Latest News

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 […]

This parody of a recent Airbnb ad is going viral this week (Image: YouTube)

Watch this video. And then this one.

Airbnb’s new television ad campaign titled “Is Mankind” featuring a cute baby and soothing voice-over is well done, and evokes plenty of warm fuzzies about travel and booking on Airbnb. An Airbnb blog post introducing the ad states, “As we grow older, we’re often nervous about new experiences. When we go to a new place, many […]

Wi-Fi or cellular at the airport? The answer isn't easy. (Image: Hyatt)

Which airport has fastest wi-fi?

Wefi, a company specializing in mobile data analytics, took its testers to the nation’s seven busiest airports and determined that Denver International had the fastest Wi-Fi, while Atlanta and San Francisco had the slowest. Denver’s average Wi-Fi speed clocked in at 4.73 megabits per second (Mbps), while ATL and SFO logged relatively measly rates of […]

How often do you misbehave on business trips? (Image: Natla Kolava/Flickr)

Binge drinking, sleeping around on business trips

Be honest: Have you ever done something you’re not proud of while away on business — the kind of thing that you really, really regretted the morning after? Hey, we’re not judging. And you’re not alone. A new survey of 1,000 business travelers found that 27 percent of them (33 percent of men, 24 percent of […]

India is one of six countries seen as business travel "hot spots" next year. (Image: Jim Glab)

Business travel hot spots – or not?

While business travel worldwide continues to show a steady recovery from the dark days of the great Recession, some countries are emerging as “hot spots” where prices will increase more than in others. That’s the conclusion from the new 2016 Global Business Travel Price Outlook issued by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation and Carlson […]

Flight canceled? Don't go to the check-in counter -- use the app. (Image: Jim Glab)

A new way to recover from delays & cancellations

Get the new, improved Delta app and you get to the front of the line a lot faster. Delta has rolled out an enhancement to its Fly Delta mobile app — and its website — to give customers more options for rebooking when their flight is canceled or delayed. The company said the improvements let customers […]

A rendering of Super Bowl City in San Francisco

Super Bowl shock: San Francisco hotel prices soar

Hotel rates can vary wildly based on demand. But have you ever heard of 400% increases?  Last week TravelSkills took a look at 4-5 star hotel rates in the Bay Area over Super Bowl weekend (February 7, 2016) and compared them to rates in late August of this year. Wow. What a difference! Here’s what we found […]

Expect to see a "living wall" like this one in Las Vegas at SFO's new Centurion Lounge (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Another Amex Centurion lounge arriving at…

American Express’ growing network of Centurion airport lounges will get its seventh member next year when a new location opens in Houston Bush Intercontinental’s Terminal D, which is used primarily by non-United international carriers. But it’s an easy walk from United big new Terminal E. (See map below) Use of the Centurion Lounges is free […]

Picking up small pieces of cheese with two knives is a small motor skills challenge.

Like first class meals? Try serving one!

Menus in first and business class cabins, especially on international flights, have come a long way. But have you ever thought about the subtleties of the service side of that meal? I attended a United Airlines flight attendant training for new hires last week and sat in on one day of the class’s five-week, six-days-a-week training […]

Key & Peele

Illegal to disobey fasten seat belt sign?

Comedians Key & Peele crush it in this hilarious new skit about a standoff between a feisty flight attendant and entitled passenger battling over whether it’s illegal to disobey airline fasten seat belt signs. Well done! Enjoy! And if you are truly wondering about the legal ramifications of disobeying flight attendants, here’s a good read. This, […]

Hawaii

10 most popular: United bags + Delta upsell + SFO Sky Club + Inside the A350 + Snow in Hawaii

TravelSkills’ 10 most popular posts over the last week (descending order)… plus a few newsy nuggets we missed. 1. Take a sneak peak: In the bag: United’s new amenity kits (Photos) 2. Branding matters: Delta: ‘Up-selling’ is working 3. Who’s in control? Fewer choices, higher airfares + SFO’s new #2 carrier 4. Heads up: Preview: New Delta SkyMiles changes + SFO […]

Mobile Passport Control

Avoiding long customs & immigration lines

San Francisco International is the latest airport where travelers returning from abroad can now take advantage of  a handy smartphone app to speed up Customs and Border Protection processing. The free Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app, available from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, serves a function like those automated passport control kiosks that are now available […]

Uber and Lyft pick-ups at LAX could start soon. (Image: Thomas Hawk/Flickr)

UberX, Lyft cleared for pick-ups at LAX

Ride-sharing services won a big victory this week when Los Angeles officials agreed to let the UberX and Lyft pick up passengers at Los Angeles International, the largest airport yet to grant such rights. (Until now, only pricey UberBLACK cars were allowed to pick up at LAX.) But that victory came just a day after a […]

USO ATL

Atlanta airport’s exclusive new lounge (photos)

Atlanta’s newly refurbished USO lounge is open to active duty military and their families, only. The 3,200 square foot lounge on the third floor of the main terminal atrium (pre-security) has been in the works for about a year. An Atlanta Business Chronicle reporter attended the grand opening and wrote that the new lounge “now […]

Avis Preferred members can now earn points to redeem for free days or upgrades. (Image: Avis)

New rewards plan at Avis

Avis is trying harder to boost its profile with business travelers: The company announced that members of its Avis Preferred program can now earn points to be redeemed for upgrades and free rental days. The enhancement to Avis Preferred gives customers an alternative to earning mileage or points in airline or hotel frequent traveler programs […]

Delta says it is selling more first class seats these days. (Image: Delta)

Delta: ‘Up-selling’ is working

Is there some kind of stigma attached to the phrase “basic economy”? Delta uses that designation for the lowest level of the new branded fare categories it introduced last winter, and officials said this week the airline has been successful in moving customers into the higher fare categories. Those include Main Cabin economy, Delta Comfort+ […]

Business travelers spent more on Uber and AirBnB in San Francisco than in any other city. (Image: Jim Glab)

Surprising findings in your expense reports (Infographic)

Spending in the so-called “sharing economy” is showing big gains among business travelers, who are increasingly turning to ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft as well as the accommodations-sharing service AirBnB. That’s according to the latest analysis of business traveler expense reports compiled by the travel and expense management company Certify, covering the second quarter […]

American Airlines is now the #2 carrier at SFO (Photo: InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr)

Fewer choices, higher airfares + SFO’s new #2 carrier

Following the recent decision by the Justice Department to start investigating whether major airlines might be colluding in their capacity decisions, the Associated Press has conducted an analysis of major U.S. airports that finds industry consolidation seems to be having an impact on competition. As a result of that diminished competition, “passengers appear to be […]

Comedian Russel Brand takes on Uber is a recent video tirade (Image: YouTube)

London’s Uber vs black cab battle enlists celebs

In London, taxi drivers are not rioting and burning Uber cars like we’ve recently seen in Paris. Instead, they are enlisting the likes comedian Russell Brand who sides with London’s black cabs in an 8-minute video that’s making the rounds in social media this week. If you are time pressed, the tirade begins in the video […]

This guy just bagged a million United miles (Twitter)

Bug buster bags a million United miles

Two months ago, we reported that United Airlines was turning to the public for help in identifying vulnerabilities in its automated systems and networks. Specifically, it laid out specific “bounties” it was willing to pay — in the form of MileagePlus miles — to specialists who could find potentially harmful bugs. According to reports on […]

JetBlue

Watching the waiting-to-board horde

How many times have you watched the waiting-to-board horde and seen them disobey every request from the gate agent like not blocking the boarding area, waiting until their seat number is called, etc.? JetBlue officials must have seen it too many times, because they’ve released a clever 1.5 minute video about flight etiquette that has […]

When checked bag fees started seven years ago, airlines quickly realized they were onto something big. (Image: Jim Glab)

No end in sight to frustrating airline fees

Don’t miss: New raft of Delta SkyMiles changes coming When airlines first started charging checked bag fees back in 2008, they did so to counteract a spike in oil prices that was eating into their bottom lines. Expensive oil is no longer a concern, but carriers have discovered that add-on passenger fees are a revenue […]

Rendering of Delta's new lie flat seating on transcon 757s. Been on one yet?

Preview: New Delta SkyMiles changes + SFO Sky Club opening date

Today we received the following update from Delta about upcoming changes to the SkyMiles program. (Since this news is so fresh, some links may not work until later today…) Take a read through this and share your thoughts about the changes below, please! COAST TO COAST COMFORT For Diamond and Platinum members we are introducing […]

United kit

In the bag: United’s new amenity kits (Photos)

United is upgrading amenity kits for Global First and Business First class passengers starting August 1. (Scroll down to see the current version) The carrier is joining together with Cowshed Spa (part of the posh London-based Soho House) with a new line of organic skin care products you’ll see in the new kits, in first and biz […]