Leave it to Foursquare to capture the Internet zeitgeist and turn it into a check-in badge. The geo-location social networking service will begin awarding travelers with the Baggage Handler badge to memorialize their encounter with the TSA's new, more invasive security methods. To unlock the badge, all a traveler has to do is check-in from an airport and include at least one key phrase in their post. Some options are "TSA", "grope", and “Don’t touch my junk, bro!”
After successfully unlocking the badge, the user will receive the virtual badge with the message, "Looks like you’ve had your baggage handled. Happy Holidays and have a safe flight!" As millions of travelers prepare to deal with the TSA's enhanced security measures, this badge might be handed out a lot. Anyone planning to intentionally trigger this badge over the holiday weekend?
Wi-Fi service in the air started out as a bit of a novelty, but it has since ballooned to encompass nearly 1 out of every 3 U.S. passenger planes. Despite the rapid growth studies have shown that less than 10% of passengers use the service, mostly because it's just too expensive to justify. Regardless of the numbers however, many airlines are reporting that they plan to finish adding this feature to their entire fleet within a few years, so clearly they must be making money somehow.
Aircell continues to lead the pack in terms of installed base in the U.S, but the competition could soon be heating up from a company named Row 44 who just recently managed to clear through the regulatory red tape that slowed their initial rollout. Aircell clearly has the first mover advantage, but Row 44 has the international roaming agreements that could make a difference in the long haul.
As the recession eases and companies loosen up restrictions on expense accounts we may see adoption of in-flight Wi-Fi rise, but it will still be difficult for the individual consumer to justify at $13. Tweeting "I'm texting from 30,000 feet" might sound like tons of fun, but the novelty has worn off long before the charge hits your credit card.
What is in-flight Wi-Fi worth to you? Does it need to be free?
Samsung's Vibrant smartphone (part of the Galaxy S series) debuted on T-Mobile yesterday, finally giving T-Mobile subscribers an Android phone to legitimately be excited about. And if you're a frequent traveler, it gets even better -- Gogo is offering up to one month of free inflight Wi-Fi data access.
"As smartphones become more prevalent, we want to make it easier for those traveling to access their email and favorite websites as well as Twitter and Facebook," said Aircell President and CEO, Michael Small. "We want to provide the Vibrant customers with a seamless way to continue their mobile experience at 30,000 feet."
Gogo is available on nearly 1,000 commercial aircraft and over 3,500 daily flights in the Continental U.S., Gogo said. The free month of service is valid for one month from registration or until January 31, 2011, whichever comes first.
Airlines have been reluctant to share numbers on just how many passengers are logging on to their expensive in-flight Wi-Fi. Now, some new figures from industry analysts indicate that under 10% of fliers are making use of the internet connections available on many commercial flights. As you might expect, the major factor cited for lack up update is price.
Gogo, the largest in-flight Wi-Fi provider, charges $4.95 for flights 90 minutes or less with the price jumping to $10.95 for flights longer than 90 minutes. There are expected to be 2000 planes in the US equipped with Wi-Fi. The cost is likely to stay the same. Many of the companies running the services are just starting out and need all the revenue they can get.
Still, some don't care about the price. They may see a flight as an excuse to unplug from the interwebs. Have you ever paid for in-flight Wi-Fi? What's a reasonable price for the service?
According to Google, "almost half of all airline tickets are sold online," so the sultan of search went and acquired flight information software company ITA Software, Inc. for a cool $700 million in cash.
"ITA's very talented team has created an impressive product to organize flight information," said Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google. "Their technology opens exciting possibilities for us to create new ways for users to more easily find flight information online, and we're looking forward to welcoming them to Google."
Google plans to capitalize on the acquisition by creating new flight search tools designed to streamline the process of finding and sifting through flight information for would-be travelers. The deal, which was approved by both companies, will eventually make Google a direct competitor to Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, and other online flight search engines.
Are you eager to be the first among your small group of friends to Twitter “I’m tweeting from an airplane, unbelievable!”. If so, you might just find the following guide from the good folks over at jaunted.com a handy way to help you figure out which airlines offer in-flight Internet connections, and exactly what you should expect to pay for the right to annoy your friends and loved ones from 30,000 feet.
A quick peek at the list shows Virgin America and AirTran are still the only two airlines that can boast an “unqualified yes” when it comes to in-flight Wi-Fi, with the competition still lagging pretty far behind. Rates seem to be pretty universal across the board at about $5 for the first hour, or $13 for 3. Expect Wi-Fi in the air to eventually become universal since it is one of the last new and innovative ways airlines have found to earn a few extra bucks.
Stripping paint from the hull and pillows from the cabin to reduce weight are other ideas, lets just hope the extra cash helps keep them from getting any more desperate.
If you’re anything like me -- someone who spends 95% of their days sitting in front of a computer -- the idea of planning a vacation can be daunting. The unfamiliar ideas of “relaxing” and “going outside to do something fun” are stressful enough, not to mention, you know, actually figuring out where to go. But fear not, my fellow keyboard lurkers! We can plan our days off in the bright sunshine without ever leaving the cold, blue glow of our monitors.
Step one, of course, is figuring out where in the world you want to go. Orbitz and Expedia tend to list some good deals on vacations packages, so if saving some money is high on your list of vacation priorities then those may be some good places to start. However, listings are limited by their partnerships, so the number of options aren’t going to be extremely varied. However, if you’ve got some ideas about the kind of vacation you’re looking for, then using a site like TripBase or TripAdvisor can help whittle the choices down.
In between the random thoughts and pictures of people’s cats on Twitter, there are some gems to be found. Among those gems are celebrity feuds, our very own Will Smith giving things away, and now cheap airfare.
JetBlue and United Airlines have begun offering “Cheeps” and “twares,” respectively, in an effort to load off empty seats for low prices. JetBlue’s first Cheep was a $9 one-way flight from JFK to Nantucket, and since then they’ve have repeated success. “By promoting the Cheeps through Twitter, we give the already spontaneous audience of Twitter users a chance to grab great last-minute fares,” stated Morgan Johnston, a JetBlue spokesman.
Apparently these tickets have become quite popular, too. According to Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman, “Twares are all about surprising our customers with low fares for a very, very limited time. They sell extremely fast because the prices are unbeatable.”
If you’re interested in getting in on the fun, be sure to check out JetBlue’s Cheep Twitter account here, and United’s account here.
If you’ll direct your attention to a picture here, you’ll notice that they’ve got a pretty good hunch, too. Given that just about everything in the picture (with the exception of the brand in the upper-left hand corner) is about the same.
Kayak’s Chief Marketing Officer Robert Birge has stated, “We have contacted them [Bing] through official channels about concerns about the similarities between Bing and Kayak. From the look and feel of their travel product, they seem to agree with our approach to the market.”
In a response, Bing’s Whitney Burke has said, “We are discussing the matter with Kayak. Bing Travel is based on independent development by Microsoft and Farecast.com, which Microsoft acquired in 2008. Any contrary allegations are without merit.”
You won't find Lord British ruling over Britannia anymore, and after doing all that he could for the Ultima universe, Richard Garriott has started exploring ours. Literally. Garriott blasted off into space today in the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft mounted on a three-stage rocket. The $30 million flight ticket buys Garriot a 10-day excursion to the International Space Station (ISS).
While he might be the first virtual Lord to blast into space, he isn't the first in this family. That distinction belongs to Richard's father, Owen Garriott, who spent three months on a U.S. space station back in 1973, almost a decade before the first Ultima game saw store shelves. Owen, now 77, will support his 47-year-old son from mission control in Moscow.
Richard won't be collecting runes in space, but he doesn't plan to sit idly by, either. To help pay back companies who he says have contributed a "meaningful percentage" towards the ticket price, Garriott plans to carry out an experiment on behalf of the contributors, which involves protein crystal growth.