Hertz will now let you rent a car with your face

Hertz is looking to speed up the car rental experience with facial recognition tech. The agency has teamed up with airport security service CLEAR to let renters check out their cars with just a look. CLEAR members who link the feature to their Hertz Gold Plus Rewards account can just pick up their car, drive … Continue reading “Hertz will now let you rent a car with your face”

Hertz is looking to speed up the car rental experience with facial recognition tech.

The agency has teamed up with airport security service CLEAR to let renters check out their cars with just a look.

CLEAR members who link the feature to their Hertz Gold Plus Rewards account can just pick up their car, drive to a kiosk, give it a stare or a smile and drive away.

(Hertz)

The feature is launching at Hartsfeld-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where Hertz says it cuts the check-out time from 2 minutes to under 30 seconds.

Over 40 additional airport locations will be added next year.

As part of the partnership, Hertz is offering Gold Plus members a discounted CLEAR fee of $129 per year, which is $50 off the standard price.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

Give the gift of travel with these not-so-obvious ideas

Need a gift for a frequent traveler? Here are some great (and not too obvious) ideas they're sure to love. A few I’ve even mentioned in the past, so they've continued to stand the test of time!

It's worth mentioning that I don’t endorse specific products or brands, but I do have my favorites at different price points:

Under $150

Plane tickets: Yes, you can get round-trip airfare for less than $150; sometimes a lot less. Here are a few examples for flights in January and early February; I picked this time period because it’s the cheapest time of the year to fly to many destinations. Most of these flights are non-stop, which we love, but most are also weekday flights, which we aren’t crazy about, but look at those prices. All of these fares were found last using FareCompare's deal-finding tool — the internet offers other, simlar airfare comparison tools too — but be warned: Prices can and do change with little notice.

Boston to Las Vegas, $143Charlotte to Orlando, $83Dallas to Denver, $74Indianapolis to Ft. Myers, $76San Diego to Albuquerque, $97

How to buy: Don’t give a gift card for a particular airline (unless the recipient’s airport only has a single carrier). No airline always has the best fare, so you must compare prices on an airfare comparison search site; it’s the only way of being sure of getting the best deal. Instead, fill out a card telling your loved one what you intend to buy, then make your purchase in their presence so you don’t make any errors. In fact, these fares are so cheap, might as well buy another ticket for yourself, too — it’ll double the fun.

FEAR OF FLYING? HERE ARE 8 WAYS TO OVERCOME IT

Under $100

PreCheck: Still only $85 for a five-year membership, which is dirt cheap. Just imagine going to the airport and heading to your own designated fast-lane at security and keeping your shoes and jacket on, while your shampoos and lotions stay in the carry-on and your laptop remains in its case. I don’t know about you, but I really dislike walking through security checkpoints without shoes on.

Your loved one will remember you every time their feet refrain from getting super gross. (iStock)

How to buy: Go to TSA.gov/precheck; that’ll tell you everything you need to know. The recipient will have to visit one of the agency’s many offices for a brief in-person interview (which takes about five minutes) so again, this gift can’t be a surprise. But add a note to a card explaining how great this is, and include cash or a check for $85. If you don’t have PreCheck yet, the two of you could do this at the same time.

Under $50

Baggage: You can spend hundreds of dollars on a bag, or just a few bucks. It all depends on personal taste and budget. Many younger travelers are happy to have any sort of inexpensive duffle or backpack as long as it’s sturdy, and cheap bags can be sturdy: A friend of mine swears by a $27 carry-on she got from Ross; she’s been shoving it into overhead bins around the world for five years now and says it’s none the worse for wear.

How to buy: Get a bag at a store you know your recipient likes, maybe a place with lots of different styles so they can return it if your choice isn’t exactly what they want. Or just give a gift card or money, both of which are always in style.

12 STYLISH GIFTS FOR THE TRAVEL-OBSESSED

Under $25

Little comforts: Neck pillows; eye-catching luggage tags; thermos-type mugs to keep coffee warm; gift cards for online books or movies or TV; or compression socks, which many folks love (I’ve seen them for under $25 on Amazon).

I also love giving out a little travel diary and pen. You should get one yourself, too. As digital as our world has become, there’s nothing quite like having a quiet drink at the end of the day while writing a few lines in a notebook about the wonderful things you saw and heard that day. And you’ll love re-reading these musings in the years to come, too.

Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site

Fear of flying? Here are 8 ways to overcome it

Even people with access to private jets aren’t immune to it.

It's rumored that Ben Affleck has struggled with a fear of flying ever since he was a kid, when a plane he was in was struck by lightning. Sandra Bullock told The New York Times one of the reasons she accepted the lead role in “Gravity” was because it was the universe’s way of telling her she needed to face her fear. And while Aretha Franklin passed away having never performed in certain major cities, because they involved a flight, some others have beaten their phobias — in a way at least. Billy Bob Thornton, for instance, famously claimed he wasn't afraid to fly in an interview with Mr. Showbiz, as reported by Salon: “I don’t have a fear of flying,” the actor said. “I have a fear of crashing.”

But perhaps the best way to get over the fear of flying — and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 2.5 to 6.5 percent of Americans suffer from aviophobia — is to look at the facts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people died in automobile crashes in 2017. Meanwhile, the Aviation Safety Network reported that 2017, with no deaths caused by commercial crashes, was the safest year for commercial flying in history. Still, with Lion Air’s October crash, killing all 189 people on board, it’s hard to have total peace of mind.

Fortunately, there are ways to manage the anxiety. Here are a few things helping frequent fliers and even pilots stay calm when the cabin door closes.

Look at vacation photos on your phone

Emily Brockway’s anxiety was once so bad she’d have panic attacks about having panic attacks on planes. “My fear of flying started 12 years ago after having an aborted landing,” says the co-founder of the Noken travel app. “The abrupt change from calmly landing to dramatically taking off with the runway in sight was jolting. Understandably, the pilot couldn’t immediately make an announcement, so we were left panicked as to why we had not landed.” One thing that currently helps Brockway, who flies about 36 times a year, is looking at past vacation photos on her phone. “They remind me why it’s worth putting myself through the anxiety of flying.”

Invest in “flight therapy” or private lessons

When six-year-old Christian Lail was so scared of flying he refused to go on family vacations, his parents enrolled him in “flight therapy,” and Lail remembers flying in a small four-seater airplane with his therapist, mom and pilot. “I’m not fully over it, but it started to get better after therapy,” says Lail, an account coordinator, who flies around 30 times a year.

But flight therapy isn’t cheap. For example, two hours of counseling at SOAR Fear of Flying Course costs $595, while the in-flight from FlyHome is $795. Virgin Atlantic even has a course, complete with a certificate signed by Sir Richard Branson. But the Children’s Flying Without Fear session will set you back $482, plus the cost of a ticket to the airline’s training center outside of London. Still, it boasts a 98 percent success rate.

If you can’t afford that, look into discovery flights. “I highly recommend that anyone who is serious about getting over their fear of flying to learn to fly,” says Bernie Burns, Founder of B2 Aviation. “While training to be a pilot can cost thousands of dollars, there are discovery flights at almost every airport where you can learn to fly.” Thirty-minute discovery flight lessons usually only cost between $50-$100.

Pretend you’re on a boat (but not a booze cruise)

“There are waves on the water and the boat rocks and goes up and down,” explains Bob Seidel, a pilot and CEO of Alerion Aviation. “Airplanes behave in pretty much the same way, riding invisible waves of air.” In all his years of flying, Seigel says this explanation “works wonders.” And although he admits a little gin with extra lime works too, he suggests drinking responsibly.

If you can pry your hands away from the armrests, that is. (iStock)

Create a calming ritual

Brockway has a special takeoff playlist of songs that recall happy memories and Lail always pats the plane for good luck while boarding. Lauren Juliff allows herself 30 seconds to panic, but only if it’s followed by 30 seconds of long, deep breaths and relaxing her shoulders. She also always takes a moment to look at Flight Radar 24. “You’ll see a map with every flight in the world plotted across it. There’s usually more than 10,000 planes up in the air whenever I check, and it helps me put into context just how insignificant my flight really is,” says the travel blogger at Never Ending Footsteps. “There are so many planes in the sky at any one point, likely many terrified passengers, and none of them are actually in any real danger.”

Take, or at least pack, a prescription

After spending two years taking 24-hour train rides from Washington, D.C. to Florida to visit family, Nadeen White realized her fear of flying wasn’t practical. First, the practicing pediatrician and travel blogger at The Sophisticated Life, tried a glass of wine and Benedryl to calm her nerves on planes. When that didn’t work, she switched to Xanax — arguably the most popular prescription used for severe anxiety. White advises trying flight simulation classes first, and then asking your doctor about medications if that doesn’t work.

Lean on technology

Tara Anne is usually the person with her ear to the phone up until the last minute before takeoff. When it’s time for airplane mode and she can’t distract herself with conversation, the tour manager uses the flight meditations on the Headspace app. Some airlines also try to offer helpful technology. United’s in-flight entertainment, for example, includes “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross,” “Nature Vision TV” and “Moodica” — whose calming on-screen options include an oscillating table fan which “rotates ninety degrees against a textured white background, creating an indefinitely repeatable, soothing audio experience.”

Learn about aerodynamics

“Mortally terrified” is how Geoffrey Weill describes his past fear of takeoffs. “It seemed impossible to me that this giant thing could get in the air,” says the founder of travel PR firm Geoffrey Weill Associates. What really helped Weill, who now flies 100 times a year, get over 15 years of being afraid to fly, was learning about aerodynamics. “With the design of the wings and the right amount of speed, the plane cannot not take off,” explains Weill.

Take your cues from the flight attendants

In turbulence, flight attendants come off as superhuman. Somehow, they’re able to remain calm, and could probably complete a full dinner service, despite the instability and stomach drops. So watch them instead of the freaked-out passenger white-knuckling their armrests the next time you’re in rough air. They fly for a living, and probably know more about the situation than anyone except the pilot.

Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she’s not working, she’s chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus.