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Business Travel Travel News

Expect Delays At San Francisco International Airport This Month

If you’re flying in or out of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) this month, there’s something you should know. From September 7 – September 27, two of its runways are under construction. The runway closure is causing major delays and cancellations, both on domestic and international flights, and shorter flights more affected. Here’s what you need to know and the best tips to avoid a travel issue at SFO. 

Why is construction causing delays? 

The construction project for SFO’s runway 28L was planned, but is causing flight delays and cancellations nonetheless. The runway typically serves 68% of the airport’s flights. With only two other runways operational, it’s no surprise issues are occurring. For comparison, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has five runways, and Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has eight. This past Sunday, 266 flights were delayed and 52 were cancelled by 4pm. Though seemingly high, it is significantly lower than the previous Sunday, with 358 flights delayed and 137 cancelled.

The time frame of the project was slated for September, specifically to avoid inclement weather. As you can imagine, escaping temperamental fog and rain can be difficult in the Bay Area. Precipitation is usually low at this time of year. Airport traffic is also lower, dipping between summer travel and holiday travel. Construction started September 7, and is scheduled to be out of use until September 27. A bit of good news though, airport officials said last week that crews reached the halfway point of the project two days ahead of schedule.

What can I do to avoid flight delays or cancellations?  

Unfortunately, not much. If you must fly through SFO this month, plan for a two to three hour delay. The airlines are also doing their best to reduce travel issues. Legacy airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, are waiving change fees during the dates of construction. Alaska Airlines and Southwest have adjusted timing of their flights and warned travelers to expect delays. Here are some other tips for flying through SFO this month:

  • If your plans are flexible, change your travel to a different day or time. SFO suggests flying out before 9am, when flight delays typically begin. 
  • If possible, fly out or into a different airport. Oakland International Airport and San Jose International Airport are both close by. 
  • If your plans are set in stone and cannot be changed, expect delays. Download the airline’s app to stay up to date on your flight’s status. Your flight may be delayed, but you could at least you’ll avoid spending it in the airport.

 

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Contact us to learn more about our consultative approach to account management or schedule a demo of our AirPortal technology. 

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Southwest Airlines Will Require CVV Code in Booking Process

UPDATE – Southwest Airlines recently announced they are postponing the CVV requirement for booking from June 17, 2019 to a later date. Though not required now, a credit card CVV code will likely be needed to book travel in the near future. It is still recommended that you contact your Christopherson Account Manager and update your credit card information.

Does your company book travel with Southwest Airlines? If so, it’s important you know this information. Starting June 17, 2019, Southwest Airlines will require the credit card CVV code to complete their booking process. Fortunately, this update is a tiny one that requires minimal action. Unfortunately, if not completed by June 17, it will cause disruptions and declined transactions on Southwest Airlines tickets.

Reducing fraud through CVV codes

The credit verification value, or CVV code, is the three or four digit number on debit and credit cards. It can be found on the back of VISA, Mastercard, and Discover cards, or on the front of American Express cards. Providing the CVV code at the time of purchase confirms to online merchants that you have the physical credit card or debit card in your hands during the transaction. It is one technique that helps reduce fraudulent purchases. Southwest is the first airline to require CVV information on booking reservations, but others are predicted to follow soon. Visa is also requiring the CVV code in order to purchase online air tickets.

What does this mean for your corporate travel?

Finding the CVV code is pretty easy when you can just pull it out of your wallet. The process becomes more complicated when multiple departments or travel partners are involved. Some companies use one card managed by a Travel Manager. Others allow individual employees to book travel themselves with their own corporate credit cards. Understanding how your company books travel is the first place to start.

If Southwest Airlines is one of your carriers of choice

We’ve outlined the easiest way to update your CVV code to avoid any future delays or disruptions. How does your company book travel with Christopherson?

  • One company card is used to book travel: Contact your Christopherson Account Manager to update the credit card information with the CVV code. They will also verify additional card information, names, and billing addresses to ensure your account is current.
  • Travelers book their own travel with individual credit cards: Advise your travelers that they will need to provide their credit card’s CVV number whenever they book a reservation with a Christopherson travel advisor. Your travelers can also easily book Southwest through your online booking tool where the CVV code is not required.
  • A company card is used to book travel AND travelers book with credit cards:If the majority of your employees book their own travel, but a company card is used for contractors’, interviewees’, or lower-level employees’ travel booking be sure to contact your Christopherson Account Manager, as well as notify your travelers of these updates.

As we work to ensure no disruption to your travelers and protect your company against fraud, we appreciate your partnership and proactivity to this update. If you have any additional questions about updating the CVV code, please contact your Account Manager.

 

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Travel Industry Travel News

Airlines Updating Overbooking Policies

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you have probably noticed recent scrutiny over airline’s overbooking policies. In the wake of an event on a United Airlines flight, these processes and its protocol have heavily been in the media. In response, most major airlines are updating overbooking policies.

What is overbooking?

Overbooking is the process of airlines overselling seats on most flights. Using advanced algorithms airlines estimate the number of no-shows or canceled tickets. This allows them to fill flights to capacity, while saving on fuel costs and keeping ticket prices low. Read our recent blog for everything you need to know about overbooking.

Updates made to overbooking policies

United:  Their new policy says passengers will not be removed from the plane once they have boarded. Also, local police will no longer be used to forcibly remove passengers. And crew members will not be allowed to bump passengers from planes. They will require one-hour advanced notice of the plane boarding, or wait for a later flight.

Delta: Though still allowing displacement of passengers once they have boarded the plane, they raised their compensation rate.  Originally capping at $1,350, it is now $10,000. Compensation has also been increased at the gate, from $800 to $2,000.

Southwest: This airline has said they will end overbooking policies completely. Gary Kelley, CEO of Southwest said to USAToday, “We’ve been taking steps over the last several years to prepare ourselves for this anyway… As we have dramatically improved our forecasting tools and techniques, and as we approach the upcoming implementation of our new reservations system on May 9, we no longer have a need to overbook as part of the revenue management inventory process.”

American: They have updated their Conditions of Carriage policy to no longer allow passengers to be removed from the plane once it has boarded. They also stated their compensation has never been capped, and it will remain that way.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Everything You Need To Know About Airlines Overbooking Tickets

We all nonchalantly agree to this when we book a flight, but the fact of the matter is that all major airlines overbook their flights, often leaving travelers in the lurch. Overbooking came into the spotlight this week when a United passenger was forcibly removed from a flight, leaving many of us wondering the extent of enforcing this policy.

It’s standard practice for airlines to sell more tickets than the plane has seats, anticipating a few cancellations and missed flights. Rather than having half empty planes take off, extensive calculations are been made determining the probability of no-shows. Additional tickets are then made available based on these solutions. The video below from Ted-ed perfectly summarizes the process and statistics behind overbooking.

Though overselling results in more profits for the airlines, not having enough seats on a flight is still a common occurrence. According to the video above, about 50,000 people get bumped off their flight each year.  Overbooking processes are outlined in each airline’s “contracts of carriage” policies, which passengers agree to when tickets are purchased.

What happens when a flight is oversold?

Federal rules require that airlines must first ask if any passengers will voluntarily give up their seat. Airlines can individually decide on compensation, but typically a travel voucher or gift card is given.

If passengers are unwilling to voluntarily to give up their seats, airlines are then allowed to bump fliers involuntarily. Every airline has a different policy on how they decide who is denied travel as well as their compensation.

  • United – Excludes individuals with disabilities and unaccompanied minors. Priority is then determined by passenger’s fare, class, itinerary, status of frequent flier membership, and order of check-in.
  • Delta – Decided with regards to priority boarding rules and elite status and check-in order and cabin.
  • JetBlue – JetBlue claims they never overbook flights, but have information in their contracts of carriage if a situation arises. Passengers denied boarding involuntarily will receive $1,350 dollars.
  • American – Usually deny boarding based upon check-in time, but may include additional variables such as severe hardships, fare paid, and status within AAdvantage program. Compensation and protocols differ for domestic and international transportation.
  • Spirit – Unaccompanied minors and people with disabilities are excluded. The last customer to check in will be the first to be involuntarily removed first from an over booked flight.
  • Southwest -The last Passenger who receives a boarding position will be the first Passenger denied boarding involuntarily in an oversale situation, with no preference given to any particular person or category of fares. Compensation differs based on their readiness to get the passenger on anther flight.

How business travelers can avoid being involuntarily removed for oversold flights

Getting to your meeting on time is tricky enough when you’re a frequent business traveler. It’s best to keep additional possibilities to a minimum.

  • Check-in early
  • Acquire elite or member status through the airline

 

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. We’re focused on getting our travelers to their destination smoothly, and with limited headaches for the travel manager. Contact us to learn how we do it.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Southwest is raising early bird check-in fee

Southwest is currently not raising fares or charging bag fees but they are raising the fee of their EarlyBird Check-in service. Originally starting at $12.50, it now could cost $15 to $25 each way. The cost to the traveler will depend on the length of the flight and popularity of EarlyBird on that route.

What is EarlyBird Check-in?

EarlyBird Check-in is a Southwest service that automatically checks travelers in before the standard 24-hour time frame. By paying for this additional service, the traveler has the opportunity of being one of the first on the plane. If you are unfamiliar with Southwest’s boarding system, the seats are claimed on a first come, first serve basis. The boarding passes are arranged with different boarding groups (A, B, or C) and a boarding position (1-60). Passengers line up and board the plane based on the group and position. By paying an additional EarlyBird check-in fee, there is additional opportunity of being assigned in the boarding groups A or B, with a higher position number. This gives ample opportunity of grabbing the best seat and first access to the overhead bins.

This is not the first EarlyBird fee increase from Southwest

Originally, EarlyBird was introduced in 2009, charging only $10 each way. It later increased to $12.50, and then to $15 in 2016 (at the time of the original posting of this post).  Another criticism of the service is there is no guarantee of  being in boarding group A, or with a top boarding position number. It will be interesting to see if the service is as successful with this fee increase with no upgrades to the service itself.

Christopherson Business Travel is a travel management company, specializing in business travel. We have been in the travel business for over 60 years, and provide custom mobile technology tools and superior customer service. Contact us for more information on our services or traveler assistance dashboards.

 

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Travel News

Competition is Good for the Consumer

Economics 101 says “Competition is good for the consumer,” or at least that’s what I was taught early on in life.
But it also means a bit more work for the competing companies. Which is perhaps the reason some are questioning Southwest Airlines’ desire to use the Hobby Airport for international flights to Latin America.
Southwest is willing to pay for an international terminal along with a customs area, but they’re running into roadblock after roadblock both from United Airlines (who is currently the only airline in the area offering flights to Latin America) and from some members of the Houston City Council.
Some believe that if Southwest is allowed to pursue this venture then the price of airline tickets will go up. But with no competition, doesn’t United have the advantage to set prices anywhere they want?
Additionally, wouldn’t a new international terminal at Hobby create more jobs and drive fares down due to the competition between the two airlines?
I guess there is always two sides to every story, but I still believe that competition is good for the consumer. And I’m a consumer.

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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.

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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.