Airport WiFi Is Safe, Plus Travel Scoops You May Have Missed

For this greatest of travel weeks, we're reviewing our favorite here-to-there stories.
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It’s a short holiday week, which means we’ve got to mix it up. This week, we’re thankful for you, dear readers, who follow us through the strange vicissitudes of the car business. You are curious; you are tolerant; you are mostly kind, at least on Twitter . So please be gentle with me as I introduce the theme of this car roundup, which is holiday plane travel.

For this greatest of travel weeks, we're reviewing all the juicy, fun here-to-there stories we wrote in the last year or so, about building the most audacious flying machine ever, about staying healthy on your next flight, and about surprisingly safe airport Wi-Fi. We’ve got some important plane travel gear. Plus, an update on what you’re missing if you’re not in a private jet. (Maybe it’s better if you just don’t look.)

But holiday travel happens by car, too, so come get a taste of what would happen if we built our roads for holiday traffic (nothing good), or what a cross-country ride looks like, courtesy of Google StreetView. Safe travels, friends, and see you next week.


Travel stories you might have missed from WIRED

  • Downside: Facial recognition and biometric technology is a little creepy. Upside: It could help passengers get onto planes and into their seats way faster.

  • How airports got savvier about fighting Uber- and Lyft- related traffic—and what cities could learn from their example.

  • Feeling guilty about the carbon emissions associated with your most recent flight? Well, you should: A trip between LA and and Chicago adds 1,000 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. But there is some good news on the horizon: Airlines that fly internationally will have to offset extra emissions by 2021, thanks to a UN agreement. While you wait for the airlines, learn more about the up- and downsides of carbon offsets.

  • Thank you, security professionals! Sketchy public airport and hotel Wi-Fi networks aren’t nearly as sketchy as they used to be.

  • The weather goes foul, airlines screw up. Next time you’re at the airport, know your rights. (Example: It’s illegal for airlines to make you sit on the tarmac for more than three hours—for a domestic flight—and need to feed you after two.)

  • WIRED’s own Steven Levy on the late Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s quest to build Stratolaunch , the most bonkers flying machine ever attempted, complete with 385-foot wingspan.

  • We speak to microbiologists and aerospace engineers on the best way to stay healthy on your next flight. Hint: Get your butt out of that exposed aisle seat, but don’t move it around too much.

  • What would happen if we built our transportation system to handle the holiday crush? Quoth one transportation engineer: “The way I explain this to undergrads is that you wouldn’t buy six fridges for your dorm room just because you have one big party a year.”

  • Yes, the world is eternally looking rosier for those who ride the skies in private jets. But commercial flights are getting some nice perks, too.

  • Ride along with the Diplomatic Courier Service, the US State Department's 100-year-old interoffice mail staff—but for sensitive, secret government documents. “Snow, rain, heat, or gloom of night? Try war, ebola, diplomatic ejection, or military coup,” writes WIRED contributor Eric Adams.

  • Tourism officials in charge of packed sites would be wise to chat with a few traffic engineers.

  • DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE without these essential travel gadgets.

  • DITTO these smart suitcases.

  • Cathy, I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh / Michigan seems like a dream to me now / It took me two secs to open Google Streetview / I’ve gone to look for America

Canceled Flight Activity of the Week

Also works if you get snowed in! John Collins is "The Paper Airplane Guy," and he would like to show you how to design, fold, then fly world record-breaking paper airplanes. If your flight can’t be airborne, perhaps your paper airplane can.

Stat of the Week

54.3 Million

The number of Americans that will travel 50 or more miles from home this Thanksgiving, according to AAA’s annual forecast. That’s a 4.8 percent increase over last year, and the highest Turkey Day travel volume since 2005. Good luck out there!

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canon

“I used the CTX 5500 to keep bombs off your plane. I also go elbows deep in your underwear.”