Frequent-flier miles have gotten a bad reputation: easy to earn, hard to burn. But the truth is, finding an award seat actually got a little less difficult this year, according to a study by consulting agency IdeaWorks, which did trial runs on 24 frequent-flier programs worldwide by attempting to book award tickets on each for travel between June and October 2011. In the programs tested, availability rose to 68.6 percent, up from 66.1 in 2010. But your chances of snagging a free seat depend on which program you’re using. Low-fare airlines around the world scored best. Among the U.S. carriers, Southwest is the easiest to book on, with a 99.3 percent availability rate.
Singapore Airlines, voted our readers’ favorite international airline in this (and most every) year’s World’s Best Awards, just announced a brief but exciting sale to inaugurate its new A380 service from New York: Fly round trip from JFK to Frankfurt for $599 or to Singapore for $888, including *all* taxes and fuel surcharges!
Tickets must be booked between now and November 7 for travel between January 16 and March 31, 2012. Fares to other destinations in Southeast Asia (including Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Seoul) are also available for $999, again with no additional taxes or fees tacked on.
For more information or to book, please visit Singapore Airlines.
Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines
Passport Blog - BBC Travel | This week, Heathrow Airport introduced a new form of transport that will look familiar to fans of mid-century science fiction: emission-free, battery operated personal transit pods.
Instead of waiting for an airport shuttle, Heathrow passengers can hop in one of the pods that arrive every 34 seconds and travel along tracks between the terminals and car parks.
Good news for shopaholics: Korean Air has scrapped 13 seats on each of its new Airbus A380’s to install in-flight duty-free stores—the first of their kind. These walk-in shops carry Lancôme beauty products, Longchamp totes, Crown Royal whisky, and more. Just make your picks, and they’ll be delivered before touchdown.
Illustration by Kagan McLeod
USA Today | President Obama is asking passengers to pay a few dollars more in taxes for an airline ticket — which already is about 20% taxes and fees. And the travel industry is in an uproar about it.
Big airlines say people would buy fewer tickets if Congress approves the president's proposal to help cut the deficit and pay for the nation's aviation system.
Regional airlines, which carry more than half of domestic fliers each day, say it could force them to pull out of small cities.
Small-city airports worry about that.
And some travelers and consumer groups say it's just unfair to ask passengers to pay more on top of the taxes and fees that government and airports already charge.
I just got an email from Virgin Atlantic's P.R. rep announcing a three-day fare sale starting this morning and going through Thursday on airfare between Los Angeles and London. Travel dates are January 10 - March 26. The email said the fares were as low as $296 each way based on a round-trip purchase plus up to $250 in government taxes and fees. That would be a total of $842. But on the Virgin Atlantic website I found a total round-trip airfare of $711 for a departure on February 20 and a return on February 27. That same fare was also available on other travel dates. That's a very good airfare from L.A. The best competitive price on those same travel dates I found using Kayak was $827 on Delta, which is a decent fare in itself.
Imagine a time when air travel included white-gloved stewardesses (flight attendants, who?) serving caviar on board, giving bottles of champagne to fliers just for being nice, and gracing the cover of TIME.
In the modern world of exorbitant fees for checked bags and extra leg room, it’s nearly impossible to believe that a period like that ever existed, but ABC’s new show Pan Am—which debuts Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. and stars Christina Ricci—brings that 1960's Jet Age era of air travel to life. (Think of it as Mad Men, 30,000 feet in the air.)
Here, T+L gets on board with the show’s creator Jack Orman (of JAG and ER fame).
Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport is experimenting with an innovation that air travelers have fitfully dreamt of for years: a safe and clean place to grab a few hours’ sleep.
Installed a month ago in the AeroExpress terminal, the prototype Sleepbox shows travelers a small, private oasis in which to spend layovers. The 13-sq.-ft. box, covered with an attractive pale ash veneer, is efficiently kitted out with two bunks, LED reading lamps, electrical outlets for laptops or phone charging, WiFi, ventilation and sound systems, under-bunk space to stow luggage, and motor-controlled blinds. Apparently, there is even an automated process to change the linens between guests.
No sooner did Google unveil Flights, its new airfare search tool, on Tuesday than the criticism began to fly—not least from key competitor Kayak. But let's let's let Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing officer, speak for himself.
"We recognize Google is a formidable competitor, but they haven't been successful in every vertical they've entered," Birge said in a statement that went on to laud Kayak's own attributes.
I got the statement in an unusual email today from the Kayak's P.R. rep, who suggested that Google Flights doesn't work for international destinations; has no regional airports; and has questionable accuracy when it comes to actual airfares. I noted some of those things myself when I spent some time on the site this morning and Tweeted about it.
When Mother Nature unleashes her wrath, there’s not much air travelers can do except wait it out. And, of course, reschedule their flights. But as we know, getting through to a customer service rep is half the battle. And we’re not just talking about reaching them by phone; when customers tweet, they expect a response. Pronto.
So with Hurricane Irene storming her way up the East Coast last week, what airlines were most easily reachable? STELLAService—an independent company that rates customer service quality—wanted to find out. So on Friday, August 26, they called each of the 10 largest U.S. airlines an average of eight times between 9am and 6:30 pm ET. They also directed 12 tweets to each airline between 12am ET and 12pm ET that day.