Menno Traveler – April 2014

~ a newsletter for our business travelers ~

Meet Brooke Kaiser, Menno’s Newest Travel Professional
Brooke grew up in Syracuse, Indiana and is a 2012 graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington with a B.S. in Recreation/Park and Recreation Management. She most recently was Curriculum Coordinator at New Beginnings Preschool and Day Care in Milford, IN.

Brooke is learning all aspects of travel, included our Worldspan airline reservation system and the many, many preferred suppliers and American Express programs used to bring value and credibility to planning travel for our customers.

You might meet or hear Brooke as she spends time job-shadowing our staff and working in our Sales Assistance Center, answering phones and greeting walk-in customers.

We are excited that Brooke has chosen travel as her career and Menno Travel as her place to work! Welcome Brooke!

Doug Risser Retiring May 1
Doug Risser joined Menno Travel as his first “real” job out of college back in 1972.  From his start as a domestic agent to Manager in 1980 and as Co-Owner with Geof Landis since 1995, he has worn many hats, including marketing, group and incentive travel (he loved that!), financial oversight, and general management.  Although Doug has always enjoyed the benefits of being in travel, he and Sharon will travel even more starting May 1.

Doug and Sharon will continue to host cruise groups for American Express Travel including an Imperial Capitals of Europe river cruise with Uniworld at the end of August and a Spice Route cruise in December from Chennai to Singapore via Myanmar, Malaysia, and Phuket with Azamara Club Cruises (information on both of these are on Menno Travel’s website).

Doug is proud that in his more than forty years with Menno Travel, the Goshen office has built a reputation for ethical dealings, has high employee retention, has always been profitable, and is solid financially.  Menno Travel is recognized nationally within the travel industry through involvement with the American Society of Travel Agents, ARTA, NTA, American Express Travel, and others.

Doug will “retire” to manage The Exchange Business Suites, the completely remodeled office space on the second floor above Menno Travel (see related article).

Employees Who Take Vacations Are More Productive
Research shows that people who take more than two weeks of vacation are less likely to have a heart attack. In addition, time off improves the employees family life and social life. Research shows that business productivity actually grows when workers take their time off. They come back refreshed and recharged.

Employers could do a better job of encouraging their staff to use their paid time off. Americans are working themselves to the bone with no personal benefit other than working hard.

Better yet, use travel to motivate employees, awarding trips for a job well done or meeting a deadline! Contact Dorothy Shirk to purchase employee travel rewards certificates.

Preparing for Summer Travel
While this past winter had more travel disruptions than usual, the fact is that more flights are delayed due to weather in the summer than during the winter.  Thunderstorms can appear on short notice, unlike this winter where we were often notified of cancelled flights days in advance and could re-accommodate you before you ever left home.  Let Menno Travel manage all of your reservations from one record so that one call to us or our emergency after-hours service will change your air, car rental, and hotel reservations.

Local Company Commends Delta Air Lines for Signing Tourism Code of Conduct
We would like to recognize and congratulate Everence, a local company offering banking, financial and insurance services, for encouraging Delta Air Lines to sign The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism (also known as The Code).

The Code is an initiative supported by ECPAT-USA (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes).

To avoid becoming unwitting facilitators of traffickers, the travel and tourism industry – including airlines, hotel chains and travel agencies – are being asked to scrutinize their operations. Through participation in The Code, companies will strengthen their formal human rights policies to include building awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery among clients and guests, and educating employees to help authorities uncover traffickers and protect potential victims.

Everence, through Praxis Mutual Funds, joined other ICCR members in a series of dialogues over several months. Led by Sr. Valerie Heinonen of Mercy Investment Services, the conversations encouraged Delta to take the lead among U.S. airlines by signing The Code.

More information is available on ICCR‘s website.

Make your voice heard by clicking here and thanking Delta for participating in The Code.

Delta’s New SkyMiles Mileage Earning Structure Not Popular with Businesses
Delta’s new frequent flyer program that will base earnings on ticket price starts January 1, 2015. Delta says the new redemption structure will create more flexibility and expand on ways to use miles.

The Business Travel Coalition recently released the results of a survey regarding this change, and some 82 percent of all survey participants agree that as airlines seek to maximize total revenue per passenger, and add ancillary fees to traveler financial incentives for the purpose of calculating award points, that travel policy will become more difficult to maintain adherence to; 84 percent say the new programs will result in higher prices paid for by their companies.

Airlines have the right to change their frequent flier programs, but it is thought that airlines will secure higher yields and revenues from the vast number of less frequent business travelers for whom new incentives to earn valuable perks will be compelling.

Because airlines do not provide fee data to their partners and customers, an insufficient level of ancillary fee transparency and tracking can lead to traveler abuse where out-of-travel-policy services are purchased.

Click here for complete details of Delta’s 2015 SkyMiles Program.

American Updates Award Travel Levels and Checked Bag Policies
Passengers traveling on American on miles they earned or who paid full price for an economy seat won’t get free checked bags anymore.

US Airways is ending blackout day for redeemed miles, but American is changing the number of miles needed to get an unrestricted free flight. More miles will be needed on popular travel days, fewer on less-busy ones.

According to the Associated Press, mid-tier elite members (platinum on American; gold and platinum on US Airways) will get two free checked bags; a reduction of one for the US Airways’ Dividend Miles elites.

And lower-level elites (gold on American; silver on US Airways) will get one free checked bag, a reduction from two for the American customers.

For complete information on award miles, visit the American Airlines award chart.

For complete information on baggage policies, visit aa.com/baggage.

United Adds 500 New Electronic Charging Stations
United Airlines began installing nearly 500 electronics charging stations in customer seating areas at many of the airports United serves. Chicago O’Hare was first to be outfitted with more than 110 of the new charging stations in Concourses B and C by the end of March. Next will be Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington Dulles hubs in the coming weeks as well, along with New York LaGuardia and Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. Each of United’s new charging stations offers access to six, 110-volt power outlets and two USB ports, enabling customers to charge a range of electronic devices simultaneously.

United Airlines Cracking Down on Oversized Carry-On Bags
United is getting tough on passengers with oversized carry-on bags, even sending some of them back to the ticket counter to check their luggage for a fee.

The airline has started a push to better enforce rules restricting the size of carry-on bags – an effort that will include instructing workers at security checkpoint entrances to eyeball passengers for bags that are too big.

United has new bag-sizing boxes at most airports and sent an email to frequent fliers, reminding them of the rules. The size limits on carry-on bags have been in place for years, but airlines have enforced them inconsistently, rarely conducting anything beyond occasional spot checks.

United says its new approach will ensure that bags are reliably reviewed at the security checkpoint, in addition to the bag checks already done at gates prior to boarding.

Passengers are typically allowed one carry-on bag to fit in the overhead bin, which can be no larger than 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches. Fliers can also bring one personal item such as a purse or laptop bag that fits under the seat in front of them.

People flying with oversized bags can have the suitcase checked for free at the gate, a longstanding practice. But those who get halted at the entrance to security must now go back to the ticket counter and pay the airline’s $25 checked-luggage fee.

The Truth About Hotel Rates
It’s Complicated! – Recently one of our corporate customers had four executives at a Holiday Inn Express in New Jersey.  Our corporate agent had booked them a rate of $145 per room, per night for a King bedded room.  A walk-in hotel guest checking in next to them was offered a rate of $109 for a room with a double bed. Furthermore, the desk agent told the guest that he could have had a rate of $99 if he had booked on the hotel’s website.

Our customers questioned how the rates could fluctuate so much and the manager explained that the reservation that we had booked for them was a refundable, non-prepaid rate with a confirmed King bed. The $109 rate was a non-refundable hotel direct rate for one double bed for a single guest, and the $99 rate was a hotel website non-refundable, advance purchase rate for a double bed for a single guest.

The truth is that Menno Travel can find you the best unrestricted rates (i.e. not prepaid, “opaque”, non-refundable, government rate, etc.) and pre-paid, non-refundable, advance purchase rates. Most business travelers need or want their hotel reservations to be “changeable”, so the pre-paid, non-refundable rates tend to be purchased more often in our leisure department.

Delta’s Innovation and Marked Improvement on Flight Delays
Scenario: The crew of Delta Air Lines Flight 55 couldn’t legally fly from Lagos, Nigeria, to Atlanta unless they waited a day due to new limits on how much pilots can fly in a rolling 28-day period. The trip would have to be canceled. Instead, Delta headquarters told the captain to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico, which they could reach within their duty limits. There, two new pilots would be waiting to take the Boeing 767 on to Atlanta. The plane arrived in San Juan at 2:44 a.m., quickly took on fuel and pilots, and landed in Atlanta only 40 minutes late.

The episode, unorthodox in the airline industry, illustrates the fanaticism Delta now has for avoiding cancellations. Last year, Delta canceled just 0.3% of its flights, according to the flight-tracking service FlightStats.com. That was twice as good as the next-best airlines, Southwest and Alaska, and five times better than the industry average of 1.7%.

On 72 days last year, Delta didn’t cancel a single one of its 2,500 flights. “We’re posting numbers that we’ve never seen in our industry,” said Delta President Edward Bastian in an interview. Bad storms, of course, still cause massive airline cancellations, even at Delta, and airline officials say they are quicker to cancel when storms are forecast. This year’s cancellation numbers will be higher because of the harsh winter storms-two major ice storms in Atlanta already caused more cancellations for Delta than it had all of last year. But Delta has had more zero-cancellation days this year compared with the same time last year and expects to return to the lowest percentage of cancellations among U.S. airlines again before the end of April.

Delta Providing Sleep Kit Amenities on Long-Haul International Flights
Delta introduces new sleep kits and several updated amenities for passengers seated in the Economy cabin on long-haul international flights. Sleep kits will include individual eyeshades plus earplugs to help customers get better rest when travelling between continents. Finally the airlines are bringing back free stuff in economy class!

8-Hour Time Lapse Photo of Take-offs at LAX

Enjoy a look at what took a day and 370 photos to do: LAX time lapse take-offs

 

Look for Throwback Thursday Posts on our Facebook Page
Last October Menno Travel celebrated our 60th Anniversary.  We dug deep looking for interesting pages and articles from our history.  We’ve enjoyed looking back and want to share some with you.

Among the posts on our Menno Travel Facebook page have been Throwback Thursday postings sharing memories, with many photos of employees both current and past.  You might especially enjoy Geof’s photo wearing his “snazzy” plaid suit from more than 30 years ago!

We invite you to share the fun with us by “liking” us on Facebook.

New Business Suites Available above Menno Travel Office
The Exchange Business Suites, in downtown Goshen above Menno Travel, celebrated its opening on Friday, March 7, during Goshen’s First Friday event.

“The Exchange offers four secure suites that can each house three or more people in a setting that is comfortable and modern, yet private and secure when needed, and with casual collaborative space including a coffee and sitting area, conference room, storage areas, and modern restrooms,” stated Doug Risser, who is developing the space with his wife, Sharon.  “Among the striking features are the large windows facing onto Main Street in the two front suites”.

At present, the entire second floor is available with almost 4,000 square feet of finished space.  Rent is $2,200 plus utilities.  Rates for individual suites and a rent-a desk options vary according to size, view, and amenities.

Complete information on The Exchange is online at TheExchangeGoshen.

O’Hare’s International Terminal 5 Renovation Revealed!
O’Hare International Airport and retail developer Westfield unveiled a long-awaited $26 million renovation of its international terminal. Terminal 5 first opened in 1993, well before 9/11 and the resulting onslaught of security. As TSA lines were added, they blocked access to about 95 percent of the terminal’s dining and retail options, which meant travelers were limited if hungry or thirsty after clearing customs.

Construction started in July 2012, adding more than 18 restaurants and retail shops, including 11 local Chicago brands, such as Rick Bayless’ modern Mexican eatery Tortas Frontera, the Italian eatery Tocco, the artisanal market Goddess & Grocer and the coffee roaster and retailer Kofe powered by Intelligentsia. Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is opening four locations, including casual eatery Hub 51, Asian restaurants Big Bowl and Wow Bao, and R.J. Grunts Burgers & Fries.

Supreme Court Rules for Airline that Kicked Frequent Flier off its Plan
The Supreme Court decided unanimously recently that an airline had the right to dump a frequent flier who complained too much. The decision allows airlines to have sole discretion to drop frequent fliers. The case involved Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, who was ousted from Northwest Airlines’ WorldPerks loyalty program for complaining too often about getting bumped from flights and repeatedly seeking compensation the airline considered unfair. The airline argued that frequent-flier programs operate at the sole discretion of the airline. Airlines said they can’t tailor their programs to a patchwork of consumer laws from 50 states.

Support Ruthmere and Win a Trip to Highclere Castle, The Real Downton Abbey!
Ruthmere, three historic properties, gardens and events in Elkhart, Indiana has teamed up with Menno Travel to make this dream trip come true for one lucky Ruthmere member and a guest.

New Ruthmere members at the Individual and Family Membership levels as well as current Ruthmere members who renew at their existing membership level will receive one chance to win.

“TRIPLE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING”
New members who join at the Patron level or higher will receive three chances to win. Renewing members who increase their level of membership in 2014 will also receive a total of three chances to win.

On December 31st, 2014, one Ruthmere member’s name will be drawn as the winner of a 5-day, 4-night trip for two to London, England, worth $5,000.

Visit www.Ruthmere.org to donate online and receive your chance to win this trip. Terms and conditions apply.