Book holiday flights now
Dean Headley, co-author of the Airline Quality Rating, which ranks a dozen U.S. carriers, released his forecast for one of most hectic travel periods of the year — that stressful stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. “I think it’s going to be one of the busiest we’ve seen in a long time,” said the retired Wichita State University marketing professor. Headley chalks it up to the strong economy. More people can afford to fly for the holidays and may even choose planes over cars, even on drivable distances. (Headley said travelers often switch from ground to air at the 450- or 500-mile mark.) To secure a reasonable fare, he suggests booking six to eight weeks in advance: That means early October for Thanksgiving and at the top of November for Christmas. “You can still get a decent price,” he said. For procrastinators, he said airlines sometimes free up seats or switch to larger aircraft close to the departure date, but “there’s a risk with waiting.” Seats can disappear and prices can rise before your very eyes.
Delta raises bag fees
Delta Air Lines is joining two rivals in raising fees to check a bag on a flight within the United States. Delta on Wednesday posted new fees of $30 for checking a first bag and $40 for a second bag — increasing the previous fees by $5 each. The changes match increases recently imposed by United Airlines and JetBlue Airways. By midday, American Airlines had not increased bag fees. Southwest Airlines lets passengers check up to two bags free. Airlines have been pulling in more revenue from extra charges for several years. Last year, U.S. carriers raised $7.4 billion from fees on checked bags and ticket changes, led by American, Delta and United.
Gaming comes to airports
The race for novel concessions inside airport terminals is becoming more, well, playful. In July, the first U.S. airport video game lounges opened with three dozen Microsoft Xbox rigs at Dallas-Fort Worth International, while John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York is hosting the first pop-up virtual-reality “experience center” for the 70,000 travelers who traverse Terminal 4 each day. At Dallas-Fort Worth, gamers have a refuge in both Terminals B and E, where gaming stations include a leather chair, 43-inch TV and noise-canceling headphones. Plans are underway to add Sony PlayStation machines to complement the Xbox.
London chef scores a 10
Core by Clare Smyth today becomes the first new restaurant to score a perfect 10 since the Good Food Guide introduced its scores for cooking in 2008. The London restaurant this week enters the Top 50 at No. 3. Smyth opened Core, in Notting Hill, last August and has already received several accolades. She was named the world’s Best Female Chef earlier this year in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, while Core by Clare Smyth placed fourth in the U.K. National Restaurant Awards 2018. She was formerly guardian of Gordon Ramsay’s three Michelin stars at his flagship establishment in Chelsea. The Northern Ireland-born chef celebrates British ingredients at her informal fine-dining restaurant, where her most famous dish is Potato and Roe with dulse beurre blanc, herring and trout roe. Smyth’s signature tasting menu costs $148 (£115); the three-course lunch menu is £65 ($85).