American, Delta Ban Smart Luggage If Batteries Are Not Removable

January 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you received smart luggage for Christmas, we don’t mean to spoil your new year, but three major airlines — American, Alaska, and Delta — have already banned suitcases and carry-on bags that are equipped with integrated lithium-ion batteries and external charging ports.

In short, if you cannot remove your battery from your smart luggage, you can’t use the bag on those airlines.

Smart luggage: Crew Executive Choice 2 Backpack has a built-in phone charger. You supply the power pack though.

Crew Executive Choice 2 Backpack – with REMOVABLE phone charger

If you bring your luggage into the cabin, you can leave the battery in place, but you must have the option to remove it in case the airline needs to move everyone to a smaller plane.

The airlines cited concerns about inflight fires, as happened with the now-famous Galaxy Note 7 smartphones and kids’ hoverboards. You may also remember the Federal Aviation Administration’s short-lived ban on laptops with the same batteries in cargo holds on incoming international flights.

The ban goes into effect January 15 on American, Delta, and Alaska Airlines, even as United Airlines says they will soon follow; Southwest Airlines is reviewing their policy as well. Delta’s statement cited “the potential for the powerful batteries to overheat and pose a fire hazard risk during flight.” American declared its internal safety team evaluated these bags for necessary “risk mitigation” and deemed they “pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft.”

Smart luggage: Travelpro Crew 11 USB Port

The Crew 11’s built-in power port is a great way to keep your mobile devices powered up and ready to go, but you can still remove the battery.

Before you return your smart luggage, make sure your replacement bag has the option where the battery can be removed or disconnected. Even if you toss the battery into the main compartment of the luggage, you can carry the bag onto the plane with you. But it has to be removable.

Travelpro has two Collections which feature a dedicated exterior power bank battery pocket which allows users to insert their own battery, connect a charging cable, and make use of an external USB port. Because the battery is not provided by the company, nor is it integrated into the hardware of the suitcase’s frame, travelers can remove it at any time within seconds. This puts all Travelpro’s luggage in compliance with any airline or FAA policy, current or future.

The collections which feature the dedicated power bank exterior pocket and external USB port include:

  • Crew™ 11 Softside and Hardside Collections, available in various carry-on models including the 21″ Expandable Spinner and 22″ Expandable Rollaboard® Suiter
  • Crew™ Executive Choice™ 2 Collection which includes a Pilot Brief, Checkpoint Friendly Backpack and Wheeled Brief

The FAA has a longstanding policy of banning spare lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage, while allowing passengers to stow them in carryons.

Did you get a smart bag for the holidays? How does this news impact you?on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Do You Live in a State that Will Require Alternate ID to Fly in 2020?

December 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you live in one of 24 states, your state-issued driver’s license may not get you on a flight, even for domestic travel, starting on October 10, 2020, and you may need an alternate ID like a passport.

In 2005, Congress passed The REAL ID Act, which was the standardization of the nation’s issuing of state identification to limit terrorism. Although it has been 12 years since its enactment, and the latest extension deadline expired October 10, 2017, nearly half of the United States are still grappling with how to comply with the mandated standards for issuing state IDs.

The only way around this law is if you have a valid passport or other valid alternate ID; then you’re able to fly, regardless of your state’s compliance with REAL ID.

A REAL ID sign at a U.S. airport. If you don't have a REAL ID, you'll need an alternate ID instead, like a passport.This could impact millions of Americans’ access to air travel is because the legislation makes it illegal for those who operate federal facilities to accept non-compliant, state-issued identification to access federal agencies, enter nuclear power plants, or board federally regulated aircraft. This means that the TSA cannot allow those with non-compliant IDs to board federally regulated airplanes because their states have not met the Act’s “minimum standards.”

Those minimum standards require states to incorporate technology into its cards that makes them nearly impossible to counterfeit. States must also prove that they conduct background checks on all personnel who issue driver’s licenses on its behalf. These standards have raised issues in many states about personal privacy. But with the final stage of implementation affecting residents’ ability to travel by air, most states have scrambled to submit applications for extensions.

The final stage of implementation begins January 22, 2018. States that are already in compliance will not be impacted by this date, and those states with an active or “under review” extension won’t be penalized.

If you want to know if you live in one of the 24 states that are not compliant, check out this article in the Washington Post. If you don’t want to hold a federally approved ID, there are 15 other forms of alternate ID that TSA will accept when you travel.

Are you in a state that is already compliant, or are you in one of the 24 affected states? How will you cope if your state doesn’t comply before the deadline? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

This is a compliance map of all states as of November 7, 2017. Some states still require an alternate ID.

This is a compliance map of all states as of November 7, 2017. Light green states have asked for an extension, dark green are in compliance.

Photo credit (REAL ID airport sign): Cory Doctorow (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)
Photo credit (REAL ID compliance map): Kurykh (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

Delta, JetBlue Begin Testing Biometric Boarding Passes

November 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The future is now, or nearly so, now that the scanning of fingerprints is reaching mass adoption in the travel world. Delta is partnering with independent airport security company CLEAR to capitalize on its proven biometric data technology for expediting the boarding process.

“We’re rapidly moving toward a day when your fingerprint, iris, or face will become the only ID you’ll need for any number of transactions throughout a given day,” Gil West, Delta COO, said on the company’s website. “We’re excited Delta’s partnership with CLEAR gives us an engine to pioneer this customer experience at the airport.” While only in phase one of development, the potential is real for the printed or even electronic boarding pass to quickly become a relic of the past.

Delta Airlines' machine for biometric boarding passesThe current biometric boarding passes pilot program offers eligible Delta SkyMiles members who have also purchased CLEAR to navigate Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport using only their fingerprint as identification. They can clear security and enter the Delta Sky Club. Phase two would allow them to also check luggage and board their flight using their biometric boarding passes data.

JetBlue also began testing the use of facial recognition in June on just one route: Boston to Aruba. In its pilot partnership with air carrier technology company SITA and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), passengers have their picture taken at the gate. SITA’s technology compares that photo with the one on file with CBP to see if it matches the passenger’s passport photo. Because the flight is international, all passengers should already have a passport on file. If JetBlue decides to extend this technology to domestic flights, some other form of identification would have to be used, since not all travelers have valid passports.

Jim Peters, SITA’s chief technology officer, said in a JetBlue press release: “This biometric self-boarding program for JetBlue and the CBP is designed to be easy to use. What we want to deliver is a secure and seamless passenger experience . . . This is the first integration of biometric authorization by the CBP with an airline and may prove to be a solution that will be quick and easy to roll out across US airports.”

Have you ever used biometric boarding passes to get onto your flight? Would you use it, or do you prefer the traditional methods? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Delta Airlines

Stash Your Bags With this London-based Startup, CityStasher

November 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

They say necessity is the mother of invention. But little did Matt Majewski know that his need to store his suitcases at a friend’s house while taking a long weekend to attend a friend’s bachelor party would become the seed for an up-and-coming niche business, CityStasher.

Majewski’s friend (and fellow founder) Anthony Collias told him he’d happily store his bags for the weekend, but he’d have to charge him. That tongue-in-cheek quip was a moment of realization: perhaps other travelers were in need of short-term storage for their bags as well, and CityStasher was born.

If it’s your last day in England and you want to tour the sites of London before you catch your flight but after you’ve checked out of your hotel or Airbnb, you certainly don’t want to lug your luggage from the Tube to the Tower of London to the London Eye all day. CityStasher allows travelers to leave their luggage in a locked room at one of its 60 StashPoints around the city.

CityStasher home page screenshot

CityStasher’s StashPoints, located in independent businesses and other establishments that boast long hours of operation, are vetted to meet the following criteria: they have close-captioned TV surveillance, a locked room for the bags, and have long hours of operation for easy drop-off and pick-up. Each bag is insured for 750 pounds, close to $1,000 USD. The cost to stash your bag? 4 pounds for the first 3 hours, 6 pounds for 3 to 24 hours, and an additional 5 pounds for every 24 hours after that.

Proprietors have been incentivized to become storage sites by the prospect of redeploy an existing asset into a profit sharing investment. The StashPoint operators do have the right to search the luggage in the presence of its owner before attaching the security tag to the bag and agreeing to store it.

According to Jacob Wedderburn-Day, the company’s third founder, CityStasher hasn’t had any incidents with the contents of any of the nearly 25,000 bags it has stored since it began operating in 2015.

CityStasher operates in 18 cities across the United Kingdom, and in Amsterdam, after being sought out by a business there. The company is seeking investors to bring CityStasher to popular weekend destination cities across Europe.

Would you pay to store your baggage for a few hours before a flight? Or would you just lug it around to save money? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Which Airlines Accept TSA PreCheck?

October 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

TSA PreCheck has been available since October 2011 and saved countless travelers countless hours of standing in security lines at the airport. If you’re a frequent flier who has gone through the screening process and paid the $85 fee (good for five years) to obtain your known traveler number, you might be surprised to learn that there are still airlines that do not accept it.

With 37 domestic and international airlines and 200 US airports currently participating in the program, the odds of not being able to use PreCheck only increase if you are flying domestically from a smaller airport or you’re flying internationally on one of the following airlines.

TSA PreCheck sign showing the way to an empty pathway, next to a line packed with people.If you’e a PreCheck member, you won’t be able to use the following airlines: Aer Lingus, Air France, British Airways, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, EasyJet, EgyptAir, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Nippon Airways, Norwegian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Ryanair.
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Uber and Lyft Overtake Taxis for Business Travel

September 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve been hearing rumors for a while, but now there’s data to back up what many have been saying: Uber and Lyft are being used more than taxis for business travel.

According to a report by Certify, a travel expense management software company, at the end of the third quarter of last year, ride-hailing services accounted for more than half of all business travel receipts in the ground transportation category.

The taxi has long been a favorite mode of transportation for business travel.In its analysis of 10 million receipts, Uber was clearly the favorite, and it’s easy to understand why. Both Uber and Lyft provide a simplified, streamlined experience: reservations can be made online; an estimate of the cost is provided before a reservation is secured; users can track the car’s arrival; cars are clean, newer models; and, their drivers are friendly and knowledgeable about their city. No money changes hands, and detailed receipts of the time, date, route, and credit card used are emailed, avoiding fraud by either the user or the driver.

“We continue to see interest in the ride-sharing economy,” Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify, told USA Today. “Small to medium businesses were the early adopters. Now, more Fortune 500 companies are adding them to approved vendor lists.”
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Business Travelers Can Continue to Carry Laptops in their Carry-On Luggage

July 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The United States Department of Homeland Security has ended a four month ban on laptops in carry-on luggage on U.S. bound flights from the Middle East and North Africa. The ban was originally enacted because terrorism experts were concerned that explosives could be concealed in electronics as large as laptops and mobile tablets. It affected ten airports and nine airlines that are based in the Middle East.

The King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was the final airport to have the ban lifted, after they and the other airlines and airports implemented new security measures designed to check for explosives in the large electronics.

Officials visited the ten airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, and confirmed that the security measures were in place.
Business travelers on Etihad Airways and other Middle East airlines were concerned about a laptop ban.
The airports originally affected include Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah, Saudia Arabia; Riyadh, Saudia Arabia; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Dubai, UAE; and Abu Dhabi, UAE. The carriers most heavily impacted by this ban were Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, and Turkish Airlines.
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TSA May Require Additional Screening for Additional Items at Airport

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

As if we weren’t already in the throes of the busiest season for traveling, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it might require more items to be removed from your carry-on luggage during screening. For the past 18 months, TSA has been testing how to make it easier for its officers to consistently view what’s in the bags they screen daily.

According to Wall Street Journal “Middle Seat” columnist Scott McCartney, the X-ray machine color codes the items inside the bag based on the density, and the more tightly packed the bag is, the harder it is for all its contents to be identified. That makes it difficult for screeners to identify the items within the bag.
TSA Bag Check
TSA officials have been considering having all electronics, food, and paper added to the list of items that must come out of every carry-on during screening. Why food? Certain items, such as chocolate, are dense and mimic the shape of explosives, often creating the necessity of a second look, just to be sure. Paper, including books and notepads, obscures other things, forcing the screener to tag a bag for a manual check that slows the line.
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Business Travelers Rejoice! Global In-Flight Wifi Connectivity Growing in 2017

July 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Years ago, business travelers used to love or hate their flights. It was either a much-needed escape or a stint in solitary confinement. Like it or not, you were unreachable for the duration of your flight. No phones, no wifi, no Internet. If you didn’t bring out some printouts or reports to read, you didn’t have anything to work on.

Now, apart from the smaller seats, you can function as if you never left your office at all.

According to Routehappy’s 2017 wifi report, Global State of In-Flight Wifi, there is more in-flight connectivity than there has ever been. They found that 39 percent of global flights and 83 percent of U.S. flights’ actual seat miles — miles flown multiplied by the number of available seats — offer wifi connectivity as an amenity. There are also 60 airlines worldwide that now offer in-flight wifi over most regions of the globe.
Business travelers will be able to use their wifi enabled cell phones more in 2017. This is a man texting on a plane.
“2016 was the year that airlines outside the U.S. committed to high-quality, in-flight wifi at a rate only previously seen by U.S. carriers, and 2017 will see those commitments come to life,” Routehappy CEO Robert Albert said in a Business Travel News article.
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The Health Risks of Longer Travel

June 22, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

While those who don’t travel for work envy those who do, those who really spend their weeks navigating airport terminals, car rental counters, and there’s-no-place-like-home uncomfortable hotel rooms can attest to its negative psychological, physical, and social effects. Aside from their road warrior stories, there is now real data that supports the negative impact of their travel.

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are now several scientific studies that corroborate these realities:

  • Those who travel frequently, particularly those doing long-haul travel (both in distance and time away from home), age more quickly.
  • Those who travel frequently are at increased risk of experiencing a stroke, heart attack, or deep-vein thrombosis.
  • A plane wing on a long-distance flight. Longer travel can have negative health effects if you're not careful.

  • Frequent travelers are exposed to unhealthy levels of germs and radiation. Yes, radiation. According to an article in the Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, an annually published report that details for employers their human resources responsibilities, travelers who fly more than 85,000 miles per year are absorbing radiation levels that exceed regulatory exposure levels for the general public in most countries.
  • Frequent travel also affects the body through jet lag, stress, mood swings, sleep problems, digestive problems, as well as the well-documented effects of the lifestyle: lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and excessive alcohol consumption.

With all the technology at our fingertips to connect virtually, why then is business travel increasing? According to an article written by Marcus Holmes, co-director of the Social Science Research Methods Center at the College of William & Mary, face-to-face meetings have been proven to “increase rapport and empathy, facilitating cooperation and enhancing bonds between the parties.”

Boris Baltes at Wayne State University says research also shows that virtual communication actually decreases effectiveness between colleagues, increases the time it takes for work to be completed, and leaves team members generally feeling dissatisfied about the process. And a 2005 article in The Leadership Quarterly said leaders found it simpler to build and maintain high-performing teams with regular, physical contact with those reporting to them.

So, what’s the long-haul traveler to do to combat the effects of his or her work-related travel? The research strongly suggests developing a strong support system at home to counteract the negative impacts. Still, the fact remains that corporations are not addressing this concern internally, nor are they preparing their employees with the tools they need to withstand the stress of frequent travel.

That means you need to take care of it yourself. You’re worth it. Find time to rest on your trip, eat healthy food rather than junk or rich food, and be sure to take time to exercise, even if it’s just a short walk before dinner.

How do you maintain your health during business travel? Do you exercise and eat right, or do you go hard and use your time at home to recover? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Fuzz (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

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