As much as we love and respect Taylor Swift as an artist and human (so much heartbreak at such a young age, yet she perseveres), as New Yorkers we’re not entirely on board with the news that she’s been selected as NYC & Company’s new ambassador for tourism. It’s not that she’s not a great representative. She’s savvy, ambitious, and articulate—like all of us. It’s just that the song that she wrote for the campaign, “Welcome to New York,” is just so…well…bland. In NYC and Co’s new promo video she rightly describes the city as bold and bright and loud. Shouldn’t the song be the same?
So without being too presumptuous, we’d like to nominate a few alternative tracks for the official New York City theme song.
While premium passengers reap the rewards of competition among airlines, it’s a different story in back. One problem, according to Tim Winship, publisher of Frequentflier.com, is that carriers are flying at near-full capacity these days, so you can no longer count on having an empty seat next to you. At the same time, airlines are squeezing in more seats, using slim-line models that are narrower and have less padding than previous versions. On the flip side, new planes do offer better in-flight technology both obvious (touch screens) and less so (humidity controls; mood lighting). Whether this counteracts the increasing claustrophobia of economy is up for debate. One thing is certain: those premium economy seats are looking mighty tempting.
Amid rising fears of more cases of Ebola reaching our shores, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control have introduced enhanced passenger-screening procedures at several international airports. Screenings at New York's JFK airport (which receives 43 percent of travelers from Ebola-afflicted nations) began last week; similar protocols are scheduled to start this week at Newark Liberty, Washington-Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Minnesota officials are also lobbying for screenings at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Breaking news that a Dallas health care worker took a flight to Cleveland from Dallas the night before she reported symptoms of Ebola (for which she has tested positive), will certainly send another shudder through the aviation industry, as airlines and airport workers evaluate what procedures they have in place to handle infected passengers. As a reminder: Ebola is not transmittable through casual contact. A person must be exhibiting symptoms to spread the virus—putting health-care workers and close family members at greatest risk.
When you’re spending as much as $30 a day for hotel parking, tipping the valet each time he or she retrieves your car can seem like an unnecessary investment. That $30, however, goes only toward the valet’s base pay, which—much like a waiter’s—is calculated assuming that he or she will receive gratuities. If you don’t want to hand out money each day, ask the concierge if it’s possible to leave a total tip at the end of your stay: many hotels pool and distribute tips evenly to the valets.
Quick access to a city center via public transport makes it easy to steal away for a few hours and take in some sights—and even a meal. Here are six airports we love, all with convenient luggage storage.
Minimum layover needed for two hours in the city center: 5 hours Travel Time to City Center: 15 to 20 minutes How to do it: Heathrow Express to Paddington ($57 round-trip; trains every 15 minutes) What to do: A short ride on the Tube gets you to Waterloo, where you can walk along the South Bank for views of Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Shard’s glass spire. End with a tagliolini with clams at Gordon Ramsay’s Italian-inspired Union Street Café.
Though some airlines (JetBlue; Alaska) give you a few extra inches here and there, the major domestic carriers are all in agreement: the maximum allowable carry-on bag is 22" x 14" x 9". This standard has been in place for years, but in the past airlines were lenient about ensuring bags adhered to it. United, however, started enforcing its size limits in March. So to play it safe, invest in a suitcase that doesn’t exceed those measurements.
In an upheaval of frequent-flier programs, major domestic airlines will soon be basing your benefits on the amount of money you spend with the carrier rather than on the distance you fly—a move that privileges front-of-the-plane travelers over those who are more price-sensitive.
Delta led the charge in February, saying that beginning next year it will calculate your award miles according to ticket price, rather than miles flown. United made a similar announcement in June. (They also both instituted minimum-spend requirements for elite status with their programs this year.) JetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin America already have similar models in place.
Good news for Vail Epic Pass holders: you now have access to yet another world-class ski mountain. Vail Resorts just announced the acquisition (for a cool $185 million in cash) of Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort. Powdr Corp, the former owner of the Utah resort, had been struggling financially in recent years and was embroiled in a legal battle with Talisker, the Canadian company that owns much of the actual ski mountain. It has been increasingly uncertain if the resort would even open for ski season this winter.
The city where travelers can find the most affordable five-star hotels in the world? Warsaw, Poland, where the average luxury room went for just $130 a night in the first six months of 2014. This is according to the annual Hotel Price Index from Hotels.com, which looks at how much people spent for rooms at properties across the globe over the first half of the year.