A Q&A on CLEAR Identity Verification

If you fly and have been in an airport recently, you’ve probably heard about the CLEAR ID verification service.

Learn what CLEAR is and does, so you can determine if it’s right for you, courtesy of clark.com.

What exactly is CLEAR?

CLEAR, a New York-based startup, is a service to help you get through security lines at airports and stadiums faster and more efficiently by verifying your identity ahead of time and linking it to biometric data-like scans of your iris and fingertips.

CLEAR uses biometrics — namely your fingerprint and the iris in your eye — to confirm your identity, rather than old-school forms of ID like driver’s licenses and passports.

CLEAR transforms those biometrics into an encrypted code that is unique to each individual. Every time you check in at a CLEAR location, the system matches your fingerprint and iris scans to your unique code to ensure that it’s really you.

As a result, you’re able to bypass the general security lines at dozens of major airports and some other big sports and concert venues across the country, saving you valuable time in the process.

How does CLEAR work?

There are two stages to the security check at every U.S. airport: Identity verification and a security screening. When you sign up with CLEAR, you use it to bypass the wait in line to present your ID to a TSA agent. Instead, you go to a CLEAR kiosk and scan your eye or fingertip.

Once the system confirms your identity, a CLEAR employee will escort you directly to the security screening, which is usually much faster than standing in the line waiting for the TSA agent.

Although lines can and do form at CLEAR kiosks, they generally move at a much quicker pace than the other lines waiting to get through security.

How much does CLEAR cost?

A CLEAR Plus membership is $179 a year. If you join CLEAR Plus, you can add up to three adult family members to your account for $50 each per year. Children under 18 don’t need an account. They can accompany family members in the CLEAR line for free.

CLEAR has also partnered with two airlines — Delta and United — to offer their frequent flyers discounted memberships.

Delta Diamond Medallion members get free CLEAR membership. Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members can enroll for $109 a year and any non-Medallion SkyMiles member pays just $119. That means that if you are thinking about joining CLEAR, you can save yourself $60 a year simply by becoming a SkyMiles member at no charge.

As for United, MileagePlus Premier 1K members can enroll in CLEAR for free. Premier, Platinum, Gold, and Silver level flyers pay $109 a year, while it will cost Non-Premier flyers $119.

Both airlines also have branded credit cards that could allow you to get a discounted CLEAR membership. If you have one of those cards, check with the issuer to see if you qualify for a discount.

The American Express Green Card also now offers a $100 statement credit if you purchase your membership with the card, which could make your total $79 or less per year.

CLEAR + TSA PreCheck = Even Faster

If you have TSA PreCheck, you can get through security even faster. Where CLEAR expedites your trips through the documents-clearing portion of the process, PreCheck gets you through the physical screening quicker. If you have PreCheck, a CLEAR agent will escort you to the expedited PreCheck lanes once your identity is verified.

It’s important to note, though, that signing up for CLEAR does not automatically get you PreCheck status — they are separate programs.

Where Can You Use CLEAR?

You can use CLEAR at all participating airports and other CLEAR locations, such as stadiums. Check www.clearme.com for participating airports. While a CLEAR Plus membership gives you access to all of them, you can enroll in CLEAR Sports for free to get access to the non-airport venues. Just remember that you will not get the airport benefits with that plan.

Should I Be Worried About Giving My Biometric Data to CLEAR?

To enroll with CLEAR, you have to physically appear at one of their locations, although you can start the process online. CLEAR takes your iris and fingerprint scans. You’ll also have to present a valid driver’s license, U.S. passport, permanent resident card, or U.S. military card. Then you’ll be given a unique personalized quiz based on publicly available information to verify your identity.

So should you be worried about CLEAR knowing this much about you?

According to the company itself, “Privacy is at the center of everything we do at CLEAR and we are fully committed to protecting our members’ information. We never sell or rent personal information. Personal information is only used to deliver a frictionless and secure experience with CLEAR.”

Is CLEAR worth the money?

Obviously, there could be a lot of benefits to being a CLEAR member. But is a membership a good investment for every traveler? As it is fairly expensive, it may only be worth it if you travel more than 10 or 15 times a year. The other thing to consider is if there are CLEAR lanes at the airport or airports you fly in and out of most frequently. If there are not, it may not be worth it.

CLEAR may be a wonderful addition to your toolbox to help you move quicker in your travels. To help you with your ground transportation when you’re traveling, make sure to download our free app, Hoyt-to-Go. You can quickly book, change, check and manage all your car service needs on your phone. To download the app, go to your app store or visit https://www.hoytlivery.com/services/app/.

Source: Clark.com

What to Know If You’re Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As of February 7, more than 31,500 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world.

Starting in Wuhan, China, the virus has rampantly spread to other parts of Asia, Europe and the U.S leading to more than 600 deaths.

As a result, flights and cruises have cancelled their routes and cities are under quarantine. Here is everything you need to know about traveling while coronavirus spreads, courtesy of Travelandleisure.com.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a specific strain of coronavirus called 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. It was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). And 2019-nCoV is the most recent “novel” version found.

Both Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are caused by a coronavirus, but not the strain that’s currently circulating.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The first symptoms of coronavirus feel a lot like the flu. “You’ll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, recently told Travel + Leisure. When complications of the virus occur, patients could develop pneumonia or kidney-related issues, which could lead to death.

What should you do to prevent coronavirus?

You can protect yourself from catching coronavirus the same way you’d protect yourself from catching any other virus. Wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.

Which countries are impacted by coronavirus?

As the virus has affected the world, professors from Johns Hopkins University have developed a real-time map to track confirmed cases of coronavirus as it spreads.

Conditions in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected were likened to a wartime scenario this week. The city has been completely quarantined from the rest of China, with transportation links cut. Streets and shelves are empty as residents are urged to go outside only for essential supplies. There have also been two makeshift hospitals put in place to accommodate all patients.

While museums are closed until further notice, China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration has put much of its collection online for visitors to peruse.

The region of Macau has completely shut down for two weeks and none of its famous casinos will be open.

The doctor who first discovered this straint of coronavirus and alerted authorities, Li Wenliang, has died at age 34 of the disease. China has launched an investigation into his death and as to why according to a statement released by the official Xinhua news agency.

Taiwan announced Thursday it would no longer process online or landing visas for citizens of Hong Kong or Macau. The suspension will continue indefinitely.

In Japan, a total of 25 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. It is the most affected country outside of China; however, no deaths have been reported. Japan’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been laxer than other countries. Tokyo has only imposed an entry ban for travelers who have been to the Hubei Province within the last 14 days or those who have a passport issued from Hubei. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was adamant that the outbreak will not affect the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer.

The other most affected Asian countries are, in order, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea.

Australia closed its borders to foreign arrivals who have been in China within the past 14 days. Australians who are arriving home from China are being met with additional health screenings. There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia.

Australia flew out 243 citizens who wished to leave Wuhan and transferred them to quarantine on Christmas Island in an immigration detention center, according to the New York Times.

The U.S. has confirmed a total of 12 coronavirus cases since the outbreak The borders have been closed to anyone who has been in China within the last 14 days. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now requires airlines to ask passengers on inbound flights if they have visited mainland China in the past 14 days.

If they have, they are rerouted to screening centers at one of several airports around the country, including New York JFK and Los Angeles International. If passengers show no symptoms during their enhanced screening, they are rebooked to their final destination — although they are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

How are airlines responding?

Airlines around the world have halted service to mainland China amid warnings from the World Health Organization.

In a statement, Lufthansa Group (including Austrian Airlines and SWISS) said they will not accept new bookings to China through the end of February, however the airlines will continue to operate flights to Hong Kong. British Airways announced an “immediate” suspension of flights to mainland China. Reuters reported that there are no flights available to China with the airline through the end of February. Air Canada has also temporarily suspended flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

United, American and Delta have all suspended their service to China, citing low demand. The longest of these cancellations is with Delta, who have suspended mainland China service until April 30.

All airlines will continue to monitor the situation and could change their schedules should there be any change in the situation in China. Many airlines are still operating flights to Hong Kong. Travelers should contact their airline directly for more information.

Airlines are also looking out for their employees as flight attendants on Cathay Pacific were first told to wear masks while working and have now been asked to take three weeks of unpaid leave between March 1 and the end of June, due to a “significant” drop in demand for flights.

Thai Airways is practicing extreme precautions as they are spraying down cabins with a disinfectant after each flight.

How are cruises responding?

While cruise lines have released their own safety in how they’re handling the outbreak, isolated incidents have occurred on various ships.

At the time of this writing, at least 61 passengers on a Japanese cruise ship have been diagnosed with coronavirus. The ship was initially quarantined when an 80-year-old passenger boarded in the Japanese port of Yokohama after having been diagnosed. Sickened passengers have been transported to a hospital on the mainland for treatment.

A ship in Italy couldn’t offload passengers last week for fear that two of them had contracted the virus.

On Friday, February 7, a Royal Caribbean cruise docked in Bayonne, N.J. — 20 miles away New York City — with passengers that will be assessed for coronavirus as they deboard. Four passengers have been sent to the hospital, according to NorthJersey.com.

Should I cancel my trip because of the coronavirus outbreak?

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 — its highest level — warning, notifying Americans not to travel to China. The CDC also issued a warning against all nonessential travel to China. However, this does not include Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

The State Department hasn’t issued any health-related travel advisories against any other Asian countries.

To ensure any upcoming travel plans, calling your hotel and airline directly as well as monitoring updates and alerts will give you the current information.

Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/travel-warnings/coronavirus-china-travel-alerts-what-to-know

Top Travel Apps for 2020

If you plan on traveling in 2020, you can make the process easier and safer by using a good travel app on your smartphone.

Travel apps have become an essential part of helping travelers do everything from booking accommodations to managing their itineraries. But there are thousands of apps for travel on the market and it can be confusing deciding which ones to download.

Here’s a shortlist of the best for 2020, according to planetd.com. Most can be found on the Apple and Google Play App Stores.

TripWise by Allianz

Travel safety is an utmost priority today, so Allianz Global Assistance has taken the guesswork out of travel safety and developed the TripWise App to complement your travel insurance. The app will help you navigate emergencies when traveling.

Features include:

  • Country information – Real-time updates regarding travel alerts, security information, and emergency service numbers (i.e.: 911) of the country you’re visiting.
  • Hospital search – Uses GPS to find an Allianz accredited hospital at your destination.
  • Flight search – Tracks flights within three days for delays and cancelations.
  • Rx and first aid terms – Easy to use medical dictionary to help with deciphering internationally recognized prescription medications. It also translates first aid terms to more than 15 languages.

TripIt Free and Pro

TripIt is a free travel organizer to help with all your upcoming travel itineraries. It keeps all your travel details including flights, hotels and rental car bookings in one place which truly makes life easier when traveling through airports.

When you link your email address to TripIt, it automatically imports all travel plans from your inbox. TripIt stores all your confirmation numbers, contact information, and reservations in one handy itinerary. You’ll even get email alerts about upcoming travel plans.

The Pro version of TripIt offers:

  • Real time updates for flight delays and gate changes.
  • Seat Tracker: Lets you know if a better seat becomes available.
  • Point Tracker: Keeps track of your reward programs for you.
  • International travel tools such as what language, currency exchange and even electricity sockets and plugs to use at your destination.

You can also set an alert for what time to leave your home or hotel for the airport. TripIt lets you know how early you should be at the airport and how long you’ll need to get there. It even gives you your baggage claim details. Cost for the Pro version is $49/year.

Priority Pass

If you fly a lot, you know how important a break from the noise and chaos at the airport can be. When flying business class or when travelers have status with an airline, lounge access is one of the perks.

Priority Pass gives you access to 1300 airport lounges around the world and the app helps you find where they are and what terminal to find them in. Some users have noticed that Priority Pass lounges are often better than the regular airline lounges.

The cost for Priority Pass varies: Standard packages start at $99, but you’ll have to pay $32 per visit. For $299, you get 10 free visits and $429 unlimited free visits. Side note: American Express Platinum Card members get Priority Pass included with their fee.

LoungeBuddy

If you don’t want to pay the annual fee for Priority Pass or the cost of an American Express Platinum Card membership, the Lounge Buddy app is a great option. LoungeBuddy lets you know what lounges you can access and for how much if you do not have a membership to a lounge. It gives the rates and you can even book up to two months in advance. LoungeBuddy lets you know about Priority Pass and Star Alliance too. The LoungeBuddy app is free and you can buy access to a lounge for as low as $25, depending on the location.

Hopper

Hopper is a free app that keeps an eye on air fares and hotel rates and gives price predictions for upcoming bookings. That way, you can determine if you should buy now or wait for better deals.

HotelTonight

For last-minute hotel stays, the free HotelTonight app finds empty rooms and offers discounts to travelers needing to book immediately. Hotels would rather sell a night at a discounted rate than leave a room empty. So if you are flexible and willing to take a chance, this may be a great option.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

What is STEP?

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Doing so allows you to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, so you can make informed decisions about your travel plans.

It also helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency and will enable family and friends to get in touch with you in an emergency.

Sign up at https://step.state.gov/step/

Source: theplanetd.com

How to Be Winter Road-Trip-Ready

With winter here, it’s time to review what to do to make sure your vehicle can handle the cold temperatures and icy and slushy roads, and how to keep you and your family safe during the winter months.

Check the tire pressure and consider snow tires.
Tire pressure is especially important during the winter, as a properly inflated tire will help guarantee better traction in wet, snowy conditions. Make sure to read your owner’s manual to find the correct tire pressure. In addition, you may want to consider buying a set of snow tires, especially if you live in an area that sees a lot of snow. They’ll do a much better job than the all-weather tires fitted to most cars.

Did you add cold-weather oil?
When the outside temperature changes, it will influence the internal temperature of your engine, so make sure you’re using the proper oil for the conditions. Since we live where temperatures get below freezing, you will want to switch over to thinner, less viscous oil. For instance, if you run 10W-40 grade oil in the summer, you may want to move to 5W-30 when changing your oil for the winter. Make sure to refer to your owner’s manual for vehicle-specific information.

Have your battery tested again.
A car battery can die without any notice. The late-season extreme cold temperatures can reduce a car’s battery life by up to 50 percent. Even if you had your battery tested earlier this winter, have your battery tested again by your local mechanic — especially if you have an older car. Also, make sure your battery connections are free of corrosion.

Inspect your windshield wiper blades and fluid.
Visibility while driving during winter months can be a great frustration. Precipitation and salt buildup on the windshield can play havoc while driving in winter weather. So, make sure to not only check the condition of your windshield wiper blades, but also consider changing your existing blades to versions that are made for the harsh winter weather. Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. A harsh winter storm is the worst possible time to run out of wiper fluid.

Make sure the engine coolant has a cold-weather mixture.
A car’s coolant system is not only designed to keep your engine from overheating, but it’s also responsible for protecting it against corrosion. Before the weather gets too cold, make sure you are using coolant that has the proper mix of antifreeze and water. You can do this by purchasing a tester at your local auto parts store.

Keep an emergency kit in your car.
If you don’t already have an emergency kit in your car, consider putting together a few basics and stowing them in the trunk. Naturally, you’ll want to be sure your spare tire is in good shape with all the tools to change it out. If you find yourself stuck or stranded in your car during the winter months, be sure to have the following emergency items on hand:

  • A flashlight, flares and first aid kit
  • A blanket, warm clothes and gloves
  • A radio
  • A bag of abrasive material like sand or kitty litter for when your tires get stuck in snow or ice
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • A brush or ice scraper
  • Extra coolant

When you take the time to plan ahead, you can make winterizing your vehicle an easy, annual ritual that will help keep you and your family safe on the road.

A warning about warming up your car!

Next time you have to shovel your vehicle out from the snow, make sure your vehicle’s tailpipe is completely clear of snow before turning it on. If an exhaust pipe is blocked by snow while a car idles, it can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide inside the car that could lead to death. Every year, tragedy strikes as a result of exposure to this odorless, colorless gas. People can pass out within minutes and can suffer brain damage, or even death from CO inhalation.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include confusion with shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. So again, make sure the exhaust pipe of a vehicle is completely clear of snow and ice before turning it on, and that there are no occupants in the car until the snow is cleared off.

Also, a recent Good Morning America segment revealed an increase in vehicle thefts across the country of unlocked cars warming up without their owners in it. Police call these vehicles “puffers,” and car thieves call them easy pickings. So, think twice before you leave your vehicle unlocked, unattended and running — it might not be there when you go back outside!

When the weather is especially treacherous but you need to get to your destination, remember Hoyt Livery has the answer. With a fleet that includes sturdy 4-wheel luxury vehicles, Hoyt Livery will get you there safely and in style.

Sources: DMV.org, About.com, Edmunds.com

Laguardia Terminal Upgrades Continue

Delta Air Lines new Terminal C is opening at LaGuardia Airport (LGA), part of an $8 billion renovation that’s pushing the entire airport closer to Grand Central Parkway.

“We had to do it—we are better than what LaGuardia is,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the recent opening celebration, referencing former US Vice President Joe Biden’s 2015 description of LGA as a third-world country.

As a result of both Biden’s brutal honesty and Cuomo’s vision, LGA—known for its threadbare atmosphere, constant delays, never-ending construction and all-round inefficiency—is undergoing a $8 billion overhaul.

First phase of Delta overhaul

The Delta concourse, more than two years in the making, is the first phase of the airline’s new $3.9 billion terminal at the airport. What began in August 2017 is slated to be finished by 2026, according to Ryan Marzullo, the airline’s managing director of corporate real estate in New York. In all, says Marzullo, the project includes four concourses connected to a headhouse, the central part of the terminal where passengers check in and go through security.

Delta is spending around $3.3 billion for the redesign, while the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is contributing a large amount as well—about $600 million.

Remake of Terminals C and D

The terminal is only one part of a massive renovation that’s pushing the entire airport closer to Grand Central Parkway. Delta is just one phase of the renovation, and not the first one either. That designation belongs to United’s new concourse B, which opened in December 2018.

The seven-gate concourse sits on the water on the eastern side of LaGuardia and boasts dramatic views of Citi Field, home of the Mets. But the new concourse has more amenities than pretty panoramas, including a nursing room and a relief room for dogs, who are increasingly popular travel companions.

In addition, all of the seats at the spacious gate areas are equipped with electrical outlets, an essential item for the modern traveler. A given at most major airports around the world, for LGA, it’s a noteworthy advancement.

Also, there’s dining.

To up LaGuardia’s dining offerings, Delta has teamed with the airport hospitality group OTG, its current partner in Terminal C and D, on five concepts including beloved New York cult brands Birch Coffee, H&H Bagels and Juice Press.

Chef Mark Iacano of Brooklyn’s legendary pizza joint Lucali, consulted on Rossi Pizzeria, a Neopolitan-style pizza spot. New Yorkers not keen on waiting hours to get a table at Lucali can queue up at Rossi for a similar taste and decidedly less hassle.

Chefs Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer of Soho’s King Restaurant consulted on Flatiron Tavern & Provisions’ menu of burgers, fish and chops.

“I’m encouraged to see the old terminals finally being replaced,” says Larry Studdiford, the founder of Studdiford Technical Solutions, an airport security and baggage systems consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia. “It’s time to upgrade the facilities with amenities and operational technologies that meet the demands of record growth in passenger numbers.”

LaGuardia’s upgrades continue to cause delays at any time of the day because Port Authority can decide to setup blockades to prevent vehicles from entering the arrival area. If you’re traveling from LaGuardia with Hoyt Livery, to help alleviate this situation, please communicate with your driver upon receiving a message and if you don’t hear anything to please reach out to dispatch. Learn more.

Source: cnn.com

Important Notice About LaGuardia Airport

We are asking our customers to remain patient when flying in and out of LaGuardia Airport.

You may not be aware that the Port Authority, at any time of the day, can decide to set up blockades to prevent vehicles from entering the arrival area. 

To help alleviate this situation, we are suggesting that customers communicate with their driver upon receiving a message and if they don’t hear anything to please reach out to dispatch.

We ask for your patience and understanding while we all cope with this inconvenience. 

Feel free to contact us at (203) 966-5466 with any questions and or concerns. You are important to us and we truly value your business.

Holiday Travel Survey 2019

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, how are your fellow air travelers finding the best deals? Learn this and other travel insights from a new Offers.com survey.

Holiday travel increasing

According to AAA, in 2018 more than 50 million planned to travel more than 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving, an increase of about 5 percent year over year. And more than 100 million planned to travel for Christmas and New Year’s, an increase of about 4 percent over the year prior.

To find out more about air travelers in 2019, Offers.com surveyed more than 5,000 U.S. adults who are planning to travel between November 1, 2019, and March 30, 2020 via Google surveys. They asked respondents when they plan to travel, whether they’ve booked yet and how they prefer to shop for travel deals.

Among their findings

  • November is the biggest travel month for those who have already booked travel, but December is the biggest month for those who haven’t booked yet.
  • Half of holiday travelers booked their travel by October 1.
  • Most holiday and early 2020 travelers don’t plan to take advantage of Cyber Week travel deals.
  • 80 percent of holiday travelers plan to stay in the U.S.
  • 29 percent of Americans plan to travel from November to March.
  • Of those, 54 percent have already booked by October 1.

When travelers are traveling

Thanks to Thanksgiving, one-third—and the biggest contingent—of holiday travelers will hit the road or the skies in November. December is close behind:

November – 33%

December – 26%

January – 12%

February – 13%

March – 17%

Looking for deals?

There are some great travel deals to be had on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, most of those traveling for the holidays and early in the new year won’t be taking advantage of them.

Yes – 11%

No – 69%

I’m not sure – 20%

Among those who will shop travel deals during Cyber Week, they’re booking winter and early-spring getaways. Among those who might/will shop deals during Cyber Week, these are the months they are looking to book:

November – 14%

December – 24%

January – 18%

February – 20%

March – 25%

A note to Cyber Week travel shoppers: Travel deals on these days tend to be very date- and destination-specific. That can make it hard for those traveling during specific dates, but good for those who want a spontaneous getaway.

Online booking/comparison sites are top sources

Those looking for travel deals gravitate toward sites where they can easily see and compare all their options. The survey results show:

Booking sites (Hotwire, Trivago, Expedia) – 30%

Flight search sites (Google, Skyscanner) – 26%

Price-comparison engines (Kayak, Priceline) – 17%

Review sites or forums (e.g. TripAdvisor) – 13%

Airline websites – 4%

Travel agent – 1%

Other – 9%

All three of the top options are aggregators in some form. And travelers’ preferences for these types of sites are clear from the results. In fact, today it’s extremely rare that travelers turn to travel agents or specific airlines’ sites for deals.

Even though consumers’ deal-hunting behavior suggests they’re not loyal to any single airline or hotel, most of them do have travel loyalty accounts (either frequent flier accounts or hotel rewards accounts).

Friends suggest travel destinations

When it comes to choosing a destination, more than half of travelers say they turn to people they know for advice.

Recommendations from friends or relatives – 54%

Price comparison sites (e.g. Kayak) – 18%

Social media feeds (Pinterest, Instagram) – 11%

Travel lifestyle magazines or blogs – 10%

Travel/lifestyle influencers and bloggers – 9%

Travel agent – 8%

Most plan to travel domestically — and with family

For many, “home for the holidays” means staying stateside. The vast majority (80 percent) of U.S. travelers will travel within the U.S. over the holiday season, through spring break.

Because the holidays are such a family-oriented time, it’s no surprise that more than 70 percent of travelers will be traveling with family members.

Who traveling with?

With adult family members – 50%

With children – 21%

With friends – 20%

I’ll be traveling alone – 19%

With my pets – 6%

Hotels and motels are top accommodations choice

Whether because staying with family is just a bit to close for comfort, or because holiday travelers are visiting new places (instead of relatives), hotels, motels and inns are the top choice for holiday accommodations, by far:

Hotels, motels or inns – 45%

Staying with a relative or friend – 25%

House rentals (e.g. Airbnb) – 14%

Cruise or train – 7%

Camping or recreational vehicle (RV) – 4%

Other 5%

Food is the top expense for holiday travelers

Besides transportation and accommodations, food is the biggest line item in travelers’ budgets over the holidays. Still, more than one-fourth say they’ll spend money on entertainment, car rentals and souvenirs during their travels.

When you’re booking your holiday travel, let Hoyt Livery help you with all of your ground transportation at home and at your destination. We’ll get you to and from home, and all around more than 450 destinations in the U.S. and Canada. Contact us today.

Source: https://www.offers.com/blog/post/holiday-travel-survey/

JFK Installs Facial Recognition for Boarding

In true sci-fi style, you’ll be able to use your face to board a plane. In other words, passengers will have access to ticketless boarding by using facial scanning.

In early October, a biometric self-boarding gate was installed at Lufthansa’s Terminal 1 gate at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport’s (JFK). Here are the details, courtesy of the New York Post.

Lufthansa has deployed the paperless, high-tech boarding process, which uses facial recognition technology to verify travelers with a photo capture, at its largest U.S. gateway at the Queens airport. Air France, Japan Airlines and Norwegian Airlines are expected to follow suit at the terminal, officials said.

The technology firm Vision Box has partnered with Customs and Border Protection on facial screening or “biometric boarding” technology, which officials say is faster and more secure, but has privacy advocates expressing concerns.

How it works

The digital boarding process validates the eligibility of a traveler without having to present a passport or boarding pass. When a passenger approaches a self-boarding gate, a biometric-enabled camera integrated in the gate captures the passenger’s facial image. That image is then securely sent to US Customs’ Traveler Verification Service, which “conducts a matching process with the stored digital facial token captured at the initial immigration process or from the US passport,” according to Vision-Box.

Within seconds, the system reconciles the passenger identity and his or her eligibility to enter the flight. The positive match of both verifications triggers the eGate doors to open and the passenger can board the airplane.

It’s not the first time biometric boarding has been used at JFK Airport. Last year, JetBlue rolled out its first biometric self-boarding gate for customers flying to select international destinations at JFK Airport’s Terminal 5. A slew of US airports already offers biometric boarding.

“It’s become crucial for airports and airlines to adopt biometric capabilities along the processes which require interaction with the traveler, therefore enhancing and scaling operational capacity for growing quicker within their existing footprint,” said Miguel Leitmann, the CEO and founder of Vision-Box, which brought the new boarding method to Terminal 1 through a partnership with US Customs and Border Protection and Terminal One Group Association.

New technology raises questions

Experts from the American Civil Liberties Union say that despite the technology starting to roll out at more airports nationwide, many questions remain unanswered.

“How is this information going to be collected? How long will it be retained? Will it be used in other ways and shared with federal agencies like the FBI?” said Neema Singh Guliani, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU.

Customs and Border Protection officials say that the biometric data of U.S. travelers is not stored for long periods of time.

Connected aircraft coming soon

The new technology comes amidst the news that Airbus is experimenting with a new “connected” airplane that would track everything people do on a plane, including how often passengers use the bathroom. Executives think this is the cabin of the future, full of sensors that collect data on the on-board habits of its passengers.

In early September, Airbus commenced in-flight trials of IoT (Internet of Things) connected cabin technologies on board an A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft. In doing so, Airbus becomes the first aircraft manufacturer to undertake such flight-testing of actual connected cabin innovations. The platform, known as the Airspace Connected Experience, was unveiled at APEX Expo last year. While it has yet to be introduced to real passengers, the technology will usher in a new personalized experience for passengers, in particular this covers pre- and remote ordering of preferred meals, booking of private bin space, setting of individual seat positions as well as a tailor-made inflight entertainment (IFE) offer.

The goal is to gather data on passenger behavior and consumption on board, information that could save airlines money and relieve pain points on board for passengers such as the mad scramble for overhead bin space and lavatory queues.

Source: New York Post

Connecticut Halloween Events Calendar

Looking for some spooky Halloween fun this October? Check out our list of Fairfield County activities from haunted attractions and hayrides to graveyard tours and family Halloween events. Events are in chronological order, courtesy of damnedct.com.

Be sure to call ahead and check on any event you plan on attending as sometimes events will be canceled at the last minute, especially outdoor events that depend on good weather.

Legends of Fear
September 28 – November 2 (weekends); 7-10 pm
Fairview Tree Farm, 2 Saw Mill City Rd., Shelton
203.944.9090
Admission: The Hallow $25; haunted hayride $26; combo ticket $48
legendsoffear.com
More info: Try your luck at The Hallow, which includes four attractions: the Melonhead Revenge Trail (a one-mile haunted trek), Pine Hills Parish, The Dark Harvest, or the all-new Hemlock Manor Mortuary. Or visit the haunted hayride, which offers 1.5 miles in the dark with fifty creatures of the night waiting for you! Plus, a full concession with hot dogs, hot popcorn, candy, soda, hot chocolate and more.

Fright Haven
September 27 – November 3; Thursdays-Sundays (and October 31), 7-10 pm
411 Barnum Cutoff, Stratford Square, Stratford
203.799.3327
Admission: $20 in advance; VIP fast pass $39 in advance
frighthaven.com
More info: One of the state’s largest and scariest indoor haunted attractions is “back from the dead” with 20,000 square feet of scares, chills and thrills.

Virtual Reality Halloween Experiences
October 1-31; Tuesday-Sundays, times vary
Xperiment Virtual Reality, Hawley Lane Mall, Trumbull
203.502.8005
Admission: Prices start at $25 and vary by package and times
xperimentvr.com
More info: A unique haunted experience, available any evening in October. Walk through The Haunted Graveyard, Walk the plank, or enter The Manor if you dare! The Halloween themed games vary in scare level from mildly spooky to extreme scares.

Sherlock Holmes and the Haunted Cabaret
October 5 – November 3; Saturdays & Sundays, time vary by date
Downtown Cabaret Theater, 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport
203.576.1636
Admission: $19.75-$25
dtcab.com
More info: It’s a choose-your-own children’s mystery! Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick, Watson, need your help to solve the mystery of the haunted cabaret. Put on your detective hats because this fun and innovative new whodunit asks the audience to decide what Sherlock and company need to do to crack the case.

Spooktober
October 5 – 26; events throughout the month
Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place, Westport
203.222.1424
Admission: Prices vary by event
westporthistory.org/spooktober
More info: Spooktober offers multiple Halloween-themed event throughout the month, including: Oct. 5—Family Creep Fest!; Oct. 9—Mr. Washington Irving’s reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Oct. 12—10th annual “Illuminating the Past” lantern tour; Oct. 20—Westport Sanitarium walking tour; and Oct. 26—Night at the Haunted Historical Society.

A Haunting at Mill Hill
October 18 & 19, 25 & 26; tours at 6, 7:30 & 9 pm
Mill Hill Historic Park, 2 East Wall St., Norwalk
203.846.0525
Admission: $15 – $20 (reservations recommended)
norwalkhistoricalsociety.org
More info: Among the crooked gravestones of Mill Hill, ghostly entities are waiting to share their true stories of death, murder, insanity and destruction.  A murderous train conductor, a heroic soldier from the Battle of Norwalk, and a young girl who perished on the trolley tracks at Mill Hill are some of the ghosts you will encounter along the way!

Haunted Victorian Ghost Stories at the Mansion
October 18-27; Friday-Sunday nights, 5:30-8 pm
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, 295 West Ave., Norwalk
203.838.9799
Admission: $10
lockwoodmathewsmansion.com
More info: In keeping with the Victorian fascination with unexplained phenomena, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum’s Halloween tours will focus on ghost sightings as they relate to the house during the 19th century as well as its more recent history, and the compelling ghost stories that are part of Connecticut’s legends. Visitors may run into the Mansion’s ghosts, who are haunted by the darker memories that are part of the rarely told history of the Lockwood and Mathews families.

Great Pumpkin Festival
October 19; 1 -5 pm
Boothe Memorial Park, 5774 Main St. Putney, Stratford
203.377.2119
Admission: Free
boothememorialpark.org
More info: Events include a children’s costume parade (3:00 sharp) with prizes, DJ music, games, crafts, face painting, refreshments, pie baking contest, scarecrow judging contest, 4 Moonbounces, horse-drawn hayrides, roaming railroad, and the opening of the various historic buildings at the park, plus tours of the Model Train Museum and Observatory.

An Evening with Annabelle
October 26
Location TBA
Admission: $169
warrens.net
More info: Dig into the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren with their son-in-law Tony Spera. The evening includes a lecture, a peek into the case files, a buffet dinner and getting to the actual Annabelle doll that inspired the movies.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
October 25; 8 pm
Palace Theatre, 165 Main St., Danbury
203.794.9944
Admission: $15; props package $5
thepalacedanbury.com
More info: Get ready to do the Time Warp again when The Rocky Horror Picture Show returns to Danbury’s historic Palace Theatre. Audience members are encouraged to dress as their favorite character, throw props during the film, and be ready to yell back lines of dialogue as part of the audience partici-(SAY IT!)-pation. To make participation easier, prop packages which include everything you need to join in the fun can be pre-ordered when ordering tickets.

Legends and Hauntings Tour
October 25 & 26; 4 & 6 pm
Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Rd., Fairfield
203.259.1598
Admission: $10 – $15
fairfieldhistory.org
More info: Get chilled to the bone listening to haunting legends, superstitions, and local folklore as night descends. Did body snatching happen in the cemetery? Are there ghosts in Sun Tavern? Did witches really live here? Find out tonight! Attendees are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes! Please register early, as this popular event does fill up quickly. Please bring a flashlight!

 Halloween on the Green
October 27; Noon – 4 pm
Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Rd., Fairfield
203.259.1598
Admission: Free
fairfieldhistory.org
More info: This family event will feature trick-or-treating, giveaways, displays in the historic buildings, a Food Truck Alley, a bounce house and other kid-friendly games. A Costume Parade presented by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce will take place at 1 pm.

Source: damnedct.com

Air Travelers: Get Ready for Real ID October 2020

Newsflash: If you travel by air, beginning October 1, 2020, you will need a Real ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of ID, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of TSA and Travel Weekly.

What is Real ID?

Real ID is the new federal requirement for state-issued driver licenses and non-driver IDs to help prevent fraudulent identification. You are not required to get a REAL ID. However, starting October 1, 2020, if you typically use your driver license or non-driver ID (instead of a passport or other form of ID) to fly within the U.S. you probably want a REAL ID. Otherwise you will need to use a valid U.S. passport or another federally approved form of identification. A standard state driver’s license can still be used for driving.

The Real ID Act passed in 2005 (in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks) that set new and higher minimum-security standards for the driver’s licenses and identification cards that will be accepted at airports, other federally regulated facilities and nuclear power plants.

State-issued Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards meet increased security standards established by the Real ID Act of 2005. The law establishes what data states must have before issuing a license. It also lays out what technology must be encoded in the IDs and what data must be printed on the IDs.

There has been some debate and pushback from some states over the impact of Real ID, which has created confusion and delayed the official rollout of the act’s enforcement, but October 1, 2020, is now considered the firm date for enforcement at commercial airports.

Starting October 1, 2020, travelers who don’t have Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses or a state-issued enhanced driver’s license can use other acceptable forms of identification such as a passport or U.S. military identification to fly within the United States.

What to do now

Take a look at your driver’s license. If your driver’s license doesn’t have a star in the upper corner of the card, then your license is not Real ID compliant. And if you’re planning to take a domestic commercial flight any time after October 1, 2020, you’ll need to take action, make some decisions or wait for your state to get its act together.

You can decide if you are comfortable flying domestically with your passport (if you have one; only about 40 percent of Americans do) or with one of the other forms of approved identification on the TSA’s list.

“The main pushback on REAL ID is that it’s too Big Brother,” said Jeff Price, an aviation security expert with Leading Edge Strategies. “It’s a move to make everyone in the U.S. have identification, which tends to upset those who enjoy life off the grid or don’t like any more government intrusion into their lives than what is necessary.”

However, nearly every state has come into compliance. “And there haven’t been the big brother/illegal shakedown issues that some people predicted,” he said.

How to get a Real ID

The Department of Homeland Security has been phasing in enforcement of the Real ID Act in an effort to give states time to become compliant with the rules and to begin issuing enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards in time for the October 1, 2020 deadline.

Most states are currently in compliance — including Connecticut and New York — with the Real ID Act and are able to issue upgraded licenses and IDs. The DHS website has a map with the status of all the states.

Three states (Oregon, Oklahoma, and New Jersey), plus American Samoa have been granted extensions with varying deadlines for meeting the rules. (Some had until August 1, 2019, while others have until October 10, 2019).

What this means

If your current driver’s license or ID card is from a compliant state, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will accept it at airports until September 30, 2020. Starting October 1, 2020, though, licenses and IDs from these states will need to bear a star or special symbol that shows it has been upgraded to conform to the new minimum-security standards.

If your current license is from one of the three states that has been given an extension, then it’s good until the date the extension expires. After that, if the state isn’t given another extension, is it possible the TSA will require an additional or alternate form of ID (i.e., a passport) between the extension expiration date and September 30, 2020.

Come Oct. 1, 2020, though, licenses from these extension states will also need to have the star or symbol that shows it has been upgraded to meet the new minimum-security standards.

The TSA has begun verbally advising travelers who use identification that’s not Real ID-compliant that they’ll not be able to use it to fly beginning October 1, 2020.

“Real ID implementation is a little more than a year away — now is the time to prepare,” said TSA acting deputy administrator Patricia Cogswell in a statement. Since April, TSA has displayed signs at airports to remind travelers about the Real ID requirements.

Source: Travel Weekly