The FCC recently signaled its willingness to consider allowing the use of cell phones in flight, raising the specter of yet another irritant in the already-stressful travel experience.
The prospect of planeloads of chattering yahoos triggered an outpouring of impassioned pushback on the issue, with groups including the Association of Flight Attendants calling for an outright ban on inflight cell calls. ... read more»
JetBlue now offers free Wi-Fi on some of its planes. Today, the airline launched its high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi program, branded Fly-Fi. And for the time being, it's complimentary.
Basic Internet connectivity, called Simply Surf, is free on JetBlue planes equipped with Wi-Fi for the duration of the program's beta period, through June 2014. The higher-bandwidth connection, Fly-Fi Plus, costs $9 an hour, and is better suited for video streaming or large downloads. ... read more»
For a relatively small regional airline, Alaska Airlines boasts a loyalty program that is among the industry's most robust. In particular, the program features 14 airline partners, allowing Mileage Plan members to earn and redeem miles on a wide range of airlines, including AeroMexico, Air France, American, Cathay Pacific, Delta, KLM, Korean, LAN, and Qantas.
On January 15, 2014, the program gets another value boost, when the miles earned for five current Mileage Plan partner airlines begin counting toward elite status. The partners: British Airways, Cathay pacific, Fiji Airways, Korean Air, and Qantas. ... read more»
Coach passengers have lately had their case for more comfortable seats made by a seemingly unlikely ally: aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
In October, Airbus came out with a strongly-worded statement, backed by research, in support of increasing the width of coach seats from the current industry-standard 17 inches to 18 inches. The company chided the airlines for sticking with the narrower "crusher" seats even as flyers' average heights and girths have expanded and average flight lengths have increased. ... read more»
Welcome to Upright Position, SmarterTravel's weekly series in which Caroline Costello discusses emotional and controversial travel topics. Join the debate by leaving a comment below!
You've been riding around under the justifiable assumption that your cab driver accepts credit cards. There's a card processor in the car, and you're in a city with a credit-card mandate for taxis. Things get hairy when you arrive at your destination and your driver demands cash—but your billfold is empty. What should you do?
Boston, New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Chicago are examples of major cities where taxis are required to accept credit cards. Such legislation is supposed to help people get around more easily, but the cash-free cab concept sometimes works better in theory than in application. In cities where taxis are supposed to accept plastic, cab drivers have been known to claim they don't take credit cards. There may be a credit-card processing mechanism inches from your face. There may be city regulations that require drivers to accept credit. These things offer no relief for a cashless passenger who enters the cab under the assumption that credit-cards can be used, then learns—when it's too late to turn back—that she has no means to pay for the ride. It's an awkward situation that can quickly trigger a conflict. ... read more»
Enter the Woman's World Spring Vacation sweepstakes by December 27, 2013, for a chance to win the grand prize: a seven-night Royal Caribbean cruise for two aboard the winner's choice of the Oasis of the Seas or the Allure of the Seas. (Prize does not include airfare to or from Ft. Lauderdale, the cruises' port of departure.)
To participate, provide the requested contact information on the sweepstakes landing page and press "submit." Time required to enter: under 30 seconds. ... read more»
Effective April 1, the U.K. will again increase its unpopular Air Passenger Duty, or ADP, on departing flights. The tax on flights to the U.S. or Canada will increase from £67 to £69 (about $113) in economy class; travelers in any higher classes, including premium economy, pay double. The tax applies to all departures from U.K. airports other than Belfast, and it applies even to frequent-flyer award tickets. Similar increases apply to most other long-haul flights, but APD on domestic and short-haul European flights will remain at £13. ... read more»
Airport Security: The TSA has opened up enrollment in its PreCheck DHS Trusted Traveler program to anyone who wants to join—and pay the $85 fee for five years participation. As a Trusted Traveler, you are eligible to use the presumably-shorter airport security lines and you are exempt from removing your shoes, belt, and light jacket and from taking your 3-1-1 bag for fluid containers and your laptop out of your carry-on baggage. ... read more»
Looking back, I'd conclude that 2013 wasn't a great year for travel, but it wasn't a bad one, either. Here are some of the highlights.
Senior Deals Remained Marginal: Travelers ages 60 or over didn't find much in the way of deals this year. Yes, you could still find discounts—typically in the 10 percent range—at mid-priced and budget hotels, but members of AAA and other mass associations got the same deals. I saw two remaining deals good for seniors: ... read more»
This morning's biggest airline-industry story was the close, finally, of the American-US Airways merger. But for customers of the two airlines, nothing changes today. And very little changes in the next month.
Fully integrating the merger partners could take as long as two years. And the two airlines so far have committed to very little in the way of a definitive timeline. ... read more»