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New Grounds for Diverting a Plane: Unsolicited Karaoke

In many instances, airlines seem to assume that passengers have a pretty high threshold for discomfort and inconvenience. Yes, they seem to think, you can handle sitting on a tarmac for a few hours, perhaps with no A/C or working toilets. You’re tough, right?

But according to a recent CNN report, American Airlines has declared a limit to what humans should have to put up with while in transit, and the repeated singing of “I Will Always Love You” is clearly over the line.

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Beauty Bust: Turkish Airlines Lifts Lipstick Ban

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Calling all flight attendants: if you enjoy getting dolled-up for work, you are now allowed to board Turkish Airlines. 

As we mentioned earlier this month, the national carrier had placed a ban on red and dark pink lipstick and nail polish, in fear that it would impair the “visual integrity” of its staff, according to Skift. Chief Executive Temel Kotil claims this was a decision made by junior managers, and that there is in fact no ban on the beauty products—female staff can wear lipstick and nail polish of any color.

My only question—why were the junior managers so concerned with these classic lip colors? Blue lipstick was a huge fad in the 1990’s, and who can forget the coral-colored pouts of the ‘80’s? Let’s just hope the airline was aiming for retro, and hold tight to our shadow and mascara.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: iStockPhoto

American Airlines Offers New Ways to Show Off Your Klout

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If you're like me, you've often stood at a crowded airport gate, clutching your plastic container of sad, limp salad-to-go and gazing enviously at the door of the business-class lounge just across the concourse. What wonders might lie beyond that forbidding threshold: Cocktails? Delicious nibbles? Spotless bathrooms??

If you're also like me, you probably dabble a bit in social media, tweeting and Facebooking and checking in on Foursquare. As it turns out, enough dabbling can get you through that door. American Airlines just announced a partnership with Klout, the service that measures influence on social media. Klout scores are determined by a mysterious algorithm based on your activity on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks; if it's 55 or higher, you'll earn a free day pass to any of American's Admirals Club lounges around the world. They don't even care if you're flying AA or not: The goal is to attract people who are likely to tweet gratefully about the comfortable seats or Instagram their glass of Champagne—using the lounge's complimentary Wi-Fi, of course. (Those with humbler Klout scores get a chance to win a free year's Admiral's Club membership.)

I don't pay much attention to my Klout score, but after reading about the new initiative on Skift.com, I checked it, and—lo and behold—discovered that it's 59! That pales next to Justin Bieber's 93, but it was enough to gain me entry. I immediately signed up and got an email with my day pass attached. I plan to use it during a four-hour layover in Boston this Sunday (and I'm flying on United). Keep an eye on my Instagram feed for pictures of peanuts!

Peter J. Frank is the director, editorial product development at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of American Airlines

Nothing Inspires Passenger Confidence Like Silly Costumes

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Spring Airlines, based in China, probably thought they had a fun promotion on their hands: Dress the flight attendants in themed costumes to liven up the flights from Shanghai. Their first idea, posted on the Facebook page? Classic, and maybe short-skirted, maid costumes. Folks like to feel that they're getting good service, right?

Indeed, from various reports published in the past months, it seems that the bad ol’ days of “Coffee Tea or Me” for flight attendants might be making a comeback. Both Ryanair and Thailand-based Nok airlines have been dinged recently for selling calendars featuring flight attendants (or models posing as flight attendants) in skimpy outfits, while Vietnam’s VietJet Air actually staged a beauty contest down the aisle of an aloft flight last year, to celebrate a new route. (In that case, at least the bathing-suit-clad contestants weren’t crew members.)

For Spring Airlines, the frilly-skirted maid joke clearly fell flat. Some bloggers and Twitter usershave taken the airline to task—for objectifying the crew members, certainly, and perhaps even for putting their onboard safety at risk, due to those teeter-y heels. The airline responded by posting on Facebook that “We'll never objectify any of our staff; in fact this idea came from our international crew of qualified Chinese, Japanese and Thailand cabin staff.”

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Delta Pop-Up in SoHo Provides Preview of JFK's New Terminal 4

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A few years after JetBlue’s new-and-improved Terminal 5 opened at JFK, the airport has pumped $1.4 billion into Terminal 4, set to reopen this month. In anticipation of the expanded space, Delta Air Lines has launched an experiential pop-up in SoHo, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through May 22. Called "T4X," it comes complete with an upstairs Delta Sky Club (where you can charge your phone and relax with a copy of The New York Times), and an interactive digital 3-D model of the new terminal.

The pop-up is a preview of what’s to come in Terminal 4, where travelers will find Shake Shack and Blue Smoke from famed New York restaurateur Danny Meyer; a street food-inspired concept and a New York-style brasserie from Marcus Samuelsson; and an outpost of Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery. To which we say: arrive early, arrive hungry.  

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo by Anna Webber

Martha Stewart's Travel Beauty Bag

Martha Stewart's beauty bag

The domestic doyenne and author of this month’s Living the Good Long Life (Random House; $28) reveals her carry-on arsenal.

Clé de Peau Beauté Refining Fluid Foundation ($120). “The best I’ve found.”

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($146).Always use it pre-makeup.”

Susan Ciminelli Algae Deep Cleanse ($65). “Feels so fresh!”

Fekkai Salon Technician Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner ($18). “Makes hair, in a word, lustrous.”

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer ($70). “Protects my skin with sunblock and has a hint of color.”

Mario Badescu Super Rich Olive Body Lotion ($10). “I transfer it to a tiny bottle and add a Martha Stewart for Avery label. I have to stay organized!”

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.

 

Photo by John Lawton

Richard Branson Inches Closer to Space Dreams

In what can only be described as one small step for space travelers, one giant leap for Virgin Galactic's publicity team, WhiteKnightTwo, a Sir Richard Branson-owned passenger aircraft, managed to reach an altitude of 46,000 feet over the Mojave Desert yesterday. The test flight lasted all of 16 seconds.

Branson called it "stunning" and "a critical day," according Reuter's Irene Klotz. The airline, mobile service, and music label magnate has been pushing for commercial space flights for almost a decade, even going so far as to accept deposits on the $200,000 tickets. Now that one of his craft's has achieved some small measure of escape velocity, Branson and his two grown children plan to fly in a second test of the WhiteKnightTwo scheduled tomorrow. Watch a YouTube video of the test flight above.

Related: Virgin's Sir Richard Branson: Ode to Abstinence

Good News for Travelers: Congress Passes Bill to Restore Air Service

Well, that was fast. After a week of frustrating airport delays brought on by furloughed F.A.A. workers, Congress speedily passed a bill to return air traffic to normal today. As The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman reports, the bill prevents "further furloughs through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year."

What does that mean for you? Well, as an air traveler it means fewer delays for your next trip. As a taxpayer? That all depends on what you think about the budget crisis that created those furloughs in the first place.

Trip Doctor: How to Make a Tight Flight Connection

tight flight connection

Do...

Ask to be moved closer to the front of the cabin just before landing, so you can make a quick exit.

Run straight to the gate for your connection—even if it’s past your departure time.

Don’t...

Despair. A flight won’t wait for one passenger, but system-wide delays might result in a lucky break.

Book tight connections through large airports. Anything less than a 90-minute window is unrealistic.

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

 

Illustration by Paul Windle

Trip Doctor: Airbus Announces Wider Seats for Some, Narrow Seats for Most

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At last week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Airbus announced that it would soon offer airlines the option of extra-wide seats in coach on its A320 fleet. Good news? Debatable.

Yes, the aisle seats in the new configuration would be a spacious 20” wide (two inches wider than the current 18” seats). But to make room for the extra width, the middle and window seats would each shrink by an inch.

As Dominic Perry from Flight Daily News reported, the new configuration plans are based on airline, not passenger, feedback, and are meant to increase revenue, not comfort.

Airbus aircraft interiors marketing manager Stefanie Von Linstow explained at the Expo that airline feedback has shown preference for the aisle seat to be the widest. "Passengers in the window seat are already happy, and those in the centre seat might not be willing to pay as much for the extra width," Perry quotes her as saying.

Von Linstow admits that the new configuration is a response to what she politely labels a "growing population," and that it would be a "revenue-boosting solution that keeps a lot passengers happy."

No doubt, passengers paying a premium to be in an aisle seat would be content. As for the two-thirds of "growing" coach passengers sitting in the narrowing seats, it remains to be seen just how happy they'd be.

Photo credit: Reuters/Corbis

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