Air Travel Trends for 2015
Summer is the high season for air travel, and we've been keeping an eye on new developments that are changing the way people get to the airport, what they do during layovers, and even how they choose to travel with their pets.
COOL AIRPORT LOUNGES. Got a layover between flights? Airlines are making that time more enjoyable with exciting new "sky lounges" that include eye-popping design, great service and food and drinks, and even outdoor areas. JetBlue's outdoor rooftop lounge at JFK is open to all passengers who've passed through security and includes landscaped spaces, seating, great food (hot dogs and ice cream!), a children's play area, and a dog-walk - a first! Other lounges are a little more exclusive - a few hundred dollars a year or a $50 "day pass," like Delta Sky Club in Atlanta, includes showers, work stations with plug-ins, and a separate "quiet" room.
FLY WITH FIDO AND FLUFFY. We may joke about how "traumatic" flying can be for humans, but for pets stored in the baggage hold, the experience is no joke. Despite airlines' best efforts, there's lots of loud noise and jostling (though, contrary to urban myth, the hold is heated). Many fliers with cats and small dogs are now opting to carry their pet in the cabin in a container under their seat (as a "carryon"). When flying with a dog or cat, you should check the airlines' policy in advance, leave extra time for check-in, and be sure you have an up-to-date health certificate.
SAY BUH-BYE TO FREE BAGGAGE CHECK. Of the major U.S. carriers, only Southwest still offers free checked bags. JetBlue recently did away with the policy for its basic fares when it rolled out a new three-tiered fare system last month. So if you're flying JetBlue, American, United, or Delta, you're allowed two checked bags under 50 pounds and a carry-on, but you've got to pay for the checked bags. TIP: If you're a frequent flier, some reward program credit cards will give you access to free baggage check and other perks.
MIDDLE SEAT ANXIETY. The folks at Zodiac Aerospace had the best intentions when they designed their LifeStyle airplane seating. Their goal was to give passengers more room and to fit more seats on the plane. But the Twitterverse reacted harshly to the proposal, which would include middle seats that face "backwards," so you're face-to-face with the folks in the row "behind" you. Some fliers have described that proposal as a dystopian fantasy/torture device.
NEW WAYS TO GET TO THE AIRPORT. Can't talk your friends or your significant other into driving you to the airport anymore? You're not alone. But a new generation of car services is stepping up to make the trip easier than ever: Download the Uber app and you can order a car with a touch of a screen and even track your car's location via real-time map. We Drive ("Your Car, Our Driver, You Save") will drive you to the airport in your car, then drive it back to your home, and text you a photo of your car safely parked, for less than most car services.
Funniest Celeb Travel Tips Ever
Comedians are some of the most experienced travelers in the world. After years spent shuttling from city to city for gigs, they have an, ahem, "unique" perspective on universal travel experiences. And let's face it: We nomadic types could all use a laugh after a third flight delay or while trying to ignore rowdy kids interrupting our piña colada zen at the pool. With that in mind, we asked 14 comedic stars of the stage, TV, and silver screen to share their funniest summer travel tips—some are so practical, you'll pray for a travel snag so you can try them out.
Flight Attendants’ Tips for Sleeping Well on a Plane
This article was written by Sid Lipsey and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel. It’s one of the most unfair things about flying—other than being charged a fee to check a single bag (We won’t be getting over that one anytime soon, airlines.): Some passengers are able to fall asleep before takeoff and snooze soundly until the plane lands, while others struggle to get even a moment of shut-eye. “Everyone wants to get some rest on the airplane,” says flight attendant Betty Thesky, author of Betty In the Sky With a Suitcase: Hilarious Stories of Air Travel by the World’s Favorite Flight Attendant. "But crowded airplanes, small seats, and crying babies don’t always dovetail with restful slumber.“ Flight attendants witness first-hand passengers’ struggles to sleep on planes. Thesky says some sleep-deprived passengers have gone so far as to ask her for sleeping pills (as if a pill cart comes down the aisle right behind the beverage cart). Related: Secrets of the Skies: Flight Attendants and Pilots Tell All "I was flying back from Hawaii and a woman rang her flight attendant call bell and told me, ‘I called ahead and told reservations that I needed to sleep on this flight and they said I would be able to sleep,’” says Thesky. Apparently the passenger thought her sleep reservation entitled her to a bigger seat or a bed. “I told her that every single person on the airplane wants to sleep,” Thesky says, “and the reservations operator probably got a good chuckle when you called in with your 'sleep request.’” Thesky tells of another passenger who had an even stranger request straight fromThe Twilight Zone. “Once, an odd-looking guy at the window seat asked me if he could go and sleep out on the wing,” she remembers. "He then explained that it said in the in-flight magazine that you could sleep on the wing.” Not only did the flight crew reject his request — because,of course!!!! — they moved him out of his exit row seat. Apparently, someone who asks to sleep on the plane’s wing may not be all that reliable in an emergency. But Thesky does offer a word in the passenger’s defense. “As I retold the story to a coworker she said, 'Oh, there is an ad in the in-flight magazine with a cartoon of a passenger sleeping on the wing,’” she remembers. “So at least he had some reference to his wacky request!" But funny stories aside, flight attendants have unique insight into what works, and what doesn’t, in the quest to get some mile-high shuteye. Here are their best tips. Adjust your expectations The first rule of successful in-flight sleeping: Don’t go into a flight expecting to sleep. "Passengers will often have unrealistic expectations on a all night flight,” Thesky says. “They think, 'I’ll sleep on the plane and be ready to hit the ground running’ when they land at their destination many time zones away.” Such a mentality is a recipe for a sleepless flight. “Putting pressure on yourself will almost guarantee that you won’t dose off,” Thesky says. She suggests trying a little reverse psychology on yourself and adjusting your sleep expectations. “It’s easy to fall asleep when you’re supposed to stay awake, like in a boring classroom or at jury duty,” she says, “so set a plan that you’renotgoing to sleep on the flight and instead catch up on all the movies you haven’t seen. You just may wake up as the wheels are coming down.” Related: Everything You Need to Know About Sleeping on the Plane and Beating Jet Lag Get a window seat A window seat gives you a nice flat surface on which to rest your head. But flight attendant Lauren McLaughlin has turned this no-brainer into a science: “On most of our planes I look for the indent in the window,” she says of her efforts to find a window seat most conducive to sleeping. “If the window indent is an inch or two in front of the seat, it’s the best place for your head to lean into." Of course, when you book a flight online, it’s impossible to tell which seat has the magic sleep-maximizing indentation. Hey, SeatGuru, you guys need to get on this! Dress for sleep success Good airplane sleeping can be a matter of what you wear. "On long flights it helps to have on comfortable clothing and loose-fitting shoes,” says Southwest Airlines flight attendant Emily Witkop. “Due to pressurization, our bodies swell and it can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to it." Witkop raves about a flight she took where first-class passengers were given pajamas and slippers, which is sometimes the case on international flights. "Genius!,” she says. “Just don’t wear your personal pajamas on the plane if you are over five years old. That is poor traveling etiquette and people will not disregard your just-rolled-out-of-bed look." Related: British Airways Testing 'Happiness Blanket’ to Help You Sleep Better on Flights Get the right gear There’s a reason many airport shops are filled with airplane sleeping gear. Many passengers swear by it. Says Witkop, "The travel pillow, eye mask, and earbuds/headphone combo usually works well on short flights.” Flight attendant Michelle Lazzaro also has her sleep gear preferences. “If I really tried [to sleep on a plane] I would first of all have one of those really plush eye masks like the Tempur-Pedic,” she says, “and a neck pillow so my head doesn’t fall from side to side!” Eating and drinking the right things “If its a long flight bring a chamomile tea bag,” suggests another flight attendant. (The crew can provide the hot water and cup.) You might also want to take a second look at the in-flight snacks, some of which might make you feel too uncomfortable to sleep. “Avoiding salty snacks can reduce some bloating,” says Witkop. Wear sunglasses at night Pulling a Corey Hart might help protect you from chatty seatmates who seek to foil your sleeping plans. “If you want to be left alone, wear sunglasses,” says Lindsay. “Some people want to chat with their neighbor, so it’s the one time I suggest wearing sunglasses indoors. Any other time is just rude.” Big headphones also tend to have the same effect. And whatever you do… “Just don’t put your feet up on the bulkhead,” says Lauren McLaughlin. The last thing the people around you need are your feet in smelling distance as they’re trying to sleep, because the only thing worse than not sleeping yourself is preventing a fellow passenger from sleeping. . Plus, it’s just bad manners. Remember, the sleep gods may be mercurial and fleeting with their generosity to weary travelers. But they also believe in karma. WATCH: A Broad Abroad: Flying Singapore Airlines First Class For an Hour Ruined My Life
Traveling to Greece? Bring Your Own Euros
If you haven't already heard, Greece has been having some financial problems lately. According to an article by The Guardian, travelers to Greece are being urged to prepare for the possibility of zero bank and ATM access during upcoming trips. As of right now, Greek residents are only allowed to take out 60 euros per day from available ATMs, and while technically there is no restriction on foreign withdrawals, the overruling issue is that Greek cash machines are running out of money. Translation: Bring your own cash. For American travelers, that means euros, by the way, not USD. Credit cards will work as they usually do, but you can avoid long lines at ATMs and spend your well-earned vacation time touring the Parthenon or relaxing on the beach in the Greek Islands if you plan ahead. Pack enough cash to get you through your trip, whether it's for a long weekend or a two week adventure, and try to bring as many small notes with you as possible, as it's easier to pay with 5-, 10-, and 20- euro bills, than to try to break a 100 euro bill right now. We want to know: Would the country's financial woes stop you from visiting Greece? Are you willing to make little adjustments for the sake of a potentially amazing vacation? Sound off below!
How to Visit the World's Endangered Destinations
Some of the world's most beautiful travel spots are under attack by climate change and booming human populations. Here's how you can visit some of these endangered destinations responsibly before they're gone forever. GREAT BARRIER REEF The world's biggest, most beautiful, and most diverse reef system (1,400 miles) could be gone in 100 years due to global carbon dioxide emissions and runoff from farms into the ocean. As the ocean temperatures rise, the coral, fish, and marine mammals all suffer. But if you visit this Australian must-see respectfully, you can snorkel, scuba, or even just watch the Technicolor show in a glass-bottomed boat or kayak. SEE IT: Goway Travel offers a 12-day Australia package from around $2,000 that includes visits to the Great Barrier Reef. Smaller operators offer live-aboard boating experiences starting at around $500 for two nights. ALASKA'S GLACIERS The world's glaciers - huge, beautiful blue mountains of ice left over from the last Ice Age - are melting at an alarming rate all over the world. In Alaska, the famous Mendenhall Glacier melts so much each summer that it causes flooding near Alaska's capital, Juneau. Mendenhall Glacier, Sawyer Glacier, and Glacier Bay are best seen from a cruise ship, and if you're lucky you'll see a glacier "calf" - the dramatic moment when a huge piece of ice breaks off and falls into the sea. SEE IT: Norwegian Cruise Line offers a 7-day Alaska glacier cruise that starts from around $650. VENICE Good news: The city of canals is beautiful because it was built on water. Bad news: Venice is endangered because it was built on water, in some cases literally sitting on wood pilings that were constructed centuries ago. Flooding from high tides has increased due to rising ocean levels, and saltwater eats away at the city's beautiful buildings and landmarks. Billion-dollar floodgates are in progress, but floods of another kind - 20 million tourists a year - are also a threat to the city's centuries-old infrastructure. SEE IT: Instead of adding to the city's overcrowding, book a stay in a "glamping" eco-tent at nearby Canonici di San Marco for around $150/night and take day trips to the city. Laguna Eco Adventures offers sailboat tours of the lagoon for about $50. KENYA'S MASAI MARA LION HABITAT Simba is not doing well. The iconic African king of beasts has seen its population plummet from 450,000 to 40,000 in the past 50 years alone due to a human population explosion and encroachment on habitat. Some scientists say lions could be extinct before the next century, if not sooner. Kenya's Masai Mara Reserve is one of the best safari experiences for those who want to get up close and personal (but not quite too close) to these stunning wild animals. SEE IT: Book a trip with Kuchanga Travel (based in Minnesota) to see lions, elephants, and cheetahs and to participate in ongoing study and conservation efforts, for around $2,000 for two weeks.