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.
Miffed that airport security full-body scans can feel so cold and impersonal? Don’t worry—your TSA officer may soon want to chat you up before they pat you down.
For the next 60 days or so, select TSA agents at Boston’s Logan Airport, trained to detect behavior that may indicate that a passenger is nervous about more than turbulence, are using their powers of observation to change the screening process.
Starting this week air passengers will be well compensated for a flight delay. Want to know more? Travel + Leisure's international editor, Mark Orwoll, spells out the new airline passenger rules.
Travel + Leisure Features Director Nilou Motamed takes to the skies to find out what—exactly—it's like to be a flight attendant.
Smaller carriers have upped competition with major airlines this summer, introducing new routes into large hubs. Virgin America is starting flights into Chicago O’Hare (a hub for both United and American), Frontier is adding service out of Denver, and JetBlue is now flying into Anchorage. Generally, when smaller carriers introduce discount flights, major airlines slash their prices on that route out of competition, to make it as painful as possible for the other airline. (When JetBlue started service in May between Newark and Boston, Continental dropped its fares to as low as $49 one-way.) For the average flier, this can also mean mileage bonuses and more options and capacity, as well as lower-priced tickets.
Alexander Basek is a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure.