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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 […]

The gorgeous view from my bathroom at the fab mid century modern Radisson Blu Royal hotel (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Biz Trip: Copenhagen

Copenhagen may be the best city in the world for a business trip. It’s also one of the most expensive…but getting there is cheaper now that upstart Norwegian Air is forcing all airlines (especially SAS) to lower fares– even business class fares– into historically expensive Scandinavia.  Copenhagen  is compact, walkable and easy to navigate. The travel […]

Flight attendants can sniff out nail painting a mile away. But is it verboten?

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 […]

The Upper Class bar on a new Virgin Atlantic A330-300 (Photo: Tom Mascardo)

Virgin Atlantic adds new ATL, SFO & DTW flights

Virgin Atlantic announced some major network changes today that will mean more opportunities for Delta flyers to give the popular Virgin product a try…and earn or burn SkyMiles while doing so.  Here’s what’s coming our way in 2015: >A year-round daily roundtrip between London Heathrow and Detroit >A new daily nonstop between Atlanta and Manchester >An […]

Airline change fees have been around for as long as, well, the airlines (Photo: AJMexico Flickr)

Should airlines waive change fees?

A TravelSkills reader is shocked when he’s asked to pay a $200 change fee to get a lower fare.  Dear Chris: I read your blog entry on the end-of-summer fare sale and checked on an existing reservation I have for a San Francisco-San Diego flight in February 2015. I saw that the dates I had already […]

Arriving at Lanai's tiny airport

Lanai: A billionaire’s work in progress

By now you’ve likely heard that billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently paid an estimated $300 million for 98% of the Hawaiian Island of Lanai. Included in that sale were two Four Seasons resorts and nearly all the land on the tiny (140 square mile) island. What’s been going on since the transaction closed in […]

BYO device entertainment systems working on United flights (Photo: United)

United streams entertainment + ATL short changed by merger? + Secret spaces on new jets + PreCheck milestone

AIRLINES United expands in-flight streaming. Passengers on most United Airlines A319s and A320s can now (finally) stream entertainment in-flight. A United official said at an industry conference in Las Vegas that the airline recently activated in-flight entertainment streaming on almost three-fourths of its 152 Airbus narrow-bodies, with the rest coming soon. In-flight streaming — which is […]

(Graphic courtesy Hipmunk)

6 end-of-summer travel deals. Act fast

Thanksgiving already? If you are planning to travel over Thanksgiving, you may want to consider buying your ticket now… Hipmunk says that by doing so you could save 17% over waiting until October when most people make their Thanksgiving travel plans. For Christmas bookings, I’d say wait until about mid-October. And don’t expect many out-of-this-world bargains […]

British Airways

What’s your favorite flight number?

Have you ever boarded a plane with a flight number that made you pause and think, “Hmm, I wonder if they planned it that way?” Turns out that there are many iconic or unusual flight numbers based on airline history, superstition, luck– or plain old cleverness. For example, United’s new flight #500 from Indianapolis to San […]

Knee defender

Awesome Knee Defender animation VIDEO

The travel-social-media-sphere is buzzing about an incident earlier this week where two passengers brawled over reclining seats. Both were seated in United’s Economy Plus section. One traveler used a “knee defender” device to prevent the passenger in front of him from reclining her seat. Passenger in front ended up throwing a glass of water on […]

United upgrades first class fare with items like this caprese on Asiago baguette (Photo: United)

Big fare sale + Fancy food on United + Uber raises fares + Cuts at Qantas + Better biz class on AA

(TravelSkills is based in the Bay Area and yes, we felt the earthquake early Sunday morning! Thankfully no damage here at HQ. The rumble felt like riding along a dirt road in a Winnebago in the dark.) AIRLINES Big fare sale. As a busy summer comes to a close, all airlines have put fall and winter […]

The Ponape Lounge onboard a Continental 747 (Photo: 1950sUnlimited / Flickr)

What golden age of travel?

Was there really a “golden age of travel?” My favorite travel apps? Key advice for a newbie biz traveler? My most memorable trip? I’m on a mini-vacation this weekend, so I thought you all would like to read a recent Q&A with me that appeared in InsideFlyer magazine. InsideFlyer Do you feel that the “golden days” […]

Hip and cozy decor at the new Thompson  Chicago hotel (Photo: Commune Hotels)

3 brand new hotels in Chicago

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 […]


A spin around the new Airbus A350

The world’s newest long-haul, wide body commercial jet, the Airbus A350-900, recently completed its route-proving mission in Helsinki and TravelSkills was invited along to take a look at the first of the “XWB” family of aircraft to debut. Finnair will be the first European carrier to get its hands on the new bird when it […]

A fond farewell to Cathay's Queen of the Skies (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Delta shuttle changes + Virgin beefs up Dallas + 747 quickly disappearing + Posh NYC hotel perch + DFW gets rapid rail

AIRLINES Delta upgrades LGA-BOS Shuttle. On November 2, Delta will move its New York LaGuardia-Boston Logan Delta Shuttle from LGA’s remote (and cooly art-deco) Marine Air Terminal to Terminal C, and will upgrade its aircraft to 110-passenger Boeing 717s. (Those 717s used to belong to AirTran.)  Delta Shuttle’s LGA-Washington and LGA-Chicago flights will remain at […]

(Photo: Eric Rice / Flickr)

How to deal with Americans

Most American frequent travelers have at one time or another been “trained” on how to interact or behave when traveling in other countries. We are told to be punctual in Germany, to accept invitations to karaoke in Japan or Korea, to refrain from tipping in Australia, to present business cards with two hands in Asia, and dress up […]

In Copenhagen! (Chris McGinnis)

10 little things some hotels get right

When it comes to the best hotel stays, it’s not plush spas, marble lobbies and striking architecture that really matter. It’s the little things some hotels get right that really make a difference…and make us want to come back. Am I right? Here are 10 little things I’ve noticed that always make me feel good about the hotel I’m […]

Inside the posh new American Express Centurion lounge at New York LaGuardia (Photo: Amex)

Better Sky Club snacks + New LaGuardia lounge + Marriott MegaBonus back + Nifty new ATL arrivals app

Summer’s not even over yet, but business travel news is coming at us from all directions, so we’re offering a double dose of news this week… AIRLINES Soup ‘n salad at Sky Clubs. Delta has updated and enhanced the menu offerings at its Sky Clubs, bringing aboard some healthier options like salads and soups that it has […]

How do you like our new TravelSkills wallpaper? Yep, that's what we have on our walls!

Month #3: A TravelSkills update from Chris

Hello Dear Readers! This week we celebrate the three-month anniversary of the new TravelSkills blog and I’d like to provide an update of where we are and where we are going. First off, for those of you who have been following me for years, I’d like thank you very much for sticking around as we’ve broadened our content and expanded […]

Airbnb living room 2

Airbnb for a business trip? Mixed results

During a recent business trip to Los Angeles, I stayed in an Airbnb apartment for the first time. When I made the booking, I was thrilled at the prospect of getting more for less—fabulous location, more space, free parking and (of course) free high-speed wi-fi. But as a first-timer, I also had a plenty of questions about using […]

SFO's new EMAS runaway plane lane is finished! All 4 runways now open (Photo: SFO)

SFO runways reopen + Fewer amateurs in PreCheck + Coach cocktails now $8 + United’s cool passport scan app

SFO runways reopen early. Good news for Bay Area travelers: San Francisco International goes from two operational runways to four effective today (August 10) as a major construction project wrapped up a month ahead of schedule. The two runways had been closed since May 17 to install federally-mandated Runway Safety Areas (designed to catch and […]

Virgin America and JetBlue jets in Los Angeles (Photo: InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr)

Mergers that make sense

Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a wave of travel industry mergers that seemed implausible a decade ago. Yet here we are today with four major airlines (American, Delta, Southwest and United) that control at least 80% of the domestic market. Similarly,  the hotel industry is dominated by four giant companies: InterContinental, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood. […]

Marilyn Jean Hartman, 62,  finally got on a plane.

Serial stowaway finally gets her free flight

UPDATE: THURSDAY AUG 7: After her arrest and incarceration in LA on Monday, Hartman went BACK TO THE AIRPORT on Thursday, and was arrested again. Full story here.  Original story here: After six thwarted attempts at stowing away on planes bound for Hawaii, San Francisco’s now famous Marilyn Jean Hartmann has finally done it. NBC Bay Area […]

Cement walls and big views from the new Line Hotel in LA (Photo: The Line)

3 brand new Los Angeles hotels (& 3 facelifts)

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 […]

delta entertainment

Free inflight entertainment + Delta dumping 747s + United hub reshuffle + Uber for business

AIRLINES Delta debuts free entertainment. Delta last week rolled out a big perk for passengers: Free in-flight entertainment options on all its domestic aircraft — including two-class regional jets — for flights longer than 90 minutes, and on all international flights as well. Called Delta Studio, the service lets customers in all classes access free […]

ANA's gets its shiny new Boeing 787-9 (Photo: The Boeing Company)

Trip Report: ANA’s 787 Dreamliner to Tokyo

This week, Japan’s ANA (All Nippon Airways) announced that it will be the first airline to launch a new “stretch” version of the popular Boeing 787 Dreamliner on August 7.  The new 787-9 is “stretched” 20 feet longer than the original 787-8, allowing for up to 40 additional passengers.  With this delivery, ANA will have […]

(Photo: dykstranet / Flickr)

How to get on earlier flight without paying fee

Getting on an earlier flight can mean getting home in time to have dinner with your family, rather than a solo snack around midnight. If you are headed off on vacation, it means you might be able to make it to the beach in time to get some sun. During normal airline operations, changing to […]

Emirates did not have a seat on display, but had a mock up of its inflight lounge aboard its A380s. (Chris McGinnis)

20 different biz class seats in 1 room- PHOTOS

(Los Angeles) Every year at about this time, the business travel industry gathers for the Global Business Travel Association convention. This year it’s here in Los Angeles, with about 7,000 industry folks schmoozing, speaking, selling, learning, networking and having a lot of fun.  One of the best parts of this conference is the trade show […]

Turkish Airlines's exotic business class lounge at IST (Photo: Turkish Airlines)

Southwest pads schedules + New airline for SFO + Chris at GBTA + Salt Lake makeover +

AIRLINES Southwest’s on-time strategy. Southwest Airlines has seen its on-time performance suffer in recent months, dropping from 83 percent to 70. So it will turn to a favorite airline strategy for dealing with the problem: Starting next month, it will revise its schedules to allow for longer travel times—i.e. it will “pad its schedule.” Turkish comes […]

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