If you’ve been thinking about signing up for an airline’s loyalty program, you may want to think again. Some airlines are devaluing their frequent flier mile programs, making free airline seats harder to earn.
Several years ago, airlines said they would never be so bold as to change their loyalty programs. They were afraid that if they changed the program, passengers would go elsewhere. You could earn large blocks of miles and obtain a free ticket fairly easily.
Recently, airlines have been consolidating, making less competition for booking airfare. Therefore, they have more flexibility in changing their loyalty programs, adding more blackout dates, increasing the cost of rewards, and decreasing the point value of flights.
Peter Greenberg said on his blog that not only are frequent flier miles becoming harder to redeem, but also that the points to every dollar ratio are decreasing. This means that depending on the airline, your points can be up to 25% less in value.
Why is this happening? Why are airlines making it harder to be loyal to them?
It’s because airlines are already flying at close to full capacity, and there are fewer seats available on the market, which means the airlines don’t need to work quite as hard to earn your patronage. And since people are already paying for seats, why give one away? Ultimately, this is one of their methods to stay profitable. And one of the things that is suffering is the frequent flier programs.
Maybe it’s time to rethink how to earn points without being confined to a loyalty program that could be changed in a few years. You could always earn points on a credit card, something that I do on a regular basis. The value of the points you earn on credit cards can exceed the airline benefits and you are not confined to one air carrier when you book your air travel.
- Delta’s Frequent-Flier Rule Change May Be Sign Of Things To Come (ktoo.org)
- Delta’s Frequent-Flier Rule Change May Be Sign Of Things To Come (wnyc.org)
- Travel rewards becoming a bigger concern (lexingtonlaw.com)
- For some fliers, mileage programs come up short (trib.com)
We were recently reminded of why we like being a luggage company after reading Mark Eveleigh’s post on his blog, Kitbaggers.com, extolling the virtue of kitbags (duffel bags) over backpacks.
Kitbag is a British word for a duffel bag, and there are several styles of kitbag — er, duffel bags — that have wheels on them. They’re easy to pick up and carry when necessary, and even easier to pull along behind you, just like a regular piece of Rollaboard® luggage. Travelpro offers a wide variety of rolling duffel bag styles in the T-Pro Bold, Platinum Magna and National Geographic luggage collections.
The decision whether to carry that weight on my back for the next few months or to simply haul it on a kitbag with wheels is a no-brainer.
. . .
Before you head for the airport next time, at least spare a thought for which sort of bag is suited to your trip. On a relatively long adventure travel jaunt, there will be relatively few incidences when a backpack is preferable. There will be countless times, however, when you’ll whisper up a prayer of thanks for the foresight that turned you into a kitbagger. From the airport to the bus, to the hostel, to the bus, to the beach, to another hostel, to another bus, to a national park a tough, well-made kitbag on heavy-duty wheels is the easiest way to transport your kit across all but the roughest of dirt tracks.
If you’ve ever hauled a 60-pound backpack for miles through Europe, South America, or Africa, you know how hot and sweaty you can get by toting around three month’s worth of belongings on your back. But pulling your bag behind you lets you not only carry more, but you can transport said bag more easily.
Backpacks are great. They’re a lot of fun, they’re great for hiking and camping, and they have a secret gypsy vagabond appeal for many of us. We even make backpacks for people to haul their laptops, tablets and paperwork. It may not be trekking the rainforest of Chiapas or the streets of Paris, but you can still feel like you’re there, even when you’re just walking to your car after work.
But when it comes down to it, if you need something rugged, tough, and built to last, a rolling
duffel bag kitbag is your best bet. They’re soft, so you can overstuff them. They have plenty of compartments, so you can keep items separated by function. And they open at the top so you can easily dig out an extra shirt or your book for the plane.
Mark wrote several posts for us in 2010 after hauling some of our T-Pro Bold rolling duffel bags (kitbags) through Chiapas, Mexico and down the Amazon River. We figured if anyone knows about proper adventure travel gear, it’s bound to be Mark.
So when he said kitbags, not backpacks, we wanted to pass on his thoughts to adventure traveler within us all.
Recently, a friend posted a note to Facebook asking people for advice on the best way to travel through Europe. Within a few hours, his post had received over a hundred comments, and each commenter provided a strong case for why their suggestion was best.
When it comes to traveling, everyone seems to have advice on everything from building an itinerary to when, where, and how to book reservations. While your friends will probably offer you plenty of sound tips, there are certain bits of travel advice you should simply avoid.
Here are five popular travel tips that you’re better off avoiding.
1. You should book your flights as early as possible
Many people insist that the earlier you book your flight, the better. While you absolutely shouldn’t wait until the very last minute to book, you should also not book more than two months prior to your departure date for international travel, and one month for domestic. Anything before that, and you run the risk of paying more.
2. You’ll get the best rate by booking directly through the hotel
A lot of people believe they’re getting the best rate possible by calling the hotel to book a reservation. While this may be true some of the time, it’s definitely not true all the time. In fact, one major hotel chain’s website promises they’re offering the absolute lowest price available, but I’ve booked the same rooms for $20+ cheaper per night on a third party site.
3. You’ll save money by staying at an all-inclusive resort
This truly depends on where you’re going, when you’re visiting, what’s included in the package and how much you typically spend on meals and drinks while vacationing. For some people, an all-inclusive resort may truly be a great deal. However, if you’re someone who typically dines on a budget and doesn’t plan on racking up a large bill at the bar, you may save yourself a few hundred dollars or more by staying elsewhere.
4. Buying a Eurail pass is the most affordable way to travel through Europe
Again, this varies from situation to situation. However, if you’re bouncing from country-to-country and not spending much time within a single country, you will likely find that it’s cheaper to either buy single tickets or fly via a discount carrier.
5. You should bring plenty of cash when traveling
While it’s true that you should bring some cash when traveling, you shouldn’t bring too much. A good rule of thumb is to bring enough cash to cover you for one to two days in case you have issues with your debit or credit card. Anything past that, and you’re tempting fate. Your bank will cover fraudulent transactions on your card – but if you lose that cash, you’re completely out of luck.
We’d love to hear from you. Have you received any travel tips that turned out to be bad advice? Share with us in the comments section.
- Travelling Tips and Hotel Advice for All Travellers (shanshanwei8.wordpress.com)
- Budgeting: Save Money on Travel (quicken.intuit.com)
- Mitch Joel’s Best Piece of Travel Advice (travelproluggageblog.com)
- 20 travel tips and advice to make your foreign travel effortless (travelphotodiscovery.com)
Unless you’re one of the lucky few that live in areas that haven’t been hit by extreme weather this winter, you can probably attest to the fact that at times, this year’s weather has made it nearly impossible to even go to the grocery store, much less travel. By the end of January, thousands of flights had been cancelled due to severe weather conditions.
Whether you’re traveling soon or in the future, it always pays to be prepared to successfully handle a flight cancellation.
1. Avoid connecting flights at certain airports
While the recent snow and ice down south has proven that at times, it can be hard to avoid severe winter weather, there are certain regions you’ll probably want to avoid flying in and out of during the winter months. If you have a few different options for your layover, try to avoid airports in the Midwest, Northeast and Rocky Mountain areas.
2. Know before you go
A few days before your trip, check the weather forecast for your destination and any layover cities. If you’re heading into severe weather conditions, contact the airline to see if they’ll allow you to rebook or change your flight route without penalty.
3. Stay alert
Sign up for flight status notifications from the airline you’ll be traveling with. When flights are cancelled, time is of the essence — if you wish to get put on a new flight, you’ll want to be one step ahead of everyone else.
4. Act fast
If your flight is cancelled, you’ll need to act fast in order to land a seat on another flight. If you’re already at the gate when your cancellation is announced, chances are everyone will rush over to the desk agent for assistance. Avoid the mob. Call the airline’s 1-800 number or walk down to another gate serviced by the airline and get assistance there. While you may instinctively visit the carrier’s website for assistance, your best bet is to speak to a real, live person.
5. Know your alternatives
If you think there’s a good chance your flight will be cancelled, do a bit of research before your trip and find alternative flight routes. In the event that your flight is cancelled, you’ll be well-prepared to get re-booked quickly, and perhaps via an option that the desk agent hadn’t even been aware of.
Do you have any tips for successfully surviving flight cancellations? Share them with us in the comments section.
- Weather delays and cancels flights to and from QC (wqad.com)
- Weather Cancels or Delays About 130 Flights At Indy Airport (indianapublicmedia.org)
- Airline cancellations put a big chill on the economy (nj.com)
- Winter weather impacting flights into, out of Tennessee (local8now.com)
- Snow falling at DFW Airport, about a dozen flights cancelled (blogs.star-telegram.com)
- Hundreds of flights canceled at Chicago airports (sfgate.com)
Many people ask: what’s the secret to a positive air travel experience? Having traveled plenty in my lifetime, I have survived every possible scenario: flight delays, cancelled flights, red eye flights, missed connections and stressful flights. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about how to travel better and more efficiently. So what’s the secret to a stress free trip?To summarize a recent post by Mitch Joel, seize the moment.
As they say, preparation is everything, and this is especially true for air travel. This means filling out your customs declaration form the night before, and checking in and printing your boarding pass in advance. Packing snacks in case you’re stuck sitting on a runway, and using a carry-on bag instead of checking luggage whenever possible. Come prepared with magazines, books or other entertainment so you don’t find yourself rushing through the airport to grab a magazine before your flight boards.
If you’re flying across several time zones, my number one tip is to get acclimated to your new time zone before you arrive. Before your plane takes off, set your watch to your new time zone and adjust your routine accordingly. This may mean that you’ll be sleeping while others on your flight are eating lunch, but so be it. Many people spend a full day recuperating from jet lag when traveling across several time zones. A day spent sleeping off jet lag could be a day spent touring a city, spending time with your family or getting extra work done.
Finally, if you’re a frequent traveler, consider applying for a program such as the TSA Precheck which will allow you to move through security lines faster – or in some cases, skip them entirely. This investment can ultimately save you up to an hour per trip – and if you travel often, that can result in days of saved time.
What’s your best piece of travel advice? Share with us in the comments section below.
We hate to admit it, but it’s no secret that we Americans have a reputation for being, well, a little embarrassing abroad. While this is only as true as other stereotypes you encounter (i.e. not much), it’s still a stigma that should make American travelers a little more aware of their behavior when visiting other countries.
No matter where you’re from or what country you visit, it’s always a good idea to keep your manners in check when traveling abroad. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six sure-fire ways to embarrass yourself abroad.
1. Not being able to say ‘thank you’
While you probably don’t have the time to become fluent in Italian before visiting Italy, you should at least know enough to be polite. Before you travel, take some time to learn the obvious phrases. After all, if someone came up to you on a street in America saying, “Dov’è il bagno?” (where’s the bathroom?), you’d have no idea what they meant, and keep walking.
2. Wearing sweatpants
In America, we love to wear sweatpants, yoga pants and hoodies when running errands. If you do so in many other countries, be prepared to stick out like a sore thumb. When visiting another country, it’s a good idea to put your best foot forward – and make sure that foot isn’t wearing flip flops.
3. ComplainingNo matter where you go, you’re going to find plenty of things that are very different than America. While you may instinctively want to comment on the differences, don’t. When in doubt, act as if you’re in someone else’s home. Some things may seem a little strange, but it would be rude to mention it, right?
4. Getting impatient
We Americans have a need for speed. However, many countries move at a slower pace and enjoying a relaxing meal at a restaurant is the norm. If your waiter is moving a bit slower than you’d like, don’t get frustrated — use it as an opportunity to r-e-l-a-x.
5. Not eating the local fare
We recently heard about a young woman who spent two weeks in Europe and only ate pizza or hamburgers everywhere she went. Don’t turn your nose up at the local cuisine or ask a restaurant if they can ‘Americanize’ a dish. Take a risk and order something new – you just may like it. And if you don’t, refer to #3.
6. Being ignorant to local etiquette
Did you know that in Hawaii, it’s rude to surf at the locals’ beach, and in Bali, it’s impolite to visit a temple without a ‘blessing’ such as a basket of flower petals? Before you travel, always do your research. With so much information at our fingertips online, you have no excuse not to.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have anything that you’d add to this list? Tell us in the comments section below, or post your comment on our Facebook page.
- Tips for traveling abroad – how to blend in. (cengagebrain.com)
- 5 Tips That Will Make Your Study Abroad Experience Unforgettable (thoughtcatalog.com)
- 20 Things I’ve Learned Abroad: (melstarm.wordpress.com)
Although the Internet is still relatively young, it’s difficult to remember a time without it. Until a little over a decade ago, trips were planned using hefty travel books, glossy brochures, 800 numbers, and travel agents.
This limited amount of information meant that many times, travelers entered into their trip hoping for the best. The Royal Imperial Windsor Arms Hotel in National Lampoon’s European Vacation is a great example: the Griswolds were expecting a posh four-star hotel, but discovered upon arrival that it was actually a bit of a roach motel.
These days, we have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. While mainstream publications are still a popular resource for travel guidance, research shows that today’s travelers trust online reviews more than other resources. In fact, according to online research firm Market Matrix, 90% of global travelers state that their booking decisions are heavily influenced by reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Places and the like. Furthermore, 53% of travelers state they wouldn’t book a hotel that has no online reviews.
The real question is – can the reviews you read online be trusted? Not always! While 95% of travelers believe that online reviews are trustworthy, the reality is every major online review site has a percentage of phony reviews – both positive and negative. In fact, Yelp recently admitted that roughly 25% of all reviews they receive are fake. While these sites make an effort to filter out blatantly suspicious reviews, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to identify and filter all phony reviews.
Unfortunately, we’ve had a few experiences with phony online reviews here at Travelpro. As customer satisfaction is our top priority, we continually monitor our reviews on different sites, like Amazon.com and others. There have been a few times we’ve received negative product reviews from individuals who haven’t placed an order with us. When we reach out to them in a private message, the vast majority of the time they never respond to our efforts to resolve their complaint.
How can you separate fact from fiction when reading online travel reviews?
They key to using online reviews is to read a lot of different reviews from a few different sites and make your opinion across a very broad spectrum. If you come across reviews that are either absolutely scathing or overly-positive, always click through to see the other types of reviews that have been posted by that user. If their account is brand new, has only one or two other reviews or only posts one star reviews and/or five star reviews, it’s safe to say their opinion might be biased. Additionally, be aware that some companies offer freebies to existing customers who leave online reviews. While this practice isn’t illegal per se, it can sway the types of reviews people leave.
When trying to determine the actual quality of a particular restaurant, hotel, or travel resort, you need to use your best judgment and look at the total number of reviews. Are more people happy or unhappy? By looking at the trends, you can get a clearer idea of how well the destination will perform.
How do you separate fact from fiction when reading online travel reviews? Share your tips in the comments section below!
- 5 ways social media is transforming travel | SmartBlogs SmartBlogs (falkenhaug.com)
- Why Yelp will NEVER be able to get rid of phony reviews (michellechkim.wordpress.com)
- Kayak unveils hotel reviews and gives homepage a facelift (venturebeat.com)
- Why should Hotels care about TripAdvisor ? (customertestimonials.wordpress.com)
Once only carried by business travelers, laptops and tablets have now become a “must bring” item in many travelers’ luggage, and for obvious reasons. Not only do laptops and tablets make it easier for us to stay in touch while away, but they also serve as a versatile source of entertainment for all ages.
However, when looking to lighten your load while traveling, one thing’s for certain — every little ounce and inch can add up fast, making it easy to go from “traveling light” to completely bogged down. Depending on the type of laptop you own, you may find yourself adding several pounds of weight to your carry-on bag. The obvious alternative would be to bring a tablet instead, but is that a smart idea? The Travelpro team decided to weigh the pros and cons and decide which is the better choice to bring on a trip – a laptop or tablet?
Packing a Tablet
At face value, a tablet seems to be the most logical option for those looking to travel light. After all, a tablet takes up considerably less space than the average laptop, and can weigh several pounds less. Additionally, they’re much easier to use on the go, whereas laptops can be downright impossible to use on airplanes, depending on how much seat room you have. Finally, a tablet can come in handy when exploring a new city as it can be easily packed into a purse and pulled out when things like maps, directions and restaurant recommendations are needed.
Packing a Laptop
A laptop may be the choice for those who are traveling for business. If you’re planning on getting some work done where you need to access Microsoft Office applications to create documents on your trip, a tablet may leave you feeling frustrated. On the downside, the average laptop is significantly less portable than tablets, unless you have a lightweight laptop such as a Macbook Air or Chromebook. Although we haven’t tried them, the all in one laptop and tablet hybrid products may also be the solution.
The Final Consensus?
While it ultimately depends on the purpose of your trip and what you’ll be using your tablet or laptop for, the Travelpro team suggests you bring a tablet and leave that bulky laptop at home. Besides, if you’re heading on a vacation, having a laptop around will make it that much harder to ‘unplug,’ right?
- Chromebook vs. Tablet: Which Should You Buy? – LAPTOP Magazine (bldwtech.wordpress.com)
- The New Business Toolkit (intercall.com)
- Technology: Laptops Vs. Tablets (scholasticadministrator.typepad.com)
Once again, airlines are charging their customers new fees in an effort to boost revenue. If you’re getting ready to roll your eyes, not so fast – once you hear some of the perks that accompany these optional fees, you may be more than willing to fork over the extra dough.
It’s no secret that airlines make the majority of their revenue from the extra fees they charge, namely, baggage fees, in-flight meals, cancellation fees, and the like. While we’re all guilty of griping about airline fees (and no one likes paying them), many consumers don’t realize that thanks to the high cost of oil, these additional fees help keep fare prices from skyrocketing – up to 15% higher, according to some experts. In fact, such fees bring in more than $15 billion a year and are one of the reasons many airlines are profitable.
Unfortunately, revenue from such fees is dropping. According to recent figures released by the government, 2013′s Q2 revenue from bag fees fell seven percent compared to the same period last year. In other words, airlines are now scrambling to find new sources of revenue, and this means more fees.
Thankfully, airlines have learned a lesson from their last few fee changes. Instead of opting to charge customers more for things that used to be free, they’re using this as an opportunity to find new ways to improve their customers’ travel experience by offering VIP worthy perks and services in exchange for a small fee. While some of these upgrades have been around for a while (think access to private lounges or a seat with extra legroom on your flight), some of these new upgrades are designed to make travelers’ lives easier.
For example, we’ve all had those times when we need to get work done on our flight, but can barely fit a large, unwieldy laptop on the tray table. To remedy this issue, some airlines are now offering in-flight iPad rentals. You’ve probably also had those moments where you find yourself wishing you’d sprung for the extra leg room upgrade – now, many airlines are offering in-flight upgrades. And, our personal favorite, some carriers are even offering luggage delivery service.
As airlines begin to focus more on customer experience, particularly through the use of technology, we expect that we’ll see more perks come available in the future. According to John F. Thomas of aviation and travel consulting company L.E.K. Consulting, “We’ve moved from takeaways to enhancements. It’s all about personalizing the travel experience.”
Would you pay extra for VIP-worthy add-ons? If so, what type of perks would you like to see airlines offer? Share with us in the comments section or via our Facebook page.
- 5 things to watch in airline industry in 2014 (star-telegram.com)
- Gadgets Can Finally Be Used During Airplane Take-Off, British Airways Decides (news.softpedia.com)
If you’ve ever wished you could bypass extensive airport security lines, now you can. A private traveler program called CLEAR now gives travelers the opportunity to jump to the head of the airport security line — think of it as a sort of high tech version of Disney’s Fast Track pass.
It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. In fact, the CLEAR program was awarded Safety Act Certification by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, making it the only expedited traveler program to be placed on the “Approved Product List for Homeland Security.”
How CLEAR WorksIn order to join the CLEAR program, interested participants are required to go through a somewhat extensive application process. Those who wish to participate in the program need to provide everything from their social security number to the make and model of their car. Additionally, participants must have their iris and thumb print scanned and pay $179 per year for their membership.
Once approved, users will receive their microchipped CLEARcard, which they can then present to CLEAR representatives at participating airlines. Once scanned (they asked for those iris and thumb print scans for a reason), members can then proceed to the front of the security line. The only downside to the CLEAR program is that, unlike the TSA’s Pre-Check program, CLEAR members must still go through the standard TSA security screening process, shoe removal and all.
Currently, the CLEAR program is available in seven airports within the United States: San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Orlando, and Westchester County. The program also has two more Texas locations on the way.
So the real question is, at $179 per year, is the CLEAR program worth it? That depends on where you’re flying to and from, and how often you travel. As they say, time is money, so if you frequently fly in and out of one of the participating airports, the $179 per year fee might be worth the ability to breeze through airport security in five minutes.
Would you participate in the CLEAR program, or are you a current member? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
- The longest airport security line: TSA to start security background checks (mysecuritysign.com)
- Keep your shoes on. Huntsville airport adds TSA PreCheck to expedite security screening (gallery, video) (al.com)
- TSA PreCheck program expands in Utah (ksl.com)
- TSA Rolls Out Expedited Screening Program At SoCal Airports (losangeles.cbslocal.com)