Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Air Travel Update

With storms brewing across the country on the two biggest travel days of the year, there's probably no better time to review airline delay/cancellation policies and tips.

More than 5,500 flights were delayed today as of 7:15PM Eastern; Philadelphia, Boston, New York City and Atlanta suffered the worst disruptions of all major airports, as expected. Although there are very few weather problems on the West Coast, flight delays in the countries biggest airports are problematic across the country because of tight schedules for airliners and flight crews.  Despite these delays, travelers did not experience the meltdown that many feared.

Thursday is expected to see more cancellations and delays.  What should you do if your flight is delayed or cancelled? What are the airlines' responsibilities if your flight is delayed or cancelled?


  • Make sure you're signed up for flight alerts! The sooner you know, the better off you are. Most airlines can text your cell phone or send you an email.
  • Even still, pay close attention to the weather and check the status of your flight. Also check if the airline has enacted a flexible rebooking policy as many do in bad weather.
  • If you're already at the airport and experience a delay or cancellation, get in the line for a service agent but also try calling the airline's reservation department from your cell phone. Sometimes the wait for the call center is shorter than the help desk.
  • Desperate times call for desperate measures- if you can be flexible on your arrival and return airport location you may be better off than never making it for the Thanksgiving feast.
Airline Policies:

  • The airlines only obligation to passengers with cancelled and delayed flights is providing a ticket, free of charge, on the next available flight.
  • If your flight is cancelled and you have an alternative mode of transportation or if you'll miss out on the turkey and want to cancel the trip altogether (we hope it doesn't come to this!), you are entitled to a refund for all unused portions of the itinerary.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the airline is not obligated to compensate you for food or lodging in the event of a delay or cancellation. Many airlines will offer this for their own errors like mechanical issues, however, when weather is the issue you're unlikely to be compensated. Always ask, just in case! Even though it may be sunny and clear in your departure and arrival cities, with storms in the North East and South are likely to blame if you're delayed or cancelled.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Texting and Making Cell Phone Calls in the Air Could Soon be Reality

If you were excited to find out that you will likely be able to use your personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing on all airlines before the end of the year, just you wait.  You might even want to sit down for this one.

The Federal Communications Commission has a new plan to allow cell phone calls, texting and other mobile services while above 10,000 feet! The goal is to give passengers the same communication access they have with other modes of travel.

If the new proposal is approved, it will be up to the individual airlines to equip their planes with a special antenna approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and allow cell phone use in the air.

Studies show passengers are split as to whether in-flight phone calls will have a positive or negative impact on the travel experience.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Unbelievable Underwater Hotel Room

Zanzibar's Manta Resort has an all-new, totally-original hotel room. Its UNDERWATER! The "room" is actual a four-bedroom, three-level villa and according to the resort, its a rare gem few people ever get to see (in person that is).  Check out these stunning photos to see what we're missing!

All photos courtesy of the resort's website.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Update: Electronic Devices Now Allowed Under 10,000 ft. on JetBlue, Delta, US Airways and American Airlines Flights

As a follow up to our post last week, here is an update on the use of personal electronic devices during flights while above AND BELOW 10,000 ft:

The FAA has approved JetBlue, Delta, US Airways and American Airlines to allow electronic devices at all times during their flights. All three airlines have implemented their new procedures lifting the 10,000 ft restriction.

United Airlines applied Wednesday for the policy change. It is expected that most airlines will have approval by the end of the year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Travelers Rejoice!

No longer will air travelers have to endure the agonizing first and last 15-20 minutes of a flight when all electronic devices have to be turned off and put away. On Thursday, October 31, 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration made a long-anticipated announcement that fliers will soon be able to use their portable electronic devices (PEDs) from gate to gate. 

After months of study with a group of aviation experts, the FAA has concluded that most commercial aircraft can tolerate radio interference signals from passengers' electronic devices, leaving the planes' essential systems, especially communications and navigation, fully functional. Currently, passengers are required to turn off all electronic devices anytime the plane is under 10,000 feet.

How soon will you be able to enjoy the relaxed rules? It depends on the airline as carriers must now file plans with the FAA to allow the use of electronic devices throughout the flight and prove that their vessels are PED-tolerant. The FAA anticipates many carriers will receive approval by the end of the year. Both Delta and JetBlue submitted plans to implement the relaxed restrictions immediately following the Thursday-morning announcement.

Some restrictions apply:
-Devices still have to be in airplane mode, suspending all devices transmitting functions and disabling cellular network, wireless internet network and data network connections.
-In instances of extremely poor weather and low-visibility, you may still have to turn off your devices.

While travelers and the electronics industry and rejoicing, some concerns remain. The Association of Flight Attendants is asking for streamlined testing to ensure airplanes can safely tolerate the interference as well as development of crew training and passenger messaging to ensure travelers pay attention to safety messages. Attendants will now have to ensure passengers are actually switching to airplane mode as directed, presenting another logistical concern. The Air Line Pilots Association is concerned that replaying on passengers to adhere to with the airplane mode requirement and comply with requests to turn off PEDs during poor weather are not practical solutions.

According to a 2013 study by the Consumer Electronics Association and the Airline Passenger Experience Association, almost one-third of passengers admitted to leaving at least one PED on during a recent flight.