JODY VICTOR®

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The tech-savvy traveler will want to put this one on their bucket list; Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is officially building a futuristic mini-city along a 12-acre section of Toronto’s eastern waterfront. This is absolutely huge – for the city, for the country, and for the California-based tech giant in its quest to develop high-tech “smart cities” around the world.

As expected, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs has partnered with Waterfront Toronto to develop a new waterfront community called “Quayside.”
This will mark the biggest project tackled by Sidewalk Labs to date, according to Reuters, and the citizens of Toronto are here for it.
Sidewalk Labs describes itself as a company that “imagines, designs, tests, and builds urban innovations to help cities meet their biggest challenges.”

The more than $1 billion development will see the creation of new public spaces, residential and commercial buildings, and advanced infrastructure for Toronto’s thriving tech industry.

“The district will become a place for tens of thousands of people to live, work, learn, and play,” reads a press release announcing the project in Toronto. “It will also reflect the cultural diversity and openness of Toronto, and help connect all Torontonians to waterfront beaches, parks, and communities.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report on the rumored closure of this deal earlier in October, the smart city will span 3 million square feet in total.

That’s roughly the size of the Empire State Building.

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The U.S. government is urging the world airline community to ban large, personal electronic devices like laptops from checked luggage because of the potential for a catastrophic fire.

Money.com reports that the Federal Aviation Administration said in a paper filed recently with a U.N. agency that its tests show that when a laptop’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery overheats in close proximity to an aerosol spray can, it can cause an explosion capable of disabling an airliner’s fire suppression system. The fire could then rage unchecked, leading to “the loss of the aircraft,” the paper said.

The FAA has conducted 10 tests involving a fully-charged laptop packed in a suitcase. A heater was placed against the laptop’s battery to force it into “thermal runaway,” a condition in which the battery’s temperature continually rises.

In one test, an 8-ounce aerosol can of dry shampoo —which is permitted in checked baggage — was strapped to the laptop. There was a fire almost immediately and it grew rapidly. The aerosol can exploded within 40 seconds.

The test showed that because of the rapid progression of the fire, Halon gas fire suppressant systems used in airline cargo compartments would be unable to put out the fire before there was an explosion, the FAA said. The explosion might not be strong enough to structurally damage the plane, but it could damage the cargo compartment and allow the Halon to escape, the agency said. Then there would be nothing to prevent the fire from spreading.

Other tests of laptop batteries packed with potentially dangerous consumer goods that are permitted in checked baggage like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol also resulted in large fires, although no explosions.

As a result, the paper recommends that passengers shouldn’t be allowed to pack large electronic devices in baggage unless they have specific approval from the airline. The paper says the European Safety Agency, the FAA’s counterpart in Europe; Airbus, one of the world’s largest makers of passenger airliners; the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Association, and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Association, which represents aircraft makers, concurred in the recommendation.

Since 2006, three cargo jets have been destroyed and four pilots killed by in-flight fires that investigators say were either started by batteries or made more severe by their proximity.

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Fortune reports Hilton is planning to create several new hotel brands in the coming years to fill space in its current portfolio. The most eye-catching announcement was the plan for an urban micro-brand, which the company will look to formally introduce sometime next year.

The rooms would likely be between 125 and 150 square feet with an emphasis placed on connectability, flexibility, and a local vibe.

“We have a lot of customers that want to now be in these urban environments, that even with our lowest-priced products can’t afford to be in these cities, so we’re giving up a lot of business. We’re not getting customers in that environment through our system early in their travel lives,” Christopher Nassetta, Hilton CEO said in an interview at the Skift Global Forum in New York Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Hilton is planning a new five-star soft brand, “Hilton Plus.” Hilton is beta-testing “the connected room,” which is being used currently in some hotels. This smart room would know a traveler’s preferences, among its features.

Hilton’s new hotels will also include trendy restaurant and bar areas to attract locals. That, the company believes, will help travelers feel like they’re connecting with their destination rather than simply observing it.

“It’s very trendy in a sense, sort of like a hostel on steroids. But a lot of steroids,” Nassetta said of the new hotel concept, what he called an “urban micro brand.” The CEO first mentioned the ultra-small hotel idea in 2016.

The chain could launch the connected room globally in 2018.

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MSN Travel News reports a suspicious passenger traveling via the Sri Lankan airport was stopped by security stopped him. Customs officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport noticed a 45-year-old man from Sri Lanka walking with difficulty and appearing to be in pain.

When the man was searched by security officials, they discovered an estimated $30,000 worth of gold stashed in his rectum. Security officers found gold biscuits, three pieces of gold, six gold jewelry articles and two silver-plated yellow gold jewelry articles all inside the man’s body cavity. The unnamed man was waiting for his flight to India Sunday when authorities noticed him constantly looking around, causing security officers to stop him. The search authorities conducted revealed the man had hidden the more-than two pounds of gold in four plastic bags inside him.

Bandaranaike International Airport officials were not surprised by the incident. Many smugglers attempt to take gold into India to make a higher profit. Transporting the gold in this manner is one of the most popular, but uncomfortable forms of smuggling.

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As far as the airlines are concerned, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Rates for particularly popular itineraries are already on the rise. And even if price isn’t an issue, booking your preferred trip will become increasingly difficult, according to USA Today.

Thanksgiving Day is almost always the cheapest day to fly for the holiday. This should be no surprise. But how do the other travel days surrounding the holiday compare?

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after—avoid flying on these days if at all possible. They are the busiest travel dates and most expensive. The price of this itinerary has been rising since late August and is currently increasing on average by $1.50 a day, which jumps to about $2.50 a day in October. This could add up to almost $200 in additional fare per ticket.

A cheaper itinerary would be the Tuesday before and the Monday after Thanksgiving. If you don’t have to worry about school or work schedules, try flying the Saturday before to the Monday after and you may see exceptional savings.

Jody Victor

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