Los Angeles, O’Hare Predicted To Be the Busiest U.S. Airports this Thanksgiving

Los Angeles International (LAX) and Chicago O`Hare International (ORD) are expected to be the busiest U.S. airports this Thanksgiving, according to Orbitz’s Insider Index. The two airports switched positions from 2012’s ranking, when O’Hare was busiest.

Rounding out the top five are Boston Logan International (BOS), San Francisco International (SFO) and New York LaGuardia (LGA).

The least busiest airport is predicted to be Syracuse Hancock International (SYR). So all you folks living in New York state (talking about you Binghamtonites) might want to look to Syracuse rather than New York City for booking a flight.

To arrive at these rankings, Orbitz reviewed its booking data from the top 50 U.S. airports over the Thanksgiving travel period (Nov. 26 through Dec. 2, 2013).

FlightCar Makes Peer-To-Peer Rentals More Convenient

If you can get comfortable with the idea of a stranger driving your car – or if you have the capacity to not think about it while the vehicle is out of your sight – it might make sense to rent your wheels while you’re out of town.

But the leading peer-to-peer rental agencies leave a lot of the logistics to the car owner. List your car with a service like Relay Rides, Getaround or Jolly Wheels (available in several major cities), and if you get a taker, you have to arrange to meet the renter somewhere to hand over your keys. That’s inconvenient if you’re heading to the airport. It’s one more thing to do before leaving town and when you return.

FlightCar, a new service in San Francisco, tailors the peer-to-peer thing to air travelers by meeting both listers and renters at the airport. Drive to its lot at the Millbrae BART station, leave your car and a rep will give you a free lift to the terminal (and back, upon your return). The same goes for renters.

Since launching on February 5, some 200 travelers have offered up their chariots to rent, and 80 percent have been rented, according to co-founder Shri Ganeshram. The average rental period is five days. FlightCar, like the other peer-to-peer companies, provides $1 million in free insurance and checks each renter’s driving record.

But is FlightCar’s compensation to car owners worth the worry and the wear and tear?FlightCar pays car owners in gas cards, and only if it rents the vehicle. It also washes every vehicle, whether it rents or not. Compensation ranges from $10 for the entire duration of the rental (for the oldest cars) to $10 per day of rental (for the nicer, newer rides, a rate that Ganeshram says might go up to $20 soon). If the car doesn’t rent, well, you don’t get a gas card, but you’ve scored free parking and a car wash while away. Long-term parking at SFO costs $18 per day, while independent park-and-fly services can save you a few dollars. So at most, you can come away $28 per day to the good.

Owners need to remember that the compensation isn’t all profit because wear and tear on the vehicle carries a cost. Renters can drive the car 90 miles per day. Ganeshram says rental-car companies value wear and tear as high as 15 cents per mile (“I got that number from a rental lease for a 2012 BMW X5”), in which case 90 driven miles would amount to $13.50. Subtract such cost from the value of the gas cards and parking you’d expect to receive each day. (In fairness, Ganeshram points out that many renters don’t reach the 90-mile max, and if they exceed it, FlightCar pays car owners 35 cents per extra mile.)

Ganeshram, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provided an example to show that the value of the wear and tear doesn’t eat up all of the owner’s profit. It’s too complicated to repeat, but he arrived at the conclusion that the owner of a new $40,000 car should value mileage at 27 cents per mile. (Cheaper and/or older cars would have a lower per-mile valuation.) Say said owner makes the car available for a week and it rents for five days. That person would gain seven days of free parking, valued at $126; $50 in gas; and let’s say $20 for the value of the valet service and the car wash. That comes to $196. If the car is driven 80 miles per day at a wear-and-tear value of 27 cents per mile, that’s $108. Difference: $88.

Enough to hand over your keys?

[Photo credit: bottom, Flickr user Stig Nygaard]

Have Klout, Will Travel: Cathay Pacific Offers Klout Perk at SFO

Last week, Klout announced “Klout for iPhone,” and this week, the influx of app-based perks begins. Their first partnership is one we’d actually enjoy – if we were traveling internationally from SFO. The company that pioneered social media influence measurement has partnered with Cathay Pacific Airways to allow anyone with a score of 40 or over to show their Klout score at the door to enter the airline’s First and Business Class Lounge.

This applies to any visitor traveling through the “A” boarding area at SFO’s international terminal, even if they aren’t a Cathay Pacific passenger.

Inside the lounge, you’ll get access to the airline’s signature noodle bar, workstations and showers, as shown in the video above.

Have you used this perk? What did you think?

San Francisco introduces first-ever airport yoga room

If a long flight has you hankering for a sun salutation, San Francisco International Airport has got you covered. On Thursday, the airport will unveil the world’s first dedicated airport yoga room, just past the security checkpoint in the newly renovated Terminal 2.

“The room gives modern travelers a space that fosters and supports quiet and reflection,” said Melissa Mezill, design director for Gensler, the architectural firm that designed the space. “Those aren’t emotions that people typically encounter at the airport.”

The yoga room joins the Berman reflection room, a space intended for silence and meditation located before Terminal 2 security.

The new room will feature soft blue light and a floating wall meant to symbolize “a buoyant spirit and enlightened mind”. In the spring, felt-constructed rocks will be introduced in a Japanese garden-inspired pattern for added zen. Oh, San Francisco.

[via msnbc.com, image courtesy of San Francisco International Airport via msnbc.com]

Transmongolia – Part One: USA to RPGs in 24 hours

“Traveling is for sissies, come and get stuck in a desert.” The moment I first read those words, I knew that the Mongol Rally was something that I needed to experience in my lifetime.

Imagine: a 10,000 mile adventure across some of the world’s most rugged terrain, in some of the most unsuitable vehicles imaginable; no GPS devices, no support crew, and no single set route from the starting line in Goodwood, England to the finish line in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar. In the words of the Adventurists (the group responsible for the rally), the Rally is simply: “10,000 miles of adventuring bliss through deserts, mountains, and steppe”.

So, when I got the opportunity to fly to Mongolia and join one of the 300 teams competing in the 2011 Mongol Rally, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation. I needed to know what it was like to race across the steppe, fix major breakdowns with only duct tape, and meet the type of people that were capable of completing something so amazingly bizarre.

Transmongolia is an exclusive five part video series that documents my journey from the fringe of the Russia/Mongolia border to the finish line in Ulaanbaatar.

See what it’s like to get hopelessly lost in the Gobi desert, break down hundreds of miles from any sign of help, and discover the sheer beauty of the vast Mongolian countryside from the rear window of a dusty ambulance…

Transmongolia – Part One: USA to RPGs in 24 hours

For more information about the Mongol Rally, including how to sign up for the 2012 rally, visit the Adventurist’s website.

Transportation was made possible by the scholars & gentlemen at the Adventurists. No editorial content or opinions were guaranteed, and nor was anyone’s safety or hygiene.