Thursday, October 27, 2011

Airlines Circling Around Credit Card Fees

Just as you thought airlines have run out of things to impose fees on, some airlines are quietly testing and implementing "targeted" fees on credit card charges.

For example, Lufthansa has started charging a credit card "surcharge fee" on tickets sold in some European cities this past summer. The credit card fee is tucked away among the dizzying array of taxes, fees, security and fuel surcharges. Tickets fare ladders and fare calculations are now so crowded with these fees and taxes to the point that the traveler, their corporation are quite confused.

Now the word is that Lufthansa will start collecting those credit card fees from sales generated anywhere, including the U.S. effective November 2, 2011.

The credit card form of payment has become such an important staple in paying for airline tickets, cruises and other travel services. This should be the opening salvo, which other airlines will surely be eagerly observing, and then likely matching.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Best Uses of Your Frequent Flyer Miles

Up to 30% of frequent flyer miles expire unused every year. Passenger toil hard and many purchase habits are now structured around mileage awards and credits.

Somehow however, after all the good planning, miles do expire and go to the " Mileage Black hole".

Here are the steps to take to preserve your miles and put them into good use:

1) Keep track of your miles and their expiration dates.
2) Use wisely! A 25,000 mile redemption for a transatlantic flight upgrade to business class is an excellent bang for the miles. Spending 50,000 on a $200 trip is not.
3) Look for saver deals. Airlines may discount redemption to certain routes to as few as 15,000.
4) Look for Code share partners to redeem on and claim mileage on.
5) Use mileage for hotel stays, car rental, cruises and other travel related services.
6) Redeem miles for friends and family
7) Know the rules: Airlines count on members not to "read the fine print". The more you know, the better.
8) There are many frequent flyer websites with great ideas and postings about how successful "redeemers" do it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Capacity Cuts Creating New Opportunities for Discount Carriers

Legacy airlines have announced further capacity cuts to keep fares high and airplanes full. This strategy which has worked so far, might backfire in 2012 if the economy improves.

Discount carriers like Southwest, Spirit, JetBlue and Frontier are expnading routes and beefing flights while the legacy carriers are retreating.

Discount carriers enjoy a cost advantage over legacy carriers in many categories, including newer more efficient planes, non-unionized workforce and lower debt. It all boils down to cost per passenger per mile.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our New Enhanced "PREMIERE" Hotel Program

We have added more value to our "Premiere Hotel" program . Many hotels within our program offer benefits such as:

Early Check-in/Late Check-out
automatic Upgrades
Block Space Availability
Free High Speed Internet
Breakfast Included
Welcome Amenities

These "Premiere Perks" vary by hotels and cities, so ask your travel advisor for hotel recommendations that offer preferred corporate discount rates with benefits.

Premiere Travel clients always receive great value.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Special" Frequent Flyer Status Not So Special Anymore

Frequent business flyers who have achieved high "Gold", "Platinum", "Premier" and other "special" designations are beginning to see a noticeable dilution in the benefits they receive from their airlines.

Upgrades are much more difficult to score, Club lounges are ever more crowded with fewer amenities, award redemptions for desired flights are almost non-existent or will cost a fortune of miles.

Reasons for all this are simple. Airlines are now viewing those programs as profit centers and not rewards for loyalty that most flyers think they are. Flyers are also competing with non-flyers as you can earn frequent flyer miles on every purchase through credit and debit cards. These non-flyers are competing for scarce awards and seats. Airlines mergers, code shares, alliances and joint ventures add even more mileage credits that are bound to be redeemed.

In the meantime, airlines are cutting capacity, and reducing the number of premium seats to add more luxuries like sleeper business cabins. Seats dedicated for mileage awards are also getting very difficult to find particularly to sunny destinations.

On a recent flight, an airline called priority boarding for their top mileage earners, and no less than 20 flyers lined up to board. We are likely to reach a tipping point where travelers will start questioning the value of some of those benefits. Unless you are in the top tier, you are likely to see a continuous dilution of these benefits.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 Flight Cancellations-A New Record

Domestic airlines are on pace to record the worst year of flight cancellations since 2001.

By the end of the third quarter of 2011, more than 104,000 flights have been scrubbed. This represents an almost 2.5% of all flights scheduled.

Reasons vary. Beside the normal menu of weather related situations which have been eventful this year, and "mechanicals" are new tarmac delay rules that prohibit airlines from delays over 3 hours on the tarmac. Airlines opt to cancel flights than risk huge penalties amounting to thousands per passenger.

Booking flights online is simple enough and straight-forward for point to point itineraries. Relying on a reputable travel management company to be there for you when you encounter complications is a must for business and mission critical clients.