There have been some interesting developments recently in terms of technology and travel, some of which will be make your life easier now or in the near future. As competition heats up to for our travel dollars, companies are finding more ways to keep us connected and productive while on the road. Here is just a sampling of some of recent developments in this area.
• JetBlue Rolling Out Fast Inflight WiFi
WiFi internet access on a plane isn’t all that new, but if you’ve ever tried to use it, it can be disappointing. Speeds vary greatly, connections can be lost and you certainly wouldn’t want to do anything too demanding on it. JetBlue is hoping to change that as it rolls out a faster, more reliable service to its planes. They call it Fly-Fi and they promise it will change the way you use Internet on a flight. The airline says that when it is implemented, Fly-Fi will offer passengers sustained speeds of 12 Mbps, which is more than enough to stream TV shows and movies from Netflix or Hulu. It also says those speeds won’t drop off as more people sign onto the network. The service will roll out fleet wide over the next few weeks and will be completely free for six months. After that, the “simply surf” plan will remain free, allowing users to browse the web, check email and so on. Fly-Fi+ will set travelers back $9/hour for much faster service when needed.
• Southwest Introduces $2 iMessage Plans
Southwest Airlines actually already has WiFi on most of its planes, typically charging passengers $8/day for inflight Internet access. But last week they also rolled out a new plan that allows customers using iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads, to send iMessages on their flight. The service costs just $2/day and is accessed by tapping on the “Message” option in the WiFi portal. This will allow passengers to keep friends and family informed of their progress or just let them pass the time chatting on a long flight. Don’t worry Android fans, the service will extend to you in early 2014 as well.
• Greyhound Launches Onboard Internet and Entertainment System Too
The airlines aren’t the only ones who are updating their onboard options. Greyhound is also testing a new service on its busses which would bring a WiFi based entertainment system to passengers as well. The service, which is named BLUE, would give customers access to television shows, movies, games and the web through their WiFi enabled devices. The service is currently in testing on a route between Dallas and Houston, with a larger rollout planned in the near future. That’ll certainly help those long hours on the bus go by more quickly.
• Google Brings Flights, Hotels and Restaurant Reservations To iOS Maps
The latest update for Google Maps on iOS brought some features that travelers will certainly find handy. When you search within the app for specific airports, hotels and restaurants, it will also search within your Gmail inbox to display upcoming flights, as well as hotel and dinner reservations, for those locations. The reservations don’t even have to be your own either. While testing out this new feature, I did a search on my local airport and it showed an incoming flight that a friend had forwarded my way. I knew exactly when I needed to be there to pick her up. Android users are already ahead of he game on this one, as the feature has been incorporated into Google Now for sometime.
Travel tech certainly has come along way in the past few years. As devices and software continue to get more sophisticated, it’ll be interesting to see where we are in just a few years.