1939 Business lounge

Business travel has had its perks since at least 1939, when American Airlines set up its first Admirals club lounge at New York`s newly opened La Guardia Airport. Now nearly ubiquitous (the website loinge-guide.net offers reviews of more than 800 lounges worldwide),first-and business-class lounges have had to step up their game to compete for frequent fliers, offering more than just usual plasma-screen TV`s, open bars, leather chairs, and Wi-Fi. Qantas’s first-class lounge in Sydney, for example, boasts of menus conceived by Rockpool chef Neil Perry and spectacular views over Botany Bay.

1970 Wheeled Suitcase

The wheeled suitcase was first patented after a 1970 “Eureka!” moment, when the owner of a Massachusetts luggage company watched heavy equipment being wheeled through the Aruba airport on a wheeled skid. The concept didn`t take off until 1987, though, when Robert Plath, a northwest airlines 747 pilot and home workshop tinkerer, started selling his two wheeled version, the Rollaboard, to fellow flight crew members. For savvy packers, the easy-to-slow rolling carry-on has revolutionized business travel, smoothing airport transfers and making a wait at the luggage carousel a thing of the past.

1981 Frequent Flyer Card

Since 1981, when American Airlines introduced its Advantage program, the airline loyalty industry has awarded 33.2 trillion miles to frequent fliers around the world; two hundred airlines now offer them. Inspired by Raleigh cigarette coupons and S&H green stamps, they were a boon for business travelers, offering elite perks like lounge access and business cabin upgrades (not to mention inspiring the glamorous pathos of George Clooney`s character in Up in the Air)

1995 Travel Booking Sites

Since Microsoft launched Expedia in 1995 and Travelocity went live the following year, online travel booking sites using the Sabre online reservation system have revolutionized leisure travel. Corporate agents have profited from the ease of access and metasearch engines like Kayak and Cheapflights have facilitated comparison shopping. Your grandkids may not believe you when you tell them that, back in the 20th century, almost every vacation began with a visit to a brick-and-mortar travel agency.

1999 Self-serve kiosk

It wasn`t so long enough that every trip to the airport involved joining a long, snaking line followed by facetime with an often frazzled counter attendant. In 1999, Alaska Airlines, which had pioneered the use of electronic tickets, began to allow passengers to select seats, answer security questions, and print out boarding passes on their home printers. Then came self-service kiosks, and the phasing out of paper boarding passes. Today, travelers flash scannable data matrices on their smartphone screens as they board.

2008 Smartphone

With Skype and iPhone`s face time, the era of the portable picture-phone (as seen on The Jetsons) is truly upon us. But apart from allowing business travelers to connect with loved ones, smartphones allow for constantly accessible emails; text messaging; up-to-the-minute dining, lodging, and entertainment help (Tripadvisor and Yelp); and apps such as Tripcase and Triplt, which consolidate hotel, flight and car-rental information. Indeed, if George Jetson were a 21st-century frequent flier, he’d feel right at home.

2011 Lace-up Shoe

Until recently, savvy travelers knew to invest in a good pair of slip-on shoes to speed passage through security. With the transportation security Administration’s Prev program, travelers on five major airlines who have gone through a one-time pre-screening interview can skip scrutiny, allowing travelers to go back to laceups.(U.S. Customs and Border Protection`s Global Entry program allows trusted international travelers to skip the lines)


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