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Get this: A pool lit by chandeliers at the brand new JW Marriott Dongdaemun in Seoul (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Like new hotels? You’re in luck

If you like new or renovated hotels as much as we do, you’ll be pleased to know that investors are set to spend a record $6 billion on upgrades and new properties this year. That’s a 7% increase over last year, which set the previous record. Many hotels were in desperate need of updating, especially as […]

Inside San Francisco International's popular Terminal 2 (SFO)

More United wi-fi + Buh-bye Delta 747s + Virgin’s newest plane + SFO is h-o-t + New Hyatt NYC

This is Part 2 of this weekend’s Catching up on Travel News with TravelSkills. ICYMI here’s Part 1 United regional jets will get Wi-Fi. United said it will expand in-flight Wi-Fi service to more than 200 of its two-cabin United Express aircraft, including Embraer 170s and 175s, and CRJ700s. The service should be available on […]

A Southwest B737 outfitted in a State of California flag livery. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Ebola-mania + First class transcon fares soar? + Southwest: we’re sorry + Sidecar worth a look

This is Part 1 of our weekend TravelSkills News Roundup… did you read Part 2?  All ebola, all the time. The relentless saturation news coverage of ebola may not bother veteran road warriors, but it is having an impact on the general public. In a new Reuters-Ipsos survey, almost half of the 1,577 respondents said […]

This hamburger served on a Delta ATL-SFO flight was really good! What's the best Delta meal you've ever had? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

4 ways foodie culture impacts our trips

The newly fervent foodie culture has truly defined the last decade, primarily fueled by a big increase in coverage across all media. So it was inevitable that airlines would soon come around to using food experiences as a differentiator. Following that trend, airlines have jumped on board in an effort to provide a culinary offering that at least attempts to match […]

Virgin America's lounge for first class and elevate Gold members is a partitioned area in adjacent to its ticket counters (Virgin America)

Virgin America’s designs on Dallas Love (photos)

On Monday, Virgin America kicked off new flights at Love Field in Dallas and brought along its design sense for ticket counters and gate areas.  Its new, private first class VIP check-in area is located adjacent to its new Love Field ticket counters, and will give first class passengers and Elevate Gold members a place to chill out while they check […]


Raft of new perks for elite flyers at SFO

Elite flyers at San Francisco International are in for a few new treats this month. On Wednesday morning, United opens a new dedicated United Global Services/Global First check in lounge and Premier Check in area in near Door 5 at  Terminal 3. (Other such Global Services lounges are located at Chicago O’Hare and Newark Liberty) At the […]

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

Nationwide fare sale for winter trips

Today Southwest Airlines kicked off a significant sale for winter trips with some seriously good deals. As usual, we expect other carriers to begin matching this sale later today. (See below for updates.) Round trip fares for trips in December, January and early February drop to as low as $99 round trip for short haul trips […]

Increasing competition is bringing international calling and data rates down (Photo: Bjorn Bechstein / Flickr)

New AT&T plan for international calling

Today AT&T rolled out a new plan for international calling today that should help frequent travelers avoid frustrating phone bill surprises when returning from overseas trips. It could also push other carriers to improve their offerings for international travelers. What’s unique about AT&T’s new Passport plan is that it is offering three different one-time packages (for $30, […]

Love your United FA, then say so via the carrier's website (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Cadillacs on the tarmac + 2nd Ebola case in US + Dallas Love Field recap + Virgin hotels splash

This is Part 2 of this week’s Catching up on Travel News with TravelSkills! Here’s Part 1.  (Sorry if you get this email more than once today…we are still getting the hang of our email distribution system) AIRLINES American Airlines teams up with Cadillac. Following the lead of Delta’s partnership with Porsche and United’s with Mercedes-Benz, American […]

Delta keeps making moves to improve the ride for it's customers with deepest pockets.

Delta raises bar for Medallions + More LAX flights + Ebola poll results + Delta back in Love

This is part one of this weekend’s Catching Up on Travel News (part 2 comes tomorrow) AIRLINES Delta tightens SkyMiles rules — again. Will United? In the latest tweak to its ever-changing SkyMiles program, Delta is increasing by 20 percent the minimum spend required during 2015 to achieve 2016 Medallion status — e.g., Medallion Qualifying Dollar […]

The new American Express Centurion Lounge at New York La Guardia. Daily fee: $50 (Photo: American Express)

5 reasons NOT to join airline lounge programs

The valuable perks of airline lounges may tempt you to splurge on an annual memberships.  But as cushy and convenient as they are, they may not be right for everyone. In fact, there are some very good reasons not to join an airline lounge program. Before taking the plunge, consider a few critical questions, such as how often […]

Alarm clock

5 ways to sleep better at hotels

Travel can be the enemy of sleep. I’ve spent too many nights in hotel rooms—as you probably have, too—unable to fall asleep (after all, it’s only whatever-o’clock at home) or tossing and turning (who could be stomping down the hall at 3 a.m.?). It’s all-the-more frustrating because you know getting a good night’s sleep will […]

Now that's an unusual approach to SFO, right? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Don’t make these 8 mistakes in San Francisco

Nearly every frequent traveler visits San Francisco around one time each year. And it’s most likely that visit will take place between September and December, the city’s peak convention season. That’s especially true if you are in the tech or related fields. For example, San Francisco-based cloud computing giant puts on its annual Dreamforce conference […]

The Qantas A380  DFW-SYD nonstop is now the longest flight from the US (Photo: Qantas)

Delta doesn’t do Dallas + New ATL-LGA flights + Virgin America goes east + More JetBlue @ SFO

This is part 2 of our weekend catch up! Here’s part 1.  AIRLINES Virgin America bets on winter leisure routes. Stepping away from its bases at SFO and LAX, Virgin America will add a pair of new seasonal routes this winter — daily New York JFK-Ft. Lauderdale flights from mid-December through April, and four weekly […]

The dining room at British Airway's swish new lounge at Dulles (Photo: British Airways)

Marriott jams wi-fi + Hilton-AA bond + New InterConti LA + Lufthansa moves at LHR

This is part 1 of our weekend catch-up! Part 2 arrives tomorrow… Marriott caught blocking guests’ wi-fi. The Federal Communications Commission has slapped Marriott with a $600,000 fine for allegedly blocking Wi-Fi access for guests with personal wi-fi hotspots who were attending meetings at the chain’s Opryland Hotel in Nashville last year. The blocked access reportedly affected meeting […]


BYOD entertainment on planes

If you are used to watching inflight movies, playing games or watching the moving map on a seatback or ceiling screen, get ready for a change. After talking with airlines, entertainment providers and the various companies that outfit airline cabins at the recent APEX Expo in Anaheim, it appears that 2014 is the year of […]

Ebola infect Thomas Duncan flew from Monrovia to Brussels on an Airbus A330 like this one (Photo: Maarten Visser / Flickr)

Tracking ebola: How safe am I? (POLL)

In this post: Track ebola flights, rate your level of fear in a poll, learn how you can protect yourself.  On September 19, a traveler infected with the Ebola virus flew overnight from Monrovia, Liberia on SN Brussels Airlines flight 1247 (an Airbus A330) arriving in Belgium on September 20. (Flight tracking history here) He departed […]

This might be the best thing I've ever eaten at 35,000 feet (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

7 things to know about Hawaiian Airlines

Last month Hawaiian Airlines invited me down to Honolulu for a couple days to meet with executives at its slick, newly refurbished headquarters. I was also there to poke around the city’s newest hotels, and to check out what’s been happening on Lanai since Larry Ellison bought it. This was my first time ever flying Hawaiian […]

The view from my recent CONNECTING flight from SFO to Cancun (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The big difference between direct & nonstop flights

Would you choose a “nonstop” or a “direct” flight between Atlanta and San Francisco? What about a “connecting” flight? Your choice could have a big impact on the price, length and comfort of your trip. I’m constantly amazed at how many frequent travelers, airlines, agents and even fellow travel writers tend to think that “direct” and “nonstop” are interchangeable […]

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Lessons learned about United wi-fi

I admit it. I’m an inflight wi-fi addict. I use it all the time. Because my professional life pretty much lives online and I live much of my working life in the air, it’s a major productivity enhancer. I’m still in awe (and thankful) that we are able to use wi-fi in the sky at […]

Frontier Airlines is expanding from its Denver stomping grounds with new nonstops in SFO & PHX.  (

Big day in big D + New carrier for ATL? + New LAX lounge + NYC grand dame facelift

AIRLINES Big day approaches in Big D. In two weeks — on October 13 — the Wright Amendment expires, opening up Dallas’ close-in Love Field to a new era of long-haul domestic routes, and the major players are getting ready. Virgin America teamed up with ride-finding service Uber and with HotelTonight to offer discounts and […]

Using wi-fi connections for nearly free overseas calling (Photo: Tim Bishop / Flickr)

3 ways to make low- or no-cost calls abroad

With the proliferation of wi-fi around the world, it’s making more and more sense for travelers abroad to make free (or very low cost) calls using internet connections instead of the more expensive cellular roaming option. Much of this is driven by Apple, which has made wi-fi voice calling a prominent feature of its latest […]

Emirates Airline does not have a problem with passengers using their mobile phones in flight (Photo: OnAir)

Is banning inflight phone calls really necessary?

Oh, please! Is a federal ban on cell phone calls on planes really necessary? This week Washington politicians urged  the federal government NOT to lift the current federal ban on cell phone use for voice calls on planes. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have been considering ending the ban ever since they […]

Global Roaming

How to save on overseas mobile roaming

Mobile data roaming charges on overseas trips are a perennial headache for frequent travelers. And it’s only going to get worse as our voracious appetite for data increases with new devices like the iPhone 6.  Of course, just turning off data roaming (or switching to airplane mode) is a quick fix to avoid any surprise […]

United's upgraded terminal at Newark could soon look a lot like this one-- which is Delta's a La Guardia. (Photo: OTG)

Taxi usage down 65% + Newark, LAX upgrades + Plush transfers at DEN + TSA wait times decline

Terminal renovations at Newark. United Airlines is teaming up with OTG Management for a $120 million overhaul of Newark Liberty’s Terminal C over the next 18 months. UA’s hub terminal will get 55 new dining venues, and passengers will have free access to thousands of iPads “to track their flight, order from chef-created menus, and […]

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Which Las Vegas hotel are you?

The newest, hippest hotels in Las Vegas this month are: The SLS, The Delano (grand opening this weekend) and the Nobu Hotel at Caesar’s Palace. But if I had to pick a hotel that is me? Probably the Vdara– it’s off the strip hidden behind the showy Aria & Mandarin Oriental hotels in City Center, nearly new, […]

Passengers retreat to the lounge upstair  "inside the bubble" on the Pan Am 747 (Photo: Michael Kelley)

Have dinner in a 70’s-era Pan Am 747

An exact replica (including the spiral staircase!) of a Pan Am Boeing 747 in Los Angeles is the setting for the new “Pan Am Experience” a four-hour affair that includes a four-course meal served from trolleys by “stewardesses” in vintage uniforms. But it’s not cheap. A step back in time to the so-called golden age of travel costs $297 in […]

FlightCar provides a free black car shuttle to the airport and back. (Photo: FlightCar)

How to park for free at the airport

Parking at the airport is a pain. And an expensive pain at that! How would you like to avoid it, and maybe even make a little money instead of spending it? If your car is less than 13 years old and has fewer than 150,000 miles, here’s what you can do: Two years ago, three […]

I have used credit card bonuses to help finance two recent holiday trips like this one to Culebra in Puerto Rico (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to get a free trip home for the holidays

One of the most frequent questions I get is “what’s the best credit card right now?” And my most frequent answer is: There is no such thing as a “best” credit card. However, there is probably a best credit card for YOU. And it’s always a great idea to pay attention to sign up bonuses […]

Hawaiian Airlines unusual  front-of-the-plane setup has first and premium economy in the same cabin (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to find roomy domestic widebody flights

Are the golden days of flying domestically on spacious widebody, twin-aisle aircraft gone? Not necessarily, if you know where to look. All four major US international airlines — American, Delta, United and US Airways — still operate a handful domestic widebody flights.  These big birds are either providing a lot of seats on high-demand routes, positioning […]

A big institution, temperate climate and access to the great outdoors makes Boulder, CO a great place to live. (Photo: Boemski / Flickr)

The 10 best places to live in America?

How often do you visit a city for a business trip or vacation, and walk away thinking, “Gee, I’d really like to live here!”? It happens to me a lot… especially when I get off the well-worn, major city business travel circuit and venture into small and medium-sized towns. Every time I go back to […]

Lufthansa's new premium economy seats

Free inflight texting + Another 747 flies away + Lufthansa’s new premium economy + PreCheck not so special

AIRLINES Free inflight texting & voicemail. Starting September 17, T-Mobile customers can get free in-flight texting and voicemail service on all 2,000 U.S. aircraft equipped with Gogo Inflight Internet Wi-Fi. “To access the free messaging and voicemail services, T-Mobile customers will need to have their Wi-Fi Calling-enabled phone in airplane mode and connected to Gogo […]

The best wheels are those that are easily replaced (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

How to choose the best carry-on bag

When you are at the airport and see travelers toting four-wheeled “spinners” or shiny polycarbonates in a rainbow of colors, do you get luggage envy? If  you are in the market for a new carry-on bag, here are a few things to consider: HOW MUCH? “Frequent travelers should spend a little bit more money on a higher […]

Virgin's LAX Loft is not huge, but it feels that way due to brightness from floor to ceiling windows (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

A bright spot at LAX’s drab Terminal 3

Anyone who has flown through Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport knows that, despite efforts to gussy it up, it is a hulking relic from the 1960s. To get inside, you must first pass through a TSA screening area wedged in a cramped, low-ceilinged and awkward space (that luckily has a mostly fast-moving PreCheck line). Once inside, there’s a Burger […]

British Airways posh first class suites onboard its new Airbus A380 (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Another British Airways A380 for the US

British Airways announced today that it will deploy a brand-new Airbus A380 double-decker between San Francisco International and London Heathrow starting in April 2015. This will be BA’s third US destination to get the big bird, after Los Angeles and Washington, DC. BA’s Sean Doyle, EVP, Americas, told TravelSkills that the decision to put the A380 on the SFO […]

A British Airways 747 prepares for takeoff at San Francisco International (Photo: Angelo Angelo - Flickr)

British Airways to spruce up its 747s

Good news for passengers used to flying British Airways’ Boeing 747 jets from San Francisco, New York and elsewhere. BA is helping the “Queen of the Skies” age gracefully with plans to outfit eighteen 747-400s with new entertainment throughout, and upgrade seats in the economy and premium economy cabins. BA admits these “much-loved” planes, which “have a […]

Earn burn your HHonors points at Hilton's newest hotel in Waikiki- the Hokulani (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Fall hotel promos you can’t ignore

As Labor Day passes each year and the flood of summer leisure visitors dries up, hotel marketers have traditionally tried to prime the pump of autumn business travel by rolling out special bonus or discount promotions for members of their loyalty programs — and this year is no exception. Even though the autumn offers are […]

You'll soon see something like this at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

CLEAR opens security fast lane at SF Giants’ AT&T Park

From frequent flyers to fly balls, a special fast track lane for ballpark security is coming to AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants. A pilot program starting September 9th and running through the end of the season will be operated by CLEAR, the pay-to-enter trusted traveler airport security company currently operating at nine airports nationwide. At […]

(Photo: Ian Livingston)

Southwest Airlines reveals new look

Southwest Airlines revealed a modern new look and logo today at an event in Dallas. (And TravelSkills is there!) By the end of 2014, Southwest expects to have at least 60 aircraft (0f about 550total ) with the new livery, with more coming in coming years. “With so much of Southwest’s focus firmly set on the […]

Futuristic new airport for Mexico City arriving soon (Photo: )

United’s newest jet + More Delta to UK + New Asian carrier at SFO + Grand plans for ATL & MEX airports

  AIRLINES United gets its first 787-9. Seems like just yesterday that airlines started flying the initially troubled 787 Dreamliner. But now United has taken delivery of the first new version, a stretched model called the 787-9 that can accommodate more passengers and fly longer distances (8,550 miles v. 8,200 for the 787-8). United’s version […]

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