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Travelocity's Thanksgiving Task Force Keeps Flyers Up-to-Date with Twitter

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Today and tomorrow are among the busiest travel days for the entire year, as folks make their ways to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. If you’re one of the many who will brave the crowded airports (something I have done once, and will never do again), you may not be able to avoid delays, but you can at least get a heads-up.

For the tenth year, Travelocity has set up its Thanksgiving Task Force, which places spotters in 12 airports across the country to monitor and post updates on security wait times, delays and cancellations, and crowd conditions.

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FAA Plans to Ease Thanksgiving Air Travel Delays

Air traffic may be a little less congested this Thanksgiving holiday period as the FAA, in cooperation with the Defense Department, said it will allow commercial flights in otherwise restricted military airspace beginning at 6 a.m. Tuesday, November 23, a day earlier than last year.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced this morning that the Defense Department will open airspace over such highly congested areas as the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Southwest. Normal inland routes can continue to be used, according to the FAA.

The busiest Thanksgiving travel days are expected to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday. Normal airspace restrictions will go back into effect at 6 a.m. Monday, November 29.

The announcement comes on the heels of new security procedures at the nation's airports. Passengers are routinely being required to pass through a controversial backscatter full body scanner or to undergo a thorough, some say invasive, pat down by a TSA agent. Whether the FAA's plan to ease air congestion this holiday period is enough to ease any passenger anxiety over the enhanced security methods is still up in the air.

Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure.

TSA to Passengers: Radiation or Groping?

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How would you like a tough-love security pat-down so thorough it would shame the most inveterate serial groper in the Tokyo subway system? No? Then how about a full-body backscatter X-ray that amounts to a virtual strip search (or as Stephen Colbert said, "that X-rays your X-rated parts")? If you're troubled by either option, voice your opinion in the new Your Travel Voice survey, sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association.

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Today Only: JetBlue Fares from $39

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The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the slowest times of the year for travel, hence a great time to find bargains. JetBlue just announced a little more incentive to forego holiday preparation and the end-of-year work scramble. A one-day sale of airfares (for travel between November 29 and December 18) was announced this morning with fares that start at $39 each way.

Besides flying to big cities (where you could take advantage of holiday shopping and the height of the arts season), JetBlue can also deliver you to beachy destinations in Puerto Rico, Cancun, Florida, Aruba, Barbados, and St. Maarten.

For more information or to book, visit JetBlue. For other between-holiday travel bargains, we have 276 more come-hither options on our Deals page.

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

Photo courtesy of JetBlue.

Google to Sponsor Free Inflight Wi-Fi this Holiday Season

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Traveling around the holidays—particularly Thanksgiving—can be challenging, to say the least. The snowy weather, massive crowds of people flocking home to see their families, and surge of flight delays and cancellations can chip away at one's holiday spirit.

Google wants to make travelers' ordeals a little more tolerable (once they make it onto their flights). The company is bringing back its free Wi-Fi for the holidays offer from 2009, but with a twist: instead of offering the service at airports around the country, they’ll be sponsoring free inflight Wi-Fi.

The service—which usually costs passengers $9.99 per flight, through Gogo—will be available on all AirTran, Delta, and Virgin America domestic flights between November 20, 2010 and January 2, 2011.

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Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Airfare Site Adds Icon for Baggage Fees

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We like the new baggage icon at Fly.com, an aggregator website that compares airfares and itineraries from hundreds of airline and travel websites around the world. Click on the little suitcase next to the airfare for your itinerary and you'll get a window showing the checked baggage fees charged by that airline, giving you a better idea of the full price.

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Airline Surcharges to Soar, Leaving Passengers Sore

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Just in time to ruin your day comes a report that airlines stand to earn $22.6 billion in surcharges in 2011. That's up from $10 billion just two years ago.

The prediction comes from Ideaworks, an airline consultancy, and Amadeus, a tech firm that processes travel transactions. Both companies have a vested interest in airlines making more money through surcharges, so let's hope they're just being optimistic. (Or, I guess, pessimistic, depending on your point of view.)

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New Study Lets Airlines off the Hook for Serving Bland Food

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Despite the best efforts of Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and other celebrity chefs enlisted by airlines to jazz up their menus, a new study suggests that in-flight meals will forever be bland. It's not the preparation, it's our perception. As reported by the BBC, a study in the journal Food Quality and Preference shows that background noise can adversely affect both the flavor and texture of food.

Before you accuse the Food Quality and Preference editors of publishing frivolous, sensationalistic research, consider their other reports: "Consistent flavor naming predicts recognition memory in children and young adults"; "Impact of proprioception and tactile sensations in the mouth on the perceived thickness of semi-solid foods"; "Conditioning unfamiliar and familiar flavours to specific positive emotions."

These people are serious about flavor.

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Et Tu, Lufthansa? Another Company Jumps on the 'Eat, Pray, Love' Bandwagon

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Despite a movie adaptation that met with less-than-rave reviews, the Eat, Pray, Love juggernaut continues to inspire a wide variety of licensed (and unlicensed) products. On one home shopping network alone, you can order EPL-branded perfumes, hand creams, pillows, tote bags, clothing, teas—and much, much more. Not since The Da Vinci Code has such a poorly written book created such a thriving cottage industry.

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Hilton Wants to Cure Your Layover Blues

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Ever stayed at an airport hotel? I have. Talk about bleak. Think Lubyanka prison without the charm. Vending machines instead of restaurants. Guest rooms with all the warmth of a doctor's office. But Hilton Hotels & Resorts thinks it's time to change all that, to give airport hotel guests the comforts they would expect in a full-service property. Here's how:

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