If you’ve been frustrated booking an airline ticket on your phone, a new, mobile app called Geneo—that’s spelled G-E-N-E-O—promises to help you do it with only a few clicks and as easily as if you’re talking with a friend.
The app asks a serious of conversational questions beginning with, “Let me ask you some questions about your trip.” Those questions include, “Are you flying one way or roundtrip?” Then, “Where do you want to fly from?” and then, “Cool—where are you headed?”
The app is brought to you by the folks who also run CheapOAir, and they promise to find you the least expensive flight quickly. I tried it out and found it very easy to use on an iPhone.
And here’s the nice thing—the app remembers you and your preferences, so the more you use it, the more intuitive it becomes.
Keep in mind that like all other third-party sites and apps, Southwest flights will not appear, so if your destination is served by Southwest, I’d recommend you check out Southwest.com to compare prices and schedules. If there’s anything frequent travelers have learned it’s that’s shopping around is still necessary. But the Geneo app is a nice addition to one’s options.
In fact, it’s more than an app. It’s a new piece of luggage designed by Airbus–the European manufacturer of commercial planes—T-Mobile, and the German luggage company called Rimowa.
Here’s how it works. Your bag can be tracked using an iPhone app via GPS so if it doesn’t show up with you at your destination, you can learn where it is. An RFID chip inside the bag works with automated airport and airline baggage-handling systems that ‘pair’ smart-chipped bag tags with your itinerary and frequent flyer number.
A barcode on the bag’s trip-specific label syncs it with your iPhone.
Oh, one more thing: When you lift the suitcase by its handle, a built-in digital scale tells your iPhone app how much the bag weighs, letting you know if you’ll have to pay an excess baggage charge.
I expect it’ll be compatible with Android phones by the time it comes to market, a date that’s uncertain at the moment. Airbus estimates it’ll only cost 20% more than a regular bag.
There are all kinds of ways to get around London. And while taxis—also known as “black cabs” even though not all of them are black anymore– are the most expensive forms of public transportation, you may just learn a lot during your ride.
It takes years of study to become a cab driver in London because drivers must acquire what’s called “The Knowledge” in order to pass the world’s most difficult taxi driver’s test. Acquiring “The Knowledge” requires endless driving around London’s confusing streets—many wannabe-cabbies do it on motor scooters—to get to know every one of them. Future taxi drives must also memorize landmarks such as theatres, police stations, churches, museums and parks. The process can take at least two years but usually longer.
This means if you have a talkative cabbie, you may learn a wealth of information during your ride.
Then there are mini-cabs that are unmarked, must be called for rather than hailed on the street, and cost about 30% less than black cabs. Those drivers can get a license easier, and you’ll get a fixed price when you book.
And here’s a tip on etiquette: It’s always polite to inform your black cab driver of your destination before entering the car. He or she will roll down their window so you can do that.
London’s public transportation network is one of the biggest and most confusing in the world because of it’s a mix of buses, underground trains known as “theTube,” and national real service options. Here’s how to save money when visiting London.
The pricing on all those different forms of transport is confusing, as well, but suffice it to say public transport in London is expensive—about $6 just for a quick ride on the Underground. And taxi rates are sky high. If you’re visiting, consider getting a Travelcard or what most locals use, an Oyster card.
The Travelcard is good for a specific period of time, and if you buy a six-day card, you’ll get a seventh day free. An Oyster card costs $7.50 up front—an amount that will be refunded if you turn it back in—and then you add as much value as you want. It reduces the amount you pay per ride and can be used on all the transport options I mentioned.
Plus, you just touch your card to a pad when you enter a bus or when you enter or exit a train or underground. If your card runs low, you can top it off anytime. That means no standing in line at ticket windows.
Once upon a time, you didn’t have to think about tipping at restaurants in Europe. Your bill reflected a service charge of 10 or 12 per cent, and, that was that. But things have gotten a big vague now.
Some restaurant bills still list a service charge on your bill. And a few menus make clear that service is included in the price of your meal. But during the last three weeks in Britain, France, and Monaco, I noticed fewer and fewer places made mention of service on my bills or my menus.
My most memorable quote came from a waiter at a waterfront restaurant on the French Riviera. When I asked if service was compris, or included, the waiter assured me it was but then said, “But, monsieur, the tip is not.”
What the heck did that mean?
After talking to lots of local residents, I can report that service IS included almost all the time, whether it’s mentioned or not. It’s customary to leave a few extra euros or pounds on a large check, but it’s not mandatory.
Keep in mind, the rules are different everywhere. In Switzerland, for example, you never tip at restaurants. Just ask locals for guidance.