You Need This New Passport App Now!

By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
November 4, 2015
passport and phone

One of the questions I get asked most often is: “How can I get through customs faster?”

Up until now, the answer has always involved tips on packing neatly and politely and accurately answering questions. But the Mobile Passport app is poised to change the way you pass through (or make that “breeze through”) customs.

How does it work? Download the app to your mobile phone, and when you are about to land back in the U.S. after overseas travel, complete the app’s “New Trip” section (including the airport you're arriving at and the airline you’re flying), snap a selfie, and answer common customs questions right on the app. You’ll receive a bar-coded e-receipt, which you’ll present to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer to re-enter the U.S.

How can you get Mobile Passport? If you’re a U.S. or Canadian citizen with a valid passport, you are eligible to use the Mobile Passport app at five U.S. airports that are part of the Mobile Passport program: Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle, with 20 airports expected to be available in the next 12 months. To learn more, visit the Mobile Passport page of the CBP’s website.

TALK TO US! We want to know: Have you tried Mobile Passport?

Keep reading
Product Reviews

Best Credit Cards for Travel Insurance

Each year, the "running of the bulls" in Pamplona, Spain, gets me seriously focused on... wait for it... travel insurance. Yep, with the running happening next week (July 6 through 14), we'll see thousands of locals and visitors participate in the madre of all mosh pits, with the least lucky getting gored or stepped on. Coincidentally, our friends at CardHub just published its 2015 Travel Insurance Report, taking a look at what kind of insurance the most popular credit cards offer for travel mishaps ("mishaps" include interruptions, misplaced baggage, illness, natural disasters, and accidents and have nothing whatsoever to do with running with bulls, by the way). CardHub's main findings include: Accident coverage is offered by 88 percent of the rewards credit cards examined; luggage is covered by 63 percent. More than 20 percent of credit cards that offer travel accident insurance provide amounts over $300,000. Among cards that cover luggage, 73 percent cover lost luggage, 45 percent cover delayed luggage, and 18 percent cover both. When it comes to travel insurance, CardHub found the following cards to be especially helpful: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Discover It, Wells Fargo Propel 365, Citi Prestige, Wells Fargo Propel World, Chase Freedom, and U.S. Bank FlexPerks.  

Product Reviews

Flight Attendant Fashion Gets an Upgrade

Fly with style! Delta Air Lines has partnered with fashion designer Zac Posen, who will design uniforms for flight attendants and airport customer service agents, and advise on uniforms for Delta’s ramp and ground support agents. His structured mermaid-style ball gowns are popular on the red carpet, but we non-celebs can shop the more affordable ZAC Zac Posen line (from $195, and Truly Zac Posen wedding dresses for David's Bridal (from $500). The new Delta looks will hit jet bridges in early 2018.  What will the uniforms look like? It's up in the air. First, Posen and his team will interview Delta employees about what they want and need in a uniform. Then comes the design process. Says Delta: "Posen's brand of modern American glamour pairs well with Delta's brand attributes, and he will be personally engaged throughout the multi-year project." Airlines are no stranger to collaborations with fashion designers: Emilio Pucci put his famous prints on Braniff International Airways stewardesses in 1966, complete with an astronaut-like plastic bubble helmet to protect their hairstyles from inclement weather. Just last year, Vivienne Westwood unveiled her vibrant red collection for Virgin Atlantic. Other partnerships didn't quite get off the ground, like Cynthia Rowley for United Airlines, nixed in 2011, post–Continental merger. Delta hasn't paired with a designer since mid-2006, when Richard Tyler released the uniform that the airline's flight attendants wear now. Geek out with us over our favorite pics of Delta's uniforms from the 1940s to now, below. Things get really good around 1968...

Travel TipsProduct Reviews

10 of the Coolest (and Weirdest!) New Travel Apps for the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is nothing if not global. The $349-plus gadget is officially available today, but only in high-end boutiques in Paris, London, Tokyo, L.A., and Berlin. (Unless you're Beyoncé.) If you haven't pre-ordered one and won't find yourself shopping abroad anytime soon, you can order the Apple Watch online. Buying one is a financial commitment, not to mention a leap of faith in the watch's usefulness—you still need an iPhone to work the thing—but travel is one of the arenas that critics say holds the greatest potential for a wearable. A New York Times tech columnist used it to pay for taxis in New York City and show his boarding pass before getting on a flight, and reported back: "When these encounters worked, they were magical, like having a secret key to unlock the world right on my arm." While you wait for your gilded precious to arrive, here are 10 of the buzziest (and strangest) travel apps available for download at the Apple Watch's App Store, beyond the ones we mentioned last month: 1. BOOKING.COM  One touch is all it takes to book a stay directly on's Booking Now app, available in 15 languages: "Through the use of Apple’s new pressure-sensitive ‘force touch’ technology, spontaneous travelers are now able to choose and book the nearest relevant hotel in one simple gesture" (free). 2. TRAILS  Using the Trails app, outdoor enthusiasts can access topographical maps offline and record their activity stats, such as "altitude, ascent/descent, speed, pace, and duration." The watch lets you "start and stop recordings straight from your wrist" (free app, Trails Pro subscription starts at $1.99 for three months).  3. HOTELTONIGHT  If you're already a HotelTonight convert, you're going to love the watch version: Users can book a hotel room "in seconds" with the expected sleek HT interface, which shows hotels nearby in categories like "luxe," "hip," and "standard," plus Bonus Rates, for discounts on rooms after 3 p.m. (free). 4. SICKWEATHER  Hypochondriacs, this one's for you. Replete with a 20-second hand-washing timer, Sickweather's app "provides the user a relative threat index of contagious illness in their immediate area" and alerts you when you've entered a Sick Zone: "areas where illnesses have been recently reported" (free). 5. VIATOR  The Viator Tours & Activities app beams from your iPhone to your watch, with your voucher's bar code, so "at the flick of your wrist and a tap of your watch, you can access your bookings and vouchers, getting you through the turnstile, the kiosk or lines in no time" (free). 6. AIRWAY APPS  In addition to the watch's launch partner American Airlines, other airlines have retooled their apps for the watch too (Delta, JetBlue, and Air France among them). British Airways recently announced you can use the app as a boarding pass. Plus, "a quick swipe of the 'glance' screen...will display a detailed summary of the customer’s next flight including the flight number, the flight status, a countdown to departure time and the weather at the destination" (free). 7. ZOLA  Can't wait to see which honeymoon wish-list items or couple-rrific "experiences" your wedding guests bought you? (Think: round-trip honeymoon airfare or an "intimate wine-tasting tour.") Zola's watch app sends notifications that "alert you when you receive a new gift off your Zola wedding registry as it happens." Surprises are so overrated (free). 8. HOTWIRE  Along with rental car–pickup notifications, hotel check-in alerts, and itinerary info from the Hotwire Hotels & Car Rentals app, "gas-up alerts" pop up on the watch "one hour before car drop-off time" (free). 9. IHG TRANSLATOR  As though you were a globe-trotting Dick Tracy, the IHG Translator app will decipher languages from Castilian Spanish to Thai: "By speaking directly into the watch, or selecting from a range of pre-loaded common phrases, travelers will be able to translate from English into 13 different languages, in real-time, meaning the app will cover the nine initial launch countries for Apple Watch" (free). 10. BOAT BEACON  "See and be seen on your boat"! With this ship-plotting app, Boat Beacon app wearers can "get CPA alarms, monitor MOB position and check your navigation and compass live directly on your Apple Watch from anywhere on your boat. Navigation, Compass, AIS, Race Timer, and Night Mode/Light watch screens provided." Catch you on the water ($9.99).

Product Reviews

One Drone, Please! Rent Travel Photo Gear for Cheap with This Online Service

We all marvel at beautiful travel photography, especially truly creative finished products like time-lapse videos of surreal-looking sunsets or action-heavy GoPro shots of ski runs. The thing is, buying expensive, professional photo gear of your own is a tough call to make. Will you love it? Will you actually use it? And, most importantly, will it be worth the money? Cool solution: Gear-rental website Lumoid lets users rent fancy photo equipment at reasonable prices (think: cameras, tripods, lenses, Google Glass, drones, GoPros, etc.). The service works like this: Pick out the equipment you want on the website, receive it via mail at home or at your hotel, use it, and then pack it up and send it back. If you decide you don't want to part with it, 30 percent of the rental fee goes toward purchasing it. The site's packaged kits in particular are targeted to travel enthusiasts. A few fun ones: The Adventurist set comes with a GoPro Hero 4, headstrap, tripod, suction cup, and helmet strap mount ($12/day); the Wildlife Photography Kit consists of a Canon 70D and telephoto lens ($24/day); and, for when Instagram doesn't quite cut it, the Foodie package pairs a Canon EOS 6D with two lenses—a 100mm telephoto macro and a 50mm prime lens ($34/day). Lumoid users have already posted incredible shots like the New Year's Eve fireworks bursting over San Francisco and a bald eagle cruising the skies along the Mississippi River. And, yes, you can take the equipment overseas! Insurance doesn't cover it, though—so be careful. Did we mention there are drones for rent? They start at $8 per day, a small price to pay for temporary ownership of such wonderful toys.