TSA to Market PreCheck, Limit Airlines’ Role

September 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The TSA is making some big changes to the PreCheck system, the program that lets pre-qualified travelers breeze through airport security because they’ve already been vetted by the TSA. The TSA has a goal to increase the number of PreCheck-qualified travelers, as a way to reduce the bottlenecks at security checkpoints.

The PreCheck program saves times for travelers, of course, but it also saves time for the TSA agents, allowing them to focus on finding real threats.

English: TSA Passenger Screening

TSA Passenger Screening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a TravelWeekly.com article, there are now 4.6 million travelers authorized through the program; TSA would like to increase that to 25 million.

Their plan is to increase marketing the program and pushing it more aggressively.

They also plan to limit the role airlines play in the PreCheck process. Previously, airlines had been able to submit travelers to be approved through PreCheck, usually members of their frequent flyer program. This was done on a somewhat random basis and you could never predict if you would be approved or not. That will no longer be the case. Travelers will need to actually apply in order to qualify for PreCheck.

What this means for infrequent travelers is that many of them didn’t realize they could actually apply for the program through the TSA and get approved on an ongoing basis to be able to use PreCheck regularly. It seems like a no-brainer. If you can save time at the airport, why not do it? We encourage everyone to apply.

Are you in PreCheck? What has been your experience? Share your stories in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Boeing Adding More Carry-On Luggage Storage Room

September 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Rollaboard owners rejoice! Boeing is trying to solve the ongoing carry-on luggage problem by adding bigger overhead bins.

According to a new Travel Pulse article, the new bins, called “space bins,” will carry more luggage than the previous bins. This will hopefully ease the stress and strain put on travelers and flight attendants as more people try to sneak larger bags onto flights.

Boeing Space BinsThe new bins will also be easier to load and see into, which is helpful since more than one traveler has been hit on the head by people removing heavy bags they didn’t quite realize they couldn’t carry.

One drawback is that it will decrease head space a bit.

It will be interesting to see how Virgin Airlines reacts to the news, given they recently said the interior plane space is actually the most valuable space. They were discussing charging for carry-on bags, and allowing free checked bags. Will this move be a revenue generator for them?

From Boeing’s perspective, they’re likely responding to requests from the airlines, who are hearing from customers. Right now, the airlines want to continue to charge for checked bags and allow carry-ons. Those passengers looking to save some money will be better able to maneuver their carry-ons and fit them into the new large bins.

Meanwhile, we’ve also been hearing some airlines are considering reducing the allowed carry-on sizes to accommodate more passengers using their carry-ons. However, Delta has said they plan to allow carry-on sizes to remain the same as they have been in the past.

We like the idea of the bigger bins. If you could turn your carry-on bag sideways (which is what Boeing is suggesting), you can fit six bags into the space instead of four. The loss of headroom does not seem like a great loss, especially since we’ll all be sitting. We’ll see if that continues to be the case or if headroom will be subject to shrinkage like everything else on the plane.

What are some of your ideas for getting more (or fewer) carry-on bags into the plane? Leave your ideas in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Boeing Media Room

How Protecting Time Off Improves Performance

September 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

These working vacations we’re so fond of, these take-your-laptop-to-check-email vacations we take with the family, may be harming our overall performance on the job.

A recent article by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) discusses the need for workers to take quality time off from their jobs.

These days, many folks cart laptops or at least smartphones with them and stay in touch during the entirety of their time “away” from the office. While this can be necessary at times, it can also lead to burn out and feelings that their vacation wasn’t truly a vacation.

English: Rental cabins near the Great Smoky Mo...

Why would you want to work when this is your view?! Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Sevier County, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time off is something that supports employee buoyancy; the ability to bounce back easily from stressors. Buoyancy is something every employer should encourage because an office filled with stressed out, grumpy employees with no tolerance for stress creates even more stress for everyone.

“True time off” can be taken if the employee plans ahead of time. Amy Fox, the article’s author, says that her company lays out a timeline for employees before time off that includes planning for who will cover, and talking with clients about what will happen during the vacation. She says that she encourages employees never to use the phrase, “if you need to reach me.”

At TravelPro, we like to encourage everyone to take real time off and not do any work at all. While I don’t do any work while I’m away, I do like to go through my email once a day to make sure I don’t have a jammed inbox when I get back.

It’s even possible to extend vacations because of the capability to take care of simpler tasks on the go and leave very important tasks until you’re back in the office. Since many of us can work anywhere, why not spend a few weeks out of the office working from an Airbnb or vacation rental?

How do you spend your vacations? Do you shut everything off completely, or do you cheat and work while you’re gone?

Leave your favorite practices in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Can You Get Your Checked Bag Faster By Checking in Later?

September 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Does the “last in, first out” rule apply to airline luggage the same way it does a bus or elevator?

The short answer is “No,” and Yahoo Travel explores why this luggage myth is just that.

The author, Christine Sarkis, asked Delta about baggage delivery, after spending a rather anxious time waiting to retrieve her bag on an international flight to check it back in again for her domestic trip.

English: Baggage handlers loading a Northwest ...

Baggage handlers loading a Northwest Airlines airplane at LAS (Las Vegas Airport) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer? Luggage is distributed into the hold based on weight rather than when it’s checked in. When the luggage is loaded, it’s all done up in a very scientific fashion to help balance out the plane’s load.

In fact, for large planes, the luggage is loaded into “cans” (big boxes), which are loaded onto the plane to spread the weight out evenly. While it’s not completely random, your bag could be in any of those cans, depending on the total weight of each can.

Smaller planes practice “loose loading,” which means they load the luggage into the hold based on weight. They work to get the balance right, so even then, there’s no LIFO to the bags.

We’re very curious about exactly how this works and would love to get an insider tour of how the baggage handling process works, but when we asked a Travelpro team member to ride in a bag with a GoPro camera, he said no.

Meanwhile, we would be thrilled to hear any insider stories from baggage handlers or even be invited along on a luggage handling tour.

When it comes down to it, says Christine Sarkis, the only two ways to get your baggage more quickly is to fly business or first class or to carry it on yourself, in which case all you have to do is reach up into the overhead bin to retrieve your precious cargo. This is also a great way of ensuring that you don’t lose your luggage.

Do you have any other tips for retrieving your luggage faster on a trip? Let us hear from you. Leave your tips in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

A Travelpro Owner Tells Us About a Narrow Escape

September 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently received this note from David Ducharme, an adventure traveler and Travelpro user. While we’ve always touted the durability and ruggedness of the Travelpro backpacks, we never envisioned this.

David Ducharme photoDavid sent us this letter telling us about a motorcycle accident he was involved in this past March.

On March 14th, I was traveling by motorcycle in Nepal, from Kathmandu to Jiri.

While riding through the Himalayas on very narrow, sandy, gravel covered roads carved onto the sides of mountains, I experienced quite a close call. Riding my Royal Enfield 500 Bullet, a taxi was attempting to pass me to my right.

Unknown to me or the taxi driver, around the blind corner was a large Tata construction truck approaching at high speed. As I drove around the corner, the truck appeared.

To my immediate right side, the taxi had two choices, drive off the cliff or swerve left and hit me. He chose to hit me. As one would expect, my Bullet and I went down hard.

My bike sustained some damage, bent engine guard, foot pegs torn off, shifter stripped… (happy to send you the picture), my left side hit the ground pretty hard. Two broken ribs and a likely concussion, I was very lucky.

One of the things that saved me was my Kuhl jacket and my Travelpro backpack. I was bruised, battered, and broken under that jacket, but the jacket didn’t rip, and I didn’t tear any of my skin off.

I am convinced that my Kuhl jacket and my Travelpro back pack saved my skin, literally. So, thank you for producing quality, durable luggage, I will remain a loyal Travelpro customer.

Sincerely, David Ducharme

Should Airlines Honor Mistake Fares?

September 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In a world of cheap fares and automated ticketing systems, there are still times that airlines are prone to “fat finger mistakes.” According to a recent USA Today article, that’s when an employee has accidentally offered a fare at a discounted price because they mis-entered the correct fares or misplaced a decimal.

According to the story, one customer was able to jump on fare from NYC to Abu Dhabi for $227 due to a clerical error. The ticket usually costs about $1,500, but the airline was forced to honor the fare due to regulations. However, those regulations may be changing in the near future.

English: Dublin International Airport, Ireland...

Dublin International Airport, Ireland.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rule was actually created to protect consumers from dishonorable price hikes after they had already purchased tickets. But at this point, the U.S. Department of Transportation believes the rule is being used to scam airlines more than anything else. There have been numerous instances recently of customers finding mistakes and immediately spreading the news on social media so a multitude of other travelers can also take advantage of it.

The hope is that there will still be protection in place for consumers while also beginning to protect businesses that make clerical errors. While there’s something to be said for honoring prices even when they’re the result of a mistake, some of those errors can generate huge losses for a business.

People do make mistakes after all, and we expect others to forgive our human error. Some people may think the airlines are so big, and so unconcerned about passengers’ comfort, that they deserve to get hit where it hurts, but there’s a question of fairness to consider.

For starters, what if the airline did come back and retroactively charge you for a fuel increase because gas prices went up a week before your trip? That wouldn’t be fair or acceptable.

We think it’s fair if airlines may want to give customers a little something when such an error arises, such as a few frequent flyer miles or some kind of upgrade. But if an airline mistakenly gives a heavy discount on a fare, they shouldn’t be forced to honor it when doing so will harm their own interests.

How do you feel about it? Share your opinion in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

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.

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.

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.

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