Smiles And Technology Make For Happy Fliers

Joe Kunzler, Flickr

I’ve always found it a little odd that flight attendants still greet passengers, check their boarding pass and direct them to their seats (as though they might get lost between the galley and row 15) – but apparently we rather like that. According to the 2013 North American Airline Satisfaction Survey, passengers who are greeted by smiley airline staff register 211 points higher levels of happiness than those who aren’t.

The study, which polled 11,800 passengers, rated flier satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale. It looked at everything from baggage fees to check-in to boarding processes and in-flight services to figure out just what makes air passengers tick.Overall, budget airlines rated better than traditional carriers when it came to passenger satisfaction.

The things we love the most? Being able to check-in to our flights online. According to the survey, 36 percent of passengers used online check-in and experienced much higher levels of happiness than those who used the main ticket counter at the airport. Travelers using a mobile device to check-in scored even higher. In general, technology seems to be a big winner among air passengers, and using Wi-Fi on flights also gave fliers a dose of good feelings.

Among the factors dragging down passenger happiness were baggage fees, although the survey showed that travelers are slowly becoming accustomed to the extra charges and were less irked by fees than in prior years.

Costa Rica Named Happiest Country In The World

costa rica Looking for a travel destination where the people are always smiling? You may want to consider Costa Rica for your next trip.

The New Economics Foundation has announced the findings of their Gallup World Poll in their Happy Planet Index. First the poll asked people to rate their quality of life on a scale from 1 to 10. Then, life expectancy and the amount of land necessary to sustain the country’s way of life were factored in. The top 10 happiest countries were found to be:

1. Costa Rica
2. Vietnam
3. Colombia
4. Belize
5. El Salvador
6. Jamaica
7. Panama
8. Nicaragua
9. Venezuela
10. Guatemala

Additionally, the unhappiest places in the world were found to be Qatar, Chad and Botswana.

[image via José R.]

Video of the Day – 3 days of adventure in Rio


Wherever you’re planning on traveling this summer, consider picking up and taking along a GoPro; it’s a small waterproof digital camera that takes great HD video, still photos, & timelapses – perfect for capturing playful moments on land, in the water, and everywhere in between.

Today’s Video of the Day is a fun look at one couple’s 3-day vacation to Rio de Janeiro. It was shot completely on a GoPro and uses a creative mix of still image sequences and video clips. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the creator shoots video for a living – but hopefully it will give you some inspiration to embark on and capture your own adventure this summer.

Already have one to share? Submit your pictures to the Gadling Flickr Pool or leave a link to your videos in the comments section below. It could be our next Photo / Video of the Day!

Money buys happiness, except maybe in Spain

The five happiest countries in the world have two things in common: their all pretty far north in Europe, and money generally isn’t a problem. Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands top the latest list of the world’s happiest nations, due in large part, it seems, to the fact that basic needs are covered by sufficient incomes. Spain, on the other hand, ranked seventeenth of 21 European countries … it must be the relaxed lifestyle.

Gallup, which conducted the study, found that money is good for a certain kind of bliss:

“Money is an object that many or most people desire and pursue during the majority of their waking hours,” researchers wrote in the report. “It would be surprising if success at this pursuit had no influence whatsoever when people were asked to evaluate their lives.”

Denmark boasted a per-capital GDP of $36,000 last year, putting it ahead of 196 of the 227 countries for which the CIA collects data (don’t go down the conspiracy road – it’s for the agency’s “World Factbook”).

Now, monetary satisfaction only addresses how happy people are about future prospects. When it comes to day-to-day smiles, having basic social needs is much more important, which is why Gallup found that Costa Rica finished sixth:

“Costa Rica ranks really high on social and psychological prosperity,” says [Jim] Harter [chief scientist at Gallup]. “It’s probably things systemic to the society that make people over time develop better relationships, and put more value on relationships. Daily positive feelings rank really high there.”

So, there are two keys to happiness: being rich and being loved. How do you measure up?

[photo by dotbenjamin via Flickr]

And the happiest place on Earth is …

… not Disney World!

Despite the theme park’s claim, Costa Rica actually takes the top spot, according to the New Economics Foundation. This Britain-based independent research firm uses the “Happy Planet Index” to determine and rank the countries with the happiest people. The organization’s goal is to build a new economy that focuses on people and the environment.

This year’s survey covered 143 countries, with Latin American claiming nine of the top 10 positions in the study. The Dominican Republic took second, followed by Jamaica, Guatemala and Vietnam.

If you live in a developed nation, it seems, you’re probably unhappy. Great Britain took 74th, and the United States came in at 114. But, the latter is happier than it was 20 years ago. China and India are also fairly unhappy, but mostly because they are pursuing aggressive economic growth.

Now, the results are skewed because ecological implications account for a substantial portion of how happy a country is. The study assumes that the further you are from carbon-neutral, the unhappier you are. I’m down for going green, but I really struggle to see how it plays such a large role in a country’s happiness.