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.
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.
I’ve been following these people today to keep track of the events in Japan. They’re bringing the situation to life — from the monumental to the mundane — 140 characters at a time.
We worked with USA Today’s Gary Stoller to explain why airport food isn’t so bad anymore. The main reason? Airports that let local dining favorites set up outposts in the terminals.
NYTimes.com added two new modules to its travel section yesterday to highlight Frommers.com content. The first one, on the travel main page, pulls from our events feed. On the In Transit blog, there’s a box in the right rail that collects headlines from our Tips & Tools stories at Frommers.com.
I was interviewed earlier this week by the very nice Danielle Paquette at CNN.com about strategies for traveling cheaper. Here’s some advice from both me and Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com.
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:
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
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
Couples getaway advice from me and a few others over at Bankrate.com. I argue that Pittsburgh and Little Compton, RI are great mini-getaways (among a few other places).
The results of two interviews for Frommer’s in the past two weeks are up at AOL Travel (about our photo contest winners) and TODAY Travel (about trips inspired by literature).
My wife’s YA book Plus has an official blog (http://beewilsonplus.posterous.com/) on Posterous. And you don’t even have to be a teen girl to enjoy it.