Sky High: America's 10 Best Airlines

iStock.com/asiseeit
iStock.com/asiseeit

Summer air travel is always stressful, but this year promises to be a little more difficult than usual. A fleet of 350 Boeing 737 Max jets has been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) owing to a software flaw. According to Consumer Reports, that could mean up to 40,000 fewer available seats per day at major airlines like Southwest and American until the issue is resolved.

With more flights reaching capacity, comfort and convenience in air travel is more important than ever. Personal finance site WalletHub crunched numbers to evaluate the overall quality of the nine major airlines as well as three regional carriers, rating them according to 2018 airline data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. And it's not just about cheap tickets. 

WalletHub used a points system methodology to score each airline across four main categories: baggage handling and departures, animal safety, passenger comfort, and overall safety. Baggage handling and departures, including canceled flights and delays, was worth a total of 50 points. Safety was worth 30. Passenger comfort, 15. Pet handling, five. (The total maximum score was 100, but this being the airline industry, that would be a lofty goal for any company to meet.)  Here's how they ranked America's 10 best airlines:

  1. Alaska Airlines

  1. Delta Air Lines

  1. SkyWest Airlines

  1. Spirit Airlines

  1. ExpressJet Airlines

  1. Hawaiian Airlines

  1. United Airlines

  1. JetBlue Airways

  1. Southwest Airlines

  1. American Airlines

Alaska Airlines came in first for overall passenger satisfaction, though other airlines in the list ranked higher in individual categories. The site found Delta to be the most reliable overall, with the highest scores for baggage retention and on-time flights. JetBlue got the highest marks for in-flight comfort. Southwest and ExpressJet received the fewest number of consumer complaints.

Obviously, every individual’s experience will be different, but this should give you some idea of where airlines fall in terms of overall quality of service. And if your summer flight winds up getting delayed or canceled, remember that there are steps you can take, including inquiring about vouchers or approaching your credit card company for assistance.

[h/t WalletHub]

Chernobyl Creator Craig Mazin Urges Visitors to Treat the Exclusion Zone With Respect

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Following the success of the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, one tour company reported that bookings to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone located in Ukraine rose 35 percent. Now, series creator Craig Mazin is imploring the new wave of tourists to be respectful when snapping selfies at Chernobyl, Gizmodo reports.

A 2500-square-kilometer exclusion zone was established around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant shortly after its reactor exploded in 1986 and flooded the area with harmful radiation. The abandoned towns are still too radioactive for people to live there safely, but they have been deemed safe to visit temporarily with the supervision of a guide.

Chernobyl has supported a dark tourism industry for years, but thanks to the miniseries, photographs taken there are gaining new levels of attention online. News of influencers posing for irreverent selfies at the site of the nuclear disaster quickly went viral. Mazin tweeted:

Regardless of why people are visiting the site, being respectful in the presence of tragedy is always a good idea. It's also smart to resist leaving a tour group to snap the perfect selfie in some abandoned building: Tour companies warn that breaking rules and wandering off approved paths can lead to dangerous radiation exposure.

[h/t Gizmodo]

A Traveling Harry Potter Beer Festival Is Coming to Several U.S. Cities

If you’ve ever wondered what the alcoholic version of a butterbeer would taste like, you’ll soon have the chance to find out. A series of ongoing Harry Potter-inspired beer festivals are coming to cities across the U.S. in the next couple of months.

According to Rock Star Beer Festivals, which is organizing the event, Muggles and wizards alike will get unlimited samples of 20-plus beers. There will be plenty of adult butterbeer to go around, and for more daring souls, there’s Snape’s Lair of Secret Cider Potions. Is it actually cider, or could it be a polyjuice potion? Attendees will soon find out.

In June, the festival will be coming to Fresno, California on June 21 and New Orleans on June 29. In July, it will head to Philadelphia (July 13) and Boston (July 20). Tickets to the festivals can be purchased through Eventbrite or booked on Rock Star Beer Festivals’ Facebook page under the Events tab. Act fast, though, because tickets—which generally sell for $40 to $45 apiece—regularly sell out.

What else can you expect to see at such a magical event? Rock Star Beer Festivals says the venues hosting the festival will be “transformed into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” with guests being transported to the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, and, of course, the Leaky Cauldron. You’ll also get to snap photos with Hagrid and dance to music by the Sorceress Sisters and DJ Dumbledore. Just be careful not to drink and do magic, or you could end up having an accident à la Neville Longbottom.

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