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Hotels chains across the industry have spent years vigorously trying to one-up each other when it comes to who can provide the best amenities, freebies, and services for families, and one of the best side-effects of this competition is that some airlines are beginning to follow suit.
Warren Chang, vice president and general manager of Fly.com, recently compiled a list of some of the more creative kid-friendly perks being offered by the airlines. Here now, a few of his findings.
With services like Nanny in the Clouds permitting you to search any given flight for passengers who also happen to be nannies available for hire during the flight, Gulf Air is shrewdly borrowing the concept, introducing their complimentary Sky Nanny service that provides a nanny to escort your family on board. While in flight, Chang says, the nanny can suggest dining times and “keep an eye on children while parents sleep or watch a movie.” And should you find yourself in Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways’ first and business class lounges also have nannies available to help you watch your kids.
Even with all the precautionary measures taken, dutifully taking the TSA’s advice, and charging up all your WiFi-accessible tech doodads for use on your trip, future flights may soon bring further frustrations to travelers. This time, however, it’s not about flight delays, the lack of legroom, or crying babies. It’s just business. Delta Airlines has announced plans to acquire a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, an international flier and separate company from Virgin America.
Delta aims to snatch up Singapore Airlines’ share (the company’s remaining 51 percent belong to owner Richard Branson). Delta’s motivation for the buy is not only a means of consolidation. Holding a major stake in a Britain-based international airline offers Delta the chance to procure more landing slots at London’s Heathrow Airport, one of the world’s largest hubs.
With the holiday only days away, airlines are making it easy to do last-minute tasks to alleviate pre-holiday stress. Virgin Atlantic is helping out holiday travelers by wrapping gifts. For $2, “Virgin Helpers” will wrap one carry on-sized gift while you’re waiting for your flight home for the holiday. Kiosks will be stationed in Terminal 4 of JFK Airport in New York, after you go through security (since the TSA discourages flyers from packing wrapped gifts). All of the proceeds will benefit the charity Virgin Unite.
At the Toronto-Pearson International Airport, you can arrange for a flyer to be greeted by carolers upon arrival. Through December 24, if you’re flying domestic into Toronto-Pearson, tweet @torontopearson with the person’s name, flight number, and flight date whom you’d like to surprise with some holiday cheer.
We’re excited to see the first four-star Virgin Hotel open later this year in a major U.S. gateway city like New York or Los Angeles. How will Virgin Hotels stand out?
Our loyal customers have grown addicted to our attention to detail and brilliant customer service. They have a good idea already of what our hotels will offer because they know and appreciate how our airlines, travel, and wellness companies have beautifully reimagined airplane cabins, airport lounges, gyms, and other spaces—they’ve become places we actually look forward to [visiting].
Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue have announced that they’ll be joining forces to offer customers more travel options for transatlantic flights between the United States and the United Kingdom. The new partnership, effective immediately, means a streamlined journey to Virgin Atlantic hubs in Glasgow, London (Heathrow and Gatwick), and Manchester from JetBlue hubs in New York (JFK), Boston, Orlando, and Washington, DC (Dulles) — and, subsequently, from JetBlue’s numerous domestic and Caribbean destinations, including Baltimore, Chicago, and San Juan (Puerto Rico).
The alliance between the airlines means purchasing a single itinerary will offer seamless travel with both JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic, creating a less hectic journey. Travelers now only need to check-in once at their initial airport to drop off their luggage and receive their ticket, whereas before travelers had to check-in twice. JetBlue already has similar successful collaborations in place with other large airlines like LAN Airlines, Aer Lingus, South African Airways, and American Airlines.
If you’re one out of the every three Americans who break out in a nervous sweat before take-off, relax. Sir Richard Branson has come to your rescue! Virgin Atlantic’s valiant chief unveiled the company’s first iPhone app, Flying Without Fear, yesterday. Based on Branson’s own course of the same name (which boasts a near-perfect success rate – just ask spokeswoman Whoopi Goldberg), the $5 app is designed to help anxious fliers overcome their fears by providing in-flight video explanations and answers to frequently asked questions about flying, plus relaxation exercises (there’s even a panic button for emergency calming methods if you start to, say, hyperventilate during a bit of turbulence). Since every aerophobe’s nerves vary, a custom “My Program” section allows users to rate their personal fears and offers advice on how best to prepare for your next flight, based on your individual info.
Click here for our list of Essential iPhone Travel Apps.
Looking for a happy medium between coach’s sardine-can accommodations and first class’s hefty price on lengthy flights? Premium economy cabins, featuring cushier seats and more space to stretch your legs (and wallet), are emerging as a less extravagant, more comfortable option on a number of airlines (including jetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways, to name a few). Still, said seats on many overseas flights can run upwards of five times the cost of a coach ticket, and transatlantic jaunts in particular see higher fares versus the standard economy class than do their Pacific counterparts. Read more
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