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Last summer, United launched a partnership with Mercedes-Benz at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and began picking up its elite flyers planeside and driving them to their connecting flights. It was not an industry first, but it was far from industry standard here in the States. Now, just a year later, United has expanded this service to its hubs in Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, and, most recently, Los Angeles, with no signs of stopping.
If you're not familiar with the service, what United and other airlines have now started doing is meeting its most favored flyers on the tarmac when they land and escorting them to their connecting flight. In United's case at LAX, it picks up its Global Services members and United Global First customers in a Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC SUV.
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We have not been shy when it comes to sharing our love and affection for some of the new technology making its way into the passport and immigration control line. Automated kiosks smooth the process, and of course cutting down on lines after a long-haul flight is always a plus.
This week some of this travel technology makes its way over to Texas, as Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport is now featuring some of those awesome Automated Passport Control kiosks.
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You ever get the feeling that people, across the board, are getting worse at life? This story won't help. It's a near-perfect tale of an airline and a passenger working together to fail. All we hear every time we read or hear about it is a loud "womp womp womp" in our ears.
We're not the only ones. Check out to the news broadcast from ABC News we've embedded below. The anchors can't get over how kind of pathetic and kind of funny and more than a little pathetically funny it is. "Now to the story we can't get enough of this morning." They're not even pretending.
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If you’re a frequent flyer you're probably used to some of the benefits that come along with elite status. Dedicated check-in lines at the airport, access to faster security checkpoints, and of course the potential to be bumped up to business class on occasion are all just part of the fun. Well that’s just the beginning for United flyers, as it looks like there’s even a new way to get around the airport.
The carrier just received a fresh order of vehicles, and now they’re starting to pick up passengers—with a Mercedes-Benz or two—right at the airport. Travelers heading through George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston now have the chance to get picked up right from their plane and chauffeured over to their connecting flight.
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New restaurants seem to be popping up at airports across the country faster than we can keep track of them, so we took some time to check out some of the newest options. Here’s just a few of the latest establishments competing with Sbarro for your airport restaurant dollars:
Dallas Love Field
Southwest is the carrier that ‘LUVs’ to fly to and from the smaller airport down in Dallas, but that doesn’t mean that the airport isn’t a great place to relax between flights. New restaurants are all part of a new expansion at the airport, as October 2014 is when certain flight restrictions will become a thing of the past.
Whataburger—in its first airport appearance—brings burgers and fries into the terminal, but if you’re looking to sit down during your meal there’s always Cool River and Sky Canyon. National options include places like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, because you just need your coffee fix. However, if you’re looking for something local there’s Campisi’s Pizza, Cantina Laredo, and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. Things opened up earlier this week, so swing by if you’re heading to or heading through.
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"I just stepped off United's 787 Dreamliner and, boy, let me tell you about its awesomeness."
That's the sentence I had hoped to type to you today.
Instead, my story, typed from a hotel lobby across the country from home, goes a little something like this: "I flew to California and have nothing but disappointment." I only wanted to fly the United Dreamliner and had sought out an affordable route that included the 787 on one leg, from Newark (EWR) to Houston-George Bush (IAH). That routing just happened to go to Ontario, California. Whatever, so long as I get my 787 action. I booked it in October and also paid to upgrade to EconomyPlus. 24 hours before my flight, still seeing the 787 listed as my aircraft, I went ahead and booked a hotel night.
In case you aren't up on your Dreamliner news, the planes have had some electrical issues (resulting in non-life-threatening emergency landings) and United's been taking them off and on their routes. Reuters & WSJ have the latest updates. Knowing this, I had obsessively checked my travel details daily, fingers crossed that the 787 would stick. It did. Until it didn't.
Now I've wasted hundreds of dollars and have no United 787 photo galleries or stories to share with you, other than this sad one of lack of communication from United and a dreaded equipment change.
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The 787 gets a water cannon salute after landing in Houston
The skies above Texas today were absolutely speckled with the green and yellow radar blips of thunderstorms. That sucks for Texas, with the exception of one other radar blip: United Airlines' very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which came home to Houston on its delivery flight from Boeing Field in Washington State.
Those thunderstorms did add a twenty minute arrival delay, though; it was the final delay in a what's really been a saga of delays leading up to the first delivery of a 787 to a US airline.
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Fake boarding passes and fake IDs have been an obvious hole in TSA's security theater for over half a decade. We know it's been that long since we wrote about it a bit in 2008 and then at length in 2009 and then offhandedly in in 2011. That whole time terrorists were able to evade the no-fly list either by getting a fake ID that matched their real boarding pass or by generating a fake boarding pass that matched their real ID. Options!
Perhaps realizing that the situation was not conducive either to objective security or to the public's perceptions of the agency's reliability, TSA announced last fall that they would be rolling out new machines to bust fake IDs and boarding passes. Fast forward half a year later, and they're now actually doing it.
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Korean Air and Lufthansa A380s snuggle up at JFK Terminal 1
Look, if you're an airport and you want to have the superjumbo Airbus A380 flying in and out, you can't just be like "hey, airlines, bring that big thang on over." Nope. Instead certain preparations must be made to accommodate an airliner of the A380's size and heft. To effectively manage each plane's 500+ passenger load, more jetways are needed, plus support vehicles to reach the upper deck. In some cases, airport runway indicator lights may need to be moved and the tarmac reinforced.
In other words, A380s can't just fly anywhere and, although the massive planes have been in the air since Singapore Airlines took delivery of the very first in 2007, not all that many airports around the world are treated to them. At least some of those are the United States...
US airports where you'll find A380s:
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If you’re looking for a great layover lunch—or dinner—during your holiday travels be sure to check out one of the latest options at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Iron Chef star and all around celeb chef Cat Cora recently opened up a new restaurant in Terminal E at IAH—it’s near E10. Cat Cora’s Kitchen is intended to actually provide you with an enjoyable airport meal, and if travelers like this new outpost as much as the version out in SFO—check out the Yelp reviews—this should be quite an addition to the airport.
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Huge news. Yesterday marked the first time a US airline used biofuel in a commercial flight. No, it wasn't Alaska Airlines even though they are trying; it was United, and they flew their eco-friendly 737-800 from Continental's's former home base, Houston, to the United home base of Chicago.
For the #avgeeks: The biofuel is algae-based and includes 60 percent petroleum fuel and 40 percent biofuel produced by a company named Solazyme.
The eco-consciousness isn't limited to what goes in the tank, either. United flight attendants now push lighter serving carts and pilots traded in their 38-pound flight bags for more weight-conscious iPads (already loaded with their in-flight navigation charts and aircraft manuals). Furthermore, United makes it easy for plane spotters to identify the Mother Earth-friendly aircraft by its green winglets and 'eco-skies' written towards the front of the fuselage.
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Cafe Rouge at LHR T4.
What food do you reach for before hopping on a plane? For many, it's hearty (burgers, pizza, pasta), snacky (chips, candy, chocolate) or healthy (sushi, salads, granola), but what about Frenchy? Don't walk through your next airport terminal so quickly, or else you may miss some of the most interesting airport cuisine out there. Yepwe're talking about French Brasseries.
It's rare to find them, but when you do, we recommend stopping in for some Moulet et Frites, frogs legs, or just a simple Café au lait. Here's three great French Brasseries found at major airports:
· Cafe Rouge at London-Heathrow Terminal 4
Reminiscent of the classic Orient Express trains, Cafe Rouge at T4 is lengthy but thin, with clean lines and subtle art deco touches. Like a proper brasserie, its position makes it ideal for people watching, a sport made all the more intriguing by the fact that you're still before security. Someone awaiting your arrival could always pop up here for a Croque Monsieur and eavesdropping on tearful farewells. Plus, it's open from 5am clear until 10pm. Honorary mention: Chez Gerard in Heathrow's Terminal 3.