Searching for information on airline operations? The Bureau of Transportation Statistics
, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, does a terrific job of tracking U.S. carriers (and airports, too). Britain's Civil Aviation Authority stores its statistics here
. For Australia, stats are best found at BITRE
, the statistical division of the Australian Department of Infrastructures. Statistics for Asian aviation are tougher, but you could try the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines
. Information about African airlines is toughest of all, but check with the publications issued by the African Airlines Association.
IATA, the global airline industry organization, offers a trove of statistics here
AIRPORT CLUB LOUNGES
There are four types of airport passenger lounges: airline-sponsored member clubs; airline-sponsored lounges reserved for premium-class passengers; public, pay-per-visit "common use" lounges operated by third parties; and ad hoc networks of those aforementioned clubs available to credit cardholders and members of third-party club programs such as Priority Pass. Here's how to find virtually all of them.
Clubs available to certain American Express cardholders
Clubs for Diners Club cardholders
Clubs for Lounge Club members
Clubs for Priority Pass members
Unfortunately, there is no complete, unbiased list of all clubs available at all airports around the world. But try Lounge Review
for a relatively complete list And Lounge Buddy
, now owned by American Express, has built a good guide aimed at selling you day passes.
THIRD-PARTY 'COMMON USE' LOUNGE NETWORKS
Aspire Swissport Lounges (Canada, Europe, Asia)
American Express Centurion Lounges
BIDvest (South Africa)
The Club (U.S./U.K.)
IASS (Tokyo, Seoul, Honolulu)
Minute Suites (U.S.)
Plaza Premium (Global)
Primeclass Lounges (Global)
Wingtips Lounges (U.S.)
AIRPORT SECURITY RULES
As any business traveler knows, airport security rules are an ever-changing, impossible-to-quantify landscape. The regulations below, even though they come from the security apparatus of the respective nations, should be considered the roughest of approximations.
APARTMENT AND VACATION RENTALS
The longer you stay in any one place on the road, the more traditional hotel options feel unsuitable. So many business travelers--and business travelers on holiday--look for apartment and hotel rentals. The former big name in the field, VRBO
, is now part of HomeAway.com
. But AirBnB.com
rules the roost now, of course. And Flipkey.com
is part of the TripAdvisor empire. You'll find dozens--nay, thousands--more with a Google search for "short-term vacation rental."
AWARD BOOKING ASSISTANCE
Frequent flyer plans aren't as complicated as you think, especially now that the major carriers offer flexible-date searches and also integrate major international partners into the award-search matrix. But some award itineraries are
complicated--and some busy business travelers simply have more money than time. In those two situations, turning to a so-called "award redemption specialist" might be useful. But check their prices carefully--the specialists charge at least $100 a ticket--and make sure they don't bill you until they find the reward you seek at a mileage charge that you find acceptable.
Ari Charlestein/First Class and Beyond
Points, Miles and Martinis
Upgrd.com Award Concierge
BLIND HOTEL BOOKING
If you are one of those business travelers who think that the "no names please" and "opaque" hotel deals offered by Priceline.com and Hotwire.com are workable, you can improve your odds by checking the sites that specialize in unraveling the mystery. Bidding for Travel
is most closely aligned with Priceline while Hotwire Revealed
focuses on Hotwire. A site called Better Bidding
DAY USE HOTELS
The concept of day-use hotels has sputtered in the United States despite the attempts of several Web sites to convince travelers to rent hotel rooms in morning and afternoon periods without an overnight stay. DayUse.com
both have made public relations pushes in the United States without much impact. A third company, DayRooms.com
is also in the market. You don't necessarily need day-use hotel sites to book day rates at most properties. Many hotel chain sites will accept day-use bookings. (Try entering the same date for check-in and check-out.)
It's absurd to suggest that there is any one definitive site to find a good meal or a great restaurant on the road. There is no definitive set of links, either. If cuisine is an important part of your life on the road, you probably have your own favorites. But you can certainly start here if you're looking for specialty dining:
Find Me Gluten Free
offers a searchable database of restaurants offering gluten-free dishes.
Great Kosher Restaurants
offers a searchable database of Kosher restaurants.
is a worldwide guide to vegetarian restaurants.
lists natural-food and vegetarian restaurants in the United States and Canada.
maintains a database of Halal restaurants.
Airfares by Market
, compiled by the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, is a "measure of the change over time in the prices paid by air travelers" since 1995.
allows you to search for fares across dozens of airlines and third-party Web sites. You enter your data once, choose a booking engine and go…
may be the best way to find and price itineraries across several airlines, including mixing and matching discount carriers and traditional full-service airlines.
, now a division of Google, is the favorite fare-search engine of many hard-core bargain hunters.
allows you to find which low-fare carriers fly to which airports and to which city pairs. Hence the name…
These firms will ship your luggage door-to-door between hotels, offices and your home. Some will ship your bags from the airport to your hotel. They work primarily in the United States, but also offer international service. They can ship overnight or via slower, cheaper options such as two-, three or even seven-day shipping. The two major parcel-delivery services, FedEx
, will also ship luggage. They are often the cheapest shipping options. (FYI: JoeSentMe members receive special discounts from Luggage Forward. Consult your membership packet.)
Luggage is problematic, especially in those annoying gaps: between your arrival flight and when you check into your lodgings; between your morning check-out and your late afternoon or evening flight; or when you hope to squeeze in a visit to a town between your train departure station and your eventual destination. Networks of luggage storage facilities--everything from hotels to convenience shops and even local retailers--now exist. They'll hold your luggage for a small(ish) fee. All have their own networks, price structure (from hourly to daily prices) and procedures. As with so many things, the key is location. The "best" and most cost-effective supplier is the network with a bag-drop facility that fits your needs at the moment.
"Passenger's rights" is a hideously generic term. But if you're looking for legal recourse when an airline does you wrong, try the following sources:
United States (DOT)
Most airlines offer seat maps for the aircraft in their respective fleets at their own Web sites, of course. But for the most popular U.S., Canadian and international carriers, you're better off using SeatGuru
. It offers detailed seat width and seat pitch data as well as good commentary on in-flight amenities and the best and worst seats on a particular plane. You can also try SeatExpert.com
SAFETY AND SECURITY RESOURCES
Many nations issue security updates on a country-by-country basis. Here is where you will find the reports from the governments of the major English-speaking nations:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Department of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Department of State
CIA World Factbook
If you need a travel clinic to explain and dole out required shots and travel-medicine information, there are two reliable sources. The International Society of Travel Medicine
maintains a general database. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
covers tropical specialties. Travel Clinics of America
is a referral service for doctors who claim travel-medicine expertise.
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