Top 5 Alternatives if the Laptop Ban Goes Into Effect

July 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re attached to your laptop with an emotional umbilical cord, you may need to plan how you’re going to survive the separation that may be forced upon us all if the Department of Homeland Security’s current laptop ban is broadened to include more U.S. bound flights from more Middle East and European countries.

In March, the U.S. banned laptops on flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey to prevent bombs from being taken aboard flights inside laptop computers. They nearly expanded it to all U.S.-bound flights, but have instead created some additional security screen protocols instead.

But if you’re still coming from one of the check-your-laptop countries, you’re going to be without your laptop for a long stretch of time. So here are some ways to survive those laptop-less flights, especially with your mobile phone. (Because tablets are included in the laptop  ban too.)

You could just carry a couple books with you if there's ever a laptop ban. Read more

Chip Technology Keeps Checked Luggage in Check

January 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve reported here before about the increased use of RFID chips in checked luggage and luggage tags to tilt the odds that your bag will arrive with you at your final destination in your favor. There have been new innovations in the effort to reduce lost bags, this time from Delta. Once you see what they’ve been doing, you may never look at those little paper baggage tags the same again.

This year, Delta has implemented RFID technology into its complimentary baggage tags, eliminating the possibility of a bag being unscanned due to a smudged, wrinkled, torn, or obscured tag. Now, in every airport where Delta operates, its bags only need to be be in proximity to the radio scanners to be accounted for. As with the older tags, fliers can track their checked bags using Delta’s mobile app.

Delta Airlines demonstrates its RFID system on a piece of checked luggageImplementing these kinds of changes can be costly and disruptive because they require infrastructure adjustments. While some airports, such as Las Vegas’ McCarren International Airport, have been using RFID for over a decade, any new tracking system is typically the responsibility of the individual airline.

Delta spent $50 million on the system, which included scanners, printers, and said tags. Widespread use of these types of tags has been slow to come online in the airline industry, according to the International Air Travel Association. But the deadline for all 265 member airlines to be able to fully track and trace all bags is 2018. And the system is expected to work, not only on an airline’s own flights, but also connecting flights with another carrier.
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What To Do when Your Luggage is Lost

November 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s the last thing you want to have happen when you’re traveling: your bag doesn’t show up at the baggage carousel. It has an immediate impact on your psyche, not to mention your itinerary.

But if the airline loses or mishandles your bag, there are a few steps you can and should take before you ever leave the airport, and a couple steps to take before you ever even get there.

If your luggage is lost at the baggage claim, head immediately to the lost luggage office. But be nice to the staff!

The Palermo (Italy) Airport baggage claim.

We want to say this upfront: above all, don’t vent your frustration on the person at the lost luggage counter

Next, before you ever get to the airport, pack your essentials in your carry-on: your medication, laptop, papers for your presentation, and anything else you can’t afford to be without. I once read a story that involved a woman whose lost bag included her laptop with a sales presentation she was to give the next day. She got her bag back in time, but we couldn’t help wonder, why would you ever relinquish control of the most important part of your trip?
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Geneva Airport Begins Its Luggage Robot Bag Drop Trial

November 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Even with his vivid imagination, Leonardo Da Vinci, recognized for inventing the world’s first robot, could never have envisioned this application for his creation. Or that it would be used in coordination with another of his inventions, the flying machine.

Yet here we are, as Geneva Airport has been trying the world’s first fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot to assist travelers with their luggage. Working in collaboration with Swiss telecommunications company SITA and BlueBotics, a robotics company specializing in Autonomous Navigation Technology (ANT), the company has named their robot “Leo,” after the famed Italian inventor and artist.

Leo the luggage robot at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland

Leo the luggage robot at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland

Leo can check in luggage, print baggage tags, and transport the luggage to its designated baggage handling area using information gathered by scanning passengers’ boarding passes. After the bags are loaded into the robot’s compartment, Leo displays the boarding gate and departure time to the travelers. No one other than a baggage handler can reopen the compartment once it departs for its designated destination.

Massimo Gentile, head of IT at the airport, sees great potential for use of robots in the future. He told FutureTravelExperience.com, “The use of a robot such as Leo limits the number of bags in the airport terminal, helping us accommodate a growing number of passengers without compromising the airport experience inside the terminal. Leo also proves the case for increased use of robotics to make passengers’ journey a little more comfortable.”

Dave Bakker, president of the European division of SITA, agreed. “Leo demonstrates that robotics hold the key to more effective, secure and smarter baggage handling and is a major step towards further automating bag handling in airports. Leo also provides some insight into the potential use of robots across the passenger journey in future,” he told FutureTravelExperience.com

While some kinks remain to be worked out, such as scalability of the entire system, the capacity, both in size and weight that the robot can carry, and how it navigates in snowy conditions, this trial at Geneva’s airport makes it clear that ANT robotic assistance is here to stay.

What do you think? Would you trust a luggage-carrying robot with your bag? Or would you prefer to check your bag yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: SITA (Used with permission)

Is Curbside Check-in the Best Perk You’re Not Using?

September 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For some people, curbside check-in is a relic of the past that has somehow been overlooked in airport modernization. However, those of us in the know realize that the convenience and service make it the best little-known perk many travelers aren’t taking advantage of!

Curbside Check-in at Cairo's International Airport, Terminal 3

Curbside Check-in at Cairo’s International Airport, Terminal 3

For example, when I check my Crew 11 25-inch Spinner, I thoroughly enjoy the full-service process. There’s rarely a line deeper than one or two people, the skycaps are always helpful, all I have to do is present my driver’s license and credit card, and in seconds my boarding pass and bag tag are printed and I’m on my way straight to the security checkpoint.

The service can also be used to check bags that have already been accounted for during the online check-in process. Either way, the inside check-in lines are almost always longer, increasing the amount of time it will take you to get through security and to your gate.

(An interesting side note: according to Wikipedia, the skycap service evolved as commercial airline travel became more popular. Travelers were already used to redcaps — the porters who handled luggage on trains — and expected similar service at the airport.)

The demographic of those who utilize the convenience of curbside check-in falls into roughly three categories. 1) People traveling with small children may have carseats and strollers as well as luggage, so curbside allows them to offload all but the essentials for the trek to the gate. 2) People who are in a hurry use curbside as a way to minimize wait times, especially if they’re running late. And 3) people with mobility issues find that only having to maneuver their bags from the car to the skycap — who most likely will help with their bags, if asked — is the best way to navigate the airport.
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Top Five Technological Advances in Travel

May 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Technology is changing all aspects of our lives, from how we communicate to how we work to how we watch TV. Even our travel is benefitting from new technological advances.

A screenshot of a Google map

You can now download a localized Google Map to your phone for use even when you don’t have wifi or data access.

In fact, technological and engineering advances top the list of coming travel-related improvements. DestinationTips.com recently published 15 new travel advances we can expect to see, and we picked out a few of our favorites.

If you have a smartphone, you’ll be especially jazzed by what you can do with that ever-expanding, multi-tasking device.

Hilton and Marriott are in the process of updating the mechanisms that lock their guest rooms so travelers can unlock the door using their smartphone. By simply downloading an app when you check in, your phone acts as a key, and you have one less thing to keep track of during your visit.
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Can You Get Your Checked Bag Faster By Checking in Later?

September 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Does the “last in, first out” rule apply to airline luggage the same way it does a bus or elevator?

The short answer is “No,” and Yahoo Travel explores why this luggage myth is just that.

The author, Christine Sarkis, asked Delta about baggage delivery, after spending a rather anxious time waiting to retrieve her bag on an international flight to check it back in again for her domestic trip.

English: Baggage handlers loading a Northwest ...

Baggage handlers loading a Northwest Airlines airplane at LAS (Las Vegas Airport) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer? Luggage is distributed into the hold based on weight rather than when it’s checked in. When the luggage is loaded, it’s all done up in a very scientific fashion to help balance out the plane’s load.

In fact, for large planes, the luggage is loaded into “cans” (big boxes), which are loaded onto the plane to spread the weight out evenly. While it’s not completely random, your bag could be in any of those cans, depending on the total weight of each can.

Smaller planes practice “loose loading,” which means they load the luggage into the hold based on weight. They work to get the balance right, so even then, there’s no LIFO to the bags.

We’re very curious about exactly how this works and would love to get an insider tour of how the baggage handling process works, but when we asked a Travelpro team member to ride in a bag with a GoPro camera, he said no.

Meanwhile, we would be thrilled to hear any insider stories from baggage handlers or even be invited along on a luggage handling tour.

When it comes down to it, says Christine Sarkis, the only two ways to get your baggage more quickly is to fly business or first class or to carry it on yourself, in which case all you have to do is reach up into the overhead bin to retrieve your precious cargo. This is also a great way of ensuring that you don’t lose your luggage.

Do you have any other tips for retrieving your luggage faster on a trip? Let us hear from you. Leave your tips in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Delta Promises 20 Minute Baggage Reclaim To Domestic Passengers

July 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the worst things about airline travel — other than having the person in front of you lean their seat back on your knees — is waiting for your bag to arrive on the baggage carousel. While we normally encourage people to take carry-on bags, that’s not always an option.

So when Delta Airlines said they would deliver domestic passengers’ bags to the luggage carousel within 20 minutes, we took notice.

Their new policy went into effect in February, and although it was originally just a trial run, they’ve since made it a permanent policy.

Plane of Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Plane of Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The feedback from travelers was positive, and it has been a great way for Delta to differentiate itself among the pack. The established airlines tend to be fairly similar, so this has been a good way for Delta to stand out and get some positive buzz.

Knowing your bags will be delivered within a short, 20 minute window makes the baggage retrieval process a lot more bearable and may encourage more people to check bags, something the airline would prefer as they get more fees and fewer headaches than dealing with the carry-on luggage nightmares.

Plus, it’s a good way to encourage travelers to join Delta’s frequent flier program, because members will get a 2, 500 point bonus if their wait for luggage exceeds the 20 minutes.

It’s an interesting promise, and we definitely like it. We wonder how many bonus miles they’ll hand out, especially in the beginning. It offers security and comfort to passengers who may feel that airlines are mainly out to gouge money out of them through new fees.

Will you take advantage of Delta’s new 20 minute policy? Leave us a comment or head over on our Facebook page and discuss it over there.

Airlines Teach the Rest of the World to Pay for Baggage

August 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Not too long ago, the airline industry was struggling to keep its head above water. In the last decade alone, over a dozen airlines have filed bankruptcy, while others (such as American Airlines) opted to take drastic cost-cutting measures. Within the last five years, however, the majority of US-based airlines have found one simple way to increase their profit margin – and the numbers will shock you.

If you’ve flown anywhere within the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that it’s become increasingly difficult to avoid getting hit with additional fees. This phenomenon began in 2008, when American Airlines found themselves struggling with rising oil prices. Their solution: instead of raising ticket prices, they decided to start charging an additional fee for checked baggage. Within months, other domestic airlines followed suit and today, checked baggage fees have become the norm. Today, most US-based airlines charge about $25 per checked bag (or $50 round trip).

English: PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Feb. 19, 2010)...

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Feb. 19, 2010) Workers at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti unload luggage from an American Airlines flight. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Spike Call/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year alone, the global airline industry is expected to clear a profit of $1.27 billion. If you think that sounds pretty high, you’re right — in fact, that’s a 67% increase from 2012.

Interestingly, this number has little to do with an increase in ticket sales; instead, it has a lot to do with fees. In fact, additional fees (such as baggage fees and penalties for changing flight times) account for $36 billion last year alone, and according to the International Air Transport Association, that number is expected to “grow significantly” this year.

But does that increase in global revenue really impact individual airlines? Yes, and you may be surprised as to what degree. Take US Airways for example. In 2007, they raked in $27.7 million in baggage fees alone. In 2012, they raked in $516.2 million, resulting in a whopping 1761% increase. Frontier Airlines has had similarly impressive results. They saw a 1419.6% increase in revenue from baggage fees between 2007 and 2012. Out of all major US-based airlines, Delta Air Lines raked in the most revenue from baggage fees — a cool $865.9 million in 2012 alone.

Airlines around the world have begun to take note of these numbers and are beginning to charge additional fees as well. Between 2011 and 2012, UK-based airlines raised their baggage fees by as much as 67%, which, as the (London) Daily Telegraph points out, is 24 times the rate of inflation. In addition, many UK-based airlines have begun to increase other fees – for example, several airlines opted to raise the fee for traveling with an infant.

No matter where you live, one thing’s for certain: “budget flights” may certainly become a thing of the past, so you need to get used to paying fees, or finding ways around them.

United Airlines Will Bring Your Bags to Your Hotel or Home

April 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

There has been plenty of buzz this year about how airlines and airports are modernizing their service to customers by offering free wifi, customer service via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and upscale shopping experiences. Now, United Airlines is partnering with BagsVIP to offer a luggage delivery service for domestic flights.

For a starting price of $30 per bag, United/BagsVIP will deliver your bags to a hotel, business, or residential address, seven days a week, including holidays. If your arrival destination is within 40 miles from the airport, the service says you will receive your bags within 4 hours of your flight arrival.

Luggage

Luggage (Photo credit: JohnathanLobel)

The service is fairly easy to use: after making your flight reservations, just make a separate reservation for your baggage delivery. At the airport, check your bags as you usually would, but don’t forget that you still have to pay for any associated fees. When your bags arrive at their final destination, BagsVIP will be alerted and within four hours, your bags will be delivered to you. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to sign for them once they get there.

Even though many of us don’t mind waiting around for a bag or two after a flight, United’s luggage delivery service could certainly come in handy for many of us. A business traveler on a tight schedule, a family with a lot of bags and kids to corral, or an elderly person traveling alone could all easily find value from this luggage delivery service.

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