Travel

Dear Google, Please Save Us From Basic Economy

googleflights

Basic economy fares are upon us.

Delta has been selling these wretched fares for a few years now, but has recently rolled them out to more and more markets. Then United unveiled the details of their punitive offering last fall and American came out with their slightly-better-than-awful version last week.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan. Can you tell?

Sure, I get it. The legacy carriers are facing stiff competition from the ultra-low-cost carriers and feel they need to do this to compete. But guess what? They, or at least United and Delta, tried operating a low-cost-carry subsidiary within the framework of a mainline carrier before. I watched that movie — I think it was called Song and Ted’s Miserable Adventure — and we all know how it turned out.

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Mexico Might Be My New Favorite Vacation Destination!

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I’m trying something new for the first time this weekend — I’m vacationing in Mexico. Specifically, at the new W Punta de Mita.

Bizarre as it may sound, I’ve never actually visited Mexico as an adult. I’ve connected at Mexico City Airport, and as a kid I stopped in Mexico on a cruise (which hardly gives you a fair representation of a place), though I’ve never otherwise visited the country. I’ve really wanted to visit Mexico City as I’ve heard great things, but haven’t had the chance yet.

It might seem odd that I’m traveling to Mexico for the first time as an adult, given that I like resorts, and it’s just a short flight from the U.S. After all, I’ve been to Bali more often than I can count, and assorted other relaxation destinations on the other side of the world.

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10 Places I’m Hoping To Visit In 2017

Le-Meridien

Yesterday I shared my five favorite places I visited for the first time in 2016. As I explained, I travel differently than most — for me travel is about the journey, because that’s my “job.” That being said, I do everything I can to experience places as well, even if just for a couple of days.

Since it’s still the beginning of the year, I figured it would be for me to set some goals of places I’d definitely like to visit in 2017. I’m not suggesting that these are the 10 places in the world that I absolutely, 100% most want to see. Rather I’m trying to be realistic. Some of these are places that are a pain to get to that I still really want to visit, while others are places that really interest me, that just happen to fit in very well with one of my airline review trips.

With that in mind, here are 10 places I’m hoping to visit for the first time in 2017 (in no particular order), with a brief explanation of why:

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My 5 Favorite Places I Visited For The First Time In 2016

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I travel differently than most — for me travel is more about the journey than the destination, as I’ve explained in a previous post. However, that’s a function of “my job” (if I can even call it that) and the niche I’ve carved out, and that I simply think there’s more value I can add talking about airlines and hotels than destinations.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy seeing new places, as I absolutely do. I often don’t get to visit places for as long as I’d like to, but I’ve made an effort to see as many places as practical in 2016.

2016 was a great travel for year for me, especially as I got to take some unforgettable trips with Ford.

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Airline Distressed Traveler Kits: Lifesavers Or Useless?

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Airlines lose bags. That’s just a fact of life. If you fly enough, and check a bag, eventually the statistics will catch up with you.

Now to be fair, most of the time airlines don’t actually lose your bag, they just misplace it for awhile. It ends up on the wrong plane, sits in baggage purgatory, or whatever. That is to say most of the time you’ll eventually be reunited with it. Even so, it can be kind of annoying in the interim to not have your stuff.

Most airlines recognize this and have some form of distressed passenger amenity kit that they offer to passengers who have had their bag get lost. The contents of these kits tends to vary, however, as airlines seem to have different concepts of what is “essential.”

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The Armani Hotel Dubai Is Now Serving Up Gold Cappuccinos

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I’ve spent a lot of time in Dubai over the years, and have written a guide about what I think first-timers should do when visiting Dubai. While Dubai is all about glitz and glam on the surface, there’s certainly more to the city than that.

As much as I’m usually the furthest thing from a “blingy” person, in an amusing way there’s something I still love about that side of Dubai.

For example, at the St. Regis Dubai last week I had the “gold mary,” which is the hotel’s signature bloody mary. As the name suggests, it has gold flakes in it.

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Full Service Gyms Are Coming To U.S. Airports

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Here’s something I love the concept of, though I’m skeptical of the sustainability of the business model.

The only airport gym I know of in the U.S. is in the American Airlines Admirals Club at DFW, and even that is just a mini-gym with outdated equipment. Still, getting some cardio in is a nice way to kill a long layover. There are some hotels attached to airports with gyms as well, but I’m not sure that counts in the same way.

But could there be a business model to opening independent gyms at airports? Roam Fitness thinks so.

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Two Weeks Of Unlimited Flying In Norway For $398

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Norway is quickly climbing my list of favorite countries in the world. The entire country is basically one big national park. Or rather one big national park where every food vendor is a farm-to-table restaurant.

So the scenery is gorgeous and the food, all of it, seemingly no matter where you dine, is fresh, natural, and real. It seems they just don’t tolerate crap in their food like we do back here in the states.

OK, so the place is a little on the expensive side. But it’s actually a lot cheaper — at least for Americans — than it was a few years ago thanks to the strengthening of the dollar. When we visited Bergen in 2013, some of the prices were just plain silly. Now they are just on the expensive side, kind of like if you were visiting New York City.

Anyway, Wideroe is back with their annual fly-all-you-want around Norway for a fixed cost in the summer of 2017.

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Emirates A380 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Los Angeles! I just flew Emirates’ A380 business class for the 15hr10min flight from Dubai to Los Angeles. I’ve flown Emirates first class a countless number of times, though this was my first time in their A380 business class, so naturally I was curious how it compared.

Emirates’ business class cabin on the A380 is large — there are 76 seats, spread across two cabins on the upper deck. The cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration, with staggered seats. This means that in each row seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and being closer to the window.

Generally my issue with these staggered configurations is that the foot cubby is small. However, I found Emirates’ staggered configuration to be the most comfortable and spacious yet. I got a solid seven hours of sleep, and it felt like “legitimate” sleep rather than airplane sleep. I really felt like I was in a cocoon thanks to being in a “true” window seat.

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I’m Flying Emirates A380 Business Class For The First Time

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As I first posted about a couple of weeks ago, I’m in the middle of a crazy review trip, which has me flying Air Canada, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, and Royal Brunei. I flew Air Canada from Tampa to Toronto, EgyptAir from Toronto to Cairo, Royal Jordanian from Cairo to Amman, Royal Jordanian from Amman to Kuala Lumpur, Royal Brunei from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan, and Royal Brunei from Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai.

That brings me as far as Dubai, though at the time I hadn’t yet decided how I’d get back from Dubai to the United States, and I was deciding between a few different options. In particular, I was considering:

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Visiting Brunei: Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

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I spent about 30 hours in Brunei over the weekend, as I wanted to review Royal Brunei Airlines. I was given the option of either a six hour layover or 30 hour layover when flying from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai, and chose the latter. I’ve always been intrigued by Brunei (especially after reading an article from The Hollywood Reporter about it a while back), so figured this represented a great opportunity to visit a new country.

Understandably, a lot of people asked me questions about how I could visit a country like Brunei. So I figured I’d briefly address that, and also share my thoughts on my visit.

A few years ago Brunei implemented Sharia Law. In theory gay acts are punishable by death. Brunei has all kinds of other strict laws — non-Muslims aren’t allowed to use Muslim words, you can’t publicly celebrate Christmas, etc.

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Royal Brunei A320 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Brunei! I just flew Royal Brunei for the quick 2hr5min flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan. The flight was operated by an A320, so it’s not as exciting as the 787 they fly, but I still figured I’d share my general impressions.

Royal Brunei’s A320 features a total of 12 business class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration. The legroom is a bit more than you’d find on a U.S. airline, and the seats have legrests. However, the seats do look a bit outdated.

While the seats don’t have built-in IFE, the crew distributed iPads after takeoff, which had several movies and TV shows on them.

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Royal Jordanian 787 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from Kuala Lumpur! After an Air Canada Rouge flight from Tampa to Toronto, EgyptAir business class flight from Toronto to Cairo, an amusing transfer at Cairo Airport, a Royal Jordanian business class flight from Cairo to Amman, and a brief visit to Amman, I flew Royal Jordanian’s 787 business class on the 8hr20min flight from Amman to Kuala Lumpur. As usual, I wanted to share my initial impressions, though a more detailed trip report will follow.

Royal Jordanian’s 787 business class features a total of 24 seats B/E Aerospace Diamond seats (the same seats found on Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air China, Saudia, United, etc. ), spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Those are perfectly fine seats, though I think I prefer just standard forward facing business class seats with a decent privacy partition, since there’s more room for your feet. Nonetheless I managed to get several hours of sleep.

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