Off The Rock: Airline Apps & Membership

August 25, 2017

[Travel column written by Don Burgess]

Membership does have its privileges.

I am a big believer in signing up for the reward programs from airlines, rental cars and hotels. On a recent trip I was upgraded from a standard economy car to a Cadillac Cue from Hertz.

This was one sweet ride. Besides GPS, back-up camera and a sun roof, it came loaded with heated seats. It wasn’t quite like a hot stone massage for my back, but it was an added feature that was appreciated.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but if a company has an upgrade to give, they are far more likely to give it to someone who is a member of their loyalty program. The little bit of time it takes for you to sign up for one could pay off with an upgrade.

Airline apps

Three of my flights this year have been on planes that have had no TVs and the passengers were supposed to download a free app to have access to hundreds of movies and TV programs.

Once the plane reaches 10,000 feet the onboard Internet will allow travelers to use the app to watch these shows.

In theory this is great, but in practice the airlines are missing the mark with this idea. The main problem is the passengers don’t know ahead of time that they are supposed to download the app until they are on the plane and by then it is too late unless you have data on your device.

This happened twice to me on United and WestJet flights so before I got on an Alaska Airlines plane I downloaded their app, knowing I was prepared if this happened again.

Wrong. To access the entertainment package I did need to download an app, but it was the GoGo Entertainment app.

Hooking up

Having been through more than 18 airports this past year, there are some that are doing it right to make sure travelers and their devices can stay fully charged.

In this regard, Houston was by far the best. Besides having plenty of accessible ports to plug into, it also supplied tablets at many of the tables and workstations.

L.F. Wade International is also one of the better ones with many of chairs having plug-in ports. Too many terminals don’t have what should be a standard feature. In places like the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, the home of Microsoft, and San Francisco, the home of the Silicon Valley, it is almost downright criminal that their technology isn’t of a higher standard.

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