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Trip Doctor: Delta's Expiration-Free SkyMiles Now Expire With You

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In 2011, Delta made headlines by axing expiration dates on SkyMiles, the airline’s frequent flier mileage program. Last month, the carrier garnered some less friendly press with a slight addendum to its no-expiration policy: The miles don’t expire…until the mileage holder does.

Prior to the March 20 announcement, SkyMiles could transfer to next of kin, but as NBC reported, such transactions are no longer permitted by Delta. Frequent fliers are unsurprisingly displeased at the policy change, and have even started an online petition against it.

But not all the heat should fall on Delta. JetBlue, Southwest, and United all have similar restrictions. Meanwhile, a slew of other airlines, including Alaska, American Airlines, and US Airways allow miles earned to transfer after death.

Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly Singley has countered any criticism by noting that SkyMiles reward those who have directly participated in the program and showed loyalty to the airline.

Frequent Flier's Tim Winship explained the main takeaway to NBC: “The lesson there is don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you’re sitting on a huge cache of frequent flier miles because tomorrow the program that you earned those miles in could make some kind of an enormous systemic change that pulls the rug out from under the value of those miles.” How comforting.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

TODAY Show Video: Should You Book a Deep Discount Carnival Cruise?

T+L's Nilou Motamed appeared on The Today Show this morning to discuss Carnival Cruise Lines' special low price offerings following its string of difficulties earlier this year.

Watch to learn more about these unusually low priced deals and find out how to book now.

Tech Thursday: The Solar Plane Heading Across America

Think solar-powered airplanes are the talk of futurists? Not really. Solar Impulse, a company started by two innovative engineers, has been flying by the power of the sun since 2010, when it accomplished an incredible 26-hour flight without an ounce of fuel. Their plane, covered in solar panels across the length of its 208-foot wingspan, is now embarking on a new mission, criss-crossing America to raise awareness for sustainable energy.

The journey begins on May 1, with stops in San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and New York. But keep an eye out for open houses, where guests will be able to check out the plane in all its high-tech glory at various airports (the first is tentatively slated for next Saturday at Moffett Federal Airfield, in San Francisco).

As for the company’s next goal? A flight around the world, currently scheduled for 2015.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

 

Introducing Celebrity's Global Insiders, Powered by Travel + Leisure

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If you're reading this, chances are you're a fan of Travel + Leisure and our sibling publications, Food & Wine and Departures. Now, all three publications are teaming up with Celebrity Cruises to turn passengers into expert travelers.

American Express Publishing and Celebrity Cruises are proud to announce a collaboration that will provide Celebrity's guests with insider facts, travel tips, and amazing finds from around the world thanks to Celebrity's Global Insiders, a group of experts in everything from food to fashion.

Meet Celebrity's Global Insiders:

° Kate Betts, an award-winning magazine editor and the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style. Betts is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure and Time and was previously the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, and the fashion news director of Vogue.
° Julia Dimon, a journalist, TV correspondent for Outside Today, and nationally syndicated columnist. Dimon has been featured as a travel expert on ABC, NBC, MSNBC and in The New York Times, among other publications.
° Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, a company specializing in luxury travel experiences. He appears on the Travel + Leisure A-List and is one of the most influential travel advisors in the U.S.
° Marc Murphy, executive chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants, Landmarc and Ditch Plains, as well as Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy. Murphy also is a judge on Food Network’s top-rated show, Chopped.
° Alisa Ng, founder and CEO of L-atitude.com, a curated online marketplace for travel and fashion enthusiasts. Ng launched the site in 2010, and it has since become an e-commerce partner for Travel + Leisure, and was included in “Best of the Web” features in InStyle, Departures and Town & Country.
° Adam Sachs, a freewheeling travel, food and lifestyle writer. Sachs is a contributing editor for Travel + Leisure and Bon Appetit, and also writes for GQ, Details, and T, among other publications.

T+L's editors will also be creating destination guides packed with details and information about Celebrity's worldwide destinations. The destination guides will cover 150 of Celebrity Cruises’ ports of call and include insider tips, local hidden gems, and “must see” experiences at each destination. Celebrity will feature the content on its web site, in brochures, and onboard.


Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

KLM Wants to Send You to Space

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is taking its slogan "journeys of inspiration" to new heights—literally.

The carrier has announced that on April 22, it will send a high-altitude balloon into space, and whoever predicts the height and distrance traveled by the balloon before it pops will receive a ticket to space.

Worth $95,000, the grand prize includes a KLM flight from anywhere in the world to Curacao, where the lucky guesser and a guest will stay at a luxury hotel. After a medical check-up, the two will embark on a 60-minute flight into space aboard the SXC Lynx. Flying sixty-four miles above the earth at 4 Gs of thrust, passengers will experience total weightlessness.

Think you can guess correctly? Check out the official competition site and test your luck!

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

TripAdvisor Acquires Jetsetter

After much speculation, travel reviews giant TripAdvisor announced yesterday that it had acquired Jetsetter, an invitation-only luxury vacation deals site previously part of the Gilt Groupe.

Details are scant, but a Wall Street Journal article last October revealed that Gilt Groupe was seeking $50 million for Jetsetter. Given the six months that have passed since then, business experts quoted by Upstart Business Journal’s Alex Dalenberg believe that TripAdvisor likely paid much less than that original asking price.

The deal brings two such members-based travel sites under TripAdvisor’s wing, as the reviews site also owns SniqueAway. The Next Web's Alex Wilhelm reports that there are no plans to merge the two sites, with Jetsetter’s operations remaining in New York City and SniqueAway's staying put at TripAdvisor's headquarters near Boston. As TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said in the release, "the Jetsetter team has built a great site with a loyal following that we value and plan to continue to let it operate independently."

 

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Trip Doctor: Airlines Cautiously Optimistic About Dreamliner's Return to the Skies

Even though Boeing’s beleaguered 787 Dreamliner has yet to get FAA approval for its proposed battery improvements, multiple airlines have included the new plane in updated flight schedules, as USA Today's Ben Mutzabaugh reports.

Qatar Airways, for example, plans to resume Dreamliner service between Doha and London on May 15th, while United Airlines hopes to use the troubled jet for some Houston-Denver flights by May 31, five days earlier than the company had previously announced. Spokespeople are quick to clarify that these schedule changes are tentative, and entirely dependent on the FAA’s clearing the Dreamliner to fly.

Still, the news that airlines are adding Dreamliners back into their schedules at all suggests restored confidence that Boeing’s fix to the lithium batteries will be enacted and approved soon.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Trip Doctor: Air Turbulence Set To Increase by 2050

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Better sit down and buckle your safety belt for this one: According to a new study cited by Reuters' Nina Chestney, turbulent flights may become the new normal in the coming decades. If you've flown over the Atlantic Ocean, you've probably experienced the occasional bumpy ride caused by atmospheric conditions like jet streams and weather fronts, but joint findings from Reading and East Anglia, two English universities, predict air turbulence will grow in both  strength and frequency as carbon dioxide emissions increase. In other words: More CO2 in the air, the rougher we can expect our flights to be.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, posits that by 2050, chances of encountering significant turbulence in the North Atlantic flight corridor will jump by between 40 and 170 percent. On top of that, the average strength of the turbulence will increase by between 10 and 40 percent.

The aviation industry already spends an estimated $150 million annually to repair damage caused by turbulence. The increased risks will likely lead to route detours, which will in turn bump up fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and airport delays. Can't wait.
 

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by istockphoto

Watch: What Does the New Airline Performance Report Mean?

Travel + Leisure's Mark Orwoll appeared on NBC's TODAY Show this morning to discuss the airline performance report released this week. How will it impact you? Watch the clip (above) and find out.

SFO Moves to Block Car Sharing Services

Here today, gone tomorrow: FlightCar, that quirky car-sharing company we recently told you about, has been shut down by SFO.

And it's not alone: Also on the airport's cease-and-desist list are five other ride sharing companies, from UberX to InstantCab, according to The Huffington Post's Aaron Sankin. Why the sudden crackdown on automotive sharing startups? Apparently the tech-forward companies have been getting an easy break thanks to legal loopholes that don't require them to hold licenses from the California Public Utilities Commission, and taxi drivers—who not only need the licenses but pay fees for each airport ride—aren't too happy about it. But that doesn't mean it's game over for the six companies at stake, as a hearing is scheduled to determine their future later this month.

Our prediction? FlightCar will live on, sans curbside pickup service. As for the companies whose core premise includes a driver? They may not be so lucky.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

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