Christmas – as all holidays – is one of the highest seasons in air travel. Airlines naturally prepare a lot for the holiday season. (Photo Credit/Pinterest).
Flying during the holiday season can be stressful and expensive once all the costs are added up. Those include items like car service (or long-term parking), ticket prices, baggage fees, food and drinks before your flight.
With that in mind, many airports in the U.S. and abroad offer a wide variety of free amenities. Some are available year-round, while others may be tied to a certain season or event. CNBC recently took a look at a few travelers can take advantage of as they gear up for the Christmas travel season:
Free Phone Calls
In case you forgot your cellphone (or it ran out of juice), airports in Denver and Washington, D.C. let travelers make free phone calls year-round.
In Dulles and Washington Reagan airports, local and long distance calls are free anywhere within the 48 contiguous United States for the first five minutes. The airports provide marked courtesy phones located in the main terminal, and each concourse. Denver International has 233 phones where travelers can make unlimited free local and national calls. International calls are free for the first 10 minutes.
Align your Chakra
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
A handful of airports around the country, including San Francisco International, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway, Miami International and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airports, let flyers make use of yoga rooms for free. Most have complimentary loaner mats available as well.
Miami International Airport
At Los Angeles International Airport, Denver International Airport and Missouri’s Kansas City International Airport travelers can set their own price, or simply leave a tip when getting a complimentary shoe or boot shine at an airport stand.
Take in a Movie
Denver International Airport
Free movies by local filmmakers are offered to travelers in the 17-seat Hollywood Theatre micro-cinema at Oregon’s Portland International Airport, the Video Arts room at San Francisco International Airport and the film screening room at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Free first run films are offered at two 24-hour movie theaters at Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Free Personal Shopper
London Heathrow Airport
Passengers traveling through London’s Heathrow Airport can book ahead to tap the complimentary services of the airport’s team of personal shoppers. They don’t make commissions, but they make it their point to know the all the latest trends and the current stock available in all the shops. There is no minimum spend and consultations take place in a private lounge, where free champagne is served.
Free Art and History and Games
Source: SFO Museum
San Francisco’s SFO Museum offers no fewer than 20 free exhibitions inside the airport at any one time. Meanwhile, aiports in Miami, Albany, NY, Minneapolis, Portland, St. Louis and elsewhere offer a rotating schedule of free museum-quality art and history exhibits throughout the year.
Austin-Bergstrom International and Seattle-Tacoma International airports each present more than 20 free music performances each week and, at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, passengers can play ping pong for free.
Free Water: Bring Your Own Bottle
Buying a bottle of branded water can set a traveler back $5 in many post-security airport shops, but travelers who bring their own empty bottles can fill them up for free at complimentary refill stations now located in airports in San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, among others.
Free City Tours, or a Ride Through the City
Seattle Tacoma International Airport
Passengers with layovers of two hours or more at Salt Lake City International Airport can get a free shuttle ride to and from Temple Square, where they can join in a free tour of the thirty-five acre historic site. Free city tours are also available to travelers with varying lengths of layovers at hubs that include Singapore, South Korea, Tokyo, Qatar and Istanbul.
Travelers who land at Boston Logan International can ride the Silver Line bus from the airport into the city for free. The bus picks up at every BOS terminal and offers free connections to the Red Line once in town. (Rides from the city back out to the airport, however, are not free.)
Free CPR Training
Jim Davis | The Boston Globe | Getty Images
At a growing list of airports, passengers can learn to save a life while waiting for their flight by taking a free course on an interactive hands-only CPR kiosk. A “how-to” video is followed by a practice session on a rubber manikin and a 30-second CPR test.
Airports offering the training include Chicago’s O’Hare, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Orlando and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Free Trading Cards
Source: American Heart Association
They look like sports trading cards, but at more than 60 airports throughout the country, passengers can stop by information booths and tourism booth to pick up a free, collectible, airport-themed trading cards.
Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport
Dozens of airports now have specially-trained therapy animals that mingle with passengers in the terminals and help them beat stress. Most airports use, but San Francisco International has a pig on its team, Denver has a cat, and miniature therapy horses visit the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport twice a month.
Free Travel Item
Source: CVG Airport
Customers of Google’s Project Fi can use their phone to get one free item a week from Project Fi vending machines located in airports in Baltimore, LaGuardia, Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare, and Philadelphia, among others. Free items include bottled water, playing cards, fuzzy socks, eye masks and luggage tags.
Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop
The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.
As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.
Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.
To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:
- Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
- Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
- Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
- Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.
Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.
Photo: Getty Images
Source: Discount Tire
Amazon Reveals ‘20 Cities’ That Could Be The Home Of Its Next Headquarters
Amazon has revealed 20 cities that could be the next home of its second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2.
The candidates, selected out of 238 applicants, will move to the next round of Amazon’s selection process, the company said Thursday. Amazon will make a final decision on the site of its next headquarters this year.
The list of candidates includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.
Amazon said it will work with each city to “dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”
Amazon has promised a $5 billion investment and up to 50,000 high-paying jobs to the city that wins its selection process.
“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, head of public policy for Amazon. “Through this process, we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
Here are all the potential candidates:
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Denver, CO
- Indianapolis, IN
- Los Angeles, CA
- Miami, FL
- Montgomery County, MD
- Nashville, TN
- Newark, NJ
- New York City, NY
- Northern Virginia, VA
- Philadelphia, PA
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Raleigh, NC
- Toronto, ON
- Washington DC
Source: Business Insider
Why Some African Americans are Moving to Africa
Accra, Ghana – They have come from the big cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Thousands of them. And many refuse to return.
A new wave of African Americans is escaping the incessant racism and prejudice in the United States. From Senegal and Ghana to The Gambia, communities are emerging in defiance of conventional wisdom that Africa is a continent everyone is trying to leave.
It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 African Americans live in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. They are teachers in small towns in the west or entrepreneurs in the capital and say they that even though living in Ghana is not always easy, they feel free and safe.
Take Muhammida el-Muhajir, a digital marketer from New York City, who left her job to move to Accra.
She says she moved because, despite her education and experience, she was always made to feel like a second-class citizen. Moving was an opportunity to fulfill her potential and avoid being targeted by racial violence.
She told Al Jazeera her story:
On life as a second-class citizen in the US…
“I grew up in Philadelphia and then New York. I went to Howard, which is a historically black university. I tell people that Ghana is like Howard in real life. It felt like a microcosm of the world. At university, they tell us the world isn’t black, but there are places where this is the real world. Howard prepares you for a world where black people are in charge, which is a completely different experience compared to people who have gone to predominantly white universities.”
“I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time.” MUHAMMIDA EL-MUHAJIR
On her first trip to Africa…
“The first country I went to was Kenya. I was 15 and traveled with a group of kids. I was one of two black kids. I saw early that I could fit in and wasn’t an outsider. Suddenly it switched, I came from America where I was an outsider, but in Africa, I no longer felt like that. I did graduate school in Ghana in 2003 and went back to New York and then moved to Ghana in 2014.
“I have no connection to Ghana. Some people in my family did tests, and we found ties to Senegal and The Gambia, but I don’t think you can ever figure it out. No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.”
“No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.” MUHAMMIDA EL-MUHAJIR
Market in Agbogbloshie, a district in Accra, Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images
On leaving New York for Accra…
“Even when you live in a place like New York as a black person, you’re always an outsider.
“You hear stories about the richest black people, like Oprah Winfrey, getting shut out of a store or Jay-Z not being allowed to buy [an apartment]. Those things happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity, you’re a second-class citizen. This was the biggest issue for me.
“In America, you’re always trying to prove yourself; I don’t need to prove myself to anyone else’s standards here. I’m a champion, I ran track and went to university, and I like to win, so I refuse to be in a situation where I will never win.”
“You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.”
On moving to Ghana…
“There are amenities that I am used to at home in New York – like parties, open bars and fashion, so when I realised I could do the same things in Africa as I could back in the US, I was sold. There is also a big street art festival here, and that was the difference from when I came [as a student]. I saw the things that I love at home here, so I decided that now is the time.”
On Ghanaian reactions…
“When Ghanaians find out that I live here, they’re usually confused about why I chose to live here as an American. There is definitely certain access and privilege being American here, but it’s great to finally cash in on that because it doesn’t mean anything in America.
“There are also plenty of privileged Ghanaians; if you take away race there’s a class system.”
Modern architecture in Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images
“In my documentary, I chose five people that I’ve met since I’ve been here and every one of them went to a black college in the US. It’s something that prepares you mentally to realize you aren’t a second-class citizen. Something like that can help you make a transition to living in Africa.
On the ‘Blaxit’ documentary…
“I made Blaxit because of this wave of African-Americans moving to Africa. This trend started to happen around the independence of African countries, but the new wave [comprises] people who come to places like this. This new group has certain access in America and comes here to have that lifestyle in Africa.
“Unbeknown to us, we’re living out the vision that [Ghanaian politician and revolutionary] Kwame Nkrumah set out for us, of this country being the gateway to Africa for the black diaspora.
“I don’t want people to think that Africa is this magic utopia where all your issues will go away. It’s just that some of the things you might face in America as a black person – you won’t have to suffer with those things here.
“You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.
“I want people to understand that they have options and alternatives. Most black people in America don’t know that these options exist; they think they have to suffer because there’s nowhere else to go. But no, there are other places.”
On the prospect of more African-Americans moving…
“I think more will come when they begin to see it as a viable alternative. But it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time. I think now is the time that people are starting to see they can live somewhere else.”
Source: Al Jazeera
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