Traveling by air can leave even the most seasoned traveler feeling helpless and trapped by the system. Between security lines and flight delays, there are many things out of our control when flying. But it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Smart travelers can take several steps before they fly to help solve any problems that creep up.
These five tips will make flying easier, even on the worst days:
Getting the Best Seat
A friend of mine who frequently flies between New York and Johannesburg on a South African Airways Airbus A340-600 always tries to get seat 73D. Why? It doesn't cost any more than other coach seats, but because of an emergency crew hatch on the floor there is no seat 72D. That means extra feet—not inches—of legroom.
On the heels of a long-awaited decision to loosen liquid restrictions, which went into effect only one week ago, new constrictions are already in place.
Today, the Department of Homeland Security directed that no liquids, gels, aerosols, or powders of any kind be permitted on nonstop flights between the United States and the Russian Federation. Delta is the only domestic carrier to which this applies, although international lines such as Russia’s Aeroflot and TransAero are also affected.
Early last month, Russia banned all liquids from carry-on luggage on all flights entering its two international Moscow airports. The stringent restriction is just a small part of the security operation surrounding the 2014 Winter Games, and was announced just weeks before the EU and the US loosened their liquid policies.
Amidst a heated conflict between travelers who want family-friendly zones on airplanes, and those willing to pay more for childfree cabins, Air New Zealand’s Economy SkyCouch seat is becoming a fast favorite for both sides of the debate.
The flexible seating option, which allows passengers to purchase three adjacent seats and transform them into a wide, flat sofa, has been particularly successful with families.
With a footrest that pulls out from beneath the three seats and armrests that virtually disappear, Air New Zealand has sold the Skycouch as an “ideal solution” for “a parent with two restless kids,” or the perfect play space for young children.
Almost three years ago, Southwest Airlines promised to tap into the international market. Yesterday, the largest US carrier of domestic passengers finally announced the first destinations on its global radar.
While Southwest is creating a stir with its on-sale fares for trips to Aruba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas just in time for summer vacations, this change in itinerary is par for the course.
“This is a stage-setting move for us that has been months, if not years in the making,” said Southwest’s spokesman Brad Hawkins.
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.
Frequent travelers, it’s time to conquer our worst enemy: jet lag.
While there’s no easy way to completely beat jet lag, there are several steps you can take to ease the pain of crossing multiple time zones quickly.
Travel wasn’t always this difficult on our internal clocks. But each technological advancement in transportation also brought changes to our time management. When long-distance railroads took off, matching timetables with local times became a challenge. So in 1883, we created standardized time zones.
The advent of the jet age in 1958 brought a new problem. We suddenly could traverse several time zones faster than our bodies could adjust. Eight years later, the term “jet lag” appeared in the Los Angeles Times (the earliest recorded mention, according to Air & Space magazine).
The term caught on, of course. And, as we know, jet lag is particularly bad when flying east.
Our kudos goes to Expedia; the online booking giant has kicked off 2014 with a slew of intuitive, new features. Filling a void we’d always lamented, there’s itinerary sharing, by which customers can share live itineraries with whomever they choose (updates on delays get sent as real-time notifications). Also new: Scratchpad, a dashboard where you can save your searches and then access them from any device, or sign up for email notifications on price drops on your select routes. And finally, there’s Flight Recommendations, which analyzes your search parameters and suggests alternate airports or itinerary tweaks that might get you a better deal. And none of this could have come at a better time for Expedia, given the groundswell of rumors surrounding Google’s reinvented travel search tools—likely to hit the web come March.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
T+L reached out to some of the industry's top travel experts during a recent Twitter chat to learn what trends would make it big in 2014. From airports enveloped in botanical gardens to in-cabin WiFi on your next cruise, here are their predictions:
The numbers are in, and 2013 was one of the safest years on record to board a passenger plane. According to Dutch research group Aviation Safety Network, the year's 29 airline “accidents” led to 265 deaths, well below 2012's 475 casualties and nowhere near the ten-year high of 1,074 fatalities in 2005.
Data shows a sharp decline in both casualties and incidents since the late 1990's, while the 1960's and 70's repeatedly saw over 80 accidents and upwards of 2,000 fatalities a year. So even though this month's Southwest debacle may keep some Americans afraid of flying, the reality is that there hasn't been a safer time to take to the skies since the 1940's. See the full charts here.
Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.
Here's a head scratcher: What do you get when you take away one business class seat? Three economy seats, of course!
The math comes from an announcement that Delta Air Lines is drastically reducing business-class seating from its aircraft. On an unspecified number of B777 planes, 23 economy seats will squeeze into space formerly taken up by only seven premier seats. On B767s, Delta will scrap twelve seats from the business class cabin.