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Summer is Coming! Book Your Travel Now & Lock in Lower Prices

I realize that March has only just begun, but in the travel industry that means that now is the time to start planning your summer travel, a fact that is perhaps more true in 2012 than in previous years. There are a number of reasons why this is true:
1.  The airlines have continued to reduce their capacity over the last three years, so there will be fewer discounted seats on each and every flight. This means that everyone will be paying higher fares this summer. Also, when there are flight disruptions due to weather or other events, it will take longer to re-accommodate everyone since there are fewer seats to work with.
2.  There are signs that the economy is starting to rebound and travel is too. So the potential is that there will be more people flying this summer than the two previous summers. More people, mixed with the aforementioned reduced capacity, will result in crowded skies and higher fares.
3.  Fuel prices are on the rise. Given that airplanes gulp down vast quantities of fuel, the slightest change in price then results in higher fuel surcharges that the airlines then pass along to consumers to cover the cost. Depending on who you listen to and what happens in the world, the price of fuel may jump from 25% to 200% this summer. For example, when Iran announced that it was cutting off exports of oil to Britain and France, the price of a barrel of crude jumped roughly 25%. Within 48 hours of that, a number of international carriers announced that they were going to be increasing their fuel surcharges between 10% and 15%. If that situation continues to worsen, it is very likely that speculation will drive the price of fuel up sharply. If this happens, expect airfares to follow.
So what should you do? Plan ahead and lock your prices in now while they are lower. Once your ticket has been issued, the airlines cannot come back to you asking for more money. But if the price drops after you purchase the ticket the airlines will refund the difference, less their administrative fee. This means that the drop in airfare would need to be significant in order to make it worthwhile pursuing that refund. However, the potential for savings is fairly significant if the pundits are correct about the price of fuel.

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Travel News Vacation Travel

Summer is coming!

As we make our way through this wild spring, with snow in the Rockies and storms in the Midwest and East, it may be hard to remember that summer and summer travel is only a few weeks away. Most of the year, road-warriors make up the majority of travelers in the country. However, starting with the Memorial Day Weekend and generally not ending until Labor Day Weekend, there is another group of travelers that make up a significant percentage of those traveling: families on vacation. Every year these two distinct groups seem to collide at the airport. The challenges start with the TSA screenings and continue all the way through the journey.
Here are some suggestions that may help reduce these conflicts:

  1. Everyone should know what can and cannot be carried on and what has to be checked. For specifics, you should call your travel agent. Especially if you are traveling with odd sized or over sized items, such as bicycles, surfboards, golf clubs or pets.
  2. Everyone should know what the TSA will permit through the security screening. For details visit www.tsa.gov and look for the section on the right side of the page entitled “What to Know Before You Go”. It has a number of links to topics that address what you can and cannot take through security. It also has suggestions on how to get through security as fast as possible.
  3. Plan on things taking a little longer. Give yourself an extra 15 to 30 minutes when you are heading for the airport. While we all hate to give up more of our time to waiting at the airport, the extra time will make the process less stressful and may be the difference between making or missing your flight.
  4. Try to dress in a manner that allows you to quickly prepare for the screening process and then quickly move on afterwards. Slip on shoes, no change in your pockets, a watch that is easy to remove and similar actions will speed you through security.
  5. Make sure that you follow the rules concerning liquids and gels. Find out how much you can carry on and how it has to be packaged. The TSA is very strict about contents, containers and amounts.
  6. If you are taking electronics through, be sure that you are familiar with the rules and guidelines on how to pack them. If you are taking a laptop, be sure to remove it from the laptop bag.
  7. Plan on things not going perfectly and always have a backup plan. This means if for some reason you get delayed, you know what options you have to pursue. Or if you booked your trip through Christopherson Business Travel, know the number to call your agent. Your agent will help you find alternatives and can work with the airlines to get you re-accommodated on another flight.
  8. Always remember to pack your sense of humor and your patience. You will need both of them more times than not.

Now those who travel all the time may feel like that this is all old news. But based on my last couple of trips, I would venture that a number of people could stand to brush up on a few of these points. We were all new to traveling at some point, and experienced travelers need to remember that when encountering less experienced travelers. And inexperienced travelers need to take responsibility by planning ahead and learning what is necessary to make life easier on all concerned.
Happy Travels!

Categories
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.