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A United 777 takes off from LAX (Photo: Eric Salard / Flickr)

Roomier widebodies on domestic flights? We hope so

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + Secret stash of hidden hotel deals + The most outrageous luxury suites in the sky +Virgin’s new LAX Clubhouse!  I nearly always book Delta’s big wide 767s for the 4-5 hour nonstops between SFO and Atlanta even though […]

Would you paint your nails on the plane? What if the person next to you did?  (Photo: Neil Milne / Flickr)

Is 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 […]

With its ultra-low-cost formula, Frontier is growing fast.

Frontier expands, slashes fares in Atlanta, Cincinnati

Ultra-low-cost airline Frontier continued on its growth streak last week, adding new routes and flights at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson and Cincinnati. At ATL, Frontier launched nonstop service to New York LaGuardia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Cincinnati. The carrier now flies to 16 cities non-stop from Atlanta, and officials told local media […]

San Francisco is the test market for Audi's rental app. (Image: Audi)

Audi tests rental app in San Francisco

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + Easy 1,000 AAdvantage miles + The most outrageous luxury suites in the sky +Virgin’s new LAX Clubhouse!  San Francisco travelers can now use an app to order up a rental vehicle from Audi to be delivered to their […]

The famously chic rooftop pool at the Four Seasons Bev Hills (Four Seasons)

Secret stash of “unpublished” discount hotel rates

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + Which airline is most generous? + Starwood-InterContinental merger? + British Airways reduces August fares to London  Last month we wrote about the brand new GoSeek.com website that finds super-low “unpublished” hotel rates and posts them online.  That was one […]

A shiny new British Airways A380. Clean as a whistle! (Photo: British Airways)

Surprise: Deep discounts on summer fares to Europe

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + Which airline is most generous? + Starwood-InterContinental merger? + Delta bumps up summer seats to Europe!  The strength of the US dollar is great for Americans headed to Europe, but it’s clearly having an impact on demand from the […]

Consumer Reports found Southwest had the greatest availability of seats for award travel.

5 key findings from Consumer Report on frequent flyer programs

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + Easy 1,000 AAdvantage miles + Starwood-InterContinental merger? + Delta bumps up summer seats to Europe!  Which airline frequent flyer programs are the most (and least) generous with reward seats for their members? Consumer Reports magazine conducted a detailed analysis […]

Starwood brands include Aloft-- this one by SFO (Image: Chris McGinnis)

Starwood-InterContinental merger in the works?

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + Easy 1,000 AAdvantage miles + The most outrageous luxury suites in the sky +Delta bumps up summer seats to Europe!  Last year there was speculation in the lodging and financial industries that Starwood Hotels might be looking to […]

Delta's summer schedule includes more flights to Rome and other European cities. (Image: Jim Glab)

Delta bumps up summer seats to Europe

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + Easy 1,000 AAdvantage miles + The most outrageous luxury suites in the sky +Virgin’s new LAX Clubhouse!  Delta has unveiled plans for a seasonal summer expansion of its routes to Europe. This additional capacity should make it somewhat […]

Screenshot for AAdvantage University class on YouTube

Fudging your way to 1,000 AAdvantage miles

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s new 50,000 mile bonus + $99 fares to Europe + The most outrageous luxury suites in the sky +Virgin’s new LAX Clubhouse!  American AAdvantage members who want to top off their accounts with a quick 1,000 miles have a new, easy way […]

Wow Air flies A321s like this one from Iceland to Boston and soon to Baltimore/Washington. (Image: Wow Air)

Wow Air’s $99 cheap seats to Europe. Would you?

$99 one-way fares from the U.S. to Europe? Fares are highly restricted, but yep, they are there… One of the newest low-fare transatlantic carriers to fly to the U.S. is Iceland’s Wow Air. It currently operates Boston-Reykjavik nonstops and will begin Baltimore/Washington flights May 8. It also offers onward service from Reykjavik to several cities in Europe. […]

Customs and Border Protection's new arrivals app will reduce waiting time.

New, free arrivals app speeds up customs

International travelers returning to the U.S. through Chicago O’Hare — a major entry point for United MileagePlus and American AAdvantage members — can now take advantage of a handy smartphone app to speed up Customs and Border Protection processing. The Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app, available from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, […]

How does your fully-flat business class seat compare to this king-sized roost in the 747's owner's suite?

The most outrageous luxury suites in the sky

You think flying in first class is luxurious? Or maybe in a six- or eight-seat private jet? Hah! How about this: Imagine the largest, most lavish hotel suite you possibly can. Then put wings on it. That’s the kind of work they do at Kirkland, Washington-based Greenpoint Technologies, a company that provides aircraft interiors for VIP, corporate […]

Virgin's new LAX Clubhouse has views of the runway and the Hollywood Hills.

Virgin opens swish LAX Clubhouse

As its schedule between Los Angeles and London Heathrow has grown to three flights a day (in cooperation with joint venture partner Delta), Virgin Atlantic Airways has cut the ribbon on a new Clubhouse in LAX’s Terminal 2 this week.  The 4,000-square-foot lounge is open to Virgin’s Upper Class and Flying Club Gold members as […]

United launched a summer fare sale today (Photo: Jim Glab)

Nationwide airfare sale for early/late summer

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all three of today’s TravelSkills posts about: Eastern Airlines back in the sky & New Ritz-Carlton in Chicago (kinda) & Admirals Clubs! Late today United posted a fare sale for early and late summer travel– fares are pretty good (not great), and quite a relief from the […]

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Alaska Airlines invades The South. Watch out, Delta

NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all three of today’s TravelSkills posts about: Eastern Airlines back in the sky & New Ritz-Carlton in Chicago (kinda) & Admirals Clubs! Alaska Airlines announced new non-stop service from its Seattle hub to Charleston, South Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina beginning fall 2015. Flights to Charleston […]

The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago has a spectacular lobby

Ritz-Carlton Chicago becomes a … Ritz-Carlton

If you ever looked closely at the formal name of The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, located on the top floors of Michigan Avenue’s Water Tower Place, you would have noticed it was “The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel).” Confusing, right? Especially since the Four Seasons Chicago is right up the street. But the confusion will end […]

Eastern Airlines B737 touching down in San Juan (Eastern Airlines / Twitter)

Eastern Airlines back in the sky

The first time I flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico was on Eastern Airlines way back in 1985 when I was working on a consulting project there. Ironically, the last time I flew Eastern Airlines involved a trip to San Juan. That was January 1991. Eastern was mired bankruptcy. The US was in the first Gulf […]

Float planes next to skyscrapers in Vancouver make me smile (Chris McGinnis)

These countries make me smile

How often do you get to take a happy trip to one of the top 10 happiest countries in the world? I’m flying through Switzerland next week and will be on the lookout for smiles Why? Well, in the recently released 2015 World Happiness Report, Switzerland ranks as the most happy country in the world, followed […]

American's Admiral's Club at SFO has unusual bonsai type trees (Image Chris McGinnis)

American Admirals Clubs get consistent new look, feel

American Airlines says that is will soon begin “the most expansive lounge makeover in the airline’s history.” First up for the facelift: The Admirals Club lounges at Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) and Sao Paulo International (GRU) airports, both of which are currently closed. It sounds like American is taking a page from the Delta Sky Club […]

The former Rush and Four Points hotel is now a shiny new AC Hotel by Marriott (Image: Marriott)

Chicago’s glut of hot new hotels

Chicago openings: Hyatt, Marriott. The new Hyatt brand that was announced a few months ago — Hyatt Centric — has opened its first property in the heart of Chicago. The Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago occupies a former office building at 100 W. Monroe St. and offers a “minimalist decor” in its 257 guest rooms. […]

Rendering of the new Hyatt Regency Tyson's Corner now open in a mixed use development on the Metro Silver Line

New hotel openings of note

More openings: D.C., Georgia, Colorado. Hyatt opened a new property in metro Washington D.C.’s fast-growing Tysons Corner area, 15 miles from both Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan National; the 300-room Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center is accessible via the Washington Metro Silver Line— train service to Dulles Airport on the Silver Line should commence in […]

(Image: Brian Cantoni / Flickr)

Get your Netflix on hotel TV

Netflix in your hotel room? Since the streaming entertainment service Netflix has grown so fast and attracted so many subscribers, wouldn’t it be nice if you could access it while you’re away on business? Marriott thinks so, and the hotel giant is currently testing the availability of Netflix and other streaming services like Pandora and […]

Portland gets Uber back (Image: Uber)

Uber’s back in Portland

Portland OKs Uber — for now. The Portland, Oregon City Council has agreed to let Uber and Lyft operate in the city for the next four months, subject to certain conditions. Currently, UberX is the only option in town and airport to city runs cost $30-$40 each way. Get $20 off your first Uber ride! […]

Charlotte-Douglas Airport's new hourly parking deck is home to a  consolidated car rental facility.

Renting a car in Charlotte just got easier

New rental facility at Charlotte. Rental car operations at North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport have moved to a newly opened consolidated facility in the airport’s new hourly parking deck. The new rental facility is a short walk from the terminal, eliminating the need for the rental car shuttles previously used. Next year, the airport […]

NextGen technology is speeding things up at Atlanta's busy Hartsfield Jackson

Atlanta airport getting faster, bigger. SFO, too

If flight operations in and out of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson seem to be running more smoothly these days, that’s because air traffic control improvements resulting from the FAA’s new NextGen technology are allowing more flights to take off and land at the busy airport. The new procedures let aircraft fly closer together on approach, and opened up […]

Rendering of the new Westin hotel at Denver International Airport (Starwood)

Rail link & hotel at Denver airport just around the corner

The long-planned rail link between Denver International Airport and Union Station in downtown Denver passed a milestone last week when rail cars pulled into the airport station for the first time. The Regional Transportation District’s electric-powered East Rail Line will now undergo an extended series of tests before the trains start carrying passengers in 2016. […]

Seattle-Tacoma airport is due for a big upgrade on wi-fi speed (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

NYC airports lag on free Wi-Fi; Sea-Tac sizzles

Several months ago, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey promised it would make 30-minute free Wi-Fi sessions available at all three of its major airports — Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark — by fall of 2014. Some progress has been made, but the promise is still unfulfilled; According to USA Today’s Harriet Baskas, […]

Alaska Airlines will market premium coach seats. (Photo: Jim Glab)

Alaska adds new premium economy seats

Alaska adds premium seats. In the middle of May, Alaska Airlines will reportedly start marketing extra-legroom coach seats — i.e., those in bulkhead and exit rows — as a premium economy product. Besides the 7 to 8 inches of extra legroom, passengers in these “preferred seating” rows will also get free drinks and priority boarding. […]

A hearty breakfast on JetBlue's Mint transcon (Chris McGinnis)

JetBlue’s Mint class paying off

It’s been almost a year since JetBlue started deploying its new premium front-cabin service — called Mint — on the New York JFK-Los Angeles route, and the long rollout process (its first phase, at least) is coming to a close this spring with the new cabins installed on all of the carrier’s JFK-LAX and JFK-San […]

United is giving up on 10 new 787-9s it had ordered.

United revamps fleet- for the better?

In announcing its quarterly results last week, United Airlines revealed plans to make some major changes in the makeup of its fleet. For starters, the airline will swap out an existing order with Boeing for 10 787-9 Dreamliners to 10 777-300ERs instead. United also said it will extend the lifespan of 21 767-300s that had […]

This is the secret stairway to the crew rest area on a Cathay Pacific 747 (Chris McGinnis)

13 air travel experiences to have before you die

With the proliferation of “must see before you die” lists, I’m moved to submit my top 13 airline business class experiences to have before you die. Some of these I’ve been lucky enough to experience myself. Others, I just been able to photograph… and some I can only dream about. Take a spin through my top […]

Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Hotel Chicago grand opening [sexy slideshow]

Wondering how Virgin throws a grand opening party for its very first hotel? Here are some photos that illustrate the showy event in Chicago last week. (All photos courtesy of Virgin Hotels) To read TravelSkills full report on the Virgin Chicago grand opening event, see this. @RichardBranson @MattMcGorry @Char_McK  To read TravelSkills full report on the […]

The Virgin Hotel brand debuts in Chicago (Photo: Virgin America)

Six cheeky features at the first Virgin Hotel

Imagine disembarking from a Virgin America flight and checking in at Hotel Meh. Now imagine extending the vibe at a Virgin Hotel. It’s like business travel surround-sound. Or at least that’s what Virgin Hotels is betting on. The Virgin Hotel Chicago celebrated its grand opening April 16 (after the industry practice of a soft opening […]

United's summer business class sale. A 747 at ORD (Image: Chris McGinnis)

United business class sale

Every year about this time I keep my eyes peeled for business class sale fares for summer travel. As regular TravelSkills readers know, we wrote about a recent spate of summer biz class sales on European carriers. Today, United jumped in the fray with some across-the-pond discounts, too. (Keep an eye out for other US […]

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Easier than ever to fly private (Part 2)

In contrast to the private jet operators mentioned in Part 1 of this series, California-based Surf Air (www.surfair.com) is not a flight booking service — it’s an actual airline, but a members-only one that offers all-you-can-fly service to and from several airports — mainly between southern California and Silicon Valley — for rates starting at […]

This Phenom 100 jet from JetSuite seats six (JetSuite)

It’s getting easier to fly private (Part 1)

After going into a big slump during the Great Recession, business travel by private aircraft is making a strong comeback. Bombardier, a major manufacturer of business jets, predicts that the worldwide fleet will grow from 15,200 in 2013 to 22,650 by 2023. And some new companies have been springing up to broaden the market of […]

united

Banned from United

Now this feels kinda scary, weird and big-brotherish. Last week prominent security researcher Chris Roberts was banned from flying United after speaking on TV and tweeting about airline security vulnerabilities and his alleged ability to hack into and tamper with inflight systems during flights. Back on March 22 on Fox News, Roberts boasted about how he’s been able to […]