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.
What is the Zika virus? The Zika Virus is a disease spread to people through mosquito bites. The common symptoms of the Zika Virus are fever, joint pain, rashes and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The symptoms last several days to a week. The illness is usually mild. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and deaths are rare.
Since the Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites everyone is susceptible. One in five people infected with the Zika virus will get sick. The symptoms are similar to the flu. Recently Brazil linked the Zika virus to babies born with Microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where the baby’s head size at birth is smaller than the average. Babies with smaller head sizes might have brains that do not develop properly causing problems later in life. The sharp rise in babies born with Microcephaly in Brazil in the past couple months has caused the CDC to issue a travel alert (level 2 Practice Enhanced Precautions)
What countries are most affected? The travel alert is for these countries. (Countries are being added to this list daily. The list is accurate as of 5/18/16)
- American Samoa
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Lucia
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Barthelemy
- Saint Martin
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Sint Maarten
- Trinidad and Tobago
- US Virgin Islands
All travelers to the countries listed above should consult your physician. The CDC is recommending that pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant consult with your physician and consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If you contract the virus please seek a professional health care provider.
Information about the Zika virus is being updated on a daily basis. We will continue to monitor the situation. Please refer to our website for additional details.
For more information you can visit the CDC website here
The airlines and tour operators are just coming out with policies for passengers to reschedule and or cancel trips to the affected countries. We are monitoring these policies daily and will be contacting you shortly to give you the options.
Living in communities close to local regional airports is very convenient. It’s great to have less traffic, easy parking, short security lines, and the ability to connect to wherever you need to go! But sometimes at an airport of choice, the air fare can be significantly higher than normal, or the flight schedules are not convenient. Here in the Indiana-Michigan area, one of the challenges is scheduling around Notre Dame Football games. In these situations, your corporate agent will check all the options at surrounding airports, balancing convenience and cost-effectiveness.
We know that many of our customers live in different parts of the country and use airports other than those found in the Michiana area. But we found it interesting to compare the distance to regional and metropolitan airports available in our geographic area. The same will be true in other regions as well. The options may surprise you!
* Distance based on google maps
Deem customers of Menno Travel can take advantage of the mobile app for your iPhone or Android. Menno Travel is excited this technology is available for our online customers.
Today’s travelers need a powerful mobile app that has the ability to view and search for upcoming flights from their phone. Not to mention, book hotels and car service based on location, brand, policy, TripAdvisor ratings, and price. The Deem mobile app can deliver all this and more.
Check it out!
- Management of upcoming travel reservation
- End-to-end reservation capability for flights, hotels and car rentals
- TripAdvisor ratings in hotel search results
- Calendar sync to provide real-time updates
- Select and compare seat sections across flight results
- In-app flight check-in and mobile boarding pass
- Location-based restaurant deals and offers to stay within per diems
To get the app today, login to your Deem account and find the Go Mobile! box on the right side of the screen and download it now!
Are you paying too much for cars and hotels?
Menno Travel has developed an automated technology to enhance our service to the corporate community. Last year Car Rate Checker found over 650 lower car rental rates for our customers totaling a staggering $26,900. With the year half over, we have already saved over $17,000 for our valued and loyal customers.
We also found that hotels trend the same way, and we put our heads together and launched our Hotel Rate Checker which will celebrate its 1st birthday in July! Knowing that online retailers such as Expedia and Hotels.com, return rates based on different searches, we harnessed this data to your advantage.
The average three night hotel stay, now costs more than your average domestic airline ticket. Luckily Hotel Rate Checker has been hard at work saving our customers on average $23 per night. That’s Amazing!
Booking your cars and hotels with Menno Travel assures lowest rate availability, through our access to discounted rates AND our Car Hotel Automated Recheck Technology (CHART) continues to search for lower fares after the reservation is made. Book your hotels & cars with Menno Travel and let CHART do the rest!