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Lie-flat comfort on Air Canada's new Business Class Transcon flights (Photo Air Canada)

New transcon biz class + United mistake + Seattle + Cruise for miles + Marriott expiring

DOT excuses United on fare errors. A couple of weeks ago we reported on the controversy that erupted after United Airlines refused to honor some ridiculously low transatlantic air fares that many people booked through its website — if they switched their country of origin to Denmark. Although we disagreed with them, many observers felt […]

Whatever Woman by Phil Gyford / Flickr

Southwest growth spurt + Better food? + Wi-fi on Delta + Hilton double + Whatever!

Southwest grows at Love again. It was just a couple of weeks ago that Southwest Airlines announced plans for a new round of expansion at Dallas Love Field on April 9, when it will add non-stop service to 10 new cities. And now the airline says it will grow even more, adding eight more destinations […]

Dining alone does not have to be a painful experience (Photo: Jim Pennucci / Flickr)

How to enjoy dining alone

It’s 7 p.m. and you just plopped down on the bed in your hotel room after a long day of meetings. You’re starving, but now you have a decision to make. You can order room service. You can fish that crushed protein bar out of your carry-on and go mostly hungry. Or…. You can go […]

Make someone happy on your next biz trip...and it may come back to you (Photo Lisa Parker / Flickr)

5 ways to do good on your next trip

Let’s face it, business travel can suck the soul right out of you. There are myriad ways, however, to put that “good” right back into your trip, small things that don’t take a lot of effort but that leave the road better than when you found it. Here are five great ways to give back when […]

I had a great time chatting away with my Uber driver, David (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How Uber/SPG picked me up

By now you’ve likely heard that Uber and the Starwood Preferred Guest program have partnered to offer SPG points for Uber rides. Here’s the core message: But what I found interesting was the big effort around getting word out about the program. Here’s how I saw it: On Monday morning, I received an email from SPG […]

New York City’s three primary airports: Newark, LaGuardia, Kennedy

West Coast – New York LaGuardia flights on horizon?

I think I might be dreaming, but the Wall Street Journal reported today that regulators in New York are studying removing the age-old and useless “perimeter rules” that forbid most flights from west coast cities from landing at close in and convenient La Guardia airport. Here’s the nut of that article: In late 2013, when […]

Four of the 8 seats in Virgin America's first class section (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Does Virgin America need lie-flat seats to compete?

Last week Virgin America CEO David Cush made an off-hand remark about the carrier’s first class seats during an earnings call that turned into a Bloomberg headline and story. What followed was an unexpected tidal wave of commentary (most of it derisive) about the carrier’s strategy and its future. I know that there are many Virgin America […]

Business travelers may want to consider Frontier's "Stretch seats" which offer more legroom (Image: Frontier Airlines)

Bloodbath for airlines a boon for travelers

Atlanta is turning into the newest test market for the hottest trend in the airline business — the ultra-low-cost carrier. Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines are both planning significant expansion at ATL: Spirit said last week that it is adding nine new routes there this coming spring and summer, and Frontier announced today that it […]

No-black-out Barclaycard points helped pay for a Christmas trip to Puerto Rico (Photo: Barkley Dean)

Why you should change the cards you carry

If you’re like I used to be, you may allow the credit cards in your wallet to grow a bit stale. I know how you feel.  I would just ignore all the come ons for signing up for new cards because I thought I didn’t have the time to get through the unwieldy approval process, or sort […]

Spirit plans to make big inroads at ATL. But would you fly Spirit?

Flurry of new flights + Amex pickle + Delta in Dallas + Easy 1,000 HHonors points update

Flush with cheap fuel profits, airlines are rapidly expanding their footprints in cities across the U.S. To wit:  Spirit grows at Atlanta, LAX. Two ultra-low-cost, fee-heavy airlines have new growth spurts coming up. Spirit Airlines is aiming to grab a bigger piece of the seemingly impenetrable Atlanta market from Delta and Southwest by adding nine […]

A bright new bird to spot flying over the Bay Area starting June 15 (Photo: ByeAngel / Flickr)

United changes + SFO Sky Club + Southwest devalues + New Virgin route + Beijing bird!

First Delta, now United. Several weeks ago, Delta made the big changeover in its SkyMiles program to a spending-based model, and now it’s United’s turn. March 1 is the effective date for United’s previously announced changes in MileagePlus — changes essentially the same as Delta’s. Under the new system, MileagePlus members’ earnings will be on […]

Bartenders on duty at Delta's Sky Club in Atlanta (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Restrictions on free-flowing airport booze?

It happened again yesterday. As I was putting this TravelSkills post together, yet another boozed up traveler described as “uncooperative and combative” was taken into custody at LAX  and was dragged away “kicking and screaming.” The US Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA) deals with around 150 air rage incidents every year and over the past 20 years has […]

Starbucks in Dubai? (Photo: Joi Ito / Flikr)

Fortune’s 10 most admired (travel-related) companies

This week FORTUNE magazine churned out its annual list of “most admired” companies. While most of the top 10 are not specifically travel-related companies, they all have a profound impact on our daily lives as frequent travelers. Here’s what I mean. 1) Apple. Think about how Apple has transformed the travel experience with the iPhone and […]

The stunning view from the 48th floor of the soon-to-be Loews San Francisco (Photo: Mandarin Oriental)

Loews shakes up hotel biz

San Francisco’s plushest hotel perch, the Mandarin Oriental, which occupies the top 11 floors of a 48-story office building at California and Sansome Streets, will become a Loews hotel in late March. The 158-room, recently renovated property is the latest prize in Loews’ push to remake its brand, having recently added hotels (and updating them) in […]

A Delta 757-200 landing at Princess Juliana airport on St Maarten (Aero Icarus / Flickr)

Planespotting 101: Boeing 757, 767

Pilots, planespotters and aviation buffs can quickly recognize nearly every aircraft type from the ground or in the air. But it’s not so easy for the rest of us. To help TravelSkills readers confidently recognize what they see overhead or out on the runway, we are going to offer up a series of posts dedicated to […]

How will lower fuel costs affect airfares? (Photo: Deni Williams / Flickr)

Are lower fuel costs resulting in lower airfares?

Will falling fuel costs result in lower airfares? Is it too early to book holiday trips? Earlier this month I had a meeting with the scientists behind the new airfare prediction website FLYR, at their headquarters in downtown San Francisco. After that meeting I came up with some fare-related questions that TravelSkills readers might like to ask these […]

Seen this entrance to the new Baccarat hotel on W 53 in NYC yet?

Big new Hilton in SF + New status/perks at Hilton/Hyatt + Fastest hotel wifi? + New storm

Hilton adds two San Francisco hotels. HHonors members should be happy to hear this: San Francisco’s 1,024-room Parc 55 Hotel, located downtown at 55 Cyril Magnin St. near the Powell Street BART station and Union Square — is now a Hilton. The lodging giant said it purchased the Parc 55 (formerly a Wyndham) and four other hotels […]

AFLaPremieresuite

Southwest Big Love + Hidden Delta rules + Remarkable Atlanta deal + SFO Centurion chef

Southwest sets next round of Love expansion. Southwest Airlines last week revealed details of a big schedule expansion at Dallas Love Field, with plans to add non-stop service to 10 cities starting April 8. New destinations to be served from DAL include Charleston (S.C.), Columbus, Indianapolis, Memphis, Milwaukee, Panama City Beach, Portland (Ore.), Sacramento, San Jose […]

flyr

Predicting spring-summer airfares

Have you checked out the beautiful new airfare prediction site FLYR yet? I’m a new fan of the free service, which drills down fare predictions to specific flights and advises users to buy or wait. Its “fare beacons” monitor fares on these flights for you and email an alert when it’s time to buy. It can also predict the likelihood […]

Mistake fares make flyers feel like kids in a candy store (David Blackwell)

Should United pay for its mistakes?

In a widely publicized case, United posted several unbelievably cheap fares on its website yesterday due to a currency conversion error. How cheap? How about $74 to fly between New York and London…in business class?  A fare like that is clearly a mistake and not just a super low fare.  Once the mistake was uncovered, word quickly spread […]

American Airlines 787 - Business Class

Where will American fly its shiny new 787 Dreamliners?

American Airlines has started taking delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliners, and just announced it will put the planes into commercial service for the first time this spring, starting with domestic flights in May and international routes in June. That will make American the second major U.S. carrier to put the Boeing widebodies into […]

Watch what happens when someone sneezes on a plane.

Eeeuw! Watch flu particles disperse on plane

Sneeze alarm. With the flu spiking this month (putting frequent travelers on the defensive) you might get a little paranoid when a fellow passenger on your flight sneezes. Did you ever wonder just how far that sneeze can travel? Check out the above video — if you dare. Researchers at the FAA Center of Excellence at Purdue […]

JetBlue

Trip Report: JetBlue Mint class [photos]

Late last year, JetBlue invited me to try out its new Mint business class on a roundtrip between San Francisco and New York.  I jumped at the chance because TravelSkills readers have been pinging me with lots of question about it. Why? Most say it’s because they are getting fed up with the recent shenanigans by legacy […]

Can you tell the difference between the 737 and A320 in this shot? (Angelo DeSantis / Flickr)

Planespotting 101: Boeing 737 vs Airbus A320

Pilots, planespotters and aviation buffs can quickly recognize nearly every aircraft type from the ground or in the air. But it’s not so easy for the rest of us. To help TravelSkills readers confidently recognize what they see overhead or out on the runway, we are going to offer up a series of posts dedicated to […]

I love how many Kimpton Hotels create hand written notes for its loyalty program elite! This one's form the Hotel Monaco in Portland OR (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

IHG Rewards bonus + Kimpton purchase = interesting!

Now that IHG has closed on its recent purchase of popular Kimpton hotels, one of my favorite hotel brands, it’s time to consider getting more deeply involved in the popular IHG Rewards program…and maybe even get the IHG Rewards Club card. Those who are big fans of IHG’s hip Indigo brand are likely most excited by the news […]

KALnewbizseat

KAL’s new biz class + Cheap biz class to London + Airline scents + Busiest airport? + Spate of new hotels

Korean Air updates biz class. New “Prestige Suite” business class seats are coming at Korean Airlines, offering 180-degree recline, privacy panels that can be raised or lowered, 17-inch video screens with smartphone-style touch-screen handsets, and a configuration that lets window seat passengers get into the aisle without disturbuing their neighbor. The new seats will first […]

How about a little peace of mind for your Valentine this year? (Photo: Clear)

8 things every frequent flyer wants

Even busy travelers love to know that when they’re out of sight, they are not out of mind (or heart!). Say “you’re special” to the frequent flyer in your life with one of these gifts for Valentine’s Day. CLEAR membership Nothing is more frustrating than bumping into an unexpected delay at airport security. Or worrying about it. […]

You can now get this new business class seat from Singapore at a discount using United miles (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

United discounts awards + Delta eliminates chart + More Starbucks + United packs 777s + Southwest challenges Delta

AIRLINES United discounts partner awards. Travelers may not be getting much of a break on airfare these days, but this week we saw some nice discounts pop up on United for award redemptions with partners. What’s nice about this is that it nearly always costs more miles to fly on United partners than it does to fly […]

A Delta MD-80 (Mr.TinDC / Flickr)

Planespotting 101: MD-80/90 & Boeing 717

Pilots, planespotters and aviation buffs can quickly recognize nearly every aircraft type from the ground or in the air. But it’s not so easy for the rest of us. To help TravelSkills readers confidently recognize what they see overhead or out on the runway, we are going to offer up a series of posts dedicated to […]

Nearly 500,000 people pass through Times Square every day (Photo: Neo_II / Flickr)

New York City is too crowded!

Crowding in New York City is reaching epidemic proportions. Especially in Midtown and particularly in Times Square.  In the rare case you haven’t been to Manhattan lately, you should know that the number of tourists visiting New York City hit an historic high last year. This week the NYC Mayor’s office proudly proclaimed that a whopping 56.4 […]

Two Aer Lingus crew members checking out the new furniture (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Aer Lingus sees green in U.S. [PHOTOS]

Aer Lingus says that the return of non-stop flights between San Francisco and Dublin last year (after a five year hiatus) counts as the most successful launch in the Irish airline’s history. It’s so pleased with the success of the route that it’s bumping up Airbus A330-200 frequencies to daily (from 4x per week) starting May 4. […]

One of very few photos provided by Etihad to welcome it's new SFO-Abu Dhabi flights (Photo: Etihad)

Etihad vs “Jetihad”

Last November, Etihad Airways launched new nonstops between San Francisco International and Abu Dhabi. But in an unusual twist, it did not launch the service using an Etihad aircraft. Instead, it substituted a Boeing 777 aircraft and inflight amenities from India’s Jet Airways, of which Etihad is part owner. Etihad has made a big splash over the […]

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Air reveals a new seat. Why?

Singapore Airlines will become the next international carrier to jump on the premium economy class bandwagon later this year as it introduces the roomier seating on its A380 and 777-300ER aircraft. The Asian carrier will roll out the new seating product in August on the Singapore-Sydney route, followed by Singapore-Hong Kong and Singapore-London Heathrow. The […]

Greeting our hosts at the Falaknuma Palace hotel in Hyderabad, India (Photo: Barkley Dean)

How do you say “hello?”

One if the most important TravelSkills you can possess is the ability to say a confident “hello” and proper greeting in the language and custom of your host country. Trying to impose “the American way” of saying hello on your foreign counterparts could likely backfire and get your relationships off to a rocky start. (American […]

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End of the hotel room phone?

Prognosticators have long predicted the end of the hotel room phone. A new app will likely hasten its demise. Starting March 1 you can use your smartphone to request nearly every hotel service, at over 1,200  big brand name hotels, with a new app called MobileSuites. By big brands, we are talking Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt and Hilton. (See below […]

iphone6-main-image

6 tips for taking better iPhone pics

If the iPhone is your camera of choice, you’re hardly alone. More and more travelers, especially business travelers, are leaving big, bulky cameras at home and using their iPhones instead. Why not? Small and compact and perfectly portable, an iPhone camera can more than get the job done. Not to mention, the improved cameras on the […]

A brand new Virgin hotel planned for hot-n-happnin-now Nashville (Rendering: Virgin Hotels)

38 new Marriotts + Double SkyMiles + Wi-fi block spank + New Hyatt brand + Virgin in Nashville

More opportunities to earn Marriott Rewards.  Marriott International will greatly increase its presence in Canada with the planned acquisition of that country’s Delta Hotels brand for $135 million. Delta has 38 hotels with 10,000 rooms in 30 Canadian cities; after the deal is complete, that will boost Marriott’s total presence in Canada to more than 120 […]

SpringHill

Putting a wrap on airport security checkpoints

When was the last time you felt cool, calm and collected at an airport security checkpoint?  You might feel that way the next time you pass through the new “Experience Zone” at Oakland International Airport’s Terminal 2 (used by Southwest Airlines). Since last month, OAK’s security checkpoint area has been wrapped in colorful wall art, pumped […]

Qantas Samsung VRheadset

New jets SFO-LAX + Europe summer deals + United move at ATL + Delta wi-fi progress + Cathay biz class sale

AIRLINES Delta eyes 717s for LAX-SFO. Delta will put larger Boeing 717s onto eight daily Los Angeles-San Francisco “California Shuttle” flights starting June 4, retaining Embraer 175s on the other seven of its 15 daily flights, according to the website Airlineroute, which tracks planned service changes across the industry. Delta obtained scores of former AirTran […]

Turkish coffee is a thick brew served with water to help wash it down! (Photo: Erica Ashleson / Flickr)

Coffee: 5 ways in 5 cities. Or Starbucks?

No matter where you start your work day, coffee is typically in order before meetings begin. But how you brew the bean at home is likely quite different from the way it’s done in other parts of the world. If you can’t have your joe your way, then have it like a local! Or you can go find the nearest Starbucks. When […]

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