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New Marriott/Hilton cancellation policy irks (Reader Report)

Effective January 1 this year, new last-minute cancellation policies went into effect at Marriott and Hilton. This means that the relatively standard practice of allowing cancellations up to 5 or 6 pm on the day of arrival is no longer in effect. In order to avoid paying for that first night, you now have to cancel a […]

TravelSkills was out on the runways at SFO to watch the first British Airways A380 touch down (Chris McGinnis)

San Francisco gets fourth Airbus A380, larger lounge

San Francisco International took on its fourth A380 flight on Sunday afternoon (March 29) when British Airways flight 287 touched down on a perfect spring day– and TravelSkills was there on the runway to watch the big bird touch down! In addition to the new British Airways arrival, there are now three more A380s calling […]

A brand new Marriott Courtyard in Salisbury, NC (Marriott)

1,000 Marriott points + AA/US combine + Most hated fees + Delta-Virgin expands + Daylight saving + new routes

Get 1,000 Marriott Rewards Points. Courtyard by Marriott hits its 1,000 hotel milestone on Tuesday (March 31) and is offering 1,000 Rewards points to all members checking into any Courtyard hotel worldwide on that day. The company says that it will give away over 50 million points as part of the promotion. The festivities will be centered around […]

San Francisco's dubious new title (Photo: Gags9999 / Flickr)

Most expensive city + Airport phoning + 25 million more PreCheckers + Cameras in rental cars + 2-4-1 deal in LA

San Francisco: We’re Number One! The City by the Bay has captured first place in a new study, but it might not be an enviable ranking: According to the trade publication Business Travel News, San Francisco is the most expensive business travel destination in the U.S., with average costs (hotel, meals and incidentals) totaling $509.50 […]

Photo: Christien Cordova / Flickr

Shakedown in Mexico (Reader Report)

Driver, beware. Since we are in the peak of spring break travel season, and many TravelSkills readers (or their family members) may be headed to Mexico on vacation, we offer up this Reader Report as word of caution. It’s important to note that TravelSkills reader D.D.’s experience in Mexico is not isolated– nearly the exact same […]

Did you know that airlines do not routinely disinfect planes? (Photo: Germfalcon)

Disinfecting planes with robots

It’s easy to get grossed out dwelling on how dirty airplane cabins can be. It’s ever grosser when you learn that airlines do not routinely clean, wipe or disinfect cabin surfaces known to harbor all manner of nasty little microbes, from cold and flu bugs to more dangerous strains of staph and even (eeeuw) fecal material. Many travelers […]

This is the Captain Kirk seat-- one of the two best seats in biz class (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Trip Report: Aer Lingus NEW business class

Last week I had the opportunity of a lifetime: Fly to Ireland in Aer Lingus’s new lie-flat business class and not just watch, but be part of  Dublin’s huge St Patrick’s Day Parade. My cup runneth over! So let’s jump right in and take a look inside that big green plane. Last month Aer Lingus deployed its […]

Photo: ThinkStock

Wake up and eat your ice cream!

That is what the United flight attendant asked me as she woke me and 300 other passengers flying coach from Shanghai to SFO, four hours before we landed.  I approached the purser about this, who was most apologetic in response to my polite inquiry, but said that this was United “company policy”, and that I should […]

Front desk at the London hotel NYC

How to find “hidden” hotel discounts

Frequent travelers know that nearly every hotel chain now guarantees that you’ll find the lowest “published” rate on their own branded websites. The “best rate guarantees” usually offer to pay the difference (and toss in some other bennies) if you find a lower rate elsewhere. But the operative word in those guarantees is “published.” These days, […]

Delta's got an app for that  new Apple watch (Photo: Delta)

Biz class discounts + Ryanair reversal + Delta/United Apple watch + Hotel shower fee?

Ryanair denies U.S. route plan. Dublin-based Ryanair, the largest intra-European ultra-low-cost carrier, late last week denied earlier reports that it plans to start flying to 14 U.S. cities within five years. According to the initial reports, the airline’s board was said to have approved the ambitious expansion plan, which would have called for transatlantic fares […]

Our famous photo of the updated men's room with a view at Singapore Changi Airport (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Uber NYC + Feds watching you + New LAX lounge + Best airport + Airport parking

NYC taxis losing the Uber battle. The New York Post reports that ride-finding service Uber has reached a critical milestone in New York City, no doubt the biggest market in the nation for hired cars: There are now more Uber vehicles than licensed taxicabs in the Big Apple. The paper said that Uber now has […]

Keep your stuff out of that nasty seatback pocket (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

FAA: Keep out of the seat back pocket

How do you use your seat back pocket? We received an interesting observation and query from TravelSkills reader J.U. this week that led to a discovery. I love reading your daily column, and learn a lot. This is the first time I’ve had  a question I thought you could check out. Yesterday I flew on […]

There's an archive of fun and nostalgic Guinness advertising (Chris McGinnis)

Ireland’s #1 attraction

There were plenty of highlights during my four-day trip to Dublin this week. There was, of course, the once-in-a lifetime opportunity to ride in an open-topped double decker bus in the city’s historic and hugely popular St Patrick’s Day parade. (Here’s that post in case you missed it.) But I also was able to get […]

Freshly posted fares to France (Image: Air France)

Now’s the time to book summer flights to Europe

In four months, we’ll be in the midst of peak season for travel between the US and Europe. And that means now is the time to start looking and booking those fares. Remember our post last month “Predicting Spring-Summer Airfares” in which the fare brains at the new FLYR fare prediction site explained that 120 days […]

Turkish flights to SFO start in April. Rumors swirl around ATL, too. (Photo: Eric Salard / Flickr)

Turkish Airlines newest US route

Turkish Airlines is set to launch new nonstops between Istanbul and San Francisco on April 13. SFO is one of nearly a dozen airports the carrier serves in North America. Its meteoric rise on the air travel scene has been mesmerizing, and the airline can now claim that it serves more countries (108) than any […]

That's me on top of a double decker bus, in the thick of St Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin.

St Patrick’s Day in Dublin is different (PHOTOS)

(DUBLIN, IRELAND) St Patrick’s Day is different over here. It’s a national holiday, which means few people go to work and kids are out of school. And around 500,000 people show up for the parade. St Patrick’s Day is much more of a fun family celebration than the green-beer-soaked antics surrounding most celebrations in the US. […]

Virgin America's "kinda" paleo protein plate for sale in economy includes turkey, veggies, egg, hummus, cheese. grapes and pita (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to travel like a caveman

You may work religiously at home to follow a paleo or gluten-free diet, but once you head to the airport all bets can be off. Around every corner—from the concourse to the airplane to the hotel to the business dinner—you’ll find temptations, conundrums and challenges. But holding fast to a special diet can be a […]

Lufthansa's A380 maiden FRA-SFO voyage loads up in 2011 (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Better Virgin seats for Delta elites + AA US program merger + Fastest airlines + Delta shrinks at CVG + Lufthansa A380s

Better Virgin seats for Delta Medallions. Remember our I have to sit where? post regarding a reader complaint about Virgin Atlantic’s shabby treatment of Delta elites? Well, it seems that there’s been a policy change. We learned about it from TravelSkills reader SG who wrote: “Virgin Atlantic is now allowing Delta Platinum and Diamond Medallions free access to […]

Say Aloha to Hawaiian's new slimline seats. (Photo: Hawaiian)

United schedule changes + Easy 1,000 HHonors points + Virgin 2-4-1 + New United gates + Lyft beats Uber

Hawaiian adds seats. Hawaiian Airlines is increasing the capacity of its inter-island 717s from 115 to 120 passengers with the installation of new “slimline” seats. While some travelers have found the extra-slender seats to be less comfortable than the traditional kind, Hawaiian figures its passengers shouldn’t mind since all of its inter-island flights are under […]


Know your rights when stopped by police

Most business travel (and spring break travel) is by car rather than by plane. And even if the trip is by plane, there’s likely a automobile trip at one or both ends of the flight. If you’ve ever wondered how to behave if or when pulled over by the police, here’s a good primer on what […]

Breakfast at home overlooking the runways? (Photo: Miami International Airport Hotel)

Living in a condo… inside the airport?

Yes indeed. Hotel-style “residences,” which are a huge trend in the hotel industry, could be part of a new “airport city” at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport according to a report on AJC reports that the airport’s general manager says that a proposed mixed-use development adjacent the to airport’s main terminal will likely include a hotel, […]

Watch out for rowdy coeds over the next few weeks as Spring Break blooms across the US (Photo: Sandpiper Beacon)

5 things you should know about Spring Break ’15

A long, cold and snowy winter and low gasoline prices combined with improving consumer confidence and stock market rallies is resulting in what could be a very busy and expensive spring travel season. If you are headed south, you need to prepare for noise and crowds.  NICE SPREAD: Luckily, the spring travel season is spread out […]

How will Hawaii be affected by the drastic drop in foreign currencies? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

6 must-see spring travel flash sales

Now that we are approaching the slower shoulder season, which runs from roughly Easter to Memorial Day, I’m starting to see some nice last minute deals pop up– quite good bargains for those flexy enough to travel in April or May. Take a look and please note that these rates are subject to rapid change in price […]

Flying the Delta California Shuttle from SFO to LAX (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Delta ekes out some good SkyMiles news

It seems that every time Delta has announced updates to its SkyMiles program recently, we all braced for bad news.  But today, Delta rolled out come changes for the good…for a change. Here’s what’s in store: New one-way award tickets for 10,000 miles plus taxes and fees, available through Dec. 31, 2015 for travel in select […]

The big bed in Etihad's 3-room Residence aboard its A380 flying to New York in December (Photo: Etihad)

$64,000 roundtrip + Bevy of new flights + Southwest bag fee + Lufthansa update + Kimpton nightcap

The $64,000 question. Etihad Airways said it will put an Airbus A380 onto its New York JFK-Abu Dhabi route starting December 1, giving ultra-affluent air travelers a chance to try out the carrier’s posh cabins that it calls “The Residence by Etihad.” The 125-square-foot cabins have a living room, en-suite shower and a bedroom with […]


Don’t buy Gogo onboard + Virgin to Hawaii? + Clever Delta ad + LaGuardia slots

Don’t buy Gogo on the plane. I was surprised to see the price for a Gogo wi-fi day pass on a Delta transcon flight at a whopping $50 last week– the highest I’ve ever seen it. I’m very glad I took the minute or two while waiting in line to board to buy a day pass […]

I was lucky enough to take a biz trip to highly ranked Vancouver in 2013 (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

World’s 10 highest (and lowest) quality cities

Vienna has the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2015 Quality of Living rankings. Overall, European cities dominate the top of the ranking along with Zurich, Auckland, and Munich in second, third, and fourth places respectively. How many of the top 10 highest quality cities have you been to or lived in? […]

Open Skies

US airlines vs Emirates, Etihad, Qatar. Who cares?

Just as Etihad announced that it would be flying its new three-room “residence” aboard an A380 to New York ($64K round trip) this year, US airlines American, Delta and United made their case today against Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The US carriers contend that these Gulf carriers have received over $40 billion in subsidies from […]

Hummus, sliced peppers, olives and pretzel crisps for afternoon snacking (Photo: United)

United Clubs upgrade food & renovate

Have you grown weary of same old spread of carrots, crackers, hummus triangles and shrink wrapped cheese at United Clubs? Then get ready for an overhauled complimentary menu launching this week, as well as several major Club renovations in coming months. United is even talking about adding a new food-for-purchase option at its Clubs.  The all-new complimentary food menu, from […]

Virgin Atlantic's shiny new toy coming to SFO: Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 (Photo: Virgin)

Virgin Atlantic adds Dreamliner at SFO, elsewhere

Virgin Atlantic is doubling its flights between San Francisco and London Heathrow by adding a second daily flight. What’s most exciting is that it will deploy its newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, on the route starting October 24. Also exciting for Bay Area travelers headed to London this year is that British Airways will bring […]

(Image: Crafic)

6 practical, protective or fun phone cases

Did you know that 75% of smart phone users have a case on their phone? And that the global smart phone “after market” for accessories like cases is around $21 billion a year? Travelers choose smart phone covers for a variety of reasons, from extending battery life or protection, to one-upping the traveler next to them […]

(Photo: The Digitel / Flickr)

Better, faster, “free-er” wi-fi at Hilton, others

Today Hilton (finally) announced that starting later this year it would offer free wi-fi to all guests except those who book through online travel agencies such as Expedia. Until today, Hilton lagged behind most other major hotel chains in rolling out more liberal complimentary wi-fi offerings. There are a few wrinkles to Hilton’s offer: First, only top-tier Diamond […]

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 […]

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