A: Good news: the TSA’s expedited security program has expanded to include international flights departing from the U.S. on eight of the agency’s partner airlines. You can also use TSA PreCheck lanes if you’re connecting to a domestic flight after arriving in the States. Bear in mind, if you booked a ticket through a TSA partner airline but your flight is actually operated by a foreign alliance carrier, you are not eligible for PreCheck. The operating carrier must submit the names of its PreCheck-eligible passengers to the TSA prior to the flight, and at this point the agency does not have any international partners.
By The Numbers
30: The average number of firearms confiscated each week in 2012 via TSA carry-on searches; most were claimed to have been packed unwittingly.
A: When to book flights is a question that torments even the most experienced of travelers. Who hasn’t sat in front of the computer wondering: Do I wait for a better deal, or is this the best I’m going to see?
There are no hard-and-fast rules for hitting the right booking window. A recent report from online travel agency CheapAir found that, historically, the lowest average fares have been available seven weeks before departure. Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which manages airline ticket sales for U.S. travel agencies, conducted a similar study and located the best airfares six weeks prior to flying. But that window changes dramatically depending on where you are traveling—and when.
We're looking for a few good travel companies that are changing the world.
Now in its tenth year, Travel + Leisure's Global Vision Awards recognize the standard-bearers for responsible travel—companies that are investing in the communities around them, protecting natural and manmade treasures, lightening their footprints, and inspiring others to follow their lead. From airlines to hotels, tour operators to cruise lines, the winners represent the travel industry’s best ideas for a better world. (You can find the 2013 Global Vision Awards here.)
Please drop a note to TLGlobalVision@timeinc.com if you know of a company or organization that should be among this year’s winners, or encourage them to submit an application, available here. The deadline is April 1, 2014.
Nearly 6,000 and counting. That’s the number of flights cancelled as of noon today. Already this year, there have been more than 71,000 cancellations—and we're only six weeks in. If you want to get a sense of what this means for travelers across the country, just take a look at FlightAware’s aptly named Misery Map(above), which highlights not only where the bottlenecks are worst, but also how they’re impacting the rest of the aviation system.
If you’ve got an airline ticket for the next few days—or have any important travel scheduled during this wild winter—we’ve got some advice for navigating the storms.
Tips for Travel During Stormy Weather
1. Stay informed and be the first to know. Sign up for text and email alerts about flight delays and cancellations from your airline and services such as FlightStats. And be proactive about checking their websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter handles for updates; sometimes it can take a crucial few hours for a text message to arrive. Get a sense of what’s happening with live flight-tracking service FlightAware’s cancellation page.
Q: Any advice on flying with skis? —Hitomi Ueda, via e-mail
A: Most airlines treat a collection of sporting equipment as a single piece of checked luggage—so your skis, poles, and boots count as only one item, not three. We recommendPark Accessories, a new line of bags made with Italian coated canvas. Shown: the Northern Lights, which holds two pairs of skis ($1,150).
Good news for travelers who made “Manage my miles” one of their 2014 New Year’s Resolutions: top itinerary-management app TripIt can once again track frequent-flier miles from American, Delta, Southwest, and United airlines. It doesn’t happen automatically, though. TripIt Pro members will need to forward their monthly or quarterly statements to firstname.lastname@example.org and the service will extract the relevant balances and information.
Also worth considering: the new, still-in-beta “Superbox” service from Superfly, which automatically searches your emails for mileage statements and updates your account. (It works for all carriers but Southwest.) Currently, only Gmail users can take advantage of this function, but Superfly plans to work with other email providers soon.
Delta is taking the hip in-flight safety video meme to a new level with a new 80s-themed instructional, debuting on planes on January 30. Here, five reasons to watch (and love)—even if you’re not a former Aqua Net user.
The girls who have to switch seats because their teased side-ponies are blocking the aisle.
The John McEnroe lookalike who rocks the worm down the aisle.
When it comes to saving money on flights, booking early is key—especially since many ski areas are accessible via mountain airports that accept only a small number of flights each day. Other smart times to look for tickets: right before Thanksgiving and just after the New Year. Kayak crunched the numbers for us, and found that the average domestic airfare to Salt Lake City was at its lowest during those periods last year.
Ski resorts are full of vacation properties, many of which are available for rent at cut-rate prices. Another bonus: having a built-in kitchen helps save money on meals. Rent-by-owner sites VRBO and HomeAway have more than 95,000 ski properties between them, including residences that are attached to major resorts. Airbnb, which has a growing number of ski listings, is particularly good when it comes to smaller or more offbeat properties. Both HomeAway and Airbnb have helpful mapping functions that allow you to see if a place you’re considering is slopeside—or a long walk (in ski boots) from the mountain. If you really want to save, though, look for properties that are outside major resort areas, such as Frisco, Colorado, which is 30 minutes from Vail.
If you do plan on booking a room at a hotel, ask what sort of lift-ticket-and-lodging offers it has available. (Most give discounts if you bundle this way.) You’ll also find hundreds of ski-and-save packages on Ski.com, which works with top lodges in more than 100 resorts worldwide.
With day-of lift passes well over the $100 mark for many resorts (they’re now as high as $130 at Colorado’s Vail and Beaver Creek), buying a ticket at the window is simply a fool’s game. The good news is that many mountains are experimenting with dynamic pricing online, enticing skiers with advance-purchase deals (to lock in an early commitment) and even last-minute sales when it looks like a slow weekend is ahead.
Begin by looking for multiday passes on a resort’s own website, which can yield up to 40 percent off window prices. To comparison-shop with specific dates in mind, try the site Liftopia, which collects and sells tens of thousands of deals from more than 250 resorts worldwide. Some things to keep in mind: Book as early as possible. Preseason sales are generally the best. And stay flexible with your dates. Lift tickets are usually lower midweek and during quieter times: before Christmas; following major holiday weekends; and before and after the Spring Break rush, which takes place the last three weeks of March. Liftopia also offers sales on traditionally slow days: Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday.