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How many miles did you fly last year? What about different airlines? Total number of hours spent in the air? If you can't answer any of these questions, listen up because there's a slew of ways to easily track all these fun travel statistics with only a few clicks of the mouse.
Right now is the ideal time to begin logging your flights for this fresh year so that, come December, you'll have all sorts of fun stats to share at holiday parties and on social networks. "I flew 70,000 miles and visited 32 different airports in 9 countries this year" sure beats, "Yeah, I traveled a lot."
With this is mind, we put flight tracking websites to the test:
We realize that Santa is hanging out in the islands, relaxing after a busy holiday season, so we’re not exactly ready to send off a letter fir Christmas 2013 just yet. However, we do already know what we want, and it’s one of these snazzy devices from the minds of the folks over at PowerUp.
The PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane is exactly what it sounds like. It’s basically a toy airplane for both big kids and little kids that you can control with your mobile device. They’re raising money for their (awesome) idea on Kickstarter, and we’re far from the only ones that want one. Apparently they’ve raised nearly $915,000 and that is way, way more than the $50,000 that they initially set as a goal.
Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.
The era of fast in-flight WiFi is finally here, but remnants of its predecessors in travel communication technology still lurk about mothballed corners, like boxes of old postcards.
Here we have a postcard from the late 1910s, depicting a wireless station that was the pride of Fort Myer, Virginia. The reverse doesn't skimp on the details of the $250,000 construction:
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Nearly two months after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a directive allowing air travelers to use personal electronic devices (PEDs) from gate-to-gate, the rest of the world is finally beginning to follow along.
British Airways yesterday became the first international airline to declare gadgets safe for use throughout entire flights, even during take-off and landings, and without the wait for the airplane to reach 10,000 feet.
This is not something the airline has just up and done on its own; BA secured clearance for the change from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) after passing safety tests. Expect more such news from European airlines in 2014, as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is next to relax gadget rules on flights.
In-Flight WiFi / Fly-Fi / Travel Tech / JetBlue / JFK / A320 / Travel News / Airlines / LCCs / A321 / WiFi / ViaSat / Airline News / → All Tags
[Update: To view what routes will have Fly-Fi each day, check the frequently updated list on JetBlue's blog]
December, 2007: JetBlue christens an Airbus A320 "BetaBlue" and becomes the first airline to offer in-flight WiFi, even if it is extremely limited and quickly outdated.
December, 2013: JetBlue again launches an Airbus A320 with in-flight WiFi, but this time the focus is on freedom and a tech-positive future. The system is called Fly-Fi and it promises to do everything other in-flight networks cannot, and still go beyond. It is the Survivor of in-flight WiFi networks, designed to "Outwit Outplay Outlast."
It was only this morning that Fly-Fi saw its first official flight, and we were onboard. Naturally we tried our very best to break the network or at least throttle it, but to no avail; Fly-Fi is a beast of technology, an in-flight WiFi network passengers can finally rely on, and likely even come to love.
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The chips are certainly falling in JetBlue's favor lately. First, their new "Mint" premium seats sell out minutes after going on sale, and now the FAA approves gate-to-gate gadget use just as the airline revs up for the debut of their own satellite-supported in-flight WiFi network, "Fly-Fi."
In fact, the switch has already been flipped and JetBlue is the midst of a trial period, allowing users to log on and surf the web for free (it will remain free) and push the system to its limits. The specific aircraft to watch for is tail number N534JB (and possibly also N804JB). From Zach Honig at Engadget, we know it's flown on the JFK-Austin route and, from Seth at The Wandering Aramean, it's also made a run or two down to Orlando.
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Word to the wise: automated immigration kiosks are the new hotness. These machines process the passports of US & Canadian citizens in a matter of seconds (minutes, if there's a line), and we foresee it one day pushing the Global Entry program to the curb. Oh, and it's free.
How to use the kiosks:
Simply roll up to one, scan your passport page, confirm that the screen has your ID and arriving flight info correct, tap to answer "no" to the usual "are you bringing anything weird into our country?" questions, and a camera snaps your photo and prints a receipt of the transaction. Show that receipt to a man in a booth (no waiting!), he'll stamp your passport, and you're free to enter baggage claim. You'll finally yield that receipt to the customs inspection officers after baggage claim, with minimal bother and no queuing.
Who's got them:
As far as we know, there are four US airports with immigration kiosks up and running for holders of US passports. They are:
Now that passengers on domestic US flights are keeping their power on during takeoff and landing (and everything in between), the question becomes when will other countries make the same ruling? Well, we have one answer: the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will make gate-to-gate gadget use on European flights possible beginning the end of this month.
The news comes this morning from the EASA in Cologne, Germany. The exact wording is quite plain:
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It's been nearly two weeks since the Federal Aviation Administration issued a directive allowing air travelers to use personal electronic devices (PEDs) from gate-to-gate, without the wait for the airplane to reach 10,000 feet. Already there's a photo contest and funny flight attendant story, but the freedom is limited to airlines with FAA approval.
The new directive went into effect on November 1, and airlines have been quick to send in their applications. Before keeping that smartphone/tablet/camera switched on, know if you're even allowed to by checking out which airlines even have the go-ahead from the FAA:
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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.
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It's been only a couple of years since Google Maps made the leap into airports, mapping the inside of - depending on what kind of a day we're having - either our favorite or absolutely least favorite places in the world. Since then the Mountain View kids have not only expanded their airport offerings, but have even gone inside actual airplanes 'waiting' on the tarmac. What's left to do?
Do more and go bigger, obviously. TechCrunch reports that Gatwick Airport has become the newest location to receive Google's 360 degree panoramic Street View treatment. The UK airport - the second busiest in the country - is now apparently open to virtual touring. It only required stitching together 2,000 overlapping photos, matching the results to the airport's actual layout, and uploading everything. Piece of cake.
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At this point, you’ve probably heard that you can leave some electronics switched on during takeoff and landing as long as you’re doing so in airplane mode. JetBlue and Delta are the first carriers to start implementing the new relaxed rules and regulations, but there’s probably one thing that you still won’t be able to do below 10,000-feet—use the in-flight WiFi.
Carriers like American Airlines, Delta, Virgin America, United, and US Airways all utilize Gogo to get their in-flight Internet, and that’s a problem for those looking to connect on the ground. The way Gogo does its thing is based upon sending its magical WiFi signal to airplanes at cruising altitude rather than those hanging out on the ground or climbing into the skies. Gogo is looking into changing that, but for now that means you need to look elsewhere if you want to stay truly connected from takeoff to touch-down.