Reversing the direction of what we’ve seen recently in frequent flyer programs, Business Insider says that airlines are now finding value in their frequent flyer programs.
The recent trend has been for airlines to find ways to deny privileges to customers involved in frequent flyer programs (such as putting a stop to mileage runs). That trend probably isn’t going to change, but airlines are finding ways to monetize these programs in a way that, so far, doesn’t seem to be of much benefit to travelers themselves.
Getting on board the Big Data bandwagon, airlines have started harvesting and selling the data they’ve gathered about their frequent flyers. They’re selling this data to a variety of sources; Business Insider lists credit card providers, rental car companies, and hotels.
This data is so valuable, Air Berlin recently sold a stake in its frequent flyer program for more than what the entire Air Berlin corporation was valued at.
“It’s extremely powerful data, especially as it tends to be slanted towards the premium segment,” said Marc Allsop, senior vice president and head of global business development at Aimia.
In other words, frequent flyers tend to be very desirable customers. Anyone who travels enough to rack up that many miles tends to have money to spare, even when the person’s travel is on the company’s dime.
Plus, the information being harvested isn’t just related to facts about the person. It can potentially include details about recent trips a particular person has taken.
How do you feel about your frequent flyer information being harvested and sold to a third party? Leave us a comment to let us know if that sounds just fine to you or if you’d prefer to go back to the days when your data was just between you and your airline.
- Travel rewards becoming a bigger concern (lexingtonlaw.com)
- Credit companies increasing rewards offers (lexingtonlaw.com)
- Best way to redeem travel points: Why hoarding points is a bad investment (getrichslowly.org)
With a number of embarrassing, and very public, hits to cruise ship safety over the last several years, cruise lines are looking at the airline industry as a standard for safety. A recent article in Businessweek looked at how cruise lines are responding to three huge safety failures in 2012 and 2013, including the infamous grounding of a cruise ship in Italy in 2012 and two serious fires in 2013.
The cruise lines have realized that they need to focus on being safe by reducing crew errors and increasing safety protocols.
Since the 1980s, safety has been a high concern for airlines. They’ve pioneered many programs that cruise lines now hope to adapt for themselves. They have seen that crew error is the largest risk factor in any type of accident, so they’re working to reduce those first.
Another way airlines have increased staff efficiency is to randomly send personnel out for an annual performance check of pilot performance in the cockpit. The cruise line is considering that as well.
Another airline safety protocol is to track data from the cockpit related to any deviation from standard procedure and finding out why it occurred. This could be an important protocol to increase cruise ship safety.
What do you think about cruise ship safety? Would you venture out into the high seas after these issues that have arisen over the past few years? Leave us a comment on the blog or our Facebook page to let us know what you think.
- Best Cruise Ships of 2015 Released (wnep.com)
- Considering A Cruise Ship Vacation? What Consumers Need To Know (ivebeenmugged.typepad.com)
- Not All Cruise Ship Amenities are About Forgetting You’re on a Ship (jaunted.com)
- Star Wars is headed to the Caribbean on Disney Cruise Lines (antiguaobserver.com)
Traveling with your children isn’t like running down to the grocery store with them. Just like you need your own passport and other travel documents, you need to have certain documents with you when you travel with your kids.
The Huffington Post has an extensive and helpful list they suggest you carry with you when traveling internationally with your family.
Obviously, a passport isn’t going to be a necessity on domestic trips, but HuffPo suggests you bring physical copies of the following: your child’s birth certificate, a signed permission slip if there’s a parent who isn’t traveling with you, vaccination certifications, travel insurance, emergency contacts, telephone numbers for healthcare facilities at your destination, emergency first aid instructions, a list of your child’s allergies, and your full itinerary with contact information.
The list makes a lot of sense, although it may be a little too thorough. Be aware that carrying all that paper documentation can be a security risk. (Think about what happens if that information were stolen.) But you can keep a lot of it on a cloud-based app, such as Evernote or Google Drive, which you can download to your phone or tablet as needed.
On the other hand, what if your phone charger is damaged or you end up in a remote site with no service? With Evernote, you can download documents to your phone’s app, and then lock it with a security code. Otherwise, you could end up with a huge phone bill if you need to access another country’s wireless network to access the information.
Be sure to do your research before you travel and know what you need. You may not need everything on this list for some of the places you’re visiting, so it’s better to determine it in advance.
Photo credit: Caribb (Flickr, Creative Commons)
- How to Get a Certified Copy of Your Birth Certificate (dumblittleman.com)
- Easy Family Travel Tips (formulamom.com)
- The next great place for your family adventure (alloverthemap.net)
A recent article on Lifehacker got us chatting about which travel upgrades seem worth it to us, and which were a waste of money.
There were differing opinions on the Travelpro team about whether shelling out for extra space is worth the additional cost. Those of us who feel hemmed in on flights, especially those of us who are tall (I’m 6’5″) said they will pay extra, especially for longer trips. Those who are more frugal (or smaller) said they don’t see a big difference in comfort and recommend snagging an aisle seat since that can give you the illusion of more space. Another good way to increase the amount of space you feel like you have is to keep the under seat luggage to a minimum. It’s worth it if you need the room, but a waste if you’re smaller, or the trip is shorter than two hours.
We didn’t like the idea of paying for wifi, either at the airport or your hotel, especially if you’re on vacation. And even if you’re traveling for business, we suggest you trot down to a local coffee shop to get wifi while you sip a nice latte. Another option, which the article also mentions, is paying for a mobile hotspot so you have your own wifi wherever you go. And apparently, the new iPhone 6 includes this as a feature you don’t even have to pay extra for the bandwidth. (Another reason to upgrade sooner rather than later!) This one is a waste, unless you get the iPhone or other mobile hotspot.
A luxury we can get behind is the concept of club floors at hotels. These are special floors that serve meals, snacks, and drinks. You pay extra for the access but you do get pampered and you can eat there instead of going out. This feature adds about 20 to 30 percent to your bill, which is fine for those who don’t plan on eating out very often, making this worth it for the home bodies. It’s pleasant to be pampered, but foodies may not find it worthwhile. But if you’re going out more than staying in, or you prefer local eateries to chain food, this one is a waste.
A luxury the article doesn’t discuss is the option of paying for a day in the first class airport lounges. This typically costs about $50 for a day. It’s a great idea if you’re traveling for business or if you have a particularly long layover. The atmosphere is a lot more relaxed than the rest of the airport. Wifi is included and the staff make sure you know when your flight is getting ready to leave. This one is definitely worth it.
What are some of the worth it/waste upgrades you’ve found on your travels? Leave us a comment and let us know.
Most people take home a tiny bar of soap and some lotion when they leave a hotel. They may also have tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner tucked away in their luggage as they glide through the lobby and out the front doors. Perhaps a shower cap to boot.
Not a big deal, as it turns out. In fact, many hotels sort of expect, and even want you to take their small sample soaps.
A recent study by Hilton Hotels showed that 73 percent of respondents were willing to admit they took home some swag from their last visit to a hotel.
People take these toiletries home and use them to stock their guest bathrooms. It does feel pretty fancy to select your own soap when staying the weekend with Auntie Margie. Others use the stuff themselves or even give it away as gifts. (Because nothing says love and friendship like a small bar of soap with a major hotel chain’s name on it.)
In fact, Hilton is using premier brands as an additional selling point for their hotels. A recent article in Premier Traveler Magazine’s website lists Neutrogena, Giovanni, Aroma Actives, Refinery, and Peter Thomas Roth as new additions to Hilton’s arsenal of body care products. These are some toiletry heavy hitters. Hilton, in fact, is glad to offer these miniature bottles of bliss as part of what they offer the weary (and upscale) traveler.
We understand the importance of quality toiletries in ensuring guests stay revitalized during — and after — their travels,” said Chris Naylor, vice president, brand operations for Hilton Worldwide. “The refresh of these bathroom products is part of our commitment to enhancing the overall travel experience, leaving our guests fresh and ready for their next adventure.”
The brands themselves also get buzz from being placed into the posh hotels.
Of course, it’s unlikely that someone will book into a hotel based solely on a love for Peter Thomas Roth, but these little details add up. And in the world of high end travel, encouraging your guests to steal soap can be a solid move.
A recent article on the PSFK.com website discusses the emergence of a way more convenient form of travel. The Embraer Air E2 jet seeks to maximize the room for your carry on luggage as well as make the flight itself more comfortable. There’s 40 percent more room for luggage onboard the plane, and you can actually fit an airline standard piece of luggage in the overhead bin, wheels first. Not having to obsess over the size of your suitcase would be a wonderful feeling.Plus, each traveler has a lot of personal space. Seats move around independently, and there’s enough room for it so no one will yell at you for leaning back or putting your knees in the back of their seat. The seats can even be staggered so you’re not directly next to the person in your row.
The designers tried to rethink the way flyers experience their trip, so the planes were designed to be more comfortable and personable. They wanted to give passengers a feeling of having their own territory during the flight.
The Embraer Air E2 jet is slated to come out in 2018. However, it may not be very likely that the weary American traveler will see one of these up close and personal. Embraer, a Brazilian company, serves the market for planes that seat up to 130. That’s definitely smaller than our large jets. And although it’s around the size of a commuter jet, it seems unlikely that the folks flying local routes between regional airports are going to spring for a high-end plane.
That said, SkyWest has apparently placed an order for 100 of them, so you may be one of the lucky few if you book a SkyWest flight in three years or so.
- EMBRAER DELIVERS 30 COMMERCIAL AND 52 EXECUTIVE JETS | Budget Rwanda gorilla tours (ugandasafaris.typepad.com)
An October article by Narina Exelby on the Kitbaggers website really struck a chord with us, when it comes to vacation photos. She discussed how taking photos of yourself — selfies — while on vacation can distract you to the point where you fail to relish the beauty and new experiences around you.
We couldn’t agree more.
Exelby argues that selfies take time away from what is really important when traveling, which is exploring new things and remaining present to appreciate the moment.
Although everyone is free to take selfies at any time, we agree with Exelby. Slow down and take a look around you when on vacation. Enjoy yourself and don’t worry about telling people back home what you’re up to.
Posting a selfie to Twitter or Facebook can take as much as three minutes. If you do that five times a day, that’s 15 minutes per day spent posting photos. That’s over an hour a week. That time really adds up, and your vacation becomes more about posting photos of yourself rather than enjoying the vacation. Instead of admiring the Eiffel Tower, you’re focused on getting the best possible shot of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Another concern is that constantly updating your social media streams with vacation photos can be a security risk. That photo of you in a canoe in Florida lets folks know you’re not home, and won’t be for a while. And if you’re traveling some place where your personal safety is at risk, you may want to keep a lower profile.
You can still take pictures. You can even take selfies. Photos are a great way to remember fun times you’ve had. But don’t let the photos become the main driver of your vacation. It should definitely be the vacation, and your time to relax, that comes first.
Photo credit: Carlos Mota Jr. (Fickr, Creative Commons)
Are rolling suitcases the better choice for business travel? Or can a case be made for duffel bags? Is one a business-only choice, while the other is only for weekends and trips to the gym? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each bag.
Better yet, some even come with wheels. A big duffel bag on wheels is narrower than a medium or large suitcase and it could even be a little easier to roll around a crowded airport.
Despite the general lack of structure with a duffel bag, you might have more organizational options in terms of little pockets throughout: on the exterior, the top, the bottom, and the sides. Some duffels even offer the benefit of a divider panel to separate the bag into two main compartments.
TravelPro offers a drop bottom duffel. There’s a large upper compartment where you put the vast majority of your stuff and then down below there’s another compartment that’s not quite as large. It’s a great area to store things like shoes or oddly-shaped items. If you don’t want to use that bottom compartment, you can also zip out the interior separator and just have one big packing space.
Also, rolling suitcases often offer an expansion feature that duffels don’t always have. TravelPro does offer a duffel with expansion, but your average duffels do not. Some of our rolling suitcase models also have expansion features, if you need to pack some additional items.
Bottom line: Duffels can help give a feeling of freedom to your travel experience. A duffel is great for a totally casual trip, especially if you have a lot of shoes or a lot of power cords or odd shaped items. Duffels are great for when traveling with gifts.
If you’re doing a more formal trip, or you want to wheel your bag instead of carry it around, you’ll probably want to stick with traditional luggage, and use the rolling suitcase.
Which do you prefer? Are you a casual duffel-er or do you prefer the tradition of the suitcase? Leave us a comment and let us hear from you.
We’ve talked frequently about the things you should or shouldn’t take the next time you travel, especially on flights. But what are those things you absolutely can’t live without, the items that, if you forgot them, might ruin the entire trip.
We talked to several Travelpro employees about those little must-have items that make traveling more bearable and comfortable for them, and the things they always pack first, just to make sure they didn’t forget them.
For many people, the answer is electronics. One of the essentials (no surprise) is the smartphone. A smartphone keeps you connected (with talk, text, e-mail and social media), amused (games), and even serves important functions like keeping time and getting you around (maps).
Another key item is a laptop computer. Some folks just can’t be separated from their work even for a short little trip. While it’s nice to unplug once in a while, others don’t have that luxury (or personality).
A tablet is another new favorite. For those that can’t bear to travel without books, a tablet is a much lighter version that allows you to select new titles while you’re sitting at the airport. You can carry an entire library in a single device, and watch TV or movies on it later. Some tablets can replace the need for bringing a laptop.
And many people don’t want to move an inch without a more traditional device, the hairdryer.
With all these devices jockeying for space in your luggage, make sure you not only bring their charging cords, but also that you make sure you have the correct adapter if you’re traveling overseas.
Quite a number of the Travelpro women said they don’t move an inch without their makeup case. Looking your best on vacation or business is important, as is personal comfort. Several people mentioned neck pillows. Some folks want to make sure they have something comfortable to sleep in, or they bring their favorite t-shirts with them. You can bring exercise clothing along for the ride. Whether you make it to the gym or not, the idea that you’re making your health a priority for your trip can be of great psychological benefit.
Finally, when you’re packing for your trip, make sure you have a high quality suitcase! A poor quality bag can ruin your trip or even break open and leak all your favorite items. You need something durable, light, and tough enough to handle the rigors of airline travel.
What are your must-have travel items? What do you always take with you, no matter where you’re going? Leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.
Photo credit: H is for Home (Flickr, Creative Commons)
The best way to keep track of ticket prices and airline fees? Check the travel sites every day, sometimes more than once, keep a spreadsheet of the results, and buy your tickets when you see the price hit its lowest.
Actually, that’s the worst way to do it. It wastes time and you can’t always be sure you’re finding the lowest fees. Plus, it’s difficult to keep track of alternate routes.
A September blog post on Peter Greenberg’s travel blog discussed two great sites for tracking ticket prices and fees. These are the best ways to track your fees, because you can use it to find the average and lowest ticket prices for your chosen destination, as well as find the cheapest time of year to fly.
Hopper.com will do all of that, plus give you information on alternate places to fly to and from. That feature is pretty standard these days, but Hopper’s detailed breakdown isn’t. It’s the best place to find out if you’re really getting a deal on a ticket and to give you a heads up on what you can reasonably expect to pay. It even lists the lowest recent price, just to make you jealous.
There’s also AirfareWatchdog.com, which has several useful sections, including a large list of airline fees, listed by carrier. For example, you can see how much it costs to bring a pet into the cabin, or reserve tickets by phone instead of online. Watch out for new fees, such as a $5 fee for printing out your boarding pass at the airport. Instead, use your home printer or the airline’s smartphone app instead.
How do you keep track of ticket prices and fees? Do you use any special tools, or do you have the spreadsheet technique down pat? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.
- How Not to Get Nickel-and-Dimed When Flying Low-Cost Airlines (travelproluggageblog.com)