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Air France Launches Comeback With New Cabin Innovations

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This morning, Air France revealed the results of one billion euro investment in new cabins, livery, and service, as part of the carrier's effort to reassert its position as a leader in international air travel.

“We want to be back as one of the top three world class airlines by 2016,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM.

The first of 44 Boeing 777 jets equipped with the improved interiors and world-class partnerships (think luxe Givenchy amenity kits in the first class suites; Eugeni Quittlet tableware for your gourmet snacks) departed Paris-Charles de Gualle yesterday, and landed at John F. Kennedy in time for the debut. 

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Cape Cod Beaches Ban Smoking

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Just in time for summer's high season, popular Cape Cod beaches enacted smoking bans last week.

Meant to minimize second-hand smoke for the marjority of beachgoers, the bans apply to six heavily visited lifeguarded areas on Massachusett's Cape Cod National Seashore. Smokers will have to head several hundred feet away from lifeguard stations to light up.

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Cirque du Soleil to Launch New Show in Mexico's Riviera Maya

Canada-based Cirque du Soleil is setting up shop in the Riviera Maya, in a 600-seat, custom-built theater that takes cues from the Yucatan's lush jungle landscape. Grupo Vidanta, the developer behind Mexico's ultra-glam Grand Luxxe resorts, is creating the new venue, which will debut its inaugural show JOYÀ on November 8.

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Chef and Music Freak Andrew Carmellini on what Makes a Great Restaurant Soundtrack

andrew carmellini on restaurant soundtracks

Beware the “shuffle” button! I create playlists for all my restaurants. Maybe I’m a control freak, but I love the process. If I have 100 things to do, “Make soundtracks” is the one I’ll jump to first. (Right after “Test these four pasta recipes.”) At each place, it’s the same list every night, in order. So I know it’s 9:45 when Broken Bells comes on at the Dutch ($$$). Playlists are a progression—you want the music to unfold throughout the night, in terms of genres, BPM (beats per minute), the mood you set.

When the restaurant’s full, you shouldn’t really “hear” the music. You’ll know it’s there, but it won’t take over. Then again, if the room is too quiet—you hear waitstaff gossiping, glasses being cleaned—that’s distracting as well. Music fills that sonic space. It actually helps you focus on your conversation. But no 14-minute cuts! It’s annoying when a song is droning on and on while you’re waiting for dessert. You need a fresh track every three to four minutes.

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Summer Vacation Deals

Fundu Lagoon

Dominican Republic: 39% off beach hotel

Beach Rendezvous package includes:

• 4 nights in a one-bedroom suite at Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences, on the island’s palm-fringed northeastern coast
• Horseback riding on the beach
• Bottle of wine upon arrival
• Outdoor spa treatment

Cost: $840 ($210 per night)

Book by August 31 for travel through December 2014.

For more information or to book, please visit Samana Hotel Dominican Republic.

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Celebrating the World Cup

Did you hear screams coming from down the block or your neighbor's apartment? It's probably because everyone is glued to the big screen for the World Cup. Here's how fans and athletes are celebrating, showing their pride, and sharing their photos on Instagram around the world.

New York City

 

Amsterdam

 

Madrid

 

The cheers heard around the world are because of these guys:

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Andrew Zimmern’s Bucket List: 31 Meals To Try Before You Die

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Leave it to Andrew Zimmern—the Travel Channel’s peripatetic Bizarre Foods TV host—to create the ultimate foodie traveler’s global bucket list. We love that no place is too fancy (a caviar bar in St. Petersburg, Russia), too humble (noodle soup at a wholesale market in Bangkok), or too far-flung (tuna and lamb ribs in Samoa) to make the cut. We caught up with Zimmern at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen last weekend to get the inside scoop on his picks. Check out the full list on Pinterest here.

How did you choose your 31 meals?

The word “meal” to me seems limiting: how do you decide on 30 meals in the world when there are hundreds of thousands of places to choose from? I love leading people to travel experiences where they can carve out their own food destiny for themselves. That’s why the majority of my choices ended up being markets. I’m more about people seeking out unique adventures and letting them decide for themselves what they like about it.

Markets can be overwhelming though. How can travelers navigate their way to the best eating experiences?

You should either ask locals for their recommendations, or just look for the longest line. There are hundreds of vendors at any given market, but there’s one guy who’s got the biggest line early in the morning. Guess what? That’s where you should be eating.

Asia’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo isn’t on your list, but Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul is. Why?

The reason, very simply, is that at Noryangjin is not as touristed or fetishized as Tsukiji, and more importantly, there’s an entire restaurant culture that’s sprung up around the market where anyone can buy a fish or shellfish and take it to the restaurant and have it cooked. That doesn't really exist at Tsukiji market. To me, the essence of travel is about discovery, so I’d rather have someone go to Noryingjan seafood market and become a part of the action and ask around: where’s the restaurant where I can take this amazing yellow snapper to? It's the type of experience that you can go and participate in.

 How does a Michelin-starred meal such as Mugaritz in San Sebastián, Spain, stand up next to a humble seafood shack like Badjao Seafood House in Palawan, in the Philippines?

You can’t say that a meal at Mugaritz is any better than a meal at Badjao Seafood House. The fish and shellfish at Badjao rivals what’s at Mugaritz. It’s as well tended, and it’s as beautifully created. You’re talking about a culinary experience in a magical restaurant versus a transporting little place where you walk out on a dock and sit in this little bamboo hut perched out over the water. “Best” and “most interesting” are relative terms.

We noticed that you included Kau Kee restaurant in Hong Kong—a favorite among T+L staff. What made it worthy of your top 31?

I like to go to Kau Kee and sit there for about an hour and a half, and every half hour I’ll have a bowl of brisket and noodles. It’s the essential Hong Kong experience: you’re in an old restaurant that only does one thing, and it costs anywhere between $1.50 and $3 per bowl. The reason I sit there for an hour and a half is not because I want time to have six bowls of soup. It's so I can watch all of Hong Kong go by—neighbors, families, shop owners—right from those tables. These are the types of experiences that make travel so unique.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is the Hotels & Food Editor at Travel + Leisure. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo courtesy of Travel Channel

Drink Up: World Cup Cocktail

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World Cup 2014 is heating up in Rio de Janeiro and Belmond Copacabana Palace has added its own spice to the mix. The iconic hotel’s new pan-Asian restaurant MEE, fronted by celebrity chef Ken Hom, has created a beguiling concoction that’s casting a spell on World Cup fans.

The “Mandinga” cocktail is a seductive blend of Cachaça (a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice) and cashew juice with a dash of hazelnut and mandarin liqueurs. MEE hopes this touch of Afro-Brazilian magic will carry the Seleção squad to their sixth World Cup trophy. Brazil may not have invented soccer, but they are known for perfecting it. Saúde!

Mandinga Cocktail Recipe:
- 1.5 fl. oz. Leblon Cachaça
- ¼ fl. oz. Frangelico liqueur
- ¼  fl. oz. Mandarinetto liqueur
- 1 fl. oz. cashew juice
- ¼  fl. oz. lemon juice
- ¼  fl. oz. sugar syrup  

Nora Walsh is Travel + Leisure's Latin America correspondent.

Photo courtesy of Belmond

Daily Transporter: One Cruise to Rule Them All

tolkien cruise

If you book a Royal Caribbean cruise in early December, don’t be surprised to see capes, pointed ears, and furry feet on some of your fellow passengers. Trilo3y Voyages, with the blessing of J.R.R. Tolkien’s family, is planning the first in a series of cruises for fans of the author’s works, including The Lord of the Rings. Onboard activities will include a cosplay competition and masquerade gala.

See World’s Strangest Conventions

Editor’s Picks: Cruise Vacation Ideas
T+L’s Guide to Cruising 2014
Great All-Inclusive Cruises
Great Adventure Cruises

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Ultimate Beaches Twitter Chat on Tuesday, June 24

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Whether you prefer a quiet slice of sand or a bustling local scene, join our Ultimate Beaches Twitter chat, sponsored by @Aruba, this Tuesday, June 24th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. From the world's best beaches to where to eat and drink near the sand, ask the experts for their advice!

The Host:

T+L's Senior Editor, Jacqueline Gifford, @jacquigiff

The Panelists:

Travel Channel, @TravelChannel

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, @SI_Swimsuit

The Knot, @TheKnot

Coastal Living magazine, @CoastalLiving

Quiksilver, @Quiksilver

Travel Expert, Lee Abbamonte, @LeeAbbamonte

Caribbean Travel Expert, Sarah Greaves Gabbadon, @JetSetSarah

Cancun Local Expert, Laura Winfree, @CancunGringa

T+L A-list Agent, Julia Douglas of Jet Set World Travel, @JETSETWorldTrvl

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter before the chat starts at 2pm ET and be sure to follow @TravlandLeisure.

2. Head over to http://twitter.com. Enter the hashtag #TL_Chat into the search bar and select the "All" search option to follow the chat in real time.

3. Remember to always add the hashtag #TL_Chat to your tweets.

4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own responses. Or ask questions of your own! 

All tweets are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Aruba.com

 

NYC’s Latest Beauty Hotspot: Paintbox Nail Studio

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As a frequent flier, I’m always searching for the perfect place to get a last-minute manicure—one that will actually stay on through the course of my trip. And on the flip side, as a tourist, I’m always searching for a cool, reliable, (and yes, clean!) nail salon when I need a quick touch-up abroad. Enter Paintbox, a chic new manicure studio in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood that is quickly developing a cult following among locals—and which should be on every traveler’s radar.

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The National Center for Civil and Human Rights opens in Atlanta

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After years of anticipation, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights opens on June 23 in downtown Atlanta, adjacent to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca. The 42,000-square-foot center by architect Philip Freelon is designed to start a dialogue and inspire visitors to think about how they can create a more unprejudiced world.

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Daily Transporter: Shrinking Boston

Summer sprinkler fun

An exhibit at the Boston Public Library compares the modern city with the Boston of a century ago. One surprising revelation: even with a steady influx of immigrants in the past ten years, the city still has not regained its 1910 record-high population of more than 670,000.

See Boston in Best Chinese Restaurants in the U.S.

Editor’s Picks: Boston
America’s Coolest Distilleries
America’s Best Comedy Clubs
America’s Top Free Attractions

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

What's Inside CBS Anchor Norah O'Donnell's Carry On

Norah O'Donnell's Travel Bag

Norah O'Donnell, the globe-trotting cohost of CBS This Morning, reveals her in-flight arsenal.

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Daily Transporter: Hong Kong

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Pandas are taking over Hong Kong! An exhibit of 1,600 papier-mâché bears designed by French artist Paulo Grangeon will be on view in the PMQ arts district from June 25-July 17 in an effort to raise awareness of dwindling panda populations.  

See more pandas in Coolest Up-Close Animal Encounters.

Editor's Picks: Hong Kong
Food Face-Off: Shanghai vs. Hong Kong
Best Airports for a Long Layover
World's Most Amazing Restaurants with a View

Caroline Hallemann is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @challemannGet the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box. 

Photo courtesy of PMQ 

Why You'll Be Thinking About Dulce de Leche on National Chocolate Éclair Day

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Today is National Chocolate Éclair Day (really!), which seems like a good excuse to tell you about a delicious new program Le Méridien hotels is launching with everyone's favorite pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini. The former head judge from Top Chef Just Desserts will create eight seasonal éclair recipes for the chain, revealing them over the next 12 months as he stays at different Le Méridien hotels around the world. (First up: San Francisco, to be revealed on July 27. We're hoping it doesn't involve salt-water taffy.) 

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Finding My Inner WASP

finding my inner wasp

The discreet charms of the classic, East Coast–elite-style summer vacation: Devin Friedman finds his inner WASP on Martha’s Vineyard.

People are always going on vacation and putting on a straw sombrero and drinking a beer and feeling relaxed and saying, You know what, this is the real me. But that’s not the real you. The real you isn’t the person who is totally stress-free and good-humored and loves to make funny rum cocktails for people he barely knows, who thinks that version of herself embroiled in the careerist rat race is an impostor, who says If I just never came home and instead opened a bookstore/beach bar/sundress emporium here and bought a character-building chapeau I could spend the rest of my days being the real me. Somewhere deep inside the folds of our cortexes, we know that (1) we’re never going to move here and buy the hat and the bookstore and that (2) if we did, the old us would come and take the ferry over and hunt us down by the smell of our fear and aftershave and climb back into our bodies again and make us anxious and ambitious and money-conscious just the way we always were. Getting to not be you for two weeks is what it’s all about anyway. One of the great unsung joys of going on vacation is that you get to be a poseur. So my feeling is, pose like crazy, enjoy it, then hide the pictures of you in the hat.

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3 Travel Laundry Detergent Solutions

travel laundry detergent

I’m tired of paying for pricey hotel laundry service. Any tips for on-the-road alternatives? -Sarah Taurus, via e-mail

For basic pieces, take matters into your own hands: bring along one of our picks for travel-friendly detergents.

Dissolvable detergent sheets from Sea to Summit won’t spill on the go—just add a few to a sinkful of water. $3.95 for 50 sheets; pictured above.

Lewis N. Clark’s Laundry Kit includes a drain stopper and eight travel-size portions of Woolite. $4.99.

Forever New fabric wash is formulated for washing by hand and comes in a space-saving mini bottle. $3.50.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Daily Transporter: Route 66

original-2jpgFrom Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript for On the Road to a classic 1960 Corvette, L.A.’s Autry National Center of the American West traces the history of “America’s Main Street,” and its impact on popular culture. “Route 66: The Road and the Romance” runs through January 4, 2015.

See more Route 66 in America's Best Road Trips.

Editor's Picks: L.A.

Best Spas in Los Angeles
America's Best Chicken and Waffles
Coolest Hikes in Lost Angeles

Caroline Hallemann is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @challemannGet the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Social Media 101: How To Shoot Travel Videos People Want To Watch

For the third year, Travel + Leisure's Social Media in Travel and Tourism (SMITTY) awards is recognizng the brands and companies transforming the industry with their online innovations (think digital concierges and exclusive social giveaways).

To help you leverage the digital boom on your next trip and cash in on the latest social currency, we tapped four platform experts for their outreach strategies and insider tips.  

This week, Hollywood film director (and the man behind the SMITTY-award winning Virgin America in-flight safety tutorial) Jon Chu shows us how to give your homemade vacation videos blockbuster appeal. 

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Six Tokyo Restaurants to Try Now

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Our abridged, meal-by-meal guide to where and what to eat now.

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Artsy Postcard: Art Basel

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Every June, the art world descends on the Swiss city of Basel for a week of art-seeing, design-hunting, and people-watching. The team behind Artsy, the art collecting and education resource, writes about its favorite moments from the fairs and festivities—and wishes you were here.

"Everyone who visits Design Miami/Basel has the thrill of experiencing Jamie Zigelbaum’s monumental light sculpture, Triangular Series. It's installed above the entrance hall," writes Matthew Israel, director of The Art Genome Project.

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The Clark Art Institute Reinvented

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Architects Tadao Ando and Annabelle Selldorf reinvent the Clark Art Institute, in the Berkshires.

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Power Couple Misha Nonoo and Alexander Gilkes Leads T+L on a Tour of Manhattan

Alexander Gilkes and Misha Nonoo

Alexander Gilkes took the art world by storm with his online auction site, Paddle8; his wife, designer Misha Nonoo, is an emerging fashion darling. Together they lead us on their tour of Manhattan.

As told to Julia Chaplin

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Why Do Airplanes Dim Lights on Takeoff?

Why do Airplanes Dim Lights on Takeoff

Lowering cabin lights and raising window shades are standard safety measures during takeoff and landing—the most critical moments of every flight. The dim lighting allows passengers’ eyes to adjust more quickly during an emergency evacuation. As Chris Cooke, a pilot with a major domestic carrier, puts it: “Imagine being in an unfamiliar bright room filled with obstacles when someone turns off the lights and asks you to exit quickly.” The raised window shades bring natural light into the cabin, just in case it’s needed.

Photo courtesy of Vicki Beaver / Alamy

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.

 

Daily Transporter: Government Goats Hit Bozeman

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Four hundred and nine goats arrived by train to Bozeman, Montana, last week for a summer job. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is using the always-hungry grazers to help reduce brushfires, promote the growth of native plants, and effectively eliminate noxious weeds without herbicide.

See Bozeman in America’s Best College Towns

Editor’s Picks: Montana
World’s Top Adventure Trips
Coolest All-Inclusive Resorts
America’s Most Iconic Drives

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

5 Great Road-Trip Apps

best apps for road trips

Planning a summer drive? These five tools—vetted by T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan—will help you make the most of every mile.

FOR ON-ROAD ENTERTAINMENT TUNE IN RADIO You’re unlikely to get playlist fatigue listening to the app’s 100,000-plus radio stations from all over the world, but if you do, Tune In also offers streaming access to an inexhaustible number of concerts, podcasts, and talk shows on a clean, user-friendly interface. From NPR news updates to local traffic alerts and sports scores, this all-purpose radio app delivers in spades. (Free; Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone)

FOR GPS (AND MORE) SCOUT This app by mapping giant Telenav may be the most practical tool for road trippers: it finds the cheapest gas stations, dictates turn-by-turn directions at your request, and provides personalized recommendations (restaurants, hotels, even local concerts or events) along any multi-leg route. Bonus: the Arrival Guide feature (iOS only) points out the best parking options near your destination. (Free; Android, iOS)

FOR ITINERARY SUGGESTIONS GREATEST DRIVE Still charting the course of your drive? This app suggests the best road-trip itineraries nearby, annotating each with a summary, star rating, and user reviews. (It’ll also tell you whether a road is twisty, scenic, or likely to be traffic-plagued.) Can’t find what you’re looking for? Integration with Yelp helps you pick places to eat and things to see along the way. (Free; Android, iOS)

FOR HANDS-FREE SHARING GLYMPSE Texting and driving isn’t just dangerous—in most states, it’s illegal. That’s why Glympse, which automatically relays your GPS location to family and friends, is invaluable when you’re sticking to a schedule. Your information is sent only to predetermined contacts in your phone book, for select windows of time—making it easy to keep your eyes on the road. (Free; Android, iOS)

FOR QUIRKY ATTRACTIONS ROADSIDE AMERICA If you’re driving cross-country just for kicks, you might like to see Pittsburgh’s Robot Hall of Fame, or the world’s largest collection of teapots, in Trenton, Tennessee. The app also sheds light on the idiOSyncrasies of beloved attractions (historical monuments; parks; sports arenas)—10,000 venues in all. (From $2.99; iOS)

AUTO CONNECTION Thanks to new connected-car technology, your favorite mobile apps are now being optimized for in-dash touch screens. Carmakers from GM to Audi are introducing built-in apps, while initiatives by Apple (CarPlay) and the Android-focused Open Automotive Alliance are being integrated into select Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Volvo models, among others. What to expect: voice-activated Web search, OpenTable reservations booked from your car, and maps showing how far you can go at current gas levels.

TECH WATCH Meet the next generation of public Wi-Fi: Hotspot 2.0. These secure networks offer an automatic connection—simply walk within range and voilà, you’re online. Boingo subscribers can find them at 23 major U.S. airports; access is also available for Time Warner Cable customers coast-to-coast.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo courtesy of Jake Stangel

 


4 Woody Allen Movies to Inspire Your Next Trip

Midnight in Paris

Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen’s latest, takes place on the sun-soaked Côte d’Azur. Will the location steal the scene? It did in these four recent Allen films.

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New Business Class-Only Airline Will Fly Between New York and Paris

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La Compagnie, a new business class-only airline that will connect Newark Liberty International Airport and Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport, was officially announced in New York this week, with flights starting July 11. Founded by industry veterans Frantz Yvelin (L’Avion) and Peter Luethi (Swissair; JetAirways), the carrier will offer four to five weekly flights this summer, building up to daily flights by the end of the year.

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Is Premium Economy Worth It?

Is Premium Economy Worth It

Thinking of upgrading your ticket to those extra-legroom seats at the front of the main cabin? That’s exactly what your airline wants you to do. In the past few years, domestic and international carriers alike have been rolling out more of these stepped-up economy seats, even as they cram more people farther back in the cabin. Whether you take the bait will depend on how much you’re willing to spend—and how much you just can’t stand the back of the plane.

The domestic scene.

First consider the quality of the seat. All the major domestic carriers offer four to six more inches of legroom, and all but United throw in the perk of early boarding as well. Wider seats are, alas, a rarity, though a few transcontinental Delta flights come with more recline. The premium economy standout, domestically, is Virgin America. The carrier’s Main Cabin Select seats give you 38 inches of pitch (the distance from one row to the next), as well as a free checked bag, priority check-in and boarding, and complimentary food and drinks. They can come with a hefty price tag, however: up to $399 more for a round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. JetBlue’s Even More Space seats also rise above the pack, with 38 inches of seat pitch and expedited security privileges.For any flight where you’re thinking of upgrading, it pays to check the cabin layout and the user reviews on the website Seatguru. Even premium economy fliers can wind up next to an unwieldy bulkhead.

Weighing the price tag.

On domestic flights, the fee for premium economy seats varies widely depending on the length of your trip. For shorter hops, say, from Newark to Chicago, it can add as little as $18 to a round-trip American Airlines ticket. For transcontinental flights on major domestic carriers, the seats could put you out anywhere from $130 to $200 round-trip. (On certain Virgin America flights, they may cost more than the base fare itself.) On some carriers, the price also fluctuates depending on how far out you book. Waiting until the last minute sometimes pays off—but not always.

To add to the confusion, you often can’t see how much an upgrade will cost until you actually go through the booking process and get to the seat-selection page. What’s more, since these are not distinct fare classes on domestic carriers, they don’t show up in searches on websites such as Kayak and Expedia. (One exception: Virgin America.) If you want to compare prices, you have to do a lot of legwork.

If you have elite status with a carrier, you can usually get premium economy seats for free or a 50 percent discount. Another way to bring down the cost is through a membership. United Airlines now offers annual Economy Plus packages, which get you unlimited upgrades for a year. The domestic subscription, which starts at $499, can easily pay for itself in just three transcontinental trips. (Global packages start at $699.)

Stretching out abroad.

Offering more than just a few extra inches of seat pitch, premium economy on foreign carriers is an entirely different experience—more akin to a fourth cabin class. For example, British Airways’ World Traveller Plus seats from New York City to London are in a curtained-off section that has a dedicated crew; wider, plusher seats with more legroom; and business-class meals. I found them recently for as little as $468 extra, round-trip. On a similar Virgin Atlantic flight, the roomy, leather Premium Economy seats (which include dedicated check-in and bag-drop services) were $540 more. That’s a significant outlay, but you’d pay more than six times as much to upgrade to business class. It’s also worth noting that for $4,201, the comparable premium-economy ticket on American Airlines would have cost roughly double those of its U.K. competitors.

Other European carriers with excellent premium-economy cabins include Air France (wool blankets; feather pillows) and Turkish Airways (a whopping 48-inch seat pitch). Lufthansa’s new seats—with seven more inches of legroom than in economy—launch in November (available to book now).

The most tempting time to splurge, of course, is on long-haul flights to Asia and beyond, which is why airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, and Qantas have lavished so much attention (and money) on these seats. It shows. Air New Zealand’s extra-wide, podlike Spaceseats put many business-class cabins to shame. They can cost up to $2,000 more than an economy ticket from Los Angeles to Auckland. But those 13 hours in flight will feel pretty darn good.

7.5% Increase in the number of Virgin Atlantic passengers flying Premium Economy from 2012 to 2013.

$721: Average price difference between economy and premium economy tickets for a round-trip Cathay Pacific flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, booked at least three months in advance.

Photo courtesy of Javier Jaén

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


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