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Airlines & Airports

The Travel Detective on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Free Wi-Fi, and America’s Most Expensive Airports

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Boeing 747You may have heard the news that United Airlines is ordering 100 new planes: 50 from Boeing, 50 from Airbus.

It sounds great, but it raises the question—who’s going to pay for it?

I’m going to make this prediction: by the time this deal is done, United is going to say to Boeing and Airbus…

…”We’ve made the deal on the price, now you pay for it; you finance it.”

United Boeing 474And you know what Boeing and Airbus are going to do? They’re going to say “yes” because they’ll want the orders on the books to prop up their own stock.

How many of those planes are going to end up being parked in the desert? God only knows.

We all know United needs new planes, but someone needs to explain to me, who’s paying for the planes when you just mortgaged your entire spare-parts inventory just to generate some capital? This is not a good idea.

More on United’s woes: United Pilot Says Goodbye to the 747.

Speaking of Boeing, they’re going to take the first test flight of the long-delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner. But don’t get your hopes up.

This plane has been plagued by so many delays from its subcontractors and other production facilities that we may not see it in service until the end of next year … meaning the end of 2011.

PDA illustrationIf you’re a fan of free Wi-Fi in airports, Google is providing free service at 47 airports through January 15. It’s not just in airports like Miami, but also in places like Spokane, Toledo and Omaha. Although in reality, airports should really be offering free Wi-Fi all year round.

If you saw me on The Early Show last week, I talked about the five things that stun you about travel. One of those topics was the most expensive airport in the United States. You think you know what it is?

I can tell you it used to be Cincinnati, Ohio. That meant people who are flying to, from or even through there were paying more money per average airline ticket than anyone else in the U.S.

Now, the most expensive airport in America right now is … Huntsville, Alabama. I never would have guessed it. The average airfares are $471 to go anywhere. What’s the most affordable airport in America? Long Beach, California, with average airfares of $216. Let’s hear it for JetBlue.

And here’s one I’ve always talked about: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at $229. That’s the alternative to Miami International Airport, and you couldn’t pay me to fly out of Miami.

Find out some great alternatives to expensive, crowded airports with More of America’s Best Alternate Airports.

Another topic I covered on the show involved the dirtiest items in your hotel room.

Hotel signYou may have already figured out that the items with the most bacteria include the TV remote control, the telephone handset, and the bedspread. But here’s one that nobody gets, and it’s not in the bedroom: the hotel water glasses in the bathroom.

So many hotel maids are heavily tasked to clean up to 16 rooms in an eight-hour shift that they literally run out of time. If they’re on the last part of their shift, and you happen to be in one of those rooms, they don’t wash those glasses.

They rinse them out and put them back on the sink. Every time you check into a hotel—I don’t care which hotel it is, how many stars it has, how expensive it is—go in that bathroom and run those glasses under hot water for three minutes.

By Peter Greenberg for

Read more from Peter’s Travel Detective Blog.

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