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A notice at the top of the SkyMall website reads:
There are changes in the air, but we're still here! Place your order today.
That's an understated urgent plea from a dying company, as SkyMall's parent company announced that it's filing for bankruptcy. Where did things go wrong for flyers' favorite guilty pleasure? Well, Ars Technica says SkyMall blames their downturn in business on the rise of the use of smartphones while in flight; the FAA allowed for "Airplane Mode" back in November 2013.
Whatever the true reason, the internet has raised its voices (via tweets and Facebook) to bid a fond farewell to the catalog, which seems to have been more successful in making travelers wonder "who buys a giant garden Yeti for $2,250?" than in actually selling them.
It's 5 o'clock on the day before Christmas Eve. Do you know what you're getting everyone on your list?
If not, we've got the answer: airline gift cards. Whether your gift is $50 or $500, you'll have helped make a trip possible for someone in your life, and giving experiences always trumps giving...things.
7 of the gift cards we've listed below are available for instant delivery via email, while 1 is not (Virgin Atlantic). Instant delivery may mean there's no physical card to exchange, but that leaves you free to be creative with how you tell the recipient to look extra close at their inbox this week.
West Side Market. Lake Erie. LeBron James. Polka. CLEVELAND.
The city on the southern shore of Lake Erie has the nickname of "mistake by the lake," but these days Cleveland is much more deserving of the other popular saying, "Cleveland Rocks." Downtown is on the upswing, the redevelopment of the Ameritrust Tower (rebranded "The 9") is nearly complete, and LeBron is back.
Should you find yourself in the 216 and actually enjoying it, check out CLE Clothing for a little memento. And no, we don't mean a stupid snow globe or cheapie mousepad. Yuck.
The shop is on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland and around the corner from the House of Blues, meaning that the crowded waiting to enter the venue every evening have no choice but to wrap around the store and window shop. Cut through the line and head inside for shirts, sweaters, books, glassware, and much more, all designed with Ohio at heart.
Frequent Flyer Miles / United Airlines / United / Airline Loyalty Programs / Dreamliner / Shopping Travel / Travel Tips / EWR / Airports / → All Tags
A few weeks ago, United began trialing a program at Newark Airport. It essentially allowed frequent flyers to redeem those hard-earned MileagePlus miles for food in some restaurants in the terminal. While it might be cool to just swipe your boarding pass and pay from your account, at about 1,000 miles for a glass of wine, the conversion rates aren't the most favorable.
This got us thinking that there are plenty of other United products better worth the miles than an overpriced meal in an overpriced airport restaurant...
‘Tis the season for a little holiday shopping, and if you’re stuck at the airport—or are just on layover—the terminals and concourses might be a great place to cross a few people off the list. From Sydney to Salt Lake City there are toy stores doing their thing at plenty of airports, but just remember to pick up those batteries.
In no particular order here are some toy stores at airports across the globe, and we can’t help but imagine that the perfect gift or goodie is there waiting for you. Let’s just hope it doesn’t cost a lot of frequent flyer miles to find it—good luck:
Travel Deals / Cyber Monday / Budget Travel / Airfare Deals / Travel Booking Sites / Black Friday / Shopping Travel / → All Tags
It's no fun to travel around Thanksgiving. It is, however, fun to anticipate and hop on any travel deals that result from the shopping rush around Black Friday (November 28) and Cyber Monday (December 1).
We've gathered a few of the more promising deals upcoming later this week, and there's only more to be had.
If you come across any other worthwhile travel deals, please share them in the comments and we'll have a more precise list come Black Friday itself.
Holiday Travel / Christmas Travel / Christkindlmarkt / Weihnachtsmarkt / Shopping Travel / → All Tags
The scene over in New York...
We’re still firmly in November, but no one can prevent the merriment and madness that is the holiday season. While every effort should be made to check out a Christmas Market over in Europe—check out what we have to say—there’s similar fun to be had here at home. So make some time on the calendar, put off that shopping list, and make your way to some of the best holiday markets across the nifty fifty:
The Union Square Holiday Market in New York kicks off on November 20, and this year the holiday fun runs through December 24—just note they’re closed on Thanksgiving. Local artisans are on hand to sell everything from jewelry and cuff links to foodie treasures like oils and vinegars. More than a million people check it out each and every year, so maybe make it a million and one during 2014.
Where better to celebrate the season than Bethlehem, and thankfully there’s one conveniently located around an hour outside of Philadelphia. The town’s market might be one of the most authentic you can find here at home, but of course there are traditions and treats that make it all its own. You do need tickets to enjoy the market—like $8 or so—as things run between November 20 and December 21. If we can’t make it this year please do enjoy some kettle corn, strudel, and hot chocolate for us.
Holiday Travel / Christmas Travel / Christkindlmarkt / Weihnachtsmarkt / Germany Travel / Austria Travel / Switzerland Travel / France Travel / Italy Travel / Winter Travel / Shopping Travel / → All Tags
Above: Heidelberg castle, with the market and ice skating rink in a Platz below
Christkindlmarkt, Weihnachtsmarkt or Marché de Noëlwhatever the name, the game's the same. European Christmas Markets are several weeks of seeing cities at their best, festively decorated and with tasty seasonal specialties on offer. Travelers used to seeing Europe in summer are in for a shock, and perhaps a change of season preference, once the charm of winter takes hold of the historic city centers and the hot mulled wine is poured.
With so much magic in store across the continent, it can be difficult to chose just one or two cities for your winter market visit. Luckily we've narrowed it down, highlighting the most beloved markets for the 2014 holiday season, in the countries with the most tradition behind the events:
Travel Tech / Money / Apple / iPhone / iPhone 6 / Apple Pay / Currency / Shopping Travel / → All Tags
Apple Pay is the hot topic of conversations this week, as Apple releases their "credit card killer" for easier, and more secure payments. So far it's only available to Americans, for use in the United States, but as this is only the beginning of Apple Pay we can see an expanded future ahead. So, how to get started?
First off, you must be in possession of an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini 3 or iPad Air 3 running iOS 8.1, and you must enable passcode lock and, for the iPhone, Touch ID (fingerprint recognition). It's extra layers of security.
For help with setting it up, check out AppleInsider, which we did and then immediately headed out to Walgreens to purchase a few mini travel toiletries.
Apple Pay performed beautifully. When the cashier totaled up our purchases, our Passbook Apple Pay screen switched itself to prompt us to place our finger for Touch ID. When our print cleared, the phone vibrated and chimed, and displayed a small record of the transaction including store name and location.
Oprah Winfrey and Robert Pattinson embarked on two very different European shopping sprees this week.
On Tuesday, Pattinson and his girlfriend FKA Twigs perused the clothing racks at Harmony in Paris, a retail store that carries mostly casual clothing for men and women. The couple, who were traveling through the city alone, was spotted laughing and trying on clothes before they moved onto a few other shops in the trendy Marais district.
Airport Shopping / Shopping Travel / Duty-Free / YHZ / Halifax Travel / Nova Scotia Travel / Airports / Airport News / Weird Travel / Air Canada / Condor / → All Tags
"Security will accept lobsters as a carry-on piece."
When was the last time you heard that an airport? It's a daily occurrence at Nova Scotia's Halifax Stanfield International Airport, where the local specialties shop Clearwater stocks a tank of live lobster ready and willing to enjoy the overhead bin on your next flight out.
Purchase a pincher (live at $8.99/lb, cooked at $9.49/ln) and add a carry-on box complete with ice packs ($7 carry-on, $9 checked), and bring home why may possibly be the best last-minute souvenir from the Canadian maritimes. It sure beats a tiny, 3oz jug of maple syrup.
Find Clearwater before security, just to the left of the security check for Canada-bound flights.
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It's easy to whisk through the international terminal passing by the perfumes, bottles of cheap liquor and massive Toblerones on the way to your gate and there are even a few airport where we'd recommend skipping the buys altogether. This is not the case at Tokyo's Narita, which stands out as a supreme airport for shopping.
We already know that Japan has some of the coolest foods to bring home to your friends as souvenirs, and Narita is home to a wealth of duty-free shops selling cakes and candies boxed so primly and perfectly that it's less a question of "should I buy it" and more "how many should I buy?"
Here are a couple of this year's best and quickest buys at Narita: