Cheese It, It’s the Baggage Police!

November 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever feel like you’d like to conduct a citizen’s arrest of a fellow passenger whose oversized baggage clearly violates the size limitations for what is considered carry-on? Several airlines are deploying their own “baggage police” to try to enforce carry-on compliance among their passengers.

Jetstar in Australia and United have begun instructing employees to eyeball customers at security checkpoint entrances and instruct them to return to the ticket counter to check their bags. United has even placed new carry-on compliance boxes at its counters and has sent an email to frequent fliers reminding them of the policy.

But can either airline truly carry out this policing? We love the sentiment, but we’re not sure it will last or be picked up by other airlines.

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340...

Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft (economy class). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The issue seems to be the lack of industry standards, both domestically and internationally. Airlines don’t mandate checked baggage on certain flights even when they know the plane being used won’t be able to accommodate even a normal carry-on bag. Instead, airline personnel hand out gate-side checking tags issued for all carry-on luggage, so it can be gate checked and stowed in the regular luggage hold. Why is this?

The answer has to do with overhead bin space and consumer retention. An industry standard for carry-on bags cannot be enforced because the amount of overhead bin space is different with each type of airplane. Some have small bins on one side, designed only to accommodate briefcases, backpacks, and small duffels, while the opposite side has large bins for traditional carry-on luggage.

This means that not all passengers have equal access to that coveted real estate. If it can’t be made available for everyone, enforcing a standard isn’t possible. Bigger airlines have already heard consumer complaints on this issue. No carrier wants to get a bad rap for being a strict enforcer when others aren’t.

It is true that baggage storage issues contribute to boarding times, and can impact an airline’s record of on-time departures and arrivals. But unless equal space is available, it doesn’t seem that airlines are going to have much success enforcing baggage limitations with passengers. Until that day, we advise: Keep calm and carry-on.

Do you have any carry-on luggage horror stories? Share them with us in the comments below or
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Dubai Airport CEO Says Bigger Airports Aren’t Always Better

November 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems a little contradictory to hear from the country that holds the world’s tallest building, but Dubai Airport CEO Paul Griffiths doesn’t believe bigger will be better for the Dubai airport.

In fact, according to a story, Griffiths has said that guaranteeing the best possible customer experience is what’s driving the overhaul and design development of the airport. The goal is not to be the biggest they can be, but rather, smaller and more efficient.

Dubai International Airport, Terminal CInstead of adding to its already large footprint, Dubai’s existing Al Maktoum Airport will be expanded utilizing a modular “node” approach, funneling passengers to smaller, self-contained, identical mini airports where passengers will connect within 400 meters of their next flight.

The goal of this design is the efficient movement of passengers, allowing for an increase from the current load to 26 million passengers by 2018. The ultimate capacity for each of the 12 nodes is 20 million, increasing the number of passengers the airport will handle to be 240 million.

Griffiths shared at the SITA Air Transport IT Summit that, besides longer walking distances and less intimate environments, larger airports “create anxiety for our customers.” With the implementation of technological advances designed to allow passengers self-service options, processes will be streamlined. According to Griffiths, when you “take all the processes out (of the terminal) you can create space,” he explained. “Doubling the process flow and doubling capacity is far cheaper than doubling the size of the airport — and it’s actually what customers want.”

While implementing a similar approach would be more challenging in landlocked airports like New York’s JFK International Airport or Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, industry experts certainly will be watching Dubai’s experiment to see if its advances can be duplicated across an industry with aging infrastructure.

Photo credit: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License)

Quebec City Airport Deploys Apple Watches

November 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Technology drives efficiency in our daily lives. We retrieve information from our laptops, tablets, and phones and use it to make decisions in real time. But can personal technology be deployed — and trusted? — in a airport environment with the same results?

According to an article on, airport management at Canada’s Quebec City Airport is testing this idea by equipping workers in specific roles with smartwatches. They’re working with SITA Lab, a technology research firm that works with the air transport industry to conduct the tests.Quebec City AirportThe watches replace tablets that workers used to check for updates about gate changes and other operational details. The watches are connected to the SITA Airport Management System, which will push notifications to duty managers with real-time operational updates.

Being able to push notifications to a wearable device is allowing workers to take immediate action, according to Marc-André Bédard, Quebec City Airport’s Vice President of Information Technology. This, in turn, is creating a better experience for travelers, eliminating wait times that caused delays because workers weren’t getting critical details in a timely manner.

While this trial may signal the end of the walkie-talkie, it remains to be seen if the smartwatches can withstand the rigorous wear and tear these workers put them through during their typical shifts. If it does, we’re curious as to how well the watches will hold up to this kind of use, and whether the technology will spread to other airports around the world.

What are some of your TILTS (“technology I’d like to see”) ideas? What about technology you’ve seen used in airports, train stations, or on the road? Share your experiences with us below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons user Harfang (Creative Commons)

The Pros and (Considerable) Cons of Bus Travel

November 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people really like a deal. Others are gluttons for punishment, especially reporters who need a column topic.

Seth Kugel, the Frugal Traveler, recently profiled Megabus and his experience traveling from New York to Silver Springs, Md., to Knoxville, Tenn., to Lexington, Ky. The entire itinerary cost him $63. But was it worth it?

Haven’t heard of Megabus? Well, perhaps you’re not cash-strapped and looking for the cheapest possible way to get to your desired destination. Megabus’ fares start at $1. No, that’s not a typo.

English: Megabus #58538 sits on the west side ...

Megabus #58538 waiting to depart on the Megabus M24 line. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Serving the 14 of the 50 states, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and eleven countries in Europe, Megabus is all about bang for the buck.

Megabus is a double-decker, climate-controlled, clean coach that will get you where you need to go, but it doesn’t boast it will do much more than that. Still, it’s not trying to pass itself off as something that it’s not. It’s no-frills, affordable, reliable way to travel. Period.

Megabus is just the latest iteration of bus travel. Greyhound popularized affordable mass ground transportation and became a favorite of those averse to flying. My sister was one of those travelers.

While she lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., the rest of the family lived in Jackson, Miss. In order to visit us, she would embark on a road trip that took 48 hours end-to-end. Her trek included long layovers at terminals in major cities as well as circuitous routes between her Point A and Point B. You could say that she wasted all kinds of time en route, but she preferred it to flying, and she thought it was completely worth it.

So, if you don’t have much money, but have to get somewhere within the United States or Canada, consider Megabus. Just remember Seth’s biggest suggestion: pack a pillow and a blanket.

How to Entertain and Inform While You Travel

November 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Remember the vacations you took with your parents? If you were lucky enough to fly, your entertainment only needed to last a few hours. But if you went over the river and through the woods to wherever you were going, then time yawned ahead of you. Unless you were properly prepared.

Nowadays, there’s no way you can possibly be bored while en route to your destination, thanks to all the entertainment and information available online? You might hear someone utter a few choice words if they discovered they didn’t have the latest episodes of their favorite podcast, that ebook they’ve been waiting to start, or the latest game app at their fingertips because they didn’t realize there wouldn’t be wifi.

iphoneSo, don’t be like those unfortunate souls. Take a few moments in the days before your trip and assess your entertainment and information needs. Perhaps you want to catch up on your favorite television show. Download recently aired episodes to your tablet or be sure to add the Netflix app to your phone so that your queue is ready to go.

Second, and the Delta app are excellent ways to keep track of your flight status and can be shared with your ride at the airport, so they’re not endlessly circling or waiting in the cell phone lot, wondering where you are. The Trip Advisor app can also let you spend your time in the air planning activities when you land.

If you want to get some work done while en route, set up your documents folder to sync to a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud so your work isn’t stranded while you’re soaring through the real clouds. Evernote is also a great place to store travel information, and it isn’t wifi dependent.

New podcasts appear every day and most are a free, quick way to learn new information or while away the time. Note to Self and Serial come to mind. Check Overcast or other podcasting apps to find a few favorites.

If you’re traveling with children, a new game app can buy you valuable minutes of silence. If you haven’t investigated this realm lately, believe us, there’s so much more than Angry Birds. Try Noodles or Two Dots. The fun thing about Two Dots is that you can download the soundtrack and enjoy it as background music if you don’t want to play the game.

Travel time doesn’t have to be down time. It can be productive, entertaining, and even relaxing. Just make sure you download and sync everything before you leave home or your hotel, and you won’t be dependent on airport or airplane wifi.

Photo credit: jeshoots (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

CBP to Expand Pre-Clearance Facilities

November 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The last thing an international traveler wants to deal with after a long trip is getting through customs. It’s always an unknown, like playing a game of roulette. Will it take a few minutes or will it take an hour?

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is in discussions with 10 additional overseas airports to roll out the “welcome home” banner by instituting pre-clearance processes similar to what it already has in place at 15 other international airports. It’s a lot like the TSA’s Pre-Check program, where select individuals can bypass the TSA checkpoint and walk right to their gate.

English: US Immigration and Customs at Shannon...

US Immigration and Customs at Shannon Airport, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I want to take every opportunity we have to push our homeland security out beyond our borders so that we are not defending the homeland from the one-yard line. Pre-clearance is a win-win for the traveling public. It provides aviation and homeland security, and it reduces wait times upon arrival at the busiest U.S. airports,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a DHS press release.

CBP currently offers this service at nine airports in Canada: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnepeg, as well as airports in Dublin and Shannon, Ireland; Aruba; Nassau, Bahamas; and Bermuda. When passengers fly through pre-clearance airports, they are treated similar to passengers on a domestic flight.

The 10 proposed new sites include: Tokyo’s Narita International; Brussels, Belgium; Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Oslo, Norway; London Heathrow and Manchester in the United Kingdom; Madrid, Spain; and Instanbul, Turkey.

Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of the CBP, said that pre-clearance helps identify security threats. Last year it expedited re-entry for 17 million US-bound passengers.

Here’s how the process works: while in flight, passengers complete a simple customs form. Upon arriving, they are directed to a self-service kiosk. The kiosk scans their passport, photographs them to ensure their identity matches the passport, scans the customs form electronically, and issues a receipt. A customs officer scans the receipt and may ask a few questions. Then he or she sends the passenger on their way.

And they get to go home a little bit faster.

Four Travel Myths Busted

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We all think we know the ins and outs of air travel, knowing as much about the rules and tendencies of airlines. But it turns out, these hard and fast rules aren’t nearly as hard or fast as we previously thought. Good Morning America and Yahoo recently busted four travel myths, and discussed how they’re not always correct.

Economy is always cheaper than first class. Not so. It depends on the route and how many stops you’re willing to make along the way. For instance, the same flight between LA and New York could be $500 less in first class than it is in economy if you’re willing to incorporate a stop into your travel itinerary. If you’re more interested in saving money than time, it’s a good idea to investigate flights with at least one stop. It might take you longer to get there, but the first class amenities might make you forget all about the time.

English: S7 Airlines Boeing 767-300.

S7 Airlines Boeing 767-300. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Non-stop flights are “never” cheaper. It’s possible they aren’t, but this statement misses the real question: how valuable is your time? Time is money, especially when you’re talking about valuable, not-getting-it-back vacation time. If you want to have more time on vacation, and less time traveling, you may want to spend the extra money on that nonstop flight.

Discount airlines “always” have the cheapest flights. Again, no blanket statement can ever bear the weight of being true 100 percent of the time! The only way you’ll know which airline has the cheapest fare is to comparison shop. Use a comparison website like Expedia or Travelocity, and then check out the airlines’ websites themselves. You may occasionally find the big legacy airlines are offering the cheaper flights.

Summer flights are “never” delayed as much as winter flights. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Thunderstorms can involve severe turbulence, lightning strikes, icing due to sudden temperature change, hail damage, and water ingestion by the engines. When thunderstorms occur at or near hub airports, the probability of any of these occurring can halt inbound and outbound traffic, which in turn can create ripple effects to more destinations than a severe winter storm in the Dakotas.

The takeaway is there are no absolutes in travel, and myths are often just that. If you can be flexible and do your due diligence, there’s a good chance you can find a flight that will suit your needs and your desires.

Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage Announce Their ‘2015 Holiday Gift Guide’

November 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Show How Much You Care for the Travelers on Your List by Selecting their Favorite Gifts

As families and friends prepare for the upcoming holidays, let us make it easier on you by offering the penultimate resource – the 2015 Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage Gift Guide for this year’s holiday season. As thoughts turn to seeking out great presents for loved ones, these premium brands will ensure wishes come true for all those travelers on your list.

The possibilities, like your plans for the New Year, are endless. The only question is ‘where to start?’

“No matter how uncompromising or discerning the person you are buying for, our 2015 Gift Guide has items to please everyone on your list,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro and Atlantic brands. “Our products embody the most advanced technology available today, combining style and functionality that is sure to impress.”

Surprise the frequent traveler in your life with a couple gifts from the Travelpro Holiday Gift Guide

Surprise the frequent traveler in your life with a couple gifts from the Travelpro Holiday Gift Guide

This Gift Guide includes products that offer distinctly durable construction, travel-tested features, impressive design and superior materials built to go the distance. We can start with the Atlantic Ultra Lite 3 29″ Expandable Spinner, which is perfect for families looking for lightweight luggage at an affordable price. Made with a water-repellent polyester fabric and high-mileage wheels like our more expensive luggage, this attractive spinner is built to please. Featuring expansion capabilities for extra packing, this model of the Atlantic Ultra Lite 3 line comes with a 10-year warranty.

The Atlantic Ultra Lite Hardside 21″ Expandable Spinner features expansion capabilities for extra packing, high-mileage dual Spinner wheels and the strength of a protective hard shell for families on the go. A stylishly textured finish resists scratching over the long haul. This piece includes 360 degree spinner wheels which roll effortlessly in any direction, a retractable aluminum-grade extension handle with multiple stops for users of different heights, and protective wheel housings for crash protection.

The T-Pro Bold™ 2.0 by Travelpro 26″ Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel is another item sure to bring smiles to your gift recipients. This piece is superior in packing flexibility, with a zippered divider panel that allows for two separate packing spaces or, if opened, one large main compartment. Made of water repellant fabric with a coating for greater stain and abrasion resistance, this luggage has durable crash protection, high performance ball-bearing wheels and a strong telescoping handle system with stops at 38″ and an extra-tall 42″ to ensure a comfortable roll for users of different heights.

Travelpro redefines premium travel with the Platinum Magna™ 2 21″ Expandable Spinner. Handsomely crafted with superior fabrics and genuine leather accents, this ultra-durable model represents the pinnacle of fashion, intelligent functionality, and design innovation. With patented Magna Trac™ Dual Spinner wheels, the wheels always roll straight with minimal effort. Backed by Travelpro’s Worry-Free Lifetime Warranty, the Platinum Magna 2 21″ Spinner is the ideal carry-on model for the serious traveler on your holiday shopping list.

Another thoughtful gift-giving choice is the Travelpro Maxlite 19″ Business-Plus Carry-on Hardside. This product incorporates the most sophisticated technology and style for hardside spinner luggage in today’s market. Constructed from 100% polycarbonate material, this hard-working carry-on is engineered to withstand high impact handling and the rigors of long distance travel, while still being lightweight. Another extra is a builtin business organizer and padded laptop/tablet sleeve located in the front pocket for easy access to business essentials during travel.

For the business traveler looking for convenience and functionality, the Travelpro Crew™ Executive Choice™ Checkpoint Friendly Computer Backpack is an excellent gift choice. This sophisticated item features a padded and quilted corduroy pocket for laptops up to 15.6″, plus a separate padded tablet pocket. A built-in business organizer and removable cord pouch provide efficient storage for business essentials and power cables. Added security is ensured with an RFID-blocking pocket which keeps credit cards and passports hidden to protect against loss and identity theft.

Inspired by the blockbuster films and designed for children ages 3 through 11 years old, the Universal Hardside Collections spotlight the iconic visuals from Minions and Jurassic World, combining fun with modern travel features. Made out of strong ABS hardside material with PC film, the 3 pieces in each collection offer a retractable handle system with multiple stops to accommodate children of different heights. A low profile top carry handle makes them simple to pick up, while inline skate wheels allow children to easily take care of their own luggage. In addition, parents will like the two compartment design with interior zippered divider panels and elasticized hold down straps for packing capacity and flexibility. The Minions and Jurassic World Hardside Collections are backed by a three year product warranty.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard® wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers on every continent. The company is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently meeting and exceeding their expectations. Travelpro was honored to once again be voted as the “World’s Best Luggage” by Premier Traveler Magazine in 2014.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @Travelprointl.

About Atlantic Luggage

Since 1919, the Atlantic® brand has been synonymous with affordable, value-added and lightweight luggage. As a market leader in the lightweight luggage segment, from cleverly designed uprights and spinners to trendy and smart garment bags and totes, all Atlantic-branded luggage comprises superior quality and durability. Whether for business or recreation, travel is more pleasurable with Atlantic luggage, part of the Travelpro® family of products. Please visit the Atlantic Luggage website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations.

Busting Thanksgiving Travel Myths In Time for the Holiday

November 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you live across town or across the country, everyone dreads the travel hassles that seem to accompany Thanksgiving. This year we want to ease your stress by debunking some of the common myths surrounding turkey travel — you already have enough stress spending time with family.

We found a recent USA Today article that debunked a lot of Thanksgiving travel myths, and will hopefully put your mind at ease.

While many think the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, that’s not the case. According to Julie Hall, public relations director for AAA, it is the busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving weekend, but it isn’t the busiest travel day of the year.


Thanksgiving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, the busiest travel day of the year in 2014 was August 8, according to the Department of Transportation statistics. The day before Thanksgiving is only in the top 10. See, we’ve already reduced your stress a bit.

Another myth is that more airline delays coincide with Thanksgiving; this also is wrong. According to Christine Sarkis at, Thanksgiving travel has averaged a 19 percent delay record over the past three years, while there has been an average delay of 22 percent in travel just from January to August of this year alone. So, we’re already three percent better.

Frequent fliers also have reason to be relieved. Most airlines no longer have blackout dates, but they do charge more miles for tickets during Thanksgiving week. So, just avoid traveling back on Sunday, when airlines really jack up the “points price,” and you can get back home without losing your shirt.

In fact, you might even be surprised to find a last-minute deal to a popular tourist destination and decide to ditch the extended family gathering altogether! After all, the “you’ll never find a last minute airfare deal” myth is just that: a myth. Just don’t bank on it. Plan ahead as much as possible.

Finally, keep in mind that while the Wednesday before Thanksgiving isn’t the busiest travel day of the year, remember that car travel that day will be its heaviest between 3 and 5 p.m., so you can avoid sitting and do more cruising if you get an early start, like in the morning. You can always nap when you get there.

Better yet, leave on Tuesday morning. Tell your boss we said it was okay.

Happy trails, and happy Thanksgiving, from Travelpro!

Delta Unveils $229M Upgrade to LAX Terminal 5

October 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Want to know how the “other half” lives and travels? Delta wants you to, too. This summer, the airline proudly unveiled extensive renovations of Terminal 5 in LAX, the world’s fifth busiest airport. Their renovations were part of an $8 billion overall renovation of LAX.

The refurbishments include upgraded food and beverage offerings, extensive improvements to its Sky Club, new jet bridges, an expanded ticketing lobby, four additional security checkpoints, new baggage claim carousels, and international baggage recheck facilities. But Delta made sure got the most press was its new Delta ONE lounge.

The theme restaurant and control tower at Los ...

The theme restaurant and control tower at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Delta ONE is the airline’s first premium check-in lounge with a dedicated entrance and security accessible from the private lounge.

In other words, it’s paparazzi-proof.

The 3,200-square-foot space boasts high-end furnishings and amenities, such as a refreshment bar, two restrooms, check-in kiosks, two seating areas (with comfortable chairs that aren’t soldered to the chair next to it), and a service desk created by MotoArt and fashioned from the tail of a DC9 jet.

It is expected to service 150 to 200 passengers a day — travelers Delta counts (and there are 360 of them) as its top tier, highest revenue generating customers. Translation: rich and famous folks.

Those who purchase Delta’s VIP Select service will be eligible to use the lounge, which is just the first of such Delta ONE lounges to be constructed in New York, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Seattle. Other hub cities are expected to be added to the list. Also available as part of the Select service is the hiring of a Porsche to meet the plane on the tarmac and escort the passenger and his luggage off the airport grounds.

What’s the swankiest airport lounge you’ve ever visited? Have you ever been to a Delta ONE or similar lounge? And will you take us with you next time you go? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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