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Posts by Kendal Sommers
On April 25, after 44 years of service in the travel industry, Deb Mangas retired from Menno Travel. From vacation department supervisor to business development manager, then back to custom vacation planning, Deb has provided exceptional, professional service to her clients before, during, and after their trips.
Deb says, “this is what I’m going to miss. The contact with all the people I have planned travel for over the year. But I’m a people person. Whatever I do, I’m going to be out and about.”
Deb and her clients have weathered major changes in the travel industry. Booking trips looks a lot different than it did when she started in 1974 at Gulliver’s Travels in Syracuse. Her first task was to handwrite 70 airline tickets for a musical group’s flight to Europe.
“We started BC — before computers!” she remembers. “I would take books home and read them over the weekend to learn about places. Now you have the technical age. But that’s made the job fun. You continue to learn. You have everything at your fingertips.”
Deb’s interest in learning extended beyond her nine-to-five work at Menno Travel. In the mid-’80s, she joined the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). Her participation propelled her from the local chapter to her role as ASTA National ASTAPAC chair. Deb also chaired the ASTA World Congress in Montreal in 2005.
Though she’s leaving her office behind, Deb doesn’t plan to slow down. She and her husband will soon fly to Europe for a river cruise from Prague to Budapest. Her clients have always raved about the cruise, and she’s excited to experience it for herself.
“A lot of people retire to travel. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to do that for my career,” she says. “What other careers could you have joy and fun, exploring the world and meeting new people all the time? It’s exciting. Working for Menno Travel has been a delight. They think of their staff first. They look out for you, then you look out for their business and clients.”
Some of those clients and connections have turned into dear friends. For Deb, retirement will still include many of these relationships. In fact, she has decided to set up a Facebook account to stay in touch. Though she hopes to “take it easy” this summer, Deb plans to fill the coming years with family, friends, travel, and new opportunities to volunteer.
According to Geof Landis, CEO of Menno Travel, “Deb has been an integral part of our office for the last 27 years. She has filled many roles for us and been successful at every one. She has also made significant contributions at the national level with ASTA and locally too. We always knew that when Deb represented Menno Travel, we were in good hands.”
As a travel agency, our job is to keep you informed about changes in the travel industry. If you have traveled through any major airport in the past couple months, you may have noticed a TSA announcement about the REAL ID Act. Here is a brief description of the REAL ID act and how it affects you.
What is the Real ID Act?
The Real ID Act is a federal law that requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes“. The Secretary of Homeland Security has currently defined “official purposes” as boarding commercially operated domestic airline flights, entering federal buildings, and nuclear power plants. The REAL ID Act also helps secure domestic flights and federal facilities by increasing regulations on IDs to deter forgery. This new law goes into effect October 1, 2020.
How does it affect Indiana?
Indiana is fully compliant with the REAL ID Act (It is called the Secure ID in Indiana). When the new law goes into effect on October 1, 2020, you will need to make sure that your license meets the standard. A Secure Indiana ID has a star in the top right corner. When you renew your license, make sure you understand what additional forms of identification you will need to have a license that meets the new federal guidelines, http://www.in.gov/bmv/2953.htm.
How does it affect other states?
If your driver license is issued by a state that is non-compliant with the REAL ID Act you will have to use another form of identification accepted by TSA (Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry card, U.S. military ID, airline or airport-issued ID, federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID) after January 22, 2018. To check to see if your state is compliant with the REAL ID Act click the map below.
I am lucky enough to work in an office with some amazing women. I want to share a quick story about what happened a couple weeks back. Here is what happened.
Imagine you are at the end of your Christmas break Key West vacation and tonight you will be home in Northern Indiana. You head to the airport for the last leg of the journey. Upon arriving at the airport, you receive a rude awaking as armed guards barricade the entrance of the airport and direct you out of the area. This was a reality for a client of ours.
On Friday, January 6th, our clients arrived at Fort Lauderdale International airport to see armed guards motioning them to stay back. They had just arrived at the scene of a horrific shooting. One of the advantages of using a travel agency is the security of knowing that you have a personal assistant to get you out of any travel situation. Immediately our client texted their agent at Menno Travel, we had already received a travel warning regarding the shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Before they texted us, we were in the midst of going through our data base to see who was flying in, out, or connecting in Fort Lauderdale. Whenever there is a major alert (weather, malfunctions, terrorist incidents) Menno contacts our clients letting them know of potential delays and provides them with other travel options.
Maggie, the vacation agent working with the stranded clients, called Delta and tried to find a way back to South Bend. That particular Friday, there were major winter ice storms passing through the East and West coasts, it was also the end of Christmas break. Usually, our agents can find another route home, the difficulty was getting five passengers back on the same flight. Maggie searched multiple airports in Florida to try and find a flight back to this area. There were no Delta flights back to our area that had five seats available. While on hold with Delta, Maggie found five seats on an American Airlines flight departing from Miami the next morning. She negotiated with Delta and got a refund for our clients and booked the American Airline flight to Chicago. She then booked a hotel room in Miami. The next morning when the family arrived in Chicago, Maggie had arranged for a limo to pick them up. It was the cheapest option back to South Bend. The limo drove our clients back to South Bend and dropped the family off at their front door, then drove the husband to South Bend airport to pick up his personal car. Menno is currently working on getting refunds for our client’s limo and hotel expense.
In an unpredictable world where stories like this occur, having someone to back you up and provide service at this level is critical. We hope that this situation, or any situation, never happens to our clients but we will be there if it ever does.
The DOT and FAA have implemented a travel ban on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
This ban includes all new and replaced Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones.
Customers who own or possess a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device may not transport the device on their person or in carry-on baggage, checked baggage or cargo on flights to, from or within the United States.
For more information, click the link below: