/
Close
Newsletters  | Mobile

RSS Feed Air Travel

FAA Approves Boeing 787 Dreamliner Battery Modifications

201304-b-boeing-787-dreamlinerjpg

On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration officially announced its approval of Boeing’s re-design for the 787 Dreamliner. Nearly four months after a series of alarming battery fires caused the FAA to the ground the aircraft, Boeing is eager to put its fuel-efficient fleet back in the air.

Modifications to the lithium-ion battery system include extra insulation around each of the battery’s eight cells to prevent short circuit fires from spreading, enhanced venting to move smoke from inside the battery to outside of the plane, and a strengthened box to further contain fires.

These changes, according to transportation secretary Ray LaHood, "will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers."

While many airlines—including All Nippon Airways and Japan Airways—are also awaiting the 787’s release, any return to service will have to wait until the FAA accepts Boeing’s completed work.

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

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Open Letter to an Airplane Seatmate

airplane seats

Dear Airplane Seatmate,

Remember when we used to be cordial? You’d show me a photo of your kid, I’d show you my dachshund, and we’d giggle while munching pretzels. I’m loath to admit it, but I don’t miss those days. Like a couple who’ve been together for decades, we’re way beyond chitchat. That’s why I brought my iPad.

Yet there are still a few simple rules of engagement that will keep us both happy. For starters, don’t order bottle after teensy bottle until you fall asleep on my shoulder. Don’t ask if your spouse/partner/mother-in-law can switch seats with me. I booked this spot for a reason (and won’t you see plenty of them on vacation?). If I offer you a mint, take it—please. And by all means, lay off the perfume! We’re sitting in an airtight container, after all.

Sorry to be so blunt. Even if this feels like public transportation, it really isn’t. But there’s no reason we can’t be civil. I’ll happily give you the armrest and lower the shade so you can watch your movie. We may never be Facebook friends, but you’re still my high-flying compadre, taking in the world with me from an awe-inspiring 36,000 feet, and if we hit some unexpected turbulence, you can bet I’ll be grabbing your arm.

Yours,
The T+L Editors

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

 

 

Photo by iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: How to Get a Good Airplane Seat

airline seats

Q: How can I get a good seat on my flight if I don’t have elite status? —Anne R., Bozeman, Mont.

A: As airlines reduce their schedules and pack more people onto planes, economy passengers are increasingly feeling the pinch. Adding insult to (squashed-knee) injury, carriers also reserve covetable window and aisle seats for high-ranking loyalty-program members. But you needn’t get stuck in the middle. Here, some ways to find a better seat.

Choose your flights by cabin layout.

Seatguru, our favorite online airline-seat-map compendium, has recently added a new flight-search function that lets you filter results by comfort as well as the usual factors (price, duration, etc.). Mining the site’s trove of cabin data to assess both seats and in-flight amenities, Seatguru offers you an overall “G-Factor” rating of “Love it,” “Like it,” or “Live with it” for each flight—and tells you how much it will cost to trade up for a plane with more legroom or a seat-back entertainment system.

Read More

American Airlines Temporarily Grounds Fleet Over Computer Error

News sources from The New York Times to Skift are reporting that American Airlines has grounded its entire fleet after a computer glitch caused its reservation system to go offline, making it impossible to check passengers in. The airline plans to resume service at 5 p.m. EST.

This is just the latest news in a jittery day for travelers. After the bombings in Boston yesterday, security in cities and at airports around the country has been on high alert. Earlier today, the central terminal building at New York’s LaGuardia Airport was evacuated for an hour due to a suspicious package. The airport was reopened after police determined the package posed no threat.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

CNN Video: What the Airline Quality Rankings Mean

T+L's International Editor Mark Orwoll appeared in on CNN this weekend to discuss the airline quality rankings released last week. Watch as he discusses the rise of customer complaints about surcharges, ticketing, and personnel and offers tips about getting the seat you want and not getting bumped.

Trip Doctor: Delta's Expiration-Free SkyMiles Now Expire With You

201301-b-delta-aircraftjpg

In 2011, Delta made headlines by axing expiration dates on SkyMiles, the airline’s frequent flier mileage program. Last month, the carrier garnered some less friendly press with a slight addendum to its no-expiration policy: The miles don’t expire…until the mileage holder does.

Prior to the March 20 announcement, SkyMiles could transfer to next of kin, but as NBC reported, such transactions are no longer permitted by Delta. Frequent fliers are unsurprisingly displeased at the policy change, and have even started an online petition against it.

But not all the heat should fall on Delta. JetBlue, Southwest, and United all have similar restrictions. Meanwhile, a slew of other airlines, including Alaska, American Airlines, and US Airways allow miles earned to transfer after death.

Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly Singley has countered any criticism by noting that SkyMiles reward those who have directly participated in the program and showed loyalty to the airline.

Frequent Flier's Tim Winship explained the main takeaway to NBC: “The lesson there is don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you’re sitting on a huge cache of frequent flier miles because tomorrow the program that you earned those miles in could make some kind of an enormous systemic change that pulls the rug out from under the value of those miles.” How comforting.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Tech Thursday: The Solar Plane Heading Across America

Think solar-powered airplanes are the talk of futurists? Not really. Solar Impulse, a company started by two innovative engineers, has been flying by the power of the sun since 2010, when it accomplished an incredible 26-hour flight without an ounce of fuel. Their plane, covered in solar panels across the length of its 208-foot wingspan, is now embarking on a new mission, criss-crossing America to raise awareness for sustainable energy.

The journey begins on May 1, with stops in San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and New York. But keep an eye out for open houses, where guests will be able to check out the plane in all its high-tech glory at various airports (the first is tentatively slated for next Saturday at Moffett Federal Airfield, in San Francisco).

As for the company’s next goal? A flight around the world, currently scheduled for 2015.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

 

Trip Doctor: Airlines Cautiously Optimistic About Dreamliner's Return to the Skies

Even though Boeing’s beleaguered 787 Dreamliner has yet to get FAA approval for its proposed battery improvements, multiple airlines have included the new plane in updated flight schedules, as USA Today's Ben Mutzabaugh reports.

Qatar Airways, for example, plans to resume Dreamliner service between Doha and London on May 15th, while United Airlines hopes to use the troubled jet for some Houston-Denver flights by May 31, five days earlier than the company had previously announced. Spokespeople are quick to clarify that these schedule changes are tentative, and entirely dependent on the FAA’s clearing the Dreamliner to fly.

Still, the news that airlines are adding Dreamliners back into their schedules at all suggests restored confidence that Boeing’s fix to the lithium batteries will be enacted and approved soon.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Trip Doctor: Air Turbulence Set To Increase by 2050

2013-hd-turbulencejpg

Better sit down and buckle your safety belt for this one: According to a new study cited by Reuters' Nina Chestney, turbulent flights may become the new normal in the coming decades. If you've flown over the Atlantic Ocean, you've probably experienced the occasional bumpy ride caused by atmospheric conditions like jet streams and weather fronts, but joint findings from Reading and East Anglia, two English universities, predict air turbulence will grow in both  strength and frequency as carbon dioxide emissions increase. In other words: More CO2 in the air, the rougher we can expect our flights to be.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, posits that by 2050, chances of encountering significant turbulence in the North Atlantic flight corridor will jump by between 40 and 170 percent. On top of that, the average strength of the turbulence will increase by between 10 and 40 percent.

The aviation industry already spends an estimated $150 million annually to repair damage caused by turbulence. The increased risks will likely lead to route detours, which will in turn bump up fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and airport delays. Can't wait.
 

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by istockphoto

Watch: What Does the New Airline Performance Report Mean?

Travel + Leisure's Mark Orwoll appeared on NBC's TODAY Show this morning to discuss the airline performance report released this week. How will it impact you? Watch the clip (above) and find out.

Advertisement

Sign Up


Connect With Travel + Leisure
  • Travel+Leisure
  • Tablet
  • Available devices

Already a subscriber?
Get FREE ACCESS to the digital edition


Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Marketplace