The place to begin is at the beginning, as Lewis Carroll reminds us, and for us the beginning is air travel. Ideally not to Hawaii.
It’s really hard to talk smart about air travel unless you pay close attention to AirfareWatchdog.com and its founder, George Hobica. The Flying Dog claims the top spot in this week’s recap with its choices of the best U.S. airlines in 2014.
Pay close attention – and not just to the raw rankings. Look closely at the various scores. If you see that Airlines A, B, and C hold the top three spots and are within a tenth of a point of each other but Airline D is in fourth, a point and a half away, you know there are some major differences between the top three and the rest. Also, it’s a good idea to pay attention to previous years’ rankings. In many cases, movement is as important as a current ranking. Always remember the rationalizer’s best friend, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: You can’t tell where something is and where it’s going at the same time.
Information like this is extra-important, since the number of delayed flights continues to increase. Know what that means: Better get yourself some AirCare. Like, now. Even if you’re not flying anywhere.
If you are going somewhere, the must-read article of the week is Seth Kugel’s “Frugal Traveler” piece in The New York Times on “7 Steps to a Cheaper Hotel Room.” Nothing against travel bloggers; this is a travel blog, after all. But there’s a reason why you have to pay for stuff in the Times while people like us give it away for free.
There’s even a difference between the things newspapers and magazines give you for free and the stuff you pay for. While we love the British newspaper The Telegraph and its pleasantly robust travel section, its bookend pieces on America’s friendliest and unfriendliest cities come off as a little lightweight. If you’re not a fan of slide shows with glorified captions passed off as journalism, let us cut to the chase for you: Cities in the Northeast and Rust Belt (and Miami) are unfriendly; cities in the South are friendly. Cities like Chicago don’t care one way or the other. Sorry about the spoilers, but you would have guessed the ending anyway.
Speaking of spoilers, “Canada’s Greatest Hidden Rail Trip” according to the BBC is the Kaoham Shuttle, departing from Lillooet Station on Track One. We can put in a personal recommendation for this trip, though it never struck us as all that hidden. It’s a train, after all, and it’s darn hard to hide a train. Especially in Lillooet.
Finally, the only proper way to end a column is with a snack, and there are few better snacks than a lobster roll. Yahoo Travel gets it about right when it calls the roll “summer’s most perfect dish,” and its picture book of the “10 Most Mouthwatering Lobster Rolls in the U.S.” doesn’t exaggerate. While we could hope for a little more – you know, meat – with our pictures, the pictures are plenty gorgeous. If only there were lobster beds in central Wisconsin.
We can dream, though. And we will. Until Wednesday.