(Photo: Alaska Airlines)

What airlines are most likely to deliver you to the gate within 15 minutes of your scheduled arrival time? FlightStats has taken its annual look at the major airlines in the U.S. and around the world with the highest percentage of flights on time. Here are the details.

North America

Alaska Airlines topped the list with an 87 percent on-time record, beating out Delta, Virgin America, US Airways, Air Canada, West Jet, JetBlue, Frontier, American, and Southwest.


Finnair beat out nine major European airlines with its impressive 90 percent on-time record. Close behind (and more relevant to North Americans flying to Europe), KLM had a 88 percent on-time record (making this second-place finisher on time more often than Alaska, North America's top-rated on-time airline). ... read more»

(Photo: Dominic Bonuccelli)

In my work throughout Europe, I struggle almost daily with this issue: When is a tourist experience actually a unique slice of a culture, and when is it a tired cliché kept alive by the travel industry? Amped-up Spanish flamenco bars, dirndl skirts in Germany, ape tours of the Rock of Gibraltar—when does something slip from being authentic to cheesy?

When you've traveled for several decades as I have, you witness genuine customs giving way to rising commercialization ("gladiators" charging exorbitant fees for photo ops at the Roman Colosseum comes to mind). I sometimes feel saddened that parts of my ideal "back door" Europe are becoming wishful thinking. ... read more»

Bob Hope Airport (Photo: Stuart Seeger via flickr/CC Attribution)

United Airlines and Orbitz have sued a small startup website,, for displaying opportunities for travelers to cut costs by using "hidden city" or "point beyond" ticketing. This ploy violates almost all airlines' contracts of carriage, the legal documents that bind travelers and airlines when they buy tickets. And—unusual in the airline ticket marketplace—the publicity about this website and the countering lawsuit has generated a considerable amount of debate about the "ethics" of violating airline rules. Specifically it raises the question of whether violating airline rules is really unethical of just gaming the system?

Point beyond ticketing (I prefer that term) has been around for decades. In case you haven't followed, it works because airlines often charge a lot more for a ticket from a "spoke" city to one of its "fortress hubs" than they charge for a ticket from one spoke to another spoke by way of the hub. So travelers who want to fly to the hub buy a ticket from one spoke to another, with a connection at the hub, and just don't take the connection. Example: On United, a one-way ticket from my home airport, Medford, Oregon, to San Francisco currently costs $299, but a ticket from Medford to Los Angeles with a San Francisco connection costs $92. (FYI, I don't do this, but I could.) ... read more»

Air: Reflecting Plane (Photo: Shutterstock/potowizard)

You can expect some resolution of five big consumer issues in travel this year. You may not like the results, but at least you'll get results. Last week I joined a group of consumer advocate colleagues in Washington, where we covered a list of some two dozen issues and identified those most likely to be resolved before the end of the year.

New Distribution Capability (NDC): From an overall industry standpoint, NDC is by far the "hottest" current issue. The term refers to a new data-transmission standard, developed by the International Air Transport Association and based on XTML, that will allow various travel sellers and buyers to obtain and use far more information than the present system allows. Currently, most travel agencies and fare search systems rely on the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) such as Sabre for fare data, which they then process and publish. But GDS data are currently limited, for the most part, to just base fares; if you want information on ancillary fees, you have to go to an airline website. NDC, on the other hand, will allow everyone to see both fares and fees and to sell those ancillary services along with the base fares. ... read more»

Confused about which airlines are charging for which perks? Our ultimate guide can help. We've put every major fee from every major airline in one place. ... read more»

HotelTonight, one of my favorite hotel-booking apps, has announced two new features to help guests save even more money on hotel stays.

Beginning today, the app offers Rate Drop, an exclusive same-day hotel price that appears in the app starting at 3 p.m. (Essentially, Rate Drop offers guests an even lower rate for waiting even later.) Using geolocation services to detect the user's city, HotelTonight will find ultra-low rates available for booking that evening, available until 2 a.m. This last-minute booking is a win-win for hoteliers and consumers. Hoteliers can sell off last-minute openings, and travelers can get deep discounts on a wide range of properties, from basic to luxe (high-end hotels that normally cost hundreds per night). The only catch? You've got to wing it. ... read more»

Paris at dusk (Photo: Alex L. Fradkin)

Enter the Ste. Michelle Wine "Explore the Possibilities" sweepstakes by March 31, 2015, for a chance to win the grand prize: an eight-day trip for two to France, including air and hotel accommodations.

To enter, provide the requested information (name, email, etc.) on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Done! Time required to participate: less than 30 seconds. ... read more»

Miles & Points (Photo: Shutterstock)

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.

Can an Airline Loyalty Program Be 'Too Popular'?

According to a story in the South China Morning Post, Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo program has become "too popular." That's bad news for the program's members.

Foreign Travel? There's an App for That

Frommer's calls its new smartphone app "the essential international travel companion." With an impressive list of features, it lives up to the hype. ... read more»

United's new slimline coach seats are working. They're getting the job done for United shareholders, that is. For passengers, thin is not in.

During an earnings call today, Jim Compton, Chief Revenue Officer for United, revealed United will fit a lot more bodies—the equivalent of 14 additional planes—onto its aircraft by the end of the year. United is accomplishing this via thinner plane seats. ... read more»

The future looks grim for everyone's favorite in-flight shopping catalog. ... read more»

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