Latest News

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 5.44.07 PM

Lessons learned about United wi-fi

I admit it. I’m an inflight wi-fi addict. I use it all the time. Because my professional life pretty much lives online and I live much of my working life in the air, it’s a major productivity enhancer. I’m still in awe (and thankful) that we are able to use wi-fi in the sky at […]

Frontier Airlines is expanding from its Denver stomping grounds with new nonstops in SFO & PHX.  (

Big day in big D + New carrier for ATL? + New LAX lounge + NYC grand dame facelift

AIRLINES Big day approaches in Big D. In two weeks — on October 13 — the Wright Amendment expires, opening up Dallas’ close-in Love Field to a new era of long-haul domestic routes, and the major players are getting ready. Virgin America teamed up with ride-finding service Uber and with HotelTonight to offer discounts and […]

Using wi-fi connections for nearly free overseas calling (Photo: Tim Bishop / Flickr)

3 ways to make low- or no-cost calls abroad

With the proliferation of wi-fi around the world, it’s making more and more sense for travelers abroad to make free (or very low cost) calls using internet connections instead of the more expensive cellular roaming option. Much of this is driven by Apple, which has made wi-fi voice calling a prominent feature of its latest […]

Emirates Airline does not have a problem with passengers using their mobile phones in flight (Photo: OnAir)

Is banning inflight phone calls really necessary?

Oh, please! Is a federal ban on cell phone calls on planes really necessary? This week Washington politicians urged  the federal government NOT to lift the current federal ban on cell phone use for voice calls on planes. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have been considering ending the ban ever since they […]

Global Roaming

How to save on overseas mobile roaming

Mobile data roaming charges on overseas trips are a perennial headache for frequent travelers. And it’s only going to get worse as our voracious appetite for data increases with new devices like the iPhone 6.  Of course, just turning off data roaming (or switching to airplane mode) is a quick fix to avoid any surprise […]

United's upgraded terminal at Newark could soon look a lot like this one-- which is Delta's a La Guardia. (Photo: OTG)

Taxi usage down 65% + Newark, LAX upgrades + Plush transfers at DEN + TSA wait times decline

Terminal renovations at Newark. United Airlines is teaming up with OTG Management for a $120 million overhaul of Newark Liberty’s Terminal C over the next 18 months. UA’s hub terminal will get 55 new dining venues, and passengers will have free access to thousands of iPads “to track their flight, order from chef-created menus, and […]

photo 1

Which Las Vegas hotel are you?

The newest, hippest hotels in Las Vegas this month are: The SLS, The Delano (grand opening this weekend) and the Nobu Hotel at Caesar’s Palace. But if I had to pick a hotel that is me? Probably the Vdara– it’s off the strip hidden behind the showy Aria & Mandarin Oriental hotels in City Center, nearly new, […]

Passengers retreat to the lounge upstair  "inside the bubble" on the Pan Am 747 (Photo: Michael Kelley)

Have dinner in a 70′s-era Pan Am 747

An exact replica (including the spiral staircase!) of a Pan Am Boeing 747 in Los Angeles is the setting for the new “Pan Am Experience” a four-hour affair that includes a four-course meal served from trolleys by “stewardesses” in vintage uniforms. But it’s not cheap. A step back in time to the so-called golden age of travel costs $297 in […]

FlightCar provides a free black car shuttle to the airport and back. (Photo: FlightCar)

How to park for free at the airport

Parking at the airport is a pain. And an expensive pain at that! How would you like to avoid it, and maybe even make a little money instead of spending it? If your car is less than 13 years old and has fewer than 150,000 miles, here’s what you can do: Two years ago, three […]

I have used credit card bonuses to help finance two recent holiday trips like this one to Culebra in Puerto Rico (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to get a free trip home for the holidays

One of the most frequent questions I get is “what’s the best credit card right now?” And my most frequent answer is: There is no such thing as a “best” credit card. However, there is probably a best credit card for YOU. And it’s always a great idea to pay attention to sign up bonuses […]

Hawaiian Airlines unusual  front-of-the-plane setup has first and premium economy in the same cabin (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to find roomy domestic widebody flights

Are the golden days of flying domestically on spacious widebody, twin-aisle aircraft gone? Not necessarily, if you know where to look. All four major US international airlines — American, Delta, United and US Airways — still operate a handful domestic widebody flights.  These big birds are either providing a lot of seats on high-demand routes, positioning […]

A big institution, temperate climate and access to the great outdoors makes Boulder, CO a great place to live. (Photo: Boemski / Flickr)

The 10 best places to live in America?

How often do you visit a city for a business trip or vacation, and walk away thinking, “Gee, I’d really like to live here!”? It happens to me a lot… especially when I get off the well-worn, major city business travel circuit and venture into small and medium-sized towns. Every time I go back to […]

Lufthansa's new premium economy seats

Free inflight texting + Another 747 flies away + Lufthansa’s new premium economy + PreCheck not so special

AIRLINES Free inflight texting & voicemail. Starting September 17, T-Mobile customers can get free in-flight texting and voicemail service on all 2,000 U.S. aircraft equipped with Gogo Inflight Internet Wi-Fi. “To access the free messaging and voicemail services, T-Mobile customers will need to have their Wi-Fi Calling-enabled phone in airplane mode and connected to Gogo […]

The best wheels are those that are easily replaced (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to choose the best carry-on bag

When you are at the airport and see travelers toting four-wheeled “spinners” or shiny polycarbonates in a rainbow of colors, do you get luggage envy? If  you are in the market for a new carry-on bag, here are a few things to consider: HOW MUCH? “Frequent travelers should spend a little bit more money on a higher […]

Virgin's LAX Loft is not huge, but it feels that way due to brightness from floor to ceiling windows (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

A bright spot at LAX’s drab Terminal 3

Anyone who has flown through Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport knows that, despite efforts to gussy it up, it is a hulking relic from the 1960s. To get inside, you must first pass through a TSA screening area wedged in a cramped, low-ceilinged and awkward space (that luckily has a mostly fast-moving PreCheck line). Once inside, there’s a Burger […]

British Airways posh first class suites onboard its new Airbus A380 (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Another British Airways A380 for the US

British Airways announced today that it will deploy a brand-new Airbus A380 double-decker between San Francisco International and London Heathrow starting in April 2015. This will be BA’s third US destination to get the big bird, after Los Angeles and Washington, DC. BA’s Sean Doyle, EVP, Americas, told TravelSkills that the decision to put the A380 on the SFO […]

A British Airways 747 prepares for takeoff at San Francisco International (Photo: Angelo Angelo - Flickr)

British Airways to spruce up its 747s

Good news for passengers used to flying British Airways’ Boeing 747 jets from San Francisco, New York and elsewhere. BA is helping the “Queen of the Skies” age gracefully with plans to outfit eighteen 747-400s with new entertainment throughout, and upgrade seats in the economy and premium economy cabins. BA admits these “much-loved” planes, which “have a […]

Earn burn your HHonors points at Hilton's newest hotel in Waikiki- the Hokulani (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Fall hotel promos you can’t ignore

As Labor Day passes each year and the flood of summer leisure visitors dries up, hotel marketers have traditionally tried to prime the pump of autumn business travel by rolling out special bonus or discount promotions for members of their loyalty programs — and this year is no exception. Even though the autumn offers are […]

You'll soon see something like this at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

CLEAR opens security fast lane at SF Giants’ AT&T Park

From frequent flyers to fly balls, a special fast track lane for ballpark security is coming to AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants. A pilot program starting September 9th and running through the end of the season will be operated by CLEAR, the pay-to-enter trusted traveler airport security company currently operating at nine airports nationwide. At […]

(Photo: Ian Livingston)

Southwest Airlines reveals new look

Southwest Airlines revealed a modern new look and logo today at an event in Dallas. (And TravelSkills is there!) By the end of 2014, Southwest expects to have at least 60 aircraft (0f about 550total ) with the new livery, with more coming in coming years. “With so much of Southwest’s focus firmly set on the […]

Futuristic new airport for Mexico City arriving soon (Photo: )

United’s newest jet + More Delta to UK + New Asian carrier at SFO + Grand plans for ATL & MEX airports

  AIRLINES United gets its first 787-9. Seems like just yesterday that airlines started flying the initially troubled 787 Dreamliner. But now United has taken delivery of the first new version, a stretched model called the 787-9 that can accommodate more passengers and fly longer distances (8,550 miles v. 8,200 for the 787-8). United’s version […]

The gorgeous view from my bathroom at the fab mid century modern Radisson Blu Royal hotel (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Biz Trip: Copenhagen

Copenhagen may be the best city in the world for a business trip. It’s also one of the most expensive…but getting there is cheaper now that upstart Norwegian Air is forcing all airlines (especially SAS) to lower fares– even business class fares– into historically expensive Scandinavia.  Copenhagen  is compact, walkable and easy to navigate. The travel […]

Flight attendants can sniff out nail painting a mile away. But is it verboten?

Nail painting onboard: Illegal or just rude?

“I am somewhat embarrassed to ask the question. I had an encounter recently and I am unable to find a legitimate answer,” writes a TravelSkills reader.  We love getting emails like this… here’s the rest of her query: I am a frequent flier, flying in excess of 100K for the last 15 years. Recently, I […]

The Upper Class bar on a new Virgin Atlantic A330-300 (Photo: Tom Mascardo)

Virgin Atlantic adds new ATL, SFO & DTW flights

Virgin Atlantic announced some major network changes today that will mean more opportunities for Delta flyers to give the popular Virgin product a try…and earn or burn SkyMiles while doing so.  Here’s what’s coming our way in 2015: >A year-round daily roundtrip between London Heathrow and Detroit >A new daily nonstop between Atlanta and Manchester >An […]

Airline change fees have been around for as long as, well, the airlines (Photo: AJMexico Flickr)

Should airlines waive change fees?

A TravelSkills reader is shocked when he’s asked to pay a $200 change fee to get a lower fare.  Dear Chris: I read your blog entry on the end-of-summer fare sale and checked on an existing reservation I have for a San Francisco-San Diego flight in February 2015. I saw that the dates I had already […]

Arriving at Lanai's tiny airport

Lanai: A billionaire’s work in progress

By now you’ve likely heard that billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently paid an estimated $300 million for 98% of the Hawaiian Island of Lanai. Included in that sale were two Four Seasons resorts and nearly all the land on the tiny (140 square mile) island. What’s been going on since the transaction closed in […]

BYO device entertainment systems working on United flights (Photo: United)

United streams entertainment + ATL short changed by merger? + Secret spaces on new jets + PreCheck milestone

AIRLINES United expands in-flight streaming. Passengers on most United Airlines A319s and A320s can now (finally) stream entertainment in-flight. A United official said at an industry conference in Las Vegas that the airline recently activated in-flight entertainment streaming on almost three-fourths of its 152 Airbus narrow-bodies, with the rest coming soon. In-flight streaming — which is […]

(Graphic courtesy Hipmunk)

6 end-of-summer travel deals. Act fast

Thanksgiving already? If you are planning to travel over Thanksgiving, you may want to consider buying your ticket now… Hipmunk says that by doing so you could save 17% over waiting until October when most people make their Thanksgiving travel plans. For Christmas bookings, I’d say wait until about mid-October. And don’t expect many out-of-this-world bargains […]

British Airways

What’s your favorite flight number?

Have you ever boarded a plane with a flight number that made you pause and think, “Hmm, I wonder if they planned it that way?” Turns out that there are many iconic or unusual flight numbers based on airline history, superstition, luck– or plain old cleverness. For example, United’s new flight #500 from Indianapolis to San […]

Knee defender

Awesome Knee Defender animation VIDEO

The travel-social-media-sphere is buzzing about an incident earlier this week where two passengers brawled over reclining seats. Both were seated in United’s Economy Plus section. One traveler used a “knee defender” device to prevent the passenger in front of him from reclining her seat. Passenger in front ended up throwing a glass of water on […]

United upgrades first class fare with items like this caprese on Asiago baguette (Photo: United)

Big fare sale + Fancy food on United + Uber raises fares + Cuts at Qantas + Better biz class on AA

(TravelSkills is based in the Bay Area and yes, we felt the earthquake early Sunday morning! Thankfully no damage here at HQ. The rumble felt like riding along a dirt road in a Winnebago in the dark.) AIRLINES Big fare sale. As a busy summer comes to a close, all airlines have put fall and winter […]

The Ponape Lounge onboard a Continental 747 (Photo: 1950sUnlimited / Flickr)

What golden age of travel?

Was there really a “golden age of travel?” My favorite travel apps? Key advice for a newbie biz traveler? My most memorable trip? I’m on a mini-vacation this weekend, so I thought you all would like to read a recent Q&A with me that appeared in InsideFlyer magazine. InsideFlyer Do you feel that the “golden days” […]

Hip and cozy decor at the new Thompson  Chicago hotel (Photo: Commune Hotels)

3 brand new hotels in Chicago

At TravelSkills, we love new hotels. They smell better, work better, feel better, and are usually bigger, brighter and hipper than others. But new can also have its downside: Construction noise, service issues, and/or locations in sketchy or “upcoming” neighborhoods. Some are so new that TripAdvisor reviews are scant compared to more established hotels. In […]


A spin around the new Airbus A350

The world’s newest long-haul, wide body commercial jet, the Airbus A350-900, recently completed its route-proving mission in Helsinki and TravelSkills was invited along to take a look at the first of the “XWB” family of aircraft to debut. Finnair will be the first European carrier to get its hands on the new bird when it […]

A fond farewell to Cathay's Queen of the Skies (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Delta shuttle changes + Virgin beefs up Dallas + 747 quickly disappearing + Posh NYC hotel perch + DFW gets rapid rail

AIRLINES Delta upgrades LGA-BOS Shuttle. On November 2, Delta will move its New York LaGuardia-Boston Logan Delta Shuttle from LGA’s remote (and cooly art-deco) Marine Air Terminal to Terminal C, and will upgrade its aircraft to 110-passenger Boeing 717s. (Those 717s used to belong to AirTran.)  Delta Shuttle’s LGA-Washington and LGA-Chicago flights will remain at […]

(Photo: Eric Rice / Flickr)

How to deal with Americans

Most American frequent travelers have at one time or another been “trained” on how to interact or behave when traveling in other countries. We are told to be punctual in Germany, to accept invitations to karaoke in Japan or Korea, to refrain from tipping in Australia, to present business cards with two hands in Asia, and dress up […]

In Copenhagen! (Chris McGinnis)

10 little things some hotels get right

When it comes to the best hotel stays, it’s not plush spas, marble lobbies and striking architecture that really matter. It’s the little things some hotels get right that really make a difference…and make us want to come back. Am I right? Here are 10 little things I’ve noticed that always make me feel good about the hotel I’m […]

Inside the posh new American Express Centurion lounge at New York LaGuardia (Photo: Amex)

Better Sky Club snacks + New LaGuardia lounge + Marriott MegaBonus back + Nifty new ATL arrivals app

Summer’s not even over yet, but business travel news is coming at us from all directions, so we’re offering a double dose of news this week… AIRLINES Soup ‘n salad at Sky Clubs. Delta has updated and enhanced the menu offerings at its Sky Clubs, bringing aboard some healthier options like salads and soups that it has […]

How do you like our new TravelSkills wallpaper? Yep, that's what we have on our walls!

Month #3: A TravelSkills update from Chris

Hello Dear Readers! This week we celebrate the three-month anniversary of the new TravelSkills blog and I’d like to provide an update of where we are and where we are going. First off, for those of you who have been following me for years, I’d like thank you very much for sticking around as we’ve broadened our content and expanded […]

Airbnb living room 2

Airbnb for a business trip? Mixed results

During a recent business trip to Los Angeles, I stayed in an Airbnb apartment for the first time. When I made the booking, I was thrilled at the prospect of getting more for less—fabulous location, more space, free parking and (of course) free high-speed wi-fi. But as a first-timer, I also had a plenty of questions about using […]

Editorial Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. Responses in the comments section are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”