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Trip Doctor: Delta Brings an Outdoor Lounge to JFK

Delta outdoor lounge

Fancy a little sunbathing on your next trip through JFK? As part of its $1.2 billion expansion of the airport’s Terminal 4, Delta Air Lines will open an outdoor sun terrace—a bold addition to its already ambitious plans for a 24,000-square-foot Sky Club lounge. The JFK Sky Deck, with runway views and Miami Beach-style seating, is expected to debut in May. A Sky Deck will also open near the Delta Sky Club at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport over the summer.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @TLTripDoctor on Twitter.

 

Photo courtesy of Delta Airlines

Trip Doctor: Egypt Hotel Tweets SOS

Tahir Square

Hotels have harnessed social media to their advantage in innumerable ways in recent years, usually for marketing and customer service initiatives. But the medium has even more powerful and profound applications, as evidenced by the harrowing recent example of Egypt’s Intercontinental Semiramis, located adjacent to Tahir Square in Cairo.

As demonstrations in the city have escalated in recent days, the hotel has found itself in the hot seat. Two days ago, things took a particularly frightening turn as a group of armed marauders apparently used the demonstrations as an opportunity to break into the hotel and begin looting. After its attempts to reach the police for help yielded nothing, the hotel began sending out SOS messages on Twitter—the medium of choice for Egypt’s protest movement. The hotel’s Twitter feed reflects the staff’s growing desperation; “PLEASE SEND HELP #EMERGENCY! WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!” reads one tweet from the early-morning hours of Monday. A little later: “SOS If anyone knows anyone in #Military #Police #Government, please send help! Thugs in Lobby #Emergency #Tahrir #Jan28 #Egypt”

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Trip Doctor: How to Avoid Hotel Wi-Fi Fees

Hotel Wi-Fi: Tether

If you’re an Android user and staying in the U.S., you’re in luck: free apps such as FoxFi let you share a mobile data connection with your laptop at no extra cost. For everyone else, Tether’s service ($29.95 per year) will connect your laptop to your mobile devices via Bluetooth or USB. If you’re traveling internationally, XCom Global rents foreign-based hot spots with unlimited usage for $14.95 a day. Not-so-frequent travelers should try Boingo Wireless, which lets you access hot spots around the world. Subscriptions start at $7.95 a month and can be activated as needed. Bonus: many of its hot spots are in hotels.

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

Photo courtesy of Tether

Trip Doctor: How to Cope With a Reckless Taxi Driver

taxi

Don’t...

Yell. Your driver is a professional. Phrase your complaint as a personal preference—not an attack.

Stay in a cab if you feel unsafe. If your driver doesn’t respond to feedback, ask him to pull over and then find another ride.

Do...

Pay the fare. Your receipt may be helpful in reporting the driver. Tipping, however, is optional.

Record the medallion or car number. Local authorities rely on passenger feedback to keep unsafe drivers off the streets.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.


Photo by Anthony Haigh / Alamy

Trip Doctor: Why Rent a Villa?

ThinkIonianIslands villa

If you’ve never tried a villa rental, consider making it your travel resolution for 2013: more globetrotters are discovering that renting a house or apartment while abroad allows you to truly live like a local while letting you explore the beautiful, hidden corners of popular destinations such as Italy and France. And it’s more common than ever to find companies that offer the amenities of a resort experience—daily housekeeping, concierge services, fully stocked refrigerators, and more.

Stay tuned for T+L’s Villa Rentals package in the March issue, but in the meantime, we can’t contain our excitement over this month’s debut of ThinkIonianIslands from Londoner Huw Beaugié and his Palermo-born wife, Rossella, the duo behind the highly regarded ThinkSicily and ThinkPuglia. The 15 properties—hidden on secluded beaches or in the lush countryside—are offering visitors better access to the less-discovered islands of Lefkada and Meganissi, located off the coast about a three-hour drive from Thessaloniki.

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Tech Thursday: Seatguru's Intelligent Flight Search

airline seat

Everyone’s favorite airline seat-map compendium, Seatguru, has just upped the ante with a newly redesigned site that’s more user-friendly and—drumroll—includes flight search functionality for the first time. Though the service is in beta (it still has some kinks to work out), it’s already proving to be a refreshingly smart addition to the world of airfare search.

How it works: In addition to the usual flight-search filters (price, stops, departure time, duration), Seatguru introduces several new sorting mechanisms for travelers: Best Value (factoring in price, departure time, and duration), Best Times (weeding out early morning and overnight flights), and the site’s signature Guru Factor, which mines the site’s trove of cabin data to look at the “comfort” of flights. Taking account of cabin class, seat pitch, width, and recline, as well as inflight entertainment and amenities, the Guru Factor givers travelers an overall assessment of either “Love it,” “Like it,” or “Live with it” for any given flight. In our tests, it also alerted us when, for example, we could spend an additional $40 to trade up for a plane with an extra four inches of legroom.

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Trip Doctor: Disney Introduces MyMagic+ RFID Bracelets

Disney's Magic Kingdom

As a native Floridian who spent half her childhood at Walt Disney World, I reacted to the recent announcement of MyMagic+, an RFID-enabled system that lets visitors interact with (and pay for) nearly anything in the Disney village, with a sense of cautious excitement—thrilled by all the possibilities this offers travelers, though wary of the privacy concerns that come with it.

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T+L Favorite: Tory Burch’s Travel-Friendly Dress

Tory Burch dress

Q: We’re attending a wedding in Bali. The ceremony is on a beach, but the reception is indoors. Can you recommend a dress for the occasion? —Hiromi Tsunashima, Coral Gables, Fla.

A: The batik-style print of this silk dress by Tory Burch ($350) evokes the traditional look of the region but is still lightweight and travel-friendly. The long sleeves—a must for formal events in Bali—are fairly loose-fitting, cool enough for the beach but also just right for air-conditioning. Add sandals and a clutch and you’re good to go.

Packing is rarely easy—we’re here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

Photo courtesy of Tory Burch

Packing Tips for Business Travel

business travel packing tip: Land's End tie

Q: I take frequent business trips and want to update my wardrobe. Any advice? —John Kinninger, Las Vegas, Nev.

A: The new reversible ties from Canvas Lands’ End ($50) multiply your style options without adding bulk. It’s also worth investing in Ted Baker’s three-piece suit ($825), made from wool that’s spun specifically to resist creases. You’ll go from plane to boardroom looking like you mean business.

Packing is rarely easy—we’re here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

Photo by John Lawton

How to Book Insurance for a Foreign Rental Car

rental car insurance

Q: I’m renting a car abroad. Should I get collision insurance through the rental agency or my credit card? —Hannah W., Portland, Ore.

A: Domestically, the answer would be simple: go with the insurance offered by your credit card company (after reading the fine print, of course). Once you head overseas, though, it becomes much more complicated. All four major card networks offer qualifying cardholders some form of insurance for international rentals, but you have to check your policy carefully. American Express (Travel + Leisure’s parent company), MasterCard, and Visa do not cover rentals in Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica. American Express also disqualifies cars in Italy, Australia, and New Zealand. There are other exceptions (American Express doesn’t cover certain SUV’s; MasterCard won’t let you drive on unpaved roads; most policies preclude rentals of exotic and expensive vehicles), so do your homework. Cardhub.com provides an excellent annual comparison of all of these policies.

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