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A Quick Round-Up of Airline News

Shanghai, China

United Airlines submitted an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for authority to increase service between New York/Newark Liberty and Shanghai Pudong beginning in June 2020. If approved, United’s second daily flight will connect even more U.S. passengers to Shanghai from more than 90 U.S. and Canadian destinations served by United from New York/Newark.

British Airways at Heathrow

We don’t have to worry about Brexit impacting our flights. The United States and the United Kingdom have reached an agreement for opens skies post-Brexit. The current agreement is based on Britain’s membership in the European Union. The open skies agreement provides for uninterrupted trans-Atlantic service and ensures that alliances continue into the future.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic, a company that has always been considered one of the best for customer service, just got even better. The British carrier has become the first airline in Europe to be fully WiFi connected. The closest competitor is a year away from establishing WiFi. Virgin will also, with Delta Airlines, offer Wifi on a its transatlantic routes.

“From today customers flying around the world with Virgin Atlantic can work and play throughout their flight as we become the first airline in Europe to offer a fully WiFi enabled fleet.” Said Mark Anderson, Executive Vice President, Customer at Virgin Atlantic, adding “Innovation has always been in our blood and we’ve worked closely with WiFi providers to develop the fastest, most reliable connection across the Atlantic, and are the first carrier to offer WiFi between the UK and the Caribbean, China and Africa.”

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A Better Way to Sleep at an Airport

You know that travel can be exhausting, especially when it involves air travel. The common sight of people, often indignantly sprawled out on the hard carpet or across a row of seats in a terminal is something we have grown used to. A company called Sleepbox wants to give you a place where you can sleep, work, and recharge — and keep your dignity.

The Sleepbox is a micro-hotel. The eight-foot-tall rooms ranging between 30-45 square feet are soundproof and have a little storage space and memory foam mattresses (no bathroom or shower). You gain access by using the Sleepbox app or going to their website. The rates start at $25-$35 per hour depending on size. You can book an overnight stay (12 hours), capped at $120-$150.

The hotel space opens in Dulles International Airport’s Concourse A around December 7th, just in time to give you a place to catch a nap during your holiday travel.

Sleepbox is also in the process of opening a hotel at Atlanta Hartsfield International and several other non-airport related hotels in places like downtown Boston and Stockholm.

We love the concept and hope to take a test-rest next time we’re traveling through Dulles.

We just received some picture from SleepBox…

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Oh Christmas Tree

It may seem strange for some people, especially living here in the United States, but Amanda and I have never had a proper Christmas tree in all the years we’ve been married. The argument has been that we don’t have enough space and that I’m a bit of a Grinch and not a huge fan of the holidays. I know that my right to veto anything my wife wants is rather limited and should only be reserved for something I really care about. Our first tree is just one of those compromises that come with being married.

I had always been proud of our “Peanuts” Christmas tree, a small wire tree that looks like the one that Charlie Brown had in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Amanda, on the other hand, had always wanted a tree of a proper size.  She “asked” (and it’s in quotes because it’s more like she told me) if we could get a narrow artificial tree for our apartment. She pulled out all the stops, even noting that our cat, Storm, always loved to lay under her parents’ tree when she was just a kitten. I felt like when a kid asks for a puppy and the parent says “it’s your responsibility to feed it” and I left the assembly and decorating to her.

So for the first time more than a decade, a Christmas tree stands in the corner of my home. I promise there will be something more interesting than a spousal debate on the purchase of a seasonal artificial conifer in the post next week.

The 6′ Artificial Seasonal Conifer with Lights

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I’ve been in New York this weekend on business. I haven’t been to New York since my childhood. I took a few pictures as it gears up for the big Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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Veterans Day: Remembrance and Respect

I was raised by two children of the 1960s peace movement in America. My parents protested the Vietnam War war and were tear-gassed and arrested in protests in Washington, DC. I’ve always described my mother’s belief system as more similar to Quaker than Greek Orthodox. It is no surprise then that the children they raised wouldn’t grow up an join the armed forces. We were never told not to do it and we all know they’d have supported our decision to join up if we chose to. The reason is despite their peace-loving nature they were the children of Veterans. They appreciate the sacrifice that our service members have made and continue to make on behalf of the rest of us. We want to thank our vets today for all that they have done.

We haven’t forgotten that this is a travel blog, so here we go…

Veterans Day was conceived as a way to honor all those who served in the Great War or World War I. The war was mainly fought in Europe, Anatolia and Arabia. You can visit and tour many of these battlefields today, especially in Europe. The National World War I Museum and Memorial hosts a top-rated tour of the European theater. The tour takes you to the battlefields of Saint-Mihiel and the battlefield of Verdun, where future U.S. President Harry S. Truman served as well as famed tank commander George Patton. You will also get to walk in the footsteps of Sgt. Alvin York whose exploits have grown like a myth since a movie following his service starring Gary Cooper was released in 1941. The trip also visits cemeteries like Romangne-sous-Montfaucon.

If you have the chance to visit a military cemetery from a war your ancestors fought in, take a moment as you stand surrounded by those who never came home to think about how close you came to never existing. I had a great-grandfather fight in the first world war and two who fought in the second. A bullet, an infection, a cloud of poison gas and my life never would have happened.

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A Big Name in Hotels is Going Smaller

Motto by Hilton is the newest Hilton Hotels brand. The Hilton company is almost 100 years old and is seeking new ways to diversify its brand in an effort to reach a broader traveling audience.

“Hilton prides itself on being a leader in the hospitality industry and evolving with the needs of our guests,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton. “Innovation is in our DNA, and as we embark on our 100th year as a company, we are innovating more than ever before. With Motto by Hilton, we are bringing to market something the industry has never experienced with its flexible and affordable room product, desirable locations and guest-empowered service.”

The properties that will be part of Motto are micro-hotels with an urban vibe in prime global locations.

Hilton came up with the Motto brand while looking at getting into the thriving hostel market. The hotelier wanted to find a new opportunity in the shared room concept of the hostel industry. The research they conducted came back with one thing: even though people liked staying at hostels they hated sharing rooms with strangers. Hostel-goers typically stay with a large group of family or friends. Hilton then focused in on the other key factors on why people choose hostels.

  1. Prime Locations: Travelers like being in the heart of the city and in the most popular neighborhoods.
  2. Authenticity: What does it mean to be “here”? Locality breeds identity, community, and ultimately, a sense of place (a philosophy we also promote here at No Kids, Will Travel).
  3. Affordability: The rates are lower and when that is combined with the location it becomes a hard opportunity to pass up.
  4. Flexibility: One size doesn’t fit all, so creating a multi-purpose space is extremely important in attracting this kind of customer.

“Following extensive market research that focused on consumers’ needs and wants, we discovered the opportunity for a brand that offers travelers a trifecta of centrally located, reasonably priced and less traditional lodging that provides a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Jon Witter, chief customer officer, Hilton. “These findings led us to create Motto by Hilton, a flexible environment that allows guests to design their stay, their way.”

We haven’t seen or stayed at a Motto and aren’t what you consider the hosteling travelers.  I didn’t even stay at hostels as a young person. But, we are intrigued by the possibility of blending the hostel experience with the privacy and quality standards of a hotel.


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Sustainability in the Sky

A major threat to our environment and especially our oceans is the production of single-use plastic items. Single-use plastic items are things like stir sticks, wrappers, utensils, and straws. The problem with this pollution is so bad that the European Parliment voted to enact a complete ban on some single-use plastics across the nations of the European Union. A report by the United Nations called Single-Use Plastics – A Road Map to Sustainability points out that “Plastic bag bans, if properly planned and enforced, can effectively counter one of the causes of plastic overuse.”

U.S.-based air carrier Delta Air Lines is also stepping up its environmental stewardship by removing a variety of single-use plastic items from its aircraft and Delta Sky Club. The ongoing effort comes on the heels of the global airline’s leading move to remove plastic wrap from international main cabin cutlery in April of this past year. Delta is expected to eliminate more than 300,000 pounds in plastic waste annually; that’s more than the weight of two Boeing 757 aircraft.

Credit: Delta Airlines

Delta’s long-time sustainability efforts include the elimination of unnecessary plastic wrapping from Delta One amenity kits, and reducing Styrofoam in the cafeterias at Delta’s Atlanta headquarters. The styrofoam is being replaced with compostable and/or reusable alternatives.

We hope to see this trend continue and encounter less single-use plastics in our daily lives.