Posts in the category "Free Stuff":

Get smart: free classes on Virgin America flights

Classroom

Courtesy National Library of Australia, via Flickr Commons

You might learn something new next time you take a Virgin American flight.

Starting February 1, free audio and video lectures from the popular series The Great Courses will be available on the airline’s Red in-flight entertainment system.

The series library runs to more than 530 titles and covers everything from history and music to science, literature, language, health, nutrition and personal development.

Virgin America will be offering these course samples:

• Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Inexplicable Universe; from the course, The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries (video)

• Cook Like a Pro Chef: Lessons From The Culinary Institute of America; from the course, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking (video)

• Sneferu – The Pyramid Builder; from the course, Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

• Um, Well, Like, You Know; from the course, The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins

• Did Slavery Really Cause the Civil War?; from the course, The Skeptic’s Guide to American History

• The Enlightenment and an Introduction to the Classical Era; from the course, How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

• What is Big History?; from the course, Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity

• Junk-Food Monkeys: What Happens When Baboons Eat like Us?; from the course, Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science

• Becoming a Spy; from the course, Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History

• Making High-Stakes Decisions; from the course, The Art of Critical Decision Making

• Not All Carbs Are Created Equal; from the course, Nutrition Made Clear

• Creative Nonfiction: Writing Great Beginnings; from the course, Writing Creative Nonfiction

• How People Respond to Incentives; from the course, Thinking Like an Economist: A Guide to Rational Decision-Making.

 

 

Airline perks for Seahawks and Patriots fans

Sunday was a big day for football fans (especially fans of the Seattle Seawhawks and the New England Patriots, of course) and airlines are helping get the celebrations for Super Bowl XLIX underway.

To celebrate the Seahawks win, Alaska Airlines is offering a free drink to everyone on a flight leaving Seattle on Monday, January 19:

For those who want to make quick plans to go the game, JetBlue is adding extra flights between Boston and Phoenix. In addition to the regular schedule of flights (already sold out), JetBlue is adding a flight leaving Boston on January 30, 2015 at 8:20 a.m. (arriving at 12:24 p.m.) and returning on February 2, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. (arriving at 6:10 p.m).

Sunday evening, Alaska Airlines teased about another special Super Bowl treat:

And early Monday Alaska Airlines announced a re-run of last year’s sweepstakes offering Mileage Plan members a chance to fly from Seattle to Phoenix on a special charter on Feb. 1.

“Russell Wilson’s Fan Flight II – For Strong Against Cancer,” a four-day sweepstakes is taking place on Alaska Airlines’ Facebook page.

Fifty-six prize winners will receive two round-trip tickets for an ‘inflight tailgate party’ from Seattle to Phoenix on its “Go Russell 737-900ER” aircraft. Winners will also get two nights of hotel accommodations, admission to an exclusive game day party and transportation to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and their hotel.

(I was able to tag along last year and it was a heap-of-fun!)

The sweepstakes is open to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members who are residents of Washington, Oregon and Alaska and winners will be notified by phone and email beginning on Friday, Jan. 23 at 8 a.m. PT. (Last year, winners told me they had a short window to answer the notification, so on Friday, be sure to check your email and voice mail right away.)

The airline is also adding extra flights between Seattle and Phoenix:

On Jan. 30 flights will head from Seattle to Phoenix at 1:30 p.m. and 5:55 p.m. and on February 2nd from Phoenix to Seattle at 5:55 p.m. and 10:25 p.m.

Gadget glitch at ORD Airport? The Geek Squad is there.

geek squad at ORD

Pretty much everyone travels with an electronic gadget -or three – these days, and sometimes those gadgets get finicky.

If that’s what’s happening when you’re at Chicago O’Hare International Airport from now through December 23rd, there’s free help at the ready.

Best Buy Geek Squad Agents are stationed in O’Hare’s Concourse H from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST daily offering free tech tips and gadget advice, complimentary service on handheld devices, charging stations and tablets and desktop workstations for surfing the web, playing games or shopping for last-minute gifts.

geek squad

Not near Concourse H? Don’t fret. The Geek Squad is sending agents out into the terminals will backpack charging stations and advice.

Got a gadget glitch at the ORD Shoe Hospital, the airport’s aeroponic garden or while waiting for your meal at Tortas Frontera? Tweet to @GeekSquad with #MissionORD in the message and they’ll come to you.

How to save time, money & sanity at the airport

Rocking chairs at Houston Hobby Airport

To make the most of airport dwell time during the busy holiday travel season, be sure to take advantage of some of these time and money-saving services and amenities.  The list is from a round-up I put together for CNBC Road Warrior.

Free shoe shines

It seems like an old-fashioned service, but many airports still have shoe shine stands staffed by friendly men and women who, for very reasonable fees, can transform scuffed travel shoes or boots into impressive footwear while you relax, read the paper, return a phone call or chat.

At Los Angeles International Airport shoe shines are free (so tip generously) in most every terminal. The Shoe Hospital at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport not only shines shoes, but fixes broken heels, sells shoelaces, fixes zippers, repairs bags, purses and suitcases and, for those who indulge a bit too much while traveling, punches extra holes in belts that they will also shine.

Layover spa days

A little pampering goes a long way when it comes to improving your travel outlook and appearance. Barbershops, spas and salons at an ever-increasing number of airports offer services that range from haircuts, shampoos and shaves to facials, pedicures, manicures and massages at prices generally on par with what you pay for these services in town.

Some services are discounted during a happy hour offering during the first hour of business (usually between 6 and 7 a.m.) at the Massage Bar, which has branches at seven airports. “Upwards of 65 percent of our clients are business people who are always traveling,” said Massage Bar CEO Chris Woods, “and the clientele make-up is almost 50/50 men and women.”

XpresSpa, with branches in about 50 airports worldwide, has a free membership program that gives discounts and special offers and $5 in rewards points for each $100 you spend. And between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Terminal Getaway Spa, with branches at Chicago O’Hare, Charlotte Douglas and Orlando International Airport, will be giving away treatments via Twitter.

Leverage the lounges

An uptick in business travel means airlines and independent operators are adding lounge locations and upgrading décor and amenities at existing lounges in many cities. If you don’t already get access with your frequent flier status, business class ticket, credit card or travel buddy, consider the $50 one-time entry fee a sanity-saving investment if only for the drinks, snacks, comfortable seating and workspace it can get you.

“But beware,” says TravelSkills founder Chris McGinnis. “Many lounges won’t allow walk-ins when they are overcrowded, so you can’t always count on getting in to the one you want to.” The solution? “You can often walk across the hall or to another concourse and try buying entry into another one,” he said.

Doggin’ it

Teams of trained therapy dogs regularly visit many airports and there’s no cost to spend a few stress-reducing minutes lapping up some love from these pups when you see them.

Passengers who need to board their own pets while traveling can save time by using pet hotels located on or near airport properties. Now Boarding at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, for example, boards cats, dogs and a variety of “little critters” and offers parking, airport shuttle rides, multi-pet discounts and frequent visitor benefits. The 24-hour service makes early morning drop-offs and late night pick-ups possible, which can reduce the number of boarding nights you’ll need to pay for.

Stop and smell the roses

Instead of parking yourself at a gate, head to a free airport observation deck to chill out and take a look around. The BWI Observation Gallery in Baltimore is located pre-security and, in addition to great airfield views, has aviation exhibits, children’s play equipment, charging stations and a cocktail lounge. At LAX, the Observation Deck on top of the Theme Building in the middle of the Central Area is open each Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering airport and Los Angeles views for free.

There’s an indoor, aeroponic garden at Chicago O’Hare Airport where herbs and vegetables used in many airport restaurant dishes are grown and, the recently renovated Dallas Love Field airport, the pre-security outdoor Moss Lee Love Garden is home to live plants and grasses and artwork that includes 12-foot-tall cast-bronze trees.

Shopping for deals

Shopping can be great therapy and shopping for gifts during a layover can save time and money.

Many airports have a “street pricing” policy that prohibits shops (and restaurants) in the terminals from adding surcharges to the prices. You can avoid sales tax on all purchases when shopping at Oregon’s Portland International Airport and avoid sales on clothing (and shoes) when shopping at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and Pittsburgh International Airport’s AirMall.

And don’t be shy about using coupons. MSP airport regularly updates a long list of downloadable discount coupons good at airport shops and restaurants, and while no expiration dates are listed on the coupons available from San Antonio International Airport, airport spokeswoman Nora Castro says they are updated quarterly to reflect the latest vendor deals.

During the holidays, many airport shops provide free gift wrapping and shipping and gift-with-purchase offers as well.

Bruce Lee & 150+ museums free this weekend

If you’re home or on the road this weekend, and have a Bank or America or Merill Lynch credit or debit card, you’re eligible for free admission at more than 150 museums, science centers and gardens around the country, courtesy of the Museums on Us program, which makes the same offer the first full weekend of each month.

Kiss V, 1964, Roy Lichtenstein, courtesy Seattle Art Museum. Collection Simonyi, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein, Photo: Eduardo Calderon.

If you’re in Seattle, that means you can get free admission to the Seattle Art Museum (regular admission: $19.50), which is currently showing a great pop art exhibition.

Another great option: The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, which is the only place outside of Hong Kong to have an exhibition about martial arts and film star Bruce Lee, who had deep connections to Seattle and is buried at Lake View Cemetery

Bruce Lee - Wing Luke Bruce Lee on the set of ‘Way of the Dragon’ – courtesy of The Wing and Bruce Lee Enterprises.

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