Remember how impressed you were the first time you saw an airport faucet that turned on automatically when you waved your hand in front of them? (Don’t pretend you weren’t!)
It’s almost shocking how far airports have come technologically since then. Case in point: Gatwick Airport’s chief information officer, Michael Ibbitson, recently told FutureTravelExperience.com about the new technology that’s not just wowing passengers, but also streamlining the passenger experience and making travel safer for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the technological advances Gatwick has made.
Speeding Up Bag Check
Automated bag check and check-in are technologies well on their way to mass adoption at this point, but Gatwick is aiming to make them more efficient than ever.
EasyJet has been testing a bag drop system fueled by Phase 5 Technology at its Gatwick hub. According to Ibbitson, the average passenger took 76 seconds to process — the goal is to get passengers through in 45 — so they’re tweaking the system, working toward maximum efficiency.
One of the major headaches of air travel, no matter how far you’re traveling, is getting through security. Gatwick is attempting to make security checkpoints smoother by automating them — the systems installed in 2012 have cut wait time to an average of a mere 107 seconds — and installing Security Max lanes that will enable even more passengers to prepare for the checkpoint at once.
Iris Scanning Technology
The wildest technology we read about: Biometrics as a single passenger token. The gist is that when you check in at the airport and drop your bag off, a machine also scans your iris — an identity marker that’s almost impossible to forfeit — and all your passenger information, from baggage tracking to your passport and boarding pass, is encoded into the scan.
A single scan of your iris is all it takes to move you through the rest of the travel process throughout the airport — and even at your destination.
According to the Future Travel Experience post, this technology is well within reach — it’s the widespread implementation of the technology at airports worldwide that will take some time.
What technology would you most like to see implemented in your favorite airport? The sky’s the limit, so they say — leave a comment with your loftiest technology dreams.
Not to diminish any travel woes you’ve experienced — trust me, we’ve all been through enough horrible delays and cancellations to know how frustrating they are — but after reading a recent Budget Travel blog post, I’m grateful for the low drama factor of my travel mishaps.
If you thought having your flight canceled and being stuck overnight is the worst it can get, think again. Here are a couple of the worst-case scenarios I hope you’ll never have to face.
Getting Arrested in a Foreign Country
We’ve all heard horror stories about winding up in a Thai prison…well, for some it’s a reality.
Cultural differences can sometimes translate into legal differences, too — or maybe you’ve just behaved very badly — but your first step in the right direction if you’ve gotten into legal trouble is to call the embassy. They may not be able to get you off the hook right away, but the embassy will at least help ensure that you have legal counsel.
It would also behoove you to check out the State Department’s website for insight into the customs and laws of the area you’re traveling to.
Finding Yourself in the Middle of a Natural Disaster
This actually happened to me back in the ’90s: During a sales meeting in Key West, Fla., a hurricane rolled through during the night. There was a lot of wind and rain and the power went out, but we were otherwise unaffected.
If you find yourself in a more severe situation, the best thing to do is listen to local authorities. Also be sure to contact family and loved ones as soon as possible to ensure they know you’re all right.
If you have access to the Internet, your local embassy’s website is a great resource for emergency personnel, hospitals and the like — but the Budget Travel article recommends finding a major hotel if you can’t get online and need to know what to do beyond following the authorities’ instructions.
Our favorite tip: Register your travel abroad with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program — we’d never heard of it until we read the Budget Travel blog post, but it’s a great idea and sounds easy to implement.
Have you experienced one of these nightmare travel scenarios? How did you react, and how did the situation turn out? Leave a comment and tell your story.
Here’s a sobering statistic: In a study of 2,300 American workers who get paid vacation, only 25 percent said they take advantage of every day they’re allowed. Sixty-one percent said they continued to work even while on vacation.
There are plenty of other blog posts — books, even — that could be written on American work culture and why we don’t take advantage of the benefits of our jobs. This blog post is a plea to consider traveling more.
Travel Keeps You HealthyWhy? A recent article in the Dubai Chronicle documented the results of a survey several existing studies on leisure travel’s health effects and found that it actually boosts cognitive and cardiovascular health, particularly in middle-aged people or older.
One study, for example, followed women from 45 to 64 years old for 20 years; women in the study who took vacation twice a year were at much lower risk of having a heart attack or dying of a heart-related disease than those who traveled every six years.
If you’ve encountered significant delays and other frustrations during your travels, you may feel the exact opposite. But I think that to reap the anti-aging effects of travel, you have to flip the old adage around: It’s the destination, not the journey.
My Own Experience
I can personally attest to this, actually. My wife and I are fortunate enough to be able to travel to the Caribbean a fair amount, and it’s absolutely essential for helping us relax.
A big part of the relaxation for me is shaking up my routine and immersing myself in a totally different environment and culture, away from my everyday lifestyle. Vacation is an opportunity to shake yourself out of your deepest ruts.
I am, unfortunately, often part of that 61 percent of workers who continue to work while on vacation, but it’s for self-preservation. I go through my emails once a day and flag the important ones for my attention when I return. It only takes a few minutes and makes coming back to work the following week a lot less stressful.
I’d love to hear whether you connect with the findings of this survey. Do your vacations alleviate your stress levels? How do you cope with the stress of returning to a full inbox? Share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you get the notification: Flight canceled. There are few worse feelings when you’re headed to an important meeting, on a long-awaited vacation or — worst yet — home after a busy time away.
There’s a silver lining: Conde Nast Traveler’s The Daily Traveler blog published a post with some great tips for making your way home if your flight’s been canceled and you’re stuck at an airport.
The steps CN outlines are ones I haven’t given a lot of thought to honestly. I’ve had a few major cancellations happen to me in my travels — and while I don’t recommend it, I pretty much rely on my past experiences of “playing the game.” The key to winning said game? Make sure you have a lot of alternatives.
The first step for me has always been to approach the airline directly to find out your options. But from there, what you do depends on how badly you want to get home.
Having a sort of slush fund for a recovery budget is one thing CN’s article recommends. Recovery budgets and security measures like travel insurance can alleviate the financial burden of a canceled flight or long delay, but it doesn’t necessarily make getting home any easier.
When I lived in Michigan, I had a flight canceled during a snowstorm — there were no flights coming or going out of the Detroit airport. But we were headed to Grand Rapids, which was only a few hours’ drive — so my coworkers and I rented a car and drove through the snow to reach our final destination. (Renting a car is often cheaper than getting a hotel room.)
I encountered a similar situation in a past life, when I was working on the East Coast. I had a presentation to give in Hyde Park, N.Y., and our flight out of Philadelphia got canceled. We didn’t have the option to spend the night — we had a presentation to give and had to be there — so we drove six hours to our destination and made the presentation as planned.
However, the airline refused to surrender our luggage to us before we left, so we met our bags at the Hyde Park airport when the canceled flight eventually arrived. In that case, we just had to punt, wear the same clothes from the day before, and give the presentation. There are times the show must go on, regardless of what you’re wearing. (It was also a valuable lesson in why it’s better to travel with carry-on bags than checking them on short trips.)
If driving isn’t an option for you, my two favorite tips from CN’s article are to find an airport with a lot of flights and be open to alternate airports. If you’re reasonably flexible with your travel plans, you can often find another way home or to your destination with minimal pain.
What’s your biggest cancellation nightmare? Commiserate in the comments section and give us some ideas.
Most Advanced Technologies for Today’s Frequent Travelers
Travelpro the inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a market leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design is pleased to introduce the Crew 10 collection. The next generation of Travelpro’s popular flagship line, Crew 10, offers a leap forward in lightweight durability, effortless mobility, and style for the frequent business and leisure traveller.
“Travelpro’s primary commitment is to provide our customers with the most innovative and durable luggage available worldwide,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands. “The Crew 10 collection marks our continued design evolution, by incorporating the most advanced technology available today into Spinner and Rollaboard luggage.”
Packed with innovations, Crew 10 is equipped with a 360 degree Dual Wheel Spinner system, featuring patent-pending MagnaTrac wheel technology. With these revolutionary self-aligning magnetic wheels, Spinner models always roll straight in all directions, making it easier than ever to maneuver through crowded airports and airplane aisles. The effortless roll of MagnaTrac wheels reduce shoulder and arm strain by eliminating the drifting and pulling that is typically associated with pushing Spinner luggage.
In addition, its patented PowerScope Extension Handle minimizes wobble and has multiple stops at 38″ and 42.5″, ensuring a comfortable roll for users of varying heights. The next generation, patented Contour Handle Grip provides more comfort and greater control of Spinner luggage.An array of other practical features enhances the durability and functionality of the collection. These include: tapered expansion of up to 2″ for maximizing packing flexibility, new shear-resistant zipper heads that stay intact after many miles of travel, a suiter for wrinkle-free packing and intelligent hold-down straps that can slide side-to-side to hold down your clothes more effectively.
Accented by rich leather side and top carry handles, Crew 10 is available in both stylish merlot and elegant black. The line is backed by a lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship. Select from 8 carry-on models, including two designed for international travel, this 12-piece collection elevates Travelpro’s heritage of design excellence to a new global standard.
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 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.
As airlines keep raising and creating fees, people are always going to look for ways to avoid paying them. Luggage fees are no different. No one wants to spend an extra $50 just to to check one suitcase, so everyone is bringing on carry-on’s, which are creating further problems and serious breaches in good manners.
As passengers, we need to have some etiquette about our luggage, like not whacking people in the noggin with it, or not cramming both your bags in the overhead bin. This prevents other people from getting their bag into the bin, which means they’ll have to gate check them, which means they’ll have to get them at baggage claim. It also means the boarding process is slowed down, which means we all reach our destination much more slowly.
Pack lightly. If your rollaboard is completely full for a 4 day trip, you may have too much stuff. Imagine having to pay for your luggage by the pound. Now what could you get rid of? What is it you don’t actually need? Once you figure that out, you may be down to a reasonable amount.
Of course, you could always ship your belongings, possibly for much less than you’re going to pay in baggage fees. You can even ship your suitcase itself in a box. Ask your local Fedex or UPS store for help.
Finally, arrive early, and maybe consider buying a seat upgrade. For the cost of a checked bag, you may be able to upgrade for the same amount, and ride in much more comfort than your original seat. Not only that, you can get on board early and find a place for your luggage. So weigh your options: fly for less — in less comfort — and check/gate check your bag, or fly in more comfort and have your bag on board with you.
Passengers aren’t the only ones who should have to display some patience and manners. We hope the airlines can encourage this etiquette as well. Make sure people are only putting one bag in the overhead bin. Adopt a seating system where the people who sit near the back can get on first (and then make sure they’re not putting their bag up front). And would it be too much to ask that the overhead bins actually be large enough to hold everyone’s bags?
Of all the potential headaches involved with air travel these days — random flight cancellations, endless tarmac delays, crowded flights, a rude (or super extra friendly!) seatmate, among many others — the biggest one of all may not happen until you reach your destination: lost or damaged luggage.
Even if you’ve been delayed by hours and hours, all that stress can melt away with a hot shower and change of clothes back at the hotel. But if you suddenly find yourself without all the comforts of home you have packed, that stress only intensifies — not to mention the stress of losing valuable belongings.ABC’s 20/20 recently published a story — “8 Tips To Get Your Luggage Safely To Its Destination” — and we’re always happy to see major news outlets working to make travel safer, simpler and less stressful for everyday travelers.
20/20′s advice is fairly good, but there are often other factors to consider.
Tips That Make Sense
Packing in a sturdy bag is a great tip. So is purchasing traveler’s insurance: In addition to that $3,400 cap on airlines’ liability, even the sturdiest luggage is limited by its manufacturer’s warranty, which almost never covers loss or damage caused by carriers. (One exception: the Travelpro Platinum luggage series that covers airline baggage handler damage.)
The best tip we read, of course: Carry your luggage on whenever possible. If you’re on a commuter jet, it’s likely your carry-on luggage will need to be gate checked, but it’s in your hands for as long as it can be, including all the way up to the gate.
20/20 Tips To Skip
But the recommendation to bypass the curbside baggage check line? Yes, the outdoor bag check adds complexity and a chance for loss or damage, but sometimes you have no choice! If the check-in desk line is incredibly long and you’re risking missing your flight, for instance, the convenience can pay off in getting your luggage on the flight, period.
What’s your top tip? What do you think, experienced travelers? What tips can you offer to others for ensuring their luggage makes it to their destinations safely and in one piece?
- Air Canada says worker who tossed carry-on luggage “will be terminated” (globalnews.ca)
- WATCH: Air Canada baggage handlers toss carry-on luggage off jetway stairs (globalnews.ca)
- Heathrow baggage chaos ‘to last for days’ (standard.co.uk)
- Delayed airport luggage: your rights (telegraph.co.uk)
For some, international travel can be that once-in-a-lifetime adventure they’ve planned for years. For others, it’s just another day at the office. But whether you’re setting foot on new shores for the first time, or everyone shouts your name when you walk into the airport, your trip can turn sour if you don’t know how to protect yourself and your money.
Here are a few tips to keep worry-free about your money during your overseas travel.
- Make several copies of your identification. Carry your driver’s license with you, but have a backup copy with a friend or spouse. Do the same with your passports.
- Alert your bank that you will be traveling, especially if you’re traveling internationally. Because while you know you’re in Istanbul, and your family knows you’re in Istanbul, all your bank sees is a sudden flurry of activity in Turkey. They may freeze your account to protect you against fraudulent purchases. Let them know beforehand to ensure your money is available when you need it.
- Slim down your wallet. Bring identification, debit/credit cards and insurance cards, but leave the extras at home. If you lose your wallet, it will save you time from having to replace every card you’ve ever accumulated. Finally, carry little cash, as it bulks up your wallet and makes you an easy target for pickpockets. Carry your cash in a front pocket.
- Do not use a money belt. A money belt, just like a fat wallet, will make you an easy target for thieves.
- Finally, we are releasing a business case line with RFID (radio frequency identification) protection. Since many credit cards, and even the U.S. passport, use RFID, it’s easy for an identify thief to just stand nearby and capture all your electronic information. Our RFID protective cases block these individuals from gathering your information, leaving your finances, and your trip, intact.
What are some other money-protecting traveling tips you have? What strategies do you use? Or what are some lessons you learned the hard way? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.
Have you ever seen a lifetime warranty for a product and wondered just how the company can offer lifetime insurance against defects in materials and workmanship? At Travelpro, when we offer a lifetime warranty on our bags, it means we’ve thoroughly and rigorously tested each product line to our demanding testing standards.
Before we introduce a new collection, the luggage goes through a myriad of demanding laboratory tests to ensure the performance, aesthetics and durability of the wheels, handles, fabrics and zippers. The testing process is designed to replicate the hazards and perils that luggage faces over time in the real world. For example, we test the retractable handle for 15,000 up and down cycles.If a bag fails even a single test, it’s sent back to the factory along with a detailed report on what failed. After improvements are made at the factory and the new sample is received, the bag is tested again. This process continues until all tests are passed. Only after all the tests are passed, the new luggage collection is ready for the first production run.
Initial production is inspected thoroughly by Travelpro’s inspection team at the factory and shipped to our distribution centers. At the distribution centers additional quality verification testing is conducted to ensure that the product produced meets our standards.
The process doesn’t stop with the first shipment to our distribution centers. Throughout the life of a product line, we’ll randomly pull bags from new shipments for testing to make sure they still carry the same level of quality. If not, we send them back to the factory for retooling and replacements.
It’s through our rigorous testing that we are able to provide high quality products. The tougher a bag is, the longer it will last. The longer it lasts, the less expensive owning that bag becomes to our customers (compared to buying a new, less expensive bag every couple of years). And thanks to our constant testing, our products continue to meet the needs of the frequent traveler.
We don’t often talk about our luggage on our blog, but we’ve come up with some innovations that we think will improve travelers’ experience. The changes to our products were far from cosmetic, and designed to solve a common issue with modern luggage: stability.
When using four- or eight-wheel spinner luggage, the luggage has a tendency to swerve to the left or right. This puts a strain on the traveler’s wrist and shoulder as he or she compensates to keep the luggage moving in a straight line. This isn’t unlike a car whose wheels are out of alignment. In order to keep the vehicle in a straight path, the driver must constantly correct the direction.We came up with a solution to the drifting issue by designing our patent-pending MagnaTrac Spinner wheels which incorporate magnetic wheel technology. Made specifically for spinner luggage, we created a system where the wheels will always line up and go straight, but can still be turned easily. The result is less strain on your body, which can mean a more enjoyable (or less tiring) trip.
We also introduced two other patented features, the Contour Grip and the PowerScope handle. Contour Grip is a handle specifically designed for use with Spinner wheels. The handle is made from two cushioned halves that fit directly into the palm of your hand, cushioning it while you push your bag through the airport. This improved handle gives you more comfort and control of your luggage, regardless of whether you push or pull.
The Powerscope Handle is made to resist the pressure points that form when pushing luggage and reduce the wobble in the handle. This gives you more control over the bag, and helps prevent breakage.
All three TravelPro designs won awards at the Travel Goods Association Product Innovation Awards in 2012 and 2013, including 1st place for the MagnaTrac™ Spinner innovation. These designs will be applied to multiple Travelpro product lines so the improvements can fit within most travelers’ budgets.