There’s no two ways about it, traveling during the holiday season is rough. Not only are airports and highways busier than ever, but so are you. If you’re planning on spending the holiday season out of town, you now have the added stress of not only packing and making travel arrangements, but also ensuring that all of your holiday gifts are purchased and make it to the appropriate destination.
With this in mind, we asked our in-house travel experts: when heading out of town for the holidays, what’s the best way to ensure that your holiday gifts arrive at the appropriate destination?
Shopping before you go
With so much going on during the holiday season, the last thing many people want to worry about is last minute holiday shopping. For this reason, many people tend to purchase their holiday gifts before they leave town.
While going this route may put your mind at ease, logistically, this may create a bit of a headache during travel. Depending on how many gifts you need to transport, you may pay extra baggage fees due to additional weight — you may even find yourself paying extra for a suitcase reserved solely for gifts! If you do plan on this option, remember, do not wrap your presents until you arrive at your destination, as TSA may need to unwrap them for security purposes. Also, make sure none of your gifts are on the TSA’s list of prohibited items.
Shopping upon arrival
If you have a day or two to squeeze in some shopping and you’re going to an area with plenty of stores (a large city or somewhere in close proximity to shopping), this may be a good option. However, if you’re planning on visiting a tropical island two days before you’re due to exchange gifts, you may find yourself gifting hotel gift shop trinkets to your loved ones. While we all know it’s the thought that counts, the little ones in your family may not be overjoyed to receive a conch shell with googly eyes.
Your best bet?
The TravelPro team agrees: if it’s possible, your best option is to shop for the bulk of your presents online, then have them delivered to your destination. This will allow you to get your shopping done ahead of time, without having to worry about the logistics of getting your gifts from point A to point B. You save yourself the hassle and cost of a heavy suitcase, or even a second suitcase. Everyone gets what they want, and you get to relax and shop on your own time.
Or you could just give gift cards.
- How to Buy Holiday Gifts That Won’t be Regifted (doorinface.com)
- Top Tips to get your Holiday Orders in time (shapeways.com)
- How to buy holiday gifts without losing your mind (katieleigh.wordpress.com)
- Buy This, Not That: Holiday Edition (money.usnews.com)
- 10 Tips for Holiday Shopping 2013 (suddenlyfrugal.com)
There’s nothing worse than having a delayed or cancelled flight, especially if you’re on a tight schedule or need to pick up a connecting flight. However, if you’re feeling as if you’ve been running into less complications and delays while traveling this year, you’re not mistaken: records show that when it comes to flight times, things are looking up.
According to the US Department of Transportation, flight times for the first half of 2013 (January to June) were the best they’ve been in 19 years. During this period, the top 16 airlines arrived at their destinations within 15 minutes of the scheduled time 78.1% of the time. In addition, flight cancellations are at the seventh-lowest rate in 19 years, with only 1.68% of flights being cancelled during the first half of this year.
Why the sudden change? While airlines have become much more focused on customer experience in the recent years, it’s safe to say that the effort to stay on schedule is also a cost-saving measure. Flight delays aren’t just frustrating for passengers, they can also be quite costly for the airlines themselves.
Researchers from Northern Illinois University recently discovered that every minute a flight is delayed at the gate resulted in a $30 increase in costs for the airline. Additionally, the US Department of Transportation has created stricter penalties for tarmac delays, fining airlines up to $27,500 per passenger for violations of this rule. Last month, United Airlines was hit with a $1.1 million fine for tarmac delays at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
Of course, the improvement in flight times also has something to do with the economy. According to Alan Bender, professor of Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, “Airline mergers and the lackluster economy have meant fewer flights — and fewer flights means less congestion and therefore, better on-time performance.”
Wondering which airline and airport to select in order to improve your chances of being on time? According to the US Department of Transportation’s report, the most on-time airlines were Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines. The least on-time were American Eagle Airlines, AirTran Airways and ExpressJet Airlines. When it comes to airport delays, much of it has to do with weather. Newark’s Liberty International had the lowest on-time arrivals at 67.1%, and Phoenix had the highest, with 85.46% of flights arriving on time.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Have you noticed an improvement in arrival times this year? Tell us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
- Airlines improved on-time performance in August (seattlepi.com)
- United Airlines Fined $1.1 Million for Long Tarmac Delays (on.aol.com)
- Airlines On Endless Quest for Better Boarding (travelproluggageblog.com)
Before embarking on an international trip, there are a lot of things to consider, the largest of which is money. When traveling abroad, is it better to bring cash or credit cards? And if you do opt to bring cash, should you bring US dollars to exchange upon arrival, or should you change your currency before you even leave the US?When traveling internationally, I use debit and credit cards as my main form of currency as in most cases, it’s more cost-effective to use a debit or credit card to withdraw local currency upon arrival. This method will allow you to exchange your US dollars into local currency at the wholesale exchange rate, which is typically better than what a local currency exchange would offer. Additionally, most local banks and currency exchanges will add on a transaction fee, which will usually be around 2% of your total transaction. By using an ATM, the only fee you may get hit with is an ATM fee, which will be similar to what you’d pay at an out-of-network ATM in the United States.
However, I also exchange a small amount of money — enough to last a day or so — prior to leaving the United States. I recommend this to all international travelers, as in the event that you run into issues withdrawing money, you won’t find yourself stranded and penniless in a foreign country.
There is a slim chance that your bank may flag your transaction as suspicious, especially if you forgot to call to inform them of your travels prior to leaving! Also, many countries around the world now rely on chip and pin (or EMV) credit cards. While most retailers will still accept magnetic strip cards, this isn’t always the case.
Of course, there are circumstances where cash is the only way to go. Many people are surprised to learn that US debit cards are virtually useless in many countries. In some countries (such as Myanmar), ATMs are not connected to international networks. In other countries (like Japan) debit cards are much smaller, and the standard US card is not sized correctly for ATMs.
Depending on your destination, your best bet is to use a credit card as your primary source of funds. However, no matter where you’re headed, it pays to do your research before you leave.
When it comes to air travel, competition doesn’t just exist between airlines, it also exists between the airports themselves. Unfortunately, many small, regional airports find themselves struggling to stay competitive with larger and more recognizable international airports. For this reason, many of these smaller airports are now turning to loyalty programs to attract frequent fliers.
In a competitive market, such a move makes sense, especially for airports that must compete against neighboring airports that offer more frequent flights and a wider variety of airlines and destinations.
According to Debby McElroy, executive vice president of policy and external affairs for Airports Council International-North America, “Airports recognize that there is competition not only among airlines but also between airports. Loyalty programs can help an airport stand out among its competitors.”
These new airport loyalty programs aren’t too dissimilar from those offered by rental car companies or hotel chains. The programs are typically free and offer frequent fliers perks such as airline miles, parking deals, or discounts at the airport’s shops and restaurants for simply flying to and from the airport. For example, Gainesville Regional Airport offers registered members of their Road Warrior Club access to a private lounge, and those that travel at least once per month are awarded special perks and freebies.
While some airports operate their own loyalty programs, many (such as Bob Hope Airport) participate in the popular Thanks Again’s loyalty program. The program currently works with over 40 airports in the United States and over 170 airport shops and restaurants. Travelers who register with the program can earn points, which can be used towards miles in the loyalty programs of many major airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
Smaller regional airports may not have the big name draw or offer as many travel options as their larger counterparts. However, regional airport loyalty programs appear to be working well to draw in new travelers.
We want to hear from you: when it comes to air travel, are you more apt to fly into a smaller regional airport or larger international airport? Would a loyalty program sway your preference? Share with us in the comments section.
- Wichita airport unveils customer loyalty program (kansas.com)
- Brand loyalty programs: Are they effective ? (newmediaandmarketing.com)
- What the airline industry needs to know about social loyalty (tnooz.com)
Any parent can attest to the fact that traveling with small children can be rough, especially when it comes to air travel, as forcing kids to sit in one place for hours on end doesn’t always go as ideally as it should.
In order to keep the peace (and avoid receiving the death glare from your fellow passengers) it’s important to keep your kids properly entertained during the duration of the flight. When it comes time to select in-flight entertainment for kids, which is the better option: an iPad, or good, old-fashioned toys?At face value, a tablet or iPad seems to be the most logical option for parents looking to keep their kids entertained on a flight, as it can be used to play games, watch movies, listen to music and even read books. The wide variety of apps and entertainment options on a tablet mean that kids of all ages, even toddlers, can find ways to be entertained on a tablet.
On the downside, a tablet requires battery life, an electrical outlet to charge up, and depending on what you’re attempting to do, a wifi connection. If your kids tend to get antsy during takeoff and landing, you’ll find yourself scrambling for ways to keep them entertained until you can power your device back on. Also, if you’re traveling with more than one kid, relying on a single tablet or iPad for entertainment will bring you to another issue: potentially manning a tug-of-war as your children fight over who gets to use the tablet.
The Final Verdict?
While it ultimately depends on the personal preference of your children, the TravelPro team suggests you bring along an iPad or tablet for in-flight entertainment, as it’s the most versatile option (and easiest to pack!) That being said, be sure to bring along some stories, travel games, or coloring books as a back-up option.
- Southwest, Dish offer free iPad entertainment to travelers (tuaw.com)
- Thin enough to carry around all day: iPad air review (standard.co.uk)
- Southwest & Dish to provide passengers in-flight entertainment via Apple’s iPad 2 (cyberparse.co.uk)
- State Of the Art: IPad Air Is Lighter, Thinner and Faster (nytimes.com)
It’s no secret that it’s becoming more and more expensive to travel. If you think that airlines are the only ones tacking on additional fees, think again. Thankfully, most of these fees are avoidable. Whether you’re flying, renting a car or staying in a hotel, there are a slew of hidden fees that everyone should be aware of when traveling. After reading USA Today’s article on gotcha fees, we pulled a few of our favorites, add weigh in with our own experiences.
1. Telephone booking fees
Do you prefer to book your flights through a telephone customer service agent? If so, you may be surprised to learn that you’ve been paying extra for this privilege. At $25 per telephone booking through several major airlines, it might cost you more to book a flight than it would to call Ms. Cleo’s psychic hotline.
To avoid this fee, use the same tool you’re using to read this blog post: your computer or your tablet. Visit the airline’s website to purchase your ticket. If you need assistance, you can still call and speak to an agent without incurring a charge, as long as you book your ticket online.
2. Hotel parking fees
Visiting a big city and planning on bringing (or renting) a car? Expect to pay big bucks for hotel parking. Parking in most big cities is already quite expensive, and hotels typically charge even more than the norm. If you must bring a car, do your research. There are plenty of websites you can use to find the cheapest nightly parking rate in the area you’re staying. If you’re renting a car, consider picking up your rental only when you need it, or renting it for the day and returning it at night. Other services like Uber ride sharing service, a taxi, or even public transportation like San Francisco’s BART or Boston’s T are much less expensive and sometimes faster.
3. Car rental insuranceRenting a car? The insurance the car rental agent insists you need can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of your rental. If you already have car insurance, you may not even need this insurance. Call your insurance company to find out if your existing policy covers rentals. Additionally, some credit cards (such as American Express) offers low-cost car rental insurance. Do your research before you book a rental car and avoid the need for this redundant insurance.
4. Resort fees
Surprise. The hotel you’re staying at may not resemble a resort in the traditional sense of the word, but they may still be charging you a resort fee, especially if you’re in a tourist town. These fees generally run about $25 per night, which add up if you staying long enough. The best way to avoid this fee is to simply ask the hotel if there are any additional fees before you book, and negotiate your way out of them. If you wait until checkout, you’re too late.
5. Early check-in fee
If you arrive at your hotel too early, it may cost you. Many hotels charge an early check-in fee for travelers who arrive before the official check-in time, which is usually around 1pm. If you arrive earlier in the day, be sure to ask about any hidden check-in fees before going through the check-in process. Don’t want to sit around the lobby for hours? Most hotels will store your bags for free until your room is ready (don’t forget to tip the bellman though).
What’s the craziest hidden fee you’ve run into when traveling? Share with your fellow travelers in the comments section.
- Do you really need Florida Car Rental Insurance? (insurancefl.wordpress.com)
If you’re an avid traveler, you may have noticed that this year’s biggest airline trend has been something everyone can appreciate: convenience. Airlines are looking for new ways to provide faster, more efficient service to their passengers, so many of them are turning towards mobile technology to accommodate their passengers’ needs and stay ahead of the competition.
If you’re an avid smartphone user, you know one thing is true: almost everyone has a mobile app these days. Some are useful; others, not so much. In keeping up with the times, most major airlines now offer mobile apps, which allow travelers to check on flight status or find other basic travel information. However, there’s only so much you can do via most mobile apps before you find yourself calling a 800 number — something which United Airlines kept in mind when re-designing their mobile app this summer.
United Airlines’ updated app (available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry 10) goes behind the basic features, allowing travelers to manage their journey in real time. For example, the updated app is designed to ease the stress of flight delays and cancellations. When a flight is cancelled or delayed, a passenger may find alternate flights and travel options directly via the mobile app, as opposed to dealing with a crowded airport help desk.
In addition, United Airlines’ mobile app currently supports a mobile boarding pass, which allows travelers to simply scan the barcode on a screen at airport security checkpoints. This feature is currently available in over 40 major international airports. United aims to have this option available at all airports they serve by this coming fall.
In a recent statement, United Airlines’ Vice President of Merchandising and e-commerce Scott Wilson stated, “The new features and updated look of these apps give travelers increased convenience, flexibility and control. United will continue to invest in building powerful mobile tools for our customers with many significant enhancements scheduled to roll out over the next year.”
What other convenience features would you like to see United and other airlines include in future iterations of their mobile apps?
- FWA now accepting mobile boarding passes (wane.com)
- This Is What Boarding Passes Should Look Like (wired.com)
- I Will Never Print My Boarding Pass Again (intercall.com)
- 5 Ways Location-based Apps Enhance Travel (wcgworld.com)
- Airports and Airlines Struggle to Meet Mobility Expectations of More Than 60% of Travelers Surveyed, Despite WiFi Wake-Up Call 12 Months Ago (sys-con.com)
- How The Explosion In Travel Apps Makes It Easier For Marketers To Reach Affluent Frequent Flyers (embargozone.com)
- Air travellers in the slow lane on technology (itpro.co.uk)
With the cost of travel continually rising, everyone is looking to save a few bucks when booking airline tickets. However, when it comes to finding the lowest airfare, everyone seems to have their own, often differing, advice to share when it comes to when and how you should purchase a flight.
When it comes to saving money on air travel, many people insist that when you book your ticket has the biggest impact on ticket price. In fact, a quick Internet search will leave you inundated with a wide variety of tips on how far in advance you should book your ticket, the best day of the week and time of day to purchase, and the cheapest day to travel on. But is there any truth to these recommendations, or are these “expert tactics” simply myths?When it comes to selecting which time to fly, many people suggest travelling mid-week and during off hours — particularly on one of those dreaded red eye flights. If you’re hoping to use this tactic to save a bit of money on airfare, you’re in luck – avoiding popular travel times (such as Friday afternoon) can help you save a few dollars on the cost of travel.
Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to score a great deal on airfare by purchasing your tickets on a specific day of the week or at a certain time, you may not be so lucky. Up until a few years ago, it was possible to save money on travel by using this tactic, however, times have changed. While it may work on occasion, purchasing airfare at a certain time isn’t a guaranteed way to score a lower fare.
If you’re looking to score the best deal possible on an upcoming trip, your best bet is to do some research on average airfare prices for the route you’re flying, begin monitoring prices a few months in advance, and snap up your tickets when you find a good deal. Remember, prices can jump very fast, so it pays to simply strike while the iron’s hot!
- Proliferation of Websites has led to Easy Booking of Airline Tickets (besttraveldeals4u.wordpress.com)
- Understanding the Hidden Taxes and Fees Associated with Airline Travel (turbotax.intuit.com)
- 5 Ways to Get Great Deals on Holiday Travel (epicatravel.com)
- Killer Tips For Finding Cheap Airline Tickets (buddyjacksonsepicinfo.wordpress.com)
The perfect holiday gift ideas for relatives and friends who love to travel
As the holiday season quickly approaches, Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage are pleased to announce the “2013 Holiday Gift Guide.” Make this holiday a memorable one with a gift for the business, leisure or adventure traveler, from the innovative Travelpro and Atlantic lines of luggage.
“Whether your family member, friend or work colleague is a frequent business traveler or they are planning for an upcoming vacation, the ’2013 Holiday Gift Guide’ for travelers offers a wide variety of luggage and briefcases that make great gifts for the holidays,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage brands.This holiday season, Travelpro is proud to present the award-winning Platinum Magna 21″ Expandable Spinner with Suiter. The Platinum Magna line won the “New Product Innovation Award” at the “2013 Travel Goods Association Show”, thanks to Travelpro’s cutting-edge use of consumer research, from blogs, reviews, forums, Twitter and Facebook to hone-in on very specific consumer needs and wants. As a result, Platinum Magna features five new patent-pending technologies, including the unique Duraframe framing system, which lessens luggage weight significantly while providing strong protection from the impacts of travel. Moreover, Platinum Magna luggage always rolls straight with the MagnaTrac 8-wheel Spinner system that includes self-aligning magnetic wheels that eliminate the “drifting” that is common when wheeling other spinner luggage. The ease of travel makes it the ideal gift for travellers accustomed to crowded airports and busy schedules. This elegant piece of luggage is available at retail for $319.99.
Also available this holiday is the Platinum Magna Rolling Tote with Computer Sleeve. The Platinum Magna Rolling Tote is specifically designed for the modern day traveller with a built in business organizer and padded computer sleeve that fits most laptops and tablets. Both Platinum Magna items are backed by Travelpro’s “Worry-Free” lifetime warranty and are available in stylish sienna and black fabric colors. The Platinum Magna Rolling Tote is available at retail for $249.99.
For the frequent business traveler on-the-go, the Travelpro Crew 9 Business Backpack is a smart holiday gift choice. This checkpoint-friendly backpack has four deep pockets for storing laptop computers, tablets, smart phones, cables, folders and other business essentials. Adjustable straps accommodate users of different heights. An elastic quick loop on the back of the bag allows you to attach it over the handle of your Rollaboard luggage when moving through airports. Travelpro backs the Crew 9 collection with a lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. The Crew 9 Business Backpack retails for $149.99. The backpack is available in black and titanium gray.
Atlantic Luggage is also pleased to announce the Atlantic Lumina 24″ Expandable Hardside Spinner. Complete with a dual-wheeled spinner system and expandable packing compartment, the Lumina 24″ Expandable Hardside Spinner combines superior strength with 360 degrees of mobility. A unique polyurethane finish on the sculpted hardside shell creates a rich, satin texture. Lumina is perfect for this holiday’s chic traveller of all ages. Available in fashionable black, ruby and blue, the 24″ Hardside Spinner model sells at a retail price of $139.99.
This holiday, Atlantic Luggage is also announcing the introduction of the new Atlantic Debut 20″ International Carry-On Upright. Featuring the best of today’s fashion and lightweight design, Debut is available in eye catching pink and turquoise fabric colors. The International carry-on upright is perfect for female teenagers and travelling college students. The Debut 20″ Upright is available for $99.99 at retail.
Another holiday gift sure to please is the Atlantic Luggage Compass Unite 29″ Expandable Spinner. Featuring the revolutionary Link2Go system, two pieces of luggage can connect back to back with Velcro straps so you can easily roll two pieces with one hand. This makes it very convenient and efficient for families with children looking to travel this holiday and beyond. Additionally, customers can receive a $15 mail-in rebate when purchasing two Atlantic Compass Unite Spinner models and a $30 mail-in rebate when purchasing three Atlantic Compass Unite Spinner models. The collection is available in beautiful cobalt blue and black at an affordable price of $159.99
For 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 worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection.
Since 1919, the Atlantic brand has been synonymous with affordable, value-added and lightweight luggage. As a market leader in the lightweight luggage segment, including neatly designed uprights and spinners to trendy and smart garment bags and totes, all Atlantic branded luggage is of superior quality and durability. Whether for business or pleasure, travel is easier with Atlantic luggage, now part of the Travelpro family of brands.
Please visit the Atlantic Luggage website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations.
It’s no secret that celebrities tend to get the red carpet treatment wherever they go. You’ve likely heard of many instances where high-powered individuals have been allowed to skirt the law or gotten away with things the average citizen would be chastised or jailed for. However, unfortunately, for one rule-bending celebrity, American Airlines has decided to put their foot down in order to ensure all of their passengers play by the rules.
Several months ago, actor Alec Baldwin was booted from an American Airlines flight leaving from LAX for unruly behavior. According to sources, the actor refused to turn off his cell phone. When asked to power down his device, he reportedly became angry, ignored the seatbelt light, and stormed into the bathroom while calling the flight crew inappropriate names.
After being ejected from the flight, Alec Baldwin promptly took to Twitter to publicly express his frustration over the situation, stating, “Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericanisbankrupt.”
Within minutes of posting this tweet, the actor’s tweet received hundreds of retweets and created quite a buzz online. Unfortunately for Mr. Baldwin, American Airlines quick-thinking PR and social media team decided to put their foot down. Within five minutes of the actor’s tweet, American responded with a message of their own.
The next morning, American Airlines posted an official statement to its Facebook page, and reporters and bloggers were directed to the page for further information. The post went on to receive more than 6,000 likes, 27,230 comments, reached roughly 38 million people, and arguably succeeded in making an important point: everyone should comply with FAA rules and not act inappropriately toward the cabin crew, regardless of their name or status.
Unfortunately, Alec Baldwin isn’t the first celebrity to have created an in-flight disturbance. Other unruly celebrity passengers include the likes of Josh Duhamel, Naomi Campbell, Ivana Trump – and famously, French actor Gerard Depardieu, who caused a two hour delay on a flight from Paris to Dublin after urinating in the flight cabin in front of other passengers.
Do you agree with American Airlines’ response to the situation? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
- American Airlines calmly handles celebrity blow-up (prdaily.com)