MTS Traveler Newsletter Masthead

American Express Cardmember Travel Privileges Expanded
Take advantage of these new Travel Benefits for Personal and Small Business Platinum and Centurion Card members.

1. $200 Airline Fee Credit – Check a bag or enjoy an in-flight meal on American Express. Every year American Express will cover up to $200 of incidental airline fees that are charged on the Cardmember’s enrolled Card on a selected airline. The $200 Airline Fee Credit can apply to fees such as baggage fees, flight change fees, in-flight food and airport lounge day passes.

2. 20% Travel Bonus – When Cardmembers use Membership Rewards Pay with Points to pay for part or all of their travel including airlines, hotels, cruises and vacation packages, they will get 20% of those points credited back to their account. For example, redeem 30,000 points to pay for an airline ticket, and American Express will credit 6,000 point to your Membership Rewards Cardmember’s account.

3. American Express® Travel App – This complimentary mobile app will help keep travelers informed with flight alerts, an airport lounge locator, airport guides and more.

Free WiFi For The Holidays
Passengers who want to surf the Internet while they fly on AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin America, can do it for free this month. This is a holiday gift the carriers and Internet providers hope might lure fliers to pay for the WiFi later. Google is offering free in-flight WiFi through January 2. The carriers use Gogo Inflight Internet, which typically charges $4.95 for access during short flights and up to $49.95 for multiple prepaid in-flight sessions.

Winner of Elkhart County Thanks4giving Raffle
Pictured: Deb Mangas (Menno Travel), Jim Shea (Fairmont), Janet Walls and Pam Hluchota (United Way Board Chair)
Congratulations to Janet Walls, the 7-night Palace Resorts package winner from the United Way of Elkhart County Thanks4giving Raffle last month. Menno Travel Service is proud to provide Janet with a seven day all-inclusive resort package (including airfare) to Mexico. Now would be a good time to book that trip south, Janet!

Delta Adds Recharging Stations At Airports
Delta plans to roll out recharging stations in 19 airports across the U.S., including its seven domestic hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York Kennedy and Salt Lake City. There will be two Delta recharging stations available at each passenger gate area. Each station will feature six standard, 110-volt outlets and two USB ports. Recharging pads designed for smartphones and mobile devices will be available in all domestic Delta Sky Club locations.

Recharging stations will also be installed at airports in Boston, Columbus, Ohio; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Nashville; Norfolk, Va.; Omaha, Neb.; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and St. Louis.

Delta increases availability of Preferred Economy Seats
Delta expanded the number of Preferred Economy seats by up to 40%. That’s good news for Delta Medallion members and bad news for anyone else trying to get advance seat assignments.
Also, Delta used to release those seats to the general public 24 hours prior to flight time. Now they won’t be released until 2 hours prior.

Delta Sky Club Now Open At Indianapolis Airport
Delta Air Lines opened its first Delta Sky Club at Indianapolis International Airport. Located inside security on Concourse A, the new 4,800-square-foot Indianapolis Sky Club is the first and only premium airport lounge for business travelers in the state of Indiana. Available to Delta Sky Club members and their guests, as well as American Express Platinum cardmembers flying Delta, the club offers complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and Wi-Fi, wireless charging pads for smartphones, as well as personalized flight assistance, satellite TV and computer workstation access.

Rental car companies improving customer satisfaction
According to a recent J.D. Power consumer survey, Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranks highest in customer satisfaction for the seventh consecutive year. National Car Rental is second and Hertz ranks third.

The survey, which polled consumers who rented cars at airports in North America during the twelve months ended in September, looks at six factors to measure overall customer satisfaction: costs and fees, pick-up processes, rental car, return process, reservations process and shuttle bus or van service.

The increased satisfaction scores indicate that staff that had been reduced in the past two years has begun to be added back and rental companies have started to add newer and lower-mileage cars to their fleets.

Electric Cars Coming to Hertz
Hertz will began renting electric cars this month through its Connect by Hertz car-share program, a membership program that enables members to rent cars on a per-hour basis, with New York as the launch market. In 2011 they will be available in the Hertz Car Rental fleet. Hertz is offering one of the Smart models, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, starting Dec. 15. After the New York launch, Hertz plans to bring electric rentals to Washington and San Francisco in early 2011.

Down the road, other models will include the Nissan Leaf, the Coda and Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, as well as electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius Plugin Hybrid and Chevy Volt. Hertz plans a “full-scale deployment” of electric cars in U.S. and international markets next year.

Three Reasons Why Airfares Are Likely To Rise
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average domestic airfare jumped 13% from $301 to $341 in the second quarter of 2010 vs. the previous year. That $341 fare was 3.8% more than the previous quarter and represented the fourth consecutive quarterly fare increase.

United Airlines’ average fare for the first nine months of this year is up 25% vs. a year ago. Even Southwest Airlines, long considered the budget standard, reported an average fare increase of 15% for that same period, and Southwest’s average airfare paid has increased 23% over the past three years.

According to David Grossman in USA Today, there are three primary reasons why airfares will continue to rise:

Capacity cuts and rising demand
According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), available seat miles (ASMs) for domestic travel declined by more than 12% between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009. As the increase in travel demand has exceeded the supply of available seats, passenger load factors, or the percentage of occupied seats, jumped from 75.3% to 78.8% during the first ten months of 2010 vs. 2009. Higher load factors inevitably lead to higher airfares.

Prolonged period of higher oil prices
All airlines are affected by rising oil prices, but one airline has felt the impact more than most: Southwest. With their cost advantage from hedging oil prices now history, Southwest has had to raise its prices to remain profitable, and the rest of the industry has followed.

Changing business model for low-cost airlines
So called “low-cost” airlines look more like network airlines every day. As these airlines mature, their operating costs are on the rise. These costs include flying from larger “hub” airports with higher costs and more congestion. Southwest’s absorption of Air Tran will add a second aircraft type, further increasing operating costs.

These additional operating costs, combined with higher oil prices and rising travel demand outstripping capacity will contribute to upward pressure on airfares. So, in answer to the age-old question about the best time to book your next flight: It may be right now, as all signs point to a continued climb.

 

New York City Hotel Capacity Soars
New York City is planning to open 33 hotels by the end of this year. Six of these will be high-end properties including the InterContinental New York Times Square, Hyatt’s latest Andaz on 5th Avenue, a Gansevoort on Park Avenue, the W New York-Downtown, a Conrad in Manhattan, and an Embassy Suites in the Financial District.