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Before You Go


Indie hotels outdo big chains on Wi-Fi

If fast and free wireless Internet is a priority when you book a hotel room, don’t expect speedy Wi-Fi at pricey chain hotels.

That was a key conclusion in a new study by the website HotelWiFiTest, which collected and analyzed Wi-Fi speeds from 1,309 hotels nationwide.

The study found that independent hotels are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi than upscale chains such as Sheraton, Marriott and Hilton, which offer free Wi-Fi at only a limited number of properties. A Marriott spokes­man would not comment, saying he does not know how the study was conducted.

The study praised Quality Inn, a low-cost brand operated by Choice Hotels International, saying the chain offers free Wi-Fi in more than 75 percent of its hotels at speeds faster than most higher-priced hotels.

Fast and free Wi-Fi is important to guests, especially business travelers, said Dan Swei­ger, brand strategy director for Quality Inn.

Flying apartment prepares to soar

Later this year, fliers with a taste for luxury can jet from London to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in a three-room flying penthouse on Eti­had Airways.

The compartment in the airline’s A380 planes includes a bedroom, a living room and a bathroom, with service provided by butlers trained at the Savoy Academy in London. The cost for a one-way trip: about $21,000.

The airline plans to eventually add the flying apartment, known as "the Residence," to all 10 of its A380s, including the jet that will fly from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Abu Dhabi next year.

It is the latest example of airlines pushing the envelope on luxury. Emirates Airlines has added two shower spas, plus an onboard lounge, to its A380s. Korean Air reserved the second level of its A380 for "prestige class" passengers, along with a cocktail lounge and a duty-free shop.

Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan said he came up with the idea for the three-room apartment as a way to differentiate his A380 from its competitors.

"We looked at the Asian carriers and some of our neighbors and looked at what they had done with their A380s," he said. "So I threw in the curveball, saying that I wanted a penthouse" in the plane.

Hogan said bookings are coming in fast for the Dec. 27 launch of the Residence.

Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

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