There's no two ways about it: airports are stressful. In most cases, we rush through them too quickly to take in the scenery of the shops, appreciate the nuances of the architecture, or notice all the little things. Here are a few secrets about airports that may leave your feelings on flying up in the air. Read on before you take off.
No one wants to miss a flight. Sure, you're just going to sit in the terminal, but that's a stress-free hour right there. It's practically a perk. And you don't have to twiddle your thumbs: there are plenty of stores and bars to keep you occupied. Welcome to the 'golden hour.'
According to The Economist, this is when travelers' moods and wallets are most vulnerable to shops and restaurants in the concourse. But it goes beyond buying magazines and overpriced sandwiches in plastic boxes. Travel retail has expanded into luxury items and for many brands has become the "Formula I of retail," accounting for big revenues.
Retailers are milking these tawny ticks of time for all they're worth, doing everything they can to grab the attention of captive travelers and convert that attention into cash. Free glass of champagne at the high-end boutique? "Well, I'm not going to buy anything there, but it'll be fun to just look." (Good luck.) At London's Heathrow Airport, one big retailer even adjusts its offerings and sales strategies based on when certain flights land and take off. Other airports have rewards programs for frequent fliers to grant them perks for spending more money throughout the concourse. So even if you shaved $50 off your ticket by adding that layover in Kansas City, you might not save money in the long run.
Air travel is an exercise in optimism. You have to believe that your pilot won't binge on bourbon, your seatmate won't spread the plague, and the beast on your plane's wing isn't wicked. Even before you leave the ground, you have to trust that the people who handle your bags and jiggle your junk won't pilfer your stuff. Unfortunately, sometimes those individuals treat your luggage like an all-you-can-leech buffet.
Reports of employee theft have cropped up at various airports, and none of the cases seem anomalous. According to ABC, between 2003 and 2012 at least 381 TSA officers were sacked for stealing from travelers. Among them was Pythias Brown, who snagged over $800,000 worth of electronics and other high-priced items during his four years at Newark Liberty International Airport. Brown claimed "a culture of indifference" had fostered a filching free-for-all. He also explained that luggage X-rays helped offending officers determine who to rob and what to take.
Knowing how airport thieves operate hasn't necessarily discouraged them. In 2015, video footage obtained by CNN showed baggage handlers at Miami International Airport snatching up passengers' belongings. And in 2017, the New York Daily News described how a TSA agent in Orlando used a security pat-down to steal money. In fact, of the 30,621 passenger items reported missing between 2010 and 2014, most disappeared from checked baggage while the rest apparently vanished at TSA checkpoints. So if you like to fly, pack like a poor guy.
Faced with the Trump administration’s increasingly challenging Cuba policies, Havana is fighting back.
The foreign minister for the Caribbean island nation announced Saturday that, effective January 1, there will be changes in Cuba’s immigration policies, strengthening ties with the 800,000 Cubans living outside the country, Associated Press reported.
The announcement was made while Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez was speaking to a group of Cuban Americans in the United States.
During his speech, Rodriguez specifically criticized the United States for creating what he called unjust obstacles with regard to visa processing. He particularly cited the recent decision by the United States to expel Cuban embassy personnel.
During recent weeks and months, the U.S. government has taken a number of actions, all of which walk back the softening relations between the two countries that had begun under President Obama. Among the recent changes, the U.S. Embassy in Cuba has ceased providing visa services in Havana. In addition, 60 percent of the US staff on the island have been recalled, leaving only a bare-bones presence in the country. Cuban diplomats in the U.S. were also expelled.
At the same time, the U.S. government has issued strongly worded warnings to Americans, advising them not to travel to Cuba, citing the recent, bizarre sonic attacks suffered by U.S. Embassy Havana employees. As TravelPulse previously noted, the mysterious attacks have caused individuals to suffer from a range of symptoms including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue and more.
Cuba has said it knows nothing about the attacks and calls them “bizarre nonsense” that’s not backed by any evidence.
During his talk with Cuban Americans this weekend at the Howard University campus in Washington D.C., Rodriguez said Cuba will now authorize entry and exit of expatriate Cubans through two tourist ports while also allowing the return of nationals who left the country illegally.
Those born in Cuba, but living abroad, will no longer be required to have a qualification (habilitacion) stamp in their passports before they can visit the island, the Miami Herald reported. This is a major departure from previous Cuban policy, under which many family members who had fled the country were unable to return.
“That’s a big thing, huge. It will eliminate a lot of paperwork,” Tessie Aral, president of Miami-based ABC Charters, told the Miami Herald.
As an American Express Platinum card holder who flies out of Miami often, I am intimately acquainted with the Centurion Lounge in the Miami Airport (MIA).
Whether I have one hour or six hours to kill, I head to the lounge like my life depends on it, mostly to score some free Wi-Fi, drinks and snacks.
The downside is, not surprisingly, the fact this lounge is often overcrowded.
When I read that American Express would begin limiting guest access to their Centurion lounges a few days ago, Miami's instantly came to mind. Almost every time I’ve visited this lounge, it’s been crawling with people. Sometimes you can barely find a place to sit, let alone relax.
One time, I sat on the floor of the Miami Centurion for an hour before a seat became available. While I didn’t care that much, it’s easy to see how someone who paid for lounge access could get upset.
As for me, I would much rather be on any lounge floor than at the gate.
The food is always good
Whether you hit the lounge for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just snacks, you won’t be disappointed. The Miami Centurion lounge offers a buffet-style meal no matter the time of day. It usually includes a salad bar (or fruit bar at breakfast), along with some hot and cold dishes.
While the food can get repetitive if you are in the lounge often enough, it’s more varied than the cheese, crackers and olives you find in most competitors' equivalents.
Comfortable seating (if you can find a spot)
The Miami Centurion lounge has dining-style table seating, couches, loungers and miniature sleepers. If you can wait long enough, you’ll find plenty of comfy options to choose from.
As a guest of the lounge, you have access to free soft drinks, wine and beer. You can also load up on coffee or infused water if you want.
The Wi-Fi is fast and reliable.
I’ve been stuck in the Miami Centurion Lounge for a 7-plus hour layover twice during the last 12 months. Both times, I was able to work thanks to fast and reliable Wi-Fi service.
If you want to get away from the noise, they also offer a quieter area for working in the back of the lounge.
They have a kid’s room.
On the one occasion, I was traveling with my kids through Miami. I was pleased to note they had a kid’s room!
It’s not huge, but it did help keep them entertained via a television with kids shows, along with some toys and games.
If you can get past the huge crowds, the Miami Centurion lounge is a great place to kill a few hours. Not only can you hook up to free Wi-Fi and get some peace and quiet, but you can eat and drink for free too.
We can only hope that the new American Express policy limiting cardholders to two guests will help free up some space.
It's not why you think.
After tossing and turning for the better part of three hours, you manage to slip into a restless sleep—only to be prodded awake 20 minutes later by a polite-but-beleaguered flight attendant. The plane will be landing soon, and it’s time for you to straighten your seat. Tired and grouchy, you do as they say, but can’t help considering the request just another arbitrary air-travel guideline.
Not so fast.
Though shifting your seat a few inches back or forward may seem of little consequence, during the critical phases of flight—which include takeoff and landing, where the majority of aircraft accidents occur—a straight seat-back can allot you precious seconds. And, as previously reported by Condé Nast Traveler’s Katherine LaGrave, those extra seconds could just save your life.
“Everything we do in aviation is based on effective evacuation,” says Candace Kolander, Air Safety, Health, and Security Coordinator for the Association of Flight Attendants. “The primary exit path is up or down the center aisle to the doors. But there’s also another path people don’t think about: from the window seat to the aisle.” If the seat-back in front of you is reclined, Kolander says, it can slow the passenger in the window seat from getting to the aisle. (This is also the same reason tray tables must be raised.)
Proof of speedy evacuation has been a Federal Aviation Administration requirement since 1967. Before receiving the OK to take flight, manufacturers must demonstrate via live-action drill (complete with stand-in “passengers”) that new aircraft models can be evacuated in 90 seconds or less. Such simulations often invoke the realism of an actual accident by blocking emergency doors, dimming cabin lights, and littering the aisle with debris. In a real emergency situation, there are enough potential sources of obstruction without the added impediment of reclined seat-backs; straightening them minimizes potential obstacles.
Sitting upright isn’t just for evacuation safety, however. Should there be a fire or hazard outside the plane, flight attendants have a clearer line of sight out of the windows, and can redirect passengers accordingly. Another reason, says Kolander, is to lessen the injury risk during a crash itself: “When we do testing for impact scenarios, the seat is tested in the upright position.”
It also makes it easier for passengers to assume the brace position, a posture proven to reduce the effect of a collision on the body by leaning forward to avoid secondary impact (though the specifics of the pose can vary from country to country, or even airline to airline). Far from an inconsequential annoyance, there’s more significance to an upright seat than meets the passenger’s eye.
“The flight attendant’s primary role is that of aviation first responder,” Kolander says. “We aren’t asking for compliance just because we’re going around to be mean.”
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Finnair is breaking out the scale this fall to weigh passengers departing from Helsinki Airport.
Finland's flag carrier will kick off the new voluntary pilot program Tuesday in hopes of measuring the weight of at least 150 travelers and their luggage, according to YLE News.
The airline will use the data to more accurately calculate an aircraft's weight and balance. The data could be especially beneficial as it will be based on actual Finnair customers and routes.
"Loads are different in the summer, for example, when people don't have their winter jackets and shoes and other paraphernalia. There is also a considerable seasonal difference in hand luggage weight for business and leisure travelers," said Finnair's media relations director Paivyt Tallqvist, via YLE News.
Up until now, Finnair has leaned on the nearly decade-old standards established by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
"The scales will measure the combined weight of the passengers and their hand luggage. No one but the customer service provider will see the results, which will be entered into the database anonymously," added Tallqvist.
Finnair will also record the customer's age, gender, travel purpose, passenger class and checked-in luggage as part of the program.
Tallqvist estimates the airline will need anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 specimens to obtain significant insight, which means additional phases of the program could be launched in the winter and spring.
Finnair isn't the first airline to weigh passengers for its own benefit. In 2015, Uzbekistan Airways rolled out a similar plan.
A poll conducted by The Telegraph found that nearly one-third of travelers (32 percent) wouldn't board a flight if they had to step on a scale first.
Nonetheless, passengers taking part in Finnair's program will have the option of saying no. The airline's efforts are the latest example of how it is working to remain at the forefront of safety and environmental sustainability.
What's the Best Passport in the World?
If you’re a frequent flyer, you already know how cumbersome, loud and uncomfortable airports can be. The bright lights and loud intercom announcements can be jarring, and it’s difficult to find a comfortable spot to relax.
Airport lounge access solves this problem by giving travelers a comfortable, quiet place to unwind. Many airport lounges also offer drinks and snacks, which can help you fill up and kill time before your next flight departs.
Fortunately, many rewards credit cards offer airport lounge access as a cardholder perk. Some even offer access good to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. Before you sign up for a travel credit card to get access to your favorite lounge, consider these cards and offers:
Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express, as well as the business version of the card, offers one of the most comprehensive airport lounge access offerings available.
Not only do you get access to Centurion Lounges in airports such as Miami and Las Vegas, but you can utilize Delta Sky Clubs when you fly Delta. This card also affords you a Priority Pass Select Membership that gives you access to more than 1,000 lounges around the world.
Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card
While the Ritz Carlton Credit Card is a hotel credit card at heart, it also offers some amazing perks for frequent travelers. In addition to a generous signup bonus and a $300 annual travel credit, you also get a Priority Pass Select membership.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card took the travel world by storm when it was released last year, and that’s not just because of its initial 100K signup bonus.
This card offers a bevy of perks for frequent travelers, including a $300 annual travel credit, special rental car privileges and more. Last but not least, cardholders get a free Priority Pass Select membership good for 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide.
Citi Prestige Card
The Citi Prestige credit card is another premier card option that offers Priority Pass Select membership as a cardholder perk. In addition, you’ll earn a healthy signup bonus, $250 annual air credit and a fourth-night-free hotel benefit that offers more savings on hotel travel, among other benefits.
If you’ve been thinking about getting your passport renewed, it might be time to stop thinking and start doing.
Not only, reports the L.A. Times, are wait times for U.S. passports shorter in autumn but come January 22, 2018, you could be among a very large group of Americans who are no longer able to use their driver’s license to check in at the airport for domestic flights.
The program, called Real ID, which has been around since 2005, is a federal mandate requiring that every state must issue more-secure ID cards to its residents.
Originally, the date for state compliance was set for January 2016, but less than half of all states were compliant at the beginning of that year. So, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new timeline with a two-year extension, mandating full compliance by January 22, 2018.
Two years after the extension, with the new deadline looming, nearly half of the states are still non-compliant.
“It has been 12 years since the REAL ID Act was passed and half of all the states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards,” wrote the Department of Homeland Security on its website. “It is time that the remaining jurisdictions turn their commitments to secure identification into action.”
A graphic on the DHS website, show states in one of four categories: compliant, extension, under review and not compliant.
Currently, about half of the states are fully compliant with the new Real ID regulations. Most of the remaining states, including California Oregon Washington, Alaska Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina have been granted an extension through October 18, 2018.
A handful of states, including New York, Michigan Illinois and Louisiana, as well as all of the nation’s island territories, such as Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are “under review,” which means they’ve requested an extension, but one has not yet been granted.
Residents of those states and regions might need to be prepared, come January 22, to be prohibited from using their drivers licenses to check in at commercial airports. They might also be barred from visiting any nuclear power plants and federal facilities—including military bases.
Sometimes your flight gets delayed for embarrassing reasons
Delays drain the excitement from air travel. One minute you're eagerly waiting to board your flight. The next minute, you're still waiting to board. Several hundred minutes later, you're waiting and bored. Then your inner monologue becomes an incoherent patchwork of impatience and inventive obscenities, and every time you ask about the hold up, you get the same stock excuses. The weather's bad; seats need replacing; the plane's covered in bees. Sometimes that's the whole story. Other times, the pilot makes you late by throwing a half-naked tantrum.
Just don't expect an airline to tell you that. According to flight attendant Elliott Hester, problems like pilot nudity get covered up to avoid embarrassment. In the tantrum incident, for instance, an angry aviator delayed departure by five hours because he didn't want to remove his belt during a security screening. To show his disapproval, he took off most of his clothes like a crazy man and promptly got arrested. In an unrelated debacle, a different pilot purportedly was jailed for wandering New York in the buff. As a result, his passengers had to wait an extra day to travel.
Hester also recalled setbacks that occurred because a captain forgot to go to work or opted to go golfing instead. That is impressively unprofessional. You'd think hiding these transgressions requires enough lying to turn an airline's pants into a towering inferno. But surprisingly, they get a lot of mileage out of euphemisms, omissions, and (probably) flame-retardant pants.
The air inside your plane is sometimes toxic
Travel etiquette demands you don't stink up an airplane with chili farts and body odor. Nobody wants to smell that. But butt fumes seem like roses compared to what your plane occasionally puts out. Citing research published by the World Health Organization, The Telegraph reported that each year, billions of air travelers and hundreds of thousands of airline employees inhale harmful chemicals while sitting on planes.
The host of hazards includes hydraulic fluid, engine oil, and various potential neurotoxins that sometimes seep into the cabin's air system. Prolonged exposure can lead to minor maladies like rashes and deadly diseases like cancer. Sadly, these effects aren't just theoretical. In 2016 ABC spoke with ex-airline pilot David Hill and former flight attendant Denise Weiss. Both of them endured the debilitating effects of inhaling tricresyl phosphate (TCP), an engine oil additive that reeks of unwashed socks. Hill lost his short-term memory, his sense of balance, and his job. Weiss sustained "central nervous system damage" that caused inconsistent bouts of pain.
Before you start boarding every plane with a gas mask, understand that chemical leaks are uncommon. The BBC reported that they happen about once per 2,000 British flights. The FAA similarly confirmed that most American planes refrain from poisoning passengers. However, they're common enough that 3.5 billion travelers worldwide were exposed to contaminated cabin air in 2015. So maybe go ahead and wear that gas mask and feel free to pass gas.
The Hertz Corporation has appointed Discover the World and InterGlobe Air Transport Limited as general sales agents for Vietnam and selected India markets, respectively.
As general sales agents for Hertz, Discover the World and InterGlobe will promote the company’s products and services to domestic travel trade partners, corporate customers and leisure travelers.
In India, Discover the World, which has been an international general sales agent since 1995, will support Hertz's outbound sales efforts in Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai. The company also operates as the general sales agent for Hertz in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.
International travelers know that one of the most important travel features is a passport that allows easy, unfettered access to a large number of destinations.
“Visa-free global mobility has become an important factor in today’s world,” said Armand Arton founder and president of Arton Capital, a global advisory for residence and citizenship solutions. “[More] people every year invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a second passport to offer better opportunity and security for their families.”
While citizens of the United States enjoy wide access to more than 150 destinations around the world, the power of the U.S. passport isn’t what it used to be, according to Arton Capital research.
In fact, the U.S. passport, which ranked as number 1 in 2015 (in a tie with the United Kingdom,) has dropped to the sixth position, where it is tied with the passports of Canada, Ireland and Malaysia. Not only is the U.S. passport tied for sixth, but it ranks behind 18 other nations which collectively take up the top five slots.
Part of that decline has occurred since Trump took office, said Arton. Most recently, the passport took another dip, when Turkey revoked its visa-free status to US passport holders.
So, which is the most powerful passport in the world right now?
Singapore's passport had a visa-free score of 159, earning it the top rank in this year’s Passport Index.
“For the first time ever, an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world,” said the Hon. Philippe May, Managing Director of Arton Capital’s Singapore office. “It is a testament of Singapore’s inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy.”
The “visa-free score” tabulates the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with a visa upon arrival.
a-free rank of 157.
Two travelers are being investigated by the FBI after joining the "Mile High Club" aboard a Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Detroit over the weekend.
According to ClickOnDetroit.com, the frisky flyers, who were not identified, started off as complete strangers heading to different destinations.
The 48-year-old woman was arrested on the plane Sunday after she was seen performing oral sex on the 28-year-old man while they were in their seats.
Both passengers were issued citations, and the investigation into the incident is being handled by the FBI, which could issue misdemeanor or even felony charges as soon as Tuesday.
Fellow passengers condemned the behavior, calling it inappropriate and recommending the pair be punished.
"There are children. There are families. There are seniors. These things should be respected," a passenger told ClickOnDetroit.
"If people will go so far as to disrespect themselves and disrespect you, something should be done," another passenger told the news outlet.
Officials said the man and woman did not know each other before boarding the flight in L.A. The woman was traveling to Nashville while the man was headed to Miami.
Airlines: gravity's greatest enemy and man's most frustrating friend. They give you sky rage and mouth sadness with their custom blend of hidden fees and cheap food, but until Nature finally invents a Pegasus, you're stuck with them. Unfortunately, equine air travel will probably take a while, but you can make the wait a little more bearable by getting to know airlines a bit better. They're a treasure trove (and sometimes a Pandora's Box) of secrets. Learning said secrets won't necessarily make your fly-time frenemies more likable, but flying the unfriendly skies may seem a little more interesting once you learn what the people who provide your horseless air carriages have been hiding from you. At the very least, it'll give you something to do while Nature works on that Pegasus.
Your pilot might be a dangerous felon
When someone's job entails making sure you don't die, it helps if they seem trustworthy. If a heart surgeon once did time for cow udder-punching or stabbing a dude with a javelin, you might think twice about letting that person cut you open. Likewise, you'd never want the person flying your plane to be a child molester. But just like Mick Jagger said, you can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime you just might find a horrifying skeleton in your pilot's cockpit.
An in depth investigation by WFAA TV revealed that a disturbingly high number of pilots have heinous criminal histories. Scores of sky cabbies in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma have convictions for offenses like burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and sexually assaulting children. And that list isn't remotely exhaustive. The report also highlighted examples like United Airlines pilot Mark Uhlenbrock, who in 2016 pleaded guilty to stalking his ex-girlfriend and posting naked pics of her online.
One rightly has to wonder how so many unsavory characters (Texas alone had 80 cases) slip through the cracks. Well, you'll be horrified to discover that due to a dearth of resources, the FAA stops actively screening pilots once they're hired. Instead, it relies on an honor system whereby pilots self-report crimes, substance abuse issues, and job-jeopardizing health problems. So, really there are no cracks to slip through, just a giant canyon that sometimes accommodates psychos and sickos who possibly snort coke.
Corpses get to fly first class
You and every living person you know will die someday. Unfortunately, not all of you will die with dignity. At least one of you will likely choke on popcorn while dressed as a clown at a kid's birthday party. As you helplessly flop on the floor, children and adults will laugh hysterically, confusing your final moments with a zany routine. Don't be that clown. Instead, kick the bucket on an airplane if you can. Don't cause a crash or anything; just sit quietly and stop being alive. You're less likely to ruin a child's birthday, and if you die while flying coach, you might get upgraded to first class.
As The Telegraph explained, planes don't have much space for cadaver storage. (There's already a life jacket under your seat, so a casket definitely wouldn't fit.) If there's room in first class, then that's the first place goners go. Crew members typically inform affected fliers when a corpse is coming their way, but not always. In 2007, British Airways employees plopped a dead body next to a passed-out passenger without warning. In fairness, that beats BA's old policy of giving corpses sunglasses and pretending they just were unconscious. But according to CBC News, the actually sleeping passenger disliked the surprise.
Thankfully, mid-flight deaths seldom occur. British Airways experienced 10 per year as of 2007. Just know that if you become one of those rare cases, you'll likely have extra leg room while you decompose.
Who ever said doing a good deed can't be fun?
After a night out of drinking, William Armstrong accidentally lost his driver’s license somewhere on the streets of Cheltenham, England, according to Metro. Lucky for Armstrong, someone was nice enough to turn in the I.D. instead of taking advantage.
However, the good samaritans also took the opportunity to play a hilarious prank.
A staff member at Flight Centre, a travel agency in the U.K., found the license, and decided to return it via mail, but with a fake travel itinerary for a first-class trip to the Maldives. The phony bill racked up £5,000 (over $6,500 USD).
Of course, not intending to give Armstrong a heart attack, the Flight Centre staff also included a note that stated the bill was just a joke — and added that hopefully he’ll use their travel service next time he plans a trip. We’ll see about that.
The note read: “George, We’re just kidding. We’ve found you're [sic] driving license (enclosed) outside our shop and thought you might need it! Just make sure you consider us for your next holiday. Take care!”
As Metro noted, Armstrong’s middle name is George. He also tweeted out the fake itinerary and note.
Hopefully, he’ll keep track of his things in the future — or the next big mystery bill he gets might be real.
Sometimes, a flight deal seems too good to be true. For example, there might be $187 round-trip flights from the United States to far-flung cities like Casablanca, Johannesburg, or Beijing (Thrifty Traveler spotted these outrageously low fares in late August).
Or, more recently, Scott’s Cheap Flights noticed round-trip tickets to cities across Australia for as little as $509.
When airfare drops this low, it’s often labeled as a mistake fare, an error fare, or sometimes a “fat finger” fare. These names indicate what happens when a misplaced decimal point, miscalculated currency conversion, or data entry error accidentally publishes incorrect (and incredibly cheap) ticket prices.
Sometimes, mistake fares are the result of a ticket posted before airport taxes or fuel surcharges are added. Other times, they’re simply caused by a computer glitch.
Whatever the cause, error fares can result in truly outrageous flight prices, the likes of which wouldn’t happen during even the best airfare sale.
Where to Find Mistake Fares
Any site or app specializing in flight deals (we love the Airfare Spot, Scott’s Cheap Flights, The Flight Deal, and Thrifty Traveler) will spot mistake fares before the airline even notices that their $4,000 business class seat is selling for $400.
Why They’re Frowned Upon
In the past, airlines were required by the Department of Transportation to honor mistake fares, however under priced they were. The landmark United Denmark fares, however, set in motion the DOT’s decision to allow airlines to withdraw these tickets.
In February 2015, $51 first class flights from New York to Copenhagen were found on United’s Denmark website — but they could only be booked in Danish krone when travelers indicated Denmark in their billing address (even though most purchases weren’t made from Denmark-based individuals).
The DOT determined that there was “evidence of bad faith,” and that travelers had to intentionally “manipulate the search process…to force the conversion error.”
In situations such as this, booking mistake fares is largely frowned upon — not only by airlines and government organizations but also by people who, typically, book full-fare tickets.
How to Book Them
Error fares can typically be booked through an airline’s website or an OTA (without even having to go to a foreign website or lie about your billing address).
Scott’s Cheap Flights recommends that when travelers suspect a deal is a mistake fare, they book directly through the airline whenever possible — and quickly, before the carrier figures out what's up.
“It’s better to buy directly from the airline since the chances of it being issued and honored are much higher,” the site explained.
Tickets purchased directly through an airline are often issued much quicker, too, further increasing your chances of having the deal honored. Once your seat is ticketed, you’re pretty much in the clear.
Months after the Danish United fares were published — and retracted — the DOT ruled that, if an airline could prove fares were truly published by accident, they could rescind those tickets.
“The burden rests with the airline…to prove to the Enforcement Office that an advertised fare and the resulting ticket sales constitutes a mistaken fare situation,” the government department stated.
Airlines must, however, reimburse all out-of-pocket expenses made in confidence upon the reservation, according to USA Today. That means that travelers will not only be refunded for the cost of the ticket, but they can also request compensation for non-refundable purchases like tours, hotel bookings, and other activities planned around the mistake fare.
Nonetheless, it’s still strongly recommended that travelers who think they’re booking a fare published in error wait until the flight has been ticketed to make additional travel plans.*
Not content with its status as one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines and the 10-fold increase in its stock over three years, SpiceJet may soon expand into flying seaplanes.
Bloomberg reported that the airline is talking with Setouchi Holdings Inc. to purchase about 100 amphibious Kodiak planes, a deal worth about $400 million.
The new planes would be capable of landing nearly anywhere in the country, such as on water, gravel or even an open field.
Acquiring the planes would allow the airline to target billions of Indians who have never flown before, often because they don’t live near a functioning airport.
The purchase would also bolster Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of connecting India by air without being stalled by the need for billions of dollars in improvements to colonial infrastructure.
“Airports are in short supply in India,” SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh was quoted by Bloomberg stating. “Lots of growth in India is happening in small markets, but those small markets have little or no connectivity. So we are looking for a solution where we can get flights to places where no airports exist.”
Days after the airline’s talks with Setouchi became public, two more firms came forward expressing interest in providing amphibious planes, Business Today reported.
"India has a huge potential in seaplanes that can overhaul connectivity. A Russian firm has approached us for supplying 50-seater amphibious planes which have multiple uses right from passenger and cargo transportation to firefighting, rescue, and defense operations," the transport and water resources minister Nitin Gadkari said.
While the proposed purchase may seem like minor news to some, India is a major travel destination and home to the third largest domestic flight market in the world, behind China and the United States.
Airlines in the vast South Asian country handled 100 million domestic passengers last year, according to Bloomberg.
And despite that substantial number of annual domestic passengers, about 97 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people have still never been on an airplane. This has a great deal to do with the challenge of finding places to pick up and drop off passengers.
The country is plagued by decrepit airstrips, dormant airports and facilities that have suffered years of neglect.
SpiceJet’s acquisition of seaplanes could help ease some of the challenges. The planes, able to seat 10 to 14 people, can take off and land on a 300-meter strip of water or land. The new planes could allow the carrier to land at up to 300 airports throughout the country that are not currently in use.
The planes could also be used to reach various remote tourist sites in a country that already attracts about 8 million tourists annually, according to India's Ministry of Tourism.
“High-end tourists use amphibious aircraft at exotic locations all over the world,” Amber Dubey, India head of aerospace and defense at KPMG, told Bloomberg. “There’s no reason why it can’t be successful in India.”
Saudi Arabia is swiftly transforming itself into a destination that is more open to mainstream tourism.
“Tourist visas will be introduced soon,” Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage president Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz told a press conference on Monday.
He added that a system has been established for the issuance of such visas but no timeline was announced.
The development of a more tourist-friendly environment is part of a long-term strategy known as Vision 2030, which puts in place a plan for a post-oil economy. A key driver will be tourism, and the plan calls for major investments in related infrastructure.
Currently, there are plans to open a Six Flagsand“entertainment city” in Riyadh that could rival Las Vegas in size, according to one report in the Independent.
The Red Sea Project, a coastal lagoon covering some 50 untouched islands stretching along more than 150km unpopulated coastline, is another development designed to boost tourism, in line with the Vision 2030 plan.
A number of other announcements from the kingdom have given women increased freedom, including the ability to obtain drivers licenses and to travel without a man’s permission.
Women are also now able to attend some sports stadiums. The venues, previously open only to men, will now be updated to accommodate “families,” according to CNN.
Wondering what’s the airline with the most legroom? Seat pitch, the distance from any point on an airline seat to the corresponding point of the seat in the next row, is the most reliable measure of total front-to-rear seat space, and therefore legroom.
These days, the average economy seat pitch is 30 to 31 inches on the “Big Three” U.S. airlines (American, Delta, and United), 28 to 30 inches on low-fare lines, and 32 to 33 inches on some niche carriers. Seat pitch on transatlantic airlines is usually about the same; the average is a bit higher on transpacific lines.
But talking about averages skirts the fact that each big airline operates dozens of different types of planes, often without one standardized seat pitch. Newer planes may have different-pitch seats than older ones, and pitch can change when planes are refurbished. Given those uncertainties, we can identify only a few lines on which you can rely on an above-average pitch for any and all flights—and there’s one clear winner for the title of the airline with the most legroom in North America.
The Airline with the Most Legroom
With 34 inches of seat pitch across all its planes, Interjet is the unexpected airline with the most legroom. The Mexico-based, low-cost carrier flies from a handful of U.S. cities to lots of destinations in Mexico, plus a few in Central and South America, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Guatemala. Interjet operates Airbus A320s and Sukhoi SU9 Superjets, and says it foregoes about 30 seats on each plane to give its passengers more space.
Runner-Up for Airline with the Most Legroom
JetBlue is a strong runner-up, with 32 to 34 inches on all planes. The entire JetBlue fleet was once the airline with the most legroom, at 34 inches or better—but in recent years JetBlue has been adding more main cabin seats and decreasing legroom. We may one day see the airline’s legroom shrink to 31 inches of pitch, but it’s not quite there yet. JetBlue’s affordable Even More Space option, however, remains some of the best legroom in the sky, at 37 inches of pitch—several more than any other line’s stretch option.
Among Uber’s strategies for world domination of the ride-sharing space has been partnering with travel-loyalty programs, including American AAdvantage, Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. It’s a sensible marketing approach: Members of travel-rewards programs are frequently on the road, in need of local transport, and they’re opinion-influencers by virtue of their deep experience.
That makes today’s Starwood announcement on Twitter that much more surprising:
Since 2015, SPG has offered you the opportunity to earn Starpoints for rides you take on Uber. The partnership will not be renewed for 2018 and will officially end on December 17, 2017. You don’t need to take any action. Your SPG account and the Starpoints you’ve earned to date with Uber will not be affected and you can still earn through December 17, 2017.
Neither company is likely to divulge the real reason for the split, or reveal which company precipitated it. But there are a number of possibilities. Among them:
The economics of the relationship weren’t sufficiently favorable for Starwood. Adding credence to this theory is the fact that earlier this year, 1) the earning rate was reduced from one Starwood point per $1 charged on Uber rides to one point per $2 in spend, and 2) the bonus for Uber rides in conjunction with a Starwood stay was discontinued. Those changes suggest the tie-up was too spendy for Starwood.
Uber’s reputation as a trusted travel partner and ethical operator has taken a hit recently, with a long series of allegations of corporate misdeeds and management turmoil.
Marriott, which has acquired Starwood, may be working on a tie-up with Lyft, Uber’s primary competitor, which would rule out an Uber relationship on competitive grounds.
Whatever the reason or reasons, Starwood Preferred Guest members have until December 17 to earn points for their Uber rides.
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