Q: I found a great place through a vacation-rental website. What could go wrong?
The apartment was a dream: the entire light-filled top floor, a one bedroom with an eat-in kitchen and a living room, in a restored Victorian row house in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights for less than $200 a night. My friend and her husband were ecstatic and everything went smoothly… until they emerged from their bathroom on the first night, teeth brushed and ready for bed, to find the owner mysteriously puttering around their living room. “Just checking in,” she told them.
If you’re like me, you’re beginning the new year with a long list of self-improvement goals. Here are my top seven.
I’m going to get the most out of my miles and points (finally!).
Yes, airlines are doing everything they can to test our loyalty right now, including making it more difficult to earn miles. But those miles, along with points from hotels and credit cards, are still worth a lot in free travel, perks, and upgrades. So don’t let them gather dust—or worse, expire. A TripIt Pro($49 a year) subscription will both manage your itineraries and track all of your accounts in one easy-to-use place. If you want to get more advanced, consider a service like AwardWallet, which keeps tabs on expiration dates, or Points.com, the only program that lets you move points between accounts.
Looking for quick solutions to your travel concerns? Our resident expert Amy Farley has the facts with Travel + Leisure’s Trip Doctor Challenge.
Thinking of trying out Airbnb for your next vacation? There’s still a lot that’s murky about renting someone else’s apartment. Here’s what you need to know when you use sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey, and OneFineStay.
Just because you’re in the back of the plane doesn’t mean you can’t fly in comfort.
Know Your Plane Models
For long-haul flights, look for the spacious double-decker Airbus A380, used primarily by Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Lufthansa. New smaller aircraft, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 XWB, have larger windows, HD video screens, and lower cabin pressure. Most booking websites, including Kayak, list plane details in the results.
While premium passengers reap the rewards of competition among airlines, it’s a different story in back. One problem, according to Tim Winship, publisher of Frequentflier.com, is that carriers are flying at near-full capacity these days, so you can no longer count on having an empty seat next to you. At the same time, airlines are squeezing in more seats, using slim-line models that are narrower and have less padding than previous versions. On the flip side, new planes do offer better in-flight technology both obvious (touch screens) and less so (humidity controls; mood lighting). Whether this counteracts the increasing claustrophobia of economy is up for debate. One thing is certain: those premium economy seats are looking mighty tempting.
Airlines are treating the bicoastal set to something new: a few hours’ sleep. Carriers have been rolling out new lie-flat business-class seats on their transcontinental narrow-body jets to woo passengers flying between the east and west coasts. Here’s a comparison of the latest offerings.