Wearable Technology Looks Cool, But Will Travelers Actually Wear It?

Wearable technology - Dick Tracy watch
Flickr, LamdaChiAlpha

Imagine being able to navigate a foreign city without a map or paying for a museum ticket with your watch, thanks to your cool electronic gadgets. Now imagine getting mugged around the corner, or leaving your expensive toy on a bus. Wearable technology such as Google Glass and the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch have fueled a lot of buzz among technology fans and travel marketers, but will travelers actually want to wear them?

A survey of 1,000 adults showed that while 75% were aware of at least one form of wearable technology, less than 10% was actually interested in using it. While the Samsung smartwatch announcement increased interest, and 52% would wear something on their wrist, only 5% would wear something on their face like Google Glass.

High price tags — $299 For the Galaxy Gear, and over $1,000 for the developer glasses — are one cause for consumers to hesitate, though travelers are more likely to invest in the latest technology, especially if it helps document their trip or explore a new place. Privacy is another concern, as the devices collect information based on your movements to improve the experience. How about the fact that having such a device marks you as wealthy? Smartphones have become fairly commonplace in the world, but there are still places where you’d be wise to keep your iPhone in your pocket, or even the hotel safe. The newer and snazzier the device, the more it shows that you have money to burn, and might make you a target of thieves. Will they make you look like a tourist? Not necessarily more than any device, but they certainly won’t help you to blend in.

Would you use wearable technology, while traveling or at home? What innovations would you like to see for travel?

Galley Gossip: The Worst, Funniest and Most Common Bad Airline Passengers

Photo credit: Telstar Logistics

From time to time I get asked questions about bad passengers. I thought I’d share a few of them here.

What’s the worst passenger behavior you’ve witnessed?

I’ve caught passengers taking other people’s luggage out of the bin to make room for their own bags. I’m not joking. They’ll pull out a bag, drop it on the floor and walk away leaving it in the middle of the aisle for the passengers behind them to crawl over. Have you ever tried stepping over a 21-inch Rollaboard? Not easy. Happened three times last month!

The funniest?

Recently a woman tried to stow her suitcase in that, oh, what do you call that spot? Crevice? Crack? Between the overhead bin and the ceiling? There’s like a millimeter of space there! I don’t care which airline you’re traveling on, that’s not going to fit. Then there are the recliners and the anti-recliners. One anti-recliner got upset at a recliner because she couldn’t get her tray table down. I suggested if maybe she removed the gigantic fanny pack from around her waist it might go down. She looked at me like I was the crazy one! One man actually called me over because the passenger in front of him had reclined his seat. I had to point out that, uh … his seat was reclined too!

What’s the most common bad passenger behavior you’ve seen?

These days, people are so self-absorbed multitasking as they board a flight they don’t even say hello to the flight attendant greeting them at the boarding door. They’re too busy talking on the phone, typing on their laptops, listening to music and texting as they walk down the aisle to notice their backpacks and duffle bags are whacking people in the head. Recently a passenger got mad at me – ME! – because I wouldn’t help him lift a heavy bag. That’s because he couldn’t get off the phone to improve his one arm bag swing. Two arms always work better than one when it comes to getting those bags into the overhead bins.

What are the rules for dealing with bad passengers?

We can’t call the police or the fire department at 30,000 feet. That’s why it’s a good idea to take care of problem passengers on the ground before we depart. Before we kick someone off the plane, we’ll do everything we can to make a bad situation good again. Usually, it involves doing the following:

  1. Getting Down: Literally, we get down on one knee in the aisle at the passenger’s level. This position is less threatening to passengers.
  2. Listening: Most passengers just want to be heard. That’s it.
  3. Keeping Calm: We try not to raise our voices. Staying calm and in control will diffuse most situations.
  4. The Facts: We might ask what the problem is and then have the passenger suggest a solution. This way we’re all on the same page.
  5. Walking Away: A new face is new energy. If I’m not getting anywhere with a difficult passenger, I’ll remove myself from the situation and ask a coworker to step in. Even though a coworker may tell the passenger the exact same thing I did, they could get a completely different response.

If that doesn’t work, and we’re in flight, we might issue a written warning signed by the Captain. All this means is if a passenger doesn’t stop doing whatever it is they were doing, authorities will be called to meet the flight. That’s why I say if you’re going to freak out, might be a good idea to wait until we’re safe and sound on the ground and parked at the gate. No one wants to divert a flight. Plus you don’t want to end up in jail far away from home where no one can rescue you.

Airline Madness: Rude airline staff vs. Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing

Airline Madness is Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances. You can catch up on all of the previous tournament action here.

gadling airline madness rude staff electronic devices

Our penultimate first round Airline Madness match-up pits #7 Rude airline staff against #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff and landing. While we almost expect other passengers to be obnoxious, airline employees work in customer service positions and should conduct themselves accordingly. Yet, short tempers, terse responses and ambivalent tones seem to be the norm when dealing with the folks in uniforms. We’re also infuriated by having to turn off our electronic devices during takeoff and landing despite insufficient evidence to support whether these practices are even necessary.

We have more to say on both of these peeves – and your chance to vote – below.#7 Rude airline staff
What happened to “the customer is always right”? While airline employees don’t need to acquiesce to every obnoxious customer request, they should treat passengers with respect and seek to be calming, helpful members of the travel experience. Sadly, though, too many gate agents, flight attendants and airport staff are short-tempered, ill-mannered and jaded. When customers need help most, they often encounter attitudes that simply exacerbate the problem.

#10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing
As previously mentioned, little-to-no evidence exists that electronic devices actually pose a risk to airplane equipment. This is particularly true for devices that do not have data access or have been switched into airplane mode. Why should we have to turn off our music and put away our Kindles simply because the cabin door has closed (especially when, as is often the case, takeoff is still 30 minutes away)? If you’ve ever been on a flight in which you heard somebody’s cell phone ring and then landed safely, you know that even mobile phone service isn’t interfering with the captain’s ability to control the plane.

Only one of these annoyances will punch its ticket for the second round. Vote for the one that you simply can’t stand and let us know why you feel that way in the comments.
%Poll-73831%
First round voting ends at 11:59PM EDT on Friday, March 16.

More Airline Madness:
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #16 Disgusting bathrooms
#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures
#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets
#4 Baggage Fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#5 Lack of overhead space vs. Inattentive parents of crying babies
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment
#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
Hotel Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

Airline Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

gadling airline madness

It’s that time of year again! All around the country, people are filling out their brackets and arguing over match-ups. That’s right; it’s March Madness Airline Madness! Just like last year’s Hotel Madness, we’ve compiled a list of travel pet peeves. Only this time around the competition is for the title of Worst Airline Annoyance. Our selection committee vetted the pool of candidates and chose the 16 worst offenders. Now it’s time for you to vote. Over the next two days, all of the first round match-ups will be posted here on Gadling for you to weigh in. The winners will advance to the second round, then the Final Four and so on until we crown an Airline Madness champion.It’s going to be an exciting few weeks of debates, arguments and rants about cry babies, overhead space and baggage fees. We know you’ll have some opinions to share and we hope that you’ll speak up in the comments.

Below is a list of our first round match-ups that will be up for voting later today for the first four match-ups of the first round. The second half of the first round will be open for voting tomorrow, so keep checking back for all of the action! [Update: The first round has ended and voting is closed.]


#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures



#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets


#4 Baggage fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats


#5 Lack of overhead space vs. #12 Inattentive parents of crying babies


#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment


#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing


#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats

Welcome to Airline Madness! It’s up to you to pick the champion (because everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy)!

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

Galley Gossip: Electronic devices & the passenger with the cat-like reflexes

When a passenger said to me with a straight face that he had cat-like reflexes, I tried not to laugh. Only it’s impossible not to laugh when a person says something like this, and actually means it. FYI: I’ve been around a lot of passengers and I have yet to meet one with these kind of reflexes. At least not in this day and age of distracted air travel.

How did I meet my funny feline friend? We had just touched down at La Guardia airport in New York. While taxiing to the gate, I spotted him, a business man, sitting in the aisle seat of the last row of coach with a mammoth-sized computer resting on his lap, fingers typing away.

From the back of the airplane over the roar of the engine, I called out, “Sir, excuse me, Sir! “

Either he couldn’t hear me or assumed I was speaking to someone else. I unbuckled my belt and gently tapped him on the shoulder. “You’re not supposed to be using that right now.”

Fingers continued to peck at the keys. Eyes remained glued to the screen. “I thought we were allowed to use electronic devices after landing.”

“It’s okay to use your cell phone after landing, but not a computer. That should be off and stowed.”

On a mission, the fingers kept moving. “I’m….almost…done.”

Almost was not soon enough.

“Do you know why you’re supposed to have that stowed?” I asked. Finally the fingers came to a stop, and for the first time during the course of a two and a half hour flight, the gentleman and I made eye contact. “If there’s an emergency and I have to pop the slide and evacuate this plane, you’re going to waste a lot of precious time fumbling around with that fifty pound laptop! Do you think your neighbor wants to gets blocked in, or worse, whacked in the head? Also what if I need your help?!”

Sheepishly he smiled. “What if I told you I have cat-like reflexes.”

And there you have it. That’s how this passenger, a middle-aged man, became known as The Cat Man. As for his amazing reflexes, I’d seen them in action and I was not at all impressed. During the flight when I went to put a cup of club soda down on his tray table, I had to wait a few minutes for him to figure out what to do with the laptop. And the Blackberry. And the other Blackberry.

On a recent flight a first class passenger thought nothing of pulling out his cell phone and texting while I stood right in front of him demonstrating the safety announcement! Another chatted away in coach as we turned onto the runway. “I heard you!” barked a woman when I asked her to turn off a game boy. Now I had already asked her twice to put it away and I kinda-sorta needed to take my jump seat before takeoff, so now wasn’t a good time to discuss why she couldn’t keep it in “airplane mode.”

Last week on a flight from New York to Aspen, after the lights were turned to bright and the flight attendant in charge made the announcement about turning electronic devices off, stowing bags, and putting seat backs in the upright and locked position, I went through the cabin and row by row had to practically invite each and every passenger to do as they were told – not once, but a few times! No joke, my four year-old has better listening skills than most of the adults on this flight. And there were 124 passengers on board! Never in my life has it taken me so long to prepare a cabin for landing! Because some of these passengers had more than one electronic device in use, I couldn’t get their attention, and when I finally did, they still couldn’t grasp what I was saying. I had to resort to a game of charades. Try acting out “head phones off. Power down computer” twenty times in flight and you’ll know what it’s like to be me.

Now when I encounter these kind of passengers, I can’t help but think of my old friend and his not-so cat-like reflexes. But instead of laughing, I feel more like hissing and scratching. Just consider yourself warned.

Meow.

Photo courtesy of Svacher