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How Big Can My Carry-On Bag Be These Days?

Carry-on bag

Though some airlines (JetBlue; Alaska) give you a few extra inches here and there, the major domestic carriers are all in agreement: the maximum allowable carry-on bag is 22" x 14" x 9". This standard has been in place for years, but in the past airlines were lenient about ensuring bags adhered to it. United, however, started enforcing its size limits in March. So to play it safe, invest in a suitcase that doesn’t exceed those measurements.

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

Courtesy of Rimowa

The Plane Truth: You Don't Really Know Someone Till You've Flown Together

Writer's on Flying

The first argument I had with the woman who became my wife concerned not punctuality, past romances, who pays for what, or any of the usual early-relationship bones of contention, but the proper response to a 3-3 seat configuration on a transcontinental flight.

I’m partial to windows, meaning I need a damn window seat, while Nilou is an aisle person. This being a full flight, I’d booked us a window and a middle, stupidly assuming she’d want to sit together.

“Wait—you didn’t get me the aisle?”

“And put a stranger between us? What good is that?”

“Good for my sanity is what it is.”

“But don’t you want to cuddle?”

“Not now I don’t.”

It was our first trip together, and it seemed destined to be our last. I love my wife to pieces, and think she feels the same, but at that particular moment, on that particular plane, it’s safe to say we loved each other a little less.

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Are Frequent Flyer Programs Worth It Anymore?

Airline loyalty

In an upheaval of frequent-flier programs, major domestic airlines will soon be basing your benefits on the amount of money you spend with the carrier rather than on the distance you fly—a move that privileges front-of-the-plane travelers over those who are more price-sensitive.

Delta led the charge in February, saying that beginning next year it will calculate your award miles according to ticket price, rather than miles flown. United made a similar announcement in June. (They also both instituted minimum-spend requirements for elite status with their programs this year.) JetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin America already have similar models in place.

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Air France and Lufthansa Pilots Strike: What You Need to Know

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Welcome to airline strike season in Europe. Air France canceled half of its flights today as pilots expressed their opposition to the airline's plan to shift focus to a lower-cost (and lower-paying) subsidiary. Thousands of travelers across Europe have been impacted—a number that will surely increase if the strikes continue through the week as planned.

And in Frankfurt, Lufthansa pilots declared an eight-hour strike set for Tuesday, which will disrupt the airline’s long-haul flights. In negotiations regarding Lufthansa’s early retirements packages, the pilots union has led strikes (at the budget subsidiary Germanwings) and walkouts since August.

Both airlines have worked proactively to minimize the strikes’ impact on travelers, rebooking with partner carriers and offering hotel-stays in the event that no alternative flight is found.

While strikes can throw a wrench in anyone’s travel plans, there are a few ways to lower your risks, as detailed by T+L’s Trip Doctor, Amy Farley. Here's what you need to know: 

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Southwest Reveals Bold New Look

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Domestic airlines have been upgrading right and left in recent months, from introducing premium economy seats (Hawaiian Airlines) to new-and-improved websites (Virgin America). This week, Southwest got in on the action, revealing top-to-bottom design updates that include a new logo, livery, app, and website.

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Nancy Novogrod: The Exit Interview

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Before we let longtime Travel + Leisure editor in chief Nancy Novogrod walk out the door to pursue new opportunities (including writing a book), we had a few questions for her. As you can imagine, after 21 years traversing the globe on behalf of the magazine, Nancy has some opinions about travel—how it has evolved, where it’s going, and what experiences and destinations rise to the top. Here, the Nancy Novogrod Exit Interview. 

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Cute Animals Help Passengers Relax on British Airways

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This month, nervous flyers and homesick cat and dog owners can tune into British Airways’ new, adorable, Paws & Relax channel.

The stream of cat and dog footage (think camera-collar documentaries and animated shorts) is perfect for entertaining young travelers, and for soothing anxious passengers during their fight.

Of course, who hasn't spent hours at their computer streaming cute cats and cuddly pups on YouTube?

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How Do Airlines Decide Who to Bump?

Passenger at Airline Customer Service Counter

Each carrier makes its own rules regarding who gets boarding priority when a flight is oversold or over capacity because of a change in aircraft. After looking for volunteers to give up their seats, some domestic carriers bump those who checked in last; others start with passengers in the lowest fare class. All of them give priority to people in special circumstances: those whose trips would be severely delayed, travelers with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, and (naturally) people in premier cabins or with elite loyalty-club status.

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

 

Photo: iStockphoto


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Air Passenger Fracas Serves Warning: Recline at Your Own Risk

Maybe you heard the story today from the AP. Male air passenger places a Knee Defender device on the seat back in front of him, preventing that seat from reclining. Female passenger in that seat objects. Flight attendant tells man to remove device, man refuses, woman complainant drenches the man with water. (Why oh why couldn’t it have been red wine?! Much better story that way.) Pilot diverts the Newark-Denver flight to Chicago, where the two offending parties are removed, but not arrested. We all know who is right and who is wrong in this tale. Right?

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Airplane Wi-Fi Just Got Better

Airplane Wi-Fi

It's easier than ever to stay connected in the air. Early next year, Gogo—offered on nine North American carriers, including Alaska, American/US Airways, United, and Delta—will increase bandwidth to a whopping 70-plus megabits per second (mbps) on 800 planes. It's the difference between surfing the Web and streaming an HD movie. Also on tap: an app for texting in flight. JetBlue has launched Fly-Fi, a proprietary 20-plus-mbps service (free; $9 per hour for streaming video) on part of its fleet; all A320's will be equipped by early 2015. On the international front, OnAir is available on airlines ranging from All Nippon to Etihad; Singapore Airlines is the latest to sign on, with Wi-Fi on its A340's, A380's, and Boeing 777-300ER's ($10 for 10 MB, or $12 per hour). British Airways recently joined up with Inmarsat, which plans to roll out Europe's first ground-based (as opposed to satellite) 4G broadband network by the end of 2016. Speeds will be in excess of 70 mbps.

Photo: iStockPhoto

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