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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.
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Wow—it’s been years and years since United first put WiFi on a muthafunking plane, but now that it's 2015, United is finally set to offer WiFI on their regional jet fleet. The cramped legroom and claustrophobic conditions will feel less so, as you’ll be tweeting, streaming, and posting from here to there.
Aircraft like the E170, E175, and CRJ700 will be heading into the hangar, as Gogo InFlight’s ATG-4 advanced air-to-ground is to be installed, hopefully by summer. Not only can travelers expect the usual WiFi offerings, but these planes—thankfully—will also score a slice of what United calls their “Personal Device Entertainment” giving access to movies, television, and other goodies right from your own mobile screen.
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This is the week! From January 15, the brand-spanking-new Airbus A350 begins regular commercial flights and welcomes passengers to the enjoy everything Airbus has been working on since 2004.
As far its place within the range of the newest aircraft out there, the A350-900 is larger than a 787-800, smaller than an A380, and due to replace the A330 for some of the airlines adding it to their fleets. It costs $295 million each, and there's some 700 orders on the books for the plane. With those numbers, more and more travelers will soon find themselves walking down the jetway to board a plane they've never before experienced.
And what an experience. Thanks to technology, modern materials, and a refreshing re-focus on passenger comfort, the Airbus A350 is about to silence many of the most common complaints in air travel. Here are just a few:
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It's not every day that an airline welcomes an airplane so new that no one else has it yet. That was, however, the case this week as Qatar Airways celebrated the arrival of the first Airbus A350. Come next week, anyone can fly on the plane and, with over 700 orders for the aircraft (80 just from Qatar Airways), this will hardly be the last you'll hear of it.
Why is Qatar Airways’ A350 so special? Put quite simply, the airline has it first. The A350 rolled off the runway at Airbus’ Toulouse factory to land at Doha and begin its service, as Qatar Airways is the “Global Launch Customer” for the type; they’re debuting the plane, setting the bar, and offering an experience unavailable anywhere else.
In addition to its body of advanced materials and engines that are the cleanest yet, the Airbus A350 also brings onboard humidification systems (no more dry eyes and skin!), an air management system that filters the entire cabin of air every 2-3 minutes, improved cabin temperature levels (no more “too hot” or “too cold”), and seats designed specifically for Qatar Airways and their heightened standards for both luxury and comfort.
Speaking of the seats...
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Booking a plane ticket to a new city is, for the most part, fairly easy. It's the arriving in that city which can be a headache, figuring out how best to explore and get around. Fret no more, because that's all RideScout's specialty.
This newish mobile app, available for both Apple and Android devices, helps travelers get from point A to point B faster and smarter using some GPS technology and an easy-to-use interface. RideScout gathers together all the ground transportation in the area and presents it as simply as possible, including directions, estimated cost, and arrival times, ensuring that you get where you need to go by cab, public transport, car-sharing, or biking.
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.
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If your electronics and mobile doodads aren’t behaving this holiday season there’s a new way to get things repaired and fix while on the go. Best Buy is sending their Geek Squad unit into the airport, as the brave women and men will be stationed at Chicago-O’Hare for the next few weeks.
When your phone just isn’t keeping up its end of the bargain make your way over to Terminal 3 near the Concourse H food court. There you’ll find the Geek Squad, and that’s where they will be providing tech support for free through December 23.
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Instead of a cosmetic rebrand, Alaska Airlines is investing millions to update their entire in-flight experience with huge benefits for the economy traveler.
Alaska Beyond begins rolling out across Alaska Airlines' 737 fleet from today through 2015, and it consists of several updates:
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Sometimes it seems like everyone around you has the newest, best smartphone, and soon that feeling will include all the flight attendants onboard United Airlines. The carrier just announced that they’re ordering a boatload Apple's freshest offering to aid with in-flight service efficiency.
United was sold on the awesomeness of these little—well, big—devices, as the carrier is bringing the iPhone 6 Plus to 23,000 flight attendants. It's not a holiday present, however; the iPhones will be used to record retail transactions and other purchases aboard flights. Access to corporate email, intranet sites, and even policies and manuals will also be accessed through the new phones. United is even ditching the traditional printed safety manuals, as everything will now be right on the screen.
Travel Tech / WiFi / At-Sea WiFi / Cruise Travel / Royal Caribbean / Quantum of the Seas / Ships / Cruise Fees / O3b Communications / → All Tags
So maybe you've heard that there's a new WiFi scene on the high seas. Updated technology is finally allowing cruisers to log on from the Lido deck, and Royal Caribbean is the first big line to unleash the action.
Royal Caribbean's CEO insisted that the WiFi be available for free to everyone onboard the November pre-inaugural cruises of their newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, but RCCL has now nailed down solid numbers on how much they'll charge for the service.
The RoyalCaribbeanBlog noted WiFi rates and packages from the ship's frequent 8-day Caribbean sailings out of New York City and although the rates do hit three digits for the larger unlimited packages, they still represent massive savings over the exorbitant standard pricing of older systems.
The majority of cruise ships still utilize older systems, charging $0.75 per minute or offering packages like 8 hours for $168. These prices now decrease to as low as $65 for an entire day, and gone is that medieval by-minute option.
“Ok Google, show me my trip.”
Say these words into your smartphone, and watch what happens: The world around you melts into a swirl of Technicolor. Suddenly you’re standing on a lunar landscape that resembles the merged imaginations of Salvador Dali and Willy Wonka. A winged unicorn appears, your spirit guide, and motions for you to mount his back. You take flight across a starry sky, leaving a ribbon of rainbow in your wake.
Sorry, just kidding. It’s not that kind of trip.
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"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: