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Stuck in an airport line? Spread the word!

By Kate Appleton
October 3, 2012
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Hundreds of Orbitz.com customers pass through national airports on an hourly basis and, as of today, the online travel agency is putting them to work. The cool new application OrbitzTLC Traveler Update allows travelers to access and share real-time information from a laptop or from a mobile device at mobile.orbitz.com. (Note that you don't have to be a customer to view the information or even to submit an update.)

Posts, tagged with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down icon, can alert travelers to which security lines to avoid, which local highways are clogged, which taxi station is speediest, which flights are delayed and which are calling for bumped passengers…what isn't there to sound off about lately?

There are dedicated pages for more than 40 major U.S. airports, each with the just-launched traveler updates as well as traffic information from Yahoo, Google maps, security wait times as averaged monthly by the TSA, delays reported by the FAA, and tips on weather, parking, and where to find WiFi access.

Travelers' comments are fed through a spam filter to weed out the vulgar or irrelevant, but Orbitz has no way of verifying that a user is, in fact, at the airport that they are posting about. Like many other sites relying on user-generated content, Orbitz counts on users to rate tips for their quality and plans to offer discounts on future bookings to the most frequent and highest-ranked Traveler Update contributors.

One more perk: if you've signed up for Orbitz's travel alerts, you'll now automatically be receiving these traveler updates, too.

Related: Sign Up For Those Flight Alerts

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Take The Weather Channel, for instance. How reliable is it? Well, it correctly predicts rainfall and temperatures about three out of four times.** All the other major weather companies and the National Weather Service are about as accurate for forecasts predicting rainfall and temperatures roughly 24 to 48 hours in advance. The statistic comes from Eric Floehr. He should know, because his company, ForecastWatch, calculates how accurate forecasts are and sells the data to meteorologists and other companies. In your hometown, meteorologists may be more or less accurate than the national average, given the stability of your local conditions. You can use ForecastAdvisor.com, a website for consumers instead of companies, to plug in your Zip Code and see how accurate the top weather companies and the National Weather Service are at predicting your local weather. **According to an e-mail exchange with Eric Floehr, "Obviously there are a lot of caveats to that statement. For example, what exactly does "correctly" mean? But I think that's more detail than your readers really care about." Photo by Nicholas T. See more of his photos on his Flickr profile page.

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