Airplane taking off at dusk (Photo: iStockPhoto/Stephen Strathdee)

This Sunday, we'll be releasing the results of our first annual Editors' Choice Awards, in which we'll honor the airlines and providers that give customers the biggest bang for their buck. In the days leading up to the big reveal, we want to get your thoughts on some of the categories.

Determining the Most Customer-Friendly Airline was no easy task. One of the main questions we had to cope with was what, exactly, makes an airline customer-friendly. Is it reliable service? Good in-flight amenities? Low fees? The answer, of course, is all of the above, but some travelers care more about certain aspects of flying than others, so it's hard to know exactly where to place the most emphasis.

We came to a conclusion in the end, but you'll have to wait until Sunday to see what it is. In the meantime, I'll turn around those same questions to you. What do you look for in an airline? Do you simply want to get from point A to point B on time and with your bags? Do you expect some modicum of in-flight service and amenities? Are you mostly concerned with getting a fair price, and with limited fees? And, most importantly, which carrier delivers the goods? more»

Woman at a coffee shop using a laptop (Photo: Index Open)

This Sunday, we'll be releasing the results of our first annual Editors' Choice Awards, in which we'll honor the airlines and providers that give customers the biggest bang for their buck. In the days leading up to the big reveal, we want to get your thoughts on some of the categories.

Good communication is at the center of our Best Use of Social Media category. After all, with the advent of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, airlines have more channels than ever to communicate with customers. Add in traditional phone services, and there's really no excuse for poor customer relations.

So here's what I want to ask you: Which carriers are there when you need them? Do you have a story about a problem or complaint that was (or was not) resolved by your carrier using Twitter, Facebook, or a blog? Which carriers make you feel like you're speaking to a brick wall? more»

Alaska aircraft close up (Photo: Alaska Airlines)

Alaska announced that it has outfitted six planes with in-flight wireless Internet access, and expects to install the service in its remaining planes by the end of the year. The majority of its fleet should actually be enabled with Aircell's Gogo in-flight wireless service by the end of the summer.

The airline began testing in-flight Wi-Fi earlier this year.

Speaking of summer, Alaska customers can use the airline's new Wi-Fi for free through July 31. So, if you're lucky enough to find yourself on a plane equipped with Wi-Fi, go ahead and do a little surfing en route. Once this promotion expires, Alaska's in-flight Wi-Fi will follow the standard Gogo pricing more»

United New Plane (Photo: United Airlines)

Airline mergers are often announced with a tone of finality, despite the fact that agreeing to a merger is only the first, small step toward completing one. Numerous hurdles remain to be cleared, none of which can be taken for granted: Combining crew seniority lists, blending frequent flyer programs, and so forth.

However, the one aspect of merging two airlines that has been taken for granted, more or less, is antitrust approval from the Department of Justice (DOJ). But now that might be changing, and in potentially significant ways, just in time for the United-Continental merger.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration has signaled its intent to be "tougher" on antitrust cases. While it's not likely that the DOJ will block the United-Continental merger, it may require more concessions from the two carriers before signing off on the deal. As an example, the Journal suggests the DOJ might ask the merged carrier to give up gates and slots at hard-to-enter more»

Man clinging to airplane seat (Photo: Index Open)

Airline etiquette is a delicate, complex issue, as we saw in our discussion about whether or not it's good manners to recline one's seat. Well, here's another in-flight conundrum: How much chatter is too much?

In asking the question, I'm reminded of a flight I took a few years back from Athens to Boston. It had been a grueling day of flying that began at 5 a.m. on Santorini, and I really wanted to sleep on the long transatlantic flight home. Unfortunately, I was seated amongst roughly two dozen older Greek folks, all of whom appeared to know each other and spent the entire flight in animated conversation. No sleep for me.

So, readers, where do you draw the line? Because for each person looking to sleep on a flight, there's likely a group looking to talk. Who's right? Should we feel entitled to have a boisterous conversation with our seatmate? Should we keep the chit-chat to a minimum, and use our library voices when talking becomes necessary? more»

Airport: Woman in Security Check Line (Photo: iStockphoto/james steidl)

The New York Times reports that the White House has announced its third appointee to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): current deputy director of the F.B.I., John S. Pistole.

The TSA has been without a chief throughout President Obama's nearly 18-month term, though not for lack of nominees. Obama's first two choices, both of whom appeared to be more than qualified for the job, withdrew their nominations during the confirmation phase. In both cases, relatively minor concerns about the nominee's record, concerns which had little relevance to the actual job of leading the TSA, led them to forfeit their more»

Pillows on airplane seats (Photo: iStockPhoto/Yu-Feng Chen)

This Sunday, we'll be releasing the results of our first annual Editors' Choice Awards, in which we'll honor the airlines and providers that give customers the biggest bang for their buck. In the days leading up to the big reveal, we want to get your thoughts on some of the categories.

Asking which airline's coach seats are the comfiest is sort of silly, like when the doctor asks which arm you'd prefer for your tetanus shot—it's going to hurt no matter what.

But when determining the winner of our Best Coach-Class Experience category, seat comfort obviously had to play a part. So I'll ask you the same question we asked ourselves: Which airline has the best coach-class seats? What do you look for most in a seat? Leg room? Shoulder space? Leather upholstery? Conversely, which airlines have the worst coach-class seats? more»

Photo: British Airways

**UPDATE: The strike is off, for now, having been overruled by the courts. British Airways has won a 20-day injunction, during which Unite cannot strike.

British Airways is staring down yet another strike by its cabin crew union, Unite, which is set to start the first of four five-day work stoppages tomorrow. British Airways will once again claim, in court, that Unite's latest strike ballot was flawed and should not be considered valid. After successfully staving off a strike in December by pointing out errors in Unite's balloting process, the BBC reports that "[British Airways] lawyers are now arguing that the follow-up ballot was also flawed because Unite did not observe the precise rules of how to announce the result."

British Airways chief Willie Walsh told the BBC he does not expect any last-minute agreements between the two sides.

If a strike does commence, it will displace untold thousands of passengers. The airline says that at Heathrow it will "operate more than 60 per cent of longhaul flights and more than 50 per cent of shorthaul flights in the first strike period," and will add to the schedule if possible. Operations at London City and Gatwick should be at or near 100 more»

Sunrise over Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales (Photo: iStockphoto/Rene Mansi)

Summer blockbuster season is here, and this year's crop of movies was filmed in some pretty inspiring destinations. The setting for a movie can become an extra character, and this roundup has cast some amazing spots. In fact, the trailers alone have inspired me to add a few destinations to my bucket list! Read on for some of the best.

Robin Hood: England

The centuries-old legend of Robin of Locksley is being brought to life again, this time by Russell Crowe, making it a perfect time see Nottingham and Sherwood Forest. You can wander through Robin’s reputed hideout in Sherwood Forest, or explore National Trust properties throughout England and Wales where the movie was filmed.

 Letters to Juliet: Italy

Sweeping aerial shots of Verona make this movie altogether enticing, and the mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture add to the romance that fills the city of Romeo and Juliet. Here, you can visit the Casa de Giulietta, where movie protagonist Sophie begins her own journey. Tuscany doesn’t need a movie to make it a desirable locale, but after seeing the rolling hills that inspired true love, you’ll want to explore the wineries and vineyards with your own significant other—or maybe meet one there. And if you can win a free trip, so much the better! more»

Continental aircraft tail close up (Photo: Continental)

Continental is the latest in a string of airlines to face scrutiny from the FAA for safety violations. The overseeing body has proposed a fine against Continental to the tune of $325,000. The penalty is being issued because the airline flew a jet with a reported landing gear problem. The airplane's warning light came on before a flight in 2008, but the crew and maintenance decided to continue the flight. The plane was then diverted because it was burning excessive fuel. On the ground, maintenance workers inspected the gear but didn't make an entry in the logbook, and the plane went on to fly at least 12 more flights before the problem was more»