Have you noticed that at the airport, when a plane is preparing to board passengers, there’s usually a group of people who hover? You know what I mean — the travelers who pace back and forth by the airline desk, ready to jump into line as soon as their section is called for boarding. Maybe these passengers feel as if the act of standing in line is an improvement on sitting in the waiting area. Maybe they just want to get on the plane and get settled. Whatever the reason, there’s something about boarding the plane early that passengers seem to enjoy.
American Airlines has picked up on this early boarding obsession, and here’s the the latest travel-related rumor – American Airlines is testing a new boarding procedure which asks passengers to board the plane depending on whether or not they have carry-on luggage. The test is apparently happening in several airport locations, and on randomly selected flights.In this new beta boarding procedure, the elite travelers and business class passengers are asked to board first as usual. But immediately following these groups, passengers without carry-on luggage are asked to board, regardless of their seating zone on the plane. At least, that’s the way it happened for John DiScala, frequent business traveler and editor of travel website JohnnyJet.com.
This test of shortening boarding time is likely a method American Airlines is using to both save money AND to make money. The idea is, getting the low-maintenance passengers in their seats first can potentially shave a few minutes off boarding time.
And according to DiScala’s story in the LA Times, every minute saved on boarding can save an airline $30. That may not sound like a lot of money, but it can add up fast. Plus, passengers who truly love the early boarding policy might be incentivized by this new boarding procedure to check their bags upon arrival, even if it means paying an extra luggage fee.
Whatever the reasoning behind American Airlines testing this new boarding procedure, it seems like process improvements and efficiency are the primary goals. Only time will tell if a new boarding procedure like this one eventually is rolled out for the rest of us to experience.
- American will favor passengers without roller bags (seattlepi.com)
- No roller bag? Then board first on American Airlines (seattletimes.com)
- Airline’s perk to speed up boarding time (fox13now.com)
Christopher Penn is an expert in technology, marketing, social media, and how all three can work together to create better business opportunities for you. We’re fans of his, and read his blog fairly regularly.
Due to the nature of his job, Penn travels a lot, and recently he shared some travel tips for a better travel experience. Now, we’re going to make your life a little easier by sharing them with you.
1) Treat your hotel coffee like a teabag. Genius! The free coffee in your hotel room is flavorless and not hot enough, but if you brew it starting with hot water and place the coffee pouch in your cup before you hit the “brew now” button, you’re destined for hotter, more flavorful coffee.
2) If you forgot your toothpaste, create a saltwater solution using water and two packets of salt from a fast food restaurant. It’s not the same as proper oral hygiene, but if you’re about to meet with an important client after scarfing down a quick meal, this tactic will suffice.3) Shower with the bathroom door open. Most hotel rooms have dry air which can leave you with sinus problems. If you shower with the bathroom door open, moisture from the bathroom will permeate the rest of the room, making your hotel room a little more tolerable.
4) Sign up for frequent traveler programs. Sure, you might have to unsubscribe from a lot of emails after a while, but frequent traveler programs often offer free perks like pressing your suit, or an occasional free upgrade to a better room.
5) Always use good manners and etiquette. Not only is being polite and treating people well the right thing to do, but occasionally the good karma will benefit you, too. People may not always help people they like or who are polite, but they rarely go the extra mile for people who are rude or mean.
6) If safety is a concern of yours, ask for a room on the second floor. You’ll be less susceptible to break-ins and if a true emergency happens, you can jump from a second floor window with significantly better chances of survival. We’ll take his word on this one.
7) Get water from the ice machine instead of the bathroom tap. The water quality is often better because it’s colder and filtered.
8) If you have several hours to kill and are terrible at ironing, load up the iron with water and then mist your clothes. Give them a little stretch and hang them up to air dry, close to an air vent if possible. Or use that free ironing perk you got when you signed up for the frequent traveler program from #4.
9) Bring an HDMI cable. If you have to practice a speech you’re giving later, you can use the HDMI cable to connect your laptop to the TV — most nicer hotels have HD TVs, which have HDMI slots — and practice as if you were on stage. Plus, if you’re a Netflix fan or brought some DVDs, your laptop will double as your movie projector.
Pretty great ideas, right? So here’s a call to all you road warriors out there — what are some tips and tricks you’ve learned from your travels?
- Secrets to Happier Hotel Guests in 2013 (hmghotelsblog.com)
- Coffee solution (timesonline.typepad.com)
- 21 Travel Uses for Ziploc Bags (travelbloggerz.wordpress.com)
- Making the Most Out of Business Travel (epicatravel.com)
- Hotel-room lock hack tied to ongoing thefts (nbcnews.com)
- 8 Business Travel Tips & Tricks (flashstorageguy.wordpress.com)
The Future of Airline Seating? Let’s Hope So
Imagine this: you pay for economy seating on a long flight. You don’t want to sit in coach, but who does? Then, to your surprise, you get a free upgrade to first class. You don’t have to fight the other passengers for a nearby spot for your carry on. You get to spend the flight in a comfortable seat. And when the person in front of you reclines their seat, you still have plenty of room to relax. This isn’t a dream – this is the potential future of airline seating.
Alireza Yaghoubi, a Malaysian undergrad engineering student from the University of Malaya, designed new airline seating for his entry to the James Dyson Award contest, in which students are challenged to “design something that solves a problem.” Yaghoubi’s new seat designs make the seating in coach a little more spacious and, well, a little less like coach.
The new seats give each passenger a minimum amount of space which can’t be occupied by other passengers, and puts the tray table and personal tv screen that comes with each seat under the passenger’s control. So what’s the catch? One downside is that the seats designed by Yaghoubi are 16% larger than standard economy seating now, which means that airlines will have 16% less space for passengers. But, Yaghoubi points out, airlines can make up the difference in passenger sales by encouraging flyers to buy add ons like video conferencing from your seat, using the plane’s WiFi to play games, work or watch movies, and more.
Another idea for the future of economy airline seating comes from Meerkat Innovative Concepts in Hong Kong. They designed coach seating that integrates technology into the seat design. For example, the tray table can be modified to serve as a universal tablet stand for your iPad or e-reader. These new seats are thinner and incorporate bag storage into the design, so that your bag won’t infiltrate your leg room.
So what do you think about these innovations in economy air travel? If this is the future of coach seating, we can’t help but wonder what the future of business class looks like.
What if we told you that you could pack for eight weeks in just one carry-on bag? Sounds crazy, right? We thought that idea was crazy too, until we saw the video below created by John Holloway, owner of a travel outfitters store and manager of PackingLight.com. In the eight-minute video — which is worth watching in its entirety — Holloway demonstrates how to pack an entire rack of clothes into a carry-on.
It’s called the bundle method, and it’s a little hard to explain, but the video explains it perfectly. The idea is that you’re creating a bundle of your clothes, softly folded together, and laid flat. Using a layering and folding (but not creasing) process, Holloway was able to pack an entire rack of clothes into one rollaboard bag, toiletries and all! And he swears that when you unpack at your hotel, your clothes will be unwrinkled. It may seem too good to be true, but Holloway makes it look effortless.
We first heard about Holloway’s packing method through Christopher Penn, an expert in technology, marketing, and social media, and a frequent traveler himself.
Penn shared a couple videos of Holloway’s on his blog and he shared that using the Holloway packing procedure, he was able to pack a week’s worth of clothes in a carry-on with almost no ironing needed when he arrived at his destination.
Packinglight.com is a great resource for more tips on — what else? — packing light. On the site you can shop for wrinkle-free clothes, purchase travel accessories, and gather even more traveling advice.
Next time you have to pack for an extended trip, watch Holloway’s video and follow the packing method. Then after you arrive at your hotel and unpack your bag, come back to this blog and let us know if it worked for you.
Do you have any other insight into packing light? Share your thoughts in the comments.
When you’re searching for a deal on air travel, hotels, or anything else related to an upcoming trip, how do you conduct your search? Do you have fifteen browser tabs open while you hop from site to site? Or, do you use a travel booking engine like Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, Kayak, or Orbitz? Whatever your method of operations is, we’re about to offer you a way to simplify.
Start out on your booking engine of choice. Maybe that’s one of the sites we just mentioned, or another favorite — tell us about it in the comments. Once you find the best rate on flights to your destination, go directly to the airline’s website and check their prices. Chances are, you’ll find the exact same pricing, but with better service. And you’ll be satisfied in knowing you got the best deal available for the situation.
Also, if you’re shopping for a package of hotel plus airfare plus something else, be careful. Packaged rates can appear low on the travel booking sites because they bundle multiple items together, and often they do offer savings. But are these deals truly the best?
Generally it’s hard to say for sure. To confirm any package you’re considering, use DealBase.com which will break down the packaged price you’re seeing and tell you not only what you’re really paying for, but what you should be paying.
While the third-party booking engines originally promised lower prices than the airlines and hotels, we’re starting to see lower prices coming directly from the original sites. So before you buy a trip on your favorite booking engine, give the airline and hotel sites a look and see if you can find a better deal.
Travelers today typically have a lot of options when planning their trips. Travel websites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Trip Advisor (just to name a few) help customers find the best rates on airfare and hotels, not to mention the best restaurants and tourist attractions. So, when customers have options on where to catch their connecting flights, where do most travelers prefer to spend their time?
According to a recent report released by Travel Leaders Group, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta ranks as the top preferred airport if travelers have a connecting flight, and Chicago O’Hare ranked as the least preferred airport to connect through.
What about if you’re on a family vacation? Orlando and Minneapolis/St. Paul are the top two preferred airports for travelers with kids. So if your family trip requires a long layover, consider routing your connecting flight through one of those locations.
Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul both topped the dining and amenities lists. So if you’re the type of traveler who enjoys an upscale restaurant experience or a quick massage at the airport spa, a long layover in Atlanta or Minneapolis could be the perfect way for you to get the most out of your travel experience.
Let’s say you’re about to take a week-long vacation. You want a direct flight, which is available but only for an extra fee. You’ll need to check a bag, so there’s another airline fee. And if you want a window seat, you guessed it, another fee. According to a study done by TravelNerd, a San Francisco tech company that is developing an online airline fee comparison tool, airline fees changed drastically in 2012. The study found over 50 changes in fees related to everything from baggage, to blankets, to unaccompanied minors and more.
A positive note of the study is that most of the fees only increased incrementally, about $5-10. But the moral of the story is that airline fees are unavoidable. And unfortunately, they’re likely only going to get worse. The Huffington Post found that in the first half of 2012, airlines collected more than $1.2 billion in baggage fees alone. The reason behind escalating fees is that without them, many airlines would struggle to remain profitable. So, they’re not going to go away.According to a Reuters article, airlines may start offering pre-bundled packages that make airline fees easier to swallow. These bundled plans could offer combinations of services slightly discounted from the a la carte purchase price.
The idea here is that airlines would sell more additional services if they are pre-bundled in attractive combinations than they would if travelers had to choose from a laundry list of add-ons. But at this point, the only way to avoid airline fees is to accept whatever seat you’re assigned and to travel with only a carry-on bag. Otherwise, you have to bite the bullet and take whatever fees are tacked on to your ticket price.
- Extra Airline Fees are the New Normal (travelproluggageblog.com)
- Passenger complaints surge as U.S. airlines stuff ever more people into fewer planes (vancouversun.com)
- Southwest Airlines Introduces $40 Fee to Let You Board Early (travelproluggageblog.com)
There has been plenty of buzz this year about how airlines and airports are modernizing their service to customers by offering free wifi, customer service via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and upscale shopping experiences. Now, United Airlines is partnering with BagsVIP to offer a luggage delivery service for domestic flights.
For a starting price of $30 per bag, United/BagsVIP will deliver your bags to a hotel, business, or residential address, seven days a week, including holidays. If your arrival destination is within 40 miles from the airport, the service says you will receive your bags within 4 hours of your flight arrival.The service is fairly easy to use: after making your flight reservations, just make a separate reservation for your baggage delivery. At the airport, check your bags as you usually would, but don’t forget that you still have to pay for any associated fees. When your bags arrive at their final destination, BagsVIP will be alerted and within four hours, your bags will be delivered to you. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to sign for them once they get there.
Even though many of us don’t mind waiting around for a bag or two after a flight, United’s luggage delivery service could certainly come in handy for many of us. A business traveler on a tight schedule, a family with a lot of bags and kids to corral, or an elderly person traveling alone could all easily find value from this luggage delivery service.
- Travel smartly with United airlines (articlecoin.wordpress.com)
The announcement that an airline is introducing a new fare structure is typically met with a resounding groan among consumers. American Airlines recently announced that they are introducing an optional new fare structure which will result in an extra $68 – $88 per trip for economy class tickets, and — believe it or not — travel experts are actually applauding these new fares!
So why is this fare increase getting so much praise.
And why is it optional?
According to an Associated Press story, it’s American Airlines’ way of offering increased pricing transparency to their customers. Airline fees have become a hot topic lately, and like every other major airline, American Airlines has received their fair share of complaints — especially regarding baggage fees and the standard $150 fee they charge for reservation changes.
Rick Elieson, American Airlines’ managing director of digital marketing, said the new fare structure “will eliminate the fear about what-ifs.”
Here’s how each tier of American Airline’s new fare structure is broken down, and what customers can expect to receive at each level.
- Choice Level: This is the normal ticket structure current AA passengers are accustomed to. Fares will remain the same, as will the fees for checked bags and reservation changes.
- Choice Essential: At an extra $68 per round trip, this level includes a complimentary checked bag, the ability for travelers to change their itinerary with no added fees and early boarding.
- Choice Plus: At $88 per trip, this level includes everything that Choice Essential does (complimentary checked bag, free reservation changes and early boarding) in addition to bonus miles for frequent fliers, standby privileges, free in-flight drink, and more.
With checked bags costing customers $50 per round trip for one bag, travelers that opt into one of the upgraded price levels will be paying $18 – $38 more per trip — however, the added cost may be well worth it for those that may need to change their reservation — or simply for those that enjoy a few extra perks.
- US Air/American Airlines merger may result in more travel fees (voicerussia.com)
- US Airways-American Merger: Where Some Safety and Consumer Advocates May Differ (forbes.com)
- American Airlines says it will add nine destinations from LAX in 2013 (aviationblog.dallasnews.com)
Say farewell to the “Staycation” – for many travelers, budget-friendly tours of one’s own city have become a thing of the past. Not only has travel increased overall, but consumers are actually investing in luxury travel again, thanks to income levels returning to pre-recession levels.
Just how much is luxury travel increasing? According to an article in The (London) Guardian), the sales of luxury experiences grew 50% faster than the demand for physical goods. This change can be partially attributed to demographics – namely, the fact that the consumers who drove the luxury boom in the 1990s are now beginning to retire. Instead of acquiring material goods, affluent Baby Boomers are more interested in investing in life experiences.Demographics aside, many travel experts have noticed an overall increase in consumer confidence, meaning that travelers feel comfortable investing in high ticket, once-in-a-lifetime trips. In a recent Travel Weekly article, Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck, a luxury travel operator in Connecticut, said “In the post-meltdown era, there’s been a resetting of priorities.”
In other words, consumers, particularly the affluent, are focusing more than ever before on making memories and spending time with friends and family.
According to the Travel Weekly article, this year’s luxury travel hotspots are all over the map, including exotic eastern locales such as Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Once overlooked Eastern European hidden gems such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are also becoming quite popular, as are exotic once-in-a-lifetime experiential trips such as safari trips to Botswana.
Another surprising trend is a large increase in consumers booking trips on luxury cruise lines. When it comes to visiting exotic locales via the high seas, travelers are willing to overlook the cruise industry’s recent woes. In fact, many travelers are booking cruises that run upwards of one month. Such cruises visit multiple exotic destinations on all seven continents, making them an appealing option for those that want to get a bit of variety during their trip.
- Affluent Travelers on Deck to Spend More Vacationing in 2013, According to a New Survey of High-End Travelers by Unity Marketing (prweb.com)
- Luxe Travel Trail Blazes with the Rise of the Virtual Agency (prweb.com)
- A Patagonia Spectacular With Tauck (timespentatsea.blogspot.com)
- Luxury Cruise Vacations on The Crystal Symphony Cruise (expertscolumn.com)