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Domestic Fare of the Day: Boston to Houston $137 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fly nonstop from Boston to Houston for $137 round-trip, including all taxes, on United.

We found seats departing BOS on Tuesday, May 13, returning from IAH on the following Tuesday, May 20. Other dates are also available for Tuesday/Wednesday travel through late May. 

Tickets require a 21-day advance purchase, as well as a Saturday night stay.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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Int'l Fare of the Day: Los Angeles to Hong Kong $718 for late November travel

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Another great fare for late November holiday travel: Los Angeles to Hong Kong $718 round-trip, including all taxes, on Asiana.

Searching Orbitz, we found seats departing LAX on Monday, November 23, returning from HKG on Monday, December 1. Seats are a tad scarce, with a few other dates available for November travel.

And while on the subject of fall deals to Hong Kong, departures from Seattle are still super low at $687 round-trip, including all taxes, with plenty of availability from September through November.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Int'l Fare of the Day: Washington DC to Thessaloniki $623 round-trip, incl. taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fly from Washington DC to Thessaloniki, Greece for $623 round-trip, including all taxes, on Turkish Airlines.

We found seats available over the Thanksgiving holiday, departing IAD on Tuesday, November 25, and returning from SK on Tuesday, December 2. Other dates are also available for travel in November. 

Fares may vary by a few dollars depending on travel dates. Flights may require an overnight connection in Istanbul.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Is It Tacky to Wear Yoga Pants on a Plane?

Posted by Caroline Costello on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

 

When I wrote Nine Things Not to Wear on a Plane, one article of clothing was conspicuously absent from the list: yoga pants. I don't wear yoga pants on planes. Nor do I wear them in public, unless I'm traveling to one of the only places in the world where brightly colored spandex pants are acceptable: the set of a Flo Rida video, a community-theater production of Batman Begins, and the yoga studio. Ergo, I only wear yoga pants to yoga class. And when I'm walking around in the city in spandex, I make a point to carry a rolled-up yoga mat and a water bottle to communicate to the general public that I am on my way to do some handstands, hence the pants. Everyone, I can explain!

Unlike me, there are lots of people who wear yoga pants, sweats, and assorted workout gear as real clothes in public places—and on airplanes especially. Depending on your circumstances, leisure clothes as casual attire can be either a great idea (you're pregnant, or you have the flu and need to run to Wal-Mart to buy Gatorade) or a wardrobe fail (corporate-job interview). But on a plane, only certain people can pull off the yoga-pants look, and only if they do it right. Here is my evaluation of the types of leisure pants, in order of least acceptable to most acceptable when worn on a plane:

1. Sweatpants with writing on the butt. No one should wear these, ever. 

2. Pajama pants. If you want to look like a bedraggled slob, by all means, put on the same plaid cotton number you wore when building pillow forts during the Reagan Era. Your intention to sleep on the plane is no excuse.

3. Yoga pants that look like yoga pants. You choose to wear yoga pants on the plane because you don't care what anyone thinks, and you want to be comfortable. I like that about you. Seriously, if it works for you and your team of professional style consultants approves, go for it.

4. Yoga pants that look like leggings. These can look fabulous. Black yoga pants aren't all that different from black leggings or skinny jeans. Worn under a blousy tunic or sweater, this is an excellent plane outfit that comes across as stylish, but is nonetheless very comfortable. To achieve the leggings look, opt for tight-fitting yoga pants in a solid, dark color. Be sure to quadruple-check that your pants are not see-through!

Ultimately, the trick is to find an airplane outfit that is cozy enough to keep you comfortable wedged into one of the crannies of economy class, yet won't elicit the judgment of the be-suited people carting Italian-made luggage. Me? I'll stick with my long skirt and tee, which so far hasn't gotten me featured on any makeover TV shows.  

Do you think yoga pants are appropriate for the plane?

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Is It in Bad Taste to Wear Yoga Pants on a Plane?

Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

7 Ways to Avoid Lost Luggage

Posted by Caroline Costello on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

(Photo: Luggage Carousel via Shutterstock)

Nothing undermines a well-planned vacation quite like no-show luggage. When your suitcase fails to appear on the baggage carousel, you're guaranteed a stressful experience filling out baggage-claim forms and futilely waiting. So how can travelers safeguard their stuff? The obvious solutions are to book a nonstop flight or pack everything in a carry-on, but clearly this won't work for everyone. If you need to check a bag, the following seven strategies will help ensure that your luggage stays on track.

 

(Photo: ReboundTag)

Upgrade Your Luggage Tag

Opt for a smarter luggage tag. Several high-tech brands of tags feature codes or microchips that travelers can use to detect lost bags. SuperSmartTags, for example, contain unique codes with which airline personnel can trace off-track luggage. (Many bags get lost when paper airport tags get ripped off.) ReboundTag, another sophisticated bag-tag brand, tracks missing luggage with an embedded microchip.

 

(Photo: Bangkok Airport via Shutterstock)

Check in Early

Travelers who check in late—whether they arrived at the airport with only minutes to spare or got held up in a meandering check-in line—are more likely to get separated from their bags. Baggage handlers need time to process luggage and load it onto planes. Many experts say that 30 minutes ahead of departure is the cut-off, but it all depends. In our opinion, the earlier you can check in, the better.

 

(Photo: Itinerary via Shutterstock)

Place Your Itinerary Inside Your Bag

Luggage tags can easily be torn off in the rough-and-tumble handling process, but a copy of your itinerary, placed on top of your belongings inside your bag, will almost certainly stay put. We echo this tip in Don't Make These 10 Common Itinerary Mistakes: "Place a copy of your travel plans along with contact information in a prominent place inside any checked bags; if your bag gets delayed, this will make it easier for airline staff to forward your luggage to you. (Airline staff members sometimes open delayed bags when looking for contact information.)"

 

(Photo: © 2007 FedEx Corporation)

Ship Your Bags Instead of Checking Them

It sounds a little crazy. But it's not. This strategy kills two birds: By shipping your luggage, you diminish the chance that it'll get lost, and you also avoid costly overweight-, oversize-, and checked-bag fees. For example, American Airlines charges $100 for checked bags weighing more than 50 lb. on flights within the U.S. In comparison, UPS charges $66.24 to ship a 55-lb. bag from Los Angeles to Chicago. Sure, it takes longer to arrive. (In this example, the $66.24 fee is for four-day shipping.) But if you plan ahead and ship your belongings to your hotel in advance, you can save money and track your shipment, and you won't have to worry about your suitcase ending up in a warehouse somewhere in the Deep South.

 

(Photo: puroticorico via flickr/CC Attribution)

Take Some Photos

If your bag has gone AWOL and you're attempting to get it back, photo evidence will help. Take a picture of the outside of your bag to show the airline staff member who is helping you locate it. It's also wise to take a quick photo of your baggage-claim ticket, in case you lose it. Snap a picture of the inside of your bag as well; this will come in handy in case you need to file an insurance claim for your lost belongings.

 

(Photo: Luggage Strap via Shutterstock)

Use a Luggage Strap

Suitcases, unfortunately, sometimes suffer from a case of mistaken identity at the baggage carousel. This is especially likely to happen when half of your plane is traveling with the same slate-gray upright Samsonite. So give your bag a makeover with a colorful luggage strap, some neon duct tape, or whatever your creative little mind can conjure up.

 

(Photo: Airport via Shutterstock)

Avoid Short Layovers

Tight layovers increase the likelihood that your bags will go missing. If your flight is late, the window of time for airport staff to transfer your bag from one plane to the next narrows. Pay attention to the length of your layover, especially when booking with an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia or Orbitz. Often, these sites sell domestic multi-leg itineraries with layovers of less than an hour, which doesn't leave any wiggle room in an industry in which flights are frequently delayed.

If you have an international connecting flight, know that you may have to pick up your checked luggage at the baggage claim, clear customs and airport security, and then recheck your bag, all before boarding. This is also the case if you're arriving in the U.S. from an international destination and then taking a domestic connecting flight. For this reason, it's important to allow plenty of time—two or more hours, ideally—on international layovers. Confused? When checking in, ask airline staff if you'll need to recheck your bag at your connection.

 

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Seven Ways to Prevent Lost Luggage.

Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

Domestic Fare of the Day: Los Angeles to Honolulu $378 for May travel

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, April 14, 2014

Fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Honolulu for $378 round-trip, including all taxes, on Allegiant.

We found seats departing LAX on Saturday, May 3, and returning from HNL the following Saturday, May 10. Fares are slightly higher ($385) if paying by credit card rather than debit.

If you can hold out until fall, fares are about $30 less ($348) for early fall travel, beginning in September. But for those looking to get away in May, $378 is a great deal.

See our Honolulu HNL fare page for a complete listing of current fares.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Int'l Fare of the Day: New York to Paris $667 round-trip, including all taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, April 14, 2014

Fly from New York to Paris for $667 round-trip, including all taxes, on Icelandair.

We found seats over the Thanksgiving holiday, departing JFK on Wednesday, November 26, and returning from CDG on the following Wednesday, December 3. Flights connect in Reykjavik.

Other dates are also available for travel in fall/winter beginning in November.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

9 Things Not to Wear on a Plane

Posted by Caroline Costello on Monday, April 14, 2014

(Photo: Legs and Suitcase via Shutterstock)

The rules of in-flight fashion are different from those on the ground. When you're sitting for hours in a metal tube flying 35,000 feet in the air, comfort trumps style. Wear an outfit that keeps you cozy and relaxed, and you'll likely appear more chic than the traveler struggling with heavy bags in four-inch stilettos or the one sweating in too-tight synthetic fabrics. To look and feel your best while jet-setting, avoid the following in-flight fashion faux pas.

 

(Photo: High Heels via Shutterstock)

Uncomfortable Shoes

This one seems obvious. Still, I've yet to board a plane without spotting at least one flyer tottering down the aisle in pumps. A good pair of comfortable shoes will make it easier for you to hoof it around the airport and sprint to the gate if you need to make a connection. Furthermore, wearing your bulkier shoes instead of stashing them in your suitcase while donning sandals or stilettos will free up some room—and some weight—in your checked or carry-on bag.

 

(Photo: Knee-High Boots via Shutterstock)

Complicated Shoes

Look at these boots. They're the nightmare of every in-a-rush business traveler who must stand behind you as you undo myriad straps and laces. Wear simple slip-on shoes or sneakers when flying, as you'll have to take them off in the airport security line.

 

(Photo: Leather Pants via Shutterstock)

Fabrics That Don't Breathe

Shun any fabrics that lack breathability, such as nylon or leatherette. Add your rubber raincoat or waterproof jacket to this list as well. (Note, however, that some high-quality waterproof jackets, like outerwear made from Gore-Tex, are quite breathable. It all depends on what it's made of.) Less breathable fabrics hold sweat on the skin when it's hot as well as prevent air circulation. You won't feel very fashionable sweating in too-tight, synthetic clothes as your plane rests on the tarmac under the hot sun.

A foolproof way to find breathable clothes for the plane: Stick with moisture-wicking activewear (I recommend Prana) or clothes sold from travel suppliers like Magellan's, which are designed specifically for travel.

 

(Photo: Maegan Tintari via flickr/CC Attribution)

Tight Clothing

Have you heard of deep vein thrombosis? Also known as DVT, this condition occurs when dangerous blood clots form in veins. Those blood clots can lead to a pulmonary embolism, which is potentially fatal. According to the University of Washington Medical Center, sitting for long periods of time can increase the risk for DVT, and so can constrictive clothing: "Avoid tight clothing, nylons, or socks (especially the type that are too tight at the top and/or leave marks on your skin) that might restrict blood flow through veins." Compression stockings are a good choice for travelers interested in taking further steps to reduce the likelihood of DVT.

 

(Photo: Frederick Dennstedt via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Complicated Clothing

Aircraft lavatories are tiny contrivances, about the size of a small closet or a very large Manhattan apartment. So maneuvering in and out of your pants can be, well, tricky. (That's why someone invented Claspies.) Lest you drop your wallet in the toilet or fall and smash through the bathroom door, wear something that isn't likely to cause difficulties in the plane bathroom. Avoid bodysuits or complicated wrap shirts or dresses, as well as long pants or skirts that may graze the unsanitary (and often disturbingly wet) lavatory ground.

 

(Photo: Contact Lenses via Shutterstock)

Contact Lenses

According to Frommer's, "The air in plane cabins is so dry (usually 10 percent to 20 percent humidity, sometimes as little as 1 percent, compared to the Sahara desert's 20 percent to 25 percent humidity) that your health is challenged every time you fly." Contacts can become uncomfortable to wear if your eyes dry out in the arid cabin, so either avoid them altogether or bring a pair of glasses to change into.

 

(Photo: Perfume via Shutterstock)

Perfume

Avoid this one for the good of your fellow passengers. Strong-smelling perfumes, colognes, body sprays, and so on shouldn't be worn in flight. Some passengers may find your CK One offensive; others might suffer allergic reactions to synthetic fragrances. If you really must smell of the finest department-store brands upon arrival in your destination, pack a sample size and apply it once you land.

 

(Photo: Blonde Woman via Shutterstock)

Warm-Weather Clothing

The key here is layers. It's fine to wear lightweight fabrics on a plane. It may even be a smart strategy if you're flying to or from a sweltering climate. But planes are often very cold—and blankets aren't exactly freely distributed on many flights these days. So fight the air-conditioned chill by layering up.

Getting warm? Remove a few layers, bundle them, and then use them as a pillow.

Bonus: The more layers you can pile on your body, the less clothes you need to pack in your suitcase.

 

(Photo: Censored/T-Shirt via Shutterstock)

Offensive or Inappropriate Clothing

Carriers typically leave it up to flight attendants to judge whether a passenger's garb is inappropriate for wear in the air. So how do you know if your outfit is appropriate? Learn from the past: Passengers have been removed from planes for wearing everything from low-cut dresses to baggy pants to T-shirts splashed with expletives or offensive (well, depending on whom you ask) political messages. If you can't wear it to church or dinner with your mother-in-law, you probably shouldn't wear it on a flight. Read more about airline dress codes in Are Airline Dress Codes Too Extreme?

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 9 Things Not to Wear on a Plane.

Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

Domestic Fare of the Day: Seattle to Anchorage $196 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, April 14, 2014

Fly nonstop from Seattle to Anchorage for $196 round-trip, including all taxes, on JetBlue.

We found seats departing SEA on Wednesday, September 3, and returning from ANC on Sunday, September 7. Other dates are also available for travel in late spring/late summer.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Domestic Fare of the Day: Chicago to San Juan $265 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, April 14, 2014

Fly nonstop from Chicago to San Juan for $265 round-trip, including all taxes, on United.

We found seats departing ORD on Wednesday, April 23, returning from SJU on the following Wednesday, April 30. Other dates are also available for travel through spring, with seats scarce for summer.

Slightly higher fares available for travel this weekend on US Airways, with a connecting flight, for $276 round-trip, departing Friday, April 18, returning April 24.

For a complete look at current deals, visit our San Juan fare page.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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