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.
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.
In 1951, the government of Portugal fashioned a hotel within the stone towers and turrets of the 13th-century castle at Obldos, creating the first in a network of 35 pousada-hotels. The buildings aren’t all castles—some were convents, monasteries, forts, granaries, or royal estates—nor are many as traditionally outfitted as the Castelo de Obidos.
Like a scene pulled straight from Downton Abbey, The Ruinart Rosé Salon 1764 pop-up bar at London's historic The Goring Hotel is the perfect place to toast summer with a bubbly glass of Rosé.
It was exactly 250 years ago that The House of Ruinart created the world’s first Rosé champagne. To celebrate the anniversary, The Goring Hotel has opened its private gardens (as large as a Wimbledon’s center court) from now until July 3 for the dedicated pop-up bar.
On the southern tip of the Riviera Maya, Tulum has become Mexico’s most stylish beach destination. The outpost allows for an easy routine, where luxury and low-key vibes can coexist with one another.
Club Monaco is giving fans the opportunity to win a chance to travel to the fashionable escape, to share the inspiration for its new Beach Boutique Collection. Participants are asked to share photos of what inspires them this summer on Instagram and include the tags #CMBeach and @ClubMonaco.
One grand-prize-winner will receive air transportation, a hotel room for four days, and more. Get your beach bods and photos ready—the contest ends on June 27th.
Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.
It feels much later than it is at Aro Ha Wellness Retreat—45 minutes outside of Queenstown in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. But the afternoon meditation session is about to begin, and after the exhausting day you’ve had, a good stretch is just what your body needs. Today’s 6 a.m. yoga class seems like a distant memory after that 10-mile hike on Mount Judah, high above Lake Wakatipu, where only your labored breathing pierced the silence. Why, again, did you sign up for this weeklong test of endurance? Now you remember, as the sun begins its slow descent behind the snowcapped mountain peaks, drenching everything in a golden glow. The calming energy of the studio—and that incomparable view—clears your mind as each exhalation coaxes the tightness from your muscles. Transformation couldn’t come at a better time. Or place. aro-ha.com; all-inclusive. $$$$
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Carla Sersale’s boutique at Le Sirenuse, the hotel she owns with her family, may be located in Positano, Italy, but it was creative, chaotic Mumbai that served as muse for her latest collection of blouses, ponchos, and tunics. “You feel this powerful sense of joy around you,” she says, “and get blown away by the vibrancy of the colors.” Here, she shares her inspirations. —As told to Shane Mitchell
1. “When you look out your windows from the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel($$$) onto the Bay of Bombay and the moon is up, reflecting on the sea, it’s a magical show.”
2. “I fell in love with a piece by Waqas Khan at Lakeeren Gallery. He reinterprets traditional miniature painting with a Rapidograph pen on wasli paper.”
3. “I love the city’s battered yellow-top ‘Fiat’ taxis! You miss the point riding around in air-conditioned limos.”
4. “I collaborated with my niece, [Mumbai-based designer] Viola Parrocchetti, on these pillows and caftans for the new collection.”
5. “This 1920 brass statue of Shiva came from Phillips Antiques. It’s now on my mantelpiece in London.”
6. “Bungalow 8(91-22/2281-9880) is a beautiful store full of eclectic apparel, rugs, ceramics, glass, and jewels—everything carefully blended and displayed together.”
Hotels $Less than $200 $$$200 to $350 $$$$350 to $500 $$$$$500 to $1,000 $$$$$More than $1,000
A Finnish start-up has created a powdered beverage, Ambronite, that they call “the world’s first organic drinkable super meal that fulfills daily nutrition recommendations.” Its P.R. firm recently sent me an email calling Ambronite “the world’s first ‘real food’ super travel meal.” Hey, I like Finns, I like travel, and I like meals. This thing had my name written all over it! Ambronite—vegan and gluten-free—won’t be in full production until later this year, but I managed to snag three 500-calorie packets and decided to live on the stuff for one full day, three meals, and eat nothing else. Here’s how it went.
One of my biggest regrets from my six years living in Atlanta was never hopping in my car and making the drive to Charleston. And last year, after T+L readers voted the charming Southern town the best city in the U.S., I started feeling that pull again and decided to take action, convincing two girlfriends to join me on a weekend getaway. Stephen Colbert recently shared his top picks from his hometown, so I thought I would do the same. My biggest regret now? Only staying for three days.
London's newest members-only lounge, Clubino Piano Bar, is proving to be an exciting option for discerning locals and guests at the Baglioni Hotel London. On a recent trip, club founder Luca Del Bono invited me to preview the intimate space, tucked beneath the hotel’s park-view bar.
“I’m trying to bring back a setting where people [can] drift away,” said Clubino’s founder, Luca Del Bono, “[like] we used to enjoy back in Italy a few decades ago.”
The Montreal Jazz Festival runs June 26-July 6. Even with all the big acts—this year, to name a few: Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, and Rufus Wainwright—more than half of the 700 performances are free to the public.
You've read the headlines: Uber is being valued at $18 billion. And as a mom of two toddlers living in New York, I think that sounds about right. Why, you ask? The popular car-sharing service just launched UberFamily, which means getting around the city just became a lot easier (anything to avoid a schlep on the subway). For a $10 surcharge, your vehicle will pick you up with fully-installed car seats. This is a major game-changer, especially for city parents without wheels, and the company plans to roll out to other US destinations later this year. For info on downloading the app, go here.
You need a vacation, but all you can afford is an Internet connection. And you don't live in Buffalo, Cincinnati, or Pittsburgh, three of America's top staycation destinations. Well relax, we’ve got you covered. Kick your feet up, crack open a cold Summer beer, and stretch out your index finger – Google Street View (GSV) is about to take you on a 360-degree adventure to some the world's most exotic destinations.
When Germans settled in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, they—being Germans—began brewing beer. Tunnels dug beneath OTR were intended as lagering cellars but came in handy during Prohibition. (Cincinnati also sits above seven miles of subway tunnels from an never-completed system.)
Do you love adventure travel? Find out about emerging destinations, safety precautions, packing tips, and more in our Adventure and National Parks Twitter chat this Tuesday, June 17th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Join in and ask insiders for their expert advice!
After the recent announcement that United Airlines will shift to a revenue-based frequent flyer program in 2015, it’s important to assess the evolving landscape of loyalty programs and consider changes that may still be in store. As a consumer advocate, I want all frequent flyers to understand what a loyalty program should be, and to inspire airlines to either preserve the value of those programs or risk losing faithful customers.
Frequent flyer programs follow a simple give-and-get formula: airlines reward customers for their business, and in exchange they develop brand loyalty. However, starting in 2015, when both United and Delta will structure awards based on revenue, their passengers will earn miles not according to how far they fly, but to how much money they spend.
Argentina’s tourism board recently launched a glossy publication called Che. No, it’s not a tome dedicated to the country’s famous revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara. It is a cultural magazine titled after the Argentine colloquial term “che” (which loosely translates to “hey”) commonly used in Latin America to refer to all things Argentine. Its pages feature the best art, music, gastronomy, events, and travel experiences from the country’s 24 provinces. Through colorful photography and engaging storytelling, Che inspires visitors to journey beyond the borders of Buenos Aires and discover a country that’s richly diverse in landscapes, customs and cuisine. The bimonthly magazine is published in English, Spanish and Portuguese and travelers can download issues to their tablets by visiting Argentina.travel or getting the free app at Android and Apple stores.
Nora Walsh is Travel + Leisure's Latin America correspondent.
In a deal that closed on Friday, OpenTable was purchased by Priceline for a hefty $2.6 billion—46 percent more than its previous closing share price would have suggested—marking a sea change in the way that online travel companies are thinking about business. Gone are the days of providing services just for planning and booking; these days, the mightiest of OTAs are thinking about how they can also capitalize on travelers once they’re on the ground. See TripAdvisor, long known as the site you check for reviews before booking (or to pen your own upon return): it has also gotten into the restaurant reservations game with the recent acquisition of Lafourquette, a European site much like OpenTable. It all makes tons of sense. If you’re as selective about where you eat as you are about where you stay, you need to book your restaurants well before traveling. And for Priceline, that will come to the tune of 15 million total diners a month. As for what’s next? We’d put money on local excursion booking tools, which have fast gained traction in the digital travel booking space over the last year.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
In March, a ban forbidding the largest cruise ships from entering Venice, was lifted leading to renewed protests by concerned citizens and scientists who claim that the mega ships erode the city’s delicate waterways and ecosystem.
Our favorite new perch to watch the rapid reshaping of London’s skyline: Shangri-La at the Shard, itself located in the city’s most dramatic new addition, Renzo Piano’s 1,016-foot icicle on the South Bank. For its first property in the U.K., the hotel group brings its inimitable Asian polish to the British capital, with contemporary Chinese art, Japanese cherry-blossom wallpaper in the 202 guest rooms, and an Eastern flair (soy-glazed Welsh lamb!) at the restaurant Ting. Teatime here is held in the 35th-floor lounge, where full-length windows showcase the cityscape unfurling across the Thames. Earl Grey? Gracious, no—bring us a pot of green jasmine. shangri-la.com.
Sarah Miller is Travel + Leisure's European Editor.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is offering director George Lucas a prime location near the Bay Bridge for the Star Wars creator’s long-planned cultural arts museum.
"On behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, I write to propose an extraordinary location along our City's waterfront as the iconic new home for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum," wrote Lee in a letter sent to Lucas earlier this month.
The city of Chicago is also in contention for the site of the museum, and a decision is expected to be made this summer.
Find one that’s between SPF 30 and 50 (anything higher protects only incrementally more) and has UVA and UVB protection, says Dr. Doris Day, a New York City dermatologist and author of Forget the Facelift. Broad-spectrum coverage makes the lotion more stable, so it will last longer in the sun—though Day still advises applying every two hours. For a tropical getaway, go for a water-resistant formula (there’s no such thing as waterproof). As for which form of sunscreen to choose: “It’s a matter of personal preference between a gel, cream, wipe, powder, spray, or lotion,” Day says. “They’re equally effective.” And don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and protective or SPF-treated clothing.
Photo courtesy of iStock
Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.
On June 14, Philadelphia's Franklin Institute debuts the $41 million Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion—the largest expansion in the science museum’s history. The centerpiece of the new 53,000-square-foot space is the permanent Your Brain exhibit; through more than 70 interactive experiences, visitors will come away with a better understanding of the body’s most complex vital organ—from learning how we react to fear to seeing how the mind can be tricked through sounds, images, and other stimuli.
It’s lunchtime in Tel Aviv. The banged-up Bauhaus buildings of the White City district are full, the bar trade lively.
Behind a curved glass-and-steel façade—buzzing café tables on a sunny street, South Beach on the eastern Mediterranean—the chef, Meir Adoni, is describing a brand of influence-rich, ingredient-agnostic, genre-busting, adrenalized cooking that doesn’t sound anything like what you’d expect from Israeli cuisine until you arrive here and step away from the hummus stand your cousin told you about and stop filling yourself from the bounteous salad stations of resort hotels and start saying yes to chefs bearing brain sandwiches.
Need to know where your FIFA World Cup seats are in relation to the nearest caipirinha vendor? Take a virtual tour of the twelve stadiums hosting this month’s soccer extravaganza thanks to Google Street View. Google has also beefed up its transit coverage in Brazil to help fans find the easiest routes to the goal.
At ILTM Asia, an annual luxury travel conference in Shanghai, China, Travel + Leisure editor Sarah Spagnolo asked industry insiders what's on their travel radar. The answers range from western Tibet to the backwaters of Kerala, India.
Watch the video above—filmed during T+L's Shanghai Social party at restaurant New Heights, on The Bund—for many more fun travel ideas.
Expedia will accept bitcoin for its online hotel bookings, the company announced yesterday.
Travelers choosing the new payment method will be redirected to Coinbase, a digital money exchange, where they will have ten minutes to complete the transaction. How many bitcoins does a hotel cost? At around $640 per bitcoin, a $200 hotel-stay will run 0.32 bitcoins. Coinbase also charges a miniscule "miner fee," worth roughly twelve cents.
It took nearly ten years and $16 billion, but Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar is now fully operational. With the country's namesake carrier, Qatar Airways, transitioned from the old, now-defunct Doha International, the massive much-anticipated project finally feels complete.