While sipping on malbec in a real wine glass and noshing on a spicy cauliflower and olive tapenade sandwich at the Delta Marine Terminal at LaGuardia in New York, I thought -- this has to be one of the best-kept secrets in air travel.
This little terminal is amazing.
There’s absolutely no line to pass through TSA security; coffee, newspapers and magazines are offered complimentary; and the lounge before takeoff features plush chairs, tables and a bar where truly decent food and drink are served. It all seems so civilized -- and how airline travel should be.
Seriously, if ever in need of flying between New York and Boston, Chicago or Washington, D.C., consider the Delta Shuttle. The price may be the same as all other airlines -- and chances are, you’ll enjoy the pre-flight moments just a little bit more.
This isn’t the only great experience in air travel. Here are a few of our favorites:
- OpenSkies, the plush business-class airline from British Airways flying to Paris, has ruined air travel for at least one Travelzoo Deal Expert. The service is so sterling it’s hard not to draw comparisons when on other international flights. Passengers receive club access before boarding, sparkling wine flows freely in flight, and seatbacks are equipped with personal entertainment devices. But what really sets it apart is the cabin experience: each side has two huge leather seats, resulting in just four seats in a full row, creating an air of exclusivity. Tres chic!
- It’s worth considering paying a little extra to fly Virgin America -- not only for the convenience of flying nonstop on some domestic routes, but because they put the fun back into flying. From their tongue-in-cheek safety videos to dance-off competitions in the terminals at 8 a.m. -- winner gets a free drink or in-flight video! -- airline employees keep the energy level of passengers high. Little touches like this that inspire a smile are invaluable, especially when flying cross-country. Oh, and travelers can create their own music playlists, watch a show and order snacks and beverages all from the comfort of their seatback screen.
- The plush Porter Airlines lounge at Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport offers complimentary chocolate chip shortbread cookies, cappuccinos, bottled water and juice; big cushy chairs fill a large open room for relaxing pre-flight; and the plane is only a few steps away from the lounge. And that’s just the pre-flight experience. Once on board, flight attendants serve complimentary beer or wine, plus a selection of cookies or veggie chips.
- It can be tough to get a table at Rick Bayless’ restaurants in Chicago, namely Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. But the celebrity chef owns Tortas Frontera at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, located in Terminals 1, 3 and 5. Get to the airport a little early to grab a bite here – no reservations required! Plus, the freshly made tortas, molletes and guacamole are way better than the rest of the fast food options at the airport, and healthier too.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s Concourse G (that’s a Delta concourse) offers iPad tablets tethered to tables for use by any traveler looking to make a food order at a nearby eatery, open Facebook, play games or check flight status. The service is free and makes this concourse look way ahead of its time.
Next time heading to an airport, be sure to take a moment to appreciate something about the experience. Some airline travel might not be as romantic as it used to be, but there are still little moments worth savoring while globe-trotting.
Find deals on cheap flights to Europe and on business class fares on Travelzoo.