~ a newsletter for our business travelers ~

Ronda Morris Moving to Menno Travel Corporate Department We are happy to announce that Ronda Morris is joining Jill Mann, Dee Miller and Ron Yoder in our Corporate Department. Most recently Ronda worked in our Group Department handling group travel including corporate incentive trips. Ronda is a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) and former owner of Destinations Travel Service in Warsaw, Indiana. Ronda began her travel career in 1983 at Warsaw Travel and joined our staff in January 2012. In the past she handled corporate travel for a top orthopedic company in Warsaw.

Ronda is looking forward to working with you and servicing your travel needs.

Menno Notifying Travelers with Unassigned Seats Because more airlines are charging for advance seat assignments or not allowing advance seat assignments at all, we have started to track and notify our travelers of their booked flight without a seat assignment. Menno Travel programming guru, Kendal Sommers, has set our quality control program to check our reservations for seats or improve seat assignments.

Sometimes we are able to secure a paid advance seat assignment. Sometimes the seat can be assigned at check-in, 24 hours prior to the flight.  Otherwise, seats are generally assigned when the traveler arrives at the airport.

Why is this happening? Airlines routinely block 30%-40% of coach seats for premium customers, people with special needs or available only for a fee. Facing the likelihood of getting a bad seat at check-in, sitting apart from children or even getting bumped from an overbooked flight, many travelers feel pressured to pay for a reserved seat.

Tickets do come with seats, of course, and airlines say almost all customers without seat assignments get them at check-in or close to departure. They may be lousy seats, or seats split from family. And in some cases, the person who doesn’t have a seat assignment is the one involuntarily bumped from the flight. That’s rare, but it does happen and is a major source of traveler anxiety.

Jill, Dee, Ronda and Ron will do their best to use all of our resources to secure your seat assignment!

Looking for Customer Feedback
Recently our Corporate Travel Specialist Jill Mann was invited to attend a corporate staff meeting to discuss travel. Travelers and travel planners had the opportunity ask questions and provide feedback. Our customer appreciated the opportunity to have one-on-one time with Jill and we appreciated the suggestions on how we can improve our service to them specifically.

If you would like a Menno Travel representative to come to your company meeting to talk about corporate, leisure or group travel, please feel free to contact Geof Landis or your corporate specialist. We welcome your feedback and look forward to serving you better.

Lufthansa Charging Seat-Selection Fee On April 28, Lufthansa began charging a fee of $35 for advance seat selection on certain booking classes on long-haul flights. Passengers who select seats at check-in (up to 23 hours before departure) will not pay a fee. Lufthansa has charged for seat selection on domestic, European and northern Africa flights since November; those fees are $15.

South Bend International Airport St. Joseph County Airport Authority Board President Tom Botkin announced that South Bend Airport (SBN) is becoming South Bend International. The Airport team, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is working to build a General Aviation Facility and a Federal Inspection Station. Both of these facilities are under design with construction expected soon. The project will be paid for with a combination of federal, state and airport funds. Airlines have expressed interest in serving South Bend to Mexico and the Bahamas. We will keep you informed as we receive more information.

American Adds Flights from Fort Wayne to Philadelphia and Charlotte New flights from Fort Wayne to Philadelphia. PA and Charlotte, NC are set to take off in October. Air service to the North Carolina city is particularly attractive because it often serves as a gateway to major East Coast or international destinations.

Notre Dame Home Football Games 2014 Making plans for fall travel? Keep these dates in mind for flying into and out of South Bend and the surrounding areas. Make reservations now if you know you will be traveling during this time so you are not disappointed with a sold out flight.

Aug. 30  –  RICE
Sept. 6  –  MICHIGAN (night)
Oct. 4  –  STANFORD

United Changes MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program United Airlines changed its frequent-flier program, basing MileagePlus awards on dollars spent rather than miles flown. Frequent fliers will earn five miles for every dollar spent, while those with premier status will earn accelerated rewards. For example, Premier Silver fliers, the lowest premier tier, will earn seven miles per dollar, while Premier 1K fliers, the highest tier, will earn 11 miles per dollar. The new earning structure will not affect the way members qualify for premier status in 2015, the airline said.

The change mirrors a move by Delta Air Lines earlier this year. Surcharges, such as those for fuel, will be included in the base fare for award-purposes, while taxes and airport charges will not. The switch took effect March 1 and applies to flights on United, United Express and most United-issued tickets for flights on the company’s airline partners.

American Airlines, the only network carrier to continue to base awards on miles flown, will likely follow suit by switching to a dollar-based award system. American probably won’t announce a change until its merger with US Airways is further along next year, with changes potentially taking effect in 2016. Southwest Airlines, the biggest carrier at Chicago Midway, and JetBlue Airways already base awards on spending rather than miles.

Corporations now more than ever will need to pay attention to travel policy to ensure that their travelers are not booking higher priced tickets for their own personal benefit. Contact Geof Landis to discuss your company travel policy.

Delta Charging for First Checked Bag to Some International Destinations When traveling in Economy Class between the United States or Canada and Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic and between Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, your first checked bag will now cost $25. Some international markets will continue to receive the first checked bag free. For complete Delta baggage information, please visit:  http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/baggage.html

Southwest Offers Mobile Boarding at all U.S. Airports Southwest Airlines now offers mobile boarding passes at all U.S. airports. You can use your smartphone or other electronic device to get through security checkpoints and board aircraft. Southwest passengers also can use the airline’s new mobile app and website to check in for flights.

AirTran to Fly Last Flight December 28 AirTran will fly its final flight December 28. The flight, from Atlanta to Tampa, is a reprise of the airline’s first flight on Oct. 26, 1993, when the airline was called ValuJet.  Southwest closed on its acquisition of AirTran on May 2, 2011.

The two airlines will operate as separate carriers until AirTran flies its final flight.  As AirTran planes are transferred into the Southwest brand, the AirTran network will gradually decrease.  You can purchase both Southwest and AirTran flights in one itinerary. Frequent flyer rewards will continue to be earned on each airline and then will be rolled into the Southwest Rapid Rewards program at the end of the year.

Delta flying to Seoul from Seattle Delta now operates nonstop service from Seattle to Seoul, Korea. This is the fourth nonstop international route added from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in a year, including London-Heathrow, Shanghai-Pudong and Tokyo-Haneda. On June 16 they will add nonstop service to Hong Kong.

40% Of U.S. Travelers Now Get Expedited ScreeningForty percent of the U.S. traveling public now passes through expedited airport security screening lanes, due in large part to the expansion of the TSA’s PreCheck program. The PreCheck program allows “low-risk passengers” to pass through security checkpoints while leaving on their shoes, light outerwear and belts, and keeping laptops and allowable liquids in carry-on bags. The program now is at 118 U.S. airports nationwide.Click here for more details on the PreCheck program and to get signed up.

Frontier Charges for Carry-on Bags Frontier Airlines has completely unbundled its economy fare, which means you now pay a fee for carry-on bags in addition to checked bags and seat assignments. You may still bring aboard one personal item for free (handbag, purse, pocketbook, backpack, briefcase or laptop), but an additional carry-on will cost $25 at the time of initial travel purchase at Frontier’s website or the airline’s call center. Paying for a carry-on at airport check-in will cost $35; at the gate, $50.

Become a member of Frontier’s Ascent and Summit level EarlyReturns loyalty program and receive a free carry-on bag and two free checked bags. Click here for more details.

Airlines Rank Just Ahead of the IRS in Customer Satisfaction Airlines received the lowest customer satisfaction ratings among all travel-related industries, according to a new report released recently. For the second year in a row, airlines earned a score of 69 out of 100 points, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index travel report. That is among the lowest of any industry or agency, above only the IRS, subscription television providers and social media sites. Way to go, airlines!

The survey found that passengers appreciate that airlines are mishandling fewer bags and a check-in process that’s been made simpler by technology. But passengers are dissatisfied with seat comfort and in-flight service in particular. Fliers were most satisfied with lower-cost carriers like JetBlue, who came out on top among airlines for the third year in a row, and Southwest. But both carriers saw their scores drop in 2013. United was at the bottom. The travel index’s findings were based on interviews with 7,445 travel consumers between Oct. 21, 2013, and March 11, 2014.

7 Tips to Safeguard Your Valuables When You Travel The month-long police sting and subsequent arrests recently at Los Angeles International Airport proved that there are people taking stuff from our bags.

The airlines have plenty of small print in their contracts saying they’re not responsible and LAX isn’t the only place this is happening – they’re just the only ones to get caught.

Follow these steps so you do not become a victim:

1. Don’t Be Too Flashy: It’s nice to say you have a Louis Vuitton bag. But if you check this bag, you’re just inviting a little sift-through. Nice bag usually signals nice stuff is inside. And nice stuff is easy to turn around quick on Craigslist or eBay.

2. Don’t put valuables in your checked luggage. If you really need to bring expensive electronics or jewelry with you on your trip, put it in your carry-ons. That way, nobody is touching them but you.

3. Pay the fee to get on early if offered. The fee for express boarding really pays off when you get quick access to the overhead bins.

4. Take your bag through security, check it at the gate. Yes, it may be a bit of a pain to lug the heavy bag through security. But if you check the bag at the gate for plane-side loading, you’ve significantly decreased the time and the amount of hands that are touching your luggage.

5. Use your clothes to store valuables. If you absolutely feel you have to check in valuables, store them in your clothes. If you put the valuables in jean pockets on the bottom of your bag, they don’t stand out for the easy grab.

6. Get the TSA-approved lock. It’s the type of lock that allows the inspectors to inspect the bag and relock the baggage without damaging the lock or the bag. Criminals are going to find a way into your bag and if they see the expensive lock on the bag, they’re figuring there are expensive goodies to be taken from that bag.

7. Use technology to your advantage. One of the great plusses of the iPhone is the “Find My Phone” feature that lets you track your phone if you lose it. Now there’s similar technology for luggage. One such company doing this is Lug Loc. Their electronic tracker device will track your bag for up to 40 days without the battery dying. TrakDot is another option. A little bit pricier and there’s an annual service fee but no per-trace fee.

Vacation Specials from Delta Vacations For a limited time, Delta Vacations is offering exclusive savings on airfare and 25% off all hotel rates on flight and hotel vacation packages to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Plus, receive 1,000 extra Delta bonus miles per person.

– Exclusive airfare savings, not available anywhere else – 25% off all hotels + other special hotel offers – Up to 8,500 bonus miles in the SkyMiles® program

Upgrade to a luxury vacation and enjoy flights in First Class or BusinessElite®, VIP transfers and up to 7,500 bonus miles per person, for a possible total of 8,500 bonus miles per person.

To receive these savings, call or email Menno Travel and book by July 31, 2014, for travel Oct. 6, 2014 – Mar. 19, 2015.

Destination Highlights Europe Witness history firsthand on a European vacation. Start in London with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern and head outside the city to see Stonehenge. Then, pop over to Paris for food, fashion and museums galore. Prague has a fairy-tale aura with gothic architecture and amazing castles. Ride a bike through Amsterdam to visit the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House. Head south to Madrid for local culture and tapas. Don’t miss Italy’s darlings — Florence, Rome and Venice. There’s so much to see and do in Europe, best call Menno Travel and start today.

Middle East and Africa Here you’ll find an enchanting duet of East and West, ancient history and modern civilization and untamed land and urban beauty. The playground of the Middle East, Dubai prompts you to go big or go home with its larger-than-life attractions, gorgeous cream-colored shoreline and international culinary delights. Israel’s modern metropolis, Tel Aviv, is a cultural capital bursting with creativity, style and a diverse, open population. Johannesburg mixes thrilling adventure, city verve and encounters with nature to create a magical destination you won’t want to miss. For a vacation like no other, Africa and the Middle East should definitely be on your list.