Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Another Day, Another Legroom Skirmish

Yet another flight, this time Delta from New York to Florida, had to be diverted because of 2 passengers arguing over reclining seats.  This issue is turning into a frequent occurrence as airlines keep taking away personal space to squeeze in more seats.

Some passengers believe that the flying experience has really deteriorated.  Whether it is tight spaces, long security lines, surly TSA agents and flight crews to the on board experience, flying isn't what it used to be.  The cattle car feel has provoked travelers trying to protect their space from recliners, armrest hawkers and the deodorant challenged.  The average seat has shrunk along with legroom, while the average size/weight of the traveler has increased.  Perhaps the airlines can come up with a new fee for "minimum personal space".

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Airlines Should Address Wheelchair Fraud

We have all seen it.  Wheelchairs at airports to assist travelers who are truly unable to walk and navigate their way to/from gates and security lines.  For this group in genuine need, the airlines and airport authorities must do everything they can to assist.  However, an ever-increasing number of "savvy" travelers, have gamed the system to demand wheelchairs to expedite their processing as they go to the head of the line for check-in, security, and boarding.  Such highly sought after amenities create the perfect situation for able travelers to cheat the system, robbing the truly needy by compromising the service, and putting extra burdens and costs on airlines and airports.  Miraculously, these cheating passengers spring to their feet when the flight lands and the line of wheelchairs waiting in the jetways are sent back empty.
So what should the airlines do?  If they do get a request for wheelchair assistance, make the passenger sign a document attesting to the genuine need of assistance.  They should have their luggage checked in.  It will also be important to tag the seat of the wheeled passengers so they remain in their seats until all the other passengers disembark.  Since there is an additional cost to airports and airlines, perhaps a service fee should be charged and the arrangements must be done in advance. www.premieretravel.com

Friday, August 1, 2014

CDC Issues Ebola Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  This Level 3 warning is due to the increasing risk and spread of the Ebola virus in the region.
“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Far too many lives have been lost already,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done. CDC is surging our response, sending 50 additional disease control experts to the region in the next 30 days.”.  The warning is to avoid all non-essential travel to the region and take extra measures of precaution such as screening travelers to avoid the spread of the disease. www.premieretravel.com

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Business World is Flat

Airlines continue to scramble outdoing each other for the better business class seat.  Demand for lie-flat seats is high and discerning business class passengers are questioning why many airlines are slow in converting their business class cabins to lie-flat seats.  What we are seeing are business class passengers not only asking for the type of aircraft they will be flying on but also the seating configuration, access to aisle and the pitch of the seat.  180 degrees with luxurious amenities are musts.  However, many U.S. and European carriers have been caught flat-footed (no pun intended) by the sudden preference to the roomier and more comfortable lie-flat bed and cannot convert fast enough.  Gulf carriers with spiffy newer aircraft and luxury amenities have taken the lead and the race is on by the laggards to catch up.  www.premieretravel.com

Monday, July 14, 2014

Premiere Travel Services: Congress Gives TSA a 224% Fee Increase

Premiere Travel Services: Congress Gives TSA a 224% Fee Increase: Congress granted the TSA the authority to increase its fees from $2.50 per travel segment with $10 cap to $5.60 per segment uncapped.  T...

Congress Gives TSA a 224% Fee Increase

Congress granted the TSA the authority to increase its fees from $2.50 per travel segment with $10 cap to $5.60 per segment uncapped.  This represents a minimum of 224% increase.  Of course, TSA thinks that it needs the higher fees.  This increase is effective on all ticketed purchased starting July 21.

From the TSA website: "The revenue generated from these security fees is utilized to help ensure the safe and efficient flow of people and commerce."

With this type of bump in added air travel costs, base fare of tickets is increasingly becoming a smaller percentage of the actual total cost of an airline ticket.  Once taxes, fees, baggage, seat assignments and other ancillaries are added, costs are higher. www.premieretravel.com

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Centralized versus Distributed Managed-Travel Model

"Reprinted with permission from author."
There has been some recent discussion in Europe and North America about the efficacy the globalization of managed-travel programs. Business Travel Coalition (BTC) offers additional perspective regarding what can be termed a “centralized” versus a “distributed” model for modern managed-travel programs.

When U.S. airline industry deregulation moved forward in 1978, many large corporations pursued a strategy of consolidating to one national travel agency – that eventually morphed into today’s travel management company (TMC). The goal was to bring some control to an exceedingly complex, if not somewhat dysfunctional airline distribution system.

Since the early 1990s, this national strategy has evolved into “globalizing” with one mega TMC.  A strong case has been made for centralized oversight of a corporation’s worldwide travel activities. However, it is not clear if centralizing to one TMC, for all global services provided, produces justifiable incremental benefits for a large corporate, university or government managed-travel program. Indeed, such a strategy can deprive travel departments of the expertise, relationships and problem-solving resources of best-in-class regional agencies and TMCs around the world.

The promises of nationalization, and then globalization, included quality travel data consolidation, superior customer service and lower airfares via larger TMCs’ purchasing leverage.

Some travel departments, however, have not been satisfied with either the results of national consolidation, or globalization efforts. Today they 1) look to third parties for expert data consolidation, 2) experience uneven global customer service levels from some mega TMCs, and 3) leverage their own purchasing volumes and expertise in negotiating airline and other supplier contracts.

Moreover, local corporate field-office managers are often unimpressed with the benefits of globalization and can be resistant to such programs. They sometimes see beneficial local supplier deals canceled, often feel that cultural business practices from the Home Office are forced upon them, and where problem solving was once a relatively simple process, it can become bureaucratic. It is exceedingly important to the success of a globalized managed-travel program that local managers buy into and actively support such a program.

What true quantifiable value, for example, is there in service standards being determined for a travel agency “affiliate” in Vitoria, Brazil by a mega TMC based in the U.S.? Furthermore, how could a homogenized American approach to travel service standards across various regions of the world and cultures be expected to be workable?

There is a technology-enabled viable alternative to globalization as it is currently conceptualized and practiced. Low cost structures, personalized service for the business traveler, responsiveness to management needs and good technology have always been the hallmarks of regional TMCs within the U.S. and around the world, and what many corporations want.

A single TMC can be tasked with coordinating a global travel management strategy that includes regional travel agencies run by service-oriented entrepreneurs who are 1) expert in local markets, 2) low-cost producers and 3) able to drive superior value for an overall program.

Communications, data parsing, the Internet and other emerging technologies will continue to be the enablers of new ways of solving travel industry problems and driving beneficial change. Travel managers and senior executives considering a global travel program should consider the benefits and drawbacks of both a “centralized” and “distributed model.”