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“Excuse me, do you know what time it is?”
“Yes: Time for a cheese and crackers plate and a carton of duty-free cigarettes!” — You, in a few months. (Although, not to be preachy, but you really should quit smoking.)
Because there’s no process that can’t be improved with an app that cuts down on unnecessary distractions like talking to people (shudder!), prepare yourself for Monarch Airline’s new MPlayer app for Apple Watch, a wearable way to manage your in-flight experience. Demonstrated at an industry conference in June and slated to roll out “in the coming months” (per a press release), the app allows passengers “to order food, beverages and duty free product from the comfort of their seat at any time during the flight.” And because you’re tapping out your order on your wrist, you’re not forced to interrupt any other on-board entertainment you’re already streaming from Monarch. (Being forced to quit that riveting Melissa McCarthy movie to order a glass of Chardonnay is now a thing of the past. #FirstWorldProblems? #FirstWorldSolutions!) The app will remember past orders for easy selection of “seconds,” and you can also glimpse at flight status (distance remaining, etcetera) and weather updates from your destination airport.
The still in-development app is expected to have a few other tricks up its sleeve too. (Watch humor, get it?) Among them: Seat-to-seat chat (we’re not saying this will make it way easier to join the mile-high club, but we’re not saying it won’t) and the ability to “purchase from an expanded range of products which can be delivered to home or hotel, or picked up at the airport.” So go ahead, stock up on booze and cigarettes and have it ushered to your hotel room. The concierge will think you’re shacking up with Lindsay Lohan, but at least no one on board has to know about your impulse shame-buys.
[Image courtesy Monarch Airlines]
Travel Tech / Technology / Apple / Apple Watch / Airlines / Airline News / Air New Zealand / New Zealand Travel / Travel News / → All Tags
Can you hear it? That buzzing sound in your ears is the noise of hundreds of thousands of companies busily working on their Apple Watch apps.
Yesterday's formal reveal in San Francisco of the Apple Watch, as well as an updated Macbook, detailed the various version of the watches and the in-store release date of April 24. This means companies, including airlines and travel brands who are up on their technology, have little more than one month to develop their apps. .
Always happy to shout "FIRST!!!!!!" is Air New Zealand, who've already issued a release with the news that their app is done and ready to go, meaning they'll be the first airline with an Apple Watch app unless others join them on release day in April. Air New Zealand CIO Julia Raue says the airline’s developers visited Apple in California during the development of the app, so they mean business.
Travel Tech / Technology / Cruise Travel / Ships / Carnival / Cunard / Azamara Club Cruises / Royal Caribbean / Quantum of the Seas / Azamara Journey / Budget Travel / Travel News / → All Tags
You know that old idiom, “everything happens in threes?” Well, it absolutely applies in the case of WiFi on cruise ships this season. At-sea connectivity is a notoriously sore spot in the cruise industry, since the standard satellite systems bring embarrassingly low bandwidth at a shamefully high cost. In most cases, we’re talking $0.75 per minute. For real.
Several years ago it was normal to be charged ~$300 just to keep up some minimal internet access for emailing and some social media-ing on a 7-day cruise, and as of 2014 not much had changed...other than the passengers’ desire for more time online at a better price.
Then along came Royal Caribbean’s “smartship” Quantum of the Seas and its lower cost, lower orbit, higher bandwidth satellite technology, includinggaspunlimited plans.
Dani Grant, founder of Hackers NY, published a short, to-the-point Medium post this morning, alerting the public to a serious issue in the security of mobile boarding passes. And you don't need to be a hacker to understand it:
On Delta, you can change the URL of your boarding pass and get someone else’s boarding pass. Even if they’re on a different airline. You can check in as them and change their seat.
Jaunted Interviews / Cruise Travel / Ships / At-Sea WiFi / Quantum of the Seas / Royal Caribbean / Travel News / WiFi / Travel Tech / Technology / O3b Communications / Allure of the Seas / Anthem of the Seas / Oasis of the Seas / Caribbean Travel / → All Tags
"This changes everything."
That's the boasty slogan of ads on TV commercials and even plastered on bus shelters around NYC, referring to the newest cruise ship now sailing: Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas.
The Quantum calls itself a "Smartship," deploying fresh technology from bow to sternin some cases, technology that's never before been seen on a cruise ship, including at-sea WiFi faster than the usual slower-than-stalagmites connection and dedicated apps to help plan your cruise time in real-time.
Between riding the North Star and peeking into multi-level suites, we managed a moment with Bill Martin, Chief Information Officer for Royal Caribbean to discuss faster speeds, better satellites, and what all this means for the bottom line of your cruise folio:
Travel Tech / Windowless Planes / Technology / Airplanes / Travel News / Bad Ideas / Virtual Balcony / → All Tags
"It's too bright! Close the window, please." - your annoying seatmate
Despite recent reports that "windowless planes" are the wave of the future, air travelers have a love-hate relationship with airplane windows and turning the whole fuselage into a portal to view the sky around you just will not fly (pardon the pun).
You can thank British firm CPI (Centre for Progress Innovation) for the concept and, while it's a fun daydream, there is no way a plane with screens in place of windows will be happening in our lifetime. Here's why:
Last March we posted a very neat little video tracing the paths of the roughly 30,000 flights that enter, leave, and just generally hang around European airspace on a summer day. It began in the early morning with the planes coming across the Atlantic, and then as the day wore on it developed into well-managed chaos. The emphasis here is on "well-managed": the visualization was produced by Britain's NATS, the country's biggest provider of air traffic control, and the organization responsible for keeping all those planes from colliding. They weren't exactly bragging, but they weren't exactly not bragging.
Then about three months ago NATS posted a new video. This one is all about the future and it is - bluntly - creepy as all hell. It's supposed to be a futuristic look at how commercial "air traffic control" is inevitably going to be subsumed by commercial "air traffic management," which is both a real airline industry thing and something that is actually kind of interesting for travel geeks.
We do these visualizations from time to time - partly because they're awesome and partly because you guys seem to enjoy them - plus the last week and a half of airline news has been a real downer. We can all use a reminder that there's something kind of magic about how we move millions of people through the air every day.
Wired recently wrote up an explanation for this video, which shows the roughly 30,000 flights that "criss-cross Europe's airspace on a typical summer day." The UK-based data comes from June 21 of last year, while the tracks for the rest of Europe were compiled on July 28. As the day begins and progresses you see the early trans-Atlantic traffic merge in with the traffic coming from the south, and then the major hubs on the Continent begin to light up. Look how shiny!
Travel Tech / WhatsApp / Facebook / Technology / Social Media / Travel News / → All Tags
Sixteen billion dollars.
That's how much Facebook just handed over to WhatsApp, the free SMS messaging app. When all is said and done, the deal is closer to $19 billion, and it's a shocking sum to pay for a company that offers its services for free to users.
Regardless, we've heard "are you on WhatsApp?" the world over, and it's especially popular in regions of where Facebook is not. For example, in India WhatsApp boasts 35 million users, which sounds incredible until you hear the total for globally active users of WhatsApp tops 430 million. This is approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume, and today's news will surely help the app reach and quickly surpass the 500 million milestone. Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for Skype's 300 million users in 2011, so WhatsApp's price does seem right.
Still, $16 billion is a heck of a lot for an app which has famously shirked advertising income, but the result is a simple-to-use, simply designed, free service that fulfills a basic modern need.
FAA / FCC / Cell Phones / Electronics Travel / Politics Travel / Travel Politics / Technology / → All Tags
America's Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, created a system of government with multiple checks and balances. The idea was to prevent populist excesses and to slow down change, just in case lawmakers got carried away with a seemingly good idea and accidentally - in their own zeal - made the world a worse place to live. This is what they were talking about.
It took literally two years for the FAA to move from thinking about letting travelers use electronics gate-to-gate, to writing a proposal letting travelers use electronics gate-to-gate, to actually letting travelers use electronics gate-to-gate. This was not exactly a rush across the finish line, in other words.
But now that there's some momentum, apparently the federal government - this time the FCC - thinks that everything involving flying and electronics should be up for grabs. Yesterday the agency floated the idea of letting passengers use cell phones above 10,000 feet.
Travel Tech / Technology / ViewTag / Airline News / Baggage / Travel Gear / → All Tags
We’ve seen a few different versions and variants on the electronic luggage tags this year, as carriers like British Airways and Qantas have been testing, trying, and taking things to the next level. Now it’s time for another option from which to choose, one that we may see in the near future if it can find an airline to take it on.
The folks over at Vanguard ID have introduced what they’re calling the world's first battery free permanent RFID luggage tag, and even better is that this sucker has a changeable display. The ViewTag also features near-field communication, which allows information to be beamed right over to your cell phone. This means you will be able to track the bag's progress as it makes its way through the twists and turns of the checked baggage system.
This month features a step forward for British Airways and their latest idea, as the carrier is starting to test out their new electronic baggage tags. We’ve mentioned these before, as British Airways tries to streamline the process just like their buddies over at Qantas (they have those handy dandy Q-Tags).
The British Airways recipe is a little bit different, but the theme kind of remains the same. Instead of utilizing paper baggage tags, now passengers get an electronic tag that contains a little screen that can be changed up depending on where they’re heading. Think of it as a really small e-reader—complete with e-ink—that can display different barcodes and different destinations. Let’s just hope hackers—or friends pulling pranks—can’t get into these suckers, as a quick change of the letters might just send your bag on vacation without you.