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Find Flights for Less on Momondo.com

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Have you heard of Momondo.com yet? I’m always scouting for affordable flights, like every savvy traveler these days, and recently came across this Copenhagen-based aggregator (U.S. searches make up one-third of its market).

Whenever I encounter a site like this, I’m skeptical—how can this site really be better than the rest?—but it’s hard to argue with Momondo’s credentials. It claims to search more than 750 airfare sources (U.S. competitor Kayak covers roughly half that), including low-cost carriers, consolidators, aggregators, fledgling and major airlines. And when traveler advocate Arthur Frommer tested the top American agreegators—including Kayak, SideStep, and FareChase—only to find that the European Momondo consistently found fares that were 20 to 40 percent less.

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Airport Body Scanners Raise Radiation Exposure, Committee Says

Bloomberg News |   Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation, an inter-agency report said.

Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, even though the radiation dose from body scanners is “extremely small,” said the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety report, which is restricted to the agencies concerned and not meant for public circulation. The group includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.



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UK Barring Air Travelers Who Refuse Full Body Scans

Daily Mail |  Air passengers who refuse to submit to controversial full body scans will be barred from boarding their flights.
The technology—which has been strongly condemned by civil liberties campaigners—began operating at Heathrow and Manchester airports yesterday. Birmingham will follow suit later this month before the anti-terror devices are rolled out nationally....
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: 'In the immediate future, only a small proportion of airline passengers will be selected for scanning.

'If a passenger is selected for scanning and declines, they will not be permitted to fly.'


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Southwest’s No-Bag-Fee Strategy

201002-b-bryan-correirajpgTravel Weekly |  While airlines continue to rack up even more revenue by charging higher checked-baggage fees, Southwest remains resolved to let bags fly free, saying it has enabled the carrier to capture market share from its competitors.

And a recent report analyzing the baggage-fee bonanza suggests that while Southwest might be forgoing hundreds of millions of dollars in immediate cash, the low-cost carrier’s strategy promises to pay off in the long run as fed-up passengers make the switch to avoid paying the extra baggage charges. (Read more.)

In other Southwest Airlines news, the Chicago Tribute reports the carrier is adding WiFi to its fleet:

Southwest Airlines finally has decided to wire its Boeing 737 fleet for wireless Internet service after dabbling with the concept for two years.

The big question: Will the discounter offer its Wi-Fi service for peanuts?

Texas-based Southwest said Friday that it plans to begin outfitting its aircraft to handle Row 44 Inc.'s satellite-based broadband service by the second quarter.

Southwest initially will install equipment on about 15 aircraft per month and gradually increase that rate to 25 planes per month. It estimates that Wi-Fi will be available on the more than 540 planes in its fleet by early 2012.

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Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Air France to Charge Obese Travelers for Two Seats

Telegraph |  From next month seriously overweight flyers will be asked to pay for two seats, or not be allowed on board for “safety reasons”, the airline announced yesterday.

“People who arrive at the check-in desk and are deemed too large to fit into a single seat will be asked to pay for and use a second seat,” said Monique Matze, an Air France spokesman.

“They will be charged 75 per cent of the cost of the second seat, which is the full price excluding tax and surcharges, on top of the full price for the first.

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Designing a Better Boarding Pass

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Back in mid-December, Tyler Thompson,  creative director at New York web-hosting site, SquareSpace, took a Delta flight from New York’s JFK airport to Seattle, on which he apparently didn’t have adequate reading material.  Thompson cast a professional eye at his boarding pass and found it lacking not only visual punch, but also clarity of information.

In-flight, Thompson sketched out a few different ways to better communicate the pertinent information, and then back at his computer he created some mock-ups.  Next, he opened up the redesign project to the design community through a web site: Boarding Pass/Fail.  What has transpired since the site went live in early January is an entertaining public conversation  about everything wrong with this small, disposable necessity of air travel. Here’s hoping the airline industry takes notice.

On my wish list for Thompson and his fellow designers to tackle next?  The ground transportation signage at JFK airport, please.  Any travel-related  designs you love to hate?

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

Photo Credit: Tyler Thompson

Bird-Plane Collisions May Pass 10,000

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This month marks the one-year anniversary of the US Airways’ miracle landing in New York on the Hudson River. Veteran pilot Captain Sully is a full-fledged national hero, and the incident in which all 155 passengers survived is a now fuzzy memory. But, the cause of the crash—Canada geese in the plane’s engine—has not gone away.

A new government report claims that the tally of bird-plane collisions (or "bird strikes") could reach as high as 10,000 for the first time ever. Some incidents caused serious damage, even death. And annual damages in the U.S. alone have been estimated at over $400 million.

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Security Gripe? There’s an App for That

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After a flurry of security breaches and a healthy public outcry over the holidays, travelers with iPhones can give the Transportation Security Administration a piece of their minds. The tech company On the Spot Systems, Inc. announced a new iPhone application that allows flyers to rate airport security screening via a TSA survey.

Originally created to capture reviews for restaurants, hotels, and services,  Survey on the Spot’s first phone application rolled out in November 2009. Now is shaping up to be the perfect time for the feedback interface to include airport security in its fold.

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Obama Orders Security Upgrade

USA Today |  WASHINGTON — President Obama, declaring that the "buck stops with me" when it comes to protecting the nation from terrorists, ordered stepped up aviation security and released a declassified report on intelligence failures behind the near-catastrophic Christmas Day attack.

Under the directives issued Thursday, airline passengers will face more pat-downs and many will be put through body-scanning machines in coming months while counterterrorism officials revamp the government's terrorist watch lists and establish clearer lines of accountability to follow intelligence leads about plots.

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Airports Intensify Screening of Airline Passengers Heading to U.S.

The Globe and Mail |  Airline passengers heading to the United States met increased security screening Monday in airports around the world following U.S. requests for stricter checks after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to ignite explosives on a flight to Detroit.

Pakistan's national airline said it was intensifying security checks for U.S.-bound passengers, even though there are no direct flights to the States from Pakistan. Screening was also stepped up for those flying to the U.S. from other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said people flying into the United States from countries such as Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria are to face the extra screening, which is likely to annoy passengers already facing intrusive security procedures.

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