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Air Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Air

Timbuk2 Copilot Review And Discount Trick

Travelers looking for a new suitcase should take a close look at the thoughtfully designed and thoroughly durable Timbuk2 Copilot series that comes with a small discount trick.

Stop Here

Depending on your travel budget, a Timbuk2 bag might not be for you. People who take less than one or two trips a year probably won’t see (for a long time anyway) the immediate benefit of such a well-built bag. Particularly though for air travelers who check-in their luggage more than 6 or 7 times annually, the Copilot series has a lot of advantages worth its price tag.

timbuk2 copilot

What’s A Timbuk2 Copilot

Timbuk2 is a San Fransisco based brand that’s somewhat hipster blended with business sleek. Their Copilot series comes in 4 different sizes: 42, 52, 80, and 108 liters. You can review all the dimensions here but basically:

The exterior of the Copilot luggage is made of Cordura nylon (over 1000 Denier if you’re wondering) which is the standard for tough as hell bags. Internally, Timbuk2 use a variety of nylon, polyester, and other fabrics for a combination of strong but light fabric. And lightweight they are – even the gigantic 108 Copilot is just 4.6 kilos (10lbs) – compared to most bags that size pushing well over 6.5 kg (15 lbs).

timbuk2 copilot

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Timbuk2 don’t use materials that are toxic in any way, plus have an excellent recycling program for older bags. (They give you 20% back as well on your next purchase after you send the old bag back, which is a nice touch to the environmental benefits.)

Design That Makes Sense

Too often bag manufacturers try to get fancy, adding superfluous pockets that only take up space. Smart designers create bags, like the Copilot, that give users more flexibility to organize on their own. The Copilots (they’re all designed the same just at different sizes) open up clam shell style. On the outer pocket there’s quick access to the front compartment.

timbuk2 copilot 80l

Both interior sides of the “shell” have a mesh divider you can choose to use or not. All of the bags are spacious since they don’t have pockets in the way to steal space – but the clam shell style doesn’t work well with particularly bulky items. It’s perfect for clothes but if you’re lugging around boxy gifts, or large stuff that doesn’t compress, the Copilot can be tricky to pack.

Additional nice touches include skateboard wheels resulting in a very smooth roll without any pullback on your arms. Those wheels are also strong enough for skateboards plus they can be found all over the world if needed. The handle is also one of the smoothest I’ve used on roller luggage.

Save Some Money On A Timbuk2

Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Copilot series. For most of you interested in this bag, it’s a matter of finding the right size. Minimalists will appreciate the 42 and 52L varieties, most travelers who don’t mind a bigger bag will be happy with the 80L. Unless you’re a family who wants to use a single suitcase, think very carefully before deciding on the 108L. In any event you can return most bags with a minor (less than $10) processing fee.

Finally, to sweeten the deal for yourself, go through the Timbuk2 checkout process. Add the bag you want to the cart, fill in your details (especially email), then submit to get to the payment page. At this point, don’t submit your payment and just wait 24 hours. Typically Timbuk2 will send a 10-15% discount to your inbox to encourage you to complete the purchase. There’s also a popup on their site often but the email discount might be a bit more enticing so it’s best to wait and see. Good luck!

Save Yourself Time With This Trick For A Kuwait Visa On Arrival

kuwait e visa

Kuwait has a fairly liberal visa on arrival available for tourists from the United States as well as most European and east Asian and Pacific countries as well. Typically when you read “visa on arrival” many travelers assume it’s paying a simple fee at passport control.

This is certainly the case in Kuwait – mostly – since if you’re a citizen of any of these countries you can get a visa upon arrival at the airport. Except that it’s a cumbersome, but avoidable, process that takes unnecessary time you can save by getting a visa online.

Simple, I Know

Despite this seemingly obvious advice, based on the long lines I encountered at the visa office at the airport, Kuwait’s relatively new but unadvertised e-visa process isn’t widely used. Travelers who show up at Kuwait International Airport without getting an e-visa first must go to the airport’s visa office – which costs both money and time.

A mandatory process you won’t be aware of until you’ve already been in line at passport control for over 15 minutes. Immigration officers will tell you yes, you can get a visa on arrival but first you have to get one from the office upstairs.

Office Experience You Want To Avoid

Once at the visa office (you’ve now gone at least 15 minutes wasted waiting in the passport control line) you let the clerk know you need a visa. In case you’re at this point – before heading to the visa office, get to an ATM as the office only accepts cash for tourist visas. Just having a credit card will mean longer delays and possibly losing your place in line.

kuwait immigration

They’ll photocopy your passport, then you take a number for your turn. In the office they’re processing all sorts of visas inevitably resulting in long wait times even if you just need the visa on arrival. Not to mention your luggage will be sitting by its lonely self as you scramble to get the right documents – always a risky situation.

Save 30 Minutes

To get around all of this waiting, there is another (hardly advertised) option: get an eVisa.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior provides this website where you can enter your travel details. Plus the electronic visa process doesn’t come with the fees obtaining one in person does and only takes up to 3 business days.

Remember to print out your visa once it’s emailed to you and bring it with your passport to show at immigration. You’ve now just saved half an hour at arrival, plus the fees they charge you in person. Generally you’ve got 90 days in the country but double check to be certain not to overstay. For onward travels to Europe, these are the answers to your most common visa questions. For trickier Central Asian nations, this post will help.

What Are The Odds Of A Meteor Hitting A Plane In Flight?

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2019. Top photo courtesy European Southern Observatory, the others from public domain on Wikipedia.

space

I fly a lot which gives me more than enough time to contemplate irrational scenarios of doom in the sky. Nervous fliers might not want to think about a space rock hitting your plane at 10,000 meters up, but just how likely is that scenario?

Plane crashes in general are very rare events that most people end up surviving if they’re in one. A lot has to go wrong for a plane to go down (on average 7 compounding factors) but a meteor strike could be a single, catastrophic disaster. Meteors pummel through our atmosphere anywhere from 11-72 kilometers per second (15,000-257,000km/hour) but what are the chances of being struck? Fortunately it turns out the chances of being struck are astronomically small and the chances of surviving an impact aren’t as hopeless as you may think.

Moving Targets

Let’s first start out with the basics – the average jumbo jet moves at 890kph (555mph). The fuselage of a 747-400 is 70 meters by 6m, the front wings 64m wide, and the tail wings 11m. All of these numbers mean the surface area of the wings is 543 square meters, the fuselage roughly 420m. A total of 963 square meters of area but since a meteor would only be coming from above, let’s cut down the total vulnerable surface area by half: 480m^2.

Meteor Size

Most meteors that are visible from the ground range in size from a grain of sand to a pebble. (They’re so bright because of the speed at which they enter the atmosphere, not their mass.) Most meteors smaller than a marble never reach the lower atmosphere where planes fly.

meteors in the sky

In 1996, David J. Helfand, chair of the department of astronomy at Columbia University and his colleague Charles Hailey determined the size of a meteor needed to significantly damage an airplane would need to be baseball-size or larger. Several thousand meteors this size or large hit the ground each year, mostly in the oceans and other unpopulated areas. At the time, a meteor impact was considered (but later ruled out) as the cause of the TWA flight 800 crash.

Cars Are Still More Dangerous

David Morrison of the NASA Ames Research Center, gives the best estimate of the possibilities of a plane being struck by a meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere:

“A typical car has an area on the order of 10 square meters, and there are roughly 100 million cars in the U.S., for a total cross-sectional area of about 1,000 square kilometers. The typical airliner has a cross-sectional area of several hundred square meters, but the number of planes is much smaller than the number of cars, perhaps a few thousand. The total cross-sectional area of airliners is therefore no more than 10 square kilometers, or a factor of at least 100 less than that of cars. Three cars are known to have been struck by meteorites in the U.S. during the past century, so it would appear that the odds are against any airplanes having been hit, but it is not impossible that one might have been.”

Morrison adds that it’s much more likely for a plane to be struck on the ground (since that’s where they are the majority of time). Any impact to a plane in flight Morrison notes, wouldn’t necessary result in an complete disaster. Assuming the meteor were relatively on the smaller size and did not hit the fuel tanks, a successful emergency landing isn’t impossible.

For you nervous fliers, it might help ease your nerves to know even a supersonic rock from space is something your aircraft and pilots could potentially handle. But the overwhelming odds are you should be more worried about having a middle seat or lost luggage than any space debris.

Why Do You Fart So Much When Flying?

Extra flatulence is not just you (or the person next to you) but rather a phenomena everyone experiences to varying degrees as altitude increases. It’s something you may have pondered the last time you flew and my video above explains exactly why this happens and a few things you can do to mitigate farts when flying.

Essentially, as you go up from sea level, the decrease in air pressure allows the gas already in your gut to expand. As the gases expand, they start putting extra pressure on your insides, eventually wanting to make their way out from the only exit available.

Start With Less Gas

Since these gases are created by the bacteria in your gut as a byproduct of digestion, the first countermeasure is to reduce the amount of food for them prior to flying. Ideally, flying hungry first thing in the morning should mean fewer farts in flight. (Keep in mind when you land, air pressure closer to sea level increases which can also cause cramping.)

In case you can’t avoid eating right before or during a flight, sticking to lesser processed menu items may help. Roughly 65% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant to some degree, so ordering a vegan meal can help you avoid dairy products. Less processed food could also be beneficial.

You can catch up on all the gassy details in the video but keep in mind about 60% of pilots report regular bloating while flying, meaning it is something we all have to deal with. Even on the ground, the average person farts about 10-20 times a day but if you’re particularly concerned about stinking up the cabin, some charcoal-filtered underwear might be an option for you. For everyone else, the bathroom is a good alternative if you can make it on time.

Jabra’s Elite 85h Noise Canceling Headphones Are Designed With AI For Frequent Travelers

For many travelers, especially those who fly often, headphones are essential for music, listening to movies, and being a polite way to tell the person next to you to shut up. Headphones with active noise canceling go one step further and turn an airplane cabin into a quiet room, no chatty grandfathers or constant hum of jet engines.

Active noise canceling (ANC) is a feature reserved for premium headphones but Jabra’s Elite 85h is a jump into the market, bringing artificial intelligence with it while undercutting the competition. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

What’s Different About The 85h?

I could easily go on a long explanation of why you should get headphones with ANC. Most people at first look at the $350 plus costs with their eyes rolling like slot machines into the back of their brains. Until you use a pair. ANC uses microphones in the headphones to analyze external sounds to cancel them out. Effectively, it’s like being in a very quiet room whether you have music on or not. The technology is pronounced, effective, and reduces stress from all the ambient chaos in airports, subways, and the motors that run them. Jabra is clearly marketing these headphones for travelers, so much so, that when I first tried them at CES earlier this year, they demoed the 85h in a mock-subway car.

jabra elite 85h

So, what’s different? Well, first the price. The Elite 85h are $300, solidly less expensive than the Sony and Bose competition.

The second, is the artificial intelligence. Yes, you read that correctly.

Headphones With AI

Normally, ANC is a feature you enable and disable manually. When you’re on the go it’s common to do so otherwise you might miss gate announcements or the flight attendant explaining meal options. The Elite 85h on the other hand analyzes your surroundings automatically, tuning the ANC to let vocals through when needed. This SmartSound feature is controlled through the Jabra+ app where you can set public, private, commute, and other various scenarios with their sound profiles.

Here’s where the experience gets a little less seamless – you have to connect the Elite 85h to your phone over Bluetooth, then connect the Jabra+ app to get the full use of the AI. Once it’s set, you’re mostly done with configuring, but remember to grab the app. Your phone will show two Bluetooth connections to the Elite 85h, not entirely elegant but more of a quirk than a complaint.

jabra elite 85h

The SmartSound AI once you’ve configured it, means less fiddling with buttons or taking headphones on an off. Personally, I think this is the very beginning of smarter headphones in the near future.

The Regular Parts Are Good Too

Overall, the ANC isn’t quiet as crystal clear as the Bose QuietComfort again, more of a nitpick than a deficiency. Sound quality of the Elite 85h is great, these are fun headphones to listen music through. Jabra’s roots also show throughout the Elite 85h. Beautiful but functional Scandinavian design like their entry-level Move, the Elite 85h automatically pause music when you take them off. Turn the ear cups in, and the headphones turn off. No power button.

USB-C charging gives you 5 hours of battery life with a 15 minute top up, or 36 total hours with ANC (41 without) after a full 2 hour charge. There’s an optional headphone jack, plus 8 microphones built-in for ANC and excellent call audio. Jabra is known for making headsets and if you call relatives who are hard of hearing, they’ll appreciate the crispness of your voice.

There’s a lot to like about the Elite 85h, they’re comfortable to wear, come with a form-fitting case, and impressive AI ANC. Usually when a company jumps into a market, they make splashes with gimmicks or products that aren’t full realized. What’s most impressive about the Elite 85h is how complete, and in many ways, better they seem to be at less cost than the Sony WH1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort 35.

I’ll follow up with a Road Tested! review in a few months to see how durable they are but if budget has been keeping you from getting a pair of headphones with ANC, you should take a very close listen to the Jabra Elite 85h.

Review Of Audio-Technica’s ATH-SR30BT Headphones: Carving Out The Under-$100 Range

Initial searches for a good pair of headphones for traveling often reveal the extremes of ultra-premium like the Bose 35ii, or the uber-budget Taotronics. Nestled in between however is a growing class of headphones that are bringing premium sound quality under $100.

The Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT wireless, over-ear headphones fill out this sparse budget range, making them an attractive option for a wider audience of travelers. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Bring Some, Not All Premium Features

The ATH-SR30BT headphones look and feel premium since Audio-Technica hasn’t cut many obvious corners on the design. These headphones seem a lot more expensive than they cost, with respectable sound quality for being both wireless and less than $100. More on the sound quality below but where Audio-Technica has cut costs is in places many non-audiophiles won’t notice too much.

audio technica ath-sr30bt

First of all, there’s no case in the box although you can get a sleek Greekria softshell for under $20. Aside from the headphones themselves, a single micro-USB charging cable is provided.

Also notably missing if you’ve gotten used to premium earbuds or headphones is active noise cancelling. It’s a feature you’ll find on more expensive devices like the Bose 20i – one that’s hard to fly without once you’ve tried it. Still, the ATH-SR30BT has noise-isolation, a fancy term for good soundproofing. Noise-isolation on the SR30BT is good – although you’ll still hear the outside world or jet engine noise – nothing compared to noise-cancelling yet the SR30BT punches above its price here.

Cutting From The Top

Wisely, Audio-Technica has kept the price of the SR30BT down by taking out features from the premium end of the spectrum. In other words active noise-cancelling, a case, an optional wired connection are all notable omissions common to headphones in the $300 range.

audio technica ath sr30bt wireless headphones

On the flip-side however, the lack on noise-cancelling (combined with Bluetooth 5) leaves the SR30BT using less energy consumption – resulting in 70 hours of battery life. That’s close to double that of any comparable noise-cancelling pair; which can be recharged full in 4 hours. The leather ear cups, matte finish, and metal accents all add to lightweight, mostly comfortable profile.

Fidgeting With Buttons

The button placements look, yet don’t feel, entirely intuitive. One of the main issues I encountered is the volume up and down buttons, which also double as song forward and back, are differentiated by long presses. When I say long press, it’s supposed to be 2 seconds although these are very sensitive. I found myself skipping ahead and back when I just wanted to turn the sound down, for example. The third button (for phone pickup, mute, voice assistant, etc.) also got in the way quite a bit; so if the beep before Siri casually reminds you how useless she is drives you mad, stick to controls from the device you’re connected to.

Buttons can be acclimated to but the longevity of the Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT is in the best of its features: good sound quality, premium design, long battery life, and well under a $100 without cutting costs from the wrong places.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More


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