How Will NFC, Biometrics and Wearable Tech Affect Travel?

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If a group of people traveled twenty years into the future, from 1994 to today, and saw the amount of commercial technology available, they would be staggered at the sheer connectivity we enjoy. We have portable computers and tablets, sports bands that monitors our heartbeats, and mobile phones that we use for everything except for making calls. We may not be living in the age of the Jetsons, but we’re getting close.

And we’re continuing to advance, thanks to a group of people who specialize in “outcome-focused thinking,” or thinking that creates ideas without worrying of positive or negative consequences.

At Walt Disney World, biometric measurements a...

At Walt Disney World, biometric measurements are taken from the fingers of guests to ensure that the person’s ticket is used by the same person from day to day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This raises the question, where are we going next? According to Rob Girling, the co-founder of the Artefact Group and one of the more prominent outcome-focused thinkers, he sees technology moving towards three directions.

  • Near Field Communication (NFC): NFC will play a large role in the future of wearable technology. NFC, when partnered with wearable devices, will function as a form of identification, allowing the wearer to create checkpoints at restaurants, make payments and unlock certain secure areas.
  • Biometrics: In some ways, biometric data (iris pattern, thumbprint, heart beat) is almost like NFC technology. Biometric sensors can be placed in hotels or airports for security purposes, and will only respond to a specific individual’s biometric data. Think unlocking a door with your finger print or identifying yourself on a plane ride with an eye scan. We’re already seeing this with the iPhone 5′s thumbprint scanner.
  • Natural Language Processing: As impressive as NFC and biometrics sound on paper, natural language processing may be the most promising and useful advancement in technology. NLP will allow your device to actually follow through with a complicated task and execute a complex search query, such as finding the cheapest price for a car rental. Asking SIRI to set a reminder is simply the first step on the NLP ladder.

So what does this mean for the travel industry? In some ways, traveling will become a lot easier. Imagine wearing NFC tech that you can wave at a security checkpoint or can use to make payments with your phone.

Biometrics are already being used in some office security protocols, such as a thumbprint scanner for a computer, or even Dublin Airport in Ireland using an automated passport scanner for immigration checks.

And you can already use Siri or any number of Android personal assistants to find nearby restaurants, gas stations, and tourist attractions. How much longer before you say, “Siri, rent a car for me”?

Outcome-focused thinking is already making itself felt in the travel industry. The next 20 years will be interesting, and we’re looking forward to seeing what that time is going to bring.

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Is Common Sense In Travel Dead?

April 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

When you’re traveling or on vacation, you want to feel relaxed and at home. When you feel relaxed and at home, you let your guard down, and things can get stolen. When things get stolen, your vacation becomes a nightmare, and you’ve lost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Don’t let your guard down when you’re on vacation.

MCL-ETYCB Single Suite Hotel Room

MCL-ETYCB Single Suite Hotel Room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Say you are going down the hallway to get ice in the hotel and just leave your door ajar because you’ll be right back or you leave your Kindle or iPad on your chair to go to the restroom. But when you get back, you discover your tablet is gone and your room has been burglarized. You’ve been the victim of a robbery, all because you assumed you and your belongings were safe, just like at home. This is why it’s important to travel smart and keep your guard up. You’re not at home, which means you have to be on your guard.

A recent article in USA Today said that travelers and experts believe that common sense in traveling might be dead. We don’t necessarily think that common sense is out the door — unlike your iPad and wallet — but these stories of carelessness are becoming more prevalent as more and more people travel. We are traveling more than we ever did in the past and as you know, planes are packed with people.

Technology is making it easier to travel. Your smartphones and tablets willl let you go anywhere and do everything for you so you don’t really have to think. And when you don’t know the smarts of traveling, you are more likely to be the victim of scams. Keep in mind that you are in a different place and need to keep smart and use common sense to avoid getting out of touch with reality. There are an increasing number of stories of horrible accidents that travelers get themselves into because they were not thinking. One of the culprits is an over-reliance on technology, and the other is letting your guard down.

Remember that when you’re traveling, you’re not in the cyberworld, but in the real world. Keep your eyes open, listen carefully, and be aware of where you are. And don’t let your trip or vacation turn bad because of a simple mistake you made. Stay smart and bring your brain when traveling.

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In-Flight Text Messaging Is Coming

April 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve wanted to text from an airplane, but couldn’t because of the electronics restrictions, you’re in luck. A new app from Gogo will allow you to text while in the air, anywhere above 10,000 feet. The app will be released this year and will allow iPhone and Android users to download the app for in-flight texting. Even better, when you text with the app, the recipients will only see a normal text message from your regular number, and they don’t need the app to read it.

Texting on a planeThe newly relaxed Federal Aviation Administration rules now allow you to use electronic devices while flying. Gogo is taking the relaxed rules one step further and allowing you to text in-flight. This is possible because the app uses the aircraft’s Wi-Fi instead of cell towers. After downloading the app, you can give Gogo Text permission to view your contact list, which allows you to text whomever you wish. And they won’t even know you’re in the air.

At Travelpro, we’re definitely in favor of the Gogo Text app over regular voice calls, which may also be allowed this year. Texting is less intrusive than making in-flight calls, which means you can avoid a planeload of people all shouting to be heard over everyone else.

How successful Gogo’s new app will be depends on a few things even though there is a demand from airlines for this kind of access, and a demand from consumers too.

The one wrinkle is that the Gogo app comes on the heels of an FCC announcement that air travelers will soon be able to use their phones at all times. Then there is the cost. We don’t know if the app will have to be purchased, will have a smaller fee, or even be free. Only the launch of the app will tell if you’ll be texting on your next flight or not.

But regardless of what develops, one thing remains: the ability to reach people with our regular technology while in flight is about to get easier.

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Photo credit: Tom Woodward (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Dublin Airport Installs Self-Service Biometric Gates

April 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve ever stood in line at an immigration checkpoint, whether you’re entering another country or returning to your own, you know how long they can take — up to an hour or more, depending on the time of day.

So what if you could pass through an immigration point in seconds or minutes, instead of an hour or more?

Closeup - automated immigration checkpoint

Closeup – automated immigration checkpoint (Photo credit: ttstam)

A pilot test at Ireland’s Dublin Airport (no pun intended) is currently allowing about 1,000 passengers each day to pass through automatic immigration gates. SITA’s iBorders biometric gates use facial recognition to match your face to your passport and verify that you are able to enter the country, taking only about 7.5 seconds to get through. This is much faster than having a human look at you and your passport photo to make a comparison.

The new automated border control gates allow for more efficiency and stronger border control. Human error is ruled out and the system is more secure. While paper passports can be forged, facial recognition cannot unless you go through extensive plastic surgery or happen to be Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

This pilot program is testing the suitability of this system on immigration control and security. If the program goes well, the gate system might make it across the globe and you may be seeing it in an airport near you. This system may even save you the headache of long lines going through immigration next time you travel internationally. And there is even the potential of going through border control even faster than going through security, which has never been a possibility before.

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Bring This, Not That: Baby Formula and Breast Milk

April 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Mothers who are traveling with infants know the difficulty of trying to feed their babies with breast milk or baby formula. You need to have enough supply on hand before arriving at your final destination, which may seem like a problem, given the TSA’s restrictions on liquids.

However, breast milk and baby formula are two exemptions to the liquid restriction, which means this problem is not as big as you might have thought.

TSA Allowed Liquids

TSA Allowed Liquids (Photo credit: bosconet)

Officially, breast milk and formula are classified as liquid medication, which means you may bring more than three ounces as long as you present it for inspection through security. Frozen milk must be presented in a solid state during inspection (that is, it can’t be half-frozen or slushy). Your empty bottles and ice packs are also permitted as well.

Although you’re allowed to bring as much milk or formula as you wish, the TSA encourages you to only bring as much as you need to get to your destination. Aside from the extra time it will take to get through security, it also is going to add weight to your bag. If you take baby formula, keep in mind that you can get it elsewhere and don’t need to add all of that extra weight to your bag. Plus, you’re still only restricted to one carry-on bag and one personal bag, so if you’re bringing a cooler of milk or formula, that’s one of your allowed bags.

Whether you choose breast milk or baby formula comes down to your preference. But if you use baby formula, keep in mind that there are powdered formulas available. Just pick up a bottle of water near the gate, and you’re all set. You don’t have the extra weight in the bag, and you can pack a lot more powdered formula than regular formula.

The Bottom Line

If you know you will be bringing baby formula or breast milk on your next flight, separate these liquids from your other liquids and let the TSA agents know you have it. Remember that any item must be properly scanned and screened before entering the secure area of the airport. So again, make it easy on yourself and only bring as much as you need to get to your destination.

If you have other questions on what you can bring, you may refer to the TSA’s web page about baby formula and breast milk.

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Travelpro Announces its “Win a Trip to the Golf Championship” Sweepstakes

April 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sweepstakes runs April 1 through May 10, 2014

Travelpro, the original inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design, is proud to announce its “Win a Trip to the Golf Championship” sweepstakes featuring a trip for two to the U.S. Open.

The U. S. Open Golf Championship is the second of the four major golf championships in the nation and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. This year’s championship will take place, June 9 – 22 at the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina. From April 1 – May 10, Travelpro is offering the chance for a grand prize winner and guest to win a trip to one of golf’s most prestigious events.

111th U.S. Open Championship

111th U.S. Open Championship (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

“Travelpro has a history of providing flight crews and frequent travelers with innovative and stylish luggage that’s designed for the long haul,” said Scott Applebee, Travelpro International’s Vice President of Marketing. “We are pleased to offer a winner and guest the opportunity to witness the world’s most talented professional golfers at the iconic 2014 US Open Championship.”

The Sweepstakes winner will receive a $1,000 voucher for personal airfare and one travel companion. A two night stay at the legendary Pinehurst Resort in the Village of Pinehurst, where the game of golf is rooted in its history. One $300 prepaid credit card and two Travelpro carry-on suitcases, along with two 2014 U.S. Open Championship tickets for Thursday, June 12 and Friday, June 13. Each ticket will provide access to the SI Golf Group’s corporate hospitality tent in the Ross Village and complimentary food and beverage on the dates specified.

The Grand Prize Package Includes:

  • Two (2) U.S. Open Championship tickets
  • $1000 voucher for airfare
  • Two (2) night hotel stay (one room, double occupancy)
  • $300 gift card
  • Two (2) Travelpro carry-on sized suitcases

The sweepstakes begins April 1 and ends May 10. To enter or view the official sweepstakes rules please visit: No purchase or payment necessary to enter or win. The United States Golf Association which conducts the U.S. Open Championship has not endorsed or sponsored this promotion, or the prizes associated with this promotion in any way.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself in 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 worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection.

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.

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Wearable Technology Improves Travel

March 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Wearable technology is having a positive impact on the travel industry, both for travelers and for people who work in the business. We recently read an article by Future Travel Experience about rising trends in wearable tech and what it’s doing for travelers, and that got us to thinking about what we could see wearable tech do in the future.

Google GlassWearable tech is basically any kind of technology you can wear on your body. Whether it’s a Google Smartwatch — think Dick Tracy’s phone watch — or Google Glass, the computer glasses, or even the FitBit, Jawbone, or Nike FuelBand fitness tracker bands, wearable tech is already making its way into the mainstream, which means travelers are already using it.

One idea the FTE article mentioned was for airport agents to use Google Glass as a way to scan passports and check boarding passes. If you’ve ever stood in a passport line, you know it can take a very long time to get through the process. But Google Glass could shorten the process, getting it down to a single second per traveler. That would speed up the passport check line greatly, improving the experience of international travel.

Or how about getting notified of your flight’s status on your Google Smartwatch? Receive a text or email on your watch, rather than fussing with your phone. You can even connect your Bluetooth earpiece to the Smartwatch and call your travel agent or the airline customer support line if you have problems with your flight.

The famous 2-Way Wrist Radio

The famous 2-Way Wrist Radio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you like to exercise, how about using your exercise device as a way to measure your walking during travel days? If you arrive early enough at the airport, or have a long layover, take some time to stroll around the airport rather than sitting at the gate for three hours. While it may not be your usual morning run, it’s at least a way to keep moving and get some exercise in. Use your FitBit as a way to track your steps, distance walked, and even calories burned.

As more people are embracing wearable technology, we may see it become a regular part of air travel, whether it’s the travelers who are wearing them, or the airport and airline professionals. The technology can ultimately be used to help improve the airport experience, which is something many airport designers are already doing.

How are you using technology in your own travels? Are there any items on your travel tech wish list? Leave us a comment or discuss it on our Facebook page. (Bonus points if you answer it from your smartphone from an airplane or airport.)

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New Technology Changing the Future of Airports

March 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many airports are undergoing major technology changes and updates throughout the country, beyond just adding new electrical outlets and USB ports at different gates (although that’s very important). Airports are getting new looks and brand new technology that can make the time we spend waiting for our planes easier and more pleasurable.

According to a recent article on the (FTE) blog, the Bradley West Terminal at LAX is getting new digital technology, including screens and interactive devices, as well as adding outlets for almost every other chair. (We told you it was important). Users can even interact with digital screens via their own mobile phone or tablet. The retrofit took five years, and is using the latest technology to improve travelers’ gate experience (in fact, they won an award for “Best Experience at the Gate”.

The theme restaurant and control tower at Los ...

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

The technology often changed faster than the installations were going in. Curtis Fentress Principal-in-Charge of Design at Fentress Architects told FTE, “We’ve been working on (the LAX) project for around five years and we’ve made changes on the fly throughout that time.”

Fentress is also working to create a “sense of place” for airports, something his firm did for the Denver International Airport in 1995. Now, architects around the world are all re-imagining their airports so the design and style will be appropriate for their particular cities, not just through appearance, but in functionality as well.

Fentress even told FTE to start watching for materials that can clean and repair themselves. “Things like self-repairing materials, self-cleaning glass and self-cleaning carpets are wonderful concepts and it’s true that all of them are being developed.”

The end result is that airports will no longer be a place we have to endure, avoid, or complain about. They’re becoming more functional and more pleasurable to spend time in. While airports will never be as comfortable as your home or office, they can at least be an enjoyable part of your travels.

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Our New Maxlite 3 Video

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Maxlite 3 brings amazing innovation to our ultra-lightweight collection of 4-wheel Spinners and 2-wheel Rollaboard luggage. This handsome set comes with the patented Contour Grip on Spinners, plus a unique expansion design and custom full-bottom tray to add greater stability. Combined with flexible packing options and stylish accents, Maxlite 3 has the look and feel of top-of-the-line luggage, without the hefty price tag. And it’s lighter than ever. Every piece is backed by our reassuring Lifetime Warranty.

Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly

March 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

When you purchase tickets for a flight, you probably don’t pay much thought to how the information you’re providing — your name, date of birth, and address — is being used. In fact, most travelers don’t give airport security much thought until they’re in line at the TSA screening checkpoint. However, the Travel Security Administration has recently begun running increased security checks on travelers before they even arrive at the airport.

English: A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage.

English: A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Basic security checks are nothing new. For years, the TSA has been running a program called Secure Flight. Before a traveler steps foot into the airport, their name, date of birth and address are compared with terrorist watch lists. However, through this new program, the TSA will be comparing traveler information against a wide array of government and private databases. That being said, it’s unclear exactly which specific databases the TSA will be accessing, however some speculate that it may include things like past travel itineraries, law enforcement records, property records and the like.

While this level of screening may seem intrusive, the TSA claims that this information will be used to streamline airport security screenings, with the ultimate goal of giving 25% of passengers lighter screenings within the year, allowing pre-approved passengers to keep their shoes and jackets on and go through a simplified screening process, not unlike their Pre-Check program. On the flip side, travelers that are flagged as “high-risk” may experience increased, and repeated, security screenings.

Unfortunately, travelers who are wrongly placed on the security watch list may run into endless problems while traveling. While those that have been wrongly labeled “high risk” can petition to have their name removed through the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, some civil liberties groups complain that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be removed.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you ok with the prospect of having increased security checks run on you before you enter the airport, in exchange for increased security and a simplified airport screening process? Share your thoughts in the comments section, or on our Facebook page.

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