Categories
In-Flight Experience Money Travel Technology

United Is Now Selling Wi-Fi Subscriptions

United recently began selling monthly subscriptions to its inflight Wi-Fi, making it the last of the Big 3 to do so.

On American, for example, a monthly subscription for Gogo Wi-Fi flights within the U.S., Canada, and Mexico can be had for $49.95. Delta’s monthly North America Wi-Fi pass is the same price, and $599.99 for a full year’s subscription.

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Here are United’s newly published monthly and annual subscription rates:

  • $49 monthly for unlimited service in N. and Central America
  • $69 monthly for unlimited service worldwide
  • $539 yearly for unlimited service in N. and Central America
  • $689 yearly for unlimited service worldwide

United’s prices for buy-on-board Wi-Fi vary by flight, so it’s impossible to establish a definitive breakeven point, when the monthly pass becomes a better deal than purchasing on a flight-by-flight basis. But if per-flight prices average $10 to $15, then you’d have to fly four or five times a month before the monthly pass is cheaper than buying Wi-Fi one flight at a time. Unless you’re a business traveler, that’s a pretty high hurdle.

Among the noteworthy terms and conditions, a subscription only covers one device at a time. If you want to hook up your laptop and smartphone simultaneously, you’ll need a second subscription.

The subscriptions are non-refundable. So there will be no discount or other consideration if the Wi-Fi is poor quality or non-existent.

The subscriptions are non-transferable. So no, you may not lend your credentials to friends or family members when they fly United.

Reader Reality Check

Good deal or bad deal: $49 a month for unlimited North America Wi-Fi on United?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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Categories
Booking Strategy Entertainment In-Flight Experience Travel Technology Travel Trends

Expect More and Better In-Flight Wi-Fi in 2018

“From British Airways in the U.K. to Qantas in Australia, Wi-Fi at 32,000 feet is now more ubiquitous than ever before.”

That’s one of the key takeaways from Routehappy’s just-released report on the availability and quality of onboard Wi-Fi.

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Other notable findings:

  • In 2018, in-flight Wi-Fi is available on 82 airlines, a 17% increase from 2017
  • But only 43% of available seat miles (ASMs) feature Wi-Fi
  • U.S. airlines offer Wi-Fi on 86% of their ASMs
  • Only 3 airlines offer Wi-Fi on 100% of their flights: Icelandair, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic
  • The 3 airlines that feature Wi-Fi on the most ASMs: Delta, American, Emirates

[st_content_ad]It’s not just availability that’s improved; Wi-Fi quality has been trending upward as well. Routehappy breaks down Wi-Fi speed among Basic, Better, and Best. Basic (sufficient for web browsing but not for streaming media) is only offered on 27 percent of worldwide ASMs, a 16 percent decrease from 2017. Better Wi-Fi is most common, found on 57 percent of ASMs. And while Best Wi-Fi is only currently offered on 16 percent of worldwide ASMs, it’s the fastest-growing category, up 129 percent from 2017.

The trend is decidedly in the direction of higher-speed Wi-Fi. That’s a win for air travelers, who can look forward to streaming their favorite TV shows and movies on their preferred electronic devices. But it’s also a win for the airlines, which are increasingly opting to forego seatback entertainment systems, choosing instead to let passengers provide their own entertainment. That’s a money- and weight-saving move for the airlines. And of course, most airlines charge for Wi-Fi, so it’s a revenue-generator as well.

Reader Reality Check

Has your experience with in-flight Wi-Fi been improving lately?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Booking Strategy Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience Travel Etiquette Travel Trends

Delta Warns: No More Comfort Hedgehogs on Flights

Comfort animals onboard commercial airline flights have become something of a joke in recent years, as flyers have taken advantage of notoriously loose restrictions to bring all manner of pets with them in the passenger cabin.

The idea of comfort animals seems to have gained currency among military veterans returning home from war zones with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An emotional support animal was often prescribed to help ameliorate the symptoms. As PTSD became recognized as an increasingly more common condition, affecting people in many walks of life, comfort animals too proliferated. And not just dogs and cats.

Today there are websites like US Support Animals that advertise “Fly with your animal in the cabin of an airplane at no cost” and provide an easy roadmap for certifying virtually any creature as an emotional support animal. Prices range from $99 to $299 for the service.

It was only a matter of time before some airline or regulatory body stepped up and imposed some order on the system. That time has come, and the airline is Delta.

Beginning on March 1, according to today’s announcement, Delta will impose new requirements on passengers wishing to have their support animals accompany them onboard Delta flights.

Delta Air Lines is taking steps to further protect its customers, employees and service and support animals by implementing advance documentation requirements for those animals. This comes as a result of a lack of regulation that has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight.

According to Delta, the airline currently carries around 700 support animals every day, and has experienced an 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents in just the past two years. “The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel.”

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So, when the new rules take effect, Delta flyers will have to comply with the following in order to take their emotional-support animals with them in the passenger cabin:

  • Show proof 48 hours in advance of the animal’s health or vaccinations
  • Provide a doctor or mental health professional’s letter
  • Provide a signed document confirming the animal “can behave”

Delta also states that it will not accept “exotic or unusual” support animals, including hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, reptiles, amphibians, goats, chickens, and any animals with tusks, horns, or hooves.

So even if all the proper documents can be obtained, Delta passengers can rest assured that they won’t find themselves flying cheek-by-jowl with Esther the Wonder Pig.

Reader Reality Check

Is this a sensible step on Delta’s part, or is it overreach?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Booking Strategy In-Flight Experience Travel Technology

Which Airlines Offer the Best In-Flight Wi-Fi?

Fast in-flight Wi-Fi. While it was once a luxury, today it’s practically a baseline expectation. But at this early stage of the game, the extent to which airlines deliver on that expectation varies considerably.

HighSpeedInternet.com has compiled a report rating U.S. carriers’ in-flight Wi-Fi offerings, based on a combination of availability (only Virgin America is at 100 percent), speed (varies between 9.8 and 15 Mbps), and price (only JetBlue’s is free). Based on a combination of those three criteria, here’s how the airlines ranked, from best to worst:

  1. JetBlue
  2. Southwest
  3. Delta
  4. Virgin America
  5. Alaska Airlines
  6. American
  7. United

[st_content_ad]Even the best had room for improvement, and compromises were the rule. While JetBlue boasted solid 15 Mbps speeds and complimentary access, it was only available on 78 percent of the airline’s flights. Virgin America also featured industry-leading 15 Mbps speeds, coupled with availability on all its flights, but charged the most for access: $25.

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While it’s a decidedly mixed bag, at least those airlines offer Wi-Fi to some degree, at some price. Three airlines still offer no in-flight Wi-Fi whatever: Spirit, Frontier, and Hawaiian.

For those who travel frequently, a better option than purchasing Wi-Fi access on an airline-by-airline, flight-by-flight basis may be to subscribe to one of Gogo’s subscription plans, some of which allow Wi-Fi access on all six of the airlines utilizing Gogo’s Wi-Fi solution: Air Canada, Alaska, American, Delta, United, Virgin America. Monthly prices start at $49.95.

Reader Reality Check

Do you consider Wi-Fi availability and quality when choosing an airline?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Booking Strategy Business Travel Frequent Flyer

Air Canada Pursues U.S. Travelers with More Service, Elite Perks

Air Canada is upping its game with an eye toward capturing more U.S. travelers, adding new cross-border routes and enhancing services targeting elite flyers.

Beginning this spring, the airline will add six new routes between Canada and the U.S., as follows:

  • Beginning May 1, Edmonton-San Francisco
  • Beginning May 1, Toronto-Omaha
  • Beginning May 17, Vancouver-Sacramento
  • Beginning May 17, Toronto-Providence
  • Beginning May 17, Montreal-Baltimore
  • Beginning May 17, Montreal-Pittsburgh

The new flights will be operated with 50- or 76-seat CRJs by Air Canada Express.

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Beginning later this week, Air Canada premium flyers departing from Toronto airport can await their flights in an all-new airport lounge. According to the airline, “The Air Canada Signature Suite provides premium Air Canada customers with a luxury experience unrivalled in North America that elevates Air Canada into the ranks of leading global carriers for discerning international travellers.” That luxury experience includes complimentary restaurant-style meal service with dishes designed by celebrity chef David Hawksworth, hors d’oeuvres, wine, and cocktails.

The lounge will be accessible only to “full fare paying International Business Class customers, excluding upgrades and most point redemption programs.” Americans connecting in Toronto to Air Canada flights to Europe or Asia are clearly part of the targeted market.

And speaking of premium passengers, Air Canada also announced this week that, beginning later this year, the airline would provide elite members of its mileage program with free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi service. Altitude Elite 75K members will receive six-month unlimited-use passes, and Super Elite 100K members will receive 12-month passes.

It’s obvious that Air Canada is making a play for U.S.-originating travelers, and high-yield American travelers in particular. With moves like this, the airline’s chances look good.

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Booking Strategy In-Flight Experience Travel Trends

This Is the New ‘Best Airline’ According to Savvy Travelers

Every year, Conde Nast Traveler gets a lot of mileage out of its Readers’ Choice Awards, slicing and dicing feedback from 300,000 travelers into a dizzying array of categories, sub-categories, and sub-sub-categories. Not only is there a ranking of the best cities in the world, there’s also a list of the best small cities in the U.S. The world’s best hotels are named, sure. But also the top 10 hotels in Europe, and in Northern Asia, and in Eastern Mexico, and in Florence.

[st_content_ad]Let’s go right to the top of the taxonomic pyramid and see what the publication’s readers had to say about airlines, and not just regional airlines based east of the Mississippi with name begins with ‘S.’ We’re interested in the best of the best, no qualifiers: The World’s Best Airlines.

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According to the travel-savvy group that comprises Conde Nast’s survey base, the world’s 20 best are as follows:

  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Qatar Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Emirates
  5. Swiss
  6. Virgin Australia
  7. Virgin Atlantic
  8. Asiana
  9. Aegean
  10. Cathay Pacific
  11. Korean Air
  12. Qantas
  13. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  14. Finnair
  15. Turkish Airlines
  16. Etihad
  17. Japan Airlines
  18. EVA Air
  19. Lufthansa
  20. KLM

And in the Best U.S. Airline category, readers voted as follows:

  1. Virgin America
  2. JetBlue
  3. Alaska Airlines
  4. Hawaiian Airlines
  5. Sun Country

There are no great surprises in the results of either ranking, although Singapore’s fall from its longtime perch atop the list is a reminder that airlines can’t rest on their laurels. The dominance of Asian and Middle Eastern carriers is the continuation of two established trends, the former of long standing, the latter more recent. If anything stood out from the results, it was the appearance on the World’s Best list of Aegean, the smallish Greek carrier. Among the domestic airlines, the only significant change was Southwest’s replacement in the fifth spot by Sun Country, the Minneapolis-based leisure carrier.

Reader Reality Check

How do Conde Nast’s readers’ ratings compare with your own?

More from SmarterTravel:

[st_newsletter]

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

Categories
Airport In-Flight Experience

A Quick Guide to Airline Seat Width

Anyone who has flown in economy class recently knows that inadequate legroom isn’t the only problem. Seats are also too narrow to accommodate today’s ever-inflating population. Unfortunately, unlike pitch information, airline seat width postings on SeatGuru (SmarterTravel’s sister site) and similar sources don’t help as much as they should, because airlines measure seat widths in different ways and the information they feed SeatGuru isn’t as consistent as it might be.

Also, airlines can’t adjust seat width as easily as pitch. Cabin dimensions limit width adjustments to large increments; after all, you can’t have 8.3 seats per row. So to cut through the confusion, here’s a quick, and necessarily approximate, guide to airline seat width.

The widest seats you’re likely to find are on the few 777s that still have nine-across seats and the few 787s that still have eight across. These include:

  • All 777s on Air China, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Korean, Singapore, Thai, and Virgin Australia. Look for some, if not all, of these lines to reconfigure their planes to tighter seating in the near future.
  • Most 777s on ANA and EVA and some on American and United, although American and United are reconfiguring their 777s to the now-typical tight 10-across configuration.
  • All 787s on Japan Airlines.

Most new 777s and 787s are now delivered with tighter seating, and many airlines with the older, roomier seats are “upgrading” to the less comfortable standard.

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Among long-haul planes, the standard eight-across seats on A330/340s and seven-across seats on 767s are generally a bit wider than the common nine-across layouts on 787s and 10-across configurations on 747s and 777s. But watch out for the rare and exceedingly uncomfortable nine-across seats you find on a few A310/330 planes, including most on Air Transat and XL Airways France.

Among the narrow-body planes, seats on the A320 family are usually up to an inch wider than seats on the 737-757 family.

These guidelines are not absolute. Some lines, for example, elected to equip 767s and A320-family models with narrow 737-width seats and devote the extra space to the aisles. But in the absence of accurate data, they’re about as much as you can find.

More from SmarterTravel:

Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

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Categories
Active Travel Airport Booking Strategy Budget Travel Frequent Flyer Security Travel Trends

Recap: The Week’s Biggest Travel Stories and Best Deals

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

End of Laptop Ban in Sight – Only 1 Airline Still Affected

The laptop ban, once the subject of so much rancor and debate, is fading fast and may disappear completely within a week.

Travel + Leisure Readers Pick the World’s Best Airlines

Looking for travel suggestions? The results of Travel + Leisure’s annual best-in-travel survey were released this week, with recommendations aplenty.

Travel Etiquette – What Would You Do If … ?

A new survey probes travelers’ attitudes toward a range of dilemmas likely to be encountered in the course of a trip. Patience and restraint rule!

Good to Know: The Countries with the Fastest Wi-Fi Speeds

You can’t be beholden to the availability of hotspots. These places have the fastest—in some cases, free—Wi-Fi.

How to Spend More Time on Rides, Less Time in Lines at Disneyland

Getting the most ride time during your pricey visit to Disneyland is all a matter of timing. Here are the best months, days, and times of day to go.

How Much Would You Pay to Have an Empty Seat Next to You?

How much would you pay to have the coach seat next to you empty? Middle East carrier Etihad Airways is about to find out.

Is TSA Missing 95% of Banned Items at Security?

A recent test found that the TSA’s success rate in detecting banned items at security checkpoints was a dismal 5 percent.

Uber Changes Course, Adds Tipping Option to App

Uber has done what was once unthinkable: The world’s dominant rideshare company reversed its long-held no-tipping policy. Great for drivers; less so for riders.

Win a 5-Night Trip to Japan, Including a Sushi-Making Class

Enter to win a five-night trip for two to Kyoto, Japan, including airfare credit, hotel, sushi and bento cooking classes, day trips to nearby attractions.

Somebody has to win this trip, right? Might as well be you.

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Airport Booking Strategy In-Flight Experience Security

End of Laptop Ban in Sight: Only 1 Airline Still Affected

The laptop ban, once the subject of so much rancor and debate, is fading fast and may disappear completely within a week.

The ban, initially covering nonstop flights by nine airlines to the U.S. from 10 Middle East airports, was imposed in March, presumably in response to intelligence suggesting that terrorists planned to hide explosives in the personal electronics devices of flyers traveling to the U.S.

Since then the list of banned airlines has been shrinking as the carriers improved their security-screening procedures and received approval from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow passengers to resume carrying onboard their personal electronics devices when flying nonstop to the U.S. from the carriers’ respective flight hubs.

Over the weekend, Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways became the fifth and sixth airlines to receive the DHS’s blessings to allow U.S.-bound travelers to fly with their laptops and other devices, following in the footsteps of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Dubai-based Emirates, Doha-based Qatar, and Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines.

Then, on July 12, Egyptair announced that its nonstop flights from Cairo to the U.S. had been approved.

And today, July 13, Royal Air Maroc’s flights from Casablanca, Morocco, have been exempted from the ban as well.

The ban remains in place for nonstop flights to the U.S. from two airports: Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But although unconfirmed by U.S. security officials, Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, said it expects Jeddah and Riyadh to meet DHS screening standards and be excluded from the ban “on or before July 19.”

So by the end of next week, if not sooner, the ban on U.S. flights may be over. A ban on personal electronics on flights to the U.K. from several Middle East countries remains in effect.

[st_related]Travel + Leisure Readers Pick the World’s Best Airlines[/st_related]

The ban has been the object of considerable controversy, with critics lambasting the policy as neither necessary nor effective. In particular, it’s been pointed out that terrorists can easily avoid the ban by utilizing connecting flight to the U.S., rather than flying on the restricted nonstops.

With the affected airlines and airports rushing to upgrade their security screening to meet DHS requirements, the controversy and the criticism will soon be moot. Which means more comfort and convenience for flyers, if not more security.

Reader Reality Check

Did the ban make you feel safer?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Booking Strategy In-Flight Experience Travel Trends

Travel + Leisure Readers Pick the World’s Best Airlines

Looking for travel suggestions? The results of Travel + Leisure’s annual best-in-travel survey were released this week, with recommendations aplenty.

The survey is nothing if not comprehensive, eliciting more than 200,000 readers’ votes for the best airlines, airports, car-rental agencies, cities, cruise ships, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, islands, tour operators, and safari outfitters.

In the airline category, voting included appraisals of carriers’ cabin comfort, service, food, customer service, and value.

Best Domestic Airlines

In the latest survey, Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines traded places, but the five top-rated airlines remained the same as last year’s, with Virgin America claiming the top spot for the tenth consecutive year.

  1. Virgin America
  2. JetBlue
  3. Alaska Airlines
  4. Hawaiian Airlines
  5. Southwest

Conspicuously missing from the list are the Big Three airlines — American, Delta, and United. Through mergers and acquisitions, they now control a disproportionate share of the country’s commercial air traffic, and thereby set the standards for service and pricing for the entire industry. And they’re the least loved by the traveling public.

The consolidation story continues, with Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin American, and the incorporation of the latter, the country’s best airline, into the former.

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Best International Airlines

As it has for 22 consecutive years, Singapore Airlines was rated the best international airline, which is tantamount to being rated the world’s best. Runners-up were Emirates and Qatar, which repeated from last year as the second- and third-ranked airlines.

The top 10:

  1. Singapore
  2. Emirates
  3. Qatar
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. Japan Airlines
  6. Virgin Atlantic
  7. Air New Zealand
  8. Korean
  9. All Nippon Airways
  10. Eva Air

With seven of the top 10 carriers hailing from the Asia-Pacific, the theme is that region’s ongoing dominance. And unlike the domestic situation, there’s plenty of competitive pressure to keep raising standards higher.

Reader Reality Check

How do these results compare with your own assessment of the world’s best airlines?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Airport Booking Strategy Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience Security

Laptop Ban Fading as 2 More Airlines Receive Exemptions

The laptop ban, once the subject of so much rancor and debate, will soon be nothing more than a footnote to the history of aviation security, as the number of affected airlines and airports approaches zero.

Over the weekend, Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways were added to the list of airlines approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow passengers to resume carrying onboard their personal electronics devices when flying nonstop to the U.S. from the carriers’ respective flight hubs.

Royal Jordanian and Kuwait were the fifth and sixth airlines to receive the DHS’s blessings to allow U.S.-bound travelers to fly with their laptops and other devices. The four carriers already approved include Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Dubai-based Emirates, Doha-based Qatar, and Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines.

The ban, initially covering nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 Middle East airports, was imposed in March, presumably in response to intelligence suggesting that terrorists planned to hide explosives in the personal electronics devices of flyers traveling to the U.S.

[st_related]Is TSA Missing 95% of Banned Items at Security?[/st_related]

The ban remains in place for nonstop flights to the U.S. from four airports: Cairo, Egypt; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Casablanca, Morocco.

Although as yet unconfirmed by U.S. security officials, Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, said it expects Jeddah and Riyadh to meet DHS screening standards and be excluded from the ban “on or before July 19.”

The ban itself remains the object of considerable controversy, with critics lambasting the policy as neither necessary nor effective. In particular, it’s been pointed out that terrorists can easily avoid the ban by utilizing connecting flight to the U.S., rather than flying on the restricted nonstops.

With the affected airlines and airports rushing to upgrade their security screening to meet DHS requirements, the controversy and the criticism may soon be moot. Which means more comfort and convenience for flyers, if not more security.

Reader Reality Check

Did the ban make you feel safer?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Airport Entertainment In-Flight Experience Passenger Rights

24 Things I Learned from a 24-Hour Flight Delay

It recently took me 24 hours to get from Washington, D.C. to Boston, and no, I didn’t drive. Or walk. While stuck in an airport for an entire day, I had plenty of time to think about what lessons a long flight delay had taught me. Here’s what you should know in case you ever get stuck in the same nightmare.

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24 Things I Learned from a 24-Hour Flight Delay

1. Airlines don’t have to provide passengers with food, water, or vouchers for the same. I’ve been on flights on different airlines that have been delayed for just a few hours and been offered free snacks and bottles of water, so this surprised me.

2. If your flight keeps getting delayed, consider making alternative plans. The more a flight gets delayed, the less likely it is to actually take off. My 7:00 p.m. flight was first delayed at 6:00 p.m., and didn’t get canceled until 2:00 a.m. I wish I had just given up after the first few delays, rather than hanging in there.

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3. Airline employees may not have the correct information. At around 1:30 a.m., a JetBlue employee told the crowd at our gate that our plane had just taken off from a different airport and once it arrived, we would be taking off for sure. Half an hour later, our flight was canceled.

4. Pack warm clothes and make sure they are accessible, no matter how short your flight is. I was so glad I had packed a few layers even though I was traveling from one warm destination to another, because the airport was freezing. And it got even colder once all the crowds emptied out.

5. Stock up on food and water before the airport closes. Even in a major airport, all of the shops and cafes closed in my terminal before midnight.

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6. Only having carry-on luggage will allow you to jump between flights more easily, if yours gets delayed or canceled.

7. If lots of flights are getting delayed, and you are trying to move to an earlier flight, you may want to go on standby if there is a chance that that flight will also be delayed or canceled–that way, you don’t lose your seat on your original flight if it ends up taking off earlier.

8. Don’t spend your delay at the airport bar. I saw a few very inebriated passengers who were too confused to deal with unexpected flight cancellations get belligerent with the staff.

9. Remember that the staff is working late too and that the delays/cancellations are beyond their control. The staff that stayed with us until 3:00 a.m. was back at the airport before noon the next day, still dealing with angry customers. Be patient!

10. Sign up for flight alert notifications directly through your airline. You’ll be texted or emailed as soon as your flight is delayed or canceled, and you can (hopefully) beat the mad rush of other people trying to get on a new flight.

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11. If the line for customer service is long at the airport, try calling the airline while you are waiting in line, as you might get through sooner. Note that phone staff might not be able to help with some issues though, like going standby on a full flight.

12. Gate agents can usually put you on a standby list, so try them if the line is shorter.

13. Know that you might not be able to go standby on a flight that’s more than one ahead of yours. For example, my new flight, at 3:00 p.m. the next day, was delayed, so I tried to go standby on a flight that was leaving at 1:00 p.m., but JetBlue’s policy wouldn’t allow me to swap to that flight, only to a 2:00 p.m. one (which was also severely delayed), even though my original flight was the night before.

14. Keep your toiletries. Sometimes at the end of a trip, I will toss travel-sized toiletries with just a tiny bit of product left in them to make a little more space in my suitcase for the flight home. I was glad that I didn’t on this trip, when I was grateful to have a little bit of toothpaste after 24 hours!

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15. If your flight is canceled, airlines may offer you a hotel room for the night. However, this may be far away from the airport (mine was 20 minutes away).

16. Try to be one of the first people from a canceled flight to get help–I was offered a hotel room, but they mentioned that there were only two left for the night, so I’m not sure what other people on my flight did.

17. If you are offered a taxi voucher by the airline to get to a hotel (or back home), know that it’s hard to find a taxi company that will accept them.

18. Turn to other airlines for help getting home. I ended up having to buy a ticket on another airline in order to get home, just because JetBlue was having so many cancellations.

19. If you have to cancel your ticket because your flight is canceled, the airline will refund your money. A last-minute, one-way ticket will be expensive, but after my refund, I only wound up paying about $60 out of pocket.

20. Look for other options–some passengers on my flight ended up renting a car or taking a train, and they still got back to Boston before I did.

21. Know your rights if your flight is canceled.

22. Be wary of booking a flight itinerary with connections on different airlines–I saw quite a few people who were anxious because they were going to miss an international connection due to the flight cancellations, and JetBlue wouldn’t help them at all with their onward leg.

23. If you complain and are offered compensation, it will likely be in the form of a travel credit from the airline, not cash.

24. Some airport bookstores have a program where you can buy a book, read it, and then return it to the same branch (or another in a different airport) for a half-price refund. Good to know if you’re bored and stuck in an airport!

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Airport Booking Strategy Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience Security Travel Trends

Four Airlines See Laptop Ban Lifted

That laptop ban that’s been the subject of so much debate and hand-wringing? It’s making a slow fade into oblivion.

Today, Qatar Airways announced it had been approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow passengers to resume carrying onboard their personal electronics devices when flying to the U.S. from the carrier’s Doha hub at Hamad International Airport.

Qatar is the fourth airline to receive the DHS’s blessings to allow U.S.-bound flyers to bring their laptops and other devices with them into the passenger cabin. The three carriers already approved include Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Dubai-based Emirates, and Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines.

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The ban, initially covering nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 Middle East airports, was imposed in March, presumably in response to intelligence suggesting that terrorists planned to hide explosives in the personal electronics devices of flyers traveling to the U.S.

The ban remains in place for nonstop flights to the U.S. from six airports: Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Cairo; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Casablanca, Morocco.

Although as yet unconfirmed by U.S. security officials, Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, said it expects Jeddah and Riyadh to meet DHS screening standards and be excluded from the ban “on or before July 19.”

The ban itself remains the object of considerable controversy, with critics lambasting the policy as neither necessary nor effective. In particular, it’s been pointed out that terrorists can easily avoid the ban by utilizing connecting flight to the U.S., rather than flying on the restricted nonstops.

With the affected airlines and airports rushing to upgrade their security screening to meet DHS requirements, the controversy and the criticism may soon be moot. Which means more comfort and convenience, if not more security.

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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Booking Strategy In-Flight Experience Travel Trends

U.S. Carriers Fare Badly in Latest Global Airline Survey

At this week’s Paris Air Show, airline-rating service Skytrax announced the results of its 2017 World Airline Survey, rating more than 200 of the world’s airlines from best to worst. The rankings were based on responses to 19.9 million customer surveys.

Skytrax boasts that it uses sophisticated data-weighting algorithms to compensate for different sample sizes, and has fraud-detection mechanisms in place to maintain the results’ legitimacy. And the research is not funded by any of the ranked companies.

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Still, although the survey is clearly more rigorous than most, there are questions about its methodology. It’s not clear, for example, how much weight is given to the various factors that, taken together, give an airline its overall score. Full transparency is reserved for airline executives, who presumably pay for privileged access to the full survey results.

The top-20 airlines, according to the latest survey:

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways
  4. Emirates
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. EVA Air
  7. Lufthansa
  8. Etihad Airways
  9. Hainan Airlines
  10. Garuda Indonesia
  11. Thai Airways
  12. Turkish Airlines
  13. Virgin Australia
  14. Swiss
  15. Qantas Airways
  16. Japan Airlines
  17. Austrian
  18. Air France
  19. Air New Zealand
  20. Asiana Airlines

Given Skytrax’s global focus, it shouldn’t be any surprise that U.S. and Canadian carriers fared badly. None were among the top 20. Ranked among themselves, the top-10 North American carriers were as follows:

  1. Air Canada (29th overall)
  2. Delta (32nd
  3. Alaska (36th)
  4. JetBlue (39th)
  5. Virgin America (43rd)
  6. Southwest (54th)
  7. Porter (55th)
  8. WestJet (58th)
  9. Air Transat (70th)
  10. American (74th)

And in case you were wondering, at the very bottom of the 100-airline list is Aeromexico, which received five stars in the Skytrax rating system, which awards a maximum of 10 stars.

Reader Reality Check

How do the Skytrax results compare with your own assessment of the world’s best airlines?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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Group Travel

Ive got a girl and Ruby is her name…

Author: rumcokenice
Date of Trip: November 2009

Hi all….back from the Ruby yesterday (it was our tenth cruise: Norway, Mariner, Zenith, Oosterdam, Liberty, Grand, Millennium et al)…and I have to say it was one of the best cruising experiences we’ve ever had.

Embarkation was remarkable – we got to Port Everglades at 1.30pm and were expecting the usual shuffling lines and (im)patiently waiting around, but I kid you not, from stepping out of the cab to stepping into our stateroom took less than 5 minutes!….

Stateroom was lovely – Mini Suite on Dolphin deck (D727) uncovered balcony, which concerned me slightly pre-cruise – but I ended up loving it…enjoyed chatting with folks above me – and lots more sun than i’m used to on a balcony!…would definitely go open again

Food – despite the excellent embarkation lunch buffet in the Horizon (short ribs and creamy mash yum yum yum!) – we were initially disappointed with the meal arrangements – we were anytime dining for the first two nights but the service was poor and the food was bland to average – we switched to the Cafe Carribe for the remainder of the cruise and it was the best decision of the holiday – Cafe Carribe food was delicious, different theme every night and the service / waiters and overall mood of the place was superb….. …elsewhere dont miss the Hot Dogs on the pool deck …and the delights of the International cafe in the Piazza….including the delicious Ice dream ($1,50) three mixed scoops on an ice cold dish – hit the spot every time

Entertainment was an eye opener….to be honest we dont usually bother with the cruise shows, not really our thing …but we loved the entertainment on the Ruby….highlight was the comedy Hypnotist Tim Tripp who did a cracking show in the main theatre and then an hilarious adults only Midnight show in Club Fusion…didnt finish till almost 2.00am and the place was in hysterics at what the volunteers (victims) got up to! …I was going to take part – I’m so glad my wife stopped me ……….the Ventriloquist show was also hugely entertaining…and the Crew Show was a very pleasant surprise – featuring some Benny Hill’esque comedy from the entertainment staff …corny but great fun

Excursions were very expensive (is this the case with all lines now?) but we love the Catamaran trips so took two – Honeymoon Beach at St John …gorgeous…..and half day Champagne snorkelling and Turtle encounter at Barbados…both of which supplied me with memories that will sustain me throughout the damp cold grey UK winter ………..however the Catamaran and and snorkle trip in Antigua was a big let down – there was just too many people on it – should definitely have split the crowd onto two craft – and the snorkle spot was a fish free zone!…..whatever, by my reckoning 2 out of 3 aint bad and I was soon sitting in various shack bars in Antigua swigging cheap cold beer and discussing cricket with the locals

Disembarkation was again a breeze…we’d booked the Fort Lauderdale CarrieB tour to take the sting out of going home and waiting around an airport all day (great move btw..v much recommended) and we were swept off the ship and onto the tour coach at 8.30 without so much as a backward glance

So there you have it – ….add the splendid 3 days pre-cruise stay in Hollywood beach to the mix, together with the almost perfect weather every day for the entire holiday – meeting some lovely fellow cruisers and two hassle free transatlantic flights…..and you can see why Im now sitting here green with envy at anyone who’s currently on – or will shortly be sailing on the beautiful Ruby Princess.

Bon Voyage to all …..

Karl