AirPortr Comes to Heathrow: “Luggage Freedom” While Traveling

March 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The next time you land in London, how would you like to ditch your bags at the airport to get in a little extra sight-seeing and have them waiting for you at your hotel? Or, leave your bags behind at the hotel and have them meet you at the airport? Or maybe you have some early or last-minute meetings, and you don’t feel like wrestling your bags for the next six hours.

Baggage Claim Carousel at Heathrow. Wouldn't it be nice to skip the wait?

Baggage Claim Carousel at Heathrow. Wouldn’t it be nice to skip the wait?

Heathrow Airport and Portr have combined forces to allow passengers same-day, baggage-free travel to or from the airport to any London address. They call it AirPortr, and although it’s currently the only service they offer, the company may expand beyond airport delivery services.

Chris Walsh, director and head of customer experience at Portr, explains. “Our vision is to fundamentally change how people travel, putting them back in control of their own agenda rather than burdensome baggage dictating their itinerary. AirPortr is all about increasing the efficiency of your time; you know that your bags are being securely delivered, which leaves you to make the most of your first or last day in London. We like to call it ‘Luggage Freedom.'”

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What are the Friendliest Countries in the World?

March 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

When traveling, it really isn’t enough just to fly the “friendly skies.” Friendly interactions with the native people of the places you’re visiting are what make the experiences you have the most memorable. After all, monuments can’t speak.

Yellow Irish pubPeople are the guardians of their country’s heritage, culture, and history, and they, better than any guidebook, can tell you where you can find the best places to eat and play and learn.

Ben Groundwater, well-known Australian travel writer and blogger, has compiled his own list of favorites. Groundwater looked up an old acquaintance in Scotland and was given a bed in his home, never left a pub alone in Ireland, was invited to play badminton in Laos, received genuine wishes for a great day and helpful directions from Americans, witnessed Fijians’ intense love for children and older people, found Indians notorious for their curiosity and their desire to truly know him, experienced abundant smiles in Thailand, discovered Kiwis of New Zealand completely lacking in cynicism, and felt emotionally and physically embraced in genuine love by Brazilians.

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How to Get Paid to Travel

March 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever dream of traveling the world, or getting paid to visit some exotic location? That dream could be a reality if you’re willing to put in the work, lead a nontraditional lifestyle, and maybe even be willing to spend extended periods of time away from loved ones.

Dublin City CentreLifeHack.com shared 12 interesting ways to get paid to travel, and we’d like to share a few with you.

  1. Teach English. If you’re a native speaker, you’re qualified to teach others to speak English. Jobs are especially abundant in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, and you can live there for a year or two (or more!). Check out eslcafe.com and email your application to schools to get the process started.
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How to Deal with the Most Hated Passenger

February 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

When given the opportunity to vent a little travel rage without getting arrested, 1,000 travelers took the opportunity to air their top grievances in Expedia’s annual Airplane Etiquette Survey.

British Airways 747-400 World Traveller cabinThe number one pet peeve of most travelers? The person who repeatedly kicks the back of their seat received 61 percent of the votes. The complaint ranged from children’s repeated thumps with their shoes to the constant pressure of the knees in the back of the seat from the long-legged passenger behind them.
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DHS Revisiting Validity of State Driver’s Licenses

February 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Depending on which state you lived in, you might have had some trouble getting onto your next flight. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was all set to require states to issue driver’s licenses that complied with the Real ID Act.

If your license didn’t meet those standards, you couldn’t get on your plane.

But as the deadline drew near, the DHS extended their deadline to January 22, 2018, heading off a potential showdown between states and the Transportation Safety Administration at the nation’s airports.

real_id_web_03

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Airline Complaints on the Rise in 2015

February 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you follow the airline news, you might think we’re becoming a nation of complainers. As hard as our service providers try, we’re not happy. The airlines are bearing a large part of our dissatisfaction, and it may be unwarranted.

Delta A330 airplaneIn a report by the Department of Transportation, while the number of on-time departures and arrivals went up in 2015, and the number of lost bags went down, the number of passengers who complained about their travel experience went up by 20 percent from the previous year.

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Eight Ways to Spot a Lousy Hotel

January 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You know the feeling you get when you show up at a hotel, and it’s nothing like you imagined? That sinking feeling when you open the door to your room, and wonder if someone is playing a prank?

Thankfully, today there are many tools at your disposal online to help you spot a lousy hotel before you get there.

The Cecil Hotel, which inspired the American Horror Story: Hotel series.

The Cecil Hotel, which inspired the American Horror Story: Hotel series.

  1. Photos. If the pictures online feature close-ups or artistic shots that don’t give you a clear impression of the room or the amenities, chances are something’s up.
  2. Too good to be true Photos. If the property seems to feature amenities that don’t jive with the neighborhood, like a beach in Kansas, or they feature something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Dated website. If it’s obvious, either by the outdated material or the glaring typos, that the hotel’s management doesn’t seem to care that much about maintaining its online presence, you should be wary of your physical presence on their premises.
  4. Google Maps street view. If the site is short on pictures, but touts its amazing location, do yourself a favor and put the address in Google Maps to take your own look around. Sketchy neighborhoods can’t be hidden when you do a 360 view at street level.
  5. Poor reviews. You can usually tell if the recent reviews are factual or fake. Take note if every review is glowingly positive or completely negative. Black and white reviews aren’t a true representation of a property or an experience.
  6. Poor online etiquette. If management replies to the negative reviews online, that should be your first clue. Customer complaints should be handled privately, not responded to publicly. The one caveat: if management is actually showing how they’ve positively responded to a situation, that’s great. But if they get into arguments with customers, that’s not so great.
  7. Bed Bug Registry. It’s a real site. It only takes a few minutes to do a quick search before you book your room, instead of frantically searching for the bedside light in the middle of the night to find what you felt crawling on you!
  8. No interior photos. If the site has no pictures of the accommodations but only of the area surrounding the hotel, odds are what you see around is better than what you’ll see inside.

How do you spot a lousy hotel? Do you have any favorite websites or review sites? Tell us about them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Five Ways Airlines are Making Travel Better

December 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

So you can’t get a less cramped seat these days, unless you fly business or first class. But some airlines are adding perks they hope will help you think better of them while you’re wishing for more leg room. They’re trying to make travel better for everyone, regardless of which class seat you fly.

  1. Suitcase delivery. Through a service called Bags VIP, Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United will all allow you to skip baggage claim entirely and meet up with your bags at your home, office, or hotel, provided it is within 40 miles of the airport. Yes, it costs extra, but if you’re wanting to make the most of a short stay at, say, Disney World, you could use this service to go directly to the parks instead of waiting for your bags.
  2. Food and drinks on-demand. Virgin has found that it’s so “old school” to have its flight attendants push a cart down the aisle to provide its travelers food and drinks. Instead, passengers can order just what they want, when they want from touch screens mounted in the seat ahead of them. The airline reports it sells more items this way. It also keeps the aisles clear for those who feel the need to use the restrooms at the thought of a beverage.
  3. Baggage carousel, Kuala Lumpur airport

    Baggage carousel, Kuala Lumpur airport

  4. Baggage on-time or else. Since 2015, Alaska Airlines has given travelers who have to wait more than 20 minutes for their bags a travel voucher equal to the $25 check fee. This year, Delta added teeth to its similar promise by offering 2,500 miles to those inconvenienced at the baggage carousel. Alaska gives you two hours to report your claim and Delta, three days.
  5. Coat check. What do you do with your winter coat if you’re leaving New York’s JFK for a warmer clime? If you’re flying with JetBlue, you can use its coat check! The service is good only on domestic flights and costs $2/day, but it beats having to lug a parka with your luggage once you get to your sunny destination.
  6. While entertainment options have been fairly abundant on planes for years now, the latest upgrade offered is streaming directly to your own smartphone or tablet. Delta has the most comprehensive service in this category, providing streaming on all but its 50-seat regional jets and on more than half of its international fleet.

These perks show that airlines are betting that providing a customizable, more personal travel experience will create brand loyalty. (We’d still like some more leg room though.)

Have you taken advantage of any of these amenities? What did you think? Let us hear from you in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: David McKelvey (Flickr, Creative Commons)

10 Things Airlines are Doing to Make Coach more Comfortable

December 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

While the price may not be going down, many airlines are making an effort to demonstrate that they care about their coach customers’ comfort as much as they do about those in business and first class by instituting some changes to the seats and providing amenities.

We found a Yahoo Travel article that showed us some of the ways airlines are working to make coach more comfortable.

A British Airways 747 - coach cabin

A British Airways 747 coach cabin

  1. Air New Zealand, China Airlines, and Air Astana all offer flat bed options in economy class. Dubbed “Cuddle Class” on Air New Zealand, a row of seats can be purchased so that two people can lay flat during the flight. The only catch? They have to purchase the third seat in the row, but it’s only half the price of the other seats.
  2. Air New Zealand is offering the Space Seat in its premium economy class. It gives passengers space and privacy and the couch-style seats rotate for better legroom.
  3. Lufthansa has created a slimmer seats and Delta now offers economy comfort class, which includes priority boarding, 50 percent more recline, four more inches of legroom, and adjustable head and leg rests. Qantas, Southwest, and Virgin Atlantic have also made improvements to their seating configurations.
  4. KLM is offering passengers the opportunity to select their seats using social media connections. We’re not sure this is an improvement or a way to stalk other passengers, but passengers of the Dutch airline seem to have taken to it.
  5. Virgin America, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Emirates all claim improved in-flight entertainment options. Now at least we’re not stuck watching that one film everyone has seen.
  6. Other airlines are figuring out another way to improve entertainment options. OpenSkies and Quantas offer free iPads to stream their in-flight entertainment content, and Jetstar, Philippine Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines will rent an iPad to you.
  7. United, Alaska, Malaysia, and American Airlines have all adopted the Boeing Sky Interior, designed to make the cabin seem bigger and brighter.
  8. LAN Chile, JAL, Air India, Royal Air Maroc, and United utilize Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner planes, which have special air filtration and cooling systems. These filter bacteria, viruses, and odors.
  9. Singapore Airlines has employed Michelin-starred chefs on its longer flights to create more appealing food in all its classes.
  10. Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, JetBlue, and Etihad Airways are all offering amenities kits with items ranging from socks to pillows to toothbrushes.

What are some changes you’ve seen on your favorite airline? How are they (or are they) making coach more comfortable for you? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Boats, Trains, and Automobiles: Luggage Options When You DON’T Fly

December 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel seems to revolve around airplanes these days, but there are other ways to travel the country. If you don’t have to conform to airline guidelines and your plans take you away from home for more than a week, you may need to take more with you. Investing in larger luggage allows you to get your stuff from here to there without putting yourself or your clothing through contortions to do so.

We offer many options for those who choose other means of transportation for their getaways. While not everyone needs the space afforded by larger luggage, it can be a space saving option to consider, especially for families traveling by car.

30 inch Tpro Bold Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel

30 inch Tpro Bold Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel

Our 26″ and 30″ rolling duffel bags can accommodate the needs several travelers, particularly several children or the clothing for an adult and a child, reducing the number of bags in the trunk or on the train or boat. Many of these duffels are drop-bottom, meaning that there is a separate lower compartment for storing shoes, cables and other odd-sized items. If you want one large compartment, you can unzip the divider panel for one large packing space. They are an excellent value for the price.

Travelpro has developed a specific bag for the non-airplane traveler: the 33″ Expandable Spinner model. Available only through certain retailers, this case is our largest offering, designed specifically for the traveler whose needs exceed the 28″ and 29″ cases. The bag operates with a spinner wheel system, allowing it to be pushed or pulled, and it is surprisingly lightweight for its size.

Or if you’re like most dads, you may want a “hotel bag” — the bag that gets taken into the hotel so you don’t have to unpack everything — on long car trips. A smaller duffel or backpack could serve that purpose.

What kinds of bags do you take when you’re not traveling by plane? Do you have a favorite or a go-to bag? Share your stories with us in the comment section below, or on our Facebook page.

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