2016 Top Quality Rankings for Airlines, Virgin America Ranks #1

November 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For the past 26 years, Dean Headley, a researcher at Wichita State University’s business school, and Brent Bowen, Dean of the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, have co-authored the Airline Quality Report, a quality ranking of the largest 13 airlines in the United States.

The report uses performance data gathered from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Report to determine the intersection of public perception of each airline’s quality with the airline’s actual performance.

Virgin Airline's Molly

This year, Virgin America Airlines earned the top spot for the fourth year in a row. JetBlue jumped from fourth to second place, and Delta retained its third place position. The report examines performance in four categories: on-time performance, baggage handling, involuntary denied boardings, and customer complaints.

This report is an objective way for consumers to determine an airline’s overall performance and to examine its attention to whatever detail of the flying experience is important to them. The report found that overall performance for the industry as a whole improved over 2015, while the category that saw the most change was complaints.
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Flight Etiquette 101: Seat Reclining Courtesies and the Golden Rule

October 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s one of the biggest causes of conflict on a flight, and you’ve probably encountered it more than once if you’re a frequent business traveler: Should you recline or not recline your seat?

The topic is a hot button with seasoned travelers, so we thought we might suggest a few ways you can be considerate of others as you contemplate whether or not to push that little button on your armrest.

Which are the best seats on planes you can get?First, consider the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” In other words, think about how your actions could impact the person directly behind you, and then wonder if you would like the same thing done by the person in front of you. If you’ve ever felt hemmed in, or had your laptop slammed shut, because someone else exercised their “right” to recline, ask yourself, what would you have liked done before they leaned back into your space.

That’s possibly the biggest courtesy in seat reclining: Offer the person behind you the same courtesy you want from the person in front of you.

Of course, that may mean there are times when you shouldn’t exercise your right to recline, like during beverage and meal service. Imagine not being able to eat because you can’t see your tray, or get your drink past the other person’s seat back.
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How to Get into Any Airport Lounge With an App and Credit Card

October 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Years ago, an airport lounge used to be an exclusive privilege available only to passengers of a certain status or with a specific type of ticket. No more! With the click of a few buttons on a few apps, and a credit card, you too can escape the hustle and chaos of the general waiting area in the terminal, and enjoy the comfort and convenience of a quiet and clean lounge.

What amenities do they offer that make them worth the price?

Oslo Airport Lounge - Gardermoen Airport

This is the Oslo Lounge at Gardermoen Airport.

For one thing, they’re quiet and comfortable. That can be a major benefit if you’re a business traveler on an extended layover and you want to remain productive. You’ll have access to a table at which to sit, instead of balancing your laptop on your legs and fighting with other passengers for the charging station.

Or if you’d rather relax, the chairs are very comfortable and conducive to a quick nap. There are a few TVs — which you’re actually able to hear — and they offer food and drinks; premium lounges have upscale amenities such as showers, hair salons, and even oxygen bars.
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Avoid Higher Airline Prices for “Open Jaw” Flights

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently, the country’s three major airlines each implemented a little change to their pricing models that, if you’re not careful, can end up costing you a lot more per flight.

The change, says The New York Times, could make it up to seven times more expensive for those who fly what’s called an “open jaw” route.
british-airways-boeing-747-400-g-civh-departs-london-heathrow-11apr2015
That’s where you fly to a particular destination, but return home from a different one. For example, if you flew to Miami, but flew home from Orlando, that’s an “open jaw,” or multi-city flight.

We don’t want you to be caught unaware, so here are some things we suggest you do before you purchase a multi-city or open jaw ticket.

  • Check into the cost of two one-way tickets. There’s a very good chance the two tickets will cost less than the one open-jaw flight. The example we saw in the Times story showed a $1200 price tag for a Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles/San Francisco to Jacksonville. But as two separate tickets, it was $400. Read more

Planning for Your First Business Trip

October 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You’ve just found out from your boss that you’re being sent on your first business trip. Don’t panic — we’re here to help! Here are several tips we’ve compiled from our veteran road warriors to get you off on the right foot as you learn the ropes.

First, plan your trip according to your company’s policies. If you have an internal travel agent, make sure you connect with them to get your flights and hotels booked. If you need to handle this yourself, that’s a bonus! Investigate which airlines go where you need to go and consider becoming a loyalty member. There are numerous online reviews that will provide you with details about seat width, legroom, and on-time records.

Pick an airline that will become your favorite over your business travel career.

A few things to consider: Try to pick an airline that you will make your favorite, since you could be flying with them for years. And don’t always pick the cheapest airlines out there. Some of them are the cheapest for a reason.

Download the carrier’s mobile app so you can check-in online and have your boarding pass right on your phone. Going paperless means you have one less thing to manage. The app will also alert you to any changes in your flight’s status.

If this is the first of what will become many business trips, invest in TSA’s PreCheck. It’s only $85, and it lasts for 5 years. That’s $17 per year of not wasting unnecessary time standing in the security lines.
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What Do Business Travelers Worry About Most?

September 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

What’s your number one worry as a business traveler? Most travelers say missing their flight is their top worry. But the other answers on a Booking.com survey are a bit surprising, especially when there are obvious ways to manage those anxieties (or at least the causes of them).

TripAdvisor on an iPhone, a must for business travelersIf you have any of these concerns cited by your fellow business travelers, maybe we can help you avoid them altogether. Most of these solutions come in the form of mobile apps, so fire up your wifi and see if you can find your solution online.

  • Worrying about missing your flight? Download the app for your airline, especially when you’re getting ready for your trip. It will update you with any scheduling changes for your flight, and also let you check in 24 hours before your flight.
  • Don’t know the language where you’re going? Take a little time, even if it’s on your flight, to familiarize yourself with a few key phrases and words with an app like DuoLingo. Next, get the Google Translate app, which can provide instantaneous translation of signs and menus. And remember, the natives of the country you’re visiting already know you’re not fluent in their language, but they appreciate any attempt you make to communicate in their tongue. Read more

This is What Air Travel Will Look Like in 100 Years

September 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The United States turned 240 years old this year. If you think about where we were in terms of transportation at the dawn of our nation, compared to the technological advancements we have experienced just since 2000, the tantalizing possibilities of the future of air travel are mind boggling.

According to Boeing Senior Technical Fellows Brian Tillotson and Kevin Bowcutt, space travel and hypersonics will be at the forefront of aviation innovation. Boeing, which is celebrating its centennial this year, talked with Travel + Leisure about its dreams and goals. Some of these may come to fruition as early as 2035.

The Harrier Jump Jet's VTOL may be a model for one of the future features of air travel

The Harrier Jump Jet, one of the most famous and successful fixed-wing single-engine VTOL aircraft. It can take off and land in areas without a long runway.

  • Tillotson speculates air travel will begin at home with the plane coming to pick you up at your residence, and takeoff and landing will most likely be vertical.
  • You may be able to book a flight simply by thinking about it. This may seem far fetched, but with advancements in mobile devices and wearable technology, it may end up looking, according to Bowcutt, like an evolved version of Uber.
  • Tillotson forecasts that airport security will be the product of many linked networks, allowing law enforcement to more easily identify those with criminal histories.
  • Planes may be transparent, according to Tillotson, in order to help maintenance crews identify problems more quickly. It’s also possible, with this kind of construction, that every surface could double as a display screen, allowing for efficient troubleshooting.
  • Airplanes will become smarter, according to Bowcutt, utilizing software that will alert maintenance personnel when a part is wearing out so that mechanical delays become a thing of the past. This should improve safety and reduce costs. Read more

The Upgrade Game: How to Get a Better Airline Seat

September 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Flying business or first class is a dream scenario for many business travelers. For a variety of reasons that cushy seat just isn’t in the cards. But what if there was a way to get said ticket economically or even free?

British Airlines New Club World Airplane Seat

British Airlines New Club World business class seat

Over 30 airlines offer travelers the option to bid for a better seat. Knowing how these systems work, following their rules, and not getting caught up in the emotion of bidding (think eBay) will help you figure out if there’s a way to make an upgrade possible. U.S. News and World Report offered these suggestions on how to play the upgrade game.

First, do your homework. There are numerous online forums where you can educate yourself about how to go about this. Once you understand the process and know what you’re willing to spend, go directly to your airline’s site and investigate whether upgrades are available. All that’s necessary is to list what you’re willing to pay, supply your credit card information, and wait to hear. The window for this opportunity varies from airline to airline, but for most it’s open 24 to 72 hours before the flight.
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Is Curbside Check-in the Best Perk You’re Not Using?

September 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For some people, curbside check-in is a relic of the past that has somehow been overlooked in airport modernization. However, those of us in the know realize that the convenience and service make it the best little-known perk many travelers aren’t taking advantage of!

Curbside Check-in at Cairo's International Airport, Terminal 3

Curbside Check-in at Cairo’s International Airport, Terminal 3

For example, when I check my Crew 11 25-inch Spinner, I thoroughly enjoy the full-service process. There’s rarely a line deeper than one or two people, the skycaps are always helpful, all I have to do is present my driver’s license and credit card, and in seconds my boarding pass and bag tag are printed and I’m on my way straight to the security checkpoint.

The service can also be used to check bags that have already been accounted for during the online check-in process. Either way, the inside check-in lines are almost always longer, increasing the amount of time it will take you to get through security and to your gate.

(An interesting side note: according to Wikipedia, the skycap service evolved as commercial airline travel became more popular. Travelers were already used to redcaps — the porters who handled luggage on trains — and expected similar service at the airport.)

The demographic of those who utilize the convenience of curbside check-in falls into roughly three categories. 1) People traveling with small children may have carseats and strollers as well as luggage, so curbside allows them to offload all but the essentials for the trek to the gate. 2) People who are in a hurry use curbside as a way to minimize wait times, especially if they’re running late. And 3) people with mobility issues find that only having to maneuver their bags from the car to the skycap — who most likely will help with their bags, if asked — is the best way to navigate the airport.
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Which Seats Should You Avoid on Planes

September 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For some, it’s the middle seat. For others, it’s any seat anywhere near the lavatory. For others, it’s aisle seats or the seats in front of the exit row.

Which are the best seats on planes you can get?Which seats should you try to avoid, or which ones should you try to get? SmarterTravel.com gave a few pointers on how to identify some of the least-desirable seats on every plane.

Let’s start with one area of seating that most passengers seem to covet: the bulkhead rows. While these do offer more legroom, you’re missing an important storage area: under the seat in front of you. That means you must stow your personal items in the overhead bin. If you board early enough, that’s not a problem. But if the bin space above your seat is already full, your carry-on could end up in a completely different section of the plane.

Seats that don’t recline are hard to identify on the online chart, but here are a few general rules about their possible location:

  • The row in front of the exit row
  • The row in front of the bathroom
  • The row in front of the galley
  • The last row of any section

In addition to not reclining, there’s also a lot of passenger and crew traffic around these seats, especially by the lavatory.
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