News & Trends: 3/25/15


By: Susan Berman Hammer

Smart Watch Countdown: A Time Out!

The launch date of Apple’s new smart watch is April 24 -- less than a month away -- and the pre-order date is April 10. Before you jump into the worldwide buying frenzy that likely will be covered by news outlets everywhere, take time out to consider your own needs and research your options.

Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself as time ticks away to the Apple Watch launch date:

  1. Do I own or plan to buy a compatible iPhone? (The Apple Watch depends on your iPhone though some features will operate without it.)
  2. Which smart watch features do I really need? (Health & Fitness tracking may be important, but is medical-grade, heart-rate monitoring really necessary?)
  3. When do I plan to purchase a smart watch?
  4. Must I have an Apple Watch or will another brand suit me just as well? (e.g., Samsung, Sony, Pebble, Cogito, LG, Meta Watch, Withings, Guess/Martian)
  5. How much do I want to spend? (Apple Watches will range  from $349 to $17,000.)
  6. How important are the watch style and design to me? (There are 38 Apple designs.)
  7. Have I considered quality and reliability?
  8. How concerned am I about battery life?
  9. How long’s the warranty?

To fast forward your shopping research and save some time if you're in the market for a smart watch, begin here:

Pebble’s new Time Smartwatch is an impressive alternative to Apple’s smart watch collection It was Kickstarter’s most funded project ever, achieving nearly $16 million in sales in a week and $9 million in pre-orders on day one. One recently-announced Pebble Steel luxury model, for example, looks amazingly similar to, but will cost much less than, the ultra-expensive Apple Watch Edition. If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to consider the discreet Guess Connect smart watch that ties to your phone via Bluetooth. Keep an eye out for the best-priced smart watches and read more here.

Take Advantage of Your US Air +American Miles Before It’s Too Late

If you are a member of US Airways’ or American Airlines’ frequent flier programs and you’re looking to book a trip soon, you’d better start today! On Thursday, US Air’s Dividend Miles, reward bookings and mileage-upgrade requests will be disabled to prepare for a transfer of your miles to American’s AAdvantage program. Beginning Saturday, American Airlines will begin the actual process of combining its 70-million member AAdvantage frequent-flier program with its merger partner US Airways. The move will require several days.

The biggest change for US Airways' most frequent jet-setters will be the end of automatic complimentary upgrades for US Airways’ silver, gold and platinum customers. Delta, United, Southwest and JetBlue airlines have already adopted revenue-based travel rewards programs that favor passengers who spend the most. Will American be far behind? Read more on how to take advantage of your frequent flier miles.