Travel Technology

China’s Government May Soon Crack Down On VPNs

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If you’ve traveled to China you’ve probably faced the “great firewall,” where access to many websites is blocked. This includes Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Fortunately getting around these blocks is quite easy using a VPN — Tiffany wrote a post about exactly this a while back.

A VPN (virtual private network) allows you to connect to the internet using another network, so it looks like you’re accessing the internet from somewhere else. This allows you to access websites that are typically blocked in China.

VPN use is extremely common China, to the point that I suspect most millennials in major Chinese cities use them. Clearly the government is aware of this, though they haven’t done that much to crack down on usage.

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AT&T Gets Competitive With International Data — FINALLY!

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AT&T has finally added a somewhat competitive international data plan, which is long overdue.

On Friday we’ll see the introduction of the AT&T International Day Pass, where you can talk and text all you want, and use your data plan in over 100 countries. The cost will per $10 per day per device for any 24 hour period.

Here’s how AT&T describes the International Day Pass:

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Dear Google, Please Save Us From Basic Economy

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Basic economy fares are upon us.

Delta has been selling these wretched fares for a few years now, but has recently rolled them out to more and more markets. Then United unveiled the details of their punitive offering last fall and American came out with their slightly-better-than-awful version last week.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan. Can you tell?

Sure, I get it. The legacy carriers are facing stiff competition from the ultra-low-cost carriers and feel they need to do this to compete. But guess what? They, or at least United and Delta, tried operating a low-cost-carry subsidiary within the framework of a mainline carrier before. I watched that movie — I think it was called Song and Ted’s Miserable Adventure — and we all know how it turned out.

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Upside Adds Domestic Bookings, Offers $200 In Gift Cards

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In case you’ve missed earlier posts, Upside is a new travel tool that aims to disrupt the business travel market by incentivizing travelers to choose options that save their companies money.

OMAAT readers have had selected access to the various beta versions for a few months now, but Upside officially opened to the public last week, and now includes domestic bookings as well. To celebrate, One Mile at a Time readers can get a guaranteed $200 in gift cards on their upcoming bookings.

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My Favorite Website For Tracking A Plane’s History

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While I of course love miles and points and travel, I’m also obsessed with aviation. Oddly my fascination is limited to commercial aviation, and to some extent, private aviation. Talk to me about military planes and I’ll start falling asleep. However, I could spend hours on end learning every little detail of the history of an airliner.

People often ask me about my favorite airline/travel apps and websites, and the truth is that I don’t have that many. Even though I work primarily online, I’m bizarrely low tech. Probably my two favorite aviation geek related websites and apps are FlightStats and Flightradar24, which I’ve written about before.

However, I have another site that I have an unhealthy obsession with — airfleets.net.

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Airlines No Longer Have To Announce The Samsung Galaxy Note7 Ban

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If you’ve taken a flight in the past few months, you’ve no doubt heard the seemingly endless announcements about the Samsung Galaxy Note7 ban. It’s announced by gate agents before boarding, it’s often announced multiple times by the flight attendants before departure and during the flight, there are automated airport announcements about it, etc.

While I understand the need for the announcements, I think we can all agree they became somewhat repetitive.

Well, if you’ve grown tired of the announcements, there’s good news. The FAA is no longer requiring airlines to announce the Samsung Galaxy Note7 ban. So while the ban is still in place, airlines just aren’t required to announce it anymore. Here’s the logic for the change in policy:

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JetBlue’s Entire Fleet Now Features Gate-To-Gate Wifi

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As far as I’m concerned, JetBlue has the best wifi product offering of any airline out there, with their Fly-Fi service. JetBlue offers free wifi for all passengers, no strings attached.

JetBlue has been working on progressively installing wifi throughout their fleet, a project which they started in December 2013. That project is finally complete, as JetBlue now offers wifi on all of their planes. This includes their fleet of 227 Airbus A320, Airbus A321, and Embraer 190 aircraft. They claim they’re “the only airline with free, high-speed wifi at every seat.”

What also makes JetBlue’s wifi offering unique is that it’s now available gate-to-gate. Unlike other airlines, you don’t have to wait until you reach a certain altitude before the service is activated.

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Gogo Rolls Out Wifi Plan That Lets You Connect With Two Devices At Once

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I have a Gogo monthly wifi pass, which I find to be worthwhile given how often I travel domestically. While I don’t love the quality of Gogo wifi, it’s still the only way to stay connected on most American flights (though for better or worse, American will apparently be changing wifi providers in the future).

There are many practical ways to get access to Gogo wifi nowadays:

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Incredible Deal On A Portable iPhone Charger

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Keeping electronic devices charged while on the road can be a challenge. Admittedly I’m a bit OCD, but I always make an effort to charge my electronic devices when I’m near an outlet, even when they’re almost full. You never know when you’ll need them, especially when you’re traveling (which for me is true now more than ever before, given all the US Airways A321s I’m stuck flying on transcons, which don’t have power ports).

Anyway, at the moment there’s an incredible deal on a portable charger, just in time for the holidays. This is perfect if you have an iPhone, iPad, etc. Specifically, the Gatcepot 15000mAh power bank with two outlets is presently on sale for $11.19, while the normal cost is apparently $59.99. If you’d prefer one in black rather than gold, that’s available for $12.99.

Technology is advancing quickly, as just last year I wrote about a great limited time sale on a similar charger that was marked down to $21.99, and that only had 13000mAh. So this one is almost half the price and will last you more charges. This should be good for at least five or six iPhone charges on one battery.

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10 Free Gogo Wifi Passes With The Amex Business Platinum Card

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As I’ve written about in the past, at the moment there’s a huge sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 points after completing minimum spend on The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN.

Not only does the card have a fantastic sign-up bonus, but it has a lot of perks that make it a keeper long term. These perks include a $200 annual airline fee credit (before you pay your second year’s annual fee you can receive two of those), access to Boingo hotspots, 10 Gogo passes, access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, access to Delta SkyClubs, a Priority Pass Select membership, access to Amex Centurion Lounge, a Global Entry fee credit, and Gold elite status in Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest/Marriott Rewards.

The biggest perk of all, however, is that you get a 50% refund when you redeem your points through the “Pay With Points” option, which is an opportunity to get two cents of value per Amex point. You can even pool all your Amex points and redeem them this way, making this a way to increase the value of all your Amex points.

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Flying This Week? Get An Hour Of Free Inflight Wifi Thanks To T-Mobile

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If you’re like millions of other Americans and traveling by air this week, T-Mobile has a special treat for you. Through Saturday, November 26, 2016, T-Mobile is offering everyone an hour of free Gogo wifi on their smartphone per flight.

To take advantage of this, just connect to the Gogo network in your smartphone browser on your next flight, and you should be able to automatically connect. This only works on airlines that offer Gogo wifi, so won’t work on airlines like JetBlue, Southwest, etc. (though JetBlue offers everyone free wifi).

T-Mobile always offers their customers an hour of free Gogo wifi per flight, as well as free messaging for the entire flight, which is an awesome feature.

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My Favorite In-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones Are On Sale

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Good noise cancelling headphones are a must for any frequent flyer. Airports and airplanes are noisy places, so being able to block out that noise as much as possible helps me (slightly) maintain my sanity.

In my case, I actually have two pairs of headphones — the Bose QuietComfort 35 over-ear headphones, and the Bose QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones. Why do I have both sets of headphones?

— I prefer over-ear headphones for when I’m on planes and/or watching TV shows while sitting around
— I prefer in-ear headphones for when I’m moving around, either at the gym, walking around a city, at an airport, etc.; they also easily fit in your pocket, so are much more portable

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Is The iPhone 7 Camera A Game-Changer For Travelers?

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Even though my “job” wouldn’t exist without technology, I’m not tech savvy in the least. I like having some tech gadgets, though I’m not someone who needs the latest or greatest technology. For example. I’m perfectly happy with my MacBook Air and iPhone 6, and I don’t even really pay attention to Apple’s latest technology. So while there’s a lot of buzz when they release a new product, I usually learn the details of the new products months after they’re released.

Typically I start getting interested in new technology when my current technology stop working. I have a MacBook Air that I’ve used for thousands of hours that still works great (perhaps I should get the battery replaced sometime), and I also have an iPhone 6 that I love.

I figured I’d upgrade my iPhone the next time my phone broke or when it stopped working well, but I’m sort of intrigued by the iPhone 7, and am considering upgrading early.

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British Airways, Iberia, And Aer Lingus Are Adding Wifi On Shorthaul Flights

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In May of this year, IAG (the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus) signed a deal with Gogo to install their 2Ku satellite technology on 137 longhaul planes. This includes up to 118 British Airways, 15 Iberia, and four Aer Lingus planes.

I had long criticized British Airways for their lack of wifi on longhaul flights, given that most other airlines had at least announced the intention to install such a service, even if it hadn’t been done. IAG expects to complete the installation of wifi on 137 planes by 2019, though that schedule is always subject to change.

Well, it looks like IAG is going all out, because they’ve just announced that wifi is coming to shorthaul planes as well.

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