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Should You Pay for Wi-Fi? Airports Explore Tiered Service

USA Today |  For years, one of the top if not the top amenity on many road warriors' wish lists has been free Wi-Fi at the airport. Slowly but surely, it's happening.

Take a look at the USATODAY.com Airport Guides, airport websites, and various commercial and user-generated Wi-Fi directories. You'll see there are now hundreds of U.S. airports offering travelers complimentary wireless Internet access.

San Francisco? Free. Orlando? Free. Seattle, St. Louis and San Jose? Free, free, free. Washington's Dulles and National airports? As of April, 2011, free as well.

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The Airplane of the Future Will Melt Your Mind

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I have seen the future of air travel, and it will be (to use scientific jargon) freakin' awesome. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus today released its report on what air travel may be like in 2050. And all I can say is hold on to your hat, Cap'n Sully, because it is going to be one way cool ride.

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Buy Dad an Airline Beverage Cart on eBay

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Ever wonder what happens to the bits and bobs of airplanes after they’re decommissioned?  You can find them on eBay.

Universal Asset Management buys retired planes and strips them to recycle their components.  The company runs an eBay storefront where you can shop for all your engine aft thrust fitting needs—from an entire A320 lavatory (!) to cockpit seats, galley carts, overhead bins, first aid kits, a row of luridly colored 747 seats, to more technical items like circuit panels, wheels, assembly valves, tail cones, and oil gauges.  The products that make the eBay store are not longer flight-worthy, of course, except for flights of fancy.  Those overhead bins would look cool mounted over a airplane-crazy child's bed...

Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Universal Asset Management.

TODAY Show: Don't Get Hit With Hidden Travel Fees

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Travel + Leisure's features director, Nilou Motamed, breaks down taxes, fees, and surcharges some airlines are burying in the cost of plane tickets purchased through rewards programs.

Effective Today, American Airlines Requires Large Strollers to Be Checked As Baggage

If you're ever among the last to board a flight, as I often am, you're familiar with the sight of baby strollers, sometimes a dozen or more, parked in the jetway near the aircraft door. Long a tradition with family travelers, "gate-checking" strollers is commonplace on most airlines. Passengers often prefer to keep infants in their strollers until they enter the plane, leave the carriers with a crew member to be stored just before departure, and then brought back out onto the next jetway after arrival. But don't count on doing that with many types of strollers anymore if you're flying on American Airlines. Starting today, a new AA rule stipulates that "all strollers that are large, non-collapsible or over 20 lbs." must be checked at the ticket counter.

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New Drink May Cure Hangovers (and Jetlag)

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That zany four-pack Phil, Stu, Alan, Doug and their fifth wheel Mr. Chow are back with another mind-blowing bender—this time in Thailand—as The Hangover Part II hits silver screens today across the U.S. While no one may ever match the debauchery of their first go-around in Las Vegas, on a smaller level (I’ve never commandeered a cop car or abducted Mike Tyson’s tiger) I can relate to this buffoonish bunch.


Once on a 14-hour, cross-continental schlep from Salt Lake City to Brisbane, Australia, things got a bit foggy. When I peeled my eyelids open in the morning, I was met by a nausea only achievable when quaffing strong cocktails 3,000-feet above ground. On another trip, I found myself leaning against a pillar at the Acropolis in the sweltering European heat after indulging in copious amounts of Ouzo on the last leg of a connecting flight to Athens the previous night. Not even a Greek deity could have curbed that queasiness.


The plight of the red-eye flier is common. Who can resist settling in for a pre-trip potation? Luckily for travelers everywhere, the choice between in-flight inebriation and next-day functionality may be over.

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Delta, SkyTeam Announce Deep Capacity Cuts

USA Today |  The busy summer travel season is not even upon us yet and Delta Air Lines and its major SkyTeam partners—Air France, KLM and Alitalia—announced trans-Atlantic capacity cuts today for this fall.

Capacity will decline by 7% to 9% over the same time period in 2010, according to these airlines, which operate with antitrust immunity in the trans-Atlantic market, allowing them to legally coordinate schedules and collude on prices.

The airlines say that the capacity cuts are due to "fluctuations in seasonal demand," but it is also likely that the airline industry is bracing for a decline in international travel after the usually busy summer vacation season due to the inflated price of oil, which has been hovering in the $100 per barrel range for some time.

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Fly Business Class to Paris for $701

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OpenSkies, the all business-class airline that flies to Paris, is celebrating the first anniversary of its Washington, D.C. route with a sale.  Fly to Paris and back in a cushy business seat for just $701, each way, based on roundtrip purchase. Book before May 20 for travel between May 16 and July 9.

OpenSkies flights carry just 84 passengers at a time, in comfortable seating (with not just personal entertainment systems and lots of legroom, but electrical outlets as well), and gourmet in-flight dining complete with wine and Champagne.  This kind of civilized treatment makes it hard to return to economy.

Book before Friday midnight by visiting FlyOpenSkies.com, or call (866) 581-3596.

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: iStock

Travel Editor Gets A Refund—And A Comeuppance

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Sometimes an airline does things right. Not often, true, but every once in a great while. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I rarely have anything good to say about the airline industry. New regulations announced this month by the Department of Transportation are just the latest evidence that the airlines aren't able to offer good customer service on their own, and have to rely on the government to step in and force them to be good corporate citizens. But here's a quick little story that shows maybe, just maybe, things are improving and that at least one airline is doing things better.

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DOT Enacts Sweeping New Air-Passenger Protections

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It has been 12 years since the air-passenger rights movement first got off the ground, but now it's positively soaring, thanks to a new set of consumer protections announced today by the Department of Transportation. Among other things, provisions in the new rule would close a loophole that exempted international flights from the tarmac delay limits enacted last year; require airlines to prominently list all fees a passenger might face on a flight; increase maximum compensation paid to involuntarily bumped passengers from a range of $400-$800 to $650-$1,300; allow passengers to cancel or change a reservation within 24 hours with no penalty (if the reservation is made at least a week before departure); and force airlines to refund baggage fees when they lose a customer's luggage. Most of the provisions will go into effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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