Latest News

Finishing touches on Delta's new Sky Club at SFO opens Friday at 6 a.m.

First look: New Delta Sky Club SFO (PHOTOS)

Delta’s long awaited new Sky Club at San Francisco International Airport opens Friday morning, August 28, at 6 am, but TravelSkills got an exclusive first look at the big, bright new space today. All we can say right now is bring your sunglasses and get ready for some of the best runways views ever through a […]

Uber and Lyft will soon start picking up passengers at Los Angeles International. (Image: NTSB)

UberX, Lyft at LAX finally gets green light

Los Angeles International Airport will become the largest in the country to allow passenger pick-ups by ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft following a final vote of approval this week by the Los Angeles City Council. Uber still has to apply for a permit under new rules and while no firm start date has been set, […]

British Airways will add San Jose service next spring with a new 787-9. (Image: British Airways)

British Airways to San Jose + Korean’s newest plane to SFO + AA drops a route

The newest transatlantic gateway for British Airways will be San Jose; Korean Air will put a brand new jumbo on its San Francisco route; and American will end an international spoke from US Airways’ Philadelphia hub. British Airways has set a May 4, 2016 launch date for new transatlantic from London Heathrow to Mineta San […]

Airbnb lists this art deco apartment in Shanghai at $185 a night. (Image: Airbnb)

Airbnb surges with companies- but what about travelers?

Airbnb, the sharing economy’s accommodations booking network, says it has seen a huge expansion of interest from companies that want to incorporate the site into their corporate travel programs. Within 24 hours of the rollout last month of its new global travel management suite, Airbnb said, 500 companies signed on. (No word yet on how […]

An outdoor terrace at the new TRYP by Wyndham Times Square. (Image: Wyndham)

Hotels: New Hampton Inn SF, 2 more for Manhattan, plus Boston, LA

The latest U.S. hotel openings include a moderately-priced (by local standards, anyway) property in the heart of San Francisco; a pair of new hotels in midtown Manhattan; an airport location in Boston; and a Marriott affiliate in Burbank. In San Francisco, Hilton has cut the ribbon on the 174-room Hampton Inn by Hilton San Francisco […]

Virgin America's using Richard Branson's star power to promote new Hawaii flights (Image: Virgin America / YouTube)

Virgin America to Hawaii + Delta Sky Club SFO opens + Air fares go down + Labor Day crowds

A few newsy nuggets from other sources that we missed on TravelSkills last week: Virgin America teams up with Airbnb, GoPro & LinkedIn to promote new SFO-Honolulu & Maui flights The ceremonial last-ever US Airways flight is set for October 16. British Airways/Iberia parent IAG closes deal to buy Aer Lingus. Carriers are tightening up admissions to their […]

Sheraton's Taipei property is part of Starwood's new Sheraton Grand brand. (Image: Sheraton)

Hilton triple points + Booming hotel demand, rates + Starwood’s new brand

In hotel news this week, demand for rooms hits a new record, forcing rates up; Starwood unveils a new premium tier for one of its global brands; and Hilton revives a bonus HHonors points promotion for the fall. If you think you’re paying more for your hotel rooms this year, you’re right.  The latest monthly […]

SAS new business class could arrive this fall (Image: SAS/Google)

AA upgrades Tokyo, SAS expands in US, BOS-Oslo $420 roundtrip

In international route news, American puts a new 787 onto an O’Hare route; ANA revives first class on a key U.S. route; SAS adds a pair of U.S. gateways; and low-cost Norwegian begins new East Coast service.  NOTE: We’ve made some changes to TravelSkills that should eliminate the recent problems related to malware or redirects […]

Smart City was charged with Wi-Fi hotspot blocking at convention centers in Cincinnati and several other cities. (Image: Cincyusa)

FCC nails another Wi-Fi blocker

A company that provides Internet services for major convention centers around the U.S., has been hit by the Federal Communications Commission with a $750,000 fine for blocking the personal mobile Wi-Fi hotspots used by convention attendees and exhibitors. The latest FCC action comes after a similar penalty last year against Marriott for blocking Wi-Fi hotspots used […]

The battle for Seattle between Alaska and Delta has passenger numbers growing fast -- maybe too fast. (Image: Jim Glab)

Airports: Seattle squeeze + Chicago Midway makeover + DFW duty-free

In airport news, Seattle is facing some growing pains; Chicago Midway embarks on a major renovation project; and Dallas/Ft. Worth will get a big new duty-free shopping area. That battle between Alaska Airlines and Delta at Seattle-Tacoma international — with both carriers regularly adding new routes — is generating lots of new passenger traffic for […]

Singapore Airlines' super sale fares can be booked into September. (Image: Singapore)

In Case You Missed It: Singapore super sale + AmEx/Apple Pay + Swiss’ ‘throne seats’ + Lame upgrade excuses

A few newsy nuggets from other sources that we missed on TravelSkills last week: Singapore Airlines’ 50th anniversary sale fares start at $850 roundtrip American Express Corporate Cards can now be used with Apple Pay Kama Seatra: A guide to in-flight sleeping positions Swiss International boosts the number of sought-after “throne seats” on 777-300ERs Things you should know […]

United is installing Bluetooth beacon technology at Newark. (Image: Newark Airport)

United’s improved app: Airport maps and margaritas

You know how you can use the map apps on your smartphone during a road trip not only to find your way, but to find what’s around you? United is taking that same functionality inside the airport with its latest app enhancement. And it’s also speeding up the flight rebooking process. The airline said the […]

Soaring glass ceiling will link portions of the terminal and a new hotel. (Image: New York Governor's Office)

Delta seeks California – NY LaGuardia nonstops

With New York now officially on the way to starting a massive reconstruction of LaGuardia Airport, there is speculation that one of the major partners in that project — Delta Air Lines — might be expecting to get something in return, like an agreement by state officials to lift the 30-year-old “perimeter rule” that limits […]

An upgrade to the HHonors app lets it be used as a room key. (Image: Hilton)

New upgrade for some Hilton HHonors members

Last summer, Hilton introduced digital check-in and room selection via smartphone app for members of its HHonors program, and now the company is rolling out another upgrade that will let HHonors Silver, Gold and Diamond members use the app as a room key. “By early 2016, HHonors members will be able to use their smartphones […]

The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago is finally a full-fledged member of Ritz-Carlton Hotels. (Image: Ritz-Carlton, Chicago)

In Case You Missed It: New plane + Ritz Chicago + Airline change fees + No trophies

A few newsy nuggets from other sources that we missed on TravelSkills this week: >Airbus files a patent for a plane that could fly twice as fast as Concorde. >The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago has finally become part of Ritz-Carlton’s reservations system and loyalty program. >A new survey finds that business travelers tend to be big online shoppers. >Delta, United […]

Air Canada will put a new 787-9 onto its Los Angeles-Toronto route. (Image: Air Canada)

Routes: Mexico City + Toronto + Bangkok + Accra + Belfast + Dubai + Latin America

In international route news, new options to Mexico City are coming; west coast travelers can soon fly the newest version of the 787 to Toronto; an Asian carrier will end U.S. flights; South African Airways adds a  new stop from Washington;  United plans year-round service on a European spoke from its Newark hub; Delta trims […]

The redesigned Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express has new perks. (Image: American Express)

Starwood boosts credit card perks

New benefits, a new look — and a higher cost — are coming to the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card from American Express. The companies said that effective August 11, existing card benefits will be supplemented with new ones, including the elimination of foreign transaction fees; free Wi-Fi from the worldwide Boingo network; and […]

Frontier is trying a new tactic: Bundling a bunch of extras into a single add-on rate. (Image: Jim Glab)

Briefs: Alaska lounges + Frontier fare bundle + mileage programs rated

In the latest airline news, Alaska is adding a new perk for its airport lounge program members; ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines tries out a new pricing option; and major carriers’ frequent flyer programs are rated by U.S. News & World Report. A few weeks ago, we noted that members of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program […]

TravelSkills will be in vacation mode during August (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

10 most popular: Trip Report + La Guardia + $25 off + Delta upgrade + TravelSkills Vacation

Quick note: TravelSkills will be in vacation mode during August, with only periodic posts. We’ll be back at full steam in September so stay tuned! And enjoy your summer. –Chris TravelSkills’ 10 most popular posts over the last week (descending order)… plus a few newsy nuggets we missed. 1. Flying cozy: Trip Report: Air Canada B767 lie-flat business […]

(Photo: Jason Tester Guerilla / Flickr)

UberX & Lyft at LAX this month? Not so fast

Late Friday TravelSkills learned that UberX and Lyft will not be allowed to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport in August. Previous reports stated that the airport commission (with vocal support of LA Mayor Garcetti) would allow pick ups starting this month. (Currently, only UberBLACK is allowed to pick up passengers at LAX terminals.) But now the […]

The Westin Austin Downtown has a rooftop pool. (Image: Westin)

Shiny new hotels for you in NYC, Austin, St. Louis, California

In hotel news, Manhattan’s Financial District is getting a new Aloft hotel; Starwood cuts the ribbon on a Westin in downtown Austin; Marriott adds a Courtyard in St. Louis; and Hilton debuts a Garden Inn at Orange County Airport and a Doubletree in San Bernadino. An August 20 opening is planned for a new Aloft […]

Pump prices should keep dropping for drivers- especially in those green states (Image: Jim Glab)

Gas prices plummet to record lows = good news for travelers

While business travelers may focus their complaints on air travel, the fact is that more of them get to their destinations by car than by plane — and there’s good news for drivers this week from GasBuddy, the website that tracks prices at the pump. GasBuddy’s analysts are predicting that the national average price per […]

Silvercar fanboy Than Maung won 4 free days with this sweet shot (Facebook)

Silvercar CEO talks with TravelSkills

Imagine stepping off the plane, making your way to the rental car lot, using your smart phone to unlock your car, then driving off the lot. No garish car rental counters, no queues of frustrated travelers waiting for cars or lines to exit the lot, no attempts to up-sell you with insurance or gas options. You just […]

Alaska Airlines will add three routes from Portland International. (Image: Jim Glab)

New routes for American, Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier

Don’t miss: Delta unveils revamped Airbus In route news, Alaska is adding a trio of routes out of Portland, American is extending its reach from LaGuardia into the Midwest, Frontier adds some markets and drops some, and JetBlue tacks on a new spoke from its Ft. Lauderdale hub. Alaska Airlines has set a mid-February start […]

Delta's A319s are getting nine-inch screens at every seat. (Image: Delta)

Delta unveils revamped Airbus

Passengers who fly on Delta’s Airbus A319s will soon start seeing new interiors and technology (and more seats) as the airline carries out what it calls “a nose-to-tail modification” of the 57 A319s in its fleet. The first of the overhauled 132-seat aircraft enters service this week, with more to come in the weeks and […]

A Southwest Airlines 738 in new livery takes of from Midland, Texas (Photo: Felipe Garcia / Flickr)

Southwest says it again

Every once in a while, reporters or Wall Street analysts will ask Southwest Airlines officials if they plan to keep their policy of allowing two free checked bags in the face of an industry-wide trend toward more and more fees. That happened again at a business travel conference in Florida this week. The question is […]

And then there was one: Southwest is standing by its free checked bag policy. (Image: Jim Glab)

Direct or nonstop flight? You tell me!

Now that we are in peak summer travel season and everyone is flying somewhere, it’s a good time to point out the difference between nonstop and direct flights. Why? Because so many people get it wrong. (This is a Blast from the Past post — a perennially popular subject– making a reappearance on TravelSkills. Enjoy! Read the original […]

Lobby of San Francisco's Hotel Marker, formerly the Monaco. (Image: Hotel Marker)

Is Kimpton abandoning San Francisco?

What’s going on with Kimpton Hotels in its hometown of San Francisco? Big changes are underway with its properties there following its recent acquisition by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) for $430 million. At least two of them have been “de-branded” — i.e., removed from the Kimpton group — and the same could happen to more, […]

Air Canada

Trip Report: Air Canada B767 lie-flat business class SFO-Toronto

Nearly every frequent traveler knows about those fancy flat bed seats flying between California and New York. But did you know that you can also fly flat between San Francisco and Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) on Air Canada? (LAX-YYZ, too) Last March, the Canadian carrier deployed a single daily B767 round trip on SFO-YYZ. It departs SFO at 11:35 […]

Companies are still unsure about the safety aspects of ride-sharing service. (Image: Uber)

Surprisingly, Uber, Lyft still forbidden

Although a recent analysis of business travelers’ expense reports showed that ride-sharing services — especially Uber — had overtaken taxis (but not rental cars) as the ground transportation option of choice, new research from the Global Business Travel Association comes to a different conclusion. Rather than polling business travelers, the GBTA study surveyed corporate travel […]

Last time I arrived at the Marriott Anaheim, the lobby looked like this (Chris McGinnis)

How to avoid worn out hotel rooms

Dear Chris: Is it just me or are Marriotts getting really old and worn out?  I’ve stayed in three in the last five weeks and they were very dated and worn out.  Carpet threadbare…tiny bathrooms.   Old furniture.  Musty smelling. Marriott used to be a good mid range value but frankly they are reminding me of […]

The new LaGuardia will replace separate terminals with a unified structure. (Image: New York Governor's Office)

First look at the new $4 billion LaGuardia (photos)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Vice President Joe Biden and other officials were in New York City Monday to officially unveil plans for the complete reconstruction of the city’s cramped, aging LaGuardia Airport, with construction due to start next year. The multibillion-dollar project will involve the gradual demolition of the existing separate terminals and gate […]

Plush interior of one of Delta's private jets. (Image: Delta)

Delta’s ultimate upgrade: private jets

Delta, the commercial airline, has always operated separately from Delta Private Jets, the company’s exclusive subsidiary for business jet travel. But now the two are planning to mix things up, according to Bloomberg Business News. Delta is reportedly planning to start offering its top customers the chance to upgrade from a commercial flight to a private […]

Alaska Airlines is working with CLEAR to replace boarding passes with biometrics. (Image: CLEAR)

Will biometrics replace boarding passes?

Alaska Airlines has quietly started a test program at California’s Mineta San Jose Airport in cooperation with CLEAR — the security line expeditors — that could lead to the demise of the relatively new digital boarding pass. The airline has signed up some 200 regular customers at San Jose for an experiment that lets them […]

Tourists clog the narrow streets of Copenhagen's popular Nyhavn district. (Image: Jim Glab)

Backlash increasing against travelers

When you’ve traveled to overseas destinations, have you sometimes found yourself overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of other visitors at popular places– and perhaps felt bad about being part of the whole spectacle? Some of those destinations feel bad about it, too; and in spite of the millions of dollars that tourists spend, some places […]

Bali Guidebook

An airline tragedy remembered

Every time a plane crashes, my adrenalin spikes, I fall into news gathering mode, and I begin to recall the air crashes that have occurred during my 25 year career as a travel writer, broadcaster and author. Most poignant of all to me was the ValuJet (now AirTran) flight 592 (Miami>Atlanta) crash into the everglades in May […]

Delta is one of the first out with a fall fare sale. (Image: Jim Glab)

Delta’s fall fare sale — with a twist

Airlines traditionally come out with fare sales for travel in the fall, after the crowds of summer vacationers have abated, and Delta has just unveiled one, but with a new twist. In Delta’s new sale — which sets an August 6 booking deadline for trips from August 6 through December 16 — customers can pay […]

A guest room at London's newly reopened Lanesborough Hotel. (Image: Lanesborough)

New hotels: London + Hamburg + Prague + China + Hyderabad + Jeddah + Lima + B.A.

In overseas hotel developments, a London classic reopens; Starwood’s Luxury Collection adds a pair of properties, and so does Hilton’s Curio Collection; Marriott and Hyatt add China locations; Radisson debuts in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Wyndham adds a Peruvian hotel. One of London’s top five-star hotels, The Lanesborough, has reopened after an 18-month overhaul. The […]

Mileage Plan members are getting more mile-earning options. (Image: Jim Glab)

Alaska expands mileage options

Don’t miss: Cute? Or creepy? Members of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan are getting more ways to earn miles, including a new foreign partner carrier in the program — China’s Hainan Airlines. Effective immediately, Mileage Plan members can earn elite-qualifying miles for flights on Hainan, which has service from Alaska‘s Seattle hub to both Beijing and […]