The soft sounds of happy conversation, clinking of glasses upon tables, and occasional popping of a Champagne cork waft about open, airy spaces filled with white paper lights hanging from the rafters, plants, and a tidy bar. Yeah, I'm sitting in an airport, though you wouldn't believe it. Turns out that the "Atrium" area of American Airlines Flagship Lounge in Terminal 8 at New York's JFK International Airport is one of the best things going in domestic air travel.
I used to dread Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Now it has become one of my favorite layovers on the east coast. Yes, you read that right... I am actually enjoying my connections at PHL thanks to last autumn's opening of the American Express Centurion Lounge in Terminal A. Its combination of bright modern spaces, excellent cuisine designed by local-Philadelphia award winning Israeli Chef Michael Solomonov, thoughtful wine and cocktail lists, and always warm hospitality makes it one of my favorite airport lounge experiences in the United States.
Don't look now, but Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) -- the DC area's third largest in terms of passenger traffic since being overtaken by nearby Reagan National (DCA) in 2015 -- is taxiing towards the runway of a veritable renaissance. This could be a big year here, and we could not be more excited for the principle international airport serving our home city.
Earlier this week we shared our 2017 Best Nine, the nine most liked photos from @wine30flight on Instagram in 2017, but we were interested that many of our favorites weren't actually the ones that had attracted the most likes. In fact, only a single photo -- from Vinarna Bokovka wine bar in Prague -- overlapped. No matter. This #ThrowbackThursday we're sharing our picks for Best Nine. They took us to Sweden, Hungary, Czechia, Spain, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC. Each tells a different story.
We're bidding adieu to the past year with our 2017 Best Nine, that is, the nine most liked photos from @wine30flight on Instagram in 2017 (follow us!). Our Best Nine took us abroad to Portugal, Spain, Czechia, and around the United States to Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee, and home to Arlington, Virginia. Each tells a different story in wine. Read for yourself.
Iberia -- Spain's main airline with its hub in Madrid -- operates a trans-Atlantic joint venture arrangement with its partners British Airways (the two are actually the same company), American Airlines, and FinnAir. We have crossed the ocean on both American and British at least once this year, so were happy to add Iberia's economy class service from Madrid to New York (JFK) aboard an Airbus A340 to our experience. This is our review, for anyone considering a similar trip.
Two trends are on our mind as we share our top holiday gift picks for travelers and wine lovers. First are the new airline-imposed bans on smart luggage -- suitcases featuring non-removable batteries, plugs, GPS tracking, bluetooth, or motors (yes, there is actually a motorized suitcase you can ride) -- that have us thinking "Wow, we're happy we never jumped on that bandwagon". The second is more philosophical: Travel makes me a minimalist. If I don't need it on the road, I probably don't need it at all.
I never thought I'd say this, but I've determined that Iberia's European-style business class is worth a few extra euros on a flight -- we'll say -- longer than two hours. I actually flew the service twice this fall, once from Arrecife (on Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands) to Madrid, and then about a month later from Madrid to Stockholm, Sweden. The service was consistent between both flights, though my discussion here focuses on the first.
We're off again on a surprise pop-up junket whose origins are much of the reason we've gone the longest period in Wine:Thirty Flight's history without a proper blog post. This swing has us passing through our well-trod territory in Spain and Sweden, but adding stops in Hungary and the Czech Republic, as well as a bite to eat in the American Airlines Flagship Lounge dining room at New York JFK airport, and a quick hello at Chimichurri Grill (one of our very favorite restaurants).
We've just time for a quick check in from Arrecife, on the island of Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands where we've had a remarkable string of days meeting wonderful people, sampling their unique food and wine, and drinking some of their spectacular wines.
We've landed in Madrid, Spain on the first flight leg of what we'll call our autumn junket, en route to the Canary Islands a bit west of the southern coast of Morocco. We'll return to Madrid -- one of our favorite cities -- on its own next week.
With Wine:Thirty Flight's next oversees trip just two weeks away, today I found myself preparing to beat seven timezone's worth of jet lag by scheduling sleeping hours on my calendar over several days leading to our departure. Such is my particular technique for getting the most out of my travel time from the moment I land: Adjust your sleep schedule incrementally, an hour each day, until you get as close as possible to syncing with your new timezone the day you depart. Here's how it works.
Situated on Sweden's east coast, Stockholm is a city of islands perforated and interconnected by canals that ultimately flow to the Baltic Sea. Its maritime informs its aesthetic, a city whose urban geography reflects its national flag: brightly colored buildings atop a sea of beautiful blue. It's a gem of a European capital, ever as charming, historic, and regal as those to the south; cool in May, and connected to the sea as few others are. This is our weekend guide.
But I'd love to hear from others: What are your favorite things to do when escaping Washington, DC? We'll say within a two to three hour drive. Wine or not. Comment, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail away!
Why does Delta Airlines appear to be operating the baseball park equivalent of an airport lounge inside of Nationals Park, in a city (Washington, DC) where it is the only "big four" airline without a hub?
There will be no more linen this year. Last night's wine, Vinho Verde, will perhaps linger -- there isn't a rule for that -- but it won't be long now before we trade in the $6.99 summer spritz for Garnacha and Cabernet Franc. Meanwhile, these red pants are about to spend the rest of 2017 in a drawer.
I'm looking towards next week, the eleventh (and final) straight week during which I will have flown somewhere for either business or pleasure. It's actually been a great run, at the end of which I find myself reflecting on the lessons I've learned since a new job served as my first foray into the world of frequent travel about ten years ago. I've traveled often since I was a kid, but in recent years I've picked up five notions that help me to still keep travel fun. This is the advice I'd give to adventure seekers and business travelers taking to the skies on a more regular basis.
The popular travel blog One Mile at a Time published this piece last month, I’m Not Sure What To Make Of This Travel Horror Story, that recounted a sad incident in which a couple was turned back to check-in, missing their entire vacation due to "travel document" issues. Let's seize this moment to highlight the perils of getting too creative with your travel itinerary. This is particularly relevant to those of us who frequent off the beaten path places such as (ahem) wine country...
Creative point and mile-earning partnerships have been a neat development in travel the last several years. Delta Airlines has quietly given new ways to earn to those of us looking for that next flight to our favorite city or wine region. I've been really happy to pick up some extra miles with Delta via their newish partnerships with Lyft and Airbnb. Spend a dollar, earn a mile. Here's how to do it.
Meghan recently received a note in conjunction with her United Airlines MileagePlus account inviting her to earn 6,500 bonus miles by signing up for the American Cellars Wine Club through Vinesse Wines. While I am a big skeptic of online wine clubs, I am also a big fan of airline miles, so at a risk of $41.95 I signed up to try the introductory offer with an open mind. Consider doing so yourself if the notion of six bottles of wine plus 6,500 United miles in exchange for $41.95 of your hard earned money seems appealing.
I had always wanted to try a weekend trip to Europe; doable, in theory, originating from home on the east coast of the United States. Mind you I am not talking about a turn and burn, a trip just for the fun of flying or with a meeting or dinner in the middle, but an actually meaningful weekend trip to Europe. You can do it too, like this...
I am beyond excited to see this moving forward. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia -- just across the river from Washington, DC -- is beginning $1 billion in renovations that will see an entirely new concourse added in addition to completely revamped ticketing and security facilities allowing passengers to move freely between concourses without having to pass back out of security. The artist renderings are gorgeous. Locals and anyone who has ever flown in from smaller cities featuring small commuter planes know what a big deal this is.
We drove east from Valladolid, through the small towns of Peñafiel and Roa, the even smaller town of Gumiel del Mercado and its Bodegas Arrocal winery, entering the city of Burgos just after dark. The streets were alive with activity as we drove towards the center of the old city and its cathedral this Wednesday evening. This is how to spend a most worthy evening and a day here.
It was starting to look as if 2017 would finally be the year that I skipped my annual calamitous experience traveling from Boston to Washington, DC. Not to be. This past Monday night, a hazardous material incident shut down the FAA control center handling traffic into all three DC-area airports. I was rebooked on seven different flights in a fifteen hour period -- though really appreciated every last friendly American Airlines employee who helped me on my way -- spent the night in Boston, and was utterly failed by my American Express Platinum card.
I wrote last month about How to get and use Priority Pass lounges to find peace, quiet, (free) wine, and food at the airport, drawing on recent positive experiences in Göteborg, Lisbon, Boston, and London. Meghan and I recently spent a few hours in our absolute favorite of the Priority Pass lounges we've been to thus far, the Turkish Airlines lounge at Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD). In a sentence, "it was convenient, stylish, tasty, and popular".
There was a time when the Citi Prestige was my absolute favorite of the premium credit cards that give you a ton of value on travel. Citi announced changes last year that greatly devalued the card's benefits while leaving the hefty $450 annual fee in place. The last of those changes take effect in July 2017, and - sadly - I wonder if it is time to cancel this once-great card. Here's what you should consider if you're thinking of cancelling yours.
Valladolid has long been on my list of venerable old cities to visit. One evening is not nearly enough, but it's what we had to work with as we ventured from the Toro to Ribera del Duero wine regions. Yes, Valladolid is particularly well situated as an operating base for wine drinkers. Here's how to get the most of your day there.
Though the Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane has been in service for several years, the chance to fly on one had eluded me until my recent flight from London to Baltimore, Maryland. This was the type of route that the Dreamliner was built for -- "long and thin" they call it -- i.e. long distance routes flown by fewer people (so lower demand). The Dreamliner can actually fly far longer than this, though it's easy to see why this airplane is a big part of long-haul air travel's future between all but the biggest cities. If you have a choice between taking a trip on the Dreamliner versus any other plane, choose the Dreamliner.