Our kudos goes to Expedia; the online booking giant has kicked off 2014 with a slew of intuitive, new features. Filling a void we’d always lamented, there’s itinerary sharing, by which customers can share live itineraries with whomever they choose (updates on delays get sent as real-time notifications). Also new: Scratchpad, a dashboard where you can save your searches and then access them from any device, or sign up for email notifications on price drops on your select routes. And finally, there’s Flight Recommendations, which analyzes your search parameters and suggests alternate airports or itinerary tweaks that might get you a better deal. And none of this could have come at a better time for Expedia, given the groundswell of rumors surrounding Google’s reinvented travel search tools—likely to hit the web come March.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
T+L reached out to some of the industry's top travel experts during a recent Twitter chat to learn what trends would make it big in 2014. From airports enveloped in botanical gardens to in-cabin WiFi on your next cruise, here are their predictions:
The numbers are in, and 2013 was one of the safest years on record to board a passenger plane. According to Dutch research group Aviation Safety Network, the year's 29 airline “accidents” led to 265 deaths, well below 2012's 475 casualties and nowhere near the ten-year high of 1,074 fatalities in 2005.
Data shows a sharp decline in both casualties and incidents since the late 1990's, while the 1960's and 70's repeatedly saw over 80 accidents and upwards of 2,000 fatalities a year. So even though this month's Southwest debacle may keep some Americans afraid of flying, the reality is that there hasn't been a safer time to take to the skies since the 1940's. See the full charts here.
Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.
Here's a head scratcher: What do you get when you take away one business class seat? Three economy seats, of course!
The math comes from an announcement that Delta Air Lines is drastically reducing business-class seating from its aircraft. On an unspecified number of B777 planes, 23 economy seats will squeeze into space formerly taken up by only seven premier seats. On B767s, Delta will scrap twelve seats from the business class cabin.
Biometrics have been hot at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, with everything from brain wave monitoring headbands that train you to de-stress to mobile wallet alternatives activated by touch. But the one innovation that’s caught our eye will literally catch yours, too, when you see it deployed in airports and airlines in the not-so-distant future. Eye trackers zoom in on your visual movement, letting you control things literally by looking around—imagine selecting options on your TV by simply affixing your gaze to them, and you’ve got the right idea.
EyeTech, the leader in eye tracking technology, is bringing them to the travel world in partnership with in-flight entertainment company Thales and the University of Arizona.
The battle for transcontinental business travelers got a lot more heated this week with the launch of American Airlines's new A321 jet on flights between New York and Los Angeles. (Come March, the plane will make its debut on New York-San Francisco routes.) The new aircraft—the only three-class plane making the transcontinental trip—takes American's commitment to front-of-the-plane fliers to new heights.
Turkish Airlines loves taking the stage for viral videos. Last year, its commercial featuring Kobe Bryant trying to outdo Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi scored big on YouTube (over 106 million page views and counting). The hilarious campaign also earned them a T+L SMITTY award for Best Overall Use of Social Media in the global airline category.
Now, Turkish Airlines is attempting to recreate the magic with their latest video, once again featuring Bryant and Messi in a face-off, quite literally. In “The Selfie Shootout” the two athletes send pictures of themselves while traveling the globe (walking the Great Wall of China; scuba diving in the Maldives) to one another—the takeaway being that Turkish Airlines can help “widen your world.” With a video this funny, we can’t disagree.
Maria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.
Frequent-flier miles and hotel points are perks of life on the road—currencies that are supposed to make it all worthwhile. A string of stays at cookie-cutter convention hotels and side-of-the-road motels adds up to a free tropical family vacation at a jaw-dropping resort.
That’s the promise, at least.
Most frequent travelers know the ins and outs of these programs well. Some people even become obsessed with their mileage balance. But even the best pro can learn something new. Here are my favorite tips for some of the more obscure ways to earn and redeem miles. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
How do you travel better? We asked a team of experts in a recent Twitter Chat for their rules of the road, which we’re revealing in a series of blog posts. With Christmas being one of the biggest travel days of the year, we wanted to know the first thing our panel does when their flight’s delayed (don’t worry, it won’t happen to you!).
Our T+L Trip Doctor (@TLTripDoctor) is responsible by checking @flightstats to see options for getting on another flight. Well, at least she starts out that way…
In the end, there was an overwhelming consensus by our panelists and chat participants. Digital and Brand Marketer, Melanie Nayer (@chic_travel) and T+L’s Rich Beattie (@richbeattie), Brooke Porter (@brookeporter1), Peter Frank (@pfrank1), and Shane Mitchell (@shanegoesforth) all seem to agree—find the nearest bar!