Low-Cost Carrier JetBlue Is Going Luxury With Sleeper-Seat Cabins

John Murphy, Flickr

Remember back when JetBlue launched and everyone got excited about a low-cost carrier which would still provide a personal television screen for all of its passengers? Well, those days are officially over. Next year, JetBlue will be introducing premium seats on some of its planes, a major shift for an airline that has branded itself as a low-cost carrier.

But while running a low-cost carrier is good for marketing — travelers do love a good deal after all — JetBlue’s most recent move proves that when you’re running a big airline company, you can’t miss out on a profitable part of the market: people willing to pay extra for first class amenities. JetBlue’s new seating arrangement will attempt to do just that, offering premium paying passengers the opportunity to travel in lie-flat seats, which not only recline into 6’8″ beds, but also have a massage feature.

The premium seating is expected to debut in the spring of 2014, on its two most popular nonstop U.S. routes: New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco. Not only will the premium seat allow passengers to lie down on their transcontinental flight, but they will also get a bigger television screen, coming it at a whopping 15″. Passengers lucky enough to be in rows 2 and 4 will also get their own private suite.

What will that do to prices? That remains to be seen, but in the mean time, maybe you should start saving for a good night’s sleep for next spring.

What’s Making Chinese Travelers So Angry?

Air travel delays in China are becoming epidemic. According to an article published today in Time, only 18 percent of flights departing from Beijing in June took off on time.

Chinese travelers are understandably frustrated with this problem, but their collective anger has taken a turn for the worse. Physical altercations, as seen in the video above, and arguments between travelers and airline workers have been documented. The latest protest tactic enacted by the travelers affected by the prevalent delays are sit-ins: passengers have been refusing to leave grounded planes that were subject to delay until compensated for the inconvenience. On July 28 in Dalian, passengers on two separate planes allegedly refused to exit and stayed put in their seats instead.

But staging a sit-in or becoming aggressive toward airline employees isn’t going to affect the problem because the core of the problem is centered in the very infrastructure of Chinese air travel: poor management by airline operators. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has attributed a whopping 42 percent of delays to mismanaged operations of airline carriers –- a problem that trickles down to individual flights from the top of the corporate airline pyramid, not the other way around.

The problem has gotten so bad some airlines are training their crews to defend themselves.
Chinese Airlines Train Crew in Kung Fu to Defend From Irate Passengers

Man’s Response To $1,400 Overweight Baggage Fee Prompts Police Action

overweight fees
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Lockwood (This isn’t the luggage in question, but you get the idea)

Police in New York and Seattle were called in to investigate when a man ditched his luggage in order to avoid overweight baggage fees, NBC reports.

The unidentified traveler was going to take Delta Air Lines Flight 1452 from Seattle to JFK when he was told his baggage was overweight and he would have to pay $1,400 in fees. The man decided that whatever he was lugging across the continent wasn’t worth that much money and left it behind. When the abandoned bags were spotted it sparked a security alert and the check-in area was closed for two hours.

The passenger, blissfully unaware, flew to JFK only to find police waiting for him. He was questioned and released after police decided that he hadn’t intended on causing a panic.

It’s unclear how many bags this guy had or where he was going, but a look at Delta’s overweight fees show that he was probably carrying his prize antique brick collection to display at the London Brick Fair this summer. No, that doesn’t really exist.

Worried about getting slapped with extra fees? Check out our guide to packing your luggage efficiently. Or you can simply wear 70 items of clothing to avoid overweight baggage fees.

Is The Internet Changing Flight Route Maps?

Contrailz
by n.guryanov. via Visually.

Once the lords of the back of in-flight magazines, loopy-lined flight route maps appear to be quietly disappearing on some major airlines’ websites. One possible explanation is the fact that many online airline shoppers have already done their homework by the time they arrive at the airline’s site to book a flight. But some travelers are clinging to the old way, saying flight maps are one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine direct routes and hub cities.

Some airlines, such as JetBlue and Alaska Airlines, maintain the maps as an interactive feature to enable online booking. Others, like KLM or US Airways have buried the maps a few clicks in or done away with them completely, offering instead a destination guide of all the cities served.

Meanwhile, flight routes are finding a new use online, not for planning your next connection, but in a really cool data visualization project by Contrailz. The developers collected plane tracking data from Planefinder.net and mapped the routes and altitudes followed by jets. Zoomed in, you can see the individual paths flown by planes approaching airports, while on a larger scale it’s an abstract, artistic look at the way we fly.

Contrailz map by n.guryanov. via Visually.

Do You Really Need A Travel Agent?

angry travel agentsWhen Anne Roderique-Jones compiled a list of “Ten Things Travel Agents Won’t Tell You,” for Women’s Day Magazine a week ago, she couldn’t have known that her piece would generate nearly 1,400 comments, many of them from irate travel agents. But travel agents are a beleaguered lot, their ranks thinned dramatically since the dawn of the digital age, and they don’t like getting kicked around. In addition to the avalanche of critical comments from travel agents beneath the story, the American Society of Travel Agents responded with a list of their own, “Eight Reasons Why Travel Professionals Create Value.”

I think the Women’s Day list, which was pared from 10 items down to 9 after the magazine admitted that a point about travel agents collecting commissions from airlines was inaccurate, is mostly common sense stuff that wouldn’t be news to most savvy travelers. Obviously travel agents do receive some commissions, may not have been to the place they are recommending and cannot always secure the best prices, but does that mean that they serve no real purpose in the Internet age?

I’ve traveled all over the world and have very rarely used travel agents, even before the invention of the Internet. But I still think that travel agents serve a useful purpose, particularly for infrequent travelers. A good travel agent can do a lot more than just get you the best price. They can offer advice on the best routes, pitfalls to watch out for, baggage restrictions, how to travel with pets and 1,000 other things. If you have all the time in the world to research every last detail of a trip on your own, you may not need a travel agent. But if you’re short on time and don’t travel often enough to know all the nuances, it makes a lot of sense to trust a professional to plan the trip for you.