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Secret Perks of Flying, from People Who've Been There

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Having a good flight is no longer just about whether flights are on time. It's about whether Wi-Fi is available. Or can I charge my laptop? Is there entertainment? How much legroom?

Routehappy.com, which beta launched in March and attracted $1.5 million in seed funding a few months later, culls all that necessary travel information from a variety of sources -- seat-pitch data from the airline, scheduling and route information from elsewhere, etc. -- and mashes it up with personal reviews and experiences from its growing member base.

The New York company has mapped 60 airlines, which handle 80% of flights per day. Users can see exactly what amenities each flight offers and on their iPhone, no less.

That's how the company knows stuff like Jet Blue (JBLU) and Virgin America have the roomiest economy seats, while Cape Air, Spirit (SAVE) and Allegiant (ALGT) are the most cramped.

Co-founders Robert Albert and Adam Gwosdof, who have reviewed 61 flights in the past year, offered up even more specific secrets to share exclusively with TheStreet readers. Some are from their own experiences. Many are culled from the more than 115,000 user reviews on the site.

  • Porter Airlines, based in Toronto, and Bangkok Airways, based in Bangkok, both offer a free lounge for all passengers with food and drink while waiting for their flights and fantastic in-flight service. Porter also offers perks like free ferry service and shuttle service for its Toronto passengers.
  • United (UAL ) offers a specialty Premium Service (p.s) on all of its flights from New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco, which means an extra five inches of legroom for economy passengers, and plugs and personal media players for all business and first class passengers at the same price point as the other carriers flying this route.
  • Data from Routehappy.com

  • Gulf Air from Bahrain offers SkyNannys to entertain kids on flights and in airports and SkyChefs for personal meals in their premium cabins.
  • Emirates offers Chauffeur-drive service to their premium passengers who want to be shuttled to the airport from their doorstep in a Mercedes.
  • Korean Airlines has a bar in business class on their A380.
  • Boutique airline Open Skies, which operates between Paris and New York, offers a handheld tablet for movies and a high quality meal in the Eco Cabin," which limits passengers to a dozen rows instead of packing in a few hundred passengers.
  • Virgin America Elevate members can pay a nominal fee to access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, with cooked-to-order meals and high-design nooks to chill out.
  • US Airways (LCC) has the second-"roomiest" seats in economy class on U.S. domestic routes, but it only features this comfy seat configuration in aircrafts on specific routes. Although Virgin America and JetBlue offer great seat comfort, sometimes they aren't flying where and when you need to go.
  • Where you schedule your layover matters. It's possible to make a long layover at Singapore's Changi Airport and have all of your travel needs met right inside the airport -- a place to rest, a place to shower, excellent food to eat -- no need to head for a city hotel.




  • This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

    Tamara Chuang is an outside contributor to TheStreet. Her opinions are her own.

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