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!
Incentive Travel – 10 Powerful Benefits
Rewarding customer loyalty and sales growth and performance with fantastic corporate rewards will benefit your business. After all, giving customers reason to not look elsewhere is part of any successful business. Below, we take a closer look at the powerful advantages of incentive travel.
1. Motivate and Inspire Customers & Sales Staff with a Memorable Reward
Providing desirable travel incentives is a great way to motivate and inspire your customer base. It will encourage business-centric buzz around your industry, with everyone wanting to be sure to not miss out, thus meeting their targets and win the reward.
2. Incentive Travel is a Cost-Effective Alternative
According to the Harvard Business Review, money is the most expensive way to reward. Travel incentives can be more cost-effective and offer greater value in terms of the benefits to staff, customers and the business.
3. Corporate Rewards Can Help Your Business Achieve its Goals
Through inspiring and motivating your customer base, corporate rewards can help you to achieve a number of company objectives, such as:
• Customer retention
• Increasing sales and profitability.
• Maintaining consistently high sales performance
4. Foster Customer Loyalty and Dedication
A great rewards system will ensure your customers feel appreciated. This feeling of appreciation fosters a positive environment, increasing consumer loyalty to the company. Similarly, appreciated customers are more dedicated. This leads to greater sales and increased profitability.
5. Forge Stronger Networking Dynamics
The thrilling adventures and shared experiences of a fantastic trip will hone and develop networking dynamics. It will also allow company and customer to build stronger relationships, and offers an informal forum for honest discussion about the company.
6. Personal Benefits for your Customers
Everyone benefits from some time away. Rewarding your customer with a travel experience will help to relieve stress, boost confidence and reignite creativity. A short break can do wonders for the soul – and your business by extension.
7. A Healthy Customer base is a Happy Business
Studies suggest that perceived benefits that no one else or a select few can get, keeps the loyal customer returning to the company. This comes back to the sense of appreciation and the personal benefits of corporate rewards.
8. Excellent PR for your Organization
Word-of-mouth is a very powerful tool. Customers who have received a memorable corporate reward are likely to rave about it to their friends and family. Also the opportunity to re-connect with past participants is an appealing part of reward packages. This will entice greater sales to your company and will improve your organization’s PR overall.
9. Travel Incentives are More Effective than Cash Rewards
Cold, hard cash is one of the most common, and according to statistics, least effective ways to reward people. The money is often treated as part of a discount and is spent on bills or household items. In contrast, an enticing travel experience is proven to inspire and motivate. In addition, the memory of a fantastic trip will last much longer than a cash bonus, fostering feelings of gratitude towards the company.
10. Flexible Experiences for Every Budget
Incentive travel can be tailored to suit budgets, making travel a practical reward option for small and large businesses alike.
Book your corporate travel experience with a company you can trust. Menno Travel, Group & Incentive Department has the knowledge and expertise to provide your company with unique travel options. Menno Travel’s Group & Incentive Department can manage your customer/sales loyalty travel incentive.
Please contact our Group & Incentive Department at email@example.com
Menno Traveler – March 2015
~ a newsletter for our business travelers ~
Online Booking Tool Mobile App
Menno Travel’s online booking tool, Deem, includes a mobile app for booking air, car and hotel reservations. You can view all your reservation details in one place. Flight alerts about delays, gate changes or cancellations keep you on track.
Fares that are out of your company’s travel policy are clearly identified. Along with Deem’s expense management you can quickly add images of receipts to your digital wallet and then submit expense reports for review and approval. Managers can review and approve expense reports, ensuring company policies are being enforced and you are being reimbursed in timely fashion.
Contact Geof Landis if you are interested in learning more about Deem, our convenient online booking and expense management option.
Mission and Humanitarian Travel
In addition to corporate travel management, Menno serves religious travel needs, specifically those of missionaries, church organizations, and pastors. We handle the travel arrangements to conferences, study tours, and student groups. We have access to mission fares and assist with travel insurance for short or long term assignments.
We have experience with destinations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, in addition to North America and Europe. We can assist with procuring visas, passports, and other travel documents, obtaining information on required or suggested health measures, and obtaining information on allowed baggage and excess baggage costs. We can also provide customized travel reports for destinations and current state department international travel advisories and warnings.
If you know anyone looking for help planning Mission or Humanitarian individual or group travel, contact Ron Yoder.
Ronda Morris Taking on New Responsibilities
In addition to handling corporate travel reservations, Ronda will be working with our corporate accounts to provide sales and customer service support. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 574-534-1521 if you have questions about the services you currently receive from Menno Travel.
Booking More Than The Major Airlines
Are you surprised that we book Jet Blue and Southwest and Allegiant airlines? Don’t be! We are a full-service corporate travel management business, booking airlines, hotels, and car rentals to suit your business travel needs. Let us know if you have a special request and we will see if we can help you out, using our connections with our suppliers. We are people with the right connections!
Two Ways You Will Save Money Using Menno Travel
* Delta SkyBonus tickets: If you have a SkyBonus account, remember that we can save you money by managing your account and suggesting when it is most advantageous to use points instead of paying for a ticket.
American Express Membership Rewards Points: As an American Express Travel Representative office, we are able to book your travel, charge it to your American Express card and then credit your American Express card account using your Membership Rewards Points.
Contact Geof Landis if you are interested in taking advantage of either the SkyBonus or Membership Rewards Points programs.
Were Your Travel Plans Affected by Winter Storms?
We are so glad to have winter in our rearview mirror! Winter storms always cause a lot of flight cancellations and stranded travelers. Jill, Dee, Ronda and Ron were kept busy again this winter, watching flights and re-accommodating travelers to get them where they needed to go.
To ensure that you receive immediate assistance, please let the person directing your call know when you are stuck and calling us from an airport. We also check all of our reservations to flag those that may be affected by weather so that we can proactively get you on your way.
SBN Airport Valet Parking Great Option…Especially for Winter
Did you know that South Bend International Airport (SBN) offers valet parking service? For the same price as short-term parking, the service will have your car cleared off, warmed up and ready just steps outside the terminal doors when you arrive.
Simply follow the signs at the airport front drive. Then give the attendant your flight information and car keys. When you return, your car will be waiting at the curb! Cost for valet parking is $5 for up to one hour and $13 for 1-24 hours. Call 574-288-4912 or 800-681-8885 for more information.
Delta Redefining Service Classes On Flights
Delta is redefining the products it offers into five distinct products including Delta One, First Class and Delta Comfort+ which offer customers the best of Delta’s services by providing premium products while Main Cabin and Basic Economy will offer value options.
For example, Delta Comfort+ is adding premium snacks and complimentary Starbucks®, beer, wine, and spirits on most flights. They will also have a location toward the front of the plane, have more legroom and on some longer flights, extra recline. In addition, Delta Comfort+ includes Sky Priority® boarding and dedicated overhead bin space and Wi-Fi and complimentary premium entertainment through Delta Studio™ where available.
Delta SkyMiles Updates Delta has expanded the number of airline partners that SkyMiles members can select to redeem for award travel. Delta also recently updated the Fly Delta app to give customers the ability to book award travel from mobile devices. Or, call Menno Travel and we will be happy to assist you with your award travel bookings as well.
Customers can now earn (Medallion Qualification Dollars) MQDs, regardless of ticketing carrier, for travel on most of Delta’s airline partners, which will help achieve Medallion status faster. MQD earning varies based on carrier, percentage of distance flown as determined by Delta and fare class paid.
New one-way award tickets beginning as low as 10,000 miles plus taxes and fees, are available through December 31, 2015, for travel in select U.S., Mexican and Caribbean markets. Check out your favorite destinations and plan a trip now!
US Airways and American Frequent Flyer Programs Combining
American Airlines and merger partner US Airways will combine their frequent-flier programs. The US Airways Dividend Miles® program will be combined into the AAdvantage program and here’s what you need to know:
Once the programs are combined, your US Airways Dividend Miles mileage balance, Preferred‑qualifying activity and million mile balance will be transferred into your AAdvantage account on a one‑to‑one ratio. Elite status level will be determined by looking at your combined elite‑qualifying activity for 2014, and separately, your combined 2015 year‑to‑date elite‑qualifying activity. It may take a few days to transfer everything, but you’ll receive an email you once it’s completed.
You’ll continue earning miles when you fly on American, US Airways, oneworld and other participating airlines, as well as with over 1,000 partners. And, you’ll still be able to redeem miles for flights, upgrades on American and US Airways, car rentals, hotel stays and more.
Dividend Miles award bookings and mileage upgrade requests will be disabled a few days before the two programs are combined to allow time to integrate your accounts. If you plan to redeem Dividend Miles for an upcoming trip, plan to book now.
Once the programs are combined, Dividend Miles will be converted into AAdvantage miles, and you’ll be able to redeem AAdvantage miles with American.
Hyatt Launches Free Wi-Fi To All Guests Worldwide All Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide will provide free Wi-Fi to guests on an unlimited number of mobile devices or laptops in guest rooms and social spaces at Hyatt-branded hotels. Platinum and Diamond Hyatt Gold Passport members will receive a free upgrade to premium Wi-Fi service in those spaces wherever available, and guests will have the option to purchase premium service in those locations.
Marriott To Use Apple Pay Marriott International, Inc will become the first global hospitality company to offer Apple Pay. Guests using Apple Pay at check-in will simply bring their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or soon, Apple Watch, near the contactless reader at the front desk. When their device responds with a subtle vibration and beep, the payment information has been securely captured. There will be no need to provide a credit card upon check-in.
At select Marriott Hotels, guests have been testing an app for service requests, enabling them to chat in real time with hotel staff to make requests, such as extra towels, valet service, dinner reservations and more. Marriott will launch an app for the Apple Watch, upon availability. With the Apple Watch app, Marriott Rewards members will be able to use it to check-in in advance, receive prior notification when their room is ready, and checkout at nearly 4,000 hotels globally. Marriott expects to start rolling out Apple Pay this summer beginning at select hotels.
A Look Back at Airline Commissions 20 Years Ago
20 years ago the airlines started cutting travel agencies out of their commission structure, forcing travel agencies to either stop selling airline tickets or start charging fees. At that time, many travel agencies went out of business, fearing their clients wouldn’t suddenly begin paying for their services.
At Menno Travel, our clients’ need for our services continued and we began to charge fees based on our cost to provide the service. Other agencies weren’t so lucky. There were about 36,000 accredited travel agencies that dwindled to fewer than 10,000 during the first 10 years of commission cuts. So much changed with technology and is changing more every year. Many agents were forced to treat travel as a business and the good ones survived.
Thank you to all of our clients who believe in travel services, including managed corporate travel!
Menno Traveler December 2014
Our office will close at noon on December 24 and be closed December 25 and January 1. Safe travels!
Our after-hours service will be available by calling 800-367-1633 Use the VIT Code P-3ND. Fees apply.
Car Rate Checker Continues to Save You Money
In the past 12 months, our Car Rate Checker found lower rates on 677 car rentals for a total savings of $26,863.73. Savings ranged from a few dollars per rental up to several hundred dollars. In one case, a 4-day rental for a mid-size car dropped from a total of $614.61 to $309.62, a savings of over $300 on just one rental!
Book Hotels with Menno and Save Money
A closer look at online retailers of hotel rooms reveals that rates returned from different searches vary on average by $17 per night. According to the Northeastern University study, Expedia and Hotels.com steered a subset of users to more expensive hotels, dividing users into different groups to test new website features and algorithms. Cheaptickets and Orbitz showed more expensive room rates to users who were not logged into the site, offering users who were logged in unadvertised discounts of about $12 per night on 5% of hotel rooms.
Booking hotels with Menno Travel assures lowest rate availability, access to discounted rates AND our hotel rate checker program continues to search for lower fares after the reservation has been made…need we say more?! …Ok, here’s the “more”:
Hotel Rate Checker has been in service just five months and has found lower rates for 151 rooms for a total offered savings of $6,749.68. Call us to book your next hotel and get in on the savings!
Watch Out for Changing Hotel Cancellation Policies
Last month we emailed an alert to our customers that as of January 1, 2015, Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International will require cancellation of reservations by midnight the night before arrival, or they will charge a penalty of one night’s stay.
While Hilton claims these changes will make more rooms available for travelers needing last-minute accommodations, this policy doesn’t allow for the flexibility a business traveler needs. Bad weather and travel delays can wreck a schedule quickly and some travelers are booking away from their longtime loyalty hotel chains.
Be aware that many hotels within chains have varying policies. Some allow cancellations as late as 6 p.m. the night the reservation was to start and others require 24 hours or more notice in advance.
If you are caught in a penalty situation, contacting the hotel to explain the situation could lead to a penalty-free cancellation or another resolution so you don’t pay the night’s stay penalty. Menno Travel can help you choose the best hotel that fits your travel needs.
Delta Rated #1 Airline for Business Travelers
A survey by Business Travel News resulted in the #1 ranking for Delta who was praised for exceeding customer expectations through its industry-leading operational reliability and thoughtful continuous upgrades to products and services.
The airline ranked first among carriers in all 10 categories, with significant year-over-year gains in each and scoring particularly high in key areas of the survey, including: Value of Relationships with Account Managers and Sales Representatives; Quality of Customer Service; and Networks, Airline Partnerships and Frequencies.
Menno Travel receives strong support from Delta, benefiting our customers in the form of waivers and favors when needed. In an era of cutting back, Delta remains committed to the travel agency community where servicing our customers comes first.
2015 Travel Costs Projected to Increase
The American Express Global Business Travel Forecast 2015 predicts air, hotel and ground transportation prices to be neutral to slightly higher across all regions in 2015. Airline consolidations, stricter corporate travel policies and limited hotel supply are changing supply and demand dynamics and are also expected to impact pricing next year. An improving economy in the United States will likely cause price increases across all categories.
Consequently, it will become even more important for travel managers to have access to relevant and reliable data on their company’s travel spend. Armed with this insight, travel managers and Menno Travel can leverage it to ensure an organization’s travel investments are appropriately allocated to support its overall business objectives.
Contact Geof Landis to learn how you can gain control of your travel expenditures.
United Frequent Flyers May Use Miles For Airport Food
If you are a Mileage Plus member, you can use miles in lieu of money to pay for food and drinks at the Newark airport. United has set the exchange rate at about 143 miles per $1. For Newark travelers dining at Saison, a French bistro in Terminal C, a $29 seared salmon entrée costs 4,150 miles, and a $14 sidecar runs 2,000 miles. A bottle of Fiji water ($2.99) is 430 miles. The same payment options will roll out to the terminal’s retail and duty-free shops over the next 12-18 months, as part of a $120 million renovation. By 2016, a traveler will be able to use miles to purchase everything for sale at Newark’s largest terminal. The airline is discussing the miles-as-payment option with other airlines as well.
UA Follows Delta’s Lead with Frequent Flyer Changes
United Airlines is raising its Premier Qualification Dollar, or PQD, requirement for earning Premier status. PQDs measure a member’s annual spending on United flights. The PQD requirement for Premier Silver members will increase from $2,500 to $3,000, for Premier Gold members from $5,000 to $6,000, for Premier Platinum members from $7,500 to $9,000, and for Premier 1K members from $10,000 to $12,000. Click here for a list of FAQ’s about the changes.
Last month, Delta raised its Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement for earning Medallion status by a similar percentage.
The PQD requirement only applies to members with addresses within the United States and United will continue to exempt members who spend $25,000 or more on a co-branded United credit card from the PQD requirement for Silver, Gold, and Platinum status.
UA Through-Check Baggage Policy Update
Effective for travel on and after March 1, 2015, if a traveler holds a second ticket on another airline beyond the destination of the first ticket, United will check the bag to the destination on the first ticket(s). Then, the traveler must collect their checked bags on arrival at their first ticketed destination, and then re-check them with the next carrier for their continuing flight(s).
United will check bags through to the final destination if the second ticket is on United Airlines, United Express or Star Alliance partner airlines.
Online Thieves Aren’t Just After Credit Card Numbers
Travelers should not assume airline, hotel or car rental loyalty accounts are secure. For example, Hilton reported a breach of Hilton‘s HHonors loyalty program recently, as dozens of users posted claims of unauthorized access that led to loss of points. Granted this is not like a credit card number breach, where the numbers can be used for purchases; rather, it’s the account number and login that are being sold, which can then be translated into goods via online purchases.
Take these precautions when it comes to cybersecurity:
- Provide as little information as possible when signing up.
- Use passwords with alpha, numeric, and special characters.
- Change your password regularly.
- Regularly monitor your account for signs of unauthorized activity.
Be assured that Menno Travel uses the highest online security measures when completing and storing your traveler profile information electronically.
U.S. Airport Lounges Offering Day Passes
In the United States alone, there are more than 170 airport lounges where any traveler can buy a day pass. Most of the airlines — United, Delta, American — still allow all passengers the ability to pay a one-time fee to access their lounges … and you don’t have to be flying the carrier associated with the lounge.
Airspace is a private company operating lounges in San Diego International Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Airspace Lounges allow you to pay a one-time fee for use, which in some places is as little as $20. Once inside, there is complimentary food and beverages and a relaxed atmosphere.
American Express is the first credit card company to start building its own network of lounges called The Centurion Lounge. They are currently in Dallas Fort-Worth, LaGuardia, Las Vegas and San Francisco, with Miami to open in early 2015 and more are planned for the future. The lounges are available to platinum and centurion cardholders free of charge. But any American Express member, with any type of American Express card, can access the lounges for $50.
Minute Suites lounges are almost mini bedrooms, and offer travelers a private retreat to work, nap or relax. Each suite comes with a daybed, pillows, fresh blankets, a sound-masking system and more. They have suites in Dallas, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Spirit To Charge $100 For Carry-On Baggage
Putting a bag in the overhead bin will soon cost some Spirit Airlines passengers $100, more than they paid for their tickets. The airline currently charges $45 for a carry-on bag. As of Nov. 6, customers who pay the fee at the boarding gate will pay $100. Any bag that needs to fit in the overhead bin is considered a carry-on. A bag that fits under the seat is free. The fee remains at $45 if passengers pay at an airport counter or kiosk.
Enjoying Tax Breaks at a Convention
Sunshine, beaches and business can mix, and the IRS allows deductions for business conventions held in some exotic areas. The primary purpose of the trip must be business related and held in the following destinations:
Besides the 50 U.S. states, tax deductions can be taken for business meetings or conventions held in the U.S. possessions of American Samoa, Baker Island, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Island, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Palmyra, U.S. Virgin Islands, Wake Island, other U.S. islands, cays, and reefs; Canada, Mexico, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Bermuda, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Dominica , Costa Rica, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and The Republic of Palau.
Outside of these destinations, there is no deduction unless you can demonstrate that the convention’s location meets specified standards of reasonableness, based on specific factors. Always check with your financial advisor before planning a business trip.
Foreign Currency, a Convenience Available at our Menno Travel Office
For international business trips or vacations, it’s smart to plan ahead and purchase foreign currency before leaving for your trip. Starting your trip with a supply of local currency saves you time and allows you to hit the ground running at your destination.
We stock the most common currencies in our office and can get large amounts and out of stock currency usually within two business days. Click here for a list of currencies and more information on buying and selling foreign currency.
VACATION VALUE – Join our locally hosted group tour to Alaska in 2015
What: Princes Cruise’s Denali Explorer, 12-Night Alaskan CruiseTour
When: June 15 -27, 2015
Local Hosts: Tim and Marisa Yoder, Goshen business owners
The itinerary is Princess Cruises’ most popular Alaska land & sea vacation and the best value. Featuring Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service — a Princess exclusive — to take you between ship and the Alaska wilderness, you’ll enjoy 7 days at sea on the Star Princess and 5 nights at Princess wilderness lodges, including at legendary Denali National Park, plus visits to Fairbanks and Anchorage. It’s the best way to see all the best of Alaska!
Tim and Marisa will accompany the group from Goshen to make your trip worry-free and enjoyable. They have escorted several group trips over the years and have a passion for travel while enjoying the company of old and new friends. Join them and experience beautiful Alaska!
Click here for complete details of our hosted Alaska Cruise Tour or go to www.mennotrav.com, call Kim Wright at Menno Travel, 574-534-1521 or 800-635-0963 or email her at email@example.com. A brochure is available in our office located at 210 South Main Street, Goshen, Indiana. Call or stop by today!
We are excited to announce that Menno Travel is now able to offer a mobile app for our Deem customers. If your company is using Deem for online reservations you can download and start using the new app today.
The new app delivers:
• Management of upcoming travel reservations
• End-to-end reservation capability for flights, hotels and car rentals
• TripAdvisor ratings in hotel search results
• Calendar sync to provide real-time updates to your calendar based on travel reservations
• Select and compare seat sections across flight results
• In-app flight check-in and mobile boarding pass
~ 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
Oct. 11 – NORTH CAROLINA
Nov. 15 – NORTHWESTERN
Nov. 22 – LOUISVILLE
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.
While looking at flight options you may choose between Segment View or Trip View. Segment View will allow you to select you outbound and return flights separately, while Trip View allows you to select your flights based on the whole itinerary.
You can change the view selection on the page with the flight availability : (Click Images to enlarge)
You can also choose which view you see by default in your travel preferences as shown here:
Save Time, Save Money: Use a Travel Agent
There’s no end to the choices people have today, whether it’s where to shop, what to buy and especially where to travel, but one of the most important choices a person can make is the decision to use a travel agent when planning their next vacation.
“Gone are the days when a travel agent just got you from Point A to Point B. Today’s agent is a travel counselor skilled at not only providing their clients with their dream vacations but at giving them great value for their money. They are experts at navigating the Internet, and act as advocates on their clients’ behalf in the event something goes wrong, such as a natural disaster or political unrest,” ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo said. “Travel agents understand that travel planning isn’t just about places, it’s about people.”
Here are just a few reasons to use a professional travel agent:
- Customer advocacy: If you have a problem with a particular part of your travel experience, the agent is there to act on your behalf to see that restitution is made. ASTA, for example, is the only travel industry association aggressively fighting to improve the travel experience, and air transportation in particular, for all consumers, not just those with access to the Internet.
- Expert guidance: Travel agents, unlike instructions on a Web page, are experts in understanding and deciphering the myriad travel information and codes out there. It’s what they’ve been trained to do and they do it every day.
- Personalized service: Instead of an impersonal voice thousands of miles away, travel agents are your neighbors. They know what you want and what you value in your travel experience.
- Professional advice: Travel agents are there to make sure you get where you want to go, when you want to go and for the lowest price.
- Time: Instead of checking a long list of travel Web pages, which only provide rates and fares for the companies that have contracted with them, why not go straight to the source? A travel agent has all the information at their fingertips, saving you a few hours in front of a computer screen or on hold.
- Unbiased information: Agents work for their clients, not for a travel supplier. It makes sense that a happy customer will be a repeat customer.
The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest and do business.