It's easier than ever to stay connected in the air. Early next year, Gogo—offered on nine North American carriers, including Alaska, American/US Airways, United, and Delta—will increase bandwidth to a whopping 70-plus megabits per second (mbps) on 800 planes. It's the difference between surfing the Web and streaming an HD movie. Also on tap: an app for texting in flight. JetBlue has launched Fly-Fi, a proprietary 20-plus-mbps service (free; $9 per hour for streaming video) on part of its fleet; all A320's will be equipped by early 2015. On the international front, OnAir is available on airlines ranging from All Nippon to Etihad; Singapore Airlines is the latest to sign on, with Wi-Fi on its A340's, A380's, and Boeing 777-300ER's ($10 for 10 MB, or $12 per hour). British Airways recently joined up with Inmarsat, which plans to roll out Europe's first ground-based (as opposed to satellite) 4G broadband network by the end of 2016. Speeds will be in excess of 70 mbps.
Headphones are a must-pack item whether you’re looking for sound quality or peace and quiet. Consider these four versions, which we show off in a Travel + Leisure Quick Tips video.
Audio-Technica QuietPoint Noise-Cancelling Headphones are the most affordable of the bunch, coming in at just $100. And when noise canceling is turned on, they do a shockingly good job of eliminatingoutside sounds.
Watch more Travel + Leisure Quick Tips videos here.
Thousands of art lovers visit London’s Tate Britain every day to see treasures by notables such as William Blake, John Constable, and David Hockney. This week, they can visit the museum at night as well, thanks to the new website After Dark.
Aloft Hotels announced its latest hire today: a robot butler named A.L.O. who is now serving guests at the brand’s Cupertino location.
The first major hotel company to introduce a robot for front-of-house service, Aloft plans on using A.L.O. to help (human) staff around the clock, fulfilling chores such as delivering guest amenities and transporting bedding, towels, and other linens between laundry- and guest-rooms. The robot uses internal navigational software to find its way around the hotel and communicates via on-screen prompts.
Sick of the selfie? Tourism New Zealand’s new take on the trend may peak your interest. Enter the “dronie,” a video taken by a high-flying, remote control-operated drone. Through August, the company will hit the slopes with its own miniature aircraft to shoot 8-second HD clips of visitors to several South Island ski areas. The drone-toting representatives email the videos to participants, free of charge.
The OTA wars rage on. Last week, CheapTickets.com launched a loyalty program so worthwhile, we had to do a double take. The proposition: sign up for free at checkout, and you’ll automatically get money back on each booking—the rewards are paid out in the form of credits that can be applied to your next transaction. What you get: $50 back on any flight you book on the website, $75 for any flight booked on mobile, $25 for any hotel booked online, and $50 for hotel bookings on mobile. Unlike almost every other OTA, CheapTickets puts the emphasis on unbundled bookings—the only non-eligible purchases are package deals. And there’s no minimum spend, either, so a $150 ticket from New York to Nantucket would remain eligible for a $75 kickback if booked on mobile. This makes CheapTickets the second OTA to incentivize in-app bookings—Orbitz similarly offers roughly twice the rewards points for bookings made by smartphone.
Hilton is taking a page out of the airline handbook. This week, the hotel giant announced a plan to open room selection for members of the brand’s HHonors loyalty program—for the first time ever, this would allow guests to review floor plans of open rooms and pick their favorite before check-in. Roll-out is expected for over 650,000 rooms at 4,000 hotels across the Hilton portfolio—including its Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands—by the end of the year, with limited availability piloting by the end of the summer.