Using Airline Schedule Changes in Your Favor

Airline schedule changes happen. That’s just a fact of life. Sometimes they’re minor. I’ve had changes of 5 minutes that really don’t affect original plans at all.

Other times, schedule changes can really throw a wrench into your plans.

Some people cringe when they see these emails in their inboxes. Not me, I see it as a free pass for flexibility.

Delta itinerary has changed

The emails I love to see in my inbox

If you wanted to make a change otherwise, you’d have to pay change fee upwards of $150 depending on the airline!

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Travel Tech: XCom Global MiFi Wireless Hotspot + BONUS

Bonus at the bottom of the post!

We just got back from Madrid and I definitely wanted to share this.

While preparing for our trip to Madrid, I was trying to figure out how we’d stay connected abroad. We’re so technology-driven these days (who isn’t?!) that we both agreed we wanted to have data access in Madrid.

In the hotel would be no problem. We’re both Starwood Gold (thanks to each of our Amex Platinum cards) and, as a Gold welcome gift, we’re entitled to complimentary in-room Internet.

Our issue was having data on the go when we were exploring the city. We love Foursquare and Instagram for sharing the places that we visit.

After extensive research, I stumbled upon XCom Global, a company that make two products – a USB modem and a wireless hotspot (“MiFi”). For our intents and purposes, we would opt for the wireless hotspot.

xcom-global

XCom Global boasts service in 175 countries. They also boast unlimited 3G data, which is very key because data can really add up, especially when you break out data-hungry apps like Google Maps.

The per day fee for the MiFi is $14.95, and two-way shipping will cost you $29.90.

Here is a breakdown of what I found to be the key points:

PROS

  • Easier than having to track down a local SIM card in the country you’re visiting
  • Eliminates the need to have a Global phone
  • Flat rate ($14.95) for unlimited 3G data usage
  • Eliminates need to purchase hotel WiFi
  • Up to 5 devices can connect
  • Decent 3G speeds
  • Delivered to you before you depart; ready to drop off for shipping back to XCom Global when you return
3G speed test outdoors

3G speed test outdoors

CONS

  • Relative to buying a local SIM and not needing unlimited data –  expensive pricing
  • Unit does not display how much battery is left
  • It is another device to carry while traveling
  • Battery life is relatively short – I’d say we averaged 3-5 hours of battery life.
    • I’d recommend renting an extra battery through XCom for an extra $1/day.
    • I used my portable battery pack so we were powered all day.
  • Overpriced ‘replacement cost’ of unit if insurance isn’t purchased – $800

Overall

We had a great experience with the XCom Global MiFi wireless hotspot! It kept us connected throughout our trip to Madrid (even the layover in Rome).

The ease of use and multi-device connectivity far outweighed the price premium. As a solo traveler, I might consider other options, but as a couple with a total of 4 devices, this was a no-brainer for us.

I highly recommend this as an option for your international travels, but definitely don’t overlook buying a local SIM card at your destination. It may be far cheaper. As always, do your own research!

Joann and I will definitely be using XCom Global again, probably to our trip to Buenos Aires in April.

BONUS!

Since I was so pleased with our service, I contacted XCom Global about their affiliate program.

They were more than willing to work with me so I’m proud to say I can offer my readers a 5% discount on the XCom Global service! By clicking on this link, you can save 5% on either the MiFi or USB device.

Disclaimer: I do receive a small commission from XCom Global if you purchase services through my link. 

 

Review: routehappy.com

When you want to find out which restaurants are good, do you use Yelp? When you want to find out which hotel to stay at, do you hit up Trip Advisor? You’re probably the type of person to use routehappy.com. This is a new website that is currently in public beta.

If you’re a traveler conscious about their quality of travel, routehappy can be pretty valuable. You can sort through reviews with several different criteria – the actual flight number, city pairs, or just search a particular airlines’ reviews. Want to know how United is doing since the merger? Search for it and sort by date. I know that I want the best possible  experience when I fly so I utilize this part of routehappy often. When booking award trips for friends and family, I want to know the highest reviewed routes and book those flights. I want to know what airlines to avoid and how I can get to the quickest security checkpoint.

Also, if you’re an avid reviewer like me, you will love this site. You can review the departure airport, the flight itself, the arrival airport, and everything in between. You can leave tips or warnings for future passengers (this part is helpful to everyone). And like so many new websites these days, there is a social aspect to routehappy. Points and badges are given for writing reviews and also if people find your reviews “Useful” or “Amusing”. It’s this kind of foursquare-esque interaction that keeps me interested and wanting to contribute to the site more.

Overall, I just wanted to give my quick opinion on the startup routehappy.com. I encourage you to contribute so knowledge about flight experiences will spread, but if not, at least use it to know what things to avoid when flying! You can see my routehappy flight reviews here.