Posts Tagged 'air travel'

A Map of Air Travel in 1929

Flying across the country is a whole lot easier than it used to be. Today you can spend a few hundred bucks to get a non-stop flight from New York to San Francisco and you can get there in about 6 hours. Back in the twenties though that whole long-distance air travel thing was a lot more complicated. Even though great advances in aviation were made during that decade like Charles Lindburgh’s first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean and the advent of in-flight entertainment, flying was still quite new, dangerous, and lacked much of the infrastructure that airlines heavily rely on today.

The David Rumsey map collection has an incredible flight map of America from 1929 and it shows you how difficult it would be to cross our country as quickly as possible back then. A trip from New York to San Francisco back then would require several train rides over hundreds of miles and layovers at fourteen different airports. Even though back then there were planes like The Spirit of St. Louis that were able to fly over 3000 non-stop miles, those planes were only designed to hold one or two people. The earliest passenger planes of that era had to carry far more people and weight and therefore had a much shorter range. It really is amazing how quickly commercial aviation has advanced to the point where almost anyone can hop on a plane and cross a continent or an ocean in the course of a few hours. It is something that our ancestors would be quite envious of.

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Things You Should Pack to Survive the Worst Parts of Flying

Today many people will be flying all over the country to be with their families tomorrow on Thanksgiving and the skies will be packed with many infrequent flyers. Add to that some miserable weather in one of the busiest areas of the country and you have a flyer’s nightmare on your hands. However, many of these common flying woes are entirely predictable and with some strategic packing you can make a bad experience more tolerable. Lifehacker has a great article up listing some of the best things you should pack in your carry-on to help you combat some of the most common problems encountered during a flight.

Problem: Your flight is delayed.
Solution: Always bring something to entertain yourself like a book, magazine, e-reader, computer, or tablet.

Problem: The plane runs out of food or drinks.
Solution: Always pack an empty water bottle that you can refill after you pass through security and have a few small snacks ready. I always make sure to pack a few granola bars.

Problem: Your electronics are running out of battery life and you have no place to charge them.
Solution: A USB backup battery is a great thing to have handy for these situations. These batteries can give a much needed charge to anything chargeable with a USB cable which includes most of today’s smartphones and tablets.

Problem: Parts of your body are starting to hurt from sitting in the plane’s torture devices economy class seats for too long.
Solution: Pillows and pills. You can get some great portable pillows to support your neck in the terminal and any spare clothing you bring can make an improvised lumbar pillow. It may be wise to bring some over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen to help dull some of the pain you’re feeling on the flight.


If your airport looks like this, chances are no one is going anywhere for a while.

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What to do if You’re Stuck at a Busy Airport

Layovers at an airport are rarely fun especially when you didn’t plan for them. Portable electronics are good to pass the time but they have a limited battery life and terminals don’t have many power outlets to supply you with the juice you need. Typically they end up with you munching on overpriced, sub-par airport food while reading a magazine you got at a newsstand. Boring as that may be, sitting around in the terminal at least allows you to be ready to go when the plane is. But if you have more than about 4 hours before your next flight, you can afford to be a little more adventitious and leave the airport. The problem with that move is where should you go? Airports are usually on the outskirts of cities and many of the best places to check out are further away.

Airfare Watchdog has a great post up now that gives you some great recommendations for things to do if you’re laid over at some of the world’s busiest airports depending on how long you’re laid over. They lay out the most cost-effective airline lounges and some cool things to check out that are pretty close to the airport. After reading that I’m quite convinced now that Las Vegas is probably the best city in the world to have a layover in. McCarran Airport is a 10 minute cab ride from the Strip and all of the fun things you can do there.


In Vegas you don’t need to go very far if you need to skip town.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

Six Ways to Avoid Airline Fees

Now is a pretty good time to be an airline customer. Cutthroat competition has reduced airfares to some of the lowest levels in history (adjusted for inflation) and that has been a great deal for all travelers. However, to make up the drop in revenue caused by low fares airlines have made up the difference with fees for everything they used to offer for free. The good news about fees is that if you approach them correctly you can almost completely avoid them. Forbes has a great article up that shares some great tips to make sure that you pay only for the price of your boarding pass and no more:

Don’t check bags – Try to travel light enough that you only need two small carry-on items. Fees for checked bags average around $25 per bag and usually escalate for additional checked bags. At the same time don’t be that guy who brings way too much luggage into the cabin just to avoid the fees and hogs up all of the overhead compartments. Pack light and efficiently and you’ll save money.

Check fees beforehand – If you know that you must check bags, check the fee structures of the various carriers before you buy your ticket. You need to remember to add that into the cost of your ticket when shopping. Some airlines like Southwest have far better checked bag fees and policies than others.

Weigh your luggage – Checked bags often come with weight limits and exceeding those limits can cost a lot of money you didn’t expect to spend. For frequent travelers a luggage scale is a wise investment for smart packing. One good tip is to put some of the heaviest items you have in your carry-on. While there are technically weight limits to carry-on items they are very rarely enforced.

Don’t pay for early boarding – You don’t want to be the last person to board the plane if you’re checking no bags but it’s not worth it to pay $20 to cut in line. The trick is knowing ahead of time how the airline loads their planes and selecting your seat accordingly. Some airlines load back to front or window seats first and if you know that and pick your seat accordingly you can make sure you’re not the last person on without paying extra.

Unplug
– In-flight wi-fi really isn’t worth it yet. It’s not available for the first and last 30 minutes of the flight and it’s not entirely reliable at all points in between. It may be worth it if you’re taking an 8+ hour flight across an ocean but for shorter flights you don’t really need that internet access.

Uncheck those boxes – When you’re going through the process of buying a plane ticket online the airline will try to upsell you at every turn. The box for things like travel insurance and early boarding are often automatically checked by the airline hoping you wouldn’t notice it until they actually have more of your money than you thought. Make sure not to rush through the process of buying your tickets and read through everything. They’re trying to sneak stuff by you, don’t let them do it.

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How to Ace Winter Air Travel

I really hate the trend that has become known as the “Christmas Creep” Every year it seems like businesses across the country start their marketing for the holiday season earlier and earlier in the year. This year I saw my first holiday-themed ad in September and it made me want to cry. All that being said I’m going to be writing about holiday travel before Halloween today but there’s a very good reason for that. If you anticipate that you’re going to be traveling for the winter holidays now is probably the best time to start looking at your options. With winter approaching, Conde Nast has a great article sharing some excellent air travel advice for the coming winter months. Here are some of the highlights:

The cheapest days of the year to fly. Early December and late January are typically when you’ll find some of the cheapest airfares of the year.

Book Presidents’ Day weekend in early December. Prices probably won’t come down much before then.

Try going to a cooler big city instead of a resort.
You can get some great deals in the winter by opting to go to a city like New York, Washington DC or San Francisco because there is less business travel there in the winter.

Consider alternate airports. For example, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale are good substitutes for Orlando and Miami respectively in Florida. You may have a longer drive to your final destination but you’ll save a lot on airfare.

Schedule connecting flights out of Southern airports.
Those airports are far less likely to experience weather related problems in the winter.

Fly early. Early morning flights are cheaper and have the best chance of going out on time.

If your flight is cancelled:

Be the first to find out. This increases your chances of getting an alternate flight that works for you. Flightstats.com is a good tool to use to get the most up-to-date information.

Have an alternate flight in mind before contacting your airline. You don’t want to depend on just the airline to find you the flight you want. Besides, telling them the exact flight you want will insure you get it faster and save everyone a lot of time.

When all else fails consider going to Vegas. If you know you’re not going to be getting to your destination for a while, Las Vegas is a pretty good place to wait it out. It has a huge airport with lots of flights, cheap hotels, and clear weather. Besides it’s better to be stuck in Las Vegas than the frozen tundra of Chicago, Detroit, or Minneapolis.


You want to avoid this fate at all costs.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

A Room With a View of an Airport

If you ever drive around the streets and highways close to any major airport you will always find lots and lots of hotels. After all it makes sense that many travelers would want to stay close to an airport if they have a flight the next morning. Also, unexpected flight cancellations and layovers happen all the time which sometimes require a flight to be pushed back to the next day leading to all of the passengers spending a night at one of those nearby hotels on the airline’s dime. I’ve personally been in a situation like that multiple times.

As one can imagine, so many hotels being in such a small area breeds some pretty cutthroat competition and that leads to situations where those hotels will do anything they can to get a leg up. The New York Times recently discussed a case of Marriott coming up with a pretty unusual idea at their hotel outside Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The upper floors have an unobstructed view of the airport’s runways which offers a great view of planes taking off and landing and they’re trying to milk it for all it’s worth. Those rooms with a view come with a private balcony, a runway map, an airplane guide, and binoculars and are marketed specifically towards aviation enthusiasts and leisure travelers.

That sort of deal should send up some serious red flags for anyone who’s flown on a plane or have seen the New York Mets play at home. The sound of a jet engine running 100 feet away from you is about 140 decibels. That’s not just loud enough to keep just about anyone up at night, that’s loud enough to do serious damage to your hearing. Considering that most of us get hotel rooms for the purpose of having a place to sleep when we’re away from home that’s a pretty big problem. Mariott’s solution is some pretty serious soundproofing. The hotel’s windows are two inches thick and the walls and insulation are much thicker than that of an average building. After that it’s just a PR offensive to convince potential customers that the rooms are actually quiet enough where you can get a good night’s sleep. As for me though, I’d gladly trade a close up view of an airport and a shorter trip to that airport for the darkness and silence that I need to sleep at night.


I wonder if they offer noise cancelling headphones upon request.

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FAA to Ease Restrictions on Using your Gadgets

In an announcement that all airplane passengers will love, a FAA panel endorsed the easing of restrictions on the use of personal electronics during flights even when planes are on the ground or below 10,000 feet in altitude. More specifically, they want to ease restrictions on using electronics in a way that doesn’t communicate outside the plane below 10,000 feet. So you will soon be free to use your kindle, listen to music, watch movies, and play video games at all times during your flight. You still won’t be allowed to access the internet below 10,000 feet nor will you be allowed to send or receive phone calls or text messages at any point during your flight.

The FAA’s restrictions on personal electronics use originated in the 1950s when it was discovered that passengers bringing radios on their flights interfered with the navigation equipment in the cockpit. The same thing happened when the use of cell phones became widespread and using them on planes is still banned to this day. The FAA though has been gradually easing off restrictions on electronics use especially since both plane and electronics manufacturers have been designing their products so that they don’t interfere with one another. Planes today now have in-flight wi-fi while tablets and smartphones have airplane modes. In a recent stunt Amazon loaded up a passenger airliner full of kindles turned on to see if it affected the flight instruments, which it didn’t.

It turns out that airlines are welcoming this news too. Part of a flight attendant’s job is enforcing the rules and the current rules about personal electronics are difficult to enforce. A rule that has very little scientific backing and is difficult to justify that is openly broken by many travelers leads to unnecessary tensions between airlines and customers that both would like to avoid. Airlines would much rather have their flight attendants spend their time enhancing the customer experience rather than confronting passengers for breaking a silly rule. Also when you have a rule about safety that is widely ignored it undermines all of the other important rules about safety. For all of these reasons the FAA panel recommended easing restrictions and everyone involved will be happy when they’re all finally gone.


That is the only business I can think of that will be disappointed by this news.

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Flyers are Willing to Part With Many Things to Get Fast, Reliable Wi-Fi

It appears we’re witnessing a sea change in the consumer preferences of air travelers. It has long been known that many flyers want to get the very cheapest airfare they can get their hands on and this cutthroat competition has resulted on many airlines scaling back the usual amenities. It seems like every time I get on a plane the complementary bag of pretzels or peanuts gets smaller and smaller, and the miniature bottles of liquor get more and more expensive. It seems though that many American passengers are willing to give up some of those amenities entirely in exchange for one thing, complementary in-flight high-speed wi-fi. The problem is that unlike more conventional amenities that can just be loaded onto a plane, turning an aluminum tube flying 30,000 feet above the Earth at 450 miles per hour into high-speed hotspot is incredibly difficult.

Difficult yes, but not impossible. It turns out that airliners are getting the message loud and clear too. Airlines all over the world are starting to bring this capability to all of their flights thanks to satellite broadband. For example JetBlue’s most recent overhaul has resulted in having 180 planes that can provide a connection speed of 12 megabits per second which leagues ahead of the average broadband connection speed in the United States which is 8.6 megabits per second. But perhaps the most interesting part of the survey is how much passengers would be willing to sacrifice to stay connected like that. While things like meals, drinks, legroom, and reclining seats were all on the chopping block, the most interesting response was that 13 percent of American passengers would give up the right to use the plane’s bathroom in exchange for a fast connection. Now those are people who really can’t unplug.


I can hold it, now let me stream Breaking Bad over the Pacific Ocean.

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Where the President Travels

It used to be that presidents never traveled outside of our country. Getting elected to the Oval Office meant staying there during your term. International diplomatic travel was done by ambassadors and Secretaries of State. Part of it, especially for America, was that before the advent of airplanes it took a very long time to cross an ocean in a boat. Woodrow Wilson really was doing something unprecedented when he went over to Europe to negotiate the end of first world war as president. Now a grueling travel schedule is part of the job description of being president. Even just running for president requires jet-setting across America for years to campaign. Teddy Roosevelt stepped foot outside America only once as president. A century later, George W. Bush made a total of 140 diplomatic visits to 74 different countries during his presidency. Barack Obama is at 62 official visits to 43 different countries so far. The travel requirements for being president have certainly increased over the years. TIME has a great interactive map of what countries our presidents have visited and how often since 1900. Britain leads the pack for presidential visits with 58 followed by France, Canada, Mexico, and Germany. At least the president has a his own plane.

president map

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How to Travel Without Wrecking Your Body

Modern transportation is wonderful. It used to take a month for a ship to sail across the Atlantic Ocean and now you can take a flight from New York to London that lasts only 7 hours. But while the speed of transport has gotten faster, the process of traveling has started to take a greater toll on our bodies. A flight or a long drive requires that you stay seated for hours on end and then there’s jetlag which didn’t exist until… well we invented jets. Fortunately, Gizmodo has a great article with suggestions on how we can minimize the negative effects long distance travel can have on our bodies:

Start your travel day well rested – Go to bed early the night before and make sure you get plenty of sleep. Without a good night’s rest any stress that your body feels is going to be magnified. Being sleep deprived will only make you more tired and more stressed.

Choose your luggage carefully – Don’t bring too much with you. Carrying heavy, abnormal, and unnecessary luggage around will only put more stress on your arms and back. Packing light can also save you some money by not having to check a bag.

Wear compression socks– Compression socks will improve blood flow and reduce any swelling and soreness caused from sitting for long periods of time.

Eat right and drink water – Drink enough water and eat plenty of healthy food like fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid the fast food options at the airport unless you want to spend half of your flight in the airplane bathroom.

Sit up – Try to align your back with the back of the seat. Slouching puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your lower back and can lead to back problems down the road.

Stand up if you can – During a long flight you usually have ample opportunity to stand up an stretch your legs. Our bodies aren’t meant to remain in one static position for a long time. I try to get an aisle seat on a flight for exactly this reason.

Exercise at your destination – When you make it to your destination. do some stretching and some light exercise like walking or jogging. Just moving your body will get your blood flowing better and you will likely feel better the next morning.

Get another good night of sleep – This is easier said than done when you factor in jetlag but getting a good night’s sleep will relieve most of the stress your body faced from travel. With that you should be ready to do what you set out to do at your destination feeling good.


I’m pretty sure economy seating violates the eighth amendment.

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