ALL POSTS IN [Airports]

Tonight at 9|8c, Airport 24/7: Miami is back with 2 all-new episodes! Are you ready to see what goes down in season 2 at one of the largest airports in the US?

First at 9|8c, 2 fully-loaded international flights collide on the jetway, causing hours of expensive delays and headaches for everyone involved.

Then at 9:30|8:30c, the worst accident in MIA’s history happens when a bus crashes into an overpass — it quickly escalates into a life-or-death situation as paramedics rush to the scene.

When an airport sees off over 38 million passengers a year, things are always bound to happen. See what happens tonight at Miami International Airport!

Learn more about the massive airport and what keeps it running, and check out these behind-the-scenes photos!

Nok Air/Facebook

Does sex sell more airline seats? Back in the ’60s, when the Golden Age of Flying ruled supreme, airline stewardesses wore super-high minis, pillbox hats and low-cut tops. Fast-forward to today, and airlines are trying to bring sexy back to flying, this time around with attempts that are much more in-your-face than the golden age of flying ever displayed – and, no surprise, the move is causing plenty of controversy for “sexy-ing up” flight attendants.

The most recent example is Thai carrier Nok Airlines, which has created a 2013 calendar with scantily-clad Maxim models posing as flight attendants. The airline’s CEO, Patee Sarasin, tells CNN, “The airline business has always been seen as sexy globally.” The calendar, he adds, has been a warmly received by appreciative customers.

Nok Airlines isn’t the only carrier to go the sexy calendar route. Ryanair’s cabin crew calendar showcases models in bikinis, and lest you have second thoughts about buying it, you can confidently defend your purchase by knowing that proceeds do go to the Polish TVN Foundation charity.

What do flight attendants think? We asked Heather Poole, a 15-year flight attendant and author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet her thoughts about marketing flight attendants as sex symbols.

She wasn’t too impressed.

“Cheap airfare is the only thing that sells tickets today,” says Poole. “That and — oh! — on-time departures and good safety records. If passengers really cared about what their flight attendants looked like, Hooters Air would still be in business. They only lasted for 3 years!”

Poole adds: “The only airlines that seem to flaunt sexy flight attendants are the ones looking to sell calendars or get “likes” on their Facebook page. There’s a reason they’re selling sex over a quality airline. Business must not be quite as hot as the crew.“

Plus, what about women fliers? asks Poole. Sexting up campaigns aren’t likely to win over this huge travel demographic.

“Do most female fliers really care how sexy flight attendants are? I don’t think so. It’s like some airlines are only directing their marketing at male passengers. Last time I checked there were women not just sitting on the plane, but occupying business and first-class seats, serious hardcore frequent fliers! They’re also flying the plane. To which I say, God Bless America! I’m so thankful I work for a US carrier. “

So what do you think? Do the marketing attempts to present flight attendants as sex symbols make flying more attractive to you? Or should airlines focus their efforts elsewhere?

You May Also Like:

Plane Sexy: Flying in the Jet Age
Style in the Aisle: Flight Attendant Fashion
Life of a Stewardess

 

Photography by Getty Images

Small Swiss Army knives, yes. Box cutters, still no.

Do the TSA’s new rules make perfect sense? Or are they total nonsense?

That’s the big question of the hour. In a move praised by some (Swiss Army knife enthusiasts) and derided by others (9/11 families), the Transportation Safety Agency announced this week that pocketknives will now be permitted on planes, effective Monday, April 25. TSA Administrator John Pistole outlined the new rules on Tuesday, stating that passengers will now be able to carry blades less than 2.36 inches long.

(Great visuals of TSA’s list of approved/banned carry-ons can be found here and here.)

When it comes to knives, why 2.36 inches — why not 2.5 … or 3? That question, among others, led the new TSA rules to win a vote of “confidence” from New Yorker funnyman Andy Borowitz, courtesy of his “National Arbitrariness Association”: “We love that the list appears to have been put together with no organizing principle or logical system. It combines the virtues of making no sense and being impossible to remember. Knives, bats, golf clubs, billiard cues — it’s like they made this list using refrigerator-poetry magnets.”

Not so fast, says TSA. On the contrary, the new rules to permit these items as carry-ons “was made as part of TSA’s overall risk-based security approach and aligns TSA with international standards.” Plus, in light of locked cockpit doors and with pilots now instructed to stay behind those doors if trouble arises, it’s unlikely, the argument goes, that someone will successfully hijack a plane with a small Swiss Army knife … or lacrosse sticks … or hockey sticks … or golf clubs (limit 2) — provided they’re under 24 inches in length.

Are the new TSA rules too much, too soon after 9/11? Some victims’ families think so: “What’s the difference between a pocketknife and a box cutter, for crying out loud?” asks David Beamer, whose son Todd was among the passengers who led the Flight 93 revolt. ‘’I cannot see the upside to this.”

(Sidenote: Box-cutters are still banned, because as TSA’s Pistole puts it: “… there’s just too much emotion associated with particularly the box cutters, so those will not be allowed.”)

Is there an upside to TSA’s new rules? If there is one, it may be as simple as convenience, especially for passengers avoiding the hassle of their pricey merchandise having to be turned in before they board. The TSA confiscates thousands of pocketknives each year, as well as expensive items like golf clubs, and gives them to states to sell off as surplus property.

What do you think – is this latest move a good thing? Or not?

If you travel, you’ve got an opinion, so leave your comments below.

Photography by Getty Images

In an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s largest airline, American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge. The new airline will take the American Airlines name to help keep the company afloat after it filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago. The mega-merger deal is scheduled to close in the third quarter of 2013 and make its debut at an airport near you — well, sometime soon.

So what does this pending merger mean for travelers? For one, less competition in the airline industry could mean price hikes for customers. The new American Airlines — with 900 planes, 95,000 employees and 3,200 daily flights — will have the scale, breadth and capabilities to compete more effectively, according to US Airways CEO Doug Parker. The new American, along with United, Delta and Southwest, would control over 70% of the US market. So frequent fliers are warned to expect a rise in ticket prices.

Travelers flying American or US Airways won’t notice immediate changes. Industry officials say that it’s likely the airlines will operate separately for the first year and that existing tickets will be honored. However, it’ll be months before the frequent-flyer programs are combined and years before the 2 airlines are fully integrated.

For corporate business travelers, there may be a few perks. US Airways and American officials expect the combined network of flights and routes to lure corporate travelers away from competitors.

The new airline will keep all hubs for both airlines, but no word yet on a location for the operations center, reservations, flight training, and maintenance and crew bases.

I’m an avid fan of traveling, so aside from the occasional business trip, I frequently travel for leisure — usually for a rock climbing adventure. But my ultimate goal, other than having fun and exploring diverse culture, is to obtain miles and elite status. One method of obtaining miles is by taking a “mileage run” (MR). I try to turn a mileage run into a mini-vacation, like my trip to Stockholm; however, during my latest trip, I encountered a little snow in Amsterdam, which limited my amount of time in the city. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.

Snow at AMS

Photography by Arthur Hsu

You may be asking “what’s a mileage run?” It’s flying for the sole purpose of earning elite qualifying miles (EQM) and redeemable miles (RDM). Each airline uses different acronyms, such as Delta’s Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM), so make sure to check with your own frequent-flyer program. The EQMs help frequent flyers earn or maintain their elite frequent flyer status, while the RDMs can be used to book award tickets and pay for upgrades.

If you’re new to frequent-flyer programs and want to learn more, there are several active forums and blogs that discuss the programs such as FlyerTalk, milepoint and Mommy Points. Check out Mommy Points’ video series on TravelChannel.com for her tips for earning and using points.

Usually frequent flyers wait until the end of the year to take mileage runs, but this January, I decided to get a head start on maintaining my Delta Platinum Medallion elite status with a globetrotting extended Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Using Google Flights, I found a ticket to Istanbul with a low cost-per-mile (CPM), which is ideal for a mileage run. Generally, for a mileage run, you want to search for flights that cost no more than 5 cents per mile.

I usually prefer direct flights, but the additional connections for this trip added a few thousand extra miles, so I booked the ticket — flying from DC to Amsterdam to Istanbul to Paris to Minneapolis and back to DC.

Total Time in Transit: Nearly 48 hours, including 12 hours in Amsterdam.

 Unlike my last mileage run, I flew this entire trip in economy. Luckily, due to my elite status, I was able to pick seats in Economy Comfort, which provides extra legroom and seats closer to the front of the plane, allowing me to exit sooner and make it through passport control quicker. When I arrived at Schiphol airport in the early morning, I went to the KLM Crown Lounge for some breakfast and espresso before heading out into the city. It was a cold day in Amsterdam, around 21°F, made a little worse by high winds. In the afternoon, it started to snow, but I continued to wander the city before finally surrendering and going back to the Schiphol to enjoy my last few hours in the KLM Crown Lounge.  Sitting in the lounge, I could see the snow falling, and the word that flyers most dread — “cancelled” –started to appear on the flight status monitors. Luckily, my flight was only delayed.

As we approached Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport (about 3 hours late), I had a great view of the city lit up in the darkness. Once we landed, I went to the Millennium Lounge for some snacks and beverages for the 2 hours before my next flight that would take me Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport. That flight was also my first time flying on Air France, and I missed the service I generally find on Delta or KLM.  Although the flight attendants were polite, the food and beverage offerings were very limited — they didn’t even have sparkling water!

Istanbul at Night

Photography by Arthur Hsu

Once at CDG, I proceeded to the Air France Lounge for a shower and a few glasses of Taittinger Champagne before boarding my Delta flight to MSP. Although I wasn’t sitting in their Business Elite seats, I was again happy in my Economy Comfort seat. A perk of international Economy Comfort is the complimentary spirits, so once the plane reached cruising altitude and beverage service began, I requested some Woodford Reserve Bourbon, served neat, of course. With a final stop in Minneapolis, I relaxed in the Delta Sky Club before boarding my flight back home to DC.

After spending most of the time in airports and on airplanes, with a snowy and windy layover in Amsterdam, this trip was worth the miles.

Total Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM): 11,765

Total Redeemable Miles: 23,530

Should you go on a mileage run? That depends on your situation. You shouldn’t do MRs if you can’t afford the trip, or if you would be leaving a family behind. There’s no advantage to having elite status and plenty of miles if you go broke, but as with everything, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Watch Mommy Points‘ tips to earn miles.

Reuters

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered all U.S. Dreamliners to cease flying until the battery fire risk is investigated.

Following a nightmarish few weeks for the long-awaited Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the FAA has ordered that all 787 fleets be grounded as a precaution after an emergency landing in Japan. And that was after a series of other incidents, including a battery fire aboard an empty Dreamliner in Boston last week.

Japan, India and Ethiopian airlines have grounded their Dreamliners, and other nations where 787s were in service have followed suit.

Boeing President Jim McNerney issued a statement that the company is working around the clock with customers, regulators and investigators to solve the problems.

“Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers,” McNerney says. “We are confident the 787 is safe, and we stand behind its overall integrity.”

But what about the fliers? Will they lose faith in the Dreamliner, even if the safety issues and bugs are resolved? Will the dreamy ‘mood lighting’ and larger windows ever override the trepidation of setting foot on a Dreamliner again?

Will you fly on a Dreamliner once the issues are resolved? Tell us in the comments.

Some people said this was a crazy trip for a crazy person: Fly from Washington, DC, to Stockholm, Sweden for dinner … and then fly home early the next morning. But in my defense, there was some reasoning and thought behind this, as I am a somewhat-sane “mileage runner” — a person that flies for the sake of earning miles.

The Friday before New Year’s Eve, I decided that I wanted to reach Delta’s Platinum Medallion frequent flyer elite status. The status was well worth the expense and time since I was planning a climbing trip to Paris the next year. Don’t understand elite status? Mommy Points explains the benefits. I was short 8,634 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) from the required 75,000-mile target and had just 4 days until the yearend deadline. A plan was needed quickly.

I immediately started searching for low fares that would yield the needed miles. A great tool is Google Flights which shows you destinations around the world and allows you to filter for specific airlines and alliances, in my case, SkyTeam. I already expected the ticket price would be high since this was a last-minute purchase, so my goal was to maximize miles earned for a reasonable cost. I finally settled on a ticket to Stockholm, which would net me 9,170 MQM and departed Dulles International Airport on Saturday at 6:20 p.m. to arrive at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. after a layover in Amsterdam. I’d be back in DC by 3:30 p.m. on Monday.

Total Time in Transit: Nearly 34 hours with 11 hours in Stockholm!

After packing a change of clothes, I headed to Dulles, parked in the economy parking lot and went off to Departures. (Travel tip — put your parking spot in your calendar. After your return flight,  this makes it easy to remember where your car is.) I made a quick stop at the check-in counter using the SkyPriority lane (another benefit of elite status), grabbed my boarding pass and learned that my flight was delayed 2 hours. No big deal — I could wait in the Air France Lounge until my flight and enjoy some snacks and Bordeaux wine — another advantage of having Delta Gold Medallion status.

Once boarding started, I headed to the SkyPriority lane where they actually have a different gate for elites, so I was sipping champagne in my business-class seat within a couple of minutes. After eating my 3-course meal — served on a white table cloth and porcelain plates — I went to sleep so I’d be able to walk around Amsterdam for a few hours before my connecting flight to Stockholm.

KLM Food

Photography by Arthur Hsu

After landing in Amsterdam, I took the Schiphol Express train to Central Station and wandered around the city for a few hours before grabbing a quick meal of poached eggs, smoked salmon and espresso at Vinnies Deli. The deli was located next to Dampkring, which I remembered seeing in an episode of The Layover, but when I looked at the Layover App, I realized I had ended up in a different cafe. Either way, it was packed with people. I continued to wander along the canals before heading back to the airport for a short flight to Sweden.

Amsterdam

Photography by Arthur Hsu

After finally arriving in Stockholm, I was excited to have a nice meal. But first, I checked into Jumbo Stay, a hostel built into a Boeing 747. I typically don’t stay in hostels, but I made an exception since the novelty of sleeping in an airplane was a somewhat unique experience  (granted, I slept the night before in a Boeing 767).

Jumbo Stay

Photography by Christian Skovgaard

Next, I headed back to the airport to catch the Arlanda Express train to Stockholm Station for dinner at Rolfs Kök. I grabbed a seat at the bar and decided to start with some Bellota pig tartare. This was my first time eating raw pig and it won’t be my last, as you could actually taste the acorns that made up the Bellota pig’s last meal. My main course was perfectly-cooked loin of cod with anchovies. And for dessert, I enjoyed a glass of Ardbeg Ten Years Old single-malt scotch (no ice, of course). After dinner, I wandered the streets before heading back to the train, catching some sleep and leaving for the airport at 5:00 a.m. for my return home.

With my quick trip to Stockholm, I netted 11,104 MQM, (with the 150% class bonus for my business seat), which helped me secure Platinum Medallion status through Feb 2014. I also earned 9,170 bonus miles as part of the 100% bonus miles Medallion benefit for a total of 20,274 miles! All in all, I had a great flying experience, a delicious meal and I ended the year with enough miles to book 2 business class award tickets for a bouldering adventure in November to France’s Fontainebleau, one of the top bouldering spots in the world.

If you want to learn how to earn airline elite status, watch our video. Be sure to also catch our web series, Mommy Points’ Family Travel Deals, to learn more about earning miles and making the most of your points.

 

Photography by Getty Images

AAA predicts that 93.3 million Americans will hit the road during the holidays, making this Christmas travel season the busiest it’s been in 6 years. More people are taking road trips this year because finding a reasonably-priced airplane ticket is like finding a needle in a haystack.

A record 84.4 million people will drive at least 50 miles between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1, according to the reputable travel agency. That’s 90.5% of holiday travelers, up from 89.3% just 6 years ago. So what does that mean to you? Expect plenty of traffic jams, crowded rest stops and bumper-to-bumper lines near highway tolls.

Need tips for dealing with this inevitable headache? Pack a couple travel-size games and snacks to keep the kids preoccupied. We recommend checking out some helpful family travel tips from Mommy Points blogger, Summer Hull, before you head out the door. Our travel expert offers up advice on everything from flying with a baby for the first time to finding hotels with health food options.

One thing travelers aren’t too concerned about is gas prices, which have dropped 50 cents since September, according to AAA. The average price at the pump will range from $3.20 and $3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day, but that’s still not enough of a reason to thwart travelers’ plans to drive.

Although more people will be on the road, the airports will be just as busy. We recommend heading to the airport earlier than you normally would to avoid long TSA security lines — especially on the weekend before Christmas, the day after Christmas and on Jan. 2.  AAA’s economist John Heimlich expects 86% of the airplane seats to be filled with paying passengers, up from 85% last year.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed due to a major storm system making its way across the Midwest and headed for the East Coast of the US. Meteorologists predict that another storm on the West Coast may throw a wrench in travel plans next week; so before you head out the door, check out our weather forecast tool — powered by WeatherTrends360 — to find out if these 2 storms will affect your Christmas travel plans.

And if you’re headed to a big city, download The Layover app or peruse our airport guides to find out how you can kill some time during a lengthy layover.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that the Eastern Seaboard of the US is still reeling from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. Powerful wind gusts, up to 80 mph, have left more than 7 million people without power. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of evacuees have been rushed to emergency shelters; to help with disaster relief, consider a donation to the American Red Cross.

And unfortunately travelers haven’t been able to escape Sandy’s stormy grip. Airports in NYC and Philadelphia remain closed, and more than 13,000 flights were cancelled at airports in some states near the Great Lakes, where heavy snow is expected. And according to The New York Times, flooding in some areas has forced subways from Boston to Washington, DC, to shut down.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’ve put together a few helpful tips just in case you’re stranded or you need to reschedule your travel plans. Cut through the clutter and get your travels back on track with our hurricane safety tips — what travelers should do before, during and after stormy weather strikes.

Looking for more travel tips and warm weather getaways?

READ MORE

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

Tonight at 9|8c, catch the season finale of Airport 24/7! In tonight’s episode, see what happens when a fuel farm catches on fire, causing a catastrophic blaze that could halt Miami International Airport in its tracks. With the loss of so much fuel, can MIA bounce back?

Can’t get enough of the action at MIA? Catch all of our extra content that’s not in the episodes online! From Casey, the adorable therapy dog, posing for her ID badge to the flash mobs that keep the travelers passing through MIA entertained, there’s always something happening at MIA.

Also, don’t miss these fun facts about MIA!  For example, did you know that there’s a protected species living on the airfield?

The airport fun doesn’t have to end tonight! See all of Travel Channel’s airport features, from Mile-High Fashion to the World’s Most Iconic Airports!

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