Step Up Your Headphone Game

After years of traveling without active-noise cancelling, I decided it was time to take the step and move from sound-isolating earbuds to over-the-ear headphones. Though not the quintessential Bose QuietComfort25 [affiliate link], I am thrilled with my Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B [affiliate link].

I detailed some features of the ATH-ANC7B below, as well as some other headphones and earbuds that might appeal to you. Let me know what you use in the air!

ATH-ANC7B

The ATH-ANC7B has a microphone on each ear-cup offering a solid 90% noise-cancellation in addition to the noise-isolation that the cups themselves provide. These headphones come with two lines as well as a sturdy carrying case.

The Case
The Case
Cable Compartment! So much cleaner.
Cable Compartment! So much cleaner.
ANC Powered Off
ANC Powered Off
ANC Powered On
ANC Powered On

One thing to keep in mind is that the version of the ATH-ANC7B that I purchased does not have an in-line microphone for phone calls. For that, you would have to use the ATH-ANC7B SVIS [affiliate link].

Headphones
Bose QuietComfort 25 [affiliate link]

In addition to an amazing feel on your head, the QuietComfort 25 comes with an in-line microphone and some of the best noise-cancellation and built-in equalization available. Boasting upwards of 30 hours of use on a single AAA battery, few headphones come close. This makes it ideal for long days of flying!

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 [affiliate link]

The ATH-ANC7B’s big brother! In addition to the comfort of the ATH-ANC7B, the ATH-ANC9 offers three different isolation profiles that target specific frequencies common to various environments: airplane, office, and study. The noise-cancellation is more advanced, as well, coming in at 95%. This is achieved by the presence of two microphones on each ear-cup.

Earbuds
Bose QuietComfort QC20 [affiliate link]

The QC20s are the in-ear version of the QC25. Though it lacks the additional isolation provided by the over-the-ear form of the QC25, the proprietary eartips make a big difference. I strongly advise against using these for the gym, however. There is nothing more frustrating than damaging expensive technology because a weight rolled over it! Though they are pricey, you do get what you pay for.

BeoPlay H3 [affiliate link]

The BeoPlay H3 by Bang & Olufsen is easily on-par with the Bose QC20. Unlike the other headphones listed here, the H3 uses a built-in Lithium Ion battery that offers 20 hours of ANC playback. You get the stylistic appeal and quality audio that B&O is known for, along with memory-foam tips on the earbuds.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 [affiliate link]

Don’t discount this pair from its price alone. The ATH-ANC23 boasts a solid 90% noise reduction for less than $60! You also get a carrying bag, extra ear-pieces so you can ensure a comfortable fit, and an extra adapter to use on planes that use the two-pronged audio plug. If you would like to have earbuds with a microphone, you will need to opt for the ATH-ANC33iS [affiliate link], though.

Travel Charger

I can’t say enough good things about the eneloop Rechargeable Battery Pack by Panasonic [affiliate link]. Other than the B&O H3, all headphones listed above use AAA batteries, and having a charger you can travel with is crucial. Amazon makes a charger with USB port [affiliate link] if you have Ni-MH batteries already. Both chargers will handle AAA and AA batteries, so you are set for other devices you have that need them, as well.

 

Airport Information: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Physical Layout

The Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta is the busiest in the world when we look at sheer volume of people, followed by Beijing, Tokyo-Haneda, and London Heathrow. Because of that, it is no surprise that the designers have gone to great lengths to ensure that the layout can both handle current volumes as well as offer room for expansion (as seen recently with the addition of Concourse F).

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The airport itself is laid out in a series of parallel concourses that are labeled from A to F, with a Terminal concourse (“T”) preceding it. Domestic baggage claim is located in concourse T, while international baggage claim is found in concourse F. A few years ago, before the construction of concourse F, the international baggage claim was located in terminal E. This is known to lead to some confusion as not all the signs have been replaced – be careful!

Airlines and Routes

As this is the busiest airport in the world, it should also not come as a surprise that it is serviced by a large number of airlines from various alliances: from American to United and Southwest. It is, of course, the home for Delta, and it is not uncommon to see AirFrance and KoreanAir flights arrive and depart from Atlanta.

The routing options are similarly plentiful with options throughout Europe, the Pacific Rim, China, large portions of Africa, as well as Central and South America.

Lounges

At least one SkyClub can be found in each concourse at ATL, with some having two! Keep in mind that not all SkyClubs are created equal, however, with one of the two in a given terminal being much better than the other. The clubs at A17 and B23 are personal favorites, for example. They are roomy and the staff is always helpful.

In addition to the SkyClub options, you can find The Club in concourse F and an American Airline’s Admiral’s Club in concourse T. Access to The Club is available to members of LoungeClub, Priority Pass, or Diner’s Club International. Priority Pass is offered to all American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige cardholders, so it is the most common method of entry. My favorite thing about this lounge is that you are able to get Glenlivet 12 complimentary! Can’t beat free!

Miscellaneous

Two points of note for travel through Atlanta: they are trying a new boarding process with three parallel lanes which seems to be helping, and an annoyances were expressed with the TSA by the airport itself given absurd wait times.

Be sure to give yourself a little extra while the TSA tries to allocate additional man-power to handle the passenger volume (they certainly have the lanes…) when departing from Atlanta! This isn’t really a concern for passing through, unless you are transferring from an international flight to a domestic one.

New Boarding Process
New Boarding Process

Hotel Reviews: Sheraton Ann Arbor and Holiday Inn Tewksbury-Andover

Sheraton Ann Arbor

Location

The Ann Arbor Sheraton is located at exit 177 of I-94. Thanks to its ease of access to the interstate and location in South East Michigan, it is fairly popular for consultants in the region.

Amenities

In addition to a full-service restaurant (with room service) and bar, the Sheraton has one of the best equipped gyms that I have seen at a hotel. It has recently been upgraded with a second bench and full set of free-weights as well as a cable machine. Combined with a compliment of treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes, it is easy to stay active while on the road!

In all seriousness – the gym is one of the deciding factors when it comes to hotels for me. The other deciding factor is the internet access and stability! The hotel offers complimentary WiFi to all guests and while it can be spotty near elevators and when moving between floors, it is dependable within the room itself.

Room

I was upgraded to a Club level room this week, thanks to my status with the Starwood Preferred Guest program, and was given a room on the 6th floor. In addition to a couch, the room was furnished with a cotton robe and extra bottles of water.

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Holiday Inn Tewksbury-Andover

Location

The Holiday Inn is located conveniently off of I-495 with excellent access to the interstate itself. It is roughly an hour’s drive away from BOS though it is only about 30 miles away.

Amenities

In addition to a fully equipped fitness center, the hotel offers two different dining options in-house: a full service restaurant as well as a pub. Room service is handled by the restaurant so it is not open until midnight, while the pub is.

Room

The room I was in, 524, was quite spacious with a roomy bed and comfortable couch. Best of all, all the furniture was comfortable! It is far too common to find beds and chairs that are a pain to occupy – literally!

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Airport Information: Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Last week, between work and personal travel, I was bouncing between four airports – DTW, ATL, RDU, and BOS. Thanks to that, I am able to continue my series on airport information! Hopefully what I have to offer will be of some benefit to y’all.

Layout

DTW from the sky
DTW from the sky

Though difficult to tell from the picture above, the Detroit Metropolitan Airport is split into two completely independent structures: the North Terminal and the McNamara Terminal. The newer structure, the McNamara Terminal, handles Air France, Delta, and other SkyTeam code-shares (as well as the only Virgin Atlantic flight for DTW), while the older terminal handles all other airlines.

The McNamara Terminal is further divided into three concourses: A, B, and C. The larger planes arrive and depart from the A concourse while B and C handle regional jet traffic.

Concourse A (right), B and C (on the left)
Concourse A (right), B and C (on the left)

Lounges

There are four SkyClubs located in the McNamara Terminal: three within the A concourse alone, with the fourth between B and C. In the North terminal the only option is the Lufthansa club.

Routes

As a major international hub, DTW provides the opportunity to visit quite a few locations on a wide variety of planes. It is one of the few locations in the US where you can still fly a Delta 747-400, for example! Similarly, you can fly on Royal Jordanian’s 787 Dreamliner from the North Terminal.

The list of direct flights is quite large but some highlights include: Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Shanghai, and Beijing!

744 at DTW
744 at DTW