You’ve had a long, busy trip and are planning to keep sleeping until you land in your home airport. You’ve just boarded your flight, have stowed your bags, buckled your seatbelt and have just begun to nod off when you’re jolted awake by a blood-curdling scream from two rows back. Ah yes, the infamous in-flight screaming baby.
Whether you’re a parent trying to calm down your child or a fellow passenger trying to tune out the noise, dealing with a screaming child in-flight can be a stressful experience. With this in mind, some airlines in Asia have begun offering “no-kid zones.” This past summer, the budget airline Scoot (a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines) began offering a new seating zone on their airplanes – the appropriately named ScootinSilence.The ScootinSilence section, which is only open to passengers over the age of 12, is positioned directly behind business class and occupies four rows. The 41 seat section costs an additional $15 per ticket, but for those looking to spend their flight napping, the investment may be worth it. When asked about this decision in a recent interview with The Australian, Scoot’s CEO Campbell Wilson said, “No offence to our young guests or those travelling with them — you still have the rest of the aircraft.”
Scoot isn’t the first airline to put restrictions on their younger passengers. If you’re a parent looking to fly first class on Malaysia Airlines with your young ones, you’re out of luck. Recently, the airline opted to ban children under the age 12 from sitting in the first class upper deck of some of their flights. When asked about the decision, the Malaysia Airlines stated they made the move after receiving too many noise complaints from first class passengers. As an alternative, the airline offers a 350-seat “family friendly” economy zone on the lower deck with facilities to suit families. These include eight toilets and its own entrance, separate to the one used by first class passengers.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Do you think this is a good idea? Parents, would you prefer to be seated in a “kid friendly” section, or do you think this type of seating arrangement is unfair? Share with us in the comments section below or post your thoughts to our Facebook page.
- Kid-free flights? Airlines say no way (dailytelegraph.com.au)
When it comes to taking medicine with you on a flight, many people are unsure of the proper protocol. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of traveling with a cold, what should you pack, tablets or cold syrup? And if you do bring cough syrup with you through airport security, is it subject to the Travel Security Administration’s 3 ounce or less 3-1-1 rule for liquids?
If given the option, your best bet is to skip the liquid medicine and pack tablets or gel caps in your carry on luggage instead. This way, you can simply avoid any issues at the TSA security check point.
That being said, the TSA does allows some wiggle room for what it refers to as medically necessary liquids, such as liquid medicine, baby formula and breast milk. However, they do not clarify if over the counter medicines are considered “medically necessary,” meaning it can be left up to the discretion of each airport’s security team.
If you strongly prefer liquid medicine over tablets or gel caps but don’t want to chance having a full bottle discarded at security, you may also be able to locate travel size bottles of certain brands of cold medicine at your local pharmacy. Alternatively, you may also simply transfer your liquid medicine into a travel size container and include it in your 3-1-1 liquids bag at the TSA checkpoint.
If you have no particular preference between tablets or liquid cold medicine, your best bet is to simply stick with cold tablets. Not only will they take up less space in your carry on luggage, but if you need to take a dose in flight, you won’t have to worry about any spillage.
In fact, if you find yourself traveling often, it may be a smart idea to simply set aside a separate bag of travel-friendly over the counter medicines to have available, should you need them.
- Airline Travel – The Steps For Boarding a Plane (itravel01.wordpress.com)
There’s nothing worse than having a delayed or cancelled flight, especially if you’re on a tight schedule or need to pick up a connecting flight. However, if you’re feeling as if you’ve been running into less complications and delays while traveling this year, you’re not mistaken: records show that when it comes to flight times, things are looking up.
According to the US Department of Transportation, flight times for the first half of 2013 (January to June) were the best they’ve been in 19 years. During this period, the top 16 airlines arrived at their destinations within 15 minutes of the scheduled time 78.1% of the time. In addition, flight cancellations are at the seventh-lowest rate in 19 years, with only 1.68% of flights being cancelled during the first half of this year.
Why the sudden change? While airlines have become much more focused on customer experience in the recent years, it’s safe to say that the effort to stay on schedule is also a cost-saving measure. Flight delays aren’t just frustrating for passengers, they can also be quite costly for the airlines themselves.
Researchers from Northern Illinois University recently discovered that every minute a flight is delayed at the gate resulted in a $30 increase in costs for the airline. Additionally, the US Department of Transportation has created stricter penalties for tarmac delays, fining airlines up to $27,500 per passenger for violations of this rule. Last month, United Airlines was hit with a $1.1 million fine for tarmac delays at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
Of course, the improvement in flight times also has something to do with the economy. According to Alan Bender, professor of Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, “Airline mergers and the lackluster economy have meant fewer flights — and fewer flights means less congestion and therefore, better on-time performance.”
Wondering which airline and airport to select in order to improve your chances of being on time? According to the US Department of Transportation’s report, the most on-time airlines were Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines. The least on-time were American Eagle Airlines, AirTran Airways and ExpressJet Airlines. When it comes to airport delays, much of it has to do with weather. Newark’s Liberty International had the lowest on-time arrivals at 67.1%, and Phoenix had the highest, with 85.46% of flights arriving on time.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Have you noticed an improvement in arrival times this year? Tell us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
- Airlines improved on-time performance in August (seattlepi.com)
- United Airlines Fined $1.1 Million for Long Tarmac Delays (on.aol.com)
- Airlines On Endless Quest for Better Boarding (travelproluggageblog.com)
Before embarking on an international trip, there are a lot of things to consider, the largest of which is money. When traveling abroad, is it better to bring cash or credit cards? And if you do opt to bring cash, should you bring US dollars to exchange upon arrival, or should you change your currency before you even leave the US?When traveling internationally, I use debit and credit cards as my main form of currency as in most cases, it’s more cost-effective to use a debit or credit card to withdraw local currency upon arrival. This method will allow you to exchange your US dollars into local currency at the wholesale exchange rate, which is typically better than what a local currency exchange would offer. Additionally, most local banks and currency exchanges will add on a transaction fee, which will usually be around 2% of your total transaction. By using an ATM, the only fee you may get hit with is an ATM fee, which will be similar to what you’d pay at an out-of-network ATM in the United States.
However, I also exchange a small amount of money — enough to last a day or so — prior to leaving the United States. I recommend this to all international travelers, as in the event that you run into issues withdrawing money, you won’t find yourself stranded and penniless in a foreign country.
There is a slim chance that your bank may flag your transaction as suspicious, especially if you forgot to call to inform them of your travels prior to leaving! Also, many countries around the world now rely on chip and pin (or EMV) credit cards. While most retailers will still accept magnetic strip cards, this isn’t always the case.
Of course, there are circumstances where cash is the only way to go. Many people are surprised to learn that US debit cards are virtually useless in many countries. In some countries (such as Myanmar), ATMs are not connected to international networks. In other countries (like Japan) debit cards are much smaller, and the standard US card is not sized correctly for ATMs.
Depending on your destination, your best bet is to use a credit card as your primary source of funds. However, no matter where you’re headed, it pays to do your research before you leave.
When it comes to air travel, competition doesn’t just exist between airlines, it also exists between the airports themselves. Unfortunately, many small, regional airports find themselves struggling to stay competitive with larger and more recognizable international airports. For this reason, many of these smaller airports are now turning to loyalty programs to attract frequent fliers.
In a competitive market, such a move makes sense, especially for airports that must compete against neighboring airports that offer more frequent flights and a wider variety of airlines and destinations.
According to Debby McElroy, executive vice president of policy and external affairs for Airports Council International-North America, “Airports recognize that there is competition not only among airlines but also between airports. Loyalty programs can help an airport stand out among its competitors.”
These new airport loyalty programs aren’t too dissimilar from those offered by rental car companies or hotel chains. The programs are typically free and offer frequent fliers perks such as airline miles, parking deals, or discounts at the airport’s shops and restaurants for simply flying to and from the airport. For example, Gainesville Regional Airport offers registered members of their Road Warrior Club access to a private lounge, and those that travel at least once per month are awarded special perks and freebies.
While some airports operate their own loyalty programs, many (such as Bob Hope Airport) participate in the popular Thanks Again’s loyalty program. The program currently works with over 40 airports in the United States and over 170 airport shops and restaurants. Travelers who register with the program can earn points, which can be used towards miles in the loyalty programs of many major airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
Smaller regional airports may not have the big name draw or offer as many travel options as their larger counterparts. However, regional airport loyalty programs appear to be working well to draw in new travelers.
We want to hear from you: when it comes to air travel, are you more apt to fly into a smaller regional airport or larger international airport? Would a loyalty program sway your preference? Share with us in the comments section.
- Wichita airport unveils customer loyalty program (kansas.com)
- Brand loyalty programs: Are they effective ? (newmediaandmarketing.com)
- What the airline industry needs to know about social loyalty (tnooz.com)
If you’re an avid traveler, you may have noticed that this year’s biggest airline trend has been something everyone can appreciate: convenience. Airlines are looking for new ways to provide faster, more efficient service to their passengers, so many of them are turning towards mobile technology to accommodate their passengers’ needs and stay ahead of the competition.
If you’re an avid smartphone user, you know one thing is true: almost everyone has a mobile app these days. Some are useful; others, not so much. In keeping up with the times, most major airlines now offer mobile apps, which allow travelers to check on flight status or find other basic travel information. However, there’s only so much you can do via most mobile apps before you find yourself calling a 800 number — something which United Airlines kept in mind when re-designing their mobile app this summer.
United Airlines’ updated app (available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry 10) goes behind the basic features, allowing travelers to manage their journey in real time. For example, the updated app is designed to ease the stress of flight delays and cancellations. When a flight is cancelled or delayed, a passenger may find alternate flights and travel options directly via the mobile app, as opposed to dealing with a crowded airport help desk.
In addition, United Airlines’ mobile app currently supports a mobile boarding pass, which allows travelers to simply scan the barcode on a screen at airport security checkpoints. This feature is currently available in over 40 major international airports. United aims to have this option available at all airports they serve by this coming fall.
In a recent statement, United Airlines’ Vice President of Merchandising and e-commerce Scott Wilson stated, “The new features and updated look of these apps give travelers increased convenience, flexibility and control. United will continue to invest in building powerful mobile tools for our customers with many significant enhancements scheduled to roll out over the next year.”
What other convenience features would you like to see United and other airlines include in future iterations of their mobile apps?
- FWA now accepting mobile boarding passes (wane.com)
- This Is What Boarding Passes Should Look Like (wired.com)
- I Will Never Print My Boarding Pass Again (intercall.com)
- 5 Ways Location-based Apps Enhance Travel (wcgworld.com)
- Airports and Airlines Struggle to Meet Mobility Expectations of More Than 60% of Travelers Surveyed, Despite WiFi Wake-Up Call 12 Months Ago (sys-con.com)
- How The Explosion In Travel Apps Makes It Easier For Marketers To Reach Affluent Frequent Flyers (embargozone.com)
- Air travellers in the slow lane on technology (itpro.co.uk)
With the cost of travel continually rising, everyone is looking to save a few bucks when booking airline tickets. However, when it comes to finding the lowest airfare, everyone seems to have their own, often differing, advice to share when it comes to when and how you should purchase a flight.
When it comes to saving money on air travel, many people insist that when you book your ticket has the biggest impact on ticket price. In fact, a quick Internet search will leave you inundated with a wide variety of tips on how far in advance you should book your ticket, the best day of the week and time of day to purchase, and the cheapest day to travel on. But is there any truth to these recommendations, or are these “expert tactics” simply myths?When it comes to selecting which time to fly, many people suggest travelling mid-week and during off hours — particularly on one of those dreaded red eye flights. If you’re hoping to use this tactic to save a bit of money on airfare, you’re in luck – avoiding popular travel times (such as Friday afternoon) can help you save a few dollars on the cost of travel.
Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to score a great deal on airfare by purchasing your tickets on a specific day of the week or at a certain time, you may not be so lucky. Up until a few years ago, it was possible to save money on travel by using this tactic, however, times have changed. While it may work on occasion, purchasing airfare at a certain time isn’t a guaranteed way to score a lower fare.
If you’re looking to score the best deal possible on an upcoming trip, your best bet is to do some research on average airfare prices for the route you’re flying, begin monitoring prices a few months in advance, and snap up your tickets when you find a good deal. Remember, prices can jump very fast, so it pays to simply strike while the iron’s hot!
- Proliferation of Websites has led to Easy Booking of Airline Tickets (besttraveldeals4u.wordpress.com)
- Understanding the Hidden Taxes and Fees Associated with Airline Travel (turbotax.intuit.com)
- 5 Ways to Get Great Deals on Holiday Travel (epicatravel.com)
- Killer Tips For Finding Cheap Airline Tickets (buddyjacksonsepicinfo.wordpress.com)
If you’ve flown out of Denver International Airport recently, you may have noticed that airport security has gone to the dogs… bomb-sniffing dogs, that is. In an effort to speed up security lines, the Transportation Security Administration is testing out a new program featuring passenger-screening canines (or PSCs) at several major airports throughout the United States.
The new program, which rolled out this summer, allows passengers who have passed canine inspection to move into the TSA’s Pre-Check line, where they can pass through the standard x-ray screening process without having to remove their shoes, electronics and so on. The TSA’s canines are trained to sniff for explosives, not drugs.
According to Carrie Harmon, a TSA regional public affairs manager based in Denver, “The canine can also detect an explosive odor or scent trail, after a person has transited an area, and subsequently follow the scent trail to the explosive source, even if the source is mobile.”Aviation expert Mike Boyd agrees, stating, “The dog takes care of that very, very effectively. The only reason we take off our shoes and do all that over stuff is because the other machinery really doesn’t know how to look at it. So this makes a lot of sense for everybody.”
Although this particular program is new, the TSA’s canine program isn’t. In fact, airport security officials have used canines to detect contraband and suspicious behavior since before the TSA even existed. According to Jeff Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the author of a textbook on aviation security, “The canine program has been around since the early ’70s. There is a lot of research over the course of the past five decades that the dogs are accurate. They’re the gold standard right now.”
So far, the response to the TSA’s new screening program appears to be quite positive. As one passenger tweeted, “Straight through security in two minutes with shoes on and laptops/liquids in bag. Testing new security procedures at Denver. Nice job.” According to Carrie Harmon, the TSA hopes to expand the program to more airports in the near future.
If you’ve ever wondered why airlines board flights the way they do, you’re not alone. After waiting to board (and disembark from) one too many flights, University of Illinois astrophysicist Jason Steffen decided there must be a more efficient method, and decided to see if he could find it. His recommendation? The best system would be to space the boarding passengers two rows apart, while filling window seats first, then middle and aisle seats.
It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to realize that most boarding methods are inefficient, as most passengers must block the aisle while stowing their baggage in the overhead compartments. Perhaps even more frustrating is the process of exiting the plane – those stuck in the rear of the plane must wait for everyone on the flight to retrieve their carry-on bags from the overhead bins.
Currently, the vast majority of airlines board in groups, with first-class and other elite passengers boarding first. From there, some airlines opt to board from the rear to the front, while others fill the window seats, then the aisle. Other airlines (such as Southwest) allow passengers to sit wherever they please – and pay extra for the opportunity to board first.
Some airlines are testing out new boarding methods. For example, American Airlines is allowing passengers without carry-on luggage to board first. United has cut down their boarding groups from seven to five and have added additional boarding lanes to cut down on traffic jams at the gate. According to United’s CEO, this method has already resulted in a 60% decrease in boarding-related departure delays.
The time delay isn’t just frustrating for passengers, it’s also costly to the airlines themselves. Researchers from Northern Illinois University recently found that every minute added at the gate resulted in a $30 increase in costs. It can also result in flight delays and missed connecting flights. In other words, it’s in an airline’s best interest to test better methods.
Do you have any thoughts on how airlines can improve the boarding process? Share with us in the comments section.
Photo credit: camknows (Flickr, Creative Commons)