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Unpacking the state of the U.S. airline industry and how it affects higher flyers (Part 1)

The Daily Flyer

Welcome to the fifth edition of “The Daily Flyer,” The Higher Flyer‘s daily newsletter gathering up and summarizing some of the day’s most important happenings in the world of airlines, hotels, award points, and other travel-related things.  Today’s feature — for February 19, 2020 — explores how current trends in the U.S. airline industry (as named by Skift) affect passengers.  Other topics include ways to make unbearable flights more bearable, whether or not metal credit cards are tacky, increased fallout from the coronavirus in the travel industry, and a new lounge on the way at Washington Dulles.

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Arriverderci, Air Italy!

The Daily Flyer

Welcome to the inaugural edition of “The Daily Flyer,” The Higher Flyer‘s newsletter gathering up and summarizing some of the day’s most important happenings in the world of airlines, hotels, award points, and other travel-related things.  Today’s feature — for February 11, 2020 — covers the fall of Air Italy, as well as coronavirus flight cancellations, a hot take regarding the Global Entry ban in New York, and a surprise announcement from Uber.

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Top 10: Ways to fly higher (and get more value from your money!)

Spending lots of money without getting any tangible pleasures in return isn’t fun, no matter how important a purchase might be.  Nobody likes saving and then subsequently dropping thousands of dollars to, say, repair the roof.  A leaky ceiling sure is problematic, and you’d save a bit on heating costs in the long run, but no one is getting hyped about buying new shingles.  That necessary investment can’t compare to the thrill of driving a luxury car straight off the lot, or better yet, flying around the world in first class.

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What’s the difference between Basic Economy and regular Economy?

Bargain-hunting higher flyers might, while planning their next adventures, come across airfares that are so good that they’re too good.  Budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier (in)famously offer such cheap prices, but they also inundate their customers with fees in order to generate additional revenue.  That’s to be expected, but sometimes you’ll see legacy carriers like American, Delta, and United selling flights at prices comparable to those low-cost rivals.  While such deals might look particularly enticing — especially when you consider that these three have better reputations than Spirit — you have to be wary of the catch(es).  These discounted tickets, known as basic economy fares, are heavily restricted and can seriously hurt your ability to fly higher.  But but but!  If you know what you’re getting in to, they can also represent outstanding values.

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What’s the difference between Economy Plus and Premium Economy?

The most common question I get from THF Consulting clients is:  “what’s the difference between economy plus and premium economy?  There is none, right?”  While the names are quite similar, they’re not interchangeable; in terms of quality, the latter is miles ahead when it comes to the hard product… and in theory, the soft product too.  The two nevertheless are better than regular economy, but that’s not always clear on paper.  In order to maximize your purchasing power as a traveler/your higher flyer potential, it’s important to be aware of those differences so that you always know what kind of airfare you’re buying.

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Should you buy trip insurance? No!

When you go to book a flight, it’s not uncommon to be prompted to purchase trip insurance on top of your fare.  If you decline the option, you might get a warning:  “You may be responsible for cancellation fees and delay expenses” or, if that doesn’t scare you enough, “The average out-of-pocket costs of medical emergency transportation outside the United States can be as high as $25,000.”  Those are potentially frightful consequences, but you should think twice before handing over the extra money.  It’s probably not in your best interest as a higher flyer, and believe it or not, getting it might cost you more than it’s worth.

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10 Hampton Inns for President Obama to Visit

Former President Obama recently professed his preference/appreciation for Hampton Inns.  While they’re far cries from the penthouse suites he enjoyed during his time in office, there’s a certain comfort in the consistency.  As Obama put it (as quoted by The Washington Post), “In the Hampton Inn, there’s like one light switch, one bathroom door, and the bed, and the TV remote; I’m good.”  But there are thousands of locations (2,500 or so to be specific), and naturally, not all of them are created equally.  In the spirit of the former president’s comments, here are some of the top Hampton Inns for him to visit on his future trips.

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Obama: “If I was just in the Hampton Inn… I’m good.”

Higher flying doesn’t necessarily refer to the top tier, most-luxurious accommodations.  If something presents a good value for your money and makes sense for you and your travel goals, indeed, that option can be just as valuable as one that costs significantly more.  If you don’t believe me, ask Barack Obama instead!  The Washington Post recently quoted the former president singing the praises of Hampton Inns, one of Hilton’s budget-friendly brands and not one that you would associate with some/one of the most powerful people in the world.  They’re far from glamorous, but if they’re good enough for Obama, certainly they can suffice for everyone else.

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Norwegian Air 787 Economy Class Review

A proud symbol of the era of affordable air travel

The 787s that Norwegian Air uses for its longhaul operations are far from glamorous — expect slimline seats clad in grey “leather” for as far as the eye can see — but they are representative of an undeniably positive development in the commercial airline industry:  more people can afford to travel.  Norwegian occupies an interesting position in the market; it was one of the first carriers to take the low-cost/LCC model and successfully apply it to intercontinental travel.  Its fares are so consistently low (it’s not unusual to see oneway transatlantic tickets go for around $100), but correspondingly, it’s natural to wonder if there’s any sort of catch involved.  Is flying Norwegian an absurdly miserable experience — in the same way that Spirit can sometimes be — or is it a viable option for higher flyers?

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