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...it's like being on The Oprah show when she gives away her favorite things.
Back in early 2010, we brought you the story of iPads being launched as in-flight entertainment options; it just took a while for plans to come to fruition. This week, our friends "down under" at Jetstar actually came through and rolled out new in-flight entertainment options. The LCC is now offering passengers in all cabins the option to rent an iPad on flights from Oz to New Zealand, plus other short-haul internationals. Eventual roll-out across the whole domestic network is in the works.
This is the first time iPads have been offered in the short-haul economy cabin and, frankly, this really makes us super giddy. The rental cost of $10-15 AUD (depending on flight duration) isn't too bad either, considering the entertainment options. Each device is preloaded with TV shows, new release movies and music with a line-up of the hottest games *ahem Angry Birds*, e-mags and e-books.
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Boeing is now recommending that airlines switch to computer-based navigation charts, maps, and other trajectory tidbits, and that they utilize current electronic options available for the iPad. Jeppesen makes the app—conveniently they’re part of Boeing—and they will soon be offering these pilot friendly products in an Android flavor too. What's happening might not allow for in-flight Angry Birds for passengers sitting in the back, but it will allow pilots to ditch some of their heavy paper products.
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According to the airline,
The iPad lets crew quickly identify where each customer is seated, who they are traveling with, their Executive Club status and any special meal requests. It gives cabin crew a whole library of information at their fingertips including timetables, safety manuals and customer service updates. It also means any issues can be logged with ground-based colleagues around the network prior to departure so solutions can be delivered while the flight is airborne.
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We already knew that Alaska Airlines was working on ditching flight bags for its pilots in favor of iPads in the cockpit—assuming no Facebook, Twitter, or Angry Birds of course. Now it looks like American Airlines is the next carrier to start thinking about electronic flight manuals in the front of the plane.
American has already begun to hand out the tablet computers to some pilots, as they’re thinking that they can save over a million bucks per year by just removing all the paperwork from the flight deck. It probably also improves employee morale—if ever so slightly—as it’s just one less thing that pilots have to lug back and forth between flights and across airports. Apparently flight bags can weigh as much as 35 pounds, so it’s going to save a little bit on gas as well—every little bit helps.
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It looks like there’s a little tablet computer competition coming to the first class cabins of airlines around the world, as the mighty iPad is no longer the sole provider of complimentary in-flight Angry Birds sessions.
American Airlines—fresh off their in-flight streaming video announcement—is moving forward with even more technology in the cabin. The airline is now looking to add a whole bunch of Samsung Galaxy tablets to portions of its fleet. In total they’re looking to add around 6,000 of the devices on select routes within the nifty fifty as well as around the globe. Unfortunately for those that frequent the back of the bus—like us—the new travel technology will only be available to those sitting at the front of the plane.
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Listen up travelers, because this is very very important. Like, knowing the right way to pronounce "bruschetta"-important.
If you're fortunate enough to fly Business Class, First Class, or even Economy Class on certain planes with newer seats, don't overlook the hidden tech goodies. Most airplanes don't stick the power outlet in an obvious spot, like in Cathay Pacific's seats, and oftentimes the all-important plugs can be located underneath and between the seats, or perhaps under the armrest, as it is in the case of economy class on an A380. Sometimes you've got to hunt for the hookups or do without them completely.
Recently Delta had their BusinessElite 757 seat mock-ups on brief display in New York's Chelsea Market. These are the seats you'll pay good money to experience on longer flights to Europe or Asia, and just think how awesome it'd be to arrive at your destination with a fully charged iPhone. So we set to sniffing out the USB plugs.
File this one under "first world problems." You have an airplane blanket with which to cover yourself, the better to stay comfortable as you participate in the miracle of human heavier-than-air flight, but it doesn't have little pockets for your feet. Plus it's awkwardly shaped, with the cut being one of those "square" or "rectangle" designs that so many people find confusing and frustrating.
So the blanket keeps slipping off, and your toes get cold. And that ruins your entire flight, because you wanted your toes to stay warm. Solution? The Cabin Cuddler travel blanket and pillow, which someone pitched to us with the intro "a majority of people spend more time on a plane than on their sofa these days" (note: not true).
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It's a pretty safe bet that if you've got an iPhone, that you've also got a story for how it was completelyor completely notdestroyed. It's the new bar story, a perfect conversation starter, especially if you've got an epic tale like U.S. Air Force Combat Controller Ron Walker's. Walker wrote to The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) to say that his iPhone 4 survived a 1,000-foot drop from an airplane.
Granted, the airplanes you're flying on are probably traveling much, much higher than 1,000-feet up; think closer to 35 times that. Regardless, Walker's story beats our own where our iPhone fell into a Las Vegas hotel pool (a cold one in December) and our subsequent sealing it in a bag of rice saved it. But! It we do have one thing in common with Walker: both our iPhones slipped out of our pockets.
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Pay attention, because you may never hear us admit this again: in-flight magazines aren't all that bad. Actually, some are quite good! We've been known to actually take them home and read the articles orgasprip out pages and magnet them to our fridge for future reference. If you're a closet fan of in-flight magazines like we are, then this is your time, friend; more and more airlines are moving their print rags to be in more than just your seat-back pocket, but in your iPad too (and iPad 2).
Here's the airlines and their iTunes-downloadable iPad magazines:
United/Continental Hemispheres: This is the newest player on the scene, as the merger airline only launched their iPad version earlier this month. March is the first issue, featuring the Mexican Riviera and Peru's culinary scene. Happily it makes great use of iPad's interactive features, allowing for 360-degree image views, videos and direct links to buy advertised products (of course advertised creatively). Hemisphere is free to download direct from iTunes HERE.
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We remember the first time we ever saw an iPad being used by a traveler in transit. It was in the business lounge at the terrifically tropical thatched-roof Punta Cana International Airport, in the Dominican Republic. We stared, but it was okay because everyone else was staring; the thing had barely been released and here, thousands of miles away from the nearest Apple store, was one. It was beautiful.
Today marks the day that many will likely see the first of the newest generation iPads similarly out in the wild. The iPad 2, only announced less than two weeks ago, hit stores today. You can grab one at an Apple store of course, but also at Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
Now about the pop-up shop...
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We already knew that the latest and greatest version of the iPad was going to benefit travelers everywhere, but it looks like it will help out those in the front of the plane as well. Alaska Airlines is thinking about sharing the super cool tech with its pilots, but we’re just hoping that Angry Birds will somehow be blocked from the cockpit version of the iPad.
A test group of pilots are getting access to iPads during their flight as a replacement for all those paper charts, laptops, and other documents about how to fly airplanes. Jeppesen—they’re part of Boeing—are the ones responsible for making the cockpit app, but we’re not sure if it’s available through the iTunes store. It sounds like the tests are going well so far, and that the pilots who've had the chance to utilize the iPad love it.
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You knew this time would comethe time when we dissect the just-announced iPad 2 to just exactly how, and if, the upgrades will benefit travelers. And, as always, Apple has the mobile tech user in mind, which means great things for those of us who love to whip it out on the plane (the iPad, that is) and play with it until we're tired and ready for a nap.
This second version of the crazy popular iPad will be faster, thinner, lighter, and more customizable than ever. That's just the beginning of the advancements. Here are the ways in which it's improving to help the traveler:
· Accelerometer, Three-axis Gyroscope, and Compass: These are already present in the iPhone 4, and now they're all in the iPad and working together to sense "which direction iPad is heading and how it’s moving." That means major enhancements possible for map apps, augmented reality apps and basically any app that has a moving blipwhether that signifies you or a character in a game.