The Best and Worst News for Air Travelers in 2019
Flying the friendly skies sometime soon? Make sure you didn’t miss these big announcements so you know what to expect before you travel.
The year’s high highs and low lows
This year, the airlines have gone up and down—literally, of course, and also in terms of how pleased we were with them. Yes, it was possible to score some amazing flights at prices that we never thought possible, thanks to new airline partnerships, increased competition, and smart insider secrets. But passengers were also stranded at airports around the globe, and some flights even turned deadly. Welcome to the roller coaster of airline news of 2019. Hold onto your seats!
Southwest zapped expiration dates
This was a biggie. If you’re part of the Southwest Rapid Rewards program (and if you aren’t, you should be), you can now hold onto your miles forever. Don’t feel like traveling on Southwest for a few years? No worries. Your points will remain there until you’re ready. Before this change, they expired after 24 months without activity. When you’re ready, here’s how to score the best seats on Southwest.
LaGuardia Airport isn’t gross anymore
Remember when LaGuardia Airport in NYC was the worst.airport.ever? It was always about 95 degrees, it was cluttered, it was smelly, and it was just bad news all around. Today, it’s hardly recognizable in the midst of an $8 billion renovation. The renovation isn’t even done yet, but it already looks great. It includes a complete transformation of Terminal B, a new Delta Terminal C, and better roads. (The roads are still totally under construction though, so beware of traffic.) They even got rid of that weird smell and fixed the temperature issues. The next time you’re stuck waiting around for your flight, whether it’s at LaGuardia or elsewhere, here are some free things you can do in an airport.
Delta reduced its seats’ recline margin
This could be good and bad. The bad: You can’t recline fully (or at least as fully as you could in the past) on Delta Air Lines’ A320 aircrafts, which generally fly domestically. Now you have two inches less of seat recline. The good: The person in front of you won’t squish you anymore. Reclining issues aside, here are the best very best airplane seats for every type of need.
Lyft announced plans to offer a membership
Going to and from the airport all the time? Join Lyft Pink, which will cost $19.99 per month but give you 15 percent off all rides, priority airport pickups, and car-rental perks. It’s worth it if you take at least two rides a week. But before you book your next ride, this is what Lyft and Uber drivers want you to know.
Real ID was delayed until 2020
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock
It’s been pending for some time now, but the implementation of the Real ID Act has been postponed until October 1, 2020, to give everyone more time to be compliant. This act requires everyone in the United States to use a federally approved form of ID when passing through airport security. Federally approved forms of ID include passports, passport cards, and Global Entry. That said, when you do get your new ID, don’t throw out your old passport.
The TSA decided to use friendlier-looking dogs
The TSA announced that it will be phasing out its use of German Shepherds for security dogs in lieu of floppy-eared breeds like Labrador retrievers because the latter looks friendlier. Apparently, pointy-eared dogs, like German Shepherds, looked intimidating, especially to children. While none of the dogs will be pulled off their current duty, the TSA estimates that eventually, only 20 percent of their dogs will have pointy ears. You still can’t pet any of the dogs, though—and here’s why.
No more single-use plastics
Some airlines are trying to help the environment by getting rid of single-use plastics on their planes. In 2019, Delta got rid of its plastic straws and other plastic items, while United replaced its stirrers and cocktail picks with bamboo. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines announced similar measures. By the way, this is why single-use plastics are so bad.
JetBlue and Norwegian became partners
If all goes according to plan, passengers will be able to fly between the United States and Europe, going to multiple destinations within a single booking. This connects JetBlue flights from the United States to Norwegian connections throughout Europe. Currently, Norwegian is Europe’s third-largest budget carrier, while JetBlue is a major American budget carrier. The partnership will combine networks, allowing both to break into other budget travel markets. In case you were wondering, these were the best (and worst) airlines to fly in 2019.
Spirit expanded service to Cancun
Want to fly to Cancun inexpensively? Spirit announced this year that it’ll begin offering flights to Mexico from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Austin, Nashville, and Philadelphia. The airline will soon be offering eight flights daily to the Cancun International Airport. Does that make you a lot more interested in booking a trip south of the border? Check out these popular Mexico destinations you’ll want to visit.