Recent Interview Roundup

I did a series of interviews over the last two weeks about:
— Beautiful small towns in the U.S. (for Forbes.com)
— What makes a good travel blog (for Gadling.com)
— How business travelers can best navigate a city (for Travel Channel)
— The best rewards programs for business travelers (also for Travel Channel)

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Best In-Flight Entertainment

I spoke with MSNBC.com today about U.S. domestic flights and the entertainment options carriers make available (3/27 edit: the story is now live). Before talking to the reporter I queried Frommers.com writers and, via Twitter, frequent flyers and the typically frisky pool of Gadling.com contributors (such as travel writer/stand-up Mike Barish) about their favorites.

Or favorite should I say: Virgin America. One thing people love about Virgin is consistency (and, as a side note, their willingness to jump into a Twitter discussion between a few travel writers and make a joke). Along with JetBlue, they set a baseline of experience that’s either consistently met or exceeded. I know too well that the entertainment systems United advertises on its cross-continental routes always come with an asterix to denote “not available on all flights.” Boarding your LAX-JFK flight and realizing that your entertainment system is really just a 10-year-old monitor dangling from the ceiling seven rows ahead is no way to travel.

A seat-back personal entertainment console is a feature people have demonstrated they’re happy to pay for (as opposed to checked bags), so airlines that embrace them are also giving themselves a nice revenue stream consumers appreciate, rather than complain about. I feel much better about shelling out $6 for a good movie and another $8 for a cocktail ordered via my seatback than I do handing over $5 for Continental’s crusty headphones to a borderline depressive flight attendant.

And you really can’t say enough about live TV during playoff seasons. If I was flying Thurs-Sun during March, I’d pick JetBlue without a second thought so I could catch the NCAA tournament. I was on a flight from MCO-EWR during January’s Steelers/Jets AFC matchup and the only negative about watching the game airborne was the feeling that if the EWR locals discovered I was rooting for the black and yellow I’d be treated to an involuntary Steven Slater exit at a few thousand feet.

Tips for Planning a Trip & Spring Break Advice

I shared some tips on making your money go further on vacations with Fox Business earlier this week. Odd quirk: the journalist also interviewed a “Clampitt” (from the long-lost, horse thieving, Confederate-sympathizing side of the family, if I remember correctly). I also spoke with TheStreet.com’s sister site MainStreet about squeezing in a last-minute spring break.

 

USA Today: Best Airport Lounges

Earlier the week we teamed up with our friends at the USA Today to produce a list of our top 5 international and top 5 domestic airport lounges. It’s since appeared on multiple other sites, including the economist.com. The list runs like this:

International:

1. The Wing, Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific
2. Upper Class Clubhouse, London Heathrow: Virgin Atlantic
3. Satellite Golden Lounge, Kuala Lampur: Malaysian Airlines
4. First Class Lounge, Munich: Lufthansa
5. International Lounge, Tokyo Haneda: Japan Air Lines

U.S./Canada:
1. Emirates Lounge, NYC-JFK: Emirates
2. Porter at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
3. Presidents, Houston: Continental
4. OneWorld, Los Angeles: British Airways, Qantas and Cathay
5. BA Terrace Lounge, Seattle: British Airways

We produced the list by polling editors, contributors, authors, and frequent travelers in the extended Frommer’s family. If it had simply been a top ten, we realized that there would have been little room for North American entries — with the exception, perhaps, of Canada’ cunning little Porter Airlines. We found that a little depressing, so we had our stalwart 
Fly Smarter contributor Sascha Segan hunt down the best the U.S. and Canada have to offer in hope that we could encourage a better class of service. We also had him find out how non-high flyers can get access when they need it. You can read his story, “Top Airport Lounges in North America” here