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Travel Industry Travel News

Airline Efficiency Rates At All-Time High

One of the challenges or frustrations felt by frequent business and leisure travelers is having their flight leave on time, or worse yet, cancelled. However, things may be looking up. It seems years of hard work for the airlines are finally coming to fruition. Reviewing the month of November 2016, typically the brunt holiday traffic, we saw the highest rate airline efficiency in decades.

According to the Department of Transportation, 86.6 percent of flights in the U.S. arrived on time during the month of November 2016. That’s a significant improvement from the previous year. In regards to cancellations, less than one-third of 1 percent from the busiest airlines had domestic flight cancellations. Making it the lowest rate since the DOT started keeping records in 1995! Also, the number of bags lost, damaged or delayed by the airlines was the lowest since the beginning of this record keeping in 1978.

Which airlines had the best scores

  • One-time arrival
    • Delta Airlines posted the best rates for on-time arrivals.
    • Hawaiian Airlines compared favorably at over 90 percent.
    • Southwest Airlines ranked seventh, with 86.1 percent of its flights arriving on time.
    • American Airlines had the eighth-best performance with 85.4 percent.
    • The lowest on the list was Virgin America at 81.4 percent.
  • Regarding cancellation of flights,
    • Delta had no cancelled flights during the month of November, but instead diverted flights to other airports.
    • Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian and Virgin America canceled fewer than 20 flights each with far fewer diversions than Delta last November.
  • Lost/Damaged bags
    • Overall the airlines reported approximately two mishandled bags for every 1,000 passengers.
    • Virgin America and Alaska had the best rates of bag handling.
    • ExpressJet and Frontier had the worst rates.
Categories
Travel Industry Travel News

Delta Air Lines Continues To Innovate

Here at Christopherson Business Travel, we’re pretty big fans of Delta Air Lines. Their continual innovation and commitment to fliers is inspiring. Earlier this year, our management team had an opportunity to hear some of Delta’s top leaders speak. One of those industry leaders was Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President – Chief Marketing Officer of Delta.  With a company that is consistently pioneering, we valued the opportunity to understand the message behind the brand.

How Delta continually innovates

During the meeting, Mapes said, “If the world is changing faster on the outside than you’re changing on the inside, then your company is dying”.  Sound business advice, it dawned on me how hard Delta strives to be on the cutting edge.  For example, their revolutionary new baggage ticketing system released this year. Or how their Gift Back Project cultivated altruism by recognizing selfless individuals. Mapes also explained the three pillars of their brand:

  • Thoughtful ? Always be warm and caring.
  • Reliable ? Get our passengers home on-time, safely, and with their bags.
  • Innovative ? Strive to be the first in the industry to make a change, and then continually innovate.

Delta Air Lines continues to deliver on their reliability brand promise. Their hard work and dedication lead to great accolades. For example, this November Delta was named the most punctual airline in North America. Hearing Mapes speak about the foundation of the Delta brand and recognize it in their recent updates was inspiring.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We help busy companies book, manage, and expense their business travel, so they can get back to what’s important to them. Contact us if you are interested in learning how we can simplify your company’s travel.

 

 

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Travel Industry Travel News

Feeling The Shift In Airline Commoditization

It’s kind of funny. As technology continually advances, our expectations also change. We are living in an interesting age of requiring immediate results and instant buyer satisfaction. If we don’t see what we want, we can find it somewhere else. It might not surprise you that this is prominent in the travel industry. As consumers, we have any hotel and their reservation system at our fingertips. There is complete control over when and where we stay, and usually with some persuading discount. Same can be true with flights. We can decide when, where, negotiate on price and even pick our exact seat. However, some people believe there is still room for improvement.

The everyday traveler mainly uses travel booking websites to research and book future itineraries. We decide when we want to travel and where; and these sites help us find the cheapest fare. The search functions are primarily price and date. You decide when you want to travel and they find the best deal. But what if we want more? Robert Albert from RouteHappy wonders if perhaps consumers want more options. Albert explained during the Skift Global Forum in New York City last September that this commoditization is a big problem with airlines.

For example, think of that last flight you had with a low-price, low-value airline. Yes, your original booking price was low, but factor in the carry-on luggage fee, food and drink fee, and the minuscule leg room and you were left feeling cheated. Yes, it’s the best price, but was it worth feeling used and spit out? Not likely. And more and more people are seeing this.

As our buyer behavior and expectations continue to evolve, our expectations become more defined. While other industries, like hotels, have design overhauls to capture emerging buyers, shifting airline brand messaging or selling points is harder to do. It’s easier for a boutique hotel to pinpoint a demographic niche and jump on it, than the mammoth airline industry. In essence, there this room for opportunity to capture the growing needs of demanding airline passengers, but the industry may be too far behind to catch up.

As Albert said in his Skift Forum presentation, the biggest trend in the airline industry right now is the focus on ‘commoditize to differentiated.’ It most likely started with offering checked baggage options. Cabin upgrades came next. But is it enough?  Albert found an interesting niche in the travel booking world. Why have online travel booking be based solely on price? He has found that consumers are willing to pay extra for these upgrades. Flyers no longer want the cheapest price, but would rather see the value in the money they spend. Try booking based on amenities, travelers scores, plane type, legroom, and duration of flight. It’s an innovative look at travel booking in a seemly stagnant industry.

Blogs to read next:

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Business Travel Travel Industry

What Happens To Lost Luggage?

Luggage lost by the airlines has to end up somewhere, right? I don’t know about you, but this is a question that pops up out of nowhere in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Or, as I’m anxiously waiting at the carousel in baggage claim while the bags are circling. The thought of possibly having my checked baggage lost or delayed while traveling on business often leads me to just bring a carry-on. While I’m sure I’ll always have that fear, at least now I know where the luggage may possibly end up.

What happens to Lost Luggage

The Numbers

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, only 3.68 bags of every 1,000 pieces of luggage goes unclaimed. Of those, nearly 98 percent of the luggage finds its owner within the next week. Within the next three months, half of the remaining luggage is returned. After the 90-period, the tiny remaining fraction of luggage legally becomes the property of the airlines. By this time, claims have been filed on the lost luggage and the flyer is compensated. So, what does the airline do with the luggage? They sell it!

Your Luggage’s Final Home

The Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC), located in Scottsboro, Alabama buys the lost luggage  and then unpacks, cleans, organizes and sells the contents to shoppers. Jewelry and artwork are appraised and electronic devices are wiped clean. Even with appraisals, a few great finds have been found over the years. Including a painting priced at $60, but actually worth $20,000 and rare relics and oddities.

The UBC started in 1970 by a man named Doyle Owens. He had the ingenious idea to borrow a pickup truck, drive to Washington D.C. and took out a $300 loan to buy his first load of unclaimed luggage from airlines. Since that first truckload, the business has forged relationships with many different airlines, and hauls luggage from all across America. The Unclaimed Baggage Center building is the size of a city block and has over a million visitors every year. It also claims to be one of the top tourist attractions in Alabama.

Returns, Please?

Unfortunately, don’t expect to turn to them for your lost luggage. In regards to the question on their website, they say ‘Regrettably, “No”. . . After this point, claims have been paid out and the items are sent with no identifying information to Unclaimed Baggage to be repurposed or sold.’ So feel free to go shopping  at the UBC (aka, my new bucket list addition), but don’t get your hopes up in finding your own bag. 
Read next from our blog:

Finally, Refunds For Delayed Checked Baggage

What Is The Right Size For Carry-On Luggage?

Categories
Travel Industry Travel News

Best and Worst Airlines: According to Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is always where I go to find product ratings and best buy recommendations. So this month when Consumer Reports rated the best and worst airlines, I took notice.

Consumer reports rated eleven major carriers based on information from almost 17,000 subscribers. They analyzed ease of check-in, cabin/crew service, cabin cleanliness, baggage handling, seating comfort, and in-flight entertainment.

Virgin America made its debut at the top of the list while Spirit Airlines ranked the worst. One traveler said of Virgin America’s coach seats, “The leather seat cushions are so nice in coach, there’s no reason to fly first class.” Virgin American says it emphasizes “top-notch services and a host of innovative amenities.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Spirit Airlines received the lowest overall scores for any company rated by Consumer Reports. Their airfare costs may be 90% less than other carriers, but the airline charges a wide array of fees, including $3 for a soda, juice, or bag of M&Ms. Plus their carry-on fee can range from $35 to $100 per bag. Here are the readers’ scores in order:

  1. Virgin America – 89
  2. Southwest Airlines – 85
  3. JetBlue Airways – 85
  4. Hawaiian Airlines – 82
  5. Alaska Airlines – 81
  6. Frontier Airlines – 78
  7. Delta Airlines – 71
  8. US Airways – 66
  9. American Airlines – 66
  10. United Airlines – 63
  11. Spirit Airlines – 50
Categories
Business Travel Travel Tips

Business Travelers Upgrade to Economy Plus: It’s worth it!

Have you ever thought about paying to upgrade your coach class seat to United’s economy plus?

On a recent trip, where I traveled from JFK to Amesterdam, I checked into doing just that. In the end, I decided to go ahead and pay for the upgrade and I must say–it was worth every penny! With the 3-4 extra inches of leg room, I didn’t feel as cramped, not to mention the seats were a little bigger so I didn’t feel like I was sharing a seat with the person next to me. It was also so nice to have the priority boarding so I could stow my luggage!

I personally recommend taking advantage of this option to any business traveler, especially those taking a long haul flight.

Categories
Business Travel Travel News

Business Travelers Will Want to Fly United Airlines New 787 Dreamliner

I was recently on a United Airlines flight where we were shown a short film about the airline’s new 787 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner is the first of its kind to be delivered in North America and United hopes to have four more in their fleet by the end of 2012.

For both the business traveler and leisure traveler, not only is the Dreamliner 20 percent more fuel efficient, but it also produces 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized planes. Along with these improvements flyers will also find the following on the new Dreamliner for their traveling comfort:

  • Windows that are 30% bigger than those on wide-body planes with dimming switches
  • Larger storage bins where you will be able to store your carry-on luggage with less hassle
  • New flight pressurized technology
  • Higher humidity levels which will lessen the effects of fatigue, jet lag, and the possibility of headaches experienced by some travelers

 

Business travelers will also find 36 seats in ‘BusinessFirst’ class that convert to lie-flat beds, 72 seats in premium economy class and 111 standard coach-class seats configured in a three by three arrangement.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Technology

Delta Wi-Fi: Above It All, Stay Connected

From business travelers to teenagers to blogging moms, all your online needs can now be taken care of in the sky.

Delta Airlines now offers in-flight Wi-Fi Access on more than 3,000 domestic flights daily. Depending on your needs, packages are available for purchase and offer everything from a one-time access lasting 24 hours to yearly memberships.

Delta has been the industry leader in offering this service to their guests and if you are wondering if your flight will have Wi-Fi access you can check the Delta website under My Trips. According to the Delta website, Wi-Fi is not yet available on international flights, but is available within the Continental U.S. and Alaska (although you may experience interruptions to your service in Alaska).

Categories
Business Travel Travel Industry

Did you read the fine print?: Make sure you know your airline’s Rules of Carriage

When you purchase an airline ticket you are also agreeing to that carrier’s “Rules of Carriage,” which are the rules put in place to cover an airline’s operation guidelines as they pertain to you—the ticket holder.

Since 2009, when the Department of Transportation issued a ruling on how long an airline can keep you on the tarmac, airlines have been revising their Rules of Carriage and slowly editing out more and more passenger rights, according to Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org. While customer satisfaction is up (in June the airlines scored 67 out of 100 – the best in a decade) thanks in part to the Department of Transportation, the rules that govern you as a passenger are being tweaked without notice. (After all, how many times have you actually read the Rules of Carriage when you purchase a ticket?)

For example, some airlines contract out their airplane maintenance to a third party. If that third party can’t provide needed maintenance for some reason, the airline could consider that an “Act of God,” or in other words—something out of their control. This means the airline has no liability. Does this also mean that they won’t do anything to assist you? Probably not, but it does limit what they are required to do for you.

If traveling on the so called “low-cost” airlines you may have even fewer options. Since some low-cost airlines don’t have ticketing agreements with the larger carriers, they are under no obligation to find you another flight on a different airline if your flight is canceled for some reason. For example, in Southwest’s Contract of Carriage their only obligation, if a flight is canceled, is to put you on one of their own alternate flights.

For more information on your rights as a ticket holder, you can visit FlyersRights.org. While there you can also find information on current legislation, help for flyers with disabilities, what to do if you are stranded, and general news and information.

Categories
Business Travel

Which Airline Credit Card is Right for You?

Have you been considering an airline credit card? You really can’t get through an airport terminal anymore without seeing the advertisements or being asked by an airline employee if you’d like to sign up for their branded card. “Earn 25,000 miles just by signing up … that’s enough miles for a free ticket!!” Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall the last time I redeemed 25,000 miles for a free ticket.

My advice? Don’t get drawn into the card just for the initial free miles you’ll receive when you sign up. Look into all the benefits and interest rates, and pick the one that is right for you.

For example, the Delta Gold SkyMiles® card by American Express® has a $95 yearly fee, which is waived the first year. This card offers one free checked bag for up to 9 people on your booking. The card will essentially pay for itself if you and a companion were to take just one trip a year and each check a bag. It also offers priority boarding, which means you should be able to find that coveted space in the overhead bin before the majority of passengers board the aircraft.

If United Airlines is your choice, they have similar benefits with their MileagePlus® Explorer Card by Visa®. United also includes two complimentary day passes to the United Club® every year. The airline clubs are a great place to wait for your flight. You can relax a bit, and avoid the crowds at the gate.

Hotels, and even Disney, also offer their own branded credit cards so you can earn points for room nights and travel packages. So be sure to check out all the benefits before signing up.

You can compare most cards by visiting CreditCards.com.

Categories
Travel Management Travel News

The United/Continental Merger: A Personal Epiphany

I was recently sitting in a client review meeting with our United Airlines sales representative. I, like most, have been extremely frustrated with the immediate results of the United/Continental merger and how it has wreaked havoc in our travel community. But I was pleasantly surprised with how our United representative took ownership of the situation and the difficulties that have surrounded this transition. She actually shared many points about this process and what has been occurring over the last two months.
One comment in particular stood out above all others. She said, “This was the single largest technology conversion in aviation history and we are working through the technical issues that inevitably accompany a project of this magnitude.” From that one statement, it all began to make sense to me.
Perhaps you could call it a personal epiphany, but I decided I wasn’t going to be frustrated anymore. I couldn’t. Anything of this magnitude can’t be easy!
It was then I took a deep breath and decided to just have patience.

Categories
Travel News

Delta Offers New Air Fare Class – Basic Economy

Delta Air Lines has launched a new air fare class called Basic Economy. It comprises the airlines “lowest-priced fares” and does not allow refunds, changes or advance seat assignments.
Basic Economy fares initially are available to customers traveling between Detroit and Orlando, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, but “may be expanded to other markets in the future as determined by Delta,” the carrier noted on its website.
The main difference between Basic Economy and other advance-purchase, nonrefundable economy fares is that ticket-holders cannot select their own seats. Instead, Delta indicated that seats “will be auto-assigned for Basic Economy fare holders during check in.” That goes for elite frequent flyers as well, according to Delta, which called the fare “ideal for travelers who seek the lowest fare option, do not intend to make changes and do not consider seat choice an important part of their travel experience.”
Delta would not disclose the average cost difference between Basic Economy and the next step up on the ladder.
While its price may be appealing to cost-sensitive travelers, the fare requires some new disclosures to would-be buyers. “If the Basic Economy fare is selected, the customer must be notified of all the fare rules. In addition, expectations of the travel experience must be clearly explained,” Delta noted.
Its new “Trip Extras,” for example, is a suite of services that includes priority boarding in certain markets, frequent flyer mile bundles and inflight Wi-Fi access. Additionally, Basic Economy ticketholders “may purchase any available Preferred Seat,” but only at check-in, Delta noted.
For additional information you can talk to your Christopherson Business Travel agent or go directly to Delta.com.
Source: Business Travel News

Categories
Business Travel Travel Tips

Pack Two Weeks in Carry-on Luggage (With No Wrinkles!)

I’ve heard the stories, but I thought they were just that … stories.
Not until I recently tried it did I believe that you could pack for a week (or even two!) using a carry-on sized suitcase (22″ x 14″ x 9″, or 56 x 36 x 23 cm).
The International Luggage Center located in North Salt Lake, Utah has one of the largest showrooms in the world, having over 500 cases to choose from.
You can visit their website here—and be sure to watch their “Power Packing” videos.
I hope you are as pleasantly surprised as I was at what can be done with a 22″ x 14″ x 9″ piece of luggage. Think of it as saving time and money.

Categories
Travel News

A New Player in Atlanta: Welcome Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines will begin service to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on February 12, 2012. Service begins with 15 non-stop departures each day to five destinations: Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Chicago-Midway (MDW), Denver (DEN), Houston Hobby (HOU), and Austin (AUS), with fares starting as low as $79 one-way.
Your checked luggage continues to fly for free and Southwest Airlines does not charge you a $150 fee if your plans change. Go here read more about the new service and their legendary customer service.

Categories
Travel Management Vacation Travel

Lost or Stolen Photo ID?

Have you ever had your photo ID stolen while traveling by air? Or have you misplaced your photo ID and then had that ‘sinking stomach’ feeling when you realize it is required to board your flight? The TSA has provided us an answer to this problem on their website along with many other ‘what-if and can I’ scenarios.
For example:
Q.  If I lose my ID during travel, what secondary forms of ID will be accepted?
A.  Passengers who do not have a valid photo ID, such as State-issued driver’s license, should bring any ID or documents they have available to assist in verification of identity.  Passengers need at least two alternate forms of identification, such as a social security card, birth certificate, marriage license, or credit card. The documents must bear the name of the passenger. Also, one of these documents must bear identification information containing one of the following:  date of birth, gender, address, or photo. If TSA can confirm the passenger’s identity, they may enter the secured area, but they could be subject to additional screening.
I found the TSA web-page of FAQs very helpful, and most certainly hope that my photo ID is always with me.

Categories
Travel News

Southwest Airlines Has Aquired AirTran

AirTran made this official announcement:

“May 2nd was an exciting day for AirTran Airways as we become part of the Southwest family. For now, it’s business as usual, but the integration of these two great airlines will soon result in an expansion of already low fares and continued outstanding service for our Customers. 
Announcement Highlights:
+ For now, nothing will change. It’s business as usual.
+ Continue to book travel on airtran.com
+ Your A+ Rewards credits and A+ Elite status are safe.”
If you’d like more info about Southwest’s acquistion of AirTran, click here.

Categories
Travel News

Traveling Green – What is your Carbon Footprint?

In honor of Earth Day last Friday, I thought I would share with you how companies large and small are looking at their carbon footprints. As an account manager, recently I have had companies request data regarding their carbon footprint and miles flown. It got me thinking about who the greenest companies are within the travel industry. Some of the information I was able to find took me by surprise.

Categories
Travel News

Charge me a service fee, please…..

Are there service fees you would be glad to pay an airline? Here are the top five service fees people would be happy to spend their hard-earned money on.
1. Priority Takeoff. Yes, we know the airline has no control over how quickly its planes are allowed to take off. But what if – and this is strictly hypothetical – the airline could pay the tower to push its planes to the front of the line, and then pass the cost of that bribe on to the passengers? I think most passengers would be willing to scrounge up an extra $20 if the alternative were spending two hours waiting to get onto the runway.
2. Expanded Movie Selection. It’s awfully nice of the airlines to offer a selection of movies for in-flight entertainment, but you’re often stuck with a limited selection of family-friendly fare. (Even though the dancing-penguin movie makes us all want to cuddle and eat smores a flight spent with Marilyn Monroe or Marlon Brando might make the flight more…well… enjoyable). What if you could pay $5 to have your pick of any film in the Netflix collection? It would make a long flight a little more bearable if you could watch a movie you actually wanted to see.
3. Buffet-Style Meals. Now that all the airlines charge you extra for in-flight meals anyway, it’s only fair that we get a little choice in our food. So instead of paying a fixed fee for a tray with fixed portions of entrees and sides, why not set up a small buffet in the galley and let passengers pick and choose which items they want on their plate?
4. Cockpit Visit. Remember when you were a kid, and you got to go visit the pilot in the cockpit and see all the awesome buttons? That all went away after Sept. 11, but I’m sure there are some well-off folks who’d be willing to shell out to let their kid have the same experience. Our proposal: Make the parents pay to have a second air marshal on the flight who can escort the kid to the cockpit and make sure he doesn’t hijack the plane.
And my favorite….
5. Priority Disembark. It’s one of the worst parts of flying: You finally finish your flight and taxi to the gate, then have to wait 15 minutes while everyone in front of you stands in the aisle getting their carry-on luggage. What if you could pay a fee to cut to the front of the line? Imagine this: “Thank you for flying with us today. Please remain seated until our priority guests have had a chance to retrieve their belongings and exit the airplane.” Of course, any non-paying guest who tried to make a break for it would be tackled by the air marshal.
Source: Mainstreet.com

Categories
Travel News

United to Retain Economy Plus & Expand to Continental

>United will retain its popular Economy Plus® seating and expand the option to Continental aircraft beginning in 2012, providing more opportunities for customers to enjoy additional legroom and comfort. The decision to maintain and expand Economy Plus across the combined fleet marks a significant milestone in the product integration of Continental and United. It also demonstrates the company’s commitment to provide innovative options to customers that enable them to customize their travel experience with superior products they value.
United offers Economy Plus on all 359 mainline aircraft and more than 150 larger regional jets operated by United Express® carriers. When the multi-year conversion process is complete, the company plans to offer Economy Plus on more than 700 mainline aircraft, including all Continental mainline aircraft, as well as larger regional aircraft. When fully deployed, the new United fleet will provide more than 122,000 Economy Plus seats each day, the largest amount of extra legroom economy seating available to customers of any airline in the world. OnePass and Mileage Plus elite members may confirm extra legroom seats at no charge, and other customers may purchase seat assignments in Economy Plus.
For more information, please contact your designated Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager.

Categories
Travel News

Delta Adding New “Economy Comfort” Section on Long-Haul International Flights

Delta announced a major investment in its international fleet with plans to introduce a premium economy section – “Economy Comfort” – on all long-haul international flights in summer 2011.  The new seats will feature up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline than Delta’s standard international Economy class seats.
The product, which is similar to upgraded Economy services currently available on flights operated by Delta’s joint venture partner Air France-KLM, will be installed in the first few rows of the Economy cabin on more than 160 Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft by this summer.
Customers who have purchased an international Economy ticket on Delta will be able to choose Economy Comfort seats for an additional fee of $80-$160 one-way through delta.com, kiosks and Delta reservations beginning in May for travel this summer.  Complimentary access to Economy Comfort seats will be available to all SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallions; up to eight companions traveling in the same reservation with Diamond and Platinum Medallions; and customers purchasing full-fare Economy class tickets.  Gold and Silver Medallions will enjoy 50 and 25 percent discounts on the Economy Comfort seat fees, respectively.
“Just as Delta is investing in BusinessElite, which is among the industry’s most competitive premium products, it makes sense to offer enhancements to our Economy Class service that provide additional comfort,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president – Network Planning, Revenue Management and Marketing.  “Economy Comfort is one of many elements Delta is committed to delivering to our customers as part of a more than $2 billion investment we are making in the air and on the ground to improve the customer experience and position Delta as a leader in customer service.”
In addition to more leg room and recline, customers seated in Economy Comfort will board early and enjoy complimentary spirits throughout the flight.  These benefits are in addition to Delta’s standard international Economy class amenities, including complimentary meals, beer, wine, entertainment, blankets and pillows. In-seat power will also be available on aircraft equipped with personal entertainment systems which come with free HBO programming and other for-fee content(1). The seats will be designated with a specially designed seat cover.
Full flat-bed seats on all international widebodies by 2013
In addition to investing in the international Economy cabin, Delta today announced it now plans to install 34 horizontal flat-bed BusinessElite seats with direct aisle access in each of its 32 Airbus A330 aircraft by 2013.  With this announcement, Delta now plans to offer full flat-bed seating in BusinessElite on all international widebody flights, or more than 150 aircraft, by 2013.
The new A330 seat, manufactured by Weber Aircraft LLC, will be 81.7 inches in length and 20.5 inches wide, similar to the flat-bed product currently offered on Delta’s 777 fleet. It also will feature a 120-volt universal power outlet, USB port, personal LED reading lamp and a 15.4 inch personal video monitor with instant access to 250 new and classic movies, premium programming from HBO and Showtime, other television programming, video games and more than 4,000 digital music tracks.
Today’s announcements are the latest in Delta’s previously announced plan to invest more than $2 billion in enhanced global products, services and airport facilities through 2013.  In addition to adding the Economy Comfort product and offering full-flat bed seats on its entire international widebody fleet, Delta is upgrading its domestic fleet with more First Class seats and in-seat entertainment; adding personal, in-seat entertainment for both BusinessElite and Economy class customers on all long-haul international flights; adding in-flight Wi-Fi service to all domestic aircraft with a First and Economy class cabin; and building new terminal facilities for international customers at its two largest global gateways – Atlanta and New York-JFK.
Economy Comfort seating will be offered on Delta’s Boeing 747, 757, 767 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft flying long-haul intercontinental routes between the U.S. and Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East and South America (Lima, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago only). Economy Comfort seating is limited and may not be available on all flights. The Economy Comfort Medallion travel companion benefit is applicable for up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation as the Medallion member. Group reservations are not applicable. For companions of Gold Medallion members, fees apply per seat. All SkyMiles program rules apply to SkyMiles program membership, miles, offers, mile accrual, mile redemption and travel benefits, respectively.
(1) HBO programming to begin in July 2011 on select aircraft with personal video-screens; In-seat power and personal entertainment being installed through 2013.  

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

SkyTeam launches iPhone app for passengers

Business travelers are now able to access flight information for any of the SkyTeam Airline alliance members through the launch of their new eSkyGuide  iPhone app.
The new app allows its users to look-up flight schedules, as well as seven-day weather forecast, an airport locator and contact phone numbers for airlines. The app also notifies travelers if the status of their flight changes.
The 13 member SkyTeam Airlines are comprised of Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, TAROM and Vietnam Airlines.
Click here for more complete details about the SkyTeam app.

Categories
Travel News

Southwest Changes Unused Funds Policy Jan 28, 2011

Unused Funds Become Nontransferable in 2011
By Southwest Airlines
By now, you may have heard or read that, beginning January 28, 2011, Southwest Airlines unused travel funds may only be applied toward the purchase of future travel for the individual named on the original ticket. This will apply to all Southwest Airlines unused funds, including those booked through SWABIZ.
Why the new policy? Actually, this policy is not new at all. This has been our official written policy with regard to unused funds all along. However, we have by common practice made exceptions for our customers as a gesture of goodwill. By aligning Southwest’s business with general airline industry practice, we can be prepared for future opportunities such as codesharing with other airlines.
Why now? Remember, the application of this policy does not take effect until next year, but we wanted to provide ample notice so you may communicate and make whatever preparations are necessary in anticipation of this change. Even with this decision to adhere to our Contract of Carriage, our ticketing and fares rules remain among the most Customer-Friendly in the industry–including no change fees!

For additional information contact your Christopherson Travel counselor.
Categories
Travel News

Converging Flight Paths

Infographic from The New York Times – Published: September 27, 2010
By KARL RUSSELL/The New York Times

The deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 led to a wave of mergers that continues to this day. But even as the legacy carriers have been consolidating and growing, they have been losing market share to low-cost carriers. Two of them, SouthWest and AirTran, have just agreed to merge and carried the most passengers in 2009 combined.

Note: Some airlines that merged with others are not shown because their passenger data was not available
Sources: American Transport Association (passenger data 1975-89); Bureau of Transportation Statistics (passenger data 1990-2009)
Categories
Travel News

United – Continental Airlines Merger Closes

On October 1, 2010 the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines received legal approval, allowing the two airlines to operate under a Chicago-based holding company called United Continental Holdings, Inc.
The United Continental merger milestone happened at the end of the same week that Southwest Airlines announced its purchase of Airtran Airways. While the airline industry consolidation has been taking place for many years, the recent combination of Delta-Northwest, United-Continental and Southwest-Airtran has put the consolidation process in hyper-mode.
The merged United-Continental will be based in Chicago and will operate under the United name; it will feature Continental’s logo. The airline will be run by Continental’s CEO, Jeffery Smisek. Both carriers will begin to merge operations in 2011 and a single operating certificate from the FAA is expected by 2012.

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Travel News

Mike Cameron Interviewed in Denver Business Journal Story

recent story about Southwest Airlines trying to get more of the business travel pie.

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Travel News

TSA …. Get ready… Get set… Go!

Starting in May of 2009, here at CBT, we began gathering the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) with each reservation and new traveler profile. Through this process, over ninety percent of our traveler profiles are TSA Secure Flight compliant.The TSA has now given a definite “effective date” for us to pass along!
Starting September 15, 2010, when you are booking travel for November 1, 2010 and beyond, if SFPD is not included in the reservation, your ticket will be inhibited. The quoted or held fare will not be guaranteed until this information is entered into Christopherson’s system. The TSA is mandating that SFPD must be present in all reservations within 72 hours of scheduled departure.

When booking a flight, passengers will be required to provide the following:

  • Full name (as it appears on passenger’s identification document)
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Redress Number (if available, see below)

 
“One of the biggest challenges facing our clients is when they are booking travel for prospective employee interviews,”says Sheila Thorp, CBT Technology Manager. “Even though HR departments cannot ask for the age of a recruit, as the travel booking agency, we are required by law to have it on file in our system. If our clients are having issues collecting the required information, I urge them to contact their Christopherson account manager to set up a process.” She also reiterates, “If you have not updated your CBT profile with all the required information, please login to AirPortal or contact  an account manager at allam@cbtravel.com.”

Redress – for passengers who feel they have been misidentified

Those who believe they have been mistakenly matched to a name on the watch list are invited to apply for redress through the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).  Secure Flight uses the results of the redress process in its watch list matching process, thus preventing future misidentifications for passengers who may have a name that’s similar to an individual on the watch list.  For more information on the redress process, visit www.dhs.gov/trip.
If you would like to know more about these changes, we invite you to visit TSA’s Secure Flight Web site at www.tsa.gov/SecureFlight where you can find a detailed program overview, travel tips, frequently asked questions and more.
 

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Travel News Travel Technology Vacation Travel

In case you haven’t heard….

After a review of Avis Budget’s $1.33 billion bid by Dollar Thrifty’s board of directors, Dollar Thrifty turned down the offer.   Even though Avis’s offer is higher than the $1.13 billion dollar offer in place with Hertz, Dollar has decided to decline Avis’s offer.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set Sept. 8 as the effective date for a new $10 fee on foreign visitors, which will help fund the new tourism promotion program created by the Travel Promotion Act.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car will start delivering electric cars to some non-airport locations in January.
The company will initially deliver 500 Nissan Leaf vehicles to neighborhood branches with the infrastructure to support the cars.
Tourism businesses in the Gulf Coast region could lose between $7.6 billion and $22.7 billion in visitor spending over the next three years, according to research commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association.  In addition to developing recommended actions for the government, U.S. Travel  endorsed an idea  earlier this month where BP would set set up a $500 million emergency marketing fund that would be disbursed as grants to local destinations for information and marketing campaigns.
Spirit Airlines… another fee?  When speaking with an airport employee becomes an option rather than a necessity, Spirit Airlines is thinking about charging for that service, CEO Ben Baldanza told ABC News on Tuesday. “When there’s a way for customers to do it themselves electronically, at that point, we could consider charging a few dollars to interact with a human,” he said. “But if the only way we can do the transaction for you is to talk to a human, we’re not going to charge you for that.”

TSA Week at a Glance: 7/26/10 thru 8/01/10 – www.tsa.gov

  • 8 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
  • 18 firearms found at checkpoints
  • 6 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents
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Travel News Travel Technology Vacation Travel

Christopherson Business Travel…. on the move!

Since we are celebrating our country’s history let’s take a look at some of our own….
Christopherson Business Travel…. on the move!
Sales results 2002 – $79.9 million.  Sales were over $200 million in 2009.
Voice mail implemented April 2003 – The vote is in 75% of our clients surveyed said they would like us to have voice mail and 85% of the employees agreed!
Christopherson billboard advertising campaign 2004 –Remember those great blue billboards with those clever sayings?  “We draw the line at packing your bags”, “Hear that? It’s your bottom line saying “Thank You”, and “Travel Agency for Capitalists and their tightwad CFO’s” to name a few. 
Denver travel agency purchased 2005 – Travel Connections  was purchased which added 14 new team members and $15 million in new travel bookings.
AirPortal® trademark approved 2006– Great news!  The name AirPortal® is exclusively ours.  AirPortal was the beginning of many great things to come from our incredible technology team.
Christopherson selected as #1 in the “Readers’ Choice Awards” survey by Connect Magazine 2007 – The survey was taken among high-income readers in business decision-maker positions.
Christopherson Business Travel and Denver based Andavo Travel Announce Merger 2008 –
The combined operations formed one of the largest travel management firms in the United States and the largest national BCD Travel affiliate.

Christopherson Wins the Alfred P. Sloan Award 2009 – What a great place to work!
And now for some frivolous but ‘thought you might like to know’ facts….
A LONG TIME AGO: Nov 21, 1783 – Who thought then, at the early start of aviation history what air travel would mean. The modern age of aviation began with the first untethered human lighter- than-air flight on November 21, 1783, in a hot air balloon designed by the Montgolfier brothers.
WHAT’S A “QANTAS?” You probably recognize the name of this Australian national airline… but what’s it mean? It’s an acronym for: Queensland and Northern Territories Air Service.
ANY QUESTIONS? As printed on an American Airlines package of peanuts: “Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.”
NO TIME TO NAP: The shortest scheduled airline flight is from the Scottish island of Westray to its neighbor island, Papa Westray. Flight time: 2 minutes!
THINK YOU LIKE TRAVELING? The world’s first travel agency was founded by Englishman Thomas Cook in 1850. Not only did he introduce the concept of the hotel reservation, Cook also personally organized and led the first round-the-world tour, lasting 222 days and covering over 40225 kilometers!
HA! HA! HA!  A young and foolish pilot wanted to sound cool on the aviation frequencies. So, this was his first time approaching a field during the nighttime.  Instead of making any official requests to the tower, he said: “Guess who?”
The controller switched the field lights off and replied: “Guess where!”
And last but certainly not least…
WHAT?!  Hijacking of airplanes was outlawed in 1961.

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Travel Management Travel News Vacation Travel

Combining Business Travel with Leisure Travel

Have you ever been on a business trip and wished you could see more than just the inside of a plane, rental car, hotel room, conference room, etc.?  Well, here is your solution, at least if your business travel takes you to the beautiful state of Utah.
Did you know that Utah has 7 national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion, Great Basin and Natural Bridges), with many more national parks nearby including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde?  We also have 7+ national monuments and plenty of national forests.
Utah has enough to keep everyone happy and busy including everything from snow skiing to water skiing, caving to climbing, cycling to hiking, sailing to flying and ballooning to rafting.  You already know that we have the greatest snow on earth and you can be snow skiing in the morning and hiking Zion National Park in the evening all during the same season.
When you come to Utah, don’t miss out on the natural beauty that is easily within a day’s drive of where ever you may be doing business.  You also won’t want to miss out on some of our great restaurants, Café Diablo near Capitol Reef, the Bit and Spur near Zion National Park, and the scrumptuous local restaurants in the Salt Lake area such as Faustina, The Oasis, The Tin Angel, The Rio Grande and many more.
For more information, please visit the websites of the Utah Travel & Tourism or the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Center
For travel arrangements for business or pleasure the travel agents with Christopherson Business Travel and Andavo Travel will be happy to assist you with the highest level of service.  Please contact us at 801.327.7700, 866.327.7650.   Prepare yourself for an adventure that you’ll never forget and start enjoying your business trips!

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Travel Management Travel News

Travel Insurance: to buy or not to buy?

In a year rife with labor disputes and extreme weather – in addition to all the other things that can go wrong with travel, the question increasingly being asked by travelers is: “Should I purchase trip insurance?”.
Well, you’re in luck because here is a quick 5 point guide that should help you answer that question!
5. What-if’s. Evaluate your “what-if” scenarios.  What if I get sick in another country -will my health insurance cover me.  What if I have to cancel a trip because I’m taken ill or am in an accident? Check your personal insurance policy to see what’s covered when traveling and determine what non-refundable expenses you can afford to lose before traveling.
4.  Pre-existing medical conditions. Examine your policies to see if pre-existing conditions are covered.  Unknown fact: most insurance companies will not cover trip cancellations due to a family member’s illness because that is classified as a pre-existing condition.
3.  Unforseen events. Trip insurance usually only covers disruptions that are unforseen.  For example most providers will not offer coverage for disrupted trips to Europe after April 30 caused by Iceland’s volcano since it is no longer an unforseen event.  On the other hand, they will provide coverage if the policyholder’s hotel is uninhabitable.  As for airline strikes, it is best to determine whether the policy you are purchasing covers the airline you are flying as some insurance companies have a “black-list” of airlines they will NOT cover due to workers who are likely to strike or the carrier is in financial turmoil.
2.  Duplicate coverage. Avoid purchasing policies that cover things like lost or delayed baggage that are typically covered by homeowners insurance.
1.  Above ALL else – DO YOUR RESEARCH. Read the fine print.  Most trip insurance policies don’t cover things like fine jewelry or expensive equipment as part of your checked luggage. You will waste your money if you don’t read the fine print!
For additional information on trip insurance or all things travel related, don’t hesitate to contact your Christopherson Travel Advisor.

Categories
Travel Management

Your airline ticket… five things to remember

  1. You aren’t guaranteed travel  – You should always prepare for the worst, and make sure you know how to contact the airline and any other providers, such as a hotel or cruise line, where reservations could be disrupted by flight troubles.
  2. You aren’t guaranteed a seat – That irritating industry practice of selling more tickets than there are available because passengers with confirmed reservations on a flight sometimes fail to check in continues on.  Can you imagine showing up to a baseball game with tickets in hand, only to be told the game was overbooked?
  3. You can be kicked off a plane – Barefoot passengers, drunk and/or abusive passengers, foul-smelling passengers, or passengers who refuse to buckle their seat belt can all be removed from the plane…Yae!
  4. You can get a refund, sort of -There are two kinds of refunds, voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary refunds apply only to refundable tickets.  However, even nonrefundable tickets can be refunded under certain circumstances. If an airline cancels your flight you’re eligible for a refund or some other form of compensation. Forced situations like cancellations due to mechanical issues, and schedule irregularities that result in canceled flights are all cases where airlines are required to provide a refund or credit toward travel at a later date.
  5. Your ticket is not transferable – You can’t resell your airline ticket. Why? The industry says it’s for security reasons: Who’s to say you’re not buying the ticket for someone on the no-fly list? It could also be argued that the rule is all about forcing you to buy new tickets when you simply want to give a ticket you’ve bought to someone else.
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Travel News

TSA Update ~ DELTA

May 24, 2010 – Delta Air Lines continues to work with the TSA to ensure ongoing compliance with TSA Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) standards. Adherence with the required TSA Secure Flight Passenger Data standards is required for Delta and all airlines for travel to/from/through the U.S. effective November 1, 2010. Specifically, the regulation requires customers to supply the SFPD information at the time of ticketing. This includes full name, date of birth, gender and optional redress number.
Agencies are asked to provide SFPD information by July 1, 2010. While Delta will continue to accept agency reservations without complete SFPD data beyond July 1, passengers whose flights depart on November 1 or later will be required to see a ticket agent if SFPD was not included in their reservation.
All airlines with flights to/from and within the United States will be required to adhere to SFPD standards, including Delta’s joint venture partners – Air France and KLM. These partners are under separate TSA timelines. Specific Air France and KLM TSA Secure Flight information will be communicated separately.
It should only be a matter of time before the other airlines will be making official announcements regarding their timelines. We appreciate your cooperation in helping to be prepared to meet this important TSA requirement.
Additional Resources
• Complete information on Secure Flight can be found at • A complete list of acceptable forms of I.D. can be found at www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/layers/secureflight/index.shtm
• Information on the Redress process can be found at www.dhs.gov/trip
• For more on TSA privacy policies, or to review the system of records notice and the privacy impact assessment, please see the TSA Web site at www.tsa.gov

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Travel News

What Happens When……..

For the second time in less than a decade, we have seen a continental wide shut down of an air traffic system. The first time was in 2001, starting on 9/11 and lasting a little over a week. The second time was last month’s shut down of the European airspace as a result of volcanic ash.
So what happens when a major event such as these occurs? Are the airlines obligated to do anything for you and if so, what? What about hotels and car rental agencies? And cruise lines and tour companies, what do they have to do in such an event? Do you know where to find out what their legal obligations are and what your legal rights are?
As has been discussed here previously the EU and the US have different regulations concerning flight cancellations. Both governing bodies require the airlines to do more when it is something that the airline should be able to control. Similarly, both are more forgiving when it is beyond the control of the airline. In the case of 9-11, it was the government shutting down the airspace and the airlines had no control over that. And in the case of the volcanic ash, well, Mother Nature gets the blame and no one has control over that. Legally the airlines are not obligated to do much for a traveler when it is something beyond the airline’s control. If they cancel your flight, the airline can offer you a refund or they can reschedule your travel at a later date. The first one isn’t so bad if you are just starting your trip and your trip was time sensitive. The second is generally used if travel has commenced or you need to go sooner or later. We saw a great many people opting for the second. At Christopherson Business Travel, we spent hours finding alternative schedules, getting waivers from the airlines and then reissuing tickets for our clients. If, by chance, you had booked your travel direct with the airlines, you would have been the one on the phone for long periods of time to get your new flight arrangements made.
How do you know what the airlines will do for you? Each and every airline flying into, out of or through the US, has what is known as a Contract of Carriage and they must have it available at the ticket counter and the gate should a customer need or want it. Most have them on their websites as well. These contracts will vary from airline to airline so don’t assume that because one airline says one thing, that all of them will say the same thing. While it sometimes seems that the airlines are a bunch of kids playing follow the leader, it is not safe to assume that everything is exactly the same. So when in doubt, get a copy of the contract of carriage and read those parts that are pertinent to your needs.
Now what happens to you if you no show a hotel due to a volcanic eruption? Well, most hotels will waive a no show billing provided you contact them as quickly as possible. If you wait a week or two, well, they aren’t as forgiving as if you either call them as soon as you know that you aren’t going to make it or within a day of your scheduled arrival. I must point out, not all hotels will waive it. There are some hotels that don’t worry about good customer service and/or about creating good will. Here again, if you booked your hotel direct with the hotel or through Hotwire, Priceline or via the hotel chain websites, you will be spending your time and money tracking down the number of who you need to speak with and then calling them. If you booked through Christopherson Business Travel, your agent would take care of this at the same time he or she was taking care of your airfare.
Hotels are generally regulated by local authorities, such as cities or counties and in a few places states or even national governments will regulate them. There is no equivalent to the airline contract of carriage. This makes it much harder to know what your specific rights are and in the cases of hotels overseas can make it very hard to get things resolved in a manner that one would expect.
Car rentals are generally easier since most car rentals are not prepaid or guaranteed with a credit card. If it isn’t prepaid or guaranteed, basically the car rental agency has a car sitting on their lot that they were hoping to have rented to you. You aren’t stuck with a bill for it. Now if you prepaid the car rental or you reserved a car that required a guarantee and you no show, you may find yourself in a similar situation as you would with your hotel. The sooner you are able to contact the car rental agency and explain what has happened, the easier it to get them to work with you. If you did it yourself, well, I’ve covered that already.
Cruises and tours operate more like the airlines than hotels and rental cars. They have contracts that specify what they will and won’t do. The contracts also specify their policies for cancellations. These contracts are very specific as to what they have to do. It is a good idea to go over those before you put your money down. One thing that all the cruise lines and most of the tour operators offer is some form of “insurance” or “cancellation waiver”, that allows customers to cancel for a variety of reasons. Again, these have their own contract and each one varies from company to company, so it is VERY important to read and understand the terms of coverage before purchasing it. One downside to purchasing it from a vendor is that it only covers what you purchased from the vendor. For example, if you are going on a cruise and you purchase their cancellation coverage, it will cover the cruise, but if you didn’t get your airfare through the cruise line or you booked your own hotels or maybe you booked a shore excursion on your own, none of those things would be covered by the cruise line’s cancellation policy. So what are you to do to insure that you get your money back from those items?
There are travel insurance policies offered by third party insurance companies. There are many different options available in the marketplace. They range from policies that cover the minimum amounts and things, to policies that allow you to cancel at anytime, for any reason, that include trip interruption coverage, medical evacuation, to your baggage being lost, stolen or damage. And the idea that you only need insurance if you are elderly or just taking a cruise, isn’t really valid. We had someone who was going to Cancun on a family vacation who ended up in the hospital and couldn’t make the trip. Without the insurance the money spent purchasing the airfare and prepaying the hotel would have been lost. However with the traveler had purchased insurance and was covered. Christopherson Business Travel has agents licensed and trained to sell travel insurance. So when you booking your next trip, take a moment to consider if you want to get travel insurance.
Hopefully we won’t have any more major disruptions of travel in the future however even small disruptions can be trying for the person traveling. Let Christopherson Business Travel help make it a little easier for you by allowing us to utilize our knowledge, contacts and expertise on your behalf.

Categories
Travel News

United, Continental Airlines Announce Merger

United, Continental announce $3 billion merger
United Airlines and Continental Airlines have agreed to a $3 billion merger. The combination — described as a merger of equals — would create the world’s largest airline, with a 21% share of seat miles available in the U.S. market and a 7% share globally. A post-merger United would be about 8% larger than Delta Air Lines. The combined airline will retain the United name and be headquartered in Chicago. The combined carrier will serve about 370 cities in 59 countries, blending United’s extensive Asian network with Continental’s strength in Europe and Latin America. The New York Times (free registration) (5/3) , Bloomberg (5/3) , The Wall Street Journal (5/3) , Bloomberg Businessweek/The Associated Press (5/3)
If you have questions on how this will affect your corporate contract agreements please contact your Christopherson/Account Manager or talk to your United rep Go to www.united.com for additional updates
United, Continental announce $3 billion merger
United Airlines and Continental Airlines have agreed to a $3 billion merger. The combination — described as a merger of equals — would create the world’s largest airline, with a 21% share of seat miles available in the U.S. market and a 7% share globally. A post-merger United would be about 8% larger than Delta Air Lines. The combined airline will retain the United name and be headquartered in Chicago. The combined carrier will serve about 370 cities in 59 countries, blending United’s extensive Asian network with Continental’s strength in Europe and Latin America. The New York Times (free registration) (5/3) , Bloomberg (5/3) , The Wall Street Journal (5/3) , Bloomberg Businessweek/The Associated Press (5/3)

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Travel News Travel Technology

United Now Offers Mobile Check-In

United has installed mobile check-in at its four hub cities – Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles – plus Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth and LaGuardia Airport in New York. Thirty more locations will be offering mobile check-in by summer
Denver joins 43 other U.S. airports, plus Frankfurt, Germany in offering this service. In 2007 TSA introduced the pilot program with Continental Airlines adding shortly thereafter Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airways. For the most up-to-date information as to what airports offer the program and an airline list of cities providing this service; go to the TSA website or each individual airline’s website.
Mobile check-in saves time at the airport by letting you check in and get your eBoarding Pass right from your PDA or web-enabled phone (iPhones, BlackBerrys, etc.) within 24 hours of your departure. It’s the fastest, most convenient way to check in. You must first go to the airlines website to start the process. At the airport, TSA security officers use hand-held scanners to validate the authenticity of the boarding pass at the checkpoint

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Travel News

Passenger Safety or Airline Revenue?

Is it passenger safety or airline revenue that is prompting airlines to more closely scrutinize the size of carry-on luggage that is being used by travelers? On some of my more recent flights I had noticed that many travelers were toting larger carry-on luggage with some of it ending up on the plane, but some of it checked at the gate for no additional fee. I questioned how these travelers made it as far as they did, with obviously oversized carry-on bags, and wondered if it would be just a matter of time before the airlines started charging for bags checked at the gates.
Though I appreciate the efforts of the airlines charging other passengers for luggage that technically should have been checked, I also tend to question their reasons why. Spokespersons for the airlines are indicating that it is passenger safety that they are concerned about, but could it be just another source of revenue?
FAA regulations allow carry-on luggage as large as 22x14x9 inches and passengers will have to get use to using the bag bins airlines provide at the gates to check the size of the carry-ons. Airline employees and even TSA inspectors are keeping a closer eye on the size of bags that travelers are trying to take through security lines and are informing passengers that they need to be checked prior to gate arrival.
The airlines may struggle in the beginning to make this process fair to all passengers, but regardless of the motive, whether passenger safety or airline revenue, it’s going to be harder and harder to avoid the fees charged for bags.
For additional information regarding the ancillary fees being charged by airlines and the revenue generated from these fees, there was an interesting article in USA Today written by David Grossman The paradox of baggage fees: Higher charges, lower profits. or you can contact Christopherson Business Travel (866.327.7650).

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Travel News

For all those business travelers caught in the recent snow storms–listen up!

If you were that business traveler, had booked your travel through Christopherson, and were stranded in any of the recent east coast snow storms; you were in good hands. Why—because the last time you were stranded we took exceptional care of you then. This situation happens every year and every year our agents amaze me in how they service our clients. Here are just a few ways they assisted stranded passengers over the past few weeks.

  • Made the calls to the airlines and were on hold for hours—one agent 5 hours changing an international flight.
  • Provided clients with waivers from the airlines to obtain refunds when they were either unable to make the trip (meeting cancelled) or half way through their trip their return flight was cancelled. If you booked through the airlines websites or online agencies, you had to make the call to the airline and stay on hold for hours. One agent tried for an entire day to change a clients booking through the airline while his client went about his usual work schedule.
  • When passengers leaving to catch a flight, checked the airline websites, and found flights were showing confirmed (not cancelled); contacted us just to make sure. In numerous instances our computer system indicated the flights were cancelled. We then rebooked, reissued, and the traveler showed up at the airport with no surprises. That trip to Florida was made after all to close the business deal.
  • If you were lucky enough to have the airline call and explain just how they had re-accommodated you on another flight to return home only to find out it was two days later than originally ticketed, our agents were able to get you back much sooner.
  • Our after-hour emergency number was available on the weekend allowing for the same type changes, processing of refunds, and rescheduling.

Our many resources provide a “peace of mind” to business travelers whether they are our special numbers to make changes quicker; or, the ability to process airline waivers when changes are necessary so you don’t have to stand in line at the airport. We can provide options, for instances, rebooking your desired flight on another airline and processing the refund for your unused ticket. Time is money. For the price of our low service fee—we’ve got you covered!

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Travel News Travel Technology

What is your Travel GPA?

How do you stack up in the travel market place?  As a company did you meet your travel goals and expectations for 2009?  Did you uitilize your hotel and car rental contracts to the fullest?  How do you compare to companies of similar travel spend and patterns?  What about compliance?  Are your travelers adhering to preferred contracts and vendors?  Is Travel Policy compliance in your focus this year?  What is your Travel GPA?  Do you think you deserve and A or the dreaded F?
Christopherson Business Travel has recently teamed up with a company called….. Travel GPA.  By utilizing this program we will be able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your travel program.

A+ points of Travel GPA:

  • Faster, more meaningful travel data. The data is live and can be scored against internal goals or benchmarked against the GPA database of over 20,000 companies.
  • Pinpoints actionable ways to save money. As an analytical dashboard tool, Travel GPA benchmarks against hundreds of KPI’s (key performance indicators) based on company’s air, car and hotel spend.
  • Grade your supplier contracts vs. Industry Benchmarks. This helps travel managers evaluate effectiveness of negotiated rates in a given market or segment.
  • Drive your program with the ONLY real-time reporting & dashboard. Travel GPA transforms reports in to graphical charts while providing global reporting and analytics solutions in several languages and currencies. Drill down from any data point within a report or dashboard and instantly customize any report by adding or deleting metrics and report parameters.

Christopherson Business Travel and Travel GPA put the world’s most actionable business travel data right in your hands.
Don’t miss the bus!  For more information on how you can become a valued client of Christopherson Business Travel and create your own Travel GPA please contact a Business Development Specialist at allsales@christophersontravel.com.

Categories
Travel Management Travel News

Fees, Fees and more Airline Fees

In the beginning we may have been caught off guard by ancillary fees charged by some of the major airlines, Delta, United, Continental, American Airlines and others, but what is happening now? Are we learning to accept them, ignore them or just plain hate them?
According to a study by ProMedia Travel, many corporations are reporting that anywhere from 5% – 15% of their corporate travel budgets have been consumed by airline ancillary fees. What appears to have happened is that many airlines have ‘unbundled’ their fees, but have not lowered airfare. Consumers are okay with paying fees for items or services that add value to their travel experience, however, they are not okay with paying fees for what use to be included in the cost of their airline ticket such as baggage fees. Checking baggage is an essential part of travel and most people feel should be included in the price of the ticket, the quoted price by the airline, which it isn’t.
Several carriers, such as JetBlue and Southwest, are charging additional fees, but these fees are for services that add value while fares remain reasonable and a checked bag is included. This has allowed these airlines to generate revenue while at the same time keeping their customers happy. JetBlue does this by charging additional for seats with extra leg room and their TruBlue program has no blackout dates, you can use points to book any seat on the plane, points don’t expire and change and cancellation fees are reasonable. Though the boarding process with Southwest can be challenging at times, their philosophy is similar, they don’t charge change or cancellation fees and neither airline charges for the first checked bag, and they use this as a very effective advertising tool.  These airlines are actually turning million dollar profits while the major carriers are reporting multi million dollar losses.  When will the major airlines realize that there is something to be learned from JetBlue and Southwest Airlines?
We don’t necessarily need to become a prisoner to ancillary fees. Travel managers can try using the increased cost of doing business with the airlines as a tool during contract negotiations. The Department of Transportation could make a ruling mandating that airlines display what every passenger considers to be part of a reasonable airline ticket, and then allowing us to ‘opt out’ of items like a first check bag.

Categories
Travel News

There’s A New Sheriff In Town!

In case you hadn’t noticed and honestly how many of us really pay attention to such things, there is a new sheriff in town, okay, maybe not a sheriff but the Department of Transportation (DoT) has certainly made some big changes in the way it does business.  In the past year, it has handed out more fines to the airline industry than it had in any of the previous 5 years.  Most of the fines were levied for violations relating to safety and advertising, yes, the DoT has been after the airlines to tell the truth in their ads.  You know the ads that say fly from New York City to Honolulu for $99.00* one way.  And when you finally find the information listed under the asterisk it has something about based on a round trip fare, plus taxes, fees and surcharges.  Late last year the DoT fined United for misleading advertising and they just caught them again.  So what you say, well, I have to agree with you to a degree, the amounts aren’t big enough to really hurt however I think that they are an indication of which way the wind is blowing.
If that were the only thing happening at the DoT, I wouldn’t be too excited about it.  The really big change is their approach to consumer complaints.  This website allows consumers to file an electronic complaint with the DoT instead of sending one in via the mail. It also has links to allow you to review the monthly data about the airlines performance, or the contact information for each airlines customer relations manager or my favorite one, instructions on how to take an airline to small claims court. This one is especially interesting since the airlines have always maintained that they are immune from action in anything but Federal Court because they are covered by the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. With the Federal Government saying that it’s okay to take them to small claims court I have to wonder what the result will be.
What does all of this mean for you, the traveler? I think the biggest thing is that the DoT has become a little more consumer friendly and less aloof and removed from what impacts the individual consumer.  This should lead to a better balance between the airline industry and the consumer.

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Business Travel Travel News

2010 Travel Forecast…Doom and gloom or back on the fast track!

Christopherson Andavo Business Travel is a member of the National Business Travel Association.  The below article is one of the many we have received from them with regards to travel forecasts in 2010.
The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) — the leading global business travel organization — has provided its members with the 2010 U.S. Business Travel Buyers’ Cost Forecast. This latest installment of the widely-respected annual tool for the U.S. corporate travel industry forecasts the following ranges for changes in travel rates/fares:

Average U.S. Domestic Rates / Fares
Average
rates/airfares
2009
% change
expected for 2010
AIR $299* -2% to +3%*
HOTEL $136 -2% to – 8%
CAR RENTAL $46 -1% to -3%
* Airline ancillary fees may increase the cost
of an airline ticket by 30% or more

With air travel and car rental costs expected to remain nearly flat and hotel rates expected to decline, businesses expect to travel more. That growth in travel is expected to lead to increases in travel expenditures.

  • Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of travel managers responding to an NBTA survey expect business travel volume to grow in 2010.
  • 56 percent of travel managers project their total travel spend to increase in 2010; another 31 percent expect their total travel spend to remain flat year over year

Travel and meetings buyers also expect to see an easing of travel & meeting reductions in 2010.  Compared to the previous year, the percentage of travel managers expecting to see cuts has gone down in the following areas: number of meetings (-27%), non-essential travel and conference (-20%) and event attendance (-15%).
In the new business travel environment, corporate travel managers expect to drive good values with preferred travel suppliers:

  • 70 percent of buyers expect to negotiate better hotel discounts for 2010.
  • More than 30 percent forecast better discounts with airlines, and car rental companies.

Methodology
The  NBTA 2010 U.S. Business Travel Buyers’ Cost Forecast is based on primary findings from an online survey completed by 180 U.S.-based NBTA Direct Members (corporate travel buyers) between the dates of August 13 and September 24, 2009, as well as additional analysis of data collected from sources such as the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Smith Travel Research, IHS Global Insight, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Categories
Travel Management

Airline Fees, Alliances and Saving Money

Airline alliances – what is the fuss all about? Besides the ability to earn a free ticket by flying virtually any airline in the world is there really any benefit to knowing which alliance you should belong to? Well, consider this: “How to make consumer-hated airline fees more digestible” was the subject of a three-day meeting earlier this month of the Ancillary Revenue Airline Conference in Huntington Beach (fancy speak for a gathering of airline executives and businesses that serve the industry interested in finding ways to offer coach passengers separate products and services typically offered as part of the ticket price for business and first class passengers). The New York Times estimates that airlines collected $USD 10.25 billion in such fees in 2008 – a staggering 346 per cent increase over 2006. CLEARLY – fees are here to stay and more likely than not will spread to more services offered by airlines.
Understanding airline alliances – who partners with whom and who offers reciprocity – is one way you can avoid paying the fees being levied against the normal traveler these days. OneWorld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance ALL waive ancillary fees for their preferred customers.
To learn more about how to leverage your airline memberships while keeping a little extra money in your pocketbook over the holidays, call Christopherson/Andavo Travel and our trusted travel advisors will be glad to answer your questions.

Categories
Business Travel

Do I have to sit here?

Many of us as frequent fliers and are always looking for that desirable seat, you know, the one that has the most leg room, the one that reclines and even the one that includes … you guessed it an empty seat next to it. Even though I don’t mind visiting with people I like to take the time that I fly to reorganize my thoughts, read a good book or even take a nap (less the drooling and snoring of course). But as luck would have it many times I’ve ended up in a middle seat only to be entertained by the head bobbing of the person trying to stay awake on one side and the person that thought it would be okay to not take a shower that day on the other. On top of it, my seat doesn’t recline and the person’s in front of me does! I’m thinking the cargo area or even a seat strapped to the wing would be a better option!
Never fear! As a Christopherson client we will do everything in our power to make sure your flight is as comfortable as possible. Even though you may  not be eligible for seats up front in coach or an exit row we will do what we can to get you in that desired seat. Our agents have many years in the industry and have learned the “tricks of the trade”  that allow them to make sure your seating accommodations are pleasing and satisfactory.  We may not be able to perform miracles every time but we will do our best to make sure the extra mile has been taken for you.
If you are interested in plane configurations and where the “best” seats are located on a particular aircraft check out www.seatguru.com. It goes in to great detail to let you know where you should and should not be sitting. Did you know that on  CRJ 50’s that there is a compressor above seats 5 A and B that drips water during take off and that on the CRJ 700 that the window’s  on row’s 14 -17 are all misaligned and looking out of them is difficult? These and many more seat facts can be found on this site.
For more information on what Christopherson can do for you, contact us. Our agents, account management and technology are a perfect combination for your travel program to be a successful one.

Categories
Travel News

Changes and New Ideas

I thought I would discuss some changes that are happening in the industry that you may or not may be aware of.
For example, Qantas has announced that starting in June, 2009, qualified individuals may be assured of getting an exit row seat by paying a fee.  On their long haul flights, such as Los Angeles to Sydney, the fee will be $150.00 in each direction.  That works out to be a little more than $10.00 an hour for a little extra space.  One does have to meet all the usual requirements of being between 15 and 65, able and willing to follow directions and be able to assist in case of an emergency.  The interesting aspect of this to me, pricing aside, is that according most reviews, the exit row seats on the 747-400s and Airbus 330-200 are actually undesirable  seats that lack storage space and are frequently uncomfortable due to the fact that there are fixtures that reduce the amount of room in the seat.  The only aircraft that it seems to make any sense to spend money for an extra row seat is the Airbus 380 and then only if you are getting the rear most exit row.  And even then you are seated next to the self serve bar so you will have people standing in the area that you paid extra for.
As you can see, I’m not sure that’s a great deal.
Then there is the Air New Zealand Promotion, it’s a Matchmaking Flight. The idea is to help Americans and Kiwis to meet and mingle and to find that special someone. One can opt for a pre-flight party in Los Angeles, the flight and then the Great Matchmaking Ball a day after arriving in New Zealand.  So if you are interested in meeting that special Kiwi, this might be the deal for you.
Then came the news that Delta will start charging a $50.00 fee to check a second bag on international flights between the USA and Europe.  This will apply to all passengers who aren’t at least Silver Medallion or higher or members of the US Military traveling on orders.
The one constant in the travel industry is change so I’m sure that we will be seeing more change every day.
JM

Categories
Travel Management

And the fee is?

The other day when a friend of mine was getting ready to leave on a trip and was flying on three different carriers, he asked me what the baggage fee was going to be for each airline. Now for the most part, one can remember the cost of a candy bar, a can of soda pop or even the price for a gallon of milk. But now days, the ability to remember the cost per baggage is like trying to remember what the price of gas was last year at this time. The Airline that you are a frequent traveler on might be easy to remember, but what about all the other two Airlines that my friend is going to board from one city to another in a 2 week time period.
I told him that I thought that the fee was one cost, when in reality, I was wrong. The next day at work I found the cool grid that BCD travel had sent out. Attached is this link for your reference that should be helpful. It seems like sometimes you can find some great airfare, but by the time you pay all the fees for all your baggage, you might be paying the close to the same amount as your ticket cost you. You never know, you might be like my friend. You will either buck up and pay the baggage fees, take a carry on and figure out a way to wear two to three sets of clothes in a two week period or you will ask your travel agent to ship your clothes to you. The 3rd option might end up to be more cost effective in the long run.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell him I charge a fee for the shipping….

Categories
Travel News

Need Miles? Here some ideas

With summer vacations fast approaching and wallets seemingly thinner than they should be, more people are turning to their frequent flyer programs to help lower the expense of their vacation.  Some folks are discovering that their miles have been devalued over the last year or two and suddenly need a few more miles in order to secure the flights that they want.

Here are some options that may allow you get a few more miles.

US Airways is offering double qualifying miles.  The offer runs through April 30th, 2009.  You do need to register prior to traveling.  The url is https://www.usairways.com/awa/Content/dividendmiles/promotions.aspx.
United Airlines has a variety of offers which can be found at: www.United.com/mileageplus under the Airline Promotions section.  These range from bonuses of 10,000 miles for flying on specific routes to triple miles in some markets.  You do need to register in order to gain these benefits. Most of these offers require that travel is completed by late April or early May so you will want to get started as soon as possible.
American Airlines is offering members of the AAdavantage program the chance to earn double elite status miles from now until June 15th, 2009.  You do need to register at www.aa.com/dbeqm in order to get these miles.
Delta Air Lines is currently offering bonuses for flying between Cincinnati and select cities.  The have a weighted or scaled approach to their bonuses.  Travel must be completed no later than the 12th of May, 2009.  The first roundtrip is worth 3,000 bonus miles and by the time you complete your fifth trip you will get 10,000 for your trip.  You do need to register for this trip at: www.delta.com/cvgbonus.
Continental is offering a variety of promotions, including double elite qualifying miles.  Most of their current promotions require travel to be completed no later than May 31st, 2009.  You will need to register at www.continental.com/onepass and go to News and Offers for the specifics.
Other strategies for enhancing one’s miles can including using specific car rental agencies, staying at hotels and participating in their frequent guest programs, or one can get miles by taking advantage of various credit card offers or there are the shopping and service options. 
The car rental agencies typically offer some set number of miles per rental, regardless of the length and cost of the rental.  Generally these offers range between 250 and 1000 miles per rental.  You can use rentals to help build your miles incrementally over the course of a year.
The hotel programs generally allow you to convert their points into frequent flyer miles.  Depending on the program, it may not be worth converting the points to miles since the points can be used for free night stays.
The credit card programs frequently have hidden costs ranging from fees to utilize miles, to higher interest rates or fees to transfer points to miles.  My advice is to do your homework to make sure that the program works for you before signing up.
The shopping and services option that most airlines now are can be a gold mine of miles.  You can get miles for purchasing everything from music at iTunes, to buying dinner, to purchasing electronics at Best Buy.  Plus you can get miles for using Netflix, or Brinks Home Security or T-Mobile or for using partners when you do your mortgage or when you make investments through select brokerage firms, just to name a few options.  If you are going be spending the money for shopping or if you need to get a mortgage or you are buying an investment or any number of other services, why not get miles for it.
Last but by no means least, you can purchase a limited number of miles directly from the airlines.  So if you find that you are short by 1000 or 5000 miles, you can buy enough miles to get you to that next award level. 
Hopefully you will find that some or all of these ideas are helpful and allow you to maximize your miles and allow you to enjoy your summer vacation at little or no cost to you.

Categories
Travel News

TSA Secure Flight

What the TSA is going to require starting May 1st, 2009, is as follows:
1. The name on the ticket MUST match the name on the valid government issued photo ID presented at check in and at the TSA security checkpoints. This means that if the ID reads “John Q. Smith”, then the ticket must read “John Q. Smith”. If there is a name mismatch the traveler may be subjected to extensive secondary screening and may be forced to miss the flight or may even be denied boarding.
2. At the same time, the TSA is requiring the airlines and travel agencies, acting as an agent of the airlines, to gather the following information and submit it through the GDS to the TSA. We must submit the full name, including first, middle and last name, gender and date of birth. This must be done for every flight entering, departing or fly through the airspace of the United States. It is not required for flights that don’t enter that airspace. So fights between Sydney and Brisbane are exempt.
To be accurate, this is voluntary. A traveler may opt out however in doing so the traveler may be subject to additional screening or denied transportation or authorization. Also, the TSA may share information provided with law enforcement or intelligence agencies or others that it deems necessary.
See www.tsa.gov for more details about privacy.
So what does this mean to you, the traveler?  It means that whatever source you use for booking your travel will be asking you for more details about yourself.  You are likely to get the following questions.  First, how does your name appear on the identification that you use when you check in at the airport?  Second, what is your full, legal name, date of birth and gender?  If you are booking with an agent, you may not be asked about your gender however online booking sources will be asking that question.  You have the right to decline to answer any of these questions, however you will potentially be subjected to extra screening and the TSA reserves the right to deny you entry into secured areas, such as the boarding areas.  That would cause you to miss your flight.
That won’t be the only impact it has on travelers.  It may impact your frequent flyer accounts, hotel frequent guest programs and car rental programs.  Since most of these reward programs require that the name on the reservation match the name on the account this may cause some issues if your name on your identification doesn’t match the name on the program.  For example, if your frequent flyer account is in the name of John Public and your government issued photo id is in the name of John Q. Public, the name on your reservation isn’t going to match your frequent flyer account and therefore you won’t earn miles and you won’t get any of the benefits of your status.  So what do you need to do?  You need to contact the airline in question and change the name on your account to match the id that you use when you check in.  A word of caution here, if you travel internationally, the id that you will be using to check in with the airlines will be your passport and yet most people don’t carry their passport with them when traveling domestically and thus use their driver’s license as their photo id at check in.  You may want to make sure that both your passport and your driver’s license names match as well.
Okay, so you’ve started to change your name on all of your identification so that it matches and you’re changing your frequent flyer accounts to match your id.  All is wonderful and you are pretty much done, right? Wrong!  You will want to insure that all the hotel and car programs have the same name as your photo id.  Why?  Because when your reservation is made the name that goes on your ticket will be the one that your car and hotel are booked under and if those account numbers don’t match, you may not get your points and the perks that your status entitles you to.  So you will want to contact those companies as well and change your name to match everything else.
The bad news is most of the companies involved say that it will take four to six weeks to change your name on your account.  The good news is that you’ve got that at this point.
Given that this program doesn’t start until the 1st of May, unless it is pushed back again, it will take a while for it to ramp up since many people have already booked travel well into the summer months and their names don’t match exactly.  Our suggestion is to get started now and hopefully by the time that the TSA and airlines get this up and running, you will be ready to go.
Happy Travels!

Categories
Travel News

Welcome

We would like to welcome you to the Christopherson Business Travel blog. When I say we, I do mean “We” as this blog will have a number of contributors who will be covering a wide range of topics and issues. We are really excited by the prospect of being able to discuss many topics that impact the business of travel and the life of travelers. We hope that you will find this blog interesting, useful or fun and that you will come back to visit it frequently.
Some of the topics that I will address over the coming months include things like frequent traveler programs, travel related news that I think you might find useful or interesting or what our friends at the TSA are planning on doing next.  As an example of what you might find is a short blog on how to gain more miles or how to keep them from expiring due to inactivity.  Or I may discuss the ever changing world of airline fare rules, baggage rules and assorted fees being charged.
I hope that you will find this blog worthwhile and enjoyable.