With airline fees that won’t seem to go away, seats that seemingly keep shrinking, and global threats ranging from Zika virus to terrorism, it’s easy to tell yourself that this is the year to stay home. But those who hit the road will find that so many pain points of traveling are being zapped by brilliant, game-changing innovations—some so good, you could almost say it’s a new golden age of travel.
1. TSA Is Going Through a Desperately Needed Overhaul

This week, United Airlines teamed up with the TSA to begin installing automated security lanes at some of its hubs across the U.S., a move that American Airlines made earlier in the month. The new security setup is said to be 30 percent faster; it uses CT-scanning technology to examine carry-on bags and personal items. Similar to the system used in Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, the bins feed into a scanner; instead of having humans flag bins that need further inspection, this technology automatically identifies worrisome scans and pulls those items of luggage out of the queue, routing them to a control center. Most bags will breeze through, improving security line speed drastically.

Bonus: Thanks to the CT technology, you’ll also be able to leave liquids and laptops in your carry-on bags, assuming that the pilot is successful. Expect to see the new system at major airports such as Chicago O’Hare, Miami International, and more than a dozen others before the year’s end.

 2. Redeeming Your Airline Miles Just Got A Lot Easier

A newly launched plugin for Expedia called 30K allows you to input your various frequent flier numbers so that your flight searches include alternate prices—in miles. Instead of just seeing that a flight from New York City to Tokyo costs $677, for instance, you’ll also see that it costs 1,117 award miles. The mileage estimates can factor in multiple loyalty programs at once, and the plugin also tells you what you will earn (in both award and status qualifying miles) for each purchase.

3. Never Wait To Check In To Your Hotel Room Again

There’s nothing more frustrating than surviving a long, overnight flight only to find that your hotel room isn’t ready until 3:00 p.m. Standard Hotels, which has five properties in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami, intends to buck that trend by instituting a new policy called Standard Time. It lets guests check in at any hour of the day—and checkout is just as flexible.

The fine print says this is based on availability. Still, a representative confirmed that guests could check in at 6:00 a.m. and check out at 11:00 p.m., if they so wished, signaling even more flexibility than Starwood’s Your24 policy, which guarantees ultra-loyal guests a full 24 hours in their room.