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Just because holiday travel has a reputation for frustration doesn't mean that the spirit of the holidays can't be part of the journey once you're in the sky. Airlines know that a little bit of merry can go a long way this time of year, and a few are introducing holiday-themed menus or little festive touches to make long lines and cramped planes a little more bearable.
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Sometimes you just need a chocolate chip cookie, but munching on such treats while hurtling through the air is sadly mostly a thing of the past. We've seen some airlines warming up cookies onboard as recently as 2012, but mergers and cutbacks mean these sweet bites are rarer than ever.
Don't despair! A few airlines do still deliver cookies on select services:
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It feels like forever ago that the future existence of Virgin Hotels was teased. In reality it was only 2010, and finally there's a solid opening date. The first Virgin Hotel will open in Chicago in January 2015, and roomsexcuse us, "Chambers"just went on sale from $209 per night.
For everything we know about Virgin Hotels to this minute, you'll want to check out the HotelChatter story, because right now we're pretty distracted by the tasty news that hotel stays will work with flights towards your frequent flying totals. The NY Times tucked this tidbit into the very end of their story:
A photo from onboard last year's first US flight with gate-to-gate gadgets, on JetBlue
Living the "airplane mode" life is so nice and so smooth, that it's incredible to think that the FAA only allowed gate-to-gate electronic use less than one year ago, on November 1, 2013. Since then, flight attendants on airlines in the United States have been able to eliminate the "turn off and stow all electronics" part from their pre-flight talk, replacing it with a less severe direction to simply switch those electronics to airplane mode.
The relaxation of the in-flight electronics rule spread from the US to the UK, with British Airways becoming the first non-US airline to keep gadgets on, after the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave the okays in late 2013.
Seats / Virgin Australia / ATR / ATR72-600 / SYD / CBR / Australia Travel / → All Tags
When flying Economy on a narrow-body aircraft, we usually aim to sit as far forward as possible. Most importantly, this move generally gets you served first and off the plane first after landing. And there's the added bonus of minimizing the number of rows in front of you, which makes the cabin feel less crowded compared to a sea of heads between your seat and the cockpit.
That strategy might work in the majority of cases, but here is one example where it didn’t. On a recent hop from Sydney to the Australian capital of Canberra, our aircraft was a Virgin Australia ATR72-600 Turboprop. The only aircraft doors (which incorporate steps, private jet-style) are actually at the back, just behind the last row (17). We originally had a seat near the front, but were asked while already on the plane to move to row 15, which worked out just fine.
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When we brought you our introduction to Aussie slang last month, we may have forgotten one very important travel term unique only to Australia. We knew that some words would be new to us on a trip down under, but we'd never think about taking a "Nullarbor flight."
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We've been pretty fortunate to score some delicious in-flight meals both in the front and back of planes, and you know by now that we're not afraid to snap some photos and share these with the world.
Brisbane to Perth is not only the country's longest non-stop flight, but it's also a key battleground for competition for customers. All the more reason why a bland meal was such a shocker on our flight.
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Last week we got pretty excited about United's news to bring some 787 Dreamliners across the Equator for the long trip from Los Angeles to Melbourne, beginning in fall 2014. While this won't mark the first flight from SoCal to Australia's cultural capital, it is the first for the US airline; United used to first stop in Sydney, then hit the sky again to Melbourne.
If MileagePlus isn't your preferred loyalty program, there are plenty of other options to hop on the nearly 16-hour flight down under. In fact, there are two other airlines running here nonstop from the US, making that long way over the Pacific.
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Earlier this year, we delved into the world of pet travel fees on airlines, a topic not much discussed but a frequent cause of concern for travelers with animals.
In the US, there are a few airlines that stand out when it comes to pet travel; Virgin America has a "pet liaison" named Boo and JetBlue awards 300 frequent flyer miles for every one-way flown with your fuzzy friend.
Abroad, any perks of pet travel are nearly non-existant, with the exception of what Air New Zealand is now calling "Australia's first Pet Frequent Flyer Program."
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Now that we've already shared a detailed peek at what it's like to fly up front in the cushy seats of Virgin Australia's Business Class, it's about time to show you what economy has to offer on Australia's newest full-service airline.
The flight: Sydney to Brisbane, Australia.
Since our seat was towards the back of the economy section, we boarded from the back stairs which resulted in a speedy boarding and ultimately got us in the air quicker. A primped cabin crew, outfitted in their red skirt suits with purple scarves, warmly greeted every passenger as they headed for their seats. Just like in business class, these seats are covered in soft leather and have headrests that feature random pops of purple, red or light grey to keep the cabin interesting. Of course the major difference comes in seat size and legroom.
Piles of newspaper and old magazines are no longer an issue for Virgin Australia and their airline lounges, as they’re getting ready to go digital. We’re sure some periodicals will be kicking around in paper format for quite some time, but we still think their latest move is pretty darn clever.
It sounds like visitors to the Virgin Australia lounges down under will soon have access to well over 2,000 different publications thanks to PressReader. Basically you’ll connect to the wireless network, fire up the app, and then start perusing plenty of newspapers and magazines from nearly 100 countries across 50 languages. Local favorites like The Australian and Gold Coast Bulletin are available, but feel free to digitally flip through the Los Angeles Times as well. They promise complete digital replicas of each and every edition, and often things are available through PressReader before they hit the newsstand.
In case you've ever wondered what it'd be like to create a video using Instagram filters and common Insta themes, like, say a day of travel viewed through airplane windows and selfies, then have we found the music video for you.
It's the video for the song "Paradise" by Wild Nothing and directed by Matt Amato. The YouTube description is simple: "A story of plane travel and waterfalls starring Michelle Williams," but we can't help to try and figure out the airports and airline traveled by Ms. Williams.