Saturday, March 31, 2012

Business Fare Deals Abound

Travelers are now accustomed to expect fare increases due to fuel surcharges, higher fares for spring and summer travel and tight capacity. But did you know that there are more deals this year than ever? Business class and premium economy fares are very reasonable for international travel if you are willing to be flexible, wait for the "sweet spot", and listen to your dependable travel agent's advice. Here's how to take advantage of these opportunities to get the discounted international business and premium economy seats that only the savvy travelers and their travel agents know about: 1) Talk to your agent and let him and her know what you would like to do. 2) Be flexible: The more flexibility you have, the lower your fare will be. The more you insist on a specific carrier and dates, the more expensive your options would be. It is amazing how much certain travelers are willing to pay up and endure to get mileage they may never be able to use. 3) Combine land arrangements, like hotels, car rentals or tours and your airfares may even be lower. 4) Give the foreign carriers the opportunity to compete for your business. Their csutomer service is superior, and their gateways may allow you free stops to explore new cities often at no cost. Foreign carriers do not have the big advertising budgets and the presence that U.S. carriers have. Your travel agent knows all the deals and will save you hundreds and often thousands simply by clever planning and finding those deals that even online travel agencies may not cover. For more information, please call your travel expert at Premiere Travel.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Exorbitant Taxation Without Representation (The Travel Edition)

Travelers seem to be easy pickings for taxing authorities to pick on. Travelers do not vote in their destinations, and have no say or influence with governments and authorities in these matters. The travelers have turned to be the pinatas for those governments. Wherever they go, and no matter what they do, they are whacked at with all kinds of fees and taxes. In air travel, some taxes and fees amount to 400% of the ticket breakdown. Yes, governments and taxing authorities receive more than airlines when airlines have to foot the fuel bills and pay for the employees, facilities and equipment. The gauntlet of taxes and fees do not start or end with air travel. Car rentals, hotel stays, and even apartment and home rentals are subjected to very high rates that defy any logical explanation. Even when you think you are paying too much, some countries charge "departure taxes" that are required to be paid in cash and are not collected by airlines. If this was the last event in a country visited, and the passenger did not expect it, it is not a good lasting impression. It is a shakedown. Travelers are the highest taxed people. They are not represented, and they receive very little in exchange for what they pay.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Labor Pains Complicate American Airlines Reorganization

AMR Corporation, parent of American Airlines plans to ask the U.S. Bankruptcy court overseeing its reorganization plan to toss union labor contracts. Negotiations between the airline and its unions have not made any progress and may go down to the wire as similar negotiations have gone in the past. American insists that it must achieve savings of over $1 billion from its unions to become competitive with other carriers. AMR is also trying to unload its pension obligations, unfavorable leases and other debts in its reorganization effort. Failure to reach a labor agreement with its unions may result in serious consequences to the airline and its unions such as industrial action by the unions and a delay in reorganization.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Airlines Must Explain Basis of Fuel Surcharges

When the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) imposed new requirements on airlines and online travel agency (OTA) advertising and disclosure, one overlooked aspect was the "fuel surcharge: component of the cost of the international airline ticket. For the longest time, airlines could simply announce increases in fuel surcharges that are not part of the base fare while still advertising the base fare cost. The DOT now mandates that airlines not only disclose clearly to the public what these fuel surcharges are, but airlines must identify some reasonable baseline of that has to demonstrate a methodology of how the surcharges were calculated. It also brings back a point repeated frequently in this blog: that airlines attribute increases in fuel surcharges to rising fuel costs, but they either do not react promptly when fuel costs decline, or they simply ignore it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Becoming United-An Update

The following is an update from United Airlines about the integration to a single platform with Continental Airlines. Continental Airline flight numbers have been removed and a procedure has been put in place to exchange, refund and issue new tickets. From United: This past weekend United migrated to a single Passenger Service System. While the majority of our migration activities were successful, we continue to work through issues as they arise. We are extremely focused on providing the most comprehensive solutions, which reduce the necessity for calls to our contact centers and expand self-service options. Out of Sync Passenger Records: During migration, some Passenger Records became “out of sync,” which means the itinerary in United’s system did not match the e-ticket in United’s system. All passenger records for travel in March have now been put back into sync, and all remaining records should be completed by the end of the week. Economy Plus Seating Assignments United currently accepts either the 11 digit or 8 character MileagePlus account numbers. This conversion process could take several hours. The United system will convert the 11 digit account number to the new 8 character account number in our system. The seat map may not display properly until the conversion is complete. For immediate Economy Plus seat assignments (where applicable). MileagePlus Account Numbers Premiere Travel highly recommends passengers update their profile with their new 8 character MileagePlus account number. Frequent flyers who did not receive an email from MileagePlus may obtain their new account number by going to and entering their old 11 digit account number and password. END~ For more information on premier executive travel and reservations, please contact Premiere Travel.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Travelers' Advocate in Congress!

Many travelers feel the travel experience has been deeply degraded. Long lines, surly airline and TSA employees, delays and hassles are now common expectations. The TSA is in charge of airport security throughout the U.S. and good changes are quietly under way thanks to one tough congressman. John Mica (R-FL), hails from the 7th Congressional District in Florida, and is the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His FAA bill got recently approved, and there is a provision to reign in the TSA. Congressman Mica is not hesitant about airing his criticism about the TSA. From the "chat-downs" to the dysfunctional bloated bureaucracy that the TSA has become, Congressman Mica believes that there are much better ways to handle airport security through public-private methods, such as opting out and privatization of airport screenings. Some airports have already adopted the new model successfully, and the initiative will hopefully spread to more airports in the near future.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

United Asks For Patience

After months of preparations, dry runs and dress rehearsals, the migration of the new United Airlines into a single platform did not go as smoothly as expected. Many airport kiosks across the U.S. were not functioning properly and some passengers were frustrated with delays that were to be expected in such a massive undertaking. The problems will likely persist for several more days as the new combined carrier deals with consolidating hundreds of thousands of passenger records into one system which most of its employees are not familiar with. We advise passengers traveling on United (or Continental) in the next few days to do early check-in before heading to the airport. Passengers may also experience check-in problems on the overloaded website. United Premier travel members have dedicated access to deal with changes and cancellations.