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Okay—this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal when you first read it, but once we thought about it for a little bit it became obvious that more than a few travelers will be effected by the change. Alaska Airlines is changing their check-in requirements, and they’re tightening up the window in which you can get ready for your flight.
The old rules said that 30 minutes was plenty of time beforehand to complete check-in for domestic destinations, but now they’re bumping things up to 40 minutes. International flights are going to remain the same at 60 minutes, so no problem there.
Travel Gadgets / Travel News / FAA / JetBlue / Delta / In-Flight WiFi / In-Flight Entertainment / iPhone / iPad / → All Tags
Personal electronic gadget use does not crash airplanes. One would think this is already an accepted fact, but it's only today that the Federal Aviation Administration has concurred. At 10am EST, the FAA issued a new directive concerning the use of "PED" (Portable Electronic Devices) on commercial flights.
Previously, all electronics had to be switched off (not just on "airplane mode") during the taxi, take-off and landing portions of flight, and only approved for use while the aircraft was cruising above 10,000 feet. With the new FAA directive, passengers will be able to continue with reading on their tablets, listening to music on iPods and smartphones, and playing games on handheld consoles.
THE CATCH: all electronics will still need to be put away during the safety briefing, and during takeoff and landing roll. Larger electronics like laptops will still need to be shut down and stowed until 10,000'.
Travel News / Airport News / DFW / Immigration / Travel Tech / Passports / US Travel / → All Tags
At the beginning of summer, the US Government launched a new way to speed through immigration at Chicago O'Hare. Self-service kiosks eliminating the need to wait in long lines for a passport stamp. Even in the midst of an embarrassing government shutdown, someone was at work long enough to declare they were a huge success, expediting their expansion.
The trial in Chicago went so well, the next airport to see the technology is Dallas-Fort Worth. Since 60% of arriving passengers cleared customs in 15 minutes or less, and 85% of the rest of travelers making their way through in no more than 30 minutes. The Texas hub will now be the next to see improved waiting times.
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An Europe-wide consumer support site called refund.me helps passengers collect compensation from airlines for canceled or delayed flights. According to European air passenger rights, travelers reaching their destination three hours after schedule could qualify to receive a refund of up to 600 euros.
Airlines have a lot of excuses for why they run late, such as weather, technical/maintenance issues, flocks of birds, and tardy flight crews, to name a few. Lots of times, airlines blame their late arrivals on one or a combination of these in an attempt to convince the passengers that "it's just the way it is" with barely so much as a sorry. But, legally, they are not always legitimate reasons for arriving late, and as refund.me has figured out, passengers are entitled to get some of their money back.
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"Direct" and "non-stop" mean the same thing, right? Wrongwhich is why we're taking today to do some travel 101 with a refresher on these terms. Why is knowing the difference so important? Well, you can clearly state your flight preferences to airline reservations and gate staff when making bookings or changing plans, and you'll also just generally sound like the clued-in traveler you are.
If there is one overarching problem with TSA - and we've said this more than once - it's that the agency tries to prevent yesterday's attack tomorrow, and so obnoxiously inconveniences travelers to stop plots that have already happened. That doesn't have anything to do with this post. It's just something we like to repeat.
But if there's another deep-seated institutional problem with the TSA, it's that when the agency is in trouble, which is often, its officials will do damage control by just making things up. Take the fallout from the PDF idiocy, or the controversy over back-scatter machine limitations, or the entire debate over unionization, or the Detroit racial profiling case. All of these are places where the TSA tried to sell the public on explanations that were either false, contradictory, incoherent - and in most cases some combination of the three.
Politics Travel / Travel Politics / Travel News / TSA / Washington DC / Washington DC Travel / → All Tags
The United States federal government has shut down precisely 17 times since 1976, as various elements of the Legislative and Executive branches - which the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, set in opposition to each other - failed to agree on various measures necessary to keep the government operating. This time around, our elected representatives are fighting over Obamacare. If they don't hammer out something in the next few hours, the government will shut down and only so-called "essential" personnel will be allowed to continue working.
Before you ask why the federal government uses taxpayer money to pay employees who aren't essential, please know that (1) the joke has been made dozens of times in the last few hours on Twitter and (2) if there's a shutdown, they're going to close the gates at the DC Zoo and turn off the pandacam. Not so libertarian now, are we?
When it comes to ticket flexibility Southwest Airlines is probably one of the best carriers out there. At this point everyone knows that bags fly free with them, and they’re also pretty generous when it comes to changing your flight. They don’t have any change fees if you need to switch things up, as you’re only responsible for paying the difference between your old fare and your new fare.
The change fee policy is staying the same, but we wanted to let you know that there’s another policy that just recently changed—so pay attention if you’re flying with Southwest anytime soon. The carrier is now instituting a kind of no-show policy, as passengers need to give them a call if they’re not going to make their flight.
In-Flight Wifi / Technology / Travel Tech / Airline News / Travel News / Virgin America / Gogo / → All Tags
There's an old, killer Louis CK interview where he mercilessly mocks people who are dissatisfied with the quality of In-Flight Wifi. The clip is hystericalwe posted it ourselves way back whenbut it makes us feel a little bit uncomfortable.
We have, after all, occasionally been known to complain about our experience with Gogo internet service. It's amazing technology from the future, of course, but sometimes it's just not good enough for things that we actually need from the Internet, like having enough bandwidth to prevent our VPN from timing out.
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BREAKING: the tickets will be honored! See update below
For a very brief period early this afternoon, a glitch on United's website priced airfare at a mere $5 each way, $10 roundtrip. Users of the popular frequent flyer forum FlyerTalk reported booking routes such as New York to Austin, TX and Houston to San Francisco for the unbelievably low prices.
Alas, the saying "if it's too good to be true, it probably is" sums up the situation. The fares were indeed mistakes and not some special United flash sale, but purchase activity was so high that the airline not only pulled down United.com (it now back up, as of 4pm EST), and the United reservation phone lines did not accept new bookings while the glitch was corrected.
Travel Tips / Travel Safety / Travel News / Autumn Travel / Tragedies / September 11 / Terrorism / New York City / US Travel / → All Tags
It's that time of the year again, when two powerful lights take up their brief residence in lower Manhattan to remember the thousands of lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This year marks the twelfth anniversary of the attacks, but the tenth for the lights themselves. Officially the installation is called "Tribute in Light," and it takes 88 searchlights to form the seemingly never-ending beams. Nearly every year they've appeared was said to be the last, but here they are still.
Tomorrow and through this upcoming weekend, expect lower Manhattan to be heavily policed, and hordes of visitors to descend upon the area around the 9/11 Memorial.
If you just want to see the lights, however, they're perfectly visible from popular tourist sites such as the Staten Island Ferry and Empire State Building visitor deck. Also, search the #TributeinLight hashtag on Instagram for hundreds of images.
Travel Tech / Apple / iPhone / iPhone 5C / Travel News / Technology / → All Tags
Another day, another dollar, another iPhone analysis.
During a keynote earlier, Apple unveiled two new iPhones, the $99/$199 iPhone 5C and $199/$299/$399 iPhone 5S. Of course from the get-go, the general public lusts for the sleek silver, carbon and gold of the 5S, but what about the little 5C? Instead of applause, it's received only laughter and sneers.
Sure, it's slower (using the A6 processor of the iPhone 5 versus the newer, zippier A7 processor in the iPhone 5S), and the color options just make it look like a budget phone, but there's got to be some redeeming qualities. Thus, we'll attempt to justify the existence of the iPhone 5C. Perhaps the cheaper, more colorful sibling of the 5S is better for travel? Let's see...