Free Stuff

PHL Airport has a short story dispenser

Here’s a great contender for Airport Amenity of the Week: Philadelphia International Airport has a short story dispenser.

PHL short story dispenser

Courtesy PHL Airport

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)’s newest amenity is a Short Story Dispenser.

The five-foot tall, screen-less, translucent glass kiosk is now in the airport’s ‘Virtual Library’ (in the D/E Connector) and prints a free fiction story that can be read in one, three or five minutes.

To get a story, users press one of three buttons indicating which length of story they prefer and then  the machine delivers a story printed on eco-friendly paper.

The stories are drawn from a catalog of stories submitted to and edited by Short Édition, a French community publisher that developed the dispenser. Some stories dispensed are short works by classic authors such as Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf, but Short Edition says it has work submitted by 9,000 authors in its database and pay royalities to authors every time their work is accessed in a Short Story Dispenser.

PHL is the first US airport to get a Short Edition Story Dispenser, although the machines debuted a year or so ago at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and are also installed at Canada’s Edmonton International Airport and about 150 other non-airport locations out in the world.

courtesy Short Edition
PHL has had a Virtual Library since 2014 that is designed to bring the city’s Free Library’s vast electronic resources to passengers. In addition to the short story dispener, travelers can log on to PHL’s free Wi-Fi to access the Library’s e-books, nearly 1,200 author podcasts, and other digital content.

A great airport amenity!

Travel Tidbits: free inflight wif + a call for your vacation audio

As we head into the Labor Day holiday, here are some travel tidibts for you.

Free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi on Labor Day 

Free Wi-FI at airport

Here’s a nice Labor Day perk for anyone flying on a Gogo-equipped domestic flight:

On Monday, Sept 3, you can get 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi, courtesy of T-Mobile. The off is good even if you’re a Verizon or AT&T customer. (T-Mobile customers get a free hour, as always; a great perk!)

Get more details about the free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi offer from T-Mobile for Labor Day.

 

Heathrow Airport seeking your vacation sounds

Pictures from vacations help us remember a great adventure, but so do sounds.

Studies show that the same part of the brain in charge of processing the senses is also responsible for storing emotional memories. That means sounds, noises and songs you might hear on your trips will be part of travel memories that will be able to transport you back in time.

Think: waves lapping on the beach; the “Mind the Gap” announcement on the London Tube; and that street busker you stopped to listen to in Paris.

Heathrow Airport has decided to capture the essence of great vacations by gathering audio from travelers and commissioning a composer to create a collection of travel mood music and vacation sounds.

Heathrow says submissions sent in by the public will be turned into a “captivating and immersive soundscape” by British Academy Award-winning composer and sound artist Nick Ryan.

“We all record holiday memories with pictures, yet listening to the sound of a voice or a place can trigger far more intense emotions than a photograph on a phone,” Ryan said in a statement.

Travelers are invited to submit their holiday sounds over the next four months as an mp4 clip at soundescapes@heathrow.com. 

Ryan will collection the audio, do this thing with it and release the inaugural Sound Escapes audio installment in January 2019.

What vacation sounds will you send in? 

Find free ice-cream on National Ice Cream Day

National Ice Cream Day is Sunday, July 15 and there will be plenty of opportunities for people – and pets – to score free frozen treats and great deals on ice cream creations.

Here are some of the free offers and events planned.

On Sunday, July 15 participating Carvel shops will offer a buy one-get one (BOGO) free deal on any size soft ice cream cup or cone.

Dippin’ Dots is celebrating its 30th anniversary on National Ice Cream Day by giving away prizes and free mini cups of Dippin’ Dots during a two-hour window at participating locations.

Ice-cream fans who download the Baskin-Robbins Mobile App will get special offers for use only on National Ice Cream Day, including BOGO Cone offer for 99-cent sundaes and $2 off a medium Milkshake. To cap off National Ice Cream Month, on Tuesday, July 31, all regular and kid-sized ice scream scoops will be $1.50.

For the fourth year running, participating Your Pie fast-casual pizza locations around the country will be offering customers a fee scoop of Italian gelato on National Ice Cream Day. (Use the hashtag #ypfreegelato to share your gelato experience for a chance to win free gelato for a year.)

In New York City, which has experienced record high temperatures this summer, there are several special deals on tap for National Ice Cream Day:

Camp Arlo, located in the courtyard of the Arlo Soho in Lower Manhattan, is partnering with Tipsy Scoop to offer complimentary scoops of the limited edition “Frosè All Day” (white Peach sorbet infused with Notorious Pink Rosè) to the first 50 guests (21 and over) starting at noon. (After that, the slightly boozy scoops are $5 each).

Also in New York City, on July 15, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream and Winky Lux cosmetics are teaming to give away free mochi ice cream to in flavors such as Ripe Strawberry, Sweet Mango, Green Tea and Salted Caramel. (Register for this free event here.) New York’s Nickel & Diner will be offering complimentary mini home ice cream cones to brunch customers from 11 AM to 4 PM.

Lucky pups in New York City get free treats too: On National Ice Cream Day, Wag!, the on-demand pet walking and boarding app will roll a cart into the Central Park Dog Park area to serve up free dog-friendly treats from 2 to 6 pm.

Nationwide, PetSmart is celebrating National Ice Cream Day on both Saturday July 14 and Sunday July 15 with complimentary four-ounce servings of dog-safe ice cream at PetSmart stores with PetsHotel facilities.

Head out on the Ice-Cream Trail

In Utica, Ohio, Velvet Ice Cream and its Ye Old Mill attraction are celebrating National Ice Cream Month throughout July, with specials and events including free entertainment each Sunday and $1 single-dip sugar or cake cones on National Ice Cream Day (July 15)

Velvet Ice Cream is just one of the stops on the newly launched 15-stop Ohio Ice Cream Trail.

The Buckeye State, which boasts to being where both banana splits and ice cream cones were created, is inviting ice-cream fans to cast a vote for their favorite stop on the ice-cream trail for a chance to win a year’s worth of Velvet Ice Cream.

Ohio isn’t the only state with an Ice Cream Trail. New Hampshire’s ice-cream trail including about 50 ice-cream shops in the Granite State and Indiana’s I Scream for Ice Cream Trail has more than 20 stops listed. Maryland, which lays claim to being the first place on the continent where ice-cream was served (1744) and the first state to boast an ice cream factory (1853) issues an ice cream passport. And New York State has an ice cream trail that winds through the Adirondacks.

 

JetBlue delivering NY pizza – to LA!

 

 

JetBlue is kicking off a 3-day promotion (May 9 to 12) delivering pizza – by airplane – from New York to Los Angeles residents living in certain zip codes.

The promotion is limited to 350 pizzas a day and customers can order the pizza by going to the Pie in the Sky website (The site wasn’t working Wed morning; this has happened with some of their previous promotions..) to place an order and pay for the pizza ($12-15, depending on the type). JetBlue is paying for the delivery and picking up the taxes.

If you’re in Los Angeles and don’t have a chance to order a NY pizza, you can still get a free slice.

JetBlue is hosting a pizza party Wed. May 9 from noon to 3 p.m. (Or while the pizza lasts..) at Los Angeles International Airport in Terminal 5 at the JetBlue check-in desk.

In the meantime – here’s Spike Lee to tell you how to eat a New York Pizza.

 

Filed your taxes? Now get some free stuff.

As of March 16, at least 61 million early bird tax filers had already received refunds averaging $2,960 from the Internal Revenue Service.

But millions of other taxpayers are still rushing around gathering receipts and grappling with paperwork and electronic forms as the April 17 tax filing deadline nears.

Whichever column you’re in, you can still take advantage of Tax Day rewards ranging from free pizza and cookies to discounts on hotel stays and getaways.

Here’s a sampling of some of the deals I gathered for a piece on CNBC:

Free (and charmingly discounted) food and snacks

As is their tradition, on Tax Day, April 17, Great American Cookies will be giving away a free cookie to anyone who stops at one of their participating stores. This year’s treat is a Cookies & Cream cookie.

In keeping with its Tax Day motto of “No taxation without relaxation,” Kona Ice trucks will once again show up in many communities on April 17 to hand out free shaved ice. As part of its “Tastes Like America” menu campaign, on April 17 participating Hardee’s will offer customers a free Sausage Biscuit until 10 a.m. and Hot Dog on a Stick will give each customer that stops by participating locations one free Turkey or Veggie Dog on April 17.

Taking a cue from the tax forms, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria locations around the country are offering 16” Traditional Cheese pizzas for $10.40 on April 17. Bruegger’s Bagels is offering a downloadable coupon for a Big Bagel Bundle (13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese) for $10.40, a $3.50 “deduction,” they note, off the regular price. (Valid through April 17).

And Potbelly Sandwich Shops has set aside 75,000 free sandwiches as a Tax Day reward for people who join its Potbelly Perks program. Those already enrolled in the program will find a buy-one, get one-free sandwich offer loaded on their app April 17 for Tax Day use.

Travel Deals

Throughout the month of April, four Kimpton hotels southern California – Hotel Palomar and Hotel Salomar in San Diego, the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach and The Goodland in Santa Barbara – are giving out “Random Refunds.” Each day one randomly chosen guest at each hotel will find they’ve been refunded a hotel charge such as the resort fee, parking charges, restaurant bill or perhaps the in-room movie.

From April 17 to 20, Hotel Saugatuck in Saugatuck, Michigan is offering a 20 percent discount to anyone who shows a current 1099 tax form (or proof of membership in the United Auto Workers or Freelancers unions). The B&B is also offering guests a box of local chocolate fudge at a discount, for $10.99.

Thinking of spending your tax refund in Europe? Rail Europe is offering travelers $25 off bookings of $400 made through April 24. Use code: TAXDAYRE18.

Budget-minded tax filers can also take advantage of some other timely travel deals that just happen to fall around April 17.

Filing taxes may not be a walk in the park, but anyone can take a walk in a National Park for free on Saturday, April 21, when entrance fees are waived at any of the National Parks that have them, including Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park and others where the entry fee per car can reach $20.

The U.S. Travel Association’s Daily Getaways sale runs this year from April 9 through May 8 and features daily deals up to 60 percent off everything form loyalty point programs and car rental coupons to attractions tickets, hotel stays and more from travel companies such as Hertz, Hilton, and Universal Parks and Resorts.

 A tidying-up trip

Once you’ve filed your taxes, be sure to store away the important financial paperwork you might need should the IRS come calling for an audit.

But don’t stuff everything back in that shoebox. Take a moment to review Consumer Report’s advice on what receipts and records you really need to keep and what can be thrown away.

Bundle the discards, print out this coupon for 5 pounds of free document shredding and take your first post-Tax Day trip to your local Office Max/Office Depot store.