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Paper boarding passes kill trees and the mobile boarding passes kill our iPhone batteries. So here's some news for the eco-conscious and energy conserving: Alaska Airlines may soon be boarding you for your flight via biometrics.
As the airline's official blog explains, Alaska has been spending the last few months working on the ins and outs of a system that would allow travelers to scan fingerprints instead of an ID; in fact, your beautiful biometrics could allow for the ability to do everything from check luggage to board the flight.
Part of the initial test involved using biometrics to grant access to the "Board Room," Alaska Airlines' version of the airport lounge. It worked well and flyers were pleased, so it’s actually now the norm at four lounge locations across the nifty fifty.
Alaska partnered on the testing with the biometrics company CLEAR, and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport was the spot chosen for the first few runs — owing to its heavy influx of Silicon Valley tech types. Alaska Airlines likes what they have seen, and though there’s still a lot to work out before biometrics come to an airport near you, just know they’re working on it — and some of us can’t wait.
[Photo: Alaska Airlines]
Travel Apps / Airport Restaurants / Airport Dining / SFO / Airports / Airport News / Tech Travel / → All Tags
When you're hungry at the airport, having to wait in line at Sbarro or Starbucks is a drag. Your airport time is valuable; you have things to do, commitments to keep, loops of CNN to watch and the latest issue of US Weekly to read. Thankfully one company values your worth, and they’re helping you out with an airport meal-based ordering app, now live in San Francisco and Boston.
Travelers going through SFO and BOS are the first to have access to AirGrub, an app that lets you enter your flight info, browse menus from restaurants within your terminal, place an order, schedule when you want to pick it up, and — with the quick flash of a boarding pass once you clear security — cut the line to grab your meal to eat in the airport or take on the plane.
So far the the folks behind the app have made dining mates with spots like Perry’s in SFO's Terminal 1, Napa Farms Market in Terminal 2, and Yankee Pier in Terminal 3. But with Boston just added and New York on the horizon, we're sure in due time you'll be scheduling caramel macchiato pick-ups from coast to caffeinated coast.
[Photo: Official Site]
United / Airlines / Airline News / United Airlines / Tech Travel / Travel Tech / Travel Hacking / Frequent Flyer Miles / → All Tags
There are a lot of ways to earn frequent flyer miles: through credit cards, shopping portals, or just the old-fashioned way of, well, frequently flying. Now United has introduced a new opportunity to score them — but you're going to need to be very familiar with navigating your way around computer systems.
As NBC News, reports, United is awarding millions of frequent flyer miles to hackers that uncover potential security problems and other issues in the airline's web systems. Basically, if you can discover hiccups across their web security, you will be handsomely awarded. We can feel the sand between our toes already!
United launched the program shortly before the recent tech glitch that grounded thousands of flights, so apparently it came too late to help on that front. But the carrier recently confirmed that it has paid out a pair of awards worth one million miles. (Unfortunately they did not release the identities of these folks, so no chance of buddying up to them in hopes of tagging along on some of their travels. Or getting some IT help.) These were just two big time miles distributions; it sounds like a bunch of smaller rewards were handed out as well.
As of now United seems to be one of the few carriers officially recognizing this type of program (others wouldn't comment to NBC News), but we can bet that this may become a way in which airlines make themselves aware of web vulnerabilities. As for us? We’re off to Barnes and Noble in hopes of picking up Hacking for Dummies. And some Fodor's guides, just in case.
Travel Apps / KLM / Airlines / Airline News / Tech Travel / Travel Tech / Android / Apple / iOS / Apple Watch / → All Tags
Clear out your phones of all those old selfies and lunch snapshots, because it’s time to make room to download a new airline app. The folks at KLM have been working overtime to upgrade and improve their offerings, and a refreshed app is now available for download — in both iOS and Android flavors.
The new interface and graphics are crisp and clean — we like what we see. As for the content: the app tries to predict what you're looking for at each step in your journey, and adjusts its opening screen accordingly. KLM officials say that the app will learn individual preferences the more you use it, all the better to offer customized promotions and things like that.
In addition, there’s now a more simplified booking tool, one click check-in, quicker payment options, and even a slick way to switch and swap your seats. (And since the app remembers preferences if you selected an aisle seat for this flight chances are that it will offer a similar selection on a future flight — it just gets you.) Of course there’s integration with Apple Watch as well, so frequent flyer status, check-in reminders, and flight information can always be right on your wrist.
The new app might not be a complete travel and airline concierge as of yet, but it’s getting there. So if you’re a big KLM flyer be sure to check this one out, and use it often. The more you swipe, click, and tap that more it’ll know about you and your travels — just don't get too creepy, KLM, or we'll probably share a little less.
[Photo: KLM / iTunes]
Robot Travel / Tech Travel / Japan Travel / Airports / Airport News / HND / → All Tags
Expect a warm, pre-programmed welcome on your next trip through Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which recently acquired some futuristic new workers to pitch in with airport operations.
As Airport-Technology.com reports, airport officials are about to release robots into the terminals and concourse. Don’t worry, they’re friendly. (Or at least, that's the plan — until their laser-shooting eyes are installed. Kidding.) Japan Airport Terminal, which manages operations in the country's airports, will introduce 11 robots that will be utilized to carry baggage, clean up messes and, most likely, generally freak out passengers.
Some of the robot magic — provided in part by developer Cyberdyne (no, not that Cyberdyne) —will even be used to enhance, um, human workers. Certain employees will be equipped with special robot-like suits boasting so-called Hybrid Assistive Limbs, which imbue the ability to carry heavier loads.
Right now this is all just a test, but there are plans to increase the robot ranks if things go well. We can’t wait to see these out in the airport wild, we just hope that they remain friendly. We’ll definitely be tipping them well, just in case.
Qantas / Hamilton Island / Australia Travel / Tourism / Virtual Reality / Travel Tech / Tech Travel / → All Tags
For those of us in the Nifty Fifty in Australia's Hamilton Island is a world away. But thanks to some creative technology — and clever marketing — it might soon feel a bit closer.
A partnership between Qantas, Hamilton Island, and Samsung has resulted in a new virtual reality experience that allows would-be visitors to check out the island remotely. Still images of the landscape and the ocean can certainly sell the destination on their own, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to also have a 360-degree view of things from the air, land, and sea.
Airport News / Canad Travel / YQB / Tech Travel / Travel Tech / Airports / Apple Watch / → All Tags
Once the Apple Watch made its debut on the wrists of travelers, it was inevitable that things like gate information, flight updates, and other flight-related frills would all make an appearance via one airline app or another. But now it’s an airport that is going all-in with Apple's latest tech toy.
Per Airport World, this month Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) became the first airport in the world to start using the Apple Watch behind the scenes. The airport has connected the watch to its existing operations and information system, so now the watch can immediately offer duty managers real-time updates . Push notifications and alerts to staff are designed to keep everything on schedule and running according to plan: whether it comes to flight delays or airplanes fighting over a gate, every need-to-know issue will be delivered to a wrist so that it can be dealt with. Hopefully this will keep decision-makers in the know — and benefit all travelers as a result.
SITA, the airport management system that pushes these updates through an app it developed specially for YQB, is also in use at 150 airports in almost 50 countries. So it might not be long before other staffers in other airports are using Apple Watch like walkie-talkies. The next time you see an airport worker bee busily checking his or her wrist, know that they might be sending instructions — not emojis.
Airline News / GOL / Gogo / In-Flight WiFi / Travel Tech / Tech Travel / Airlines / Brazil Travel / → All Tags
Good news from the folks at Gogo: They’re taking their in-flight WiFi technology south of the border — like, way south.
Gogo is teaming up with GOL, a budget Brazilian airline, to install its next generation service — known as 2Ku — across the entire fleet. This is the first time in-flight broadband has been made available aboard a Brazilian airline, so we can only imagine this news will be very well received. In fact, not only will this bring in-flight WiFi, but there will also be the ability to access Gogo Vision and Gogo TV from each and every seat.
The only bummer? Things aren’t quite ready for launch, and the current timetable suggests this partnership will be up (in the air) and running in mid-2016. But while GOL guests are about a year away from in-flight web surfing, they can definitely start dreaming about the speeds: Gogo is promising peak speeds of more than 70 Mbps to the aircraft, which is about 20 times the bandwidth offered through its first-generation technology in the United States. Vroom!
easyJet / Travel Tech / Tech Travel / Airlines / Airline News / Drone Travel / Low Cost Carriers / LCCs / → All Tags
Drones: What are they good for? Spying on neighbors, mostly. Also for maiming Enrique Iglesias.
But now it looks like drones may have a new purpose: helping to maintain airplanes. And their accomplice in this task? The 3D printer.
Per Bloomberg, low cost carrier easyJet just announced they'll embrace some innovative technological approaches to help keep passengers and planes safe. The plan is for drones to check out planes on the ground as part of regular inspections and maintenance. If you think about it, it makes good sense—another eye on things from above certainly can’t hurt.
WiFi / Tech Travel / Spain Travel / Airports / Airport News / → All Tags
Good news, if you're looking to save some digital dollars — or is that, electronic euros? — during your next trip to Spain. Soon you won't be paying anything at all to access airport Wi-Fi.
According to an article over at Salon, Spain's airport authority is about to flip the switch on for free Wi-Fi. By the end of 2015, they'll grant the magic of free and unlimited Wi-Fi at 46 airports across the country.
For the most part, you know what you’re getting when it comes to theme park technology. Roller coasters and rides in the dark are par for course, and occasionally you might find a slightly different, dazzling attraction thrown your way. ("Ooh, lasers!") However, what one park has planned for Utah might just be the next big thing in high-tech amusement park atmosphere, and it’s kind of creeping us out a bit.
Slated to open in 2016 is The Void, a virtual reality theme park where visitors will wear headsets that immerse them in convincingly rendered other worlds — when in actuality, guests are moving about in mostly-empty, reconfigurable 60x60-foot rooms. (We guess there’s a little bit of reality—the rooms—to the virtual reality.)
The Apple Watch has arrived, and airlines across the globe have been quick to update apps and software to take advantage of all the new features. Here's ten airlines already up and running with the latest and greatest in
· Fly Delta for Apple Watch allows you to keep track of your time to departure and arrival, as well as gate and baggage carousel information
· Any eBoarding passes that you save to Passbook will automatically be available on Apple Watch, so just scan your wrist at that gate and go
· Version 4.0.0 is here, and that brings support for Apple Watch
· Sounds like you need to swipe "Keep Me Logged In" on your phone, and then your wrist will show you everything from updates on upcoming trips and check-in to connecting gate and baggage claim information
· Your Apple Watch won't skip a beat when crossing the pond, as scheduled departure times, flight status, and weather at your destination are just a few of the features
· Gate change information should also update in real-time, so just check your watch every once in a while while waiting in line for an airport snack to stay up-to-date.
· United calls out a lot of perks and features, but they don't specifically make mention of all the Apple Watch goodies
· Check reservations and flight status right from the face of your watch