Going to Orlando and its Parks

It’s time to make a journey and the destination this time is called Orlando, a space full of fun that attracts millions of people during the whole year due to it’s famous parks, places like Disney World, Universal Studio or the Cabo Discovery will keep you busy all day long. Start by looking for a More »

Helsinki City Guide

Helsinki, recently awarded as ‘City of Design’ by UNESCO, is the capital of Finland. Unlike the Nordic winter, the temperature of this city is quite livable, and life continues throughout the year. It has four seasons, and the temperatures vary from 32 degrees in the summer and about -20 degrees in the winter. With the More »

Tricking Out Your Jeep

Tricking out your Jeep is easier than you might think. No matter your budget, there are a number of accessories and parts that you can purchase to trick out your Jeep the way you want it. From roof racks such as the Jeep jk roof rack, lighting, flares, engines, etc. you can have the Jeep More »

Tag Archives: tips

What to look for in a durable suitcase

Experts Elliot Saks, owner of Manhattan’s Lexington Luggage, the repair shop of choice for guests at The Carlyle, The Pierre, and the St. Regis hotels; Kathy Engasser, a 22-year veteran American Airlines flight attendant; and Michael Smith, a Southwest Airlines ramp agent at Dallas’s Love Field airport.


1. Material

A hard shell offers good protection, but a cracked or dented case is beyond repair. “Plastic cracks too easily,” says Saks. Polycarbonate is lightweight and less likely to crack but is more susceptible to dents. Flight attendants, like Engasser, aren’t fond of hard-case carry-ons, which are difficult to store in overhead bins. Soft nylon bags are lighter and can often squeeze into tight spaces. They can be torn but are easy to repair (common damage includes broken zippers and impacted corners, says Saks). Ballistic nylon is denser and hardier than nylon, which gives it a slight advantage on the belt.

2. Handles
A broken handle is one of the most frequently seen repair jobs at Lexington Luggage. “Airline workers will throw the bags by the handle and crack them,” says Saks. A two-bar construction is sturdier than the one-bar handle. Be sure to examine the bag’s interior: A good handle system will use minimal space and give you more packing room.

3. Zippers
Ramp workers often find zipper pulls on the floor. “Bags are being made more cheaply, and the zippers don’t hold up,” says Smith. Metal zippers look sleek but can snag easily. All zippers leave bags vulnerable to water damage when they’re left out in the rain on a coverless trolley. A hard case with a latch system is dust-tight, watertight, and more resistant to humidity and fluctuating temperatures.

4. Wheels
Flight attendants love four-wheeled suitcases that glide. “They can go down the aisle sideways,” says Engasser, making it easier for passengers to board and deplane. But two wheels are best for larger cases. Says Saks, “They’re easier to maneuver, plus there’s less to break.”

5. Shape
According to Smith, a baggage handler’s worst nightmare is cases that are hard-sided in the back and soft in the front, which are more likely to be crushed in storage. The ideal bag to check, according to several airport workers, is a trunk. It’s tough and, thanks to its size and shape, perfect for stacking in a cargo hold. A suitcase with a sleek frame and hard-boxed shape is less likely to be damaged during loading.

6. Storage
Fragile items do best in a hard case — there’s no fear of crushing — and clothes might see less creasing, according to Saks. Soft cases offer expandability, but baggage handlers urge caution: “We’d rather load two 40-pound bags than one big one,” says Smith. “One of our major problems is people overstuffing their bags. The bag will break when the zippers fail.”

7. Cost
“Once you hit a certain price, you’re not necessarily going to get something much better no matter what you pay,” says Saks, who adds that $150 is the most you should pay for durable well-sized suitcases, which are often on sale. A $25 bag is certainly of lower quality but will do the trick for three to four years for the average traveler, he says. “When it breaks, you buy a new one at little cost.”

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United snafu sells seats for 4 frequent-flier miles

When is an airfare too good to be true?

One answer might be when you can fly first class between the U.S. and Asia for just four frequent flier miles plus a couple of Jacksons in fees.

That was the “deal” that greeted quick-thinking members of United Airlines’ MileagePlus program this weekend when a computer glitch let them book fares that typically cost $5,000 or more each way for the same number of miles you’d earn buying a venti caffé mocha with a co-branded credit card at your local Starbucks.


“It was basically a free first-class ticket,” said Brian Kelly, who runs the website ThePointsGuy.com and was lucky enough to get a seat from Hong Kong to JFK in November for just four miles and $43 in fees. “When I booked, it actually listed the fare at 160,000 miles each way but when I bought the ticket, it came out to four miles.”

Not surprisingly, perhaps, it didn’t take long for word to spread and for United to close the loophole. On Monday, the carrier posted a response on FlyerTalk.com and MilePoint.com, which said, in part, “We will be in contact with customers who have tickets issued at the incorrect award amounts. Customers will be given the choice to redeem at the correct mileage amount or re-deposit their award with all fees waived. We regret any inconvenience this has caused you, and appreciate your understanding.”

In other words, they would not be honoring the fare as booked, a decision that raises age-old questions of what responsibility do airlines have when such mistakes happen, and is it ethical for passengers to expect such fares to be honored even when they know it’s a mistake.

It’s an issue that’s taken on new significance in light of passenger-protection rules from the Department of Transportation (DOT) that were updated in January. According to DOT, raising a fare post-purchase is prohibited, “even when the fare is a mistake,” and “attempts to relieve a carrier of the prohibition against (doing so are considered) an unfair and deceptive practice.”

“We don’t discuss investigations that may be underway, but to date we have not issued a penalty regarding the ban on post-purchase price increases that took effect in January,” said DOT spokesman Bill Mosley. Given that the case in question involves miles rather than money adds yet another wrinkle.

Passengers, meanwhile, are split on the issue of whether airlines should make good on such great, if unintended, deals. When Kelly asked his readers—do you think taking advantage of mistakes or “too-good-to-be-true” deals is unethical—28 percent said “yes.” The other 72 percent had no qualms.

Count George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog.com, among the minority: “It’s no different than a misprint in a newspaper ad for a department store,” he told NBC News. “People know it’s a mistake and it’s unethical to expect something for nothing.”

As for Kelly, he more or less agrees with Hobica and says he won’t be upset if United doesn’t honor the four-mile deal as long as they communicate that directly and quickly. He wouldn’t be opposed to a small compensatory gesture from the airline, but he also finds a bit of humor in the whole affair.

“How often do airlines raise their prices just as you’re about to book a ticket?” he said. “This is one of the few times where you can feel that you actually got a deal on a flight.”

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him on Twitter.

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All-inclusive app shows travel agent’s innovative side

All Resort Search

All Resort Search, an app available for Android devices, lets travelers search for all-inclusive resorts for the specific amenities they require.

As a travel agent of just two years’ standing, Debbie Newcomer may not have a long history in the business but she’s got a good handle on its future: With software and smartphones enabling people to do much of their travel planning themselves, agents must adapt or die.

For Newcomer — yes, that’s her real name — that reality prompted her to create All Resort Search, a mobile app that helps users find all-inclusive resorts that offer the specific amenities they want.


“Customers would say, ‘I want to go to an all-inclusive resort and I would like it to have premium drinks, be adults-only and not require wristbands,’” said the Houston-based agent. “To try and find that information on the Internet themselves can be really hard.”

Seeing a need, she figured an app could facilitate the process. She sent out hundreds of e-mails to resorts, built a 30,000-entry database that cross-referenced more than 500 resorts and 50 amenities and hired a local high-school senior to design the app.

Total investment: Four to five months and $3,000.

The app organizes resorts under multiple buttons, including “general information” (location, resort type, etc.), “food” (number of restaurants, room service, etc.), “recreation” (kayaking, scuba diving, etc.) and “additional information” (Internet access, clothing optional, etc.).

Tap the screen to select your preferred amenities and the app will return a list of the resorts that fit your criteria; tap one and it will connect you to the resort’s official website.

“The idea is to spend less time on the computer,” said Newcomer, “and more time on the beach.”

And, quite possibly, less time in travel agents’ offices, which is unlikely to please more traditional members of the industry who have seen their roles eroded by the exponential growth of online travel.

“Travel agents have been getting beat up by the online travel industry for years,” said Matt Zito, an online travel business consultant. But, he said, the answer is not to bemoan the state of affairs but to accept the inevitability of change, offer unique products and services and provide value to customers.

“With technology, there are always new opportunities,” he told msnbc.com. “Here’s a travel agent who has seen the future and said, ‘I’m going to create my own business.’ Kudos to her.”

Currently available for Android devices, All Resort Search sells for $4.99.

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

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Delta Air Lines to expand Wi-Fi to overseas flights

Traveling internationally and looking for a U.S. airline with Wi-Fi enabled aircraft?

Delta Air Lines recently announced plans to expand in-flight Wi-Fi to its international fleet of aircraft beginning in early 2013. More than 150 of the airline’s international fleet of Boeing 777, 767, 757, 747 and Airbus A330 transoceanic aircraft will receive the new satellite-based Internet service.


Delta already operates the world’s largest fleet of aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi. All 550 of its domestic mainline aircraft and more than 200 Delta Connection regional jets feature Wi-Fi provided by Gogo Inflight Internet.

Installation of the new service is expected to be completed by 2015.

Pricing is not yet available for the international service. Domestic rates for Wi-Fi vary based on market and flight duration. Delta does sell 24-hour passes for $12, monthly passes for $34.95 and an annual subscription for $399.95,according to their website.

“Delta’s advancements in technology have been a key component to our improvements in the customer travel experience and have been cited by J.D. Powers and Associates and PCWorld magazine as important aspects of travel,” says Tim Mapes, Delta’s senior vice president of marketing in a press release.

United Airlines also has plans to install fleetwide Wi-Fi to its aircraft beginning later this year with a similar completion target of 2015. Several international carriers, including Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, already offer transoceanic Wi-Fi capabilities.

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Best sunglasses for summer travel

Courtesy of Asos

These mega-oversized frames from Asos cost just $20.

You’ve packed your new swimsuit and tucked that SPF into your carry-on, but before you hit the road, double-check to be sure you’ve got summer’s most important travel accessory: sunglasses.

Slideshow: See the sunglasses to have for summer travel


 

Whether you’re boarding the Jitney for a weekend in the Hamptons or a plane for an extended European getaway, sunglasses are one item you don’t want to forget. Working double-duty to shield harsh UV rays — and hide any trace of jet lag or a late-night out — sunglasses should be as fashionable as they are functional.

Enter Revo. Last year, the company introduced a new type of lens on its fashionable frames: the Crystal Water. It’s not only effective at deflecting the sun’s rays but is also highly scratch-resistant, perfect for anyone who accidently tosses their keys and sunglasses into the same pocket. And for those prone to water-based accidents, Revo’s Headway model even comes with a leash and floating buoy.

Another company thinking about what might happen to your sunglasses at the beach is Maui Jim: its Breakwall model features saltwater-safe lenses and frames. Bonus: the rimless glasses are also super-light.

But sometimes it’s all about the classics. The wayfarer frame — first introduced by Ray-Ban in 1953 — is reported to be the best-selling sunglass style in history. These sunglasses have been spotted on John F. Kennedy, Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol.

Today, Ray-Ban’s best seller is made with either a plastic or rubberized frame and offered in an array of colors and prints. It’s also been re-created by many brands. Warby Parker’s reimagining of the wayfarer, the Winston frame, features the straight-brimmed brow with a modern twist. It looks good and feels good to sport those Winston frames: with each purchase made, the company donates a pair of glasses to the needy.

Another vintage look that’s back this summer: the glamorously round shades sported by none other than jet-setter Jackie O. Her iconic look — Hermès scarves, multistrand pearls — wouldn’t have been complete without those oversize frames. You won’t have to search far for a pair of sunglasses that looks as if it’s been pulled straight from Jackie’s personal collection. Prada’s white oversize wire-bridged sunglasses are the perfect updated example and worthy of a splurge.

TODAY contributor Jill Martin makes sunglasses shopping a little easier with tips on choosing the best shades for your face shape (plus see which TODAY anchor looks great in any frame!).

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