It’s pretty much indisputable that airlines are making frequent flyer miles harder to use. Across the board, we’ve seen programs increase the amount of miles needed for awards—all while restricting the amount of seats available at the lowest level and adding new fees. However, it isn’t all doomsday. Luckily, credit card bonuses are extremely lucrative and there are now more ways to earn miles than ever before. Whether from online shopping or dining out, you should be getting miles for almost every purchase.
In a move that dramatically challenges the monetized world of inflight entertainment, Delta Airlines announced that all classes of passengers on domestic and regional flights longer than one and a half hours will be able to access movies, television shows, music, and video games for free.
Last week during our Twitter chat on Best Apps & Websites for Travelers, we asked participants what travel app they’d invent, if given the opportunity. The resounding ask? HotelTonight for flights. Dear readers: ask and you shall receive.
This week, Hopper, a data-driven fare finder that’s largely flown under the radar, is jumping into the spotlight with its new Flight Tonight app. Available for iOS 7 devices, the app aggregates last-minute fares and offers a snapshot of where you could go if you wanted to—quite literally—fly by the seat of your pants. Today’s searches pulled up flights from New York to Savannah for $280, Los Angeles to Vancouver for $352, and Miami to the Bahamas for $282—all round trip fares.
On August 4, Finnair is upping the airline lounge ante with a new Premium Lounge at Helsinki Airport, open to Platinum and Gold Finnair Plus members and other oneworld top-tier customers. Set near Gate 36 in the non-Schengen area, the space has interiors by dSign Vertti Kivi & Co—and includes everything you’d expect from the design-forward carrier: Eero Saarinen’s renowned Tulip and Womb chairs, Marimekko tableware, and Iittala Ultima Thule glasses—originally created for the airline in 1968. Other perks: private shower suites and a Finnish sauna, complete with Finland-made toiletries that incorporate forest berries.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.
Hawaiian Airlines—one of T+L's World's Best Airlines for food (and the only U.S. carrier to still serve complimentary meals in coach)—is the latest to invest in a new premium economy class, launching today. Installed on all A330 aircraft, the Extra Comfort seats have five more inches of legroom for a total 36 inches of pitch (on par with most other domestic carriers, though Virgin America and JetBlue both have 38 inches). Other benefits include priority boarding; free on-demand, in-seat entertainment; and personal power outlets. On international flights, travelers will also receive a souvenir pillow and blanket and premium meals.
Ever heard of Latin Boogaloo? I'm crazy about this spicy fusion music genre from the 1960s; it's having a moment again. The Boogaloo Assassins, LA's hottest crossover band, is playing in New York City at Nublu on August 1 during Fania Records 50th anniversary celebration. Drop by or download this road trip playlist they've created exclusively for T+L. Vamos!
The OTA wars rage on. Last week, CheapTickets.com launched a loyalty program so worthwhile, we had to do a double take. The proposition: sign up for free at checkout, and you’ll automatically get money back on each booking—the rewards are paid out in the form of credits that can be applied to your next transaction. What you get: $50 back on any flight you book on the website, $75 for any flight booked on mobile, $25 for any hotel booked online, and $50 for hotel bookings on mobile. Unlike almost every other OTA, CheapTickets puts the emphasis on unbundled bookings—the only non-eligible purchases are package deals. And there’s no minimum spend, either, so a $150 ticket from New York to Nantucket would remain eligible for a $75 kickback if booked on mobile. This makes CheapTickets the second OTA to incentivize in-app bookings—Orbitz similarly offers roughly twice the rewards points for bookings made by smartphone.
Hilton is taking a page out of the airline handbook. This week, the hotel giant announced a plan to open room selection for members of the brand’s HHonors loyalty program—for the first time ever, this would allow guests to review floor plans of open rooms and pick their favorite before check-in. Roll-out is expected for over 650,000 rooms at 4,000 hotels across the Hilton portfolio—including its Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands—by the end of the year, with limited availability piloting by the end of the summer.
We first wrote about EatWith—a website that connects locals with amateur and trained cooks for private, home-cooked meals—last year, when we identified “eating with a local” as one of the most important travel trends of 2014. While the company continues to champion its original vision, last month it launched a chef series in New York, inviting guests into the homes of professionals.
A few weeks back, we got word that Priceline.com was bringing high-end car rentals to the masses via a new program called FunRides, in partnership with a variety of big name rental companies (Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Sixt among them). With a summer trip to Florida already in the works, we took the program on a test drive.
The Amazon Fire phone is officially on shelves—and we’ve taken it for a test drive. The verdict? It’s unquestionably a first-generation product with room for improvement, but it succeeds at bringing something new to the table for travelers.
Ambergris Cay, Belize: All 26 candy-hued, thatched-roof casitas at Matachica Resort & Spa sit right on the sand, with hammocks in matching colors. Book a Sea-View Cabana room—the Caribbean is just 125 feet from your door, with Belize’s famous barrier reef just a two-minute dive-boat trip beyond.$$
San Diego: The new 78-suite Pier South Resorthas balconies with sweeping views of the Pacific and California’s southernmost beach. Our two favorite ways to chill out here? Surfing lessons and a Green Flash (jalapeño-infused tequila, pineapple juice, and Midori) by the waterside fire pit. $$
First impressions of a new country are inevitably colored by the airport you arrive in -- landing in JFK feels hugely different from, say, Denver International. Which is why Singapore's Changi Airport, one of the busiest in the world, has decided to raise the bar with a $1.5 billion facility expansion.
• 3 nights in a suite in Hub Porteño, a Belle Époque gem with insider access to the city’s arts and culture scene. • A private tango lesson on the hotel’s outdoor terrace • Daily breakfast • A bottle of wine upon arrival; non-alcoholic drinks and snacks from the mini-bar • Cocktails on the terrace
Cost $736 ($245 per night)
Book now for travel through September 30.
For more information or to book, please visit Hub Porteño with booking code TYL; additional room categories available.
The English supper club troupe Shuttlecock Inc.—known for Mile High, a series of surrealist experiences that transport diners using elaborate sets and intricate menus—will soon cross the pond. The first stateside performance, Destination: London, in New York’s Lower East Side, will be a bawdy air travel-themed comedy paired with Bath chaps, pigeon, clotted cream ice cream, and that subversive, Monty Python charm.
Watch this video for four unexpected summer activities that keep you out of the summer heat.
1. Summer Camp for Adults
At Wisconsin’s Camp Wandawega, about 90 minutes from Chicago, “campers,” or adult travelers, can take dips in the cool, shallow lake between breezy naps on a hammock. Another favorite spot for grown ups is Camp Grounded, north of San Francisco in the shade of towering Redwoods, where there’s rock climbing and sign-alongs—and no cell phones allowed.
If dating at ground level has proved difficult, perhaps it’s time to set your relationship sights a bit higher. About 30,000 feet higher.
Like your mother, airlines and social entrepreneurs have taken an interest in your love life. But thanks to social media, a handful of tech tools, and a high-security environment with few exits, they may actually be able to help you.
What's better than summer? Together with @foodandwine and a few other sister brands, we want to see how you're enjoying the season. Whether it's from this summer or your favorite throwback, share photos on Instagram and include the hashtag #howisummer for a chance to be featured on T+L’s Instagram.
This summer has seen plenty of new thrill rides (watch our Top 6 New Roller Coaster Rides video), and the openings continue. Last week New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure unleashed the Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom, a three-towered attraction for up to eight adrenaline junkies who are hoisted 415 feet into the sky, hover for a handful of seconds to take in the panoramic views, and then drop at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. The entire ride takes less than a minute, but luckily, the euphoria endures.
What are the best hotels, destinations, and travel companies in the world? We're discussing topics from the #TLWorldsBest Awards in our Twitter chat on Tuesday, July 29th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Join along to ask the experts for tips and advice!
T+L's Hotels and Food Editor, Jennifer Flowers, @JennFlowers
T+L's Special Correspondent and New Media Editor, Sarah Spagnolo, @SarahSpagnolo
New York's legendary Plaza Hotel has always inspired grand story-telling. There was the little girl named Eloise who lived on the "tippy-top floor" of the hotel. Then the great Jay Gatsby checked in to battle it out with Tom Buchanan. And years later, came the big bad movie Home Alone 2, which was filmed at the property in the 90s.
When the city heads to the beach, the art—and Artsy—follow.
Art happenings are hot in the Hamptons this July and August, from gallery openings to art fairs, benefit auctions, and museum exhibitions. Team members at Artsy, the art collecting and education resource, share their must-see shows on the East End and some of their favorite summer memories so far.
The opulent Palazzo Parigi is taking luxury accommodation in Milan to new heights. The luxury hotel recently debuted its Duomo Suite, which offers residential-style lodging in an elegant space overlooking the city and the Duomo of Milan (of course!). The room features a terrace and multiple balconies, a high-tech kitchen, and the option for one's own private butler.
Every traveler wants to step off a plane looking fresh, but let's face it: even an hour in the air can leave skin dehydrated, oily, and lackluster. I know I always feel the need to dash to the nearest restroom for touch-ups before meeting family or friends in baggage claim. Luckily, Kiehl's wants to relieve us of in-flight beauty stress with their new set of travel essentials, which includes a "First Class" Purifying Hand Treatment, In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist, Eucalyptus Lip Relief, and Midnight Recovery Concentrate.
T+L Editorial Intern Helen Zook shares her take.
The Product: Kiehl's Travel Tested Solutions Set, $49. Available now exclusively at Neiman Marcus.
Looks like Ritz-Carlton is already making a run for the 2015 SMITTY Awards. The brand just launched “Your Memories,” an image-based social network where guests can share their favorite vacation moments, and future travelers can preview the hotel experience.
The constantly updating, tiled photo stream showcases snapshots and video shared by guests on Twitter and Instagram with the #RCMemories hashtag. Users can also submit photos for display directly through the website.
Charleston's chic, classic style is just one of the many reasons readers rank it so highly. Known for its food scene, historic architecture, and good old Southern Charm,the city has nabbed top spot in the US two years in a row. Last year, it ranked seventh in the world overall, jumping to second place this year—and beating international heavyweights such as Rome, Siem Reap, Istanbul, and Mexico City in the process. Only Kyoto scored higher with readers this year.
Sort of good news for Israel: the FAA has lifted its 36-hour ban on flights into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport and the European Aviation Safety Agency, which had previously issued a recommendation for carriers to avoid the area, is now only cautioning national aviation authorities to “base their decisions [on whether to allow carriers to fly there]…on thorough risk assessments.”
All the major U.S. carriers have cancelled today's scheduled arrivals into Tel Aviv, though their arrivals for tomorrow are still set to depart. Lufthansa, however, is suspending flights through today and tomorrow—a prohibition that applies to Lufthansa, Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, and Brussels Airlines. The carrier issued the following statement: “Lufthansa acknowledges the considerable efforts made by Israel to provide the best possible protection for Ben Gurion Airport with the ‘Iron Dome’ shield. As soon as this protection can be verifiably guaranteed, we will resume flight operations.”