Long Layover? Pick Up a Free Book at the Airport

westher, Flickr

Although there are plenty of ways to pass the time at an airport, nothing is quite like getting lost in a novel or guidebook. Unfortunately, if you forgot your book at home (or failed to load your e-reader), newsstands often don’t have much in the way of selection. But the good news is, an increasing number of airports are staking a claim on the lending library trend.

USA Today reports local libraries are using airport storefronts and kiosks to lend paper books to travelers during their layovers. Some are also setting up stations for e-book downloads. In several cases, the libraries provide a relaxing place set aside from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the airport-and more often than not, there’s free WiFi. Here are a few places where you should be on the lookout for a good read:

National Airports with Libraries

  • Cherry Capital Airport, Michigan
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Florida
  • Harrisburg International Airport, Pennsylvania
  • Manhattan Regional Airport, Kansas
  • San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library, California
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington

International Airports with Libraries

  • Schiphol Airport, Netherlands
  • Helsinki Airport, Finland

And if you’re looking for some inspiring travel reads, here are the 25 Best Contemporary Travel Books. You might want to pick those ones up before you head off on your trip, though.

[via Skift.com / USA Today]

Has Airline Consolidation Really Been a Boon For Travelers?

Flickr user HappyRelm

During a recent conversation with Charlie Rose, United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek spoke on the benefits of consolidation in the airline industry.

Smisek opines the corporations’ increased profits means greater investments in the airline’s fleets, including new planes and global WiFi.

“That costs a lot of money,” Smisek said. “And to do that, you’ve got to make money to be able to make those sorts of investments.”

A proposed merger between the bankrupt American Airlines and US Airways is currently under review by the Justice Department. Last month, antitrust lawyer Joseph Alioto filed suit seeking to block the merger, claiming consumers would be negatively impacted. Although attorneys for both airlines decried the suit as baseless, the Government Accountability Office reported that nearly 1,700 routes between would lose a competitor as a result of the merger, affecting more than 53 million passengers.

When United and Continental merged in 2010, competition was decreased across more than 1,100 routes, according to the GAO.

Just how many airlines have caught merger fever? Take a look at this list.

While consolidation has undoubtedly helped the airline’s bottom line, how has it affected the passengers? With fewer airlines vying for your business and fewer flights to and from your destinations, passengers are at the mercy of increasingly large monolithic airlines that, like major banking institutions, are rapidly becoming “too big to fail.”

William McGee, a travel expert with the non-profit Consumers Union (publishes Consumer Reports magazine) raised those and several other issues when testifying about in front of a US Senate Judiciary meeting regarding United’s merger with Continental. McGee testified the airline mergers meant loss of service for many cities, higher fares, reductions in service quality and the threat of widespread service disruptions.

#CheckIn: Hotels Cater To The Social Media Obsessed

Some people just can’t break away from their networks when they travel — and hotels are catching on. The social media-obsessed can update their statuses (complete with pictures of themselves) at Facebook kiosks set up around the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel, and at the Sol Wave House in Majorca, a special web application only available on the hotel’s Wi-Fi network allows guests to share pictures and message with one another.

But even if you aren’t looking to go to Spain, there are plenty of tools to help you connect with fellow travelers and tap into discounts and deals. Friends of Friends Travel is a free social network that helps people share everything from hotel rooms to martinis with friends and friends of friends. And travelers — even the ones who want to put their smartphones down — should be on the lookout for hotels that encourage guests to “like” and tag them. The Radisson Edwardian chain offers guests the option of a late check out if they check-in on Facebook Places or Foursquare, and chains like Caesars gift loyalty points when users share Twitter and Instagram posts. All these marketing ploys may seem gimmicky, but what’s a tweet or two when it can lead to a more enriching travel experience?

Think Twice Before Buying In-Flight Snacks

Hyougushi, Flickr

As airlines continue to squeeze all the add-on fees they possibly can out of travelers, it isn’t in-flight Wi-Fi or extra legroom that is bringing in the most money. The fastest-growing moneymaker for airlines comes from in-flight meal purchases, and passengers are eating the fees up. Shockingly, airlines have been known to charge up to 2,600 percent more than supermarkets for drinks and snacks — such as $4 for a bottle of water. Here are some examples:

  • Blueberry muffin on easyJet: $3.83. In store: $2.25.
  • Check Mix on US Airways: $3.49. In store: $2.19.
  • Clif Bar on American Airlines: $2.89. In store: $1.50.
  • Kit Kat Bar on Aer Lingus: $2. In store: $0.79.
  • Peanut M&Ms on Delta Air Lines: $3.00. In Store: $0.79.
  • Starburst on United Airlines: $2.99. In store: $0.79.
  • Water bottle on RyanAir: $4. In store: $1.49.

Travelers, don’t let the airlines nickel and dime you. Avoid a la carte fees by packing snacks in your carry-on luggage or scooping them up at the airport before boarding.

Please note: all in-store prices are taken from Target.

5 Reasons Why Living In An Airport Might Be Kinda Nice

mutantmonkey, Flickr

Taking cues from Tom Hanks’ role in “The Terminal,” a 45-year-old woman has been living inside Mexico’s Cancún International Airport (pictured) for the past week. While we can think of a few reasons this would not be a good idea — no comfortable place to lay down, soaring food prices, etc. — it got us thinking that living in an airport wouldn’t really be all that bad.

1. It’s Secure
Once you make it past security, an airport is probably one of the safest places you can find yourself. There’s not even a pocket knife in sight.2. Free Amenities
If you play your cards right, you could end up at an airport with free Wi-Fi, power outlets, filtered water stations and more. But that’s just at run-of-the-mill airports. Some of the best airports have exercise classes, art exhibitions, libraries, movie theaters, pools and golf courses to stay entertained. Some also have comfy recliners, sleeping pods and even showers. If all else fails, at least you’ll always have access to a bathroom.

3. Unmatched People Watching
Anyone who’s spent a long layover at an airport can tell you sometimes you don’t even need a gadget to stay entertained. Airports — especially international ones — are like a microcosm of the entire human race (and all its eccentricities). Who knows, you might even end up finding a date while you camp out.

4. Options, Options, Options
One of the reasons we love airports is because many of them provide a gastronomical free-for-all. It’s possible to sample a wide range of restaurants, including national chains and local eateries. Plus, where else can you get a beer at 6 a.m. and coffee at midnight?

5. Duty Free Shopping
Essentially, living in an airport is kind of like living in a shopping mall. (And if you have an international ticket, it’s a tax free shopping mall.) From travel-size toothbrushes to Jimmy Choo shoes, pretty much everything you could ever need (or want) is up for sale.