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The Best and Worst American Airlines of 2012

With the year 2012 coming to a close, and not speaking in apocalyptic terms if you’re into that thing, the annual holiday season is in full gear. You know what that means – more people are flying, and ticket prices are climbing. And because it’s the holidays the last thing flyers want are delayed/cancelled flights, lost baggage, and poor customer service. So, which airlines can we trust? Let’s find out.

If you plan on traveling to the eastern or midwestern United States, consider flying AirTran. They only received the best AQR (Airline Quality Rating) score for the year. With its main hub located in Atlanta, Georgia at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, AirTran has the best reputation for handling baggage, “with only 1.63 instances occurring per thousand passengers.” [1]

Before we continue let us first understand what Airline Quality Rating means. A statistical study conducted jointly by Dr. Dean Headley, professor at Wichita State University and Dr. Brent Bowen, professor at Purdue University, AQR scores are based on 15 elements in four major areas that focus on airline performance aspects important to air travel consumers. These areas include on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boards, mishandled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories. [5]

The second best airline title goes to Hawaiian Airlines, who performed well in all four criteria. Their most reputable quality is getting people to their destination on time. “The highest of all the airlines surveyed, the airline had 92.8 percent or flights arrive on-time last year.” [1] Not only that, but Hawaiian airlines has never had a fatal accident in its entire 83 year history – making it the oldest US carrier to hold such a distinction. [2]

Besides having a few publicized incidents involving one emergency landing and one panic attack ridden Captain, JetBlue was ranked 3rd best airline by US news. The airline was able to lower the number of customer complaints, and they also have an extremely low denied boarding rate. [1] Their slogan says it all, “You above all.”

The best major carrier airline goes to Alaska Airlines. In the last year they’ve garnered a high on-time rate, and low number of denied boardings. Another plus?–this marks the fifth consecutive year that Alaska Airlines has won the J.D. Power Award; an award based on customer satisfaction, product quality, and buyer behavior. [3]

Plan on traveling with your pets? Then it’s probably best to avoid Delta Airlines. Though they received fewer costumer complaints this year, Delta is “responsible for the highest number of in-flight pet deaths in 2011.” [1] However, Delta had denied any animal mishandling and reported that several pets had medical issues prior to flight, some had to be euthanized after self inflicted injuries in their carriers, and one dog died before boarding due to respiratory complications. [4] The moral of this story? Get your pet checked out by a veterinarian and familiarize your animal with their carrier before your trip.

US Airways’ AQR score dropped due to fewer on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, and customer complaint rates. At least they managed to reduce the number of denied boardings. Though, it may be safe to say US Airways has had it worse. Do you recall the flight from New York that made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, because a bird went through one of the engines, causing dual engine failure? Yeah, that was US Airways.

To see the complete list of America’s Best and Worst Airlines of 2012, just click this link:


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Everyday Items You Can’t Bring on the Airplane

Remember the time when you could sneak all the Mountain Dew you wanted past TSA; and you didn’t have to undress to your skivvies; and your friends and family would join you at your gate for one final farewell? It’s getting harder and harder to remember those days. That is if you can remember the last time you flew prior to 9/11.

And though it’s been 11 years and everyone is well aware how drastically airport security has changed since then, it’s still easy to overlook and forget what is to be expected of us. And that expectation lies in what we bring on board. TSA will give you a seemingly endless list of prohibited items, many which pertain to the category of concealed weapons and fireworks, but what about our everyday items? What about my hairspray? My shampoo? My cold medicine?

Let’s sort this out right now – here are the biggest “no-no’s” when it comes to packing your carry-on:
– Razors
– Nail clippers
– Nail files
– Pocket knives
– Eating utensils
– Cigarette lighters
– Liquids/Gels/Aerosols

But, one of the biggest “no-no’s” also happens to be the most befuddling – Liquids/Gels/Aerosols. If you only plan on taking a carry-on to your destination, you should know all of the rules and regulations that come with your decision in order to pass TSA with flying colors. You don’t want to be stuck at security having to throw away all of your toiletries saying, “What? These rules have been in effect for eleven years?!”

When it comes to L/G/A, it has to be in a 3.4 ounce or smaller container. I know what you’re thinking, “but I can roll up my tube of toothpaste and make it look like there’s only 3 ounces!” Yes, because TSA was born yesterday. Sorry, but it’s best to take a travel sized.

But I’m sick and need to take cough medicine! Again, TSA regulates you can take 100ml or 3.4 ounces worth of liquid or gel medication. If you’re extra paranoid TSA will confiscate it, ask your doctor to write out your prescription, and notify your airline before departure. What about other prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, you ask? These are exceptions, as is baby formula.

And to make it less of a headache for all, try to fit all of your small liquid containers into one, quart-sized, zip-top bag. Travelers must remove these items from their carry-on and place them in a bin for x-ray screening.

So if you plan on taking larger quantities of L/G/A, you will have to pack them and check your luggage. Or you could always purchase what you need after the screening checkpoint.

For international flyers, there is one everyday item that airlines encourage you to bring – a pen, for like, filling out your customs form. That’s kind of like forgetting to bring your pencil to school. You should know better by now.


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Top 10 Tips for Air Travel

All your bags are packed, you’re ready to go, a taxi is waiting outside your door… Now you’re ready for air travel! But you still have a ways until you reach your destination, with the possibility of hick-ups that could damper your trip. Want to hear how to turn your flying adventure into smooth sailing? Then check out these ten tips to improve your air travel experience.

10] Have all of your documents prepared. Be certain that the name on your reserved ticket is how it appears on your ID card and, if you’re flying abroad, keep that passport handy. For some countries, you’ll need a visa. And for others, you’ll need at least two blank pages available in your passport for clearance. [3] Know where you’re flying to and what their regulations are. You don’t want to be stuck stateside when you’ve been planning your tropical getaway for months.

9] RSVP a good seat. If you’re riding coach, don’t get stuck in the middle! Choose your seats in advance in an area of the plane that offers more leg more. This will improve your flying more astronomically. Where’s the best place to sit? In an aisle seat near the back of the plane; you just might get a seat with no one sitting next to you. [2]

8] When it comes to your luggage, make it stand out from the others. US Airways customer-service supervisor Chris Gossner advises, “When passengers use the ribbons and bows, they can be torn off in the transporting process.” [1] Instead, opt out for the typical black, and pick a bright colored or patterned luggage. Now you’ll spend less time gawking at baggage claim.

7] Organize your carryon to make it checkpoint friendly. If you plan on bringing an array of electronics, keep them together in one layer; for snacks, another layer. This way, when it’s your turn to clear security, you’ll spend less time rummaging through your bag, and so will the TSA. “When things are tossed in haphazardly or jumbled together, we spend more time determining what they are [from the X-ray] and have to manually check bags,” says TSA spokesperson, Sterling Payne. [1] Besides, we don’t want to be those people holding everyone else up, do we?

6] Double check your bags before you leave for the airport. No one wants to get held up at security because they innocently forgot about the nail clippers hiding in the side pocket of their luggage!

5] BYOB – bring your own blanket. Those airline blankets appear clean in new when tucked into a sleeve of plastic, but former US Airways flight attendant, Sarah Scott says to, “steer clear of the blankets and pillows. They’re only washed when they look dirty.” [1] Good thing the Wings Flying Hoodie is made of 100% cotton and comes with a detachable inflatable pillow. Now you’ll stay warm and the neck support will help you obtain better in flight sleep.

4] Stow your carryon near your seat. No matter how tempting it is to throw your bag in the first overhead compartment you pass, just, don’t. People will then be forced to migrate down the plane for an open bin. This only slows down the already slow process of boarding and de-boarding the plane.

3] Whoops, you missed your connecting flight and now there’s a line of angry flyers crowding the desk agent. You’re probably better off calling your airline’s 1-800 number. You’ll be able to speak with someone faster and someone less frazzled than that poor desk agent. [3]

2] Ask for help. You’d be surprised how more quickly you can reach your destination when you simply ask for help. Does security look backed up? Ask someone if there’s any additional lines you can go through. Was your flight cancelled and you’re stuck at the airport all night? Most airlines should offer complimentary hotel room for your inconvenience. Ask any desk agent with your airline what your options are.

1] Above all else, remain calm. Children will cry, flights will be delayed or cancelled, over bookings will occur – but try to roll with the punches. Courtesy and a smile will get you much further, and quicker, than a short temper. Have a pleasant flight!


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How to be Comfortable on an Airplane

Together, the words ‘comfort’ and ‘airplane’ may sound like an experiment that involves diluting oil in water.

Impossible it may sound but rest assured, there are plenty of things we as flyers can do in order to make our flight more, well, comforting.

1) Prior to your flight, try to reserve the best seat for you.

If you prefer a window seat, try to reserve one while booking your flight, and the same if you prefer the aisle. Keep in mind that if you prefer the aisle seat, there’s always the risk of people bumping into you on their way to the bathroom, And keep that elbow tucked in when the beverage cart comes past – there is nothing funny about hitting your funny bone. So, if you plan on sleeping but think the above mentioned would keep you awake, maybe a different seat would be better for you.

2) Plan on sleeping? Best come prepared.

Though the cold air vent overhead helps us sleep, it’s easy for the rest our bodies to get cold. If you become chilled easily and those airline blankets just don’t cut it, think about bringing a spare jacket. Also, using a neck pillow could help you feel relaxed enough to doze off. Here’s where Wings come in. With its 100% cotton fabric and inflatable/detachable neck pillow, prepare to feel more comfortable on your flight instantly.

3) Bring things that entertain you.

Portable DVD player, iPad, Laptop, books, e-Reader, Kindle, iPod, iPhone – the options seem never ending, don’t they? Not only that, but many airlines today offer A.V.O.D. or Audio Visual On Demand. Now, movies, television shows, and music channels are accessible through a touch activated TV screen in front of your seat. [1]

Bringing your own headphones could also improve your mood during flight. Though many airlines off headphones, their quality is poor, making it hard to tune out that screaming baby and pair of conversationalists behind you.

4) Bring items to refresh yourself prior to landing.

Between the stale cabin air, the smell of burnt coffee, the woman’s perfume in the next aisle, or those unfortunate enough to experience the wafting bathrooms – it’s easy to feel less than yourself when arriving to your destination. Keeping a small non liquid or gel toothbrush, hairbrush, breath mints, lip balm, or a travel sized deodorant on hand could all help you feel more alert and refreshed when you arrive.

5) Bring snacks you enjoy.

A personal favorite – peanuts M&Ms and a bag of Goldfish. You’d be surprised the impact a small piece of chocolate can have your mood in flight. Think of it as a small little treat for not losing your mind. But if you’re craving something healthier, think protein bars. Protein will make you feel better opposed to the airline food enriched with carbohydrates.

Also think about repackaging your snacks prior to flight. To sail through security with your plunder, store your goodies in a clear, zip lock sandwich bag, and place in the security bin with your other belongings.

6) Wear comfortable clothes.

Looser clothes in general feel more comfortable and cotton fabric is ideal with its breathable material. [3] Leave your high heels and business suit with your luggage.

7) When possible, move around the plane.

After a while, the airline seats seem to shrink don’t they? If you’re susceptible to muscle cramps, or locking joints, sitting on an airplane sounds as exciting as shucking oysters with your bare hands. Taking a few minutes to stretch your limbs can improve your comfort level. If you’re stuck in your seat, pointing and flexing your toes and heels every 30 minutes can also help prevent pesky swollen feet. [2]

8) Lastly, don’t look at the time.

That’s pretty self-explanatory, no? You know what they say, watch a pot and it will never boil.

Oh, and try not to let your friends catch you in any compromising sleeping positions.



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The Best Ways to Avoid Jet Lag

Jet lag – for many, also known as a complete nuisance.

Flying across time zones can not only have an effect on you physically, but it can also scramble your mental capabilities, making that red eye you took for your 9:00am business meeting all the more discomforting. And no matter how amazing your upcoming vacation to Kathmandu is planned out, jet lag doesn’t care; and if you’re not careful those said plans may be skewed to the wind. If you’re not prepared, instead of joining in cultural festivities, or checking out local monasteries, jet lag could have you wrought in bed with fatigue, headaches, constipation, and the one thing we could all do without, diarrhea.

Though there is no cure for jet lag, there are many tips and solutions to help limit those symptoms.

First, let’s tackle one of the biggest components in defeating jet lag – staying hydrated. Even without flying, water is your friend, and be sure to chug plenty of it. No one wants to put down $10 for a bottle of water after airport security, but consider it a good investment. Yes, there is water on the plane and you’re more than welcome to keep annoying the flight attendant for more – because those baby Dixie cups really go a long way – but in the end you’ll be glad you did. Inside the cabin, the air is stale and it’s drying you out faster than when you’re on land. [1] Having a bottle on hand just might save you. And keep in mind, even though tomato juice and ginger ale taste ten times better on an airplane than anywhere else, those drinks are packed with sodium, sugar, and caffeine = hellooo, dehydration = hellooo, pounding headache = goodbye, vacation. Oh, and the same goes for alcohol – but… I’ll let you be the judge on that one.

Next step, avoid the delicious airplane food. According to Reader’s Digest Online, “since airline food is served on board according to your home base, eating it can sabotage efforts to reset your clock to the time zone to which you’re traveling.” Not only that, but loading up on carbs before your flight can also trigger those lovely tryptophan amino acids in your brain – making you feel more sleepy. While in flight however, keep those snacks on hand and try to eat during the mealtimes of your destination. [1]

Along those lines of snacking, keep yourself occupied. Most airlines today have an array of movie choices and some even a few radio stations to hold your attention. If anything, bring a book or a deck of cards, or your crochet if you’re into that sort of thing. Try to not show up empty handed, or else that beef stroganoff doused in mystery sauce may seem more appealing. Besides, eating out of boredom is never as satisfying as we hope it to be.

Also keep in mind of the time of day in which you’ll be arriving. If you will be arriving at night, try to stay awake through your flight, and vice versa. [2] This will help you show jet lag who’s boss. But if you’re like some, sleeping on an airplane is like trying to sleep standing up. If anything, try to stay relaxed. Keep that cool air vent open but keep yourself warm, and consider eyeshades – all three can help you fall asleep faster. Luckily, the Wings hoodie has you covered. Thanks to the detachable inflatable pillow, light blocking eyeshade, and 100% cotton fabric comfort is inevitable!

For those of you flying for an extended period of time, try to keep your circulation flowing. Rotating joints while sitting down, stretching and walking around the cabin will help keep you limber and alert. No one likes to get off the plane feeling like they’ve just experienced gravity for the first time.

Now that we’ve established several ways to help keep jet lag at bay while in flight, let’s discuss post arrival.

Here’s the kicker – if you arrive at your destination at night, try to go to sleep. If you arrive in the morning, even if it just hit 11:00pm at home, stay awake. Eat light meals, try to soak up some sun, and stay awake. Staying awake as late as possible gives your body a greater chance at time zone rebounding. [3]

Oh, and napping is out of the question.

But don’t let the thought of jet lag discourage you. You might arrive to your destination and feel fantastic…until the following day, or you may not even experience it at all. Many factors can tie into jet lag and the sufferer; such as experience, age, lifestyle, and even children. [4] Everyone reacts to jet lag differently. There are those who don’t believe in its existence, and those who ritually attempt to avoid it at all costs. Above all else, drink plenty of fluids, relax, and be happy. Luckily for everyone, jet lag isn’t permanent.



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