travel

World’s Best Airport? Changi clinches it again

For the sixth year in a row, Singapore’s Changi Airport has been named the World’s Best Airport by Skytrax, which tallied 13.73 million surveys covering passenger experiences in 550 airports worldwide for the 2018 World Airport Awards.

Changi Airport also topped the list for the World Best Airport Leisure Amenities and the Crown Plaza Changi once again took top spot in the World’s Best Airport Hotel category.

Vancouver International was named the Best Airport in North America and the Fairmont Vancouver Airport the Best Airport Hotel in North America.

Denver International Airport came in first for Best Regional Airport in North America.

The surveys ask travelers to evaluate airports in almost 40 categories, covering everything from check-in, shopping and dining to cleanliness, staff courtesy, entertainment, signage and WiFi service.

Here are the winners in just some of the many categories in this year’s awards:

The World’s Top 10 Airports

Changi Airport – Terminal 4

Singapore Changi
Incheon
Tokyo Haneda
Hong Kong
Doha Hamad
Munich
Chubu Centrair Nagoya
London Heathrow
Zurich
Frankfurt

Best Airports in North America

Vancouver
Denver
Cincinnati
Toronto Pearson
Houston
Atlanta
San Francisco
Dallas/Fort Worth
Seattle
Montreal

Best Regional Airport: North America

Denver
Cincinnati
Seattle
Halifax
Minneapolis-St. Paul
Phoenix
Detroit
Raleigh-Durham
Houston – Hobby
Toronto City

The World’s Cleanest Airports

Tokyo Haneda
Centrair Nagoya
Incheon
Taiwan Taoyuan
Singapore Changi
Tokyo Narita
Hong Kong
Zurich
Doha Hamad
Helsinki

The World’s Best Airport Hotels

Crowne Plaza Changi
Pullman Guangzhou Airport
Hilton Munich Airport
Fairmont Vancouver Airport
Sofitel London Heathrow
Hong Kong Sky City Marriott
Langham Place Beijing
Regal Airport Hong Kong
Sheraton Amsterdam Airport
Hilton Frankfurt Airport

Souvenir Sunday: a journey with “Luggage”

On my travels this week I’ve been toting a review copy of Susan Harlan’s book, Luggage, which is part of Bloomsbury’s charming Object Lessons series.

The slim book is travel-sized, but densely-packed and Harlan has stuffed it with stories and side-trips that touch not just on the actual history and development of suitcases, bags, trunks, carry-ons and valises, but on the role baggage plays in literature, art and films.

Remember Mary Poppins’ carpet bag?

“It contains all of her desires,” writes Harlan, and is a “powerfully enabling object” from which the nanny is somehow able to produce a lamp and a mirror (in the 1964 Disney movie) and, in the novel by P.L. Travers, everything from an apron to an armchair.

Poppins’ luggage was not only magical, notes Harlan, it gave her freedom. “She can come and go as the wind changes, which would hardly be possible with a steamer trunk,” Harlan writes.

In “Luggage,” Harlan tells us about her own collection of vintage luggage, a bit of how she and others approach packing and of her visit to to Alabama’s vast Unclaimed Baggage Center, which is not just a store but a tourist destination.

Along the way she unpacks the role and relationship baggage has to everything from home and gender to class, memory, loss and, of course, travel.

“The history of luggage is the history of travel: how we traveled, and why, and where, and what we have packed,” Harlan tells us at the beginning of this journey, “It is virtually impossible to think of traveling without luggage.”

 

 

 

 

New safety video for Qantas + preview of PDX new gates

Happy Friday. Here are two fun videos to kick off the weekend. A pretty new safety video from Qantas and a time-lapse preview of a concourse expansion at Portland International Airport.

 

Cathay Pacific adds in-flight yoga.

Airport yoga rooms are great amenities, but Cathay Pacific suggests you try doing yoga on the plane.

The airline has partnered with Pure Yoga to offer an inflight “Travel Well with Yoga” program that offers a series of six yoga videos with meditation exercises and tips.

The videos are in English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese and are running on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon routes in the  Lifestyle section of the inflight entertainment program.

Instructors offer yoga and meditation routines that can be done before, during or after a flight (if you’re not to self-conscious to try it) and are designed to improve circulation, enhance joint mobility  – and relax the mind.

Some moves work on the plane – even in economy, says the airline – others you can do when you unfold from your seat and get to your hotel.

Here’s a sample.

Leftover currency? Here’s what to do with it.

Courtesy Beth Whitman

As souvenirs go, going home with leftover currency can feel wasteful. For my first story on Travel+Leisure, I gathered up some suggestions for putting that “funny money” to good use.

Here’s a slightly different version of that story.

Spend it

Some people suggest stopping at a Starbucks before leaving a country to have leftover cash added, fee-free, to a Starbucks card balance. Others suggest paying part your hotel bill with your remaining cash and coins and paying the balance with your credit card.

Save it for another time

Beth Whitman, founder of Wanderlust and Lipstick and WanderTours has a basket of envelopes and small purses filled with coins and bills from past trips around the world, organized by country. “It helps to have some local currency upon arrival for taxis or tips without having to go to an ATM or change money,” Whitman advises.

Exchange it 

Travelex exchanges leftover currency at its stores in cities and in airports, and by mail. Airport stores swap bills and most coins on the spot, but know that each store sets its own rates and fees. Mailing-in exchanges to Travelex are limited to banknotes and their checks may not arrive for three weeks, but the $5 fixed fee and day-of exchange rate is apt to net you more.

Another mail-in option is offered by a Leftover Currency, which takes both notes and coins for circulating and discontinued currencies. They promise to pay within 5 working days via PayPal, check or bank transfer, or to donate the value of what you brought home to charity.

Donate it

Look for “change globes” or bins to collect leftover money from travelers leaving a country. And ten airlines, including American, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, currently participate in UNICEF’s Change for Good program, which collects spare currency from passengers on international flights.

Make friends

“Ask around to see if friends or neighbors have nieces or nephews who collect coins,” said traveler writer Carol Pucci, “A little bag of foreign coins that had been sitting my desk for years recently found a good home in a kid’s collection.”

Make Art

Leftover coins offer an opportunity to explore your inner Etsy. Drill holes to make earrings or a necklace, or get out the glue gun and decorate a frame to hold a favorite travel photo.

Surprise yourself 

Keep it in your wallet. “Whenever I go to pay for something and stumble across the foreign currency, I’m transported, for a moment, back to that destination” said Francine Cohen.

Have another suggestion for what do to do with your leftover currency? Share your ideas in the comment section.