I’m joking, because I rarely drink alcohol while flying. But for those who do, this puts Delta on equal footing with its alliance partners, Air France and KLM. But before you get too excited, remember, this isn’t a giant step forward—free drinks in coach on international flights used to be standard operating procedure.
There’s a whole raft of things we took for granted not so long ago, such as meals or at least sandwiches on flights of at least two hours. But rather than sound like Scrooge, let me note some improvements. Wi-Fi on planes. Water not served out of big barrels that weren’t cleaned regularly. More information on screens at check in gates so you can see upgrades and accurate departure times.
Heck, I’d even throw frequent flyer miles in the plus column. Without them, I’d rarely be able to fly in business class and certainly would never score a free ticket. I know . . . luggage fees. But, hey, it can’t all be good.
First of all, don’t put your gifts in your checked luggage. Don’t put anything in your checked luggage that if lost or stolen, would break your heart. Which means you’re left with the carry-on option.
You may be able to get your wrapped gifts through airline security, but TSA agents have the right to unwrap your gifts for further inspection if deemed necessary. So wrap your gifts at your destination.
Better yet, use a ground shipping service to send stuff ahead and, equally importantly, to ship items home. Is there any reason to try to fit gifts in already-crowded overhead bins? No, and there’s no reason to spend $25 each way for a suitcase loaded with gifts.
And remember, if you do insist on bringing gifts, you can’t bring any liquids through security, so that leaves out gifts of wine or Champagne. But if you do buy alcohol on the other side of security and know you won’t have to go through a security checkpoint again before you reach your destination, you’re OK.
Personally, I’m still a big fan of shipping ahead and shipping items home while on the road.
Dallas-Ft. Worth airport isn’t the only airport that offers gift wrapping over the holidays for airline passengers. But it may be the first to offer free shipping of your gifts if you buy them at the airport.
When I learned of this, I thought, “Hey, it might be worth it to fly to DFW just to do all my Christmas shopping.”
DFW is the airport that has a yoga center, free Wi-Fi, and Minute Suites where you can grab a nap during a layover. And now through Christmas Eve, you can have your present wrapped for free if you spend at least $50 on an item. And most retailers will also ship it for free, too, though some have established a $75 or $100 threshold for free shipping.
I think it’s a great idea, though I’m not sure why the gift-wrapping kiosk by Gate 24 is only open from 1 to 5 p.m. each day. There are plenty of flyers and shoppers before and after those hours.
Airports, as I’ve reported, are getting increasingly user friendly, though I doubt any US airports will ever get quite as advanced as Helsinki’s airport that offers ten different versions of gluten-free pastries in the FinnAir lounge.
Care to increase the odds you’ll be happier on your next airline flight? They you need to know about Routehappy.com.
Right now it’s a website, though an app is apparently in the works. You type in where you’re flying from and where you want to go. Then Routehappy gives you options of flights with accompanying ratings meant to show you which flights might be most enjoyable.
How does the site measure happiness aloft? It considers the model of plane on each route, the seating arrangements, on-board amenities (such as Wi-Fi or power outlets), and reviews by other flyers.
It also looks for the shortest route and easiest connection and then combines those parameters to come up with a happiness rating from one to 10, with 10 being the highest.
You can also click on specific airlines and read passenger reviews of their flights. And, no, they’re not all negative. And there’s a blog with some extra postings that tell you, for example, how to get out of Delta’s Terminal 4 at London’s Heathrow airport. Hint: It’s tricky to get to the train downtown, and it’s even trickier for someone coming to pick you up to find Terminal 4!
When in Los Angeles, I often stay with friends who live in Pacific Palisades, an affluent suburb near Santa Monica overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I had no idea what I’d find when I went for a hike through nearby Rustic Canyon.
In the middle of nowhere, in what is now a state park, are ruins covered almost entirely by graffiti of what was once a hideaway for Nazi supporters of Adolf Hitler.
I came upon them quite by accident and later read about them in the LA Weekly and a book called Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles.
If you pass through the rusted, wrought-iron gate of this hidden place, you eventually come to a series of crumbling cement staircases with 500 or so steps each that lead to what was said to be home to Nazi sympathizers called the Silver Shirts, fashioned after Hitler’s para-military brownshirts. Up to 40 local Nazis reportedly lived there between 1933 and 1945 while preparing for the coming of the Third Reich.
Discovering this bizarre factoid was evidence that it can be darn interesting when you take the unknown road.
For more information check out this Los Angeles Times story from 2005:
Here’s a more lurid article from the London Daily Mail last year: