MTS Traveler Newsletter Masthead
Serving our clients since 1953
November 2010

Secure Flight Has Arrived!

On November 1, airlines began requiring additional passenger information to comply with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program.  The program was developed to allow for uniform watch list matching by TSA to identify known and suspected terrorists.  We have been collecting this information from our clients for many months now, to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Passengers must provide the following information  at the time of booking:
• Full name as it appears on passenger’s government-issued ID
• Date of birth
• Gender

Missing information will prevent us and the airlines from issuing tickets and travelers from printing boarding passes.  This is why we have been working with our travelers to update their profiles on a regular basis.  We want everyone to have a hassle-free travel experience! For more information, visit  http://www.tsa.gov/secureflight.

Get 20% off at Four Points Hotels

Menno Travel Service clients receive 20% off a 2+ night stay at Four Points when the reservation is made through our office and paid with any American Express® Card. This offer is valid thru December 31, 2010.

Earn FREE Rental Credits With National’s Emerald Club

You achieve Executive status with National Car Rental after 12 rentals or 40 rental days and Executive Elite status after 25 rentals or 85 rental days, each within a calendar year. Membership is valid for the remainder of the year you qualify, plus 14 months.   Among additional benefits with Executive status you earn one free day with 6 Rental Credits.  This is decreased to needing only 5 Rental Credits to earn one free day with Executive Elite status.

Booking Tip: As an Emerald Club member, always begin the rental process by reserving a Midsize car. Then choose any size, make or model from the Emerald Aisle®/Executive SelectionSM area — you’ll only be charged the reserved Midsize rate.

Emerald Club membership fees are waived when registered through Menno Travel Service!

New Limits On Using U.S. Dollars In Mexico

A new Mexican law limits the use of U.S. dollars for purchases made in Mexico.  Payments made with credit card, Travelers Checks, pesos and non-American foreign currencies (including Canadian dollars) are not affected.

Hotels and exchange booths in Mexico will only change a maximum of $1,500 U.S. dollars per person per month into pesos.  Businesses in Mexico will only be able to accept a maximum of $100 U.S. dollars per transaction, but the number of transactions per customer is not restricted.  Certain businesses may not accept U.S. dollars at all.

If you are traveling to Mexico, be prepared to pay for purchases with a credit card, Travelers Checks or Mexican pesos.  Purchase Mexican pesos from Menno Travel Service, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  We take cash only and a valid driver’s license is required when purchasing foreign currency.

South Bend Airport Enjoying Increased Passenger Traffic

August reports from South Bend Regional Airport show that total passenger traffic at SBN was up 5.32 percent over August 2009—the first increase since April 2008. Competitive prices, nonstop flights to vacation destinations, hub connectivity, travel agency support, and affordable parking all contribute to the airport’s growing popularity.

Nearly every SBN carrier experienced an increase. Allegiant Air, whose passenger totals were up 35 percent, United Express reported a 5.9 percent increase and Delta Air Lines, reported a 3.9 percent increase over August 2009.  These increases can be partly attributed to a 5.1 percent increase in seat capacity and the addition of Allegiant’s nonstop flight options such as Phoenix/Mesa.

What You Need To Know About Rental Car Rates

Hidden costs on rental cars can drive up the price in a hurry.  To help keep the price down, or at least have a better understanding of the rates, here are some general guidelines:

Rental agencies located just off the airport grounds often offer cheaper rates than those located on higher-priced airport real estate. The cheapest alternative may be a location in the city.

Cities can levy all sorts of bizarre taxes and surcharges for expansion projects in addition to standard sales and excise taxes.

Rental companies may charge fees for shuttle bus service from the airport to the rental car location, energy surcharges, etc.

Gasoline purchased from the rental company as a “refueling charge” is usually sky high; more than the overpriced gas stations just outside the airport grounds. Fill up just before you return your car and make sure you have a receipt to prove it.

Now that states are moving to electronic toll-collection systems, you may be sold the option to pay through operations such as PlatePass. Some companies actually charge  a $2.50 daily fee even when you don’t use the system to pay tolls.

On a daily rental, these additional fees may double the price you eventually pay. On a weekly rental, they could make up 50 percent of the cost. Make sure to check the final price to get the best view of your options when comparing quotes.

New Nonstop Service to Brazil

Delta Air Lines has new nonstop service to  São aulo, Brazil from Detroit.  Service will operate twice weekly through December 15, when it will increase to five days each week to coincide with the start of the Brazilian tourist season.

Continental Merges With United

Continental has completed the merger with United Airlines®. For now, it’s business as usual. Each airline and frequent flyer program will continue to operate separately. The merger won’t affect miles in your account or your elite status:

  • Both United® Mileage Plus® and Continental OnePass® miles and programs remain unchanged. You will continue to receive all current benefits, and you will earn miles, points and segments as usual. You will also continue to be able to earn and use miles on 28 Star Alliance™ airline partners.
  • When flying Continental, you should continue to use continental.com for flight  check-in, and Continental kiosks or Continental ticket counters at the airport.
  • When flying United, you should continue to use united.com for flight check-in, and United kiosks or United ticket counters at the airport.
  • Red Carpet Club® and Presidents Club® members will continue to enjoy access to each other’s lounge network, as well as to Star Alliance network and affiliated lounges around the world. Also, Red Carpet Clubs offer free wireless Internet access and a selection of complimentary alcoholic beverages.
  • Coming later, elite members will enjoy reciprocal access to complimentary elite upgrades and preferred economy seating on United and Continental flights. United elite members will have access to Continental’s preferred seating, and Continental elite members will have access to United’s Economy Plus® seating.

The full integration of United and Continental is supposed to take between 12 and 18 months. More information, including FAQs, is available at continental.com.

There’s An App For TSA

TSA Offers Mobile Phone App – The Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) has developed a free app for iPhones and mobile Web devices to help travelers get all the information they need about security at the tip of their fingers. The new app includes a “Can I Bring My ____ Through the Security Checkpoint?” tool that will tell you if your item can be brought onto a plane in carry-on or checked baggage. Check it out at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/mobile/index.shtm.

And, about that vacation you’re planning to take…

Join Our 2011 Hosted Group Cruise Departures:

Southern Caribbean Cruise, Hosted by Tim and Marisa Yoder
February 26 – March 5
Tim and Marisa Yoder are long time residents of northern Indiana.  Tim is a partner in Yoder-Culp Funeral Home in Goshen and active in many local organizations including Kiwanis.  Marisa is a retired school teacher who has extensive travel background in Central and South America.  Join them on this escape from winter to the warm and beautiful Southern Caribbean.
Contact Tara Nisley at 574-975-7766 or tara@mennotrav.com for more information.
Additional information also available on the home page of www.mennotrav.com.

Alaska CruiseTour, Hosted by Geof Landis and Liz Gunden
August 11 – 22
Geof Landis, President of Menno Travel Service, and his wife Liz have traveled throughout Europe and North America.  They enjoy traveling with others and are excited to share the amazing wonders of Alaska with you.
Contact Maureen Russell at 574-534-1521 or moe@mennotrav.com for more informtion.
Additional information also available on the home page of www.mennotrav.com.

Travel Free With “Pay With Points”

Most American Express cards are eligible to earn  Membership Rewards points which can be redeemed for travel at Menno Travel Service!  Simply book your travel the way you always do with Menno Travel and we will redeem your points for payment.   Companies can save money by using their rewards points for their corporate travelers and individuals can save on their vacation expenses.

If you are not an American Express cardmember, contact  Geof to learn how you or your company can begin earning and using Membership Reward points.