It’s up to domestic airlines to develop their own cleaning protocols. All the carriers we spoke with require either flight attendants or certified maintenance crews to do some form of cleaning between flights—even if it’s just a cursory removal of garbage and refreshing of the lavatories. The more thorough scrub, when crews wipe down seats and tray tables with disinfectants, happens when a plane overnights at an airport. Carriers schedule “deep cleans” every month or so to launder seat covers and shampoo the carpets. Still feel squeamish about your seat? That’s what disinfectant wipes are for.
Icelandair has joined the pack of airlines putting time and energy into their safety videos. (Click here for our slideshow of some of the best.) Unlike the humorous approach taken by the likes of Delta and Virgin America, this almost three-minute-long video is like a love letter to Iceland as a destination, following a traveler camping out to see the Northern lights, hiking across the country’s varied terrain, and kayaking the Fjadrargljufur gorge. Safety procedures are seamlessly drawn on top of the visually beautiful shots.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.
Airport retailers know a lot more about their potential customers than you might expect, and they're using that information to target specific shopping demographics, as an article in the Economist details.
Aware when flights arrive and depart, shops behind security alter their selection based on who will be walking by during that "golden hour" before takeoff. At Heathrow, for example, cognac displayed in the morning is geared to passengers on that 9:45 am Barbados flight—who apparently prefer Hennesy and Courvoisier—while afternoon flights to Norway and the US call for cheaper brandies. Likewise, shopkeepers schedule their multilingual staffs based on flight timetables.
As the Economist writes, "Most [passengers] are relatively prosperous; all are briefly at loose ends," and retailers have found that these slightly-crazed, moderately wealthy individuals make great customers.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.
Intuitive design, natural light: what New York’s JFK can learn from Heathrow’s T2.
You’ve got to give Spanish architect Luis Vidal points for standing before an audience of hardened, JFK-weary New York City travel reporters and declaring, “Terminals today are the cathedrals of the twenty-first century.” Vidal designed the newest addition to London’s Heathrow Airport, the $4 billion Terminal 2, opening this month. T2, also called the Queen’s Terminal, is one of those sunlight-bathed, technologically of-the-moment facilities popping up in airports from San Francisco to Mumbai, restoring a degree of pleasure to air travel. But cathedrals? Vidal argues they were once “gathering places and icons” of every city. And that, he reasons, is what airports are today.
Q: Are there any foods that will help me fight jet lag? —George Frank, Brooklyn, N.Y.
A: Even more than foreign-transaction fees and data-roaming charges, jet lag is the bane of international travelers. Resetting your internal clock to a new time zone can be a days-long process. Fortunately, there are ways to ease yourself onto a new schedule—and what you eat and drink can play a key role.
Gone are the days of rushing through security and jumping straight onto your flight—you can thank the TSA for that. “Travelers are spending more time in airports than ever,” says Frank Sickelsmith, vice president of restaurant development for HMS Host, one of two major firms that turn airports into epicurean hangouts. The upside? “Now they can have a full sit-down meal instead of grabbing and going.” And that’s where innovators like Sickelsmith come in.
Virgin America 82.08 JetBlue Airways 74.18 Hawaiian Airlines 71.59
The demise of free meal service in economy class has meant the rise of better buy-on-board options. To wit: Virgin America earns raves for its on-demand dining via seatback touch screen and snacks from home-grown artisanal brands, such as San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe ice cream. JetBlue is a favorite for its Terra chips and boxed meals (try the roast beef sandwich); starting in June, Mint seat fliers can sample a small-plates menu by New York’s Saxon & Parole. Hawaiian Airlines bucked the cost-cutting trend: it’s the only U.S. airline to still serve complimentary meals on domestic flights in coach. The onboard snack bar keeps it local, selling everything from Spam musubi to macadamia nuts.
Booking a great fare to Europe has become increasingly difficult. Here’s how to bring down the cost of your next transatlantic flight.
First there is the question of timing. According to Kayak, the most-affordable airfares to Europe last year were booked eight to 10 weeks before departure—so you should start researching tickets at least three months out. You’ll find even better prices if your travel dates are flexible. As a general rule, European fares rise for travel beginning in the second week of May and don’t fall again until September. Expedia reports that the least expensive months to fly to Europe are February, March, and November. If you can, look for tickets that depart for Europe on either a Tuesday or Wednesday and return on a Tuesday; they tend to be lower, according to Kayak’s research. (See “Fare Finders,” below, for our favorite sites for finding European airfares.)
According to a report from CAPA-Centre for Aviation, 15 new airlines in China have launched or are scheduled to launch by the end of 2014—a 50% increase in the country’s passenger airlines. This sudden growth began late last year, when China began loosening restrictions on new LLCs and start-up companies. (Though according to the report, the reform initiatives “remain subject to interpretation and implementation.”)
Berkshire Hathaway is shaking up the travel insurance industry with the launch of AirCare, which offers an inexpensive, fixed-rate plan covering delays, tarmac waits, missed connections, and lost or delayed luggage. But more than its $25 price, the latest from Warren Buffett’s corporation stands out because it streamlines the biggest insurance headache of all: filing claims.