winning ships along the Danube and Rhine rivers.

The journey designers at Emerald Cruises understand that traveling with kids can be overwhelming, which is why they have carefully crafted these cruises with guests ages 10 to 18 in mind. In response to guest feedback, these sailings have been created to allow multi-generational families to explore Europe together, with special pricing that enables families to book two adjacent cabins and save 50% on the second cabin.

The eight-day Family Rhine River Cruise on the Emerald Luna sets sail from Basel, Switzerland on July 17, 2023, and calls on ports in Germany, France, and the Netherlands. This itinerary is an excellent opportunity for families to visit historic castles and fortresses along the Rhine, and experience unique and educational excursions, such as a canoe trip, geocaching in Heidelberg, and an optional visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. This sailing is also special as it will be led by Emerald Luna’s godmother, Travel Advisor and advocate Vanessa McGovern and her family.

The eight-day Family Danube River Cruise on the Emerald Dawn departs from Budapest, Hungary on July 15, 2023, and sails through Slovakia, Austria, and Germany along the beautiful blue Danube. This sailing offers families the opportunity to participate in exciting excursions, such as visiting the AM 3D gallery in Budapest, Cooking Class on a Slovakian farm, geocaching in Passau, and an archery lesson at Schallaburg Castle in Austria.

Onboard, families can look forward to a range of dedicated activities and entertainment, including pool activities with the ship’s wellness coach, wheelhouse Tours with the Captain, kid-friendly movies in the ship’s cinema, cooking demos with the chef, and mocktail lessons with the bar team. The dinner menus will feature locally-inspired options modified for younger guests’ tastes, and breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and poolside ice cream will be served daily.

Emerald Cruises’ all-inclusive pricing covers all meals, wine and beer with lunch and dinner for adults, soft drinks for kids, airport transfers, gratuities, port charges, and daily excursions. Book now for a hassle-free and unforgettable summer vacation experience with Emerald Cruises’ Family River Cruise.