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It's 5 o'clock on the day before Christmas Eve. Do you know what you're getting everyone on your list?
If not, we've got the answer: airline gift cards. Whether your gift is $50 or $500, you'll have helped make a trip possible for someone in your life, and giving experiences always trumps giving...things.
7 of the gift cards we've listed below are available for instant delivery via email, while 1 is not (Virgin Atlantic). Instant delivery may mean there's no physical card to exchange, but that leaves you free to be creative with how you tell the recipient to look extra close at their inbox this week.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful...
...but the airline-produced holiday greetings are soooo delightful.
'Tis the season for a little heartstring tugging as travel brands send out their holiday wishes, and the airlines are always good for a little creativity when it comes to their greetings. Whether it's a simple "ho ho ho" from high in the sky or a grand gesture captured on camera, holiday videos from the airlines are usually worth the watch.
Below we've gathered up all the videos we could find for 2014. Which is your favorite?
8,237,691. As of 9:30am EST today, that impressive number is the total number of Facebook "likes" for just one airline, Qatar Airways. Facebook may see almost 1.4 billion active users every month, but that 8+ million number for Qatar officially makes them the world's most "liked" airline on Facebook.
Qatar's alliance buddy, American Airlines, only counts 1.8 million likes, and competitor Emirates is at least half-way there with 4.4 million likes (maybe you've seen their recent big push in sponsored Facebook ads?).
We have talked about up in the air beers time and time again, and thankfully we continue to do so. That’s because the options continue to improve, and although nothing can replace a pint at the pub—we’re getting some pretty great traytable options.
Delta is the latest to up their offerings, as they recently announced sevencount 'em, SEVENnew craft beer options for the in-flight beverage cart. Sips and suds from Ballast Point Brewing Company, Blue Point Brewing Company, Brooklyn Brewery, and Stone Brewing Company are just some of the new options.
In-Flight Meals / Delta / Food Travel / Business Class Travel / Airline News / Airlines / → All Tags
Above: baby back ribs
Forget the usual question of "chicken or pasta?" Delta is all about BBQ...and proper southern-style BBQ, too, thanks to an expanded partnership for in-flight meals from Union Square Hospitality's Blue Smoke.
The original menu began in 2013 on Delta flights only flying from JFK to London-Heathrow. The entrees rotated, but throughout the year the airline served Blue Smoke's Memphis baby back ribs, North Carolina pulled pork, and smoked black pepper sausage all paired with mini biscuits, cornbread, and a mini specialty chocolate bar.
The updated menu now adds smoked duck with grilled apple butter and spiced pecans, sweet potato and roasted pear soup, and more baby-back ribs with baked pit beans. All dishes draw inspiration from both Blue Smoke fan favorites and "cherished family recipes from Chef Jean-Paul’s native Louisiana."
New Airplanes / Airline News / Etihad / A380 / 787 / 787-9 / Etihad A380 / Etihad 787-9 / Airline Uniforms / John Walton / Abu Dhabi Travel / Airlines / AUH / United Arab Emirates Travel / → All Tags
The rule of three is a writing concept that suggests things are more satisfying when presented in groups of three. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad must have taken this to heart when planning their big reveal today, as they've not only gone ahead and welcomed their first superjumbo Airbus A380, but also thrown in a new Boeing 787-9, and a complete revamp of the crew uniforms.
The big advancements here are Economy seats with fixed headrests (supposedly covered in locally sourced camel leather) for easier napping for both airplanes, and brand new premium classes. The A380 is the show-stopper, with the "Business Studio" and "First Apartment" seats adopting a residential elegance that has a good chance of making passengers forget they're even on a plane. And there's no ignoring the Etihad Residence, a private jet cabin within a superjumbo, for a First Class above First.
Island Travel / Caribbean Travel / AUA / Aruba Travel / Airports / Airlines / Prime Planespotting / AvGeek / Plane Spotting / Caribbean Airlines / Private Islands / Hotels / → All Tags
It's paradise, pure and simple. A deserted beach of white sand gently melting into clear, azure water. The waves are mere ripples, the water is of that desired "bathwater" warmth, and airplanes whizz directly overhead in the sunny sky. Welcome to one of the best, most undiscovered plane spotting locations in the Caribbean: Renaissance Island, Aruba.
It's no St. Maarten Maho Beach, but the experience will appeal to dedicated plane spotters who prize unique locations and a range of aircraft for indulging their hobby. Even sunbathers should make the easy nature walk from the Renaissance Island's developed beaches down a path to this spot, which we discovered this month while on a trip to the Southern Caribbean.
Pack your swimsuit, camera, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, and footwear a little more substantial than flip flops, and let's go...
Airline News / Alaska Airlines / Airlines / Economy Class Travel / In-Flight Entertainment / IFE / Travel Tech / → All Tags
Instead of a cosmetic rebrand, Alaska Airlines is investing millions to update their entire in-flight experience with huge benefits for the economy traveler.
Alaska Beyond begins rolling out across Alaska Airlines' 737 fleet from today through 2015, and it consists of several updates:
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Last year, we covered the fact that Emirates allows passengers in all cabins the ability to bring their pet falcon on the plane with them. Now, Lufthansa is responding to the uptick in popularity of falconry by also opening their arms to the birds of prey, even creating a nifty little stand for both bird and owner to be comfortable on a plane.
Starting later in 2015, falcons will be allowed to fly in Lufthansa cabins so long as they wear hoods and are tethered. In First Class, the birds can enjoy the Falcon Master, a perch-seat with safety and hygienic protection specifically for the bird, which secures in the tracks of Lufthansa's aircraft.
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Sometimes it seems like everyone around you has the newest, best smartphone, and soon that feeling will include all the flight attendants onboard United Airlines. The carrier just announced that they’re ordering a boatload Apple's freshest offering to aid with in-flight service efficiency.
United was sold on the awesomeness of these little—well, big—devices, as the carrier is bringing the iPhone 6 Plus to 23,000 flight attendants. It's not a holiday present, however; the iPhones will be used to record retail transactions and other purchases aboard flights. Access to corporate email, intranet sites, and even policies and manuals will also be accessed through the new phones. United is even ditching the traditional printed safety manuals, as everything will now be right on the screen.
Alaska Airlines / Green Travel / Airlines / Gifts / Recycling / Mariclaro / → All Tags
Airlines go through a lot of stuff each and every year, so it’s nice to see when they’re able to recycle some stuff instead of sending it off to the landfill. Alaska Airlines is one such carrier, as they’ve been sending their seat covers elsewhere for a chance at a new life.
The discarded leather material finds its way to the creative folks over at Mariclaro and, from there, your seat becomes a bag, an accessory, and a number of other things—and all from sustainable materials. The different style of bags—from messenger to attaché case—use airport codes for their names, so you can choose from options like the JFK or the SEA.
New Routes / Airlines / Airline News / JetBlue / ANA / Southwest Airlines / Air Canada / Air New Zealand / → All Tags
Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of all the new route announcements that come our way, so we’ve complied a little bit of a rundown below. As long as you can afford the fares, this should definitely help add to your passport stamp collection.
· Air New Zealand:
For those who enjoy flying below the equator there’s a new exciting route heading towards the southern hemisphere thanks to the folks over at Air New Zealand. The new nonstop is planning to fly between Auckland and Buenos Aires beginning in December of 2015, so you have sometime to get those funds—or frequent flyer miles—saved up. Things could obviously change in a year, but it appears that the flights will operate back and forth three times each and every week aboard some Boeing 777s.
· Air Canada:
Time to head out of Canada, as Air Canada is getting ready to send some planes and people to and from Calgary International Airport. All in all there’s three new options—first is a daily nonstop between Calgary and Nanaimo—that’s in British Columbia—beginning on May 1. Around the same time the carrier will also be starting up some flights between Calgary and Halifax utilizing some Airbus 319s. Finally beginning on June 1 of next year it’ll be some new service between Calgary and Terrace-Kitimat—that’s in British Columbia too, and yes we had to look it up!