2017 Air Travel Consumer Report Results

April 24, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

As the traveling public becomes more discriminating about which airline it flies and who’s the best at getting them where they’re needing and wanting to go on time, the annual Air Travel Consumer Report, a compiling of data submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, reads like a tell-all tabloid.

And despite the crushing media stories about some problems, the airline industry has improved its performance year over year.

For example, 2017 was the lowest year for bumped passengers since 1995. The rate — just .034 for every 10,000 passengers — is half the rate of .062 of 2016.

That number doesn’t account for travelers who accepted travel vouchers or offered to give up their seats on overbooked flights, two of the ways airlines reduce the statistic they have to report to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Cancellations, on-time performance, tarmac delays, flights that are chronically delayed, and the causes of flight delays are also detailed in the report. The overall on-time rate was 80.2 percent, a small decline from 2016 when the number was 81.4 percent. That makes the numbers reported by the top three airlines exceptional.

Table from 2017 Air Travel Consumer Report by U.S. DOT

Hawaiian Airlines led the way in on-time performance with 88.2 percent on-time arrivals. Delta Airlines was second, with 83.5 percent, and Alaska Airlines rounded out the top three with 83.4 percent. According to the report, “a flight is counted as ‘on time’ if it operated less than 15 minutes after the scheduled time shown in the carriers’ Computerized Reservations Systems (CRS).”

The reporting of on-time arrivals is particularly important because the report shows that the number one cause of delays for passengers was due to late arriving aircraft (6.74%). The second leading factor contributing to delays was air carrier delay, which is defined as circumstances due to maintenance or crew that are within the airline’s control. That accounted for 5.46 percent of delays in December.

The report’s quarterly figures also highlighted unusually high tarmac delays for December 2017, as 96 flights reported tarmac delays of three hours or more.

While that seems unusually high, there’s actually a good explanation for it: 77 tarmac delays were from planes that were held away from the terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport due to the December 17 power outage. Another 14 were delayed departing from Atlanta because of a snowstorm on December 8. This makes the actual number of flights with an on-tarmac delay of three hours or more only 5 for for December 2017.

The airlines are listening to customer complaints and are doing everything they can to make our flights a more comfortable experience, and that shows in the improved numbers of 2017 over 2016.

Have you noticed an improvement in performance, or do you have your own story to tell? Share it with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Transportation (Public Domain)

Roll into Savings: The History of the Industry’s First Rollaboard® (15% off Rollaboards)

April 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s hard to remember a time when it was a struggle to lug your luggage through an airport, but it did exist. Travelers had to literally manhandle their suitcases using the handles throughout the airport and to hoist 30 – 40 pound bags onto and off baggage carousels. But everything changed when one airline professional grew weary of the process and decided he could make it better.

Northwest Airlines 747 pilot, Bob Plath, crisscrossed the globe a thousand times over, suitcase in tow. He’d seen firsthand what happened to his luggage and those of others over time and saw the toll it took on travelers hauling it through terminals. He thought there had to be something better.

When he discovered there wasn’t, he invented it.

Travelpro Crew 11 Group Photo including spinner and Rollaboard bags

Travelpro Crew 11 Collection — with both spinner and Rollaboard bags

What Plath created in his garage in 1987 was completely revolutionary. Before his brainchild, all luggage was oriented horizontally. Heavy, inflexible suitcases with handles on top that had to be carried through airports. The only other integrated rolling option was a horizontal model featuring four small wheels and a strap for pulling, that collided with your heels due to the poor balance and ergonomics. Plath’s innovation began with reorienting his bag vertically, and placing larger, stable wheels and a retractable handle system.

Soon fellow pilots and flight attendants began asking him to make what he coined the Rollaboard® for them. When passengers began noticing and asking airline personnel where they had purchased their bags, Plath moved the operation out of his garage into a 185,000 square foot warehouse. He left Northwest in 1991 to focus solely on what has become the industry standard in luggage and the precursor to all other upright, wheeled luggage rolling through the world’s airports.

The Rollaboard changed travel in several fundamental ways:

  • Airport security procedures and equipment were standardized to accommodate increased use of carry-ons.
  • Airlines reconfigured their fleets with overhead storage bins that could hold the new carry-ons.
  • The struggling luggage industry was revived as travelers replaced old horizontal luggage with the much easier-to-use Rollaboards®. Other manufacturers scrambled to develop products that would compete with the new standard.
  • The tourism industry also received a boost as travel was simplified for everyone, regardless of their conditioning or physical limitations.

Today, our garment bags, suitcases, executive rolling briefcases, rolling duffel bags, rolling totes, and checkpoint-friendly backpacks are the choice of over 90 airlines and frequent travelers worldwide. This week, we’re celebrating how our founder’s revolutionary innovation changed travel as we know it by offering you 15 percent off all Rollaboard® models from our TPro® Bold™ 2.0, Maxlite® 5, Crew™ 11 and Platinum® Magna™ 2 series when you visit www.travelpro.com.

Are you old enough to remember those hand-carried suitcases? Or are you fortunate enough to have never been saddled with them? Do you have any great stories to share about the first time you ever used a Rollaboard, or the last time you hand-carried your luggage? Share them with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Google Flights Can Predict Delays Before They Happen

April 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a frequent traveler, you probably have the mobile app for whatever airline you’re loyal to. Why? Not only can you check in to your flight 24 hours before your flight leaves, it also informs you of any current delays to your flight. You can adjust plans before you ever get to the airport and make any schedule changes necessary.

But what if you could save yourself the hassle of being caught in a flight delay before it ever occurs? You can, if you use Google Flights.

A new feature has been added to the app that uses machine learning algorithms and historical flight data to predict the likelihood of a specific flight being delayed. Not when the flight is actually delayed, but when it could be delayed. That could be a significant head start on making any schedule changes and could save you lots of headaches and stress!

Photo of a flight departure screen showing a delayed flight. Google Flights can more easily predict these now.While it’s not a 100% guarantee that a flight will be delayed, Google has said that it only posts the delay when it’s 80 percent certain.

While Google Assistant already informs you of a delay, Google Flight’s new features also provide detailed information about the cause, be it weather or system delays that prevent flights from taking off. To check the status of your flight, all you have to do is supply your airline and flight number or search your airline and route.

The Google Flights updates also allow travelers to view what isn’t included in the price of a ticket you’re considering. For example, United Basic Economy doesn’t allow you to access overhead bins, choose your seat, upgrade your seat, or change your ticket, but you may not have known that. Now this information is now available for all American, Delta, and United fares, so you can look up your ticket’s amenities online and see which ticket will provide you with the best value and most comfort.

Flight delays are expensive, aggravating, and exhausting. The airline apps have helped this a great deal, but if you start using Google Flights, some of this inconvenience can be avoided.

Have you used Google Flights? Is this something you’ll start using in the future? What do you hope it will provide for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Jason Tester Guerilla Future (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Hilton Guests Control Preferences with Smartphones

April 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

As if we weren’t already using our smartphones for everything, including as an automated assistant and running our smart homes, Hilton is now offering a “smart room” for its hotels nationwide. This will provide their guests the ability to manage their preferences without putting down their beloved devices.

According to a story on TravelMarketReport.com, the hotel chain plans to make some of its rooms “mobile-centric” this year, allowing guests to change the thermostat, operate the light switches, and sync their streaming service to the room’s television through the Hilton Honors app. And making the hotel room feel more like home will be possible by uploading personal images to the room’s digital frames. Then, you can take photos of your loved ones with you without actually packing any photos in your suitcase.

“Hey Hilton”

Hilton guests will be able to select their rooms and open their doors with their smartphones.This move is the first in the hotel’s ultimate goal of providing guests the ability to use voice commands to control these features. If you already have an Amazon Echo or Google Home device, you’re already familiar with how they work. A simple “Alexa” or “Okay Google” will let you activate one of its different commands, like turning on smart lights, changing the channel on your TV, or even ordering more coffee from Amazon Pantry.

Hilton is currently testing the system in one of their hotels, but said they plan to “scale rapidly” in the US this year.

Hilton expects to adapt the connected room based on the feedback it receives from its users. Hilton Honors app users already have the ability to check in, make their room selection, and open the door with a digital key, thus skipping any check-in lines if you’re at a conference. According to the company, four million keys have been downloaded since the program’s inception.

Marriott International is also vying for guests interested in utilizing mobile-centric amenities. It’s testing a voice-controlled shower and a yoga class video that can be viewed on the room’s full-length mirror.

Have you had a chance to use the new Hilton Honors app or smart room? Do you use a similar device at home? Will this make you more likely to stay at a Hilton? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Hilton Hotels (Used with permission)

Price of US Passports Rose at the Start of the Month

April 5, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

As of April 2, the price you’ll pay to obtain a United States passport increased from $135 to $145, and passports for children 16 years of age and younger rose to $115 instead of $105.

According to the U.S. State Department, the price increase stemmed from a study done by the U.S. Department of Consular Affairs that determined that the $25 execution fee the U.S. Postal Service was charging was insufficient, and they weren’t making enough money. Thus the $10 increase.

The application fee for an adult passport book is $115 ($105 for children 16 or younger) remains unchanged. Those who apply for passport renewal also will not see an increase in their prices. Renewal fees are not determined by age and cost $110 per passport book.

Photo of a US passport on a map of the United States. Which is weird, since you don't need a passport to travel within the US.According to the Department of Consular Affairs, residents qualify for passport renewal if their original passport is undamaged when submitted, was issued when they were 16 years or older, was issued in the past 15 years, and was issued in your current name. (Name changes must be submitted by mail with an original or certified copy of a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.)

For those looking for a less costly alternative and do not plan to fly internationally, a passport card can be obtained for $55 for residents over 16 and for $40 for residents under 16, with renewals only costing $30.

This card may only be used for land crossings and sea ports of entry, and is only accepted in lieu of a passport book for border crossings in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. In other words, you can’t fly into those countries with the passport card, you must have the full passport.

But the passport card may be a viable option for anyone on closed-loop cruises which starts and ends in the United States. That’s enough to let you get off the boat on a Caribbean cruise and get back into the country.

The passport card is also Real I.D. compliant and can be used for domestic travel. This is important, since some U.S. states still do not have Real I.D. compliant driver’s licenses and state ID cards, which means people in those states are not allowed to board an airplane.

How do you manage your business travel during peak travel seasons, especially to those vacation hotspots? Any tips to share or horror stories to learn from? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Cytis (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0/Public Domain)

Considerations for Business Travel During Spring Break

April 3, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

You may not be aware of it, but we’re right in the middle of Spring Break. Elementary, middle, and high school students as well as collegians all have weeks off that begin as early as the first or second week of March and ending sometime in April. That means business travel is going to be expensive and hectic for the next few weeks.

With the uptick in family and student travel to popular destinations such as Florida, California, Colorado, and the Caribbean, creating and booking last minute itineraries means you’ll pay premium prices for flights and hotel accommodations during this time. And you may have trouble finding seats and beds, so here are a few ways to still get to where you’re going and to have a place to stay once you get there.

If you encounter problems booking flights, consider regional options, which may be less busy and offer more flexibility for your schedule and allow you to avoid the Spring Break crowds. Consider rescheduling trips to hot spots such as Orlando until after this season concludes. Or, fly into smaller regional airports nearby, and drive into the busier city.

With hotels typically maxxed out, look into Airbnb for other reliable accommodations. Don’t be surprised to encounter less availability than normal though, as this type of lodging is becoming an increasingly popular option for families and groups of students, as well as for business travel.

Weather in the northern parts of the country is still very unpredictable. In fact, as I wrote this, my home state of Pennsylvania was getting ready to be hit by another severe winter storm.

That means snow and severe weather remain a possibility even in late March and early April. If your travel takes you to Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, or other points north, keep this in mind as you prepare your itinerary and try to arrive at your destination the day before an important meeting so you don’t get surprised by inclement weather.

While traveling to warmer climes may seem easy to pack for, be sure to pack a couple outer layers — a fleece, windbreaker, or light sweater — so you can adjust your wardrobe between daytime and evening temperatures. Even if it’s supposed to be nice and warm during the day, early mornings and evenings after sunset will still need a jacket.

Finally, allow extra transit time when navigating Spring Break hotspots. Roads, shuttles, and ride sharing services will be experiencing higher volumes than usual, so add an extra 30 – 60 minutes in order to arrive at the airport unfrazzled. Apps like Waze will help you understand traffic patterns and make you aware of delays in an unfamiliar city.

Consider this a warm-up for your summer business travel, when infrequent travelers will again flood terminals, hotels, and restaurants. Make your plans accordingly and just try to avoid arriving at popular destinations on a Friday.

How do you manage your business travel during peak travel seasons, especially to those vacation hotspots? Any tips to share or horror stories to learn from? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: TSReptilien (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

The Benefits of Train Travel for Business

March 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever been frustrated by your desire to follow up on some great brainstorming that happened at a business meeting, but you couldn’t take advantage of that spurt of productivity because you were behind the wheel on your way to your next appointment?

If driving several hours between cities has put a big damper on your productivity, you should consider the possibility of taking the train. Whether it’s a commuter or medium- or long-distance intercity service like Amtrak, taking the train to get from here to there may allow you to make great use of the time spent getting to your destination.

Train travel can be an effective mode of business travel. It takes as long as a car trip, but you can get plenty of work done, or just have a good nap, while you're moving.Many business travelers may not be aware that Amtrak offers routes (called “lines” from their hometowns to regional destinations, such as the Hoosier State (Indianapolis to Chicago), Hiawatha Service (Chicago to Milwaukee); Amtrak Cascades (Portland to Seattle to Vancouver, BC); Acela Express (Boston to Washington DC); and The Maple Leaf (New York City to Toronto, via Albany) just to name a few. And they even have business class seating on most trains.

Plus, depending on where you travel, parking in some major cities like New York and Chicago can be extremely expensive and hard to find. Taking a train and catching an Uber or Lyft can help you avoid those headaches.

Here are a few things to consider for train travel for business:

  • Purchasing tickets online is often the best way to take advantage of deals. You can also decrease your costs by purchasing a rail pass if you know you’re going to make several trips via train in a given timeframe.
  • Amtrak offers a mobile app that streamlines your booking and boarding process. You can purchase your ticket through the app and display it during check-in as you would an airline ticket.
  • Amtrak has a loyalty program and accruing points can help you offset the purchase of your ticket just like you do when you book with an airline.
  • If you want to use the train for a multi-city tour with a day or two between cities, you need to purchase individual tickets for each leg of the trip.
  • Wifi and dedicated quiet cars give you the opportunity to make the most of the time spent en route writing that proposal, setting up appointments, or participating in a conference call. To ensure access to these amenities, be sure to book your ticket in business class.
  • Some train stations have business class lounges that allow you to work in a quiet, internet-equipped space as you wait for your train. This area creates a far more conducive atmosphere for conducting business than the crowded waiting area at a gate before a flight.
  • Train travel can have its delays, so be sure to adjust your arrival and departure times to ensure you don’t miss an important meeting due to unforeseen changes in the route’s timetable.
  • If you’d like to burn the midnight oil while you’re riding the rails, you can book a private bedroom and work as late as you need to before retiring. You’ll arrive refreshed at your destination.

Have you ever tried train travel for business? Did it make a difference in your commuter headaches? Share your stories in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: PXHere.com (Creative Commons 0, Public Domain)

Supersonic Air Travel Just Took Another Big Step Toward Rebirth

March 22, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Boom Supersonic has partnered with Japan Airlines (JAL) and Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson to bring supersonic air travel back to the skies. Boom, headquartered in Denver, wants to revive the ultra-efficient method of flight and make it accessible to non-millionaires. With JAL’s 10-million-dollar investment and Branson’s commitment to purchase the first 10 jets and offer the assistance of Virgin Galactic with test flights, we could see the first supersonic jet in the air this year.

Boom Airlines new jet will bring supersonic air travel back to the skiesBy collaborating to build a swift, more efficient model that capitalizes on the previous successes of the Concorde (the groundbreaking airplane fleet that was operated by British Airways and Air France for 27 years), Boom hopes to overcome the exorbitant costs associated with this specialized form of commercial flight and improve the travelers’ experience.

According to Boom’s FAQ, the plane’s interior design will provide, among other amenities, a large window, immediate access to the aisle, and a personal overhead bin to each passenger.

Its prototype, the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator, is one-third the size of its eventual commercial offering, and flies at 1,300 mph, twice the speed of today’s jumbo jet. The full-size model is projected to fly at 1,700 mph. JAL’s investment will allow them to purchase 20 jets when testing is complete. Seating 55 passengers each, they could create a flight itinerary between San Francisco and Tokyo that could take half the current 11 hours to complete.

The Boom Airplane factory

JAL president Yoshiharu Ueki hopes the partnership will “contribute to the future of supersonic flight with the intent of providing more time to our valued passengers while emphasizing flight safety.”

Supersonic air travel, which cuts the transatlantic flight time between New York and London from six hours to three and a half, hasn’t been available since 2003. When in operation, tickets were $12,000. According to Blake Scholl, Boom’s founder and CEO, the expected ticket price will be just $5,000. Boom claims it is on schedule to be operational in 2023.

Would you try supersonic air travel for $5,000? Does the price make it more likely? How likely are you to fly supersonic once it becomes available? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Boom Airlines (used with permission)

Luggage the Weight of Your Chihuahua: Travelpro Debuts Maxlite® 5 Collection

March 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The operative word in luggage shouldn’t be “lug,” and Travelpro knows you need the freedom to pack everything you need without being weighed down as you navigate the airport terminal, hotel lobby, or cruise ship gangplank. The Maxlite® 5 Collection — the result of its latest efforts in innovation, functionality, and durability — is up to half a pound lighter than its predecessor, the Maxlite® 4.

Basically, it weighs as much as your average Chihuahua.

At just 5.4 lbs., the Maxlite® 5 21” Exp Spinner and 22” Rollaboard® retain all the quality materials, rigorously tested durability, and thoughtful design you’ve come to expect from Travelpro’s collections. It just weighs less so you can thoughtfully pack as much as possible without being concerned about your bag adding excess pounds to your business trip or vacation.

The new Maxlite 5 collection comes in a variety of sizes and colors.

While other soft-sided luggage might seem lightweight, words such as strong, tough, and durable mean what they say when we talk about the Maxlite® 5 Collection. Built using lightweight materials that resist wear and tear, even through the most rigorous use, this Collection has 16 options, from carry-on totes, garment bags, and backpacks to smooth gliding Rollaboard® and 4-wheeled Spinner models in multiple sizes, Maxlite® 5 is a comprehensive assortment.

Just because you’re choosing Maxlite 5 doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing anything! Let’s start with the Rolling UnderSeat Carry-On, which, just like its name implies, fits under seats of most major domestic airlines. With its many compartments and specially-designed pockets, such as a removable plastic compartment for cosmetics, office supplies, or electronics accessories, you’ll be so organized you won’t know how you ever traveled without it.

The 21″ Expandable Spinner and 22″ Expandable Rollaboard maximize your packing power and allow you to glide through security to your gate on their high-performance wheels. Both are only 5.4 pounds, and for those who are planning longer getaways that necessitate checking your luggage, the 25″ Expandable Spinner is only 7.3 pounds.

All bags feature Travelpro’s DuraGuard® coated fabric that resists water and stains, as well as extra strong PowerScope Lite handles on rolling models and many pockets to help you pack to the max. All are backed by the Built For A Lifetime Limited Warranty. In addition, if you register your bag within the first 120 days of purchase or gift receipt the new Trusted Companion Promise enhancement gets activated which covers damage caused by airlines or other common carries for the first year! That’s a major warranty upgrade!

The Maxlite 5 logoIf you’re traveling abroad and want an ultra-lightweight carry-on that will go the distance, check out the Maxlite® 5 International Carry-On, both in 2-wheel Expandable Rollaboard® and 4-wheel Expandable Spinner models. Both models meet the carry-on size restrictions for most international airlines, you’ll find either of these compact but capable, allowing you to travel light and travel right.

All models in the Maxlite 5 Collection are available in black and exclusively on Travelpro.com in midnight blue, and other color options include azure blue, slate green, and dusty rose.

Business Travel Outlook for 2018

March 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Things are looking good for business travel. According to a recent survey by The GO Group, LLC, a ground transportation company that operates shuttle services to over 90 airports, the percentage of respondents expecting to do more business travel is almost double what was anticipated in 2016 (27 percent vs 15 percent). A mere six percent of travelers thought they’d travel less.

This is a major change from 10 years ago, when the Great Recession, saw a major drop in business travel as well as vacation/personal travel. But as the economy has improved, consumer confidence is on the rise, business travel spending is up, and more people are hopping on board airplanes and staying in hotels around the country and throughout the world.

Business travel often means working in an airport between flights. This is a photo of a white MacBook Pro taken in the Hong Kong airport.And when travel dropped 10 years ago, we saw a big rise in unemployment in the travel industry — fewer business travel opportunities meant fewer airline passengers and hotel nights, which had a ripple effect on the entire industry.

When it improved, there were key gains felt throughout the world. According to a report from the World Travel & Tourism Council,

. . . travel and tourism directly contributed US$2.3 trillion and 109 million jobs worldwide. Taking its wider indirect and induced impacts into account, the sector contributed US$7.6 trillion to the global economy and supported 292 million jobs in 2016. This was equal to 10.2% of the world’s GDP, and approximately 1 in 10 of all jobs.

Similarly, GO Group President John McCarthy believes this anticipated uptick in travel should have a “huge impact on airlines, hotels, and related industries.” McCarthy sees this increase as having nothing but positive implications for those seeking jobs within both the travel and tourism sectors.

Although an equal percentage of the respondents (27 percent) expected to see no change in the amount of business travel they would do in 2018, 39 percent were unsure how their travel schedules would be affected by their companies’ growth strategies. But the term “growth strategies” is heartening enough to make us think travel will continue to rise.

What plans do you have for business travel in 2018? Are you going to increase, decrease, or keep it about the same? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page,  or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Mark Hillary (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

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