USTA Study Shows Open Skies Is Crucial to US Airlines, Economy

August 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on Travel Pulse discusses a study commissioned by the US Travel Association on the Open Skies Agreements. These agreements foster open international policies regarding travel. The study says they not only help the U.S. air travel economy, they help the U.S. economy in general.

Some major U.S. carriers recently challenged the agreements. The recent influx of some Persian Gulf airlines, among others, has brought more competition into the U.S. market, which doesn’t thrill American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.

Delta Boeing 747-400

Delta Boeing 747-400 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When the Big Three first embarked on their lobbying campaign against Open Skies, they had our attention because they claimed that their position was about protecting U.S. jobs,” said USTA president and CEO Roger Dow. “But it took about 30 seconds of reflection to realize that breaking those agreements is likely to have terrible consequences for U.S. employment, and now we have research in hand conclusively illustrating that.”

Since there are now three large legacy carriers in the U.S., they’ve developed a bit of a stronghold on the U.S. market. There’s less competition and therefore, looking from the consumer standpoint, if some of these other airlines come in, maybe we’ll get better fares.

The article says that research indicates that the Open Skies Agreements are very much pro-traveler and that these agreements support competition.

“The travel community weighs every policy proposal against a very basic set of criteria: is it pro-competition, pro-growth and pro-traveler? The Big Three’s move against Open Skies epic-fails every part of that test,” said Dow.

The challenge seems to be focusing mainly on Persian Gulf airlines that fly into the U.S., but the study, which was conducted by Oxford Economics, indicates that the airlines cited actually pump quite a bit of money into the U.S. economy.

Bring This, Not That: Backpack, Rollaboard, or Duffel Bag for a Carry-On?

August 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve talked before about the different benefits of backpacks, rollaboards, and duffel bags and we definitely think that each one has a particular area where it shines. The regular business traveler might favor the rollaboard, while the college student would enjoy the backpack. And travel writer Mark Eveleigh has waxed rhapsodic about the duffel bag.

So is there a “best bag” to bring on your next trip?

It depends on the size of the particular bag and the length of the trip.

On the business side, the backpack has almost been a replacement for the briefcase, especially among younger people, particularly when you’re talking about the business-style backpack. When you actually do travel, you can use your backpack and a rollaboard at the same time.

Tpro Bold 2 Group Photo - Blue

Our Tpro Bold 2 line – duffel bags, rollaboards, and backpacks.

The backpack will carry your work essentials for a business meeting, to visit a client, or to give a presentation. The rollaboard takes your clothes and toiletries. And if you have a Travelpro backpack, there’s even a strap to slide over the rollaboard’s extended handle.

The duffel bag could be, depending on its size, a replacement for the rollaboard or backpack. These are very useful for non-business type trips, but could require some more energy and forethought.

In terms of plane travel, the rollaboard usually can’t fit under the seat in front of you, so it would have to be stored in the overhead bin. Also, rollaboards have wheels, which are great for pulling the bag behind you, but you can easily set duffels down, and as long as you’re carrying them, they’re all-terrain bags.

Mark Eveleigh and his girlfriend, Narina Exelby, are adventure travel writers who have a strong preference for duffels because they don’t like toting backpacks around on their backs, and instead look for duffels with heavy-duty wheels.

As is often the case, you need to think about the nature of your trip. Make sure you have the right piece for the particular trip you’re going on. They can all be useful in different situations: rollaboards are great in the city, while duffel bags are better for weekends in the cabin or if you’re going to do a lot of hiking. And backpacks are just great all around for your smaller items and work essentials.

Which is your favorite? Let us hear from you. Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Indian Airline IndiGo Removes Check-In Process for Domestic Passengers

August 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Indian Airline IndiGo is making air travel easier for its domestic passengers within India. According to a Future Travel Experience article, IndiGo is using something called an “Integrated Travel Document”, which means passengers don’t have to check in manually.

Instead, they choose a seat and meals when they purchase tickets and are immediately emailed a boarding pass along with their travel itinerary without needing to check in on their own.

IndiGo AirlinesThis is a great way to allow passengers to avoid waiting in lines at the airport. We’re not sure that this is something that would “fly” in the U.S., but on the other hand, many U.S. carriers do allow passengers to print out boarding passes the day before a flight, or check in with their mobile phone.

On the other hand, there are not a lot of automatic bag drops here, so passengers who need to check a bag will still need to go through the bag check-in process. We’re also not sure how IndiGo is handling that process.

Future Travel Experience notes that it had previously reported on automated check-in making strides last year. “The likes of JetBlue, Finnair, Air France, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA and Flybe have either trialed or implemented auto check-in, but IndiGo has now taken it a step further by integrating it into the booking process,” it notes.

We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out within the U.S. and whether automated luggage drops will being to make travel a bit easier within the U.S.

What do you think? Would you like to receive an automated boarding pass right when you book your flight instead of having to mess with checking in 24 hours before your flight leaves, or even standing in line at the airport? Tell us in the comments section below or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Kurush Pawar (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Luggage Testing Facility Ensures Highest Quality for Travelpro and Atlantic Brands

August 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

As the original inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a market leader in innovative luggage design, Travelpro has continued to develop their state-of-the-art testing facility at their Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters to ensure the highest quality luggage for flight crews and frequent travelers.

Travelpro’s in-house testing team conducts a full range of rigorous qualification protocols across all their luggage brands. It is designed to support all the performance testing needs of their Product Design and Development process by replicating real-world usage conditions.

Platiinum Magna 2 bags“Quality and innovation are the cornerstones of the Travelpro brand and our testing facility ensures our continued commitment to providing the finest, most durable luggage worldwide,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands. “When we offer a comprehensive warranty on our bags, it means we’ve thoroughly tested each product to our demanding testing standards. If a bag fails even a single test, it is sent back to the factory for improvements and then tested again, until all tests are passed.”

Travelpro has continued to grow its reputation of innovation, style and durability by ensuring that its products meet or exceed testing standards throughout the product life cycle. This commitment to quality through product testing has spanned close to three decades, since the days when Northwest Airlines pilot, Robert Plath, invented the original Rollaboard luggage in 1987 and founded Travelpro.

Numerous professionally designed industry leading tests are applied to Travelpro and Atlantic branded products to guarantee state-of-the-art workmanship and quality of materials. Extension Handle Testing subjects the retractable handles to 10,000 up and down movements to verify its reliability during repeated use. The Zipper Test activates outer and interior zippers thousands of times to replicate ‘real-world’ usage over the life of the bag. The Wheel Tester thoroughly tests luggage wheels to provide a smooth and effortless roll with long-term reliability. Fabrics are tested for seam strength, resistance to wear and tear, color consistency under different lighting conditions and color stability under wet and dry conditions.

Every test given is monitored and recorded by quality verification testers. Moreover, the process doesn’t stop there. Throughout the life of a product line, Travelpro will randomly select bags for testing to ensure they continue to maintain the same level of quality over time and usage. Thanks to this focus on quality through constant testing, Travelpro luggage lasts longer, maintaining customer loyalty.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers on every continent. The company is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently meeting and exceeding their expectations. Travelpro was honored to once again be voted as the “World’s Best Luggage” by Premier Traveler Magazine in 2014.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @Travelprointl.

4 Tips to Never Losing Your Luggage Again

August 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in U.S. News travel notes that lost airline luggage has become something of a rarity. You have a less than 1 percent chance of losing your luggage. However, it’s still worth your while to make efforts to keep yourself out of that 1 percent. Here’s how.

Give the airline plenty of time to deal with your baggage by arriving early to your flight and not booking yourself into connecting flights that have extremely tight windows. If you have to rush to go from one flight to the next, so does your luggage, and the baggage handlers may not be as fast as you. (Plus, you can save yourself the headache and anxiety of racing to make that next flight.)

A baggage handler unloading bags from the moto...

A baggage handler unloading bags from the motorized ramp underneath an recently-landed airplane in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make sure your bag is clearly identifiable. You can do this as easily as tying a colorful sock or ribbon to your handle. Next, avoid putting anything of high value into it. Placing a Monet painting into your checked luggage is a great way to ensure someone steals it en route. If you need high-value items at your destination, or want to take them home, have them shipped via courier and get the replacement insurance.

You can also add a tracking device to your luggage. These days, such devices are easy to come by and using one is a great way to better ensure you’ll be reunited with your bag after your plane lands. The devices use GPS tracking and your smartphone to make sure you find your luggage, so at the very least you can tell the airline representative where your bag is.

And finally, know your rights when it comes to lost luggage. There are a lot of rules around lost luggage and many of them benefit the airlines (for instance, there is a list of items that they will not replace, including that Monet painting). Know them before you ever leave the house, so you know what you can and can’t take, should and shouldn’t have, and what you can do to protect yourself if you ever become one of the 1 percent.

How do you keep track of your luggage when you fly? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Poncho Versus Umbrella

August 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Should you bring a poncho or an umbrella when traveling? Are there situations where you would take one and not the other?

One of our co-workers always takes an umbrella when he travels, particularly on a business trip. He just feels that an umbrella is a better choice. The umbrella is easier to deal with. It just seems like a better choice because it’s there when you need it and you don’t have to put it on or deal with folding it back up after using it.

English: The SENZ umbrella, develloped at the ...

The SENZ umbrella, developed at the Delft University of Technology, withstanding stormy winds. Picture taken at the Kunsthal exhibition on Dutch Design (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re planning on attending any sporting events on your trip, you should take a poncho as stadiums tend to discourage umbrellas. Or if you’re going on an outdoor expedition, a poncho might be more realistic because it provides more coverage and you’re more mobile; an umbrella can tend to limit mobility a bit, and doesn’t cover you adequately if there are high winds.

Ultimately, it just depends on your situation and what you’re doing. In terms of everyday life, I would prefer an umbrella.

One exception might be when you’re traveling to a place where space is limited, and you can’t just pop out an umbrella. One of those small pack away ponchos can come in handy, because you’re still covered, even in close quarters.

On the other hand, you can take a small umbrella and pack it into one of the pockets in your luggage or backpack so it’s there if you need it. A very small compact umbrella is the one you want to go with when you’re traveling. Just don’t count on it in a heavy storm.

Figure out the situation before you go, of course, but we ultimately recommend an umbrella if you’re going somewhere on business and a poncho if you’re expecting to be more active during your vacation. And either one can work as a small pack away as long as you go with the smaller versions suitable for that situation.

How do you keep dry when the rains come? Got any helpful hints or ideas? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

15 Useful Travel Websites for People Who Love Traveling

August 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love to travel, and can’t get enough of the different travel websites that keep popping up, we’ve got a few new ones for you to check out.

A recent Lifehack article shows us 15 sites that are helpful for travelers. We’ve covered several of them in the past, but there’s always something new in the world of travel websites. And we found a few new ones we’d never heard of.

Of course you’ll find some of the expected travel websites, such as Yelp. But throw in some new ones we weren’t as familiar with, such as Skiplagged and Responsible Travel, and you catch our interest. They give tips on going places we might never have thought about.

Seat61.com, a website dedicated to train travel.

Seat61.com, a website dedicated to train travel.

One of the sites, The Man in Seat 61, is all about train travel, which is something we don’t discuss that much here. But after reading it, we may have to give it some more consideration.

The article gives us info on some niche and unexpected travel websites that most people don’t know about. We tend to use the run-of-the-mill sites ourselves and were pleased to learn more about these new sites.

Trip Tribe is a site that will allow you to enter information about yourself and then gives you tips on some activities you might enjoy.

Home Exchange allows users to trade housing with people in locales they want to visit. It’s like a barter version of AirBNB, where users can simply set up a home exchange, as the name implies, and trade houses with fellow travelers for a few days or weeks.

Another interesting site was AirHelp, which is a great resource for folks who have had unpleasant events while traveling via airplane. For those with lost luggage or extensive delays, Air Help is a great resource in letting you know what your rights are.

What are some of your favorite travel sites? Do you have any you recommend, or any new favorites? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Airplane Seats Really ARE Getting Smaller

August 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel writer Peter Greenberg is confirming what we’ve believed all along: airplane seats are getting smaller, as is the space between them. Airlines have found ways to incorporate lighter, slimmer seats, which allows them to pack more seats onto the planes.

Worse yet, they’re even shrinking the size of the airplane bathrooms.

A seat graphic on a Song airplane.

A seat graphic on a Song airplane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many carriers are adding the extra seats to shorter flights, although that is certainly not the case across the board.

One trend we’ve noted in conjunction with the smaller seats is that airlines are offering seat upgrades (so-called “comfort seats”) for folks who are willing to pay extra to sit in a seat that’s a tad roomier or comfortable. Let’s be clear that we are not talking about first class seats. These seats are another option between a standard seat and a first class seat. This is one of the many ways that airlines are increasing their add-on income.

Recently, one of our employees flew on an older plane to Europe and said the he has never sat in a seat with less legroom. He couldn’t even put the arm rest down between himself and his wife. The airline offered comfort seats, which cost $75 to $80 more for the 11 hour flight. He was on the aisle but was crammed into a small space. He handled some of the stress of the flight by moving around and getting up to walk around the plane whenever possible.

One way to make sure this horrible fate doesn’t happen to you is to check SeatGuru.com as a way to check out your seats on a particular plane before you book, so you can buy an upgrade if it looks like the standard available seat is an extremely tight fit or their is a electrical box underneath your feet. You can enter your information and a seat map for your plane will pop up along with comfort recommendations for the various seats.

Are you willing to pay for seat upgrades? What’s your minimum threshold where you’ll put up with the discomfort before you pay the fee? Let us hear from you here or on our Facebook page.

Why Do Some Hotels Smell So Good?

August 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

There is a new movement afoot — anose? — in the hotel world. Some hotels now include a special scent inside the hotel as part of their branding, says a recent article in Hotel Chatter.

The article focuses mainly on the scents offered in the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which owns Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Hotel Indigo.

English: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Birmingham

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Birmingham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve found in our own travels that it’s noticeable in these hotels. It’s something they do a lot of research on, and the scents that we’ve noticed have been very pleasant indeed.

A distinctive scent gives guests a sense that the hotel has good air quality and is very clean. It can also give guests a stronger sense of faith in hotels where a pleasant scent is part of the overall ambiance. It can even give a feeling of being in a more luxurious atmosphere.

Each IHG’s hotel brands has a signature scent. Hotel Indigo changes the scents up on a regular basis but the other two keep to the same branded scent.

“When beginning the process of determining a scent for a hotel, key factors that play into consideration are the hotel’s location and the property’s overall theme, “said Andrew Gajary, general manager of the InterContinental New York Times Square. “Based on these elements, we then work with experts in the field to bring to life those characteristics through aromas, which trigger guests’ olfactory system (also known as sense of smell). Being a modern midtown hotel with a strong environmental focus, our custom scent pulls together aromas, including various floral, to create an environment that is relaxing (contrary to the busy New York streets), welcoming (ensuring guests feel at home) and modern (clean and fresh).”

What are some of your favorite scents? What would you think if your favorite hotel adopted a special scent? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Smaller Bags versus Larger Luggage

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When packing for a flight, travelers don’t always want to haul around one large bag, so they opt for carrying a few smaller bags instead. For example, we’ve known women who carry their cosmetics in a separate bag, as well as a small rollaboard or spinner, and a briefcase or purse.

This is fine for car travel, but what about plane travel? Is it better to consolidate all your luggage into one larger bag or carry some of the items you might ordinarily pack on the plane with you. Should you carry the cosmetics bag, which is about the size of a small tote, or figure out how to pack it with your clothes in a large suitcase?

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel - Open

The new Tpro Bold 2 Rolling Duffel — you can fit a lot more in here than a couple small bags can hold.

Let’s assume our female passenger doesn’t have room in her 20″ carry-on bag, so she’ll have to carry her cosmetics bag. Remember, airlines allow one carry-on and one personal bag, which includes a purse or briefcase. If she’s already got a personal bag, she either needs to make room in the carry-on bag, or get a larger piece of luggage and consider checking her bag.

So which is her better choice?

We should first look at the economics. If you take a larger suitcase, most airlines will charge for a checked bag fee. That’s one decision that has to be made up front. The whole reason we recommend carry-on bags is to avoid those fees.

Next, consider security, trust, and convenience. If our passenger has her medications, she absolutely won’t want to be separated from her bag. It’s also nice to have access to your toothbrush and something to wash your face and freshen up in flight, or to use the minute you get off the plane.

She’ll also need to think about how much she’s packing, and how long her trip is going to be. This is where packing fewer pieces that are more versatile, in order to create more outfits, pays off. Or rolling clothes instead of folding them.

Some people also like smaller bags they can put underneath the seat so they can access certain items during the flight. If you split your luggage between two carry-on items, you don’t have to worry about waiting to pick up your bag after the flight, and you can get important items during the flight.

However, juggling multiple items can definitely be inconvenient. It can be nice to have the airline take care of everything, which can be great especially when you have a layover during which you would have to keep all your luggage together.

Ultimately, this is a personal choice. Are you happy with a bigger bag that may require baggage fees? Or do you want to avoid fees, so you travel light, roll your clothes, and make sure everything is as efficient as possible to keep it all in your two carry-on items? Pick the method that suits you and your travel preferences.

What do you do? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

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