The Department of Transportation already keeps track of the airlines' on-time performance and baggage handling records. But when we want to know how they're really doing, we need to ask the people.
That is, the TripAdvisor reviewers, who have saved us from staying at hotels with Dumpster views and tissue-thin walls. Last week, the Web site added airlines to its public opinion forum, allowing travelers to rank dozens of carriers on TripAdvisor Flights, its meta-search engine.
Passengers can rate airlines in eight categories - baggage handling, check-in experience, in-flight amenities, in-flight service, punctuality, reasonableness of fees, seat comfort and value - using a scale of one to five. When searching for a flight, simply click on the name of the carrier and the truth will come out.
For instance, when CoGo researched flights from Washington to Orlando, US Airways popped up. Of 178 submissions, 66 percent gave the carrier a thumbs up, granting it 21/2 stars (well, they're actually blacked-in circles) for in-flight amenities and reasonableness of fees, and 3 or 31/2 circles for the other categories.
Equally interesting are the ratings of the more obscure airlines, the ones you have to Google because you don't know which regions they cover. For Winair, which flies around the Caribbean, the carrier's one and only rating bestowed five circles for baggage handling, punctuality, reasonableness of fees and value, but none for in-flight amenities and service. Perhaps Winair is really a very large bird.
In addition to the ratings, the site added another feature: displaying the cost including one checked bag.
Finally, if you're signed on as a member, you can do your part and submit your own rating.
Traveling to Asia could soon be easier now that American Airlines and Japan Airlines have announced a partnership beginning April 1.
The airlines said that the joint venture will allow them to better schedule transpacific flights and connections and offer a wider variety of fares. Japan Airlines will relocate to American's Terminal 3 at Chicago O'Hare starting March 27, a move the airlines said would make for quicker connections and shorter travel times.
Initially, the partnership will apply to 10 routes, with American operating flights between Tokyo's Narita Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles; and between Tokyo's Haneda and New York. Japan Airlines will operate flights between Narita and New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Vancouver and between Haneda and San Francisco.
Pending approval from the Chinese government, American will also operate flights between Beijing and Chicago; Shanghai and Chicago; and Shanghai and Los Angeles.
The historic Renaissance Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue NW is getting a makeover.
A multimillion-dollar refurbishment of the hotel's lobby, restaurant, bar and retail spaces will begin this month and conclude in midsummer.
The area now occupied by a Thomas Pink store will become a new restaurant and bar. The current Town & Country Lounge will be converted into a new Thomas Pink with a look more similar to that of its prototype in London. The Cafe Promenade will reopen as a 3,000-square-foot gala event space.
Delta Airlines will start two daily nonstop flights from Norfolk to Boston Logan on April 1. . . . From Jan. 24 to Feb. 6, more than 30 off-Broadway shows will offer available seats for $20, 20 minutes before curtain. Shows participating in the biannual 20at20 event include "Stomp," "Richard Skipper as 'Carol Channing' in Concert," "My Big Gay Italian Wedding" and others. For info: www.20at20.com . . . . SuperShuttle, the airport transport service, is offering 15 percent off round trips booked through March 15, valid only on residential shared rides. Reserve online, and frequent fliers receive double miles from Delta, US Airways, United and Frontier. Info: . . . Utah has opened the new St. George Municipal Airport (SGU), a $159 million facility built on 1,203 acres, nearly five times the size of the area's former airport. The facility will serve southern Utah and ease travel to such destinations as the Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks.
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