MTS Traveler Newsletter Masthead

Delta Offering New Economy Comfort Seats

Purchase an international economy ticket for a flight of six hours or longer on Delta, for travel beginning June 1, and upgrade to an Economy Comfort seat for a fee of $80 – $160 one-way depending on the length of the flight.  Besides more legroom and improved seat recline, purchase of Economy Comfort seats will include complimentary spirits, beer and wine, plus blankets, and pillows.  In-seat power will also be available on most aircraft equipped with personal entertainment systems.

The Economy Comfort fee is waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion Skymiles members. Gold and Silver Medallion customers receive a 50 percent and 25 percent discount, respectively.  To learn more about Economy Comfort, please click here.

Terms & Conditions:

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. We reserve the right to assign or reassign an Economy Comfort seat at any time, even after boarding of the aircraft, for operational, safety or security reasons. The final decision resides with the ground staff and the operating crew on the day of the flight. In the event you have paid for and are not accommodated into an Economy Comfort seat you are entitled to a refund in the amount paid for the upgrade. All SkyMiles program rules apply to SkyMiles program membership, miles, offers, mile accrual, mile redemption and travel benefits, respectively. To review the rules, please visit Membership Guide & Program Rules.

Airfare Transparency Rule Changes Gives Back to Passengers

Thank you to all of our clients and friends who signed the letter last month that we sent asking for your assistance in urging U.S. House and Senate representatives to change the rules to require airlines to make their fees transparent. Your efforts were noticed, and while the airfare transparency issue is not completely settled, progress has been made.

Airlines now must disclose hidden fees, pay back your baggage fee if they lose your bags and pay you more for bumping you-as much as doubling the amount in some instances. The new rule also expands the ban on lengthy tarmac delays. What it doesn’t do, however, is to require airlines to display full fee information on any platform selling airline fees. Right now, it only requires airlines to provide all fee information on their own websites, but not to travel agencies or travel management companies.

We will continue to fight to have this information more readily available to us, so that we can better assist you with travel cost management.

State Department Issues Summer Long Foreign Travel Alert

The State Department’s worldwide travel alert issued after U.S. Special Forces units killed Osama bin Laden advises Americans to exercise caution if they’re in areas more prone to anti-American violence. Click here to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for travel updates, information and security issues. We recommend this to all international travelers.

The Business Platinum Card Pays for Itself

At an annual fee of $450, the American Express Business Platinum Card offers these benefits as a return on your investment:

● Receive up to $200 Airline Fee Credit to cover incidentals with the airline of your choice

● Get 20% Travel Bonus when redeeming with Membership Rewards® Pay with Points.

● Airport Club Access Worldwide – complimentary access for you and up to 2 travel companions.

● Platinum Office Program – access 1000 internet-equipped business lounges in 450 major cities worldwide

● Fine Hotels & Resorts – receive room upgrades upon availability, continental breakfast, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, and a special amenity at over 600 properties worldwide.

● Open Savings® – save 3-10% on business expense with companies like FedEx, Hertz®, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts®, and more

● Business Protection – protection on your purchases and insurance coverage that gives you added peace of mind when you travel

● Business Platinum Concierge – access a team of consultants on hand to help you with just about anything personal or professional

Apply here for your American Express Business Platinum Card.

Bypass Immigration and Customs With Global Entry

Your time is valuable.  The last thing you want when you arrive in the US after an international flight is to wait in line when you get off the plane.  Global Entry is the perfect solution for frequent international travelers and automates CBP entry and eliminates the paper customs declaration.

Doug Risser from our office recently applied for the program and did his personal interview during a layover in Atlanta.  The online application took about 15 minutes and was approved in about a week.  The interview and fingerprint scan took 20 minutes.  His traveling companion used Global Entry in Atlanta and said he had no wait on entry and it was simple to use.

Global Entry is in place at 20 US airports with international arrivals.  There is a $100 application fee and authorization is valid for five years from approval.  American Express consumer Platinum Cardmembers qualify for reimbursement of the $100 fee.  Click here to apply or contact Doug with questions.

United / Continental Drop Checked Bag Discounts

The airline had been offering discounts of $2 – $3 for passengers who prepaid for checked bags online. The carrier announced last Friday it had discontinued the discounts. The charge for domestic flights operated by Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. is now $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second, no matter how or when you pay. United and Continental used to offer a $2 discount on the first bag and $3 off the second to encourage passengers to pay before arriving at the airport.

For more information on United and Continental baggage fees, click here.

Check the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) Prohibited Items List

If an item you are traveling with is not on the prohibited list supplied by the TSA, don’t assume that it is allowable. The TSA page of prohibited items is not complete and a further step may be necessary. There is a fill-in form that you can use to ask about specific items. Recently a client of ours traveled with ink and toner cartridges and was able to check the restrictions before getting to the airport, saving time and frustration.

Click here to access the fill-in form.

Delta Customers Can Now Track Checked Bags

Delta has introduced baggage-tracking on its website. From the site, you can see if your bags have been loaded off an aircraft, said the airline. You will need the last name of the passenger’s bag and either the Bag Tag Number or the File Reference Number. Click here to access the Delta Baggage Tracking website.

Note: A recent change now mandates that baggage fees must be refunded if a bag is lost (not delayed).

Earn National’s Emerald Club® Rental Credits at Enterprise

Earn Emerald Club rental credits at participating Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations, including more than 6,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. This greatly improves your ability to achieve Executive® or Executive Elite® status and earn Free Rental Days on your Emerald Club account.

Fill The Gas Tank Before Returning A Rental Car

With the high cost of gas these days it pays to fill the tank as close to the return car rental site as possible. Five of the eight major companies, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty, charge customers who don’t refuel at a gas station or prepay for gas at least $7.99 per gallon at most airport rental locations. Hertz tops them all with $9.29 a gallon according to USA TODAY. Car rental companies say they are not in business to sell gas and do so as a convenience for customers. Last year, Hertz took in $43.7 million in refueling fees.

Prepaying for gas is sometimes a good deal and sometimes not. If you don’t use the full tank it becomes the property of the rental company. Most renters are unable to plan their trip so precisely to ensure they are returning a vehicle on empty.

Airline Fuel Surcharges Set Record

United, Continental, Delta and rival U.S. carriers have added a record $420 in fuel surcharges to round-trip European fares to compensate for rising oil prices. (Emirates has eliminated their fuel surcharges) Across the industry, surcharges are as much as 50% greater than those put in place when fuel prices reached a record three years ago. In 2008 fuel surcharges were $330 for a return transatlantic fare. Jet fuel has become airlines’ biggest operating expense, surpassing labor and climbing to an average $2.96 a gallon from January through March, up 41% from a year earlier. Fuel surcharges between the U.S. and some countries in South America are as much as $580 round trip today, up from $390 in 2008. The fee on flights between the U.S. and Sydney is $500 now, compared with $220 in mid-2008.

Spring Break 2012 Travel Tip

Next year Easter falls on April 8, the last day of most local schools’ spring break. If you plan to travel over this holiday, you will want to reserve your flights into this area earlier than usual to get the best schedules.  Reservations are available now for Spring Break 2012.

Kalamazoo Completes Airport Terminal Renovation

Direct Air, American and Delta offer flights out of the newly improved Kalamazoo Airport.  $39 million was spent on their new two-story, 92,000-square-foot energy efficient terminal.  The new terminal offers improved convenience and comfort for passengers, and it will help retain and attract airlines to serve the Kalamazoo area.

Delta Retires 130 Aircraft

Over the next 18 months, the old DC9’s Delta acquired in the merger with Northwest, are being retired along with the Saab Turbo-Prop fleets and 60 50-seat regional jets. The airline will reduce planned capital expenditures by $300 million to $1.2 billion for 2011.

New Skywalk Opens in Indianapolis

Pedestrians in downtown Indianapolis may now travel via a new skyway from the Crowne Plaza Hotel to the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Stadium without going outdoors. The 97-foot-long Crowne Plaza Skywalk, which opened on March 18, crosses Capitol Avenue. It’s part of the Indianapolis Downtown Skywalk System, which connects Circle Centre mall, the Indianapolis Artsgarden and many hotels and downtown businesses. www.visitindy.com.