Fans of EasyJet, rejoice: there’s a new affordable airline coming to this side of the Atlantic. Rouge, a spinoff of Air Canada aimed at the budget market, will begin flying on July 1, 2013, with Toronto as its hub. The carrier will take off with a handful of routes, primarily connecting the Canadian hub with destinations in Europe and the Caribbean, and gradually expand its gateways—possibly as far as Asia. Book by December 25 and you’ll snag an introductory price—flights to Venice, Edinburgh, Athens, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Costa Rica will all be discounted, with the average fare to the Caribbean hovering around $300, all taxes, fees, and surcharges included.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Westin Hotels & Resorts is rolling out new gyms worldwide, all with a more spalike atmosphere—neutral colors; woven flooring—and special blue light-therapy fixtures, which (apparently) have an energizing effect.
InterContinental Hotels Group, meanwhile, has announced a new wellness-themed brand called Even Hotels. Rooms will have jump ropes and exercise balls; breakfasts include free smoothies. The first property is expected in early 2013, perfectly timed to help with New Year’s resolutions.
Q: I’m traveling for the holidays. What is the current airline policy on wrapped gifts? —Molly Richins, Astoria, N.Y.
A: The TSA doesn’t prohibit them, but if an agent asks to see what’s inside, you have to comply. Because they’re legally allowed to open the gifts in your checked baggage as well as those in your carry-on, it’s best to wrap when you arrive (or send them ahead).
Delta made a power move to increase its transatlantic presence earlier this week, announcing that it will acquire an equity stake in Virgin Atlantic. Though Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson made it abundantly clear that his airline's brand and all of its hip trappings are not going anywhere (he even bet British Airways head Willie Walsh £1 million to that effect), the partnership does signal a significant shift in transatlantic alliances—one that has implications for Delta fliers.
More options into Europe. By gaining a strong foothold in London's notoriously tough-to-get-into Heathrow, Delta can now offer customers nine daily round-trip flights from the New York area to Heathrow, and 31 flights a day between North America and the United Kingdom. For the first time, Delta fliers can look to London (rather than, say, Amsterdam or Paris) as a viable European gateway. And they can get there in style via Virgin Atlantic's much-vaunted new Upper Class cabin.
If you felt that booking holiday airfare was especially taxing to your wallet this year, it’s possible you weren’t imagining it. According to new data by Travelocity, fares were indeed higher this year than last—by a full 9% for domestic flights and 6% for international tickets on average. But there’s a silver lining: the most popular routes are becoming more affordable, as flights connecting major airports—like New York’s JFK and Chicago’s O’Hare—are proving to be cheaper than last year’s average, even during the holiday rush.
And if you’re still undecided about where to spend Christmas, consider this: the greatest savings come by booking a flight that leaves on the 23rd or 24th and returns later in the same week.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team.
Q: Why do I have to turn off my devices during takeoff and landing?
A: Electronics emit a variety of frequencies that can interfere with navigation systems. The problem is: no one is sure which devices pose a threat. Variations in aircraft and individual gadgets (a new device is different from one that’s taken some abuse) make each situation unique. For now, better safe than sorry.
Q: When—and how much—should I tip the hotel doorman?
A: Holding doors and hailing cabs warrant tips only when extra legwork is required. Give two dollars for a taxi found during rush hour or a storm, one dollar for each suitcase handled, and a fiver for doing both. But tip on the spot: belated thanks can end up in the wrong pocket.
Q: Any advice on how to spend my daylong layover in Rome? I’ve done the classics. —Ania Byczkowska, Chicago, Ill.
A: Sure—here’s a tour of some of our favorite hidden gems around the city.
9 a.m.: The Outdoor Print Market, on Largo Fontanella Borghese, peddles hard-to-find art books and vintage prints. Finish your shopping with a coffee at nearby Ciampini (29 Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina).
2 p.m.: Head to the unsung Palazzo Nuovo (part of the Capitoline Museums) on Piazza del Campidoglio, where hundreds of statues and busts are displayed in their original 17th-century home.
7 p.m.: Craft beer is having its moment in Rome, and Open Baladin(6 Via degli Specchi) has more than 40 domestic varieties on tap.
9 p.m.: Inside the historic Palazzo Cenci, Ae Pompiere(38 Via Santa Maria de’ Calderari;$$$) feels like a private club. A burnished wooden staircase leads to a suite of frescoed rooms where you can dine on carciofi alla giudea (fried artichokes) and the signature porchetta. Then swing by the new Eataly emporium (Piazzale XII Ottobre 1492)—open till midnight—to pick up Antonio Mattei biscotti for the plane.
The busiest travel days of the year are upon us. Aviation trade group Airlines 4 America, forecasts some 24 million people will fly during the Thanksgiving holidays, with planes reaching 90 percent capacity on the busiest days: today, Sunday, and Monday. Here, eight strategies for getting through the terminal without losing your patience—or your mind.