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Travel Facts You May Not Know
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People are often better versed as to how to find cheap travel deals, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, discount travel packages, and cheap vacation packages, than of travel facts not openly shared by travel providers.
The following are some of these facts identified by Smarter Traveler:
• Airlines estimated arrival times are padded to improve their on-time arrival statistics. It is common to see a plane take off late only to “make up the time” in the air and arrive on schedule. The average scheduled flight time in 2012 was longer than it was in 1995 on 93 percent of domestic routes.
• For all intents and purposes there are only three rental car companies in America. The big three control 94 percent of the car rental market resulting in car rental prices being very similar from company to company. While there seems to be plenty of different car rental companies to choose from, Avis owns Budget and Zipcar, Hertz owns Dollar and Thrifty, and Enterprise owns Alamo and National.
• You are far more likely to fly on an old plane than a new one. The average age of U.S. major airlines’ fleets is about 14 years old. American and Delta have the oldest planes (16 years on average). Studies have shown that a plane’s age is more likely to affect passengers comfort than their safety. Experts believe that most planes can be safely flown at least 25 years so long as they are given proper maintenance.
• Certain cruise lines are harming the environment. At sea, untreated cruise ship waste, including raw sewage, can legally be dumped directly into the ocean so long as it is at least three miles out from shore. Cruise ships emissions seriously contribute to air pollution. Select cruise ships prioritize managing their sewage and pollution in an environmentally positive manner. If the environment is important to you, research the eco-policies of your ship before making your reservations.
• Pilots often are overworked and underpaid, particularly pilots flying for regional airlines. Work rules sometimes allow pilots to be on duty for 16 hours without a break. A typical workday in the life of a regional airline copilot, who makes around $28,000 annually, is to be on duty 12 to 13 hours a day, four days a week, in addition to often having a long commute to an airport.
• Hotel beds can be full of germs. Most hotels do not change their bedspreads between guests. Experts estimate that the average hotel bedspread might be changed only four times a year. Many hotels do not use waterproof mattress covers to protect the mattresses from millions of skin cells, bodily secretions, bacteria, dust mites, and other allergens that guests leave behind.
• Flight attendants sometimes purposely extend a flight delay so that the airline will pay overtime, which can be as much as double their hourly pay. Remember it is never smart to accuse a flight attendant of employing this strategy.
• Hotel housekeepers sometime polish glasses with furniture polish because it keeps glassware looking spotless and streak free.
• Do not assume that airplane water is always safe to drink. A study completed a couple of years ago found that 14 percent of tank water in planes tested did not meet federal safety standards and contained bacteria such as E. coli. Some airlines use tank water not only for airplane bathrooms but also to make coffee and tea, to fill large bottles of water that is then distributed off of carts, and to make ice.
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