Posts tagged Airfare

When a Vacation Quickly Turns Into a Nightmare


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.

February 2011 Newsletter

MTS Traveler Newsletter Masthead

Assisting Travelers during the Winter Storms
Our staff helped at least one hundred clients who were delayed, stranded, or had their trips canceled during the recent blizzard of 2011. With airline phone lines jammed with calls, and websites not a lot of help either, our travelers were able to make one call to their travel agent and get taken care of.

At times, several of our staff waited on hold with airlines for up to 3 hours and 45 minutes to make the necessary changes to existing reservations. Communicating with our clients took the forms of email, phone calls and texts, based on the clients needs. We are here before, during and after your trip to help you!

“Above and Beyond” Award to Corporate Travel Staff, Jill and Debi!
Incentive Travel Specialist, Mary Ann Holderman, recommended Corporate Travel Specialist, Jill Mann, for our intra-office recognition award, the “Above and Beyond Award”, awarded for exceeding expectations for service to our clients. This award is in the form of a large wooden giraffe that makes its home on the desk of the honored employee until such time as it moves to the desk of the next honoree.

Mary Ann writes: “Jill’s willingness to help me issue 175 tickets on 5 different airlines for my Hawaii Incentive Group was invaluable! She was extremely patient and became my personal ‘help desk’ when no one else was around.” The group left for Hawaii on Saturday, January 22 for a seven night cruise. Menno Travel Owners, Doug Risser and Geof Landis noted that Jill helped Mary Ann in between taking care of her own corporate clients at the busiest time of the year!

Along with Jill, Debi Riegsecker was honored for having the largest number of new reservations in this time period in at least four years! The time needed to process the large number of reservations was compounded by the additional hours needed to assist our clients whose flights were cancelled due to weather. Doug and Geof wrote, “Thanks, Debi and Jill for your efforts ‘Above and Beyond’ both in assisting clients with new reservations and for working the many additional required hours when they get stranded.” Congratulations!

Delta SkyBonus Enrollment Promotion
Delta is offering 25,000 bonus points to new small corporate accounts enrolled in their SkyBonus Program prior to March 31, 2011. You will receive the bonus points up0n the completion of your first trip within 60 days of enrollment. Contact Deb Mangas or Geof Landis to enroll or to get more information.

Why are airfares cheaper on Tuesday and Wednesday?
Many experts say Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days to find low airfares, while weekends tend to be most expensive. Wall Street Journal Columnist Scott McCartney researched the reasons for price fluctuations, including competitive concerns and even staffing levels. On weekends, for instance, he found that pricing is more automated, so fares automatically rise as cheap seats sell out. But when pricing managers return to work on Monday, they may override the computer models, making more cheap seats available in an effort to maximize revenue. Also, most fare increases are filed at the end of the week and may be withdrawn early the following week if not matched by the other airlines.

Southwest Bookings On The Rise
Southwest Airlines continues to make friends among business travelers and vacationers alike with their no bag fee policy, their no change fee policy and their friendly staff. Recently, it was reported by Gary Kelly, chief executive officer at Southwest Airlines that in 2010 there was a 13% increase in quarterly earnings with a great outlook for 2011.

At Menno Travel Service, our Southwest Airlines reservations reflect this increase in popularity. Keeping travel costs in mind, we are pleased to offer our clients this alternative to the “a la carte” airlines.

Delta Increasing Legroom On Some International Flights
Delta announced a major investment in its international fleet with plans to introduce a premium economy section – “Economy Comfort” – on all long-haul international flights starting in summer 2011. The new seats will feature up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline than Delta’s standard international Economy class seats.

Murphy’s Laws For Frequent Flyers
• No flight ever leaves on time unless you are running late and need the delay to make the flight.
• If you are running late for a flight, it will depart from the farthest gate within the terminal.
• If you arrive very early for a flight, it inevitably will be delayed.
• Flights never leave from Gate #1 at any terminal in the world.
• If you must work on your flight, you will experience turbulence as soon as you touch pen to paper. Or start to drink your coffee.
• Only passengers seated in window seats ever have to get up to go to the lavatory.
• The crying baby on board your flight is always seated next to you.
• The less carryon luggage space available on an aircraft, the more carry-on luggage passengers will bring aboard.

Recognize/Reward Employees With Menno Travel Flexible Vacation Vouchers
Flexible Vacation Vouchers are the perfect way to let an employee know you value their service to your company. The vouchers are prepaid to Menno Travel Service with a two-year validity, good for travel anywhere, anytime. Contact Deb Mangas or Geof Landis for more information.

Great Meeting Rates at Wyndham Hotels!
There are great rates popping up at Wyndham Hotels for companies looking to hold meetings in the U.S. and around the world. An example of low rates at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in Florida:
May 6-12: $74 / May 22-26: $65 / May 30-June 9: $85 / August 14-October 6: $59 / December 11-22: $79
Besides these fantastic introductory rates there are several booking incentives, including Triple Wyndham Rewards Points and a Welcome Reception. Keep Wyndham in mind when choosing your upcoming meeting site.

Incentive Travel: Different Programs for Different Reasons
Most incentive travel programs that we arrange for clients have two primary goals:
• Increase profitable business
• Build relationships
As such, most programs focus on increased sales over a longer period of time, for instance achieving 110% of expected volume to earn the reward trip. There are other ways to structure an incentive program. Here are a few:
• “President’s Club”—This recognizes the most important clients, the elite top 10 or 20. These trips tend to be high-end, once a year, and exclusive.
• “Fast Track” contests—These can start at the drop of a hat to meet immediate situations, such as excess or stale inventory, seasonality issues, or reaction to competition.
• New product introduction—Need to promote a new product, especially one with a high profit margin? This program should be short term, simple, individual rather than as a group, and can be tiered.
• Advanced Sales Academy—Dealers complete training programs, demonstrate product knowledge, and make required sales contacts. Rewards are cash or prizes and qualify them to participate in future incentive travel programs.
Contact Doug Risser, Geof Landis, or Deb Mangas to discuss how a well-designed incentive travel program can help your company increase profitable sales while building relationships.

Escorted Motor Coach Tours
Long-time Menno Travel escort Judy Cunningham and Cardinal Bus driver Fran Eldridge invite you to join them on their two motor coach tours in 2011!

Sights of Pennsylvania on July 23—29
Their trip to Eastern Pennsylvania will combine the scenery of the Poconos, the early history of our country in Philadelphia, and a return to the Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster for their newest Biblical production, Joseph.
Click here for complete Pennsylvania tour information.

Missouri River Lore & More on September 18—24
The early history of Missouri is tied to the Mississippi River and this tour visits the popular sights along the Mississippi River between Mark Twain’s Hannibal and historic French America.
Click here for complete Missouri tour information.

If you or someone you know would enjoy these great tours, make your reservations soon to ensure you’re not left behind! Contact Tara Nisley at (574) 975-7766 or (866) 606-6198 or for more information.

December 2010 Newsletter

MTS Traveler Newsletter Masthead

American Express Cardmember Travel Privileges Expanded
Take advantage of these new Travel Benefits for Personal and Small Business Platinum and Centurion Card members.

1. $200 Airline Fee Credit – Check a bag or enjoy an in-flight meal on American Express. Every year American Express will cover up to $200 of incidental airline fees that are charged on the Cardmember’s enrolled Card on a selected airline. The $200 Airline Fee Credit can apply to fees such as baggage fees, flight change fees, in-flight food and airport lounge day passes.

2. 20% Travel Bonus – When Cardmembers use Membership Rewards Pay with Points to pay for part or all of their travel including airlines, hotels, cruises and vacation packages, they will get 20% of those points credited back to their account. For example, redeem 30,000 points to pay for an airline ticket, and American Express will credit 6,000 point to your Membership Rewards Cardmember’s account.

3. American Express® Travel App – This complimentary mobile app will help keep travelers informed with flight alerts, an airport lounge locator, airport guides and more.

Free WiFi For The Holidays
Passengers who want to surf the Internet while they fly on AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin America, can do it for free this month. This is a holiday gift the carriers and Internet providers hope might lure fliers to pay for the WiFi later. Google is offering free in-flight WiFi through January 2. The carriers use Gogo Inflight Internet, which typically charges $4.95 for access during short flights and up to $49.95 for multiple prepaid in-flight sessions.

Winner of Elkhart County Thanks4giving Raffle
Pictured: Deb Mangas (Menno Travel), Jim Shea (Fairmont), Janet Walls and Pam Hluchota (United Way Board Chair)
Congratulations to Janet Walls, the 7-night Palace Resorts package winner from the United Way of Elkhart County Thanks4giving Raffle last month. Menno Travel Service is proud to provide Janet with a seven day all-inclusive resort package (including airfare) to Mexico. Now would be a good time to book that trip south, Janet!

Delta Adds Recharging Stations At Airports
Delta plans to roll out recharging stations in 19 airports across the U.S., including its seven domestic hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York Kennedy and Salt Lake City. There will be two Delta recharging stations available at each passenger gate area. Each station will feature six standard, 110-volt outlets and two USB ports. Recharging pads designed for smartphones and mobile devices will be available in all domestic Delta Sky Club locations.

Recharging stations will also be installed at airports in Boston, Columbus, Ohio; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Nashville; Norfolk, Va.; Omaha, Neb.; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and St. Louis.

Delta increases availability of Preferred Economy Seats
Delta expanded the number of Preferred Economy seats by up to 40%. That’s good news for Delta Medallion members and bad news for anyone else trying to get advance seat assignments.
Also, Delta used to release those seats to the general public 24 hours prior to flight time. Now they won’t be released until 2 hours prior.

Delta Sky Club Now Open At Indianapolis Airport
Delta Air Lines opened its first Delta Sky Club at Indianapolis International Airport. Located inside security on Concourse A, the new 4,800-square-foot Indianapolis Sky Club is the first and only premium airport lounge for business travelers in the state of Indiana. Available to Delta Sky Club members and their guests, as well as American Express Platinum cardmembers flying Delta, the club offers complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and Wi-Fi, wireless charging pads for smartphones, as well as personalized flight assistance, satellite TV and computer workstation access.

Rental car companies improving customer satisfaction
According to a recent J.D. Power consumer survey, Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranks highest in customer satisfaction for the seventh consecutive year. National Car Rental is second and Hertz ranks third.

The survey, which polled consumers who rented cars at airports in North America during the twelve months ended in September, looks at six factors to measure overall customer satisfaction: costs and fees, pick-up processes, rental car, return process, reservations process and shuttle bus or van service.

The increased satisfaction scores indicate that staff that had been reduced in the past two years has begun to be added back and rental companies have started to add newer and lower-mileage cars to their fleets.

Electric Cars Coming to Hertz
Hertz will began renting electric cars this month through its Connect by Hertz car-share program, a membership program that enables members to rent cars on a per-hour basis, with New York as the launch market. In 2011 they will be available in the Hertz Car Rental fleet. Hertz is offering one of the Smart models, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, starting Dec. 15. After the New York launch, Hertz plans to bring electric rentals to Washington and San Francisco in early 2011.

Down the road, other models will include the Nissan Leaf, the Coda and Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, as well as electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius Plugin Hybrid and Chevy Volt. Hertz plans a “full-scale deployment” of electric cars in U.S. and international markets next year.

Three Reasons Why Airfares Are Likely To Rise
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average domestic airfare jumped 13% from $301 to $341 in the second quarter of 2010 vs. the previous year. That $341 fare was 3.8% more than the previous quarter and represented the fourth consecutive quarterly fare increase.

United Airlines’ average fare for the first nine months of this year is up 25% vs. a year ago. Even Southwest Airlines, long considered the budget standard, reported an average fare increase of 15% for that same period, and Southwest’s average airfare paid has increased 23% over the past three years.

According to David Grossman in USA Today, there are three primary reasons why airfares will continue to rise:

Capacity cuts and rising demand
According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), available seat miles (ASMs) for domestic travel declined by more than 12% between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009. As the increase in travel demand has exceeded the supply of available seats, passenger load factors, or the percentage of occupied seats, jumped from 75.3% to 78.8% during the first ten months of 2010 vs. 2009. Higher load factors inevitably lead to higher airfares.

Prolonged period of higher oil prices
All airlines are affected by rising oil prices, but one airline has felt the impact more than most: Southwest. With their cost advantage from hedging oil prices now history, Southwest has had to raise its prices to remain profitable, and the rest of the industry has followed.

Changing business model for low-cost airlines
So called “low-cost” airlines look more like network airlines every day. As these airlines mature, their operating costs are on the rise. These costs include flying from larger “hub” airports with higher costs and more congestion. Southwest’s absorption of Air Tran will add a second aircraft type, further increasing operating costs.

These additional operating costs, combined with higher oil prices and rising travel demand outstripping capacity will contribute to upward pressure on airfares. So, in answer to the age-old question about the best time to book your next flight: It may be right now, as all signs point to a continued climb.


New York City Hotel Capacity Soars
New York City is planning to open 33 hotels by the end of this year. Six of these will be high-end properties including the InterContinental New York Times Square, Hyatt’s latest Andaz on 5th Avenue, a Gansevoort on Park Avenue, the W New York-Downtown, a Conrad in Manhattan, and an Embassy Suites in the Financial District.

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