Air travel may be about to get better. Here’s what it means for your next flight.

Globe Aware volunteers and travel lovers can find out how air travel in the United States could soon improve dramatically!


Air travel may be about to get better. Here’s what it means for your next flight.

By Christopher Elliott
USA TODAY
March 1, 2024

Your next flight may get an upgrade.

No, not as in a bigger seat in the front of the cabin. It’s bigger than that — much bigger.

Air travel in the United States could soon improve dramatically. Here’s how:

  • New federal protections for air travelers. The U.S. Senate passed new rules that require better fee disclosure, free family seating, and new ticket refund rights. It also proposed appointing a new Assistant Secretary to handle airline service problems.
  • Better seats. Southwest has announced ambitious plans to overhaul its cabin interiors. It joins other carriers, including Japan Airlines, LOT, and Swiss in rolling out new and more comfortable seats.
  • Upgraded airline performance. Air carriers have canceled fewer flights lately. For the first 11 months of last year, domestic airlines canceled only 1.4 percent of flights, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). That’s way below the 2.5 percent cancellation rate for the first 11 months of 2022 and significantly better than the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.

“There’s a sense of optimism for the future of U.S. air travel,” said Duncan Greenfield-Turk, the chief travel designer for Global Travel Moments, “The airline industry has an opportunity to rebuild and reimagine air travel, potentially ushering in a new golden age marked by superior service, innovation, and passenger satisfaction.”

Is it time to start celebrating a new golden age of air travel?

Hang on, hang on. We’re not there yet.

In fact, economy class passengers are still pretty unhappy with their travel experience, according to the latest J. D. Power North American Airline Satisfaction Study. In categories such as ease of travel, onboard experience, and trust, the airlines scored lower than they did last year.

“We’re seeing signs of weakening consumer satisfaction,” said Mike Taylor, J.D. Power’s managing director for travel and hospitality.

The silver lining: Amid declining fares, passengers say they got more value for their money when they flew compared to 2022.

Hey, it’s a start.

But passengers say change is in the air. Alex Beene, a community coordinator from Nashville and a frequent air traveler, said his last few flights were on time and went smoothly. And he hardly had to wait at the TSA screening area.

“I’ve never felt as good about air travel as I have the last few months,” he told me.

He’s not alone. I’ve spoken with many air travelers who share his sense of optimism. It feels like for the first time in years, the stars are aligning for airline passengers.

But are they really?

This golden age could be a fake-out

Reality check: This new golden age could turn out to be fool’s gold.

The new luggage fees announced last week felt like a splash of cold water on all that optimism. This year, four domestic airlines have raised their checked baggage fees. United Airlines is the latest to announce an increase. You’ll pay $40 for your first checked bag, or $35 if you pay online at least 24 hours before your flight. That’s an increase of $5.

And the new Senate provisions for air travel, while positive, still have to be reconciled with the House version of the FAA Reauthorization bill this spring. That probably means some of the more pro-consumer provisions will get stricken by the airline-friendly Congress.

How about those new airline seats? Generally, new aircraft interiors improve the flying experience. But Southwest’s new interior design, which debuts next year, has been a little controversial. Critics have hammered its new seats for looking too thin and uncomfortable. One popular TikToker called them “lawn chairs.”

That may be unfair. True, the seats cut a slender profile, but they are the result of “careful and extensive” research, according to the airline. Also, none of the critics have sat in one of the seats yet, so there’s that.

What about the airline industry’s performance? Yes, it’s impressive, and the government wastes no opportunity to take full credit for it. But it will only last until the next computer outage or bad weather plunges an airline hub into total chaos.

“Let me be blunt,” said Bill McGee, a senior fellow for Aviation at the American Economic Liberties Project. “The airline industry is still broken.”

How to have a better flight anyway

Golden age or not, there’s only one thing that really matters: How is your next flight? None of the trends and statistics really matter if an airline cancels your flight and leaves you sleeping on the airport floor. Here’s how to sidestep bad service:

  • Book a ticket on an airline that offers excellent service. There’s a reason airlines like Delta, Southwest and Alaska keep winning customer service awards. If you cheap out and buy a ticket on a discount airline, you will get what you pay for. No golden age for you!
  • Avoid chaos. Try to avoid weekends and especially the days before and after major holidays. And always try to book the first flight of the day so that if something goes wrong, you won’t be stranded at an airport waiting for a connection. If you have to fly on a busy holiday, pack your patience and a good travel insurance policy.
  • Know your rights. Whether Congress passes new laws or not, you still need to know your rights as an air traveler. (Yes, you have some.) For domestic flights, the DOT’s Fly Rights page is an excellent resource. You can fly during a difficult time and still get decent service if you know your rights and can advocate for yourself if service goes south.


But perhaps the best advice of all is to keep your expectations modest. No one is turning the clock back to the 1960s, when even the economy class seats had plenty of legroom and the service was stellar. In a deregulated, post-pandemic airline industry, take nothing for granted – and focus on the basics.

“The greatest service of all,” said MIT management professor Arnold Barnett, “is getting you to your destination safely.”

SAFETY TIPS FOR SPRING BREAKERS HEADED ABROAD

Spring break is already here, but before our Globe Aware volunteers hit the beach or hop on that plane, let’s talk safety tips. It’s crucial to keep safety tips in mind, especially when you’re traveling to unfamiliar places, so here’s how you can stay safe!


SAFETY TIPS FOR SPRING BREAKERS HEADED ABROAD

Spring Break is around the corner. Before you hit the beach or hop on a plane, let’s talk safety tips to ensure a memorable time.

By Aysia Morton
Feb 27, 2024
Travel Noire

Spring Break is around the corner. It’s time to forget about lectures and homework and think of unforgettable adventures. But before you hit the beach or hop on that plane, let’s talk safety tips.

While Spring Break is all about fun and relaxation, it’s crucial to keep safety tips in mind, especially when you’re traveling to unfamiliar places. Whether you’re gearing up for a tropical getaway or planning to explore a new city, take a few precautions to ensure your Spring Break is memorable for all the right reasons.

RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION THOROUGHLY

Before you start packing, take some time to research. Learn about local laws, customs, and any potential risks you should be aware of. Check out travel advisories and stay informed about any safety concerns in the area. Knowing what to expect can help you make informed decisions and stay safe while you’re exploring.

It’s also worthwhile to be aware and respectful of local cultures and customs. Though you want to have fun, remember that many people call these countries home.

STAY CONNECTED AND SHARE YOUR ITINERARY

Sure, it’s exciting to think about disconnecting and unwinding in paradise. But it’s essential to stay accessible, especially when you’re traveling abroad. Share your travel plans with a trusted friend or family member back home. Keep them updated about where you’re going and when you’ll be back. It’s also a good idea to check in regularly during your trip to let them know you’re safe and sound.

PRACTICE RESPONSIBLE DRINKING AND EATING

Partying your nights away is typical during Spring Break. We all love to let our hair down and have a good time, but it’s crucial to do so responsibly. Pace yourself, and stay hydrated. When it comes to food, be cautious—use reviews, opt for higher-rated establishments, and avoid any foods that could cause stomach issues on your trip. Other than that, eat well and enjoy the local cuisine.

SECURE YOUR BELONGINGS

Protecting your belongings is key, especially when you’re traveling. Invest in a good-quality backpack or travel wallet to keep your valuables safe and secure. Try not to draw too much attention to yourself, especially in crowded tourist areas.

USE RELIABLE TRANSPORTATION

Getting around in a new place can be challenging, but safety should always come first. Stick to reputable taxi services or ride-share apps, and try to avoid accepting rides from strangers. Do your research on public transportation options before you go, and keep emergency contact numbers handy just in case.

USE A BUDDY SYSTEM

Exploring a new place with friends is always more fun—and safer too. Stick together, look out for each other, and keep the lines of communication open at all times. Having a buddy by your side can provide an extra layer of security and peace of mind during your adventures.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS AND BE STREET-SMART

Finally, trust your gut and use your common sense. If something feels off, remove yourself from the situation and seek help if needed. Be mindful when interacting with others, and always stay aware of your surroundings.

If you keep these tips in mind, you can ensure that your Spring Break memories are nothing short of amazing. So go ahead, pack your bags, and get ready for the fun—just remember to stay safe.

Cuba Nominated as a Leading Adventure Destination

The World Travel Awards 2024 nominated Cuba as the Leading Adventure Destination of the Caribbean 2024. Globe Aware volunteers looking to book a volunteer vacation, might consider Cuba!


Cuba Nominated as a Leading Adventure Destination

Edited by Beatriz Montes de Oca
2024-02-23
Radio HC


Havana, Feb 23 (RHC) The World Travel Awards 2024 nominated Cuba as the Leading Adventure Destination of the Caribbean 2024.

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Is Ecuador safe to visit after unrest?

Globe Aware volunteers considering Ecuador for a volunteer vacation will be relieved to learn that the country is safe for travelers. Find out the latest update on the situation in this South American destination and what to expect.


Is Ecuador safe to visit after unrest? On this tour, a traveler finds serenity

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QUITO, Ecuador — Not long after I posted my first picture from Quito on Facebook, the comment I was expecting came in: “Isn’t Ecuador blowing up right now?”

Hardly, I thought, slightly amused as I sat in my room in the historical Casa Gangotena hotel here, listening to children gleefully chasing pigeons and puppies in the plaza outside my open window.

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These Are The 13 All-Time Best Movies About Travel

The Oscars are coming up in a few weeks, and here are some of the best travel movies to celebrate! Do our Globe Aware volunteers recognize any of these movies, and do you have more to add!?


These Are The 13 All-Time Best Movies About Travel

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February 18, 2024
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The best travel movies ever made is a mix of life up in the air (the art of traveling) and life on the ground (human drama unfolding in interesting places around the globe). The list of best movies about travel weighs heavily towards planes and airports but I’ve also given some thought to being in an unfamiliar place and growing as a person because of the places you’ve been.

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The 12 Best Places to Find Tigers in India

India has around 3,000 tigers which makes up about 80% of the world’s tiger population! Ranthambore National Park is one of the best places to find tigers in India and is conveniently positioned if your travel includes the volunteer vacation site of Jaipur.


The 12 Best Places to Find Tigers in India

February 18, 2024
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Although tigers in India are seriously endangered, numbers are on the rise thanks to the herculean efforts of conservationists. However, there is no guarantee of a tiger sighting when visiting, but the wonderful National Parks which India has to offer are still a rewarding experience, with the chance to spot a multitude of creatures and an array of flora.

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14 Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world

En Masse Marriages in the Philippines, snowdrop letters in Denmark, and more!? Globe Aware volunteers, find out how the rest of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day!


14 Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world

Find out how countries like France, Italy, Germany and others celebrate February 14 each year.

Jan. 6, 2023
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Each year on Valentine’s Day, Americans shower friends, family and lovers with gifts, greeting cards and romantic gestures to let their special someones know just how much they’re loved.

But what about other countries around the world — what kinds of Valentine’s Day traditions do they commemorate? And how are they the same and how do they differ from V-Day celebrations in the U.S.?

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Travellers targeted as scammers run wild on social media

Scammers intent on stealing money from unhappy travelers are running wild on social media. Globe Aware volunteers should watch out for these imposter accounts.


Travellers targeted as scammers run wild on social media

Exclusive: When an easyJet passenger complained on X, no fewer than 10 imposter accounts contacted him

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As The Independent first revealed in 2022, scammers based in East Africa are seeking to cash in on travellers’ complaints to airlines and holiday companies.

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The Year of the Dragon could be lucky — but only if we’re kind to one another

It’s the Year of the Dragon, and people can expect a lot of good fortune — but only if they’re harnessing the animal’s most important quality: compassion. Globe Aware volunteer vacations are an opportunity to spread that compassion and kindness worldwide.


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“Long-term, it could also be the year in which major conflict can be resolved, if people can focus on empathy,” one Chinese folklore scholar said.

Jan. 30, 2024
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It’s the Year of the Dragon, and people can expect a lot of good fortune — but only if they’re harnessing the animal’s most important quality: compassion.

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Some consider the start of the new year to be when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31. While this is true for those who follow the Gregorian calendar, many others celebrate the new year on a different day.

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