Searching for information on airline operations? The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a division of the Department of Transportation, does a terrific job of tracking U.S. carriers (and airports, too). The Association of European Airlines offers lots of numbers for carriers in Europe. 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.
There are four types of airport passenger lounges: airline-sponsored, pay-per-visit clubs; airline-sponsored lounges reserved for premium-class passengers; public, pay-per-visit 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 list of all clubs available at all airports around the world, but the Wikipedia Lounge Guide, the Airport Lounge Project and Lounge Expert are trying to create such a database.
Airspace Lounge (U.S.)
BIDAir (South Africa)
The Club (U.S.)
IASS (Tokyo, Seoul, Honolulu)
Plaza Premium (Asia, Canada)
Servisair (Canada, Europe)
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 & 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. Fast-growing (and much-discussed) competitors are AirBnB.com and Flipkey.com. 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.
Award Travel Consulting
Ari Charlestein/First Class and Beyond
The Flight Concierge
Points, Miles and Martinis
Upgrd.com Award Concierge
Blind Bidding for Hotels
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 covers both.
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:
Citysearch has a good U.S. dining section.
Chowhound is where foodies meet to talk about meat--and everything and anything else on the plate.
Epicurious has access to the restaurant reviews from Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines.
HappyCow.net is a worldwide guide to vegetarian restaurants.
Michelin Guides are the coins of the old-world realm.
Shamash offers a searchable database of Kosher restaurants.
Vegetarian Journal lists natural-food and vegetarian restaurants in the United States and Canada.
Yelp is the coin of the digital realm.
Zabihah maintains a database of Halal restaurants.
Zagat Survey is the coin of the new-world realm.
Air Travel Price Index, 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.
Kayak.com allows you to search for fares across more than two dozen airline and third-party Web sites. You enter your data once, choose a booking engine and go…
Dohop.com may be the best way to find and price itineraries across several airlines, including mixing and matching discount carriers and traditional full-service airlines.
ExpertFlyer.com, a subscription site, is gaining a reputation as the best place for frequent flyers to find award seats and upgrade fares and look at actual seat inventory.
FareCompare.com says it offers fare history for 77,000 markets. It also does a good job tracking the minutiae of fare changes on a market-by-market basis.
ITA Software, now a division of Google, is the favorite fare-search engine of many hard-core bargain hunters. It is also the technological underpinning of Orbitz.com (see below).
Orbitz.com is probably the best of the general booking engines thanks to its Bonus Days feature. That allows you to see fares on a route for as many as three days before and after your specified departure and return dates. The prices are displayed on a day-by-day matrix. You'll be surprised how dramatic the price spread can be. Click on the "flexible dates" link on the Orbitz.com home page to access the Bonus Days function.
WhichBudget.com allows you to find which low-fare carriers fly to which airports and to which city pairs. Hence the name…
Frequent Travel Plan Tracking
As frequent travel plans proliferate, a small industry has developed to track miles, points, redemptions and the like. The advantage: All your program details, all in one place. The disadvantages: Some sites charge for the service and almost all require you to turn over sensitive information (like your frequent-travel account numbers and PIN codes) so they can fetch details for you. However, the newest of these tracking systems, MilePort, solves both those problems: It's free and the tracking software resides on your computer, not MilePort's servers.
The following firms will pick up luggage at your hotel (or your home or office) and check you in for your flight. Your luggage will then be waiting at baggage claim at your destination. These firms have geographic limits and offer their services with select airlines:
Bags to Go
These firms will ship your luggage door-to-door between hotels, offices and your home. 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 and UPS, will also ship luggage. They are often the cheapest shipping options.
Maps & Directions
"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:
Canada (Transport Canada)
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.com. 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 or SeatMaestro.
Safety & 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:
Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office
United States Department of State
United States CIA World Factbook
Among the best and most interesting private sources of travel security information are:
Air Security Intl. Hot Spots
CountryWatch Political Briefing
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. And the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene covers tropical specialties.
User-Generated Hotel Reviews
The 800-pound gorilla of user-generated travel content, Trip Advisor, totally dominates the market for hotel reviews created by travelers. But you may also find value at Raveable.com; the combined professional and amateur reviews at Fodor's; or the professional reviews written in a user-generated style at Oyster.com. An early pioneer, IgoUgo, seems to have lost its metaphoric fastball. Yelp! may be a powerhouse in the dining arena, but its hotel reviews are less impressive--and much harder to find. Venere.com is part of the same digital conglomerate that owns TripAdvisor, but you'll find some good insight on overseas properties at the site because of the high number of international travelers it attracts.
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