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From yoga rooms and prayer rooms to wineries and food trucks, airports sure are thinking outside the box lately. Now, the folks over at San Fransisco International Airport have done the most San Francisco-y thing ever and created a new concept room for travelers to spend a few final minutes brainstorming and networking on the ground before boarding a flight.
A special space called Converge is now set aside for SFO passengers to come together and exchange ideas about technology, start-ups, the shared economy, "disruption," travel, politics, and ways to change the world. While the room is not limited to these ideas, the airport thinks these are good ideas to start. The #Converge brainstorming room is designed to create more of a community for those flyers who might feel lonely on a long layover, or who maybe just seek fresh input. Kitted out with free wi-fi, tables, chairs, power outlets, a white board and a magnetic chalk board, the #Converge room actually sounds like it might also be useful for "digital nomads" in transit.
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The folks over at the airline have just made a pretty big order over at the Apple Store, as they’re spending $120 million on new iPads and other gadgets to modernize bits and pieces of the airport experience. It sounds like the focus will be within Terminal C, as airline officials certainly recognize that their home at the airport is a little tired and certainly less than welcoming. We’re not so sure that travelers can be tricked by a little touch screen trendiness, but we shall see.
Last week, the 2014 World Travel Market Industry Report was released to the public. In short, it is an annual global survey of exhibitors and buyers that highlight travel trends, including who’s buying what and who’s going where and how they’re going about doing it. Like any industry report, it is to be analyzed and regarded as a single, general resource amongst a sea of information, but it is fun, and often useful, to step back and consider some of the major themes brought forth by the report.
The thing that jumped out at me has to do with the ever-emerging and ever-growing segment of peer-to-peer travelers. If an attitude of “ew, I don’t want to sleep in someone else’s bed” ever existed amongst travelers, it has certainly been silenced to the point of a whisper. Preference for vacation rentals, including the rooms to rent found on sites like AirBnb, have grown incredibly in the past decade.
Lost luggage? Thing of the past.
Overweight carry-on? No more.
Forgetting the keys to your TSA baggage locks? Impossible!
It was probably only a matter of time before carry-ons got the smartphone treatment and, thanks to Bluesmart, some hassles of heading to an airport may soon be forgotten.
A new carry-on bag claims to keep travelers connected to their cabin baggage with the help of an iPhone app. It allows travelers to weigh their luggage instantly, locate misplaced bags, remotely lock and unlock the suitcase, and even charge devices while on the road. Here are the major features:
Space Travel / Space Tourism / Virgin / Virgin Galactic / Spaceships / Travel News / Travel Tech / MHV / Ansari X Prize / Science Travel / Richard Branson / Rocket Science / New Mexico Travel / Spaceport America / → All Tags
[Update: This feature was written and published prior to the tragic events of 31 October, 2014, when SpaceShipTwo suffered an "anomaly" and was lost, with one fatality.]
How about Paris for the weekend, or a two-week trip around Southeast Asia? Forget itthat's so 2014, so terrestrial. Should Virgin Galactic have their way, 2015 will be the year you book a vacation of suborbital space travel, or perhaps a supersonic 45-minute flight from California to London.
This month SpaceShipTwo completed her 54th test flight, improving the odds that next year will indeed be the one to finally kick off space tourism. In fact, Virgin Galactic has already begun the big move from Mojave, CA to Las Cruces, NM, the latter being home to Spaceport America and, hopefully soon, flights to space full of paying passengers (6, to be specific, plus 2 pilots).
Seeing as the US treats spaceship technology with something of the same intense secrecy as defense technology, much of what Virgin Galactic's been up to out in their hangar in the California desert is hush-hush top secret. The 10th Anniversary of their Ansari X Prize win however opened up a small window for us to peek behind those massive doors. Here's what we can tell (and show!) you:
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Did you know that today, October 29, is National Cat Day? Well it's also International Internet Day, which is a perfect coincidence if we don't say so ourselves. On this day in 1969, the first electronic message was sent over ARPANET. It's this network that developed into the internet we know and use today, no matter where we are traveling in the world.
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"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:
A few early-stage concepts for what the future of airplane design might look like within the next decade has been making the rounds through the media recently. Three companies in particular, Paris-based Technicon Design, England's Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), and Boston's Spike Aerospace, have emerged at the forefront of the research, and they clearly agree on one thing: Airplanes of the future won't have windows.
You can click on the company links above for more specific details on their individual projects, but the bottom line is that removing windows from fuselages will (eventually) be cheaper and more environmentally friendly due to reduced weight. According to CPI, airplanes without windows are lighter than airplanes with windows, and "for every 1% reduction in weight, the approximate fuel saving is 0.75%. If you save weight, you save fuel. And less fuel means less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and lower operational cost."
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Blah blah blah Apple Pay. Although it seems like the new mode of payment is all anyone can talk about this week, the attention is for good reason. Apple Pay is hopefully the first step towards a future we've always envisioned for travelers, a future served by universal payment.
Granted, Apple Pay has a long long way to go before we can hold up our phone to pay for bus fare in Hong Kong one day, and do the same to pay the bill at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Denmark the next, but the growing ubiquity of iPhones and iPads means this native Apple app has serious potential, not to mention that many other countries have already eclipsed the US in contactless payment technology.
Last week, the airline industry descended upon Seattle for the North American side of the 2014 Aircraft Interiors Expo, a conference that focuses on the future of passenger experience and interior cabin design.
Not only are related issues discussed, but private companies present their products to the airlines, aimed at inventing and improving the future of air travel.
Here's some takeaways from the conference:
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Apple Pay is the hot topic of conversations this week, as Apple releases their "credit card killer" for easier, and more secure payments. So far it's only available to Americans, for use in the United States, but as this is only the beginning of Apple Pay we can see an expanded future ahead. So, how to get started?
First off, you must be in possession of an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini 3 or iPad Air 3 running iOS 8.1, and you must enable passcode lock and, for the iPhone, Touch ID (fingerprint recognition). It's extra layers of security.
For help with setting it up, check out AppleInsider, which we did and then immediately headed out to Walgreens to purchase a few mini travel toiletries.
Apple Pay performed beautifully. When the cashier totaled up our purchases, our Passbook Apple Pay screen switched itself to prompt us to place our finger for Touch ID. When our print cleared, the phone vibrated and chimed, and displayed a small record of the transaction including store name and location.
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Segways. Where there's a tourist hotspot city center, there's likely to be a Segway tour or two of it. Sometimes you're onboard, and sometimes you're not, but whatever your opinion of Segway tours, it's clear to see that they're here to stay.
We recently hopped on a Segway tour in Ft Lauderdale, Florida for something a little different, and we'd be lying if we said Segways didn't come with a list of pros and cons. If you've ever debated on taking a tour or even turned your nose up to strapping on a helmet and quietly scooting around, this is for you: