Welcome to Upright Position, SmarterTravel's regular series in which Features Editor Caroline Costello discusses emotional and controversial travel topics. Got a question? Please send questions or comments about travel etiquette to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Questions may be edited.)
Does anyone have the right to tell a fellow passenger to keep his eyeballs to himself?
This question is at the heart of privacy concerns among device-wielding plane passengers. Either you believe that what's playing on your screen is for your eyes only, or you're aware that shoulder-surfing passengers can spy your movies, magazines, and games.
Some of the folks who land in the former group are, to some degree, in denial, and have been known to view inappropriate materials in the close quarters of airplane cabins. There have been many reports of porn watching on planes, which, sadly, doesn't surprise me very much. I haven't seen any salacious content flashing on fellow flyers' screens myself, but I spoke to someone who has. ... read more»
If you have allergies, you may want to consider booking with Swiss Airlines the next time you fly—the carrier is turning their planes into allergy-friendly vessels, starting May 1. According to NBC News, Swiss International Airline has received the world's first "allergy-friendly" airline certification from the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation. ... read more»
Even before selfies were called selfies, the act of taking a self-portrait in front of a famous sight was a favorite traveler pastime. To honor the proud tradition, we're asking you to submit your best travel selfies on Instagram for the chance to win a special prize from Magellan's. May the best selfie win! ... read more»
How satisfied are travelers with the airlines?
Not very, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), an independent benchmarking service developed at the University of Michigan. The findings were based on surveys completed by 70,000 consumers, and depict satisfaction levels with more than 230 companies in 43 industries.
As a group, U.S. airlines scored 69 points on a 100-point satisfaction scale, unchanged from last year. To put that score into perspective, "only subscription TV, Internet service and social media sites have lower levels of customer satisfaction in ACSI." So, of the 43 industries benchmarked for customer satisfaction, the airlines ranked 40th, behind 39 other industries. Not quite at the bottom, but close. ... read more»
What Is it: Cobb Hill REVchi flat
Price and Where to Buy: $109, available at Cobbhillshoes.com
Pros: Hyberbole aside, these shoes are as close to an ideal travel flat as you can get. At 5.8 ounces, they're incredibly light. They're attractive, with pleasing but simple details like a criss-crossed ballet-style ribbon detail on the heel. And best of all, they're basically sneakers in disguise, with the same cushioning you'll find in New Balance running shoes. ... read more»
JetBlue is tops in customer service among the six largest U.S. airlines. Marriott earns top marks among the eight largest multi-brand hotel chains. Among the online travel agencies (OTA), the little guys—lumped into the "all others" group—slightly outpoint the top scorer, big agency Orbitz. So says the new American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report for 2014. ACSI scores, developed by some folks at the University of Michigan, the American Society of Quality, and the CFI Group, are based on more than 7,000 consumer interviews. ... read more»
"Optional" airline fees remain a major source of irritation. But most are truly optional: You don't really need to select your seat in advance, check a bag, or buy an onboard drink when you fly. One supposedly "optional" fee, however—the onerous ticket-change fee—is often not really optional. If you suddenly have to change a family vacation because of some personal emergency, you have to cancel your flights and—at best—reschedule your trip for a different time. On the legacy lines, the typical fee to change a domestic ticket is $200; international fees start at around $300 but can go as high as $700, depending on the type of ticket and route. So changing your ticket can really punish you. ... read more»