Unless you’ve been camping in the desert or just can’t face listening to the news lately, you’ve no doubt heard the story about the greatest PR disaster to befall an airline since, well, maybe ever.
And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer airline: United, or — as I fondly call them — Untied Airlines.
To briefly recap: On a recent flight scheduled from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville, Kentucky, United Airlines’ employees called in airport police to forcibly eject a 69-year-old baby boomer named David Dao, a physician who lives in Kentucky.
His crime? He refused to give up his seat and deplane when United decided that he and three other passengers picked “at random” had to leave to make room for an airline crew that needed to get to Louisville.
The punishment? The police officers literally dragged… Continue reading
‘Tis the season for holiday travel. But, in many cases, before you get home (or perhaps someplace that’s warm and tropical) for the holidays, you have to fight the Airport Wars.
Everyone who has flown during the holidays knows what this means: long lines to get through security, frantic searches for places to charge your cellphones, dodging other stressed-out travelers dashing to make their flights, maybe missing your own connections, and more — just the sorts of headaches that crush the holiday spirit before you even hit the eggnog.
You may even be at the airport right now as you read this (and, I hope, have your phone or laptop charged enough to do so).
If you’re en route, still packing, or just thinking about an upcoming trip now or any time of year, check out an app called… Continue reading
How to find the lowest airfares?
It’s a vexing question in this day and age in which many of us essentially act as our own own travel agents.
This usually means combing a variety of Internet search engines and airline sites, taking a stab at sometimes obscure “airfare hacks” that may be overly complex or irrelevant to our situations, or just quickly booking a flight and hoping for the best because we simply don’t have time for all the other stuff.
Of course, one thing is always in the back of your mind: Could I have saved hundreds of dollars or more by checking more sites, trying more hacks, booking on a different day?
Steve Cuffari, Senior Content Marketing Manager at couponbox.com, an international savings website that includes a travel component, feels your pain. He notes that “Flight hunting is… Continue reading
I just returned from an idyllic two-week stay with three generations of my family in Greece, which I’ll be writing about at length in coming days.
What was not so idyllic were the flights to get there and back.
Torturous flights: hardly a news flash. Most flyers these days just grit their teeth and put up as best they can with the crowding; delays; security hassles; extra fees for checked baggage, “premium” seats, food, etc.; lost luggage; and often chaotic airport scenes.
After all, flying does (usually ) get us to where we want to go faster than other forms of transportation. But that doesn’t make it a pleasant experience.
Some Things to Try
Since I fly quite often, I try to alleviate the pain as much as possible:
I check-in online within 24 hours of… Continue reading
As airport security lines snaked around airports like giant boa constrictors threatening to strangle passengers trying to reach their gates this spring — with waits of an hour or more in some locations, and thousands of flights missed — my wife, Catharine, and I were generally able to waltz through security in under five minutes.
In most cases, we didn’t have to take off our shoes, belts, or light jackets, and sometimes I didn’t have to remove my laptop from my briefcase. We also didn’t have to go through those infernal body scanners that require you to remove even non-metal objects from your pockets; instead, we walked through simple metal detectors.
No, we’re not airline employees, or VIPs, or anything other than ordinary travelers. We weren’t flying first class or boasting elite status with the airlines. None of our relatives… Continue reading
With airport security lines sometimes crawling to an hour’s wait or longer, flying this summer threatens to become even more of a nightmare.
Some air travelers stuck in the seemingly interminable lines have missed their flights, while others have had to scramble to make theirs, adding to the existing stress of overcrowded planes, cramped seating, and scant legroom for most passengers.
While the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently beefing up its numbers — especially in bomb-sniffing dogs — the TSA remains understaffed and bags and people still have to be screened.
There’s at least one obvious fix. TSA Pre-Check — which allows pre-screened travelers to pass through separate, faster lines and less intrusive X-ray machines without having to remove their shoes, belts, light jackets and (sometimes) their laptops… Continue reading
While I’m traveling in Antarctica for a few weeks I’ll be reprising some of my most popular posts from the past three years. This post — now updated — originally ran in June 2013.
Cut-rate Spirit Airlines has developed an interesting marketing approach. They’ve traded in customer service and comforts for ultra-low fares, and are charging extra for everything from rolling carry-on bags ($35-$55) to water ($3 a bottle), and printing a boarding pass at the airport ($10). Can pay toilets be far behind?
Spirit hypes what it calls its “bare fare: No’free’ bag. No ‘free’ drink. A ticket with us gets you and a personal item from A to B.”
For “personal item,” think average purse size or a small backpack. Measurements are stingy — 16” x 14” x 12” — and if you don’t pay… Continue reading
Peering into my crystal ball for 2016 — which due to budgetary concerns is more like fiberglass this year — I foresee the following top ten developments in the ever-changing, sometimes wacky world of travel:
- A 747 will be diverted from Omaha to New Orleans overnight because passengers in seats A and B get into a spat over who can claim the middle armrest. Oddly, none of the hundreds of passengers aboard complain as they gobble down their jambalaya and beignets.
- Spurred by the success of a tour agency named “Toodle-oo Tuvalu” and a boutique hotel called “Sinking Along With the Breeze,” Climate Change Tourism will be huge, in which ghoulish travelers will journey to low-lying Pacific atolls soon to be inundated… Continue reading
Since I’m in the middle of packing for a trip, it seemed a good time to continue my series on packing tips — this time for men.
My first tip is to see if you can finagle your wife/spouse/significant other/good friend of the tidier persuasion to organize your packing for you. (Ha ha, just kidding…sort of.)
If you’re the tidier one in your relationship, great. But you still may overpack, just in a more tidy way than, say, I do.
By trial and error — mostly error — I’ve learned that the key to packing smart is packing light, which usually saves time, money, space, headaches and backaches. Think George Clooney in the film “Up In the Air.” Somehow he managed to get everything into a small carry-on whenever he flew and still turn up looking spiffy.… Continue reading
In a recent post, I admitted to having a packing problem — namely overpacking — so that I have to lug a large suitcase on many plane or train trips rather than a lighter, much handier carry-on-size bag (21 or 22 inches long). It spurred me to write “Seven Reasons for Packing Light,” mostly learned the hard way.
But I like to think that after my last trip — a week-long European cruise in February — that I’ve learned my lesson. I’d convinced myself there were extenuating circumstances: it was winter, so I needed heavier clothes; it was a cruise, so I would only need to unpack once; and it was a business trip (a story assignment), so I needed dress clothes and shoes for the ship’s semi-formal nights.
And, of course, my large bag had wheels, as does virtually every… Continue reading