Last month I began a position at AOL/Huffington Post Media Group as an editor at Engadget. I’m covering the technology industry full time, writing about everything from new gadgets to patent infringement lawsuits. Unfortunately, that means I have much less time to post here, so please find my content at Engadget instead. I can also be reached at zach.honig [at] engadget [dot] com.
Thanks for reading! -Zach
Last year, American Express expanded its Platinum card benefits to include a $200 travel credit, which passengers can use to cover everything from baggage check fees to lounge day passes on the airline of their choice. This benefit did not come without some sacrifice, however — AMEX announced that Continental lounge access would be discontinued after September 2011, presumably related to the airline’s merger with United, which does not offer lounge access to AMEX cardholders.
Beginning today, Platinum cardholders who pay the card’s annual fee of $450 (laughable, unless you happen to travel a ton) can now apply for complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which includes access to over 600 airport lounges, with the notable exception of Continental and United lounges (hence the “Select” branding). With the addition of Priority Pass membership, Platinum cardholders now have access to select KAL, Swiss, Air France, and Air Canada lounges, in addition to the US Airways, Delta, and American lounges that already welcome Platinum cardholders. AMEX also announced that Platinum cardholders would be exempt from standard 3% foreign transaction fees, and can also apply for entry into the US Customs and Boarder Protection Global Entry program, with AMEX picking up the $100 application fee. For frequent international travelers, these additional benefits almost make the card a bargain, especially with employers often picking up the $450 tab.
My friend and former roommate, Laia Prats (who also happens to be an incredible designer), is selling t-shirts featuring her Japanese-inspired original designs. They’re awesome, selling for $19.50, and all proceeds go to the Red Cross to benefit Japan. You can also use coupon code “SPRING2011” to save $10 off an order of $50 or more. Rumor has it other items are coming soon (possibly including an apron), so check back often after completing your first order!
Another equally talented friend, photojournalist Ikuru Kuwajima, has been on the ground in Tokyo for the last week, posting photos on his blog. Keep an eye out for updates, and check the photo captions in magazines and newspapers — you might just be staring at one of his photos. Good luck, Ikuru!
Tis the season of incredible airfares to Europe! I recently returned from a trip to Paris with 10 friends from New York City — we each paid $291 for our airfare, including taxes. Today’s deal to Berlin might have that beat, however, considering you have the option of traveling on an Air France A380. Flights start at $329 roundtrip (depending on dates), including taxes and fees. I decided to fly to Berlin this weekend, paying $381.73 to fly from New York’s JFK airport, with a connection in Paris (which ironically just earned a spot as #2 on my list of airports to avoid for connections in Europe). Low fares are still available for flights booked through April, so head to Air France’s website to book your trip!
I’ve had a busy week in New Orleans, so I’ll leave you with two of my favorite photos so far. Most krewe members (the generous folks who toss beads to the crowd while riding on floats) are masked, but CNN anchor Anderson Cooper made an unmasked appearance during tonight’s Krewe of Endymion parade in the Garden District.
And below, a pair of NOPD cruisers illuminate discarded bead packaging, as officers force the crowd to exit the street during a parade.
Two years ago, Apple launched its Find My iPhone service, which provided MobileMe subscribers with lost device location functionality. Apple expanded its Find My iPhone (and Find My iPad) service to all customers in November, including those who didn’t fork over $99 annually for MobileMe. Earlier today, Research in Motion (RIM) launched an open beta of BlackBerry Protect — a free service which duplicates some of Apple’s Find My iPhone and MobileMe sync functionality, providing BlackBerry users with remote backup and restore, lost device tracking and wipe, and the ability to remotely activate loud ringer mode, so you can annoy the hell out of your friends for hours after losing your BlackBerry in their couch. BlackBerry users can download Protect through App World.
This afternoon I arrived in New Orleans, and I’ll be here through early next week. I’m in town to see a good friend, but as my visit happens to coincide with Mardi Gras, I imagine there will be plenty of photos and stories to share over the next few days. I’ve only been in the city for eight hours, but I’ve already managed to eat crawfish and gumbo, and watch three parades. Though I haven’t seen many iPhones in the city, Apple still had a presence tonight — iMuse (photo above) was one of the final floats in the Krewe of Muses parade in the Garden District.