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Washington Dulles Airport's curves are sure lovely. Bu not its commute! (Photo: Joe Wolf / Flickr)

36 most/least frustrating airports

Just in time for the holiday crunch, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek has put together a spot-on ranking of the 36 largest airports in the US and Canada. What’s best about this ranking is that it is based on a survey of 3,000 frequent travelers who know a thing or two about airports, plus a full analysis of drive time […]

Which country boasts this gorgeous passport design? See below

New look for Newark + United goes Android + New Delta look at LAX + Fee at Hilton/Marriott

AIRLINES Just in time for the busy holidays, United has (finally) extended its new onboard streaming service to Android users. Apple iPhone and iPad users (as well as those on any laptop)  have been able to give the new service a try since last spring.  To use it, you must first download the United app […]

Delta & Alaska Air battle for Seattle (Photo: Jim Glab)

Delta push at Seattle + Seat pitch compared + Southwest “Swagger” + Delta’s newest jets +

AIRLINES Delta’s big(ger) Seattle plans. Last week Delta’s CEO told employees the company wants to expand from its current 11 gates to 30 gates at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, making it “a huge international gateway.” With those gates, Delta could operate up to 240 flights a day. Delta has been steadily adding transpacific and domestic flights […]

Heathrow Train

Much needed upgrade in London

The City of London has released plans for a futuristic upgrade to The Tube, one of the world’s largest underground rail systems. But don’t hold your breath– the fleet of 250 new trains won’t hit the tracks until the mid-2020s, and are anticipated to remain in service for 40 years. The Piccadilly Line, well-used by business travelers […]

United revealed even more "updates" to MileagePlus this week (Photo: United)

Say what? Even more cuts to United MileagePlus

Just a few weeks ago, United matched Delta in boosting by 20 percent the amount of dollar spending required in 2015 for MileagePlus members to achieve elite status levels in 2016. And now United has made some more “updates” to its loyalty program starting early next year that will further chip away at the benefits […]


Google’s travel advice

Ninety percent of holiday travel is by CAR, not by plane. With that in mind, the smarties at Google took a deep dive into their data and came up with some helpful insight and advice for avoiding Thanksgiving traffic as well as top searches in Google Maps before, during, and after Thanksgiving. Traffic data was pulled from the Monday […]

The new scent globe a London Heathrow Terminal 2 (LHR Airports)

My 9 favorite travel smells

This week sees London-Heathrow’s brand new Terminal 2 “The Queen’s Terminal” operating at full capacity with all 26 airlines (primarily Star Alliance) now in their new home. Airport authorities planned for the transition to take place over the five months instead of in one fell swoop. Good thinking since the process seems to have gone without a […]

(Photo: Uber)

United changes rules + Radical plan for NYC airport + Centurion “Studio” + Uber’s friends in DC

AIRLINES.  Did you get the email from United last week? As expected (and as usual) the carrier mimicked Delta’s recent move to increase the amount of dollars members must spend to get (or maintain) Premier status. The 20% bump up applies to qualifying activity in 2015 for status in 2016. The 25K spend threshold on MileagePlus co-branded credit […]

A brilliant fall day in NYC from the top floor of the Parker Meridien hotel (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Virgin’s next moves? + NYC + New Lufthansa seat + Eastern Airlines + More A380s

AIRLINES Virgin shares soar in IPO. And the airline could, too. This is going to be really fun to watch. Virgin America shares hit the market on Friday morning at $23 each, and took off to reach $30 by the end of the day. That makes Virgin worth about $1.3 billion. Now, with about $220 […]

Flight attendants are eager to help take photos of folks like me crossing scenes like sitting in KAL's Celestial Lounge off the bucket list

Trip Report: Korean Air A380 Seoul-Atlanta (Part 2)

Last month I finally crossed this off my bucket list:  Flying from Seoul to Atlanta on a Korean Air A380. KAL’s big blue A380 is Atlanta’s one and only double decker and I’ve wanted to float into my old hometown on it since the service started in September 2013. The first leg of that journey started in […]

Here's a rendering of the new connector viewed from the ramp (Fentress Architects)

New options for Delta flyers at SFO

Delta flyers at SFO can now take a yoga break, partake of local organic food and wine or check out a cool museum space at SFO. That’s because there’s a brand new airside (behind security) connector between Terminal 1, Boarding Area C or “T1C” (used by Delta) and the world famous Terminal 2, designed by the San Francisco […]

Korean Air

Trip Report: Korean Air B777 & A380 (Part 1)

Ever since Korean Air launched its Airbus A380 service between Seoul and Atlanta in September 2013, I’ve longed to take a seat on that 14.5-hour whopper of a flight. Last month, I finally got my chance when Korean Air invited me over to Seoul for a look at the fast-growing, modern-yet-quirky South Korean capital. The first leg […]

Delta has expanded its popular Porsche pick up service to three more airports (Photo: Delta)

Delta bumps bennies + BART-Oakland sets date + LAX airlines move + Hilton HHonors hacked + W in Beijing

AIRLINES Delta expands Porsche transfers, expedites at Heathrow. Delta continues to lead the way when it comes to adding new services for its best customers. For example, last week it announced an expansion of its Porsche tarmac transfer program to three more airports — New York LaGuardia, Seattle-Tacoma and Detroit Metro. The program offers gate-to-gate rides […]

Poolside at the Modern Honolulu hotel- great for sunbathing or a power breakfast (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

New hotels: Honolulu

At TravelSkills, we love new hotels. They smell better, work better, feel better, and are usually bigger, brighter and hipper than others. But new can also have its downside: Construction noise, service issues, and/or locations in sketchy or “upcoming” neighborhoods. Some are so new that TripAdvisor reviews are scant compared to more established hotels. In […]

Honolulu for $89 plus change? It's possible! This is Hilton Hawaiian Village (Chris McGinnis)

Oddball card offers reap big rewards

If you are a big shot with the Delta, United or American frequent flyer programs, you may not pay much attention to card offers from other airlines. But right now there are two limited time offers that I think you ought to consider… how about a round trip to Hawaii or Mexico for less than $100 on […]

Centurion Lounge

First look: Centurion Lounge at SFO [photos]

The new American Express Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 3 opens on Thursday, November 6. It joins three other Centurion lounges at New York LaGuardia, Dallas Ft Worth and Las Vegas McCarran airports.  A spokesperson told TravelSkills that the next Centurion Lounge will open at Miami International in the first half of 2015. […]

Inside Emirates outstanding hub in Dubai (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

2 airlines offer free inflight wi-fi

Inflight wi-fi still feels like a miracle to me. It’s even more miraculous when it is free. Right now, you can get it for free on two carriers: One international, the other domestic. Today, Emirates announced that it will soon offer free wi-fi on all 53 of its A380 superjumbos, and on 28 (out of about […]

Chris McGinnis

6 steps for getting the “best” airfare

My eyes roll and I sigh every time I see study or opinion about “the best day” to shop for airline tickets. It’s all a bunch of malarkey!  And it’s even more bogus at this time of year when the peak holiday travel season is approaching and all “rules” get thrown out the window. For many years, […]

The long awaited BART link to Oakland airport expected to open this month (Photo: BART)

Delta hubs suffer + Shuttle moves at LGA + Oakland BART connection + Double Hilton points

AIRLINES Demand keeps driving fares upward. When the price of oil goes up, air fares go up. So when oil prices fall as much as they have in recent months, air fares go down, right? Not in a period of strong demand for air travel. Jet fuel prices are down 22 percent this year, but […]

Virgin Galactic

Flying next to Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two [VIDEO + PHOTOS]

Last week Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two crashed in the Mojave desert. One pilot died in the crash, another survived. Virgin Galactic is now absorbed with finding out exactly what happened and is posting regular updates about the crash on its Facebook page. While the crash is a tragedy and setback for the ambitious program, it reminded […]

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

How often do planes get washed?

Like a shiny, freshly washed and waxed car, a shiny, clean plane is a thing of beauty. Right? But have you ever excitedly peered out at the plane you’re about to board and thought, “Hmm, that big bird needs a bath!” As much as what’s inside the plane is what counts (especially in these days […]

Marriott wifi

Marriott’s new “free” wi-fi: Is it fast enough? [POLL]

Today Marriott announced that it would offer free wi-fi to all Rewards members at all its brands, worldwide, including Ritz-Carlton, starting in January. That’s 42 million members getting free wi-fi at more than 3,800 hotels around the world. That’s huge! Or is it? (See poll below) Dig into Marriott’s release about the plan, and you’ll […]

Virgin America get a ceremonial squirt with its inaugural flight from Dallas to New York La Guardia (Photo: Virgin America)

A new way to get to New York – La Guardia

Virgin America’s first flights into New York’s close in LaGuardia Airport arrived yesterday. The new nonstops originate from Virgin’s new mini-hub at Dallas Love Field (DAL) and are currently on sale for just $89 each way. Virgin now offers four daily roundtrips on the important business route. Southwest Airlines offers three daily roundtrips. The new service provides […]

JetBlue hosted a shindig at San Francisco's Bentley Reserve to kick off its new Mint service on SFO-JFK (Photo: JetBlue)

Half off first class JFK-SFO fares

JetBlue’s new Mint class nonstops cranked up on the SFO-JFK run on Sunday, offering a totally new premium transcon experience…and significantly lower first class fares on the popular route. Key points: >Currently the lowest Mint roundtrip fare is $1,200– that’s about half off compared to average first class fares on offer before Mint entered the market. […]

American Airlines

American + US Airways combo: nothing major for now

American and US Airways have finally announced that they plan to combine both of their frequent flier programs under the AAdvantage umbrella starting next spring. The biggest news is that the combo is not ushering in many major changes. That’s great news considering all the bad news coming out of most other loyalty programs this year. […]

British Airways

Flight delay compensation gets a boost

Flying to Europe and facing delays? Unlike in the US, airlines in Europe are required to compensate passengers in cash for prolonged flight delays. A recent European Court of Justice ruling redefines flight arrival time and its decision favors passengers, according to, a company that helps travelers claim compensation from airlines. The European Court of Justice recently decided […]

Virgin Atlantic's brand new Dreamliner touched down at ATL this week (Photo: Hartsfield-Jackson)

Big United-Hertz deal + Uber in Vegas? + Virgin in Atlanta + Biz class sale + Holiday Inn NYC

This week! Uber getting scrappy in Las Vegas – A Virgin 787 lands in Atlanta – Big changes for United flyers who rent cars – United & KLM discount holiday business class…. AIRLINES Virgin Atlantic in Atlanta. Last Thursday Virgin Atlantic loaded up its newest plane, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with two rock bands and Sir […]


In Tokyo: New airport options

Quick — where is Tokyo International Airport? If you haven’t flown into Japan recently, your reflex response might be “Narita,” the airport located well over an hour east of the capital by train or even longer by taxi or shuttle bus. However, closer-in Haneda (HND) is also known as Tokyo International Airport. This near-city-center airport is getting an increasing […]

Centurion SFO

Searching for Centurion lounge?

What is the most frequently searched term that leads people to According to our stats, it’s “Centurion Lounge SFO.”  American Express has done a masterful job keeping a lid on the goings on on the mezzanine level of  San Francisco International’s Terminal 3. All that will change in early November when the lounge opens. […]

(Screen grab from Air New Zealand video. Click to view)

The most epic airline safety video ever?

Maybe! Check out this latest in a very popular series of inflight safety videos from Air New Zealand and leave your comments below. Air New Zealand told TravelSkills that the safety video was shot over six days across a number of New Zealand’s Middle-earth locations, including Hobbiton and Central Otago, both of which appear in The […]

Apple's new iPad Air 2

New Apple SIM a boon for travelers

Interesting, potentially disruptive, news for travelers emerged last week when Apple rolled out its latest version of the iPad. The wi-fi + cellular models of the iPad Air 2 come with the new Apple SIM, an iPad-only feature that allows users to choose among short-term plans from a variety of different carriers for data without […]

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. There are a whopping 400,000 new hotel rooms in the […]

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 […]

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