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.
A Hilton DoubleTree masquerading as a quaint boutique hotel in the heart of Madrid
Hilton as a brand doesn’t have a particularly aspirational reputation. Sure, its hotels are mostly comfortable and are more than serviceable, but the average Hilton usually lacks the glamour or pizzazz or charm that a mid-level Hyatt or a legacy Starwood property (RIP) might have. Hilton’s DoubleTrees are some of the worst offenders when it comes to generic corporateness — they’re typically marketed to business travelers, and utilitarian design doesn’t lend itself well to pleasing aesthetics — but the brand’s sole property in Spain is an obvious outlier. While “DoubleTree” might not evoke images of boutique luxury, the one in Madrid should very well challenge your assumptions.
American Airlines’s pathetic operational reliability record isn’t exactly a new development, and complaints have long been streaming in from major media outlets, “higher flyer” bloggers, and angry mobs in the Twittisphere. Now the Dallas Cowboys, as of the evening of December 22, have every right to complain as well. In addition to the delays that it has subjected its many millions of passengers to, AA has now failed one of the most famous (or rather infamous?) sports teams in the world.
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.
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.
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.
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?