Delta and Lyft Have Combined to Earn Delta Points on Lyft Rides

January 15, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a travel mileage junkie on the lookout for a new way to earn Delta miles, hitch a ride with Lyft. Delta Airlines recently announced a partnership with the ride sharing company that lets travelers earn miles just by using the service. Members can earn miles for every Lyft ride, and for a limited time, earn bonus miles during rides to and from the airport.

“We’re thinking about our customers’ whole travel experience and it’s important that Delta customers are taken care of not just in the air, but on the ground,” said Sandeep Dube, Delta’s Vice President – Customer Engagement & Loyalty.

All SkyMiles members are eligible, but if you’re not a SkyMiles member yet, but frequently take Lyft, sign up for Delta’s program. Just remember that names must match on both accounts, so keep that in mind when you register.
There are several Lyft benefits offered to SkyMiles members including:

  • One mile for every dollar spent on all rides (excluding taxes and tolls).
  • For a limited time, get two bonus miles per $1 spent on Lyft rides to or from the airport.
  • New riders get two $10 Lyft ride credits.
  • All Lyft rides are all eligible to earn miles including Lyft Line, Classic, Plus, and Premier.

Delta and Lyft have teamed up to provide Delta loyalty miles to Lyft riders.Earning miles is exclusively for SkyMiles Members who have active linked accounts at the time the ride is completed, which means you can’t get credit for past rides. So be sure to register and connect your two accounts before your next trip. Finally, if you and several co-workers or family members ride together, only the Lyft rider who requested the ride can earn miles, so you’ll have to fight it out with anyone else who wants the miles.

This is not the first partnership Delta has made with other travel service companies. In November 2016, they partnered with Airbnb to award extra miles to SkyMiles members who stayed in an Airbnb property. Delta also partnered with an innovative biometric identity verification platform, CLEAR, which allows SkyMiles members a discount on the highly coveted opportunity to expedite TSA security processes.

Are you a Delta or Lyft account holder? Will an arrangement like this inspire you to join one or the other program? Have you seen it in action already? Share your stories with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Photo provided by Delta Airlines

6 Things to Do Before Booking a Hotel

January 10, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel offers many choices and demands many decisions and you want to make the ones that give you the most for your money. On any trip, your hotel choice is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make.

The quality of the accommodations, amenities, and freebies are just a few of the factors that will affect your decision. The wrong or right choice can mean the difference between a memorable trip and a miserable one.

The Ellis Hotel, formerly the Winecoff Hotel, in Atlanta, Georgia. Make sure to follow these important steps when booking a hotel.

The Ellis Hotel, formerly the Winecoff Hotel, in Atlanta, Georgia.

A recent Smart Traveler article reminded us of some important factors to consider if you want to ensure your next trip is one worth remembering, not one you’d rather forget.

First, check the EXACT location of the hotel. Use Google Street view or Bing’s Bird’s Eye and get a look around. Make sure the hotel is, say, near the beach (like they said), has the great views they promised, or isn’t stuck right on a busy street that makes walking impossible. Doing this can help you avoid a hotel near the interstate or road construction.

Check to see if the hotel has any airport shuttles. You can save yourself time and frustration with a complimentary shuttle. Taxis and ride sharing can get expensive, so taking an airport shuttle to the hotel can save a few bucks. Just remember to tip your driver.

Check parking availability and cost. Parking on hotel property can add $10 to $35 or more per day. No parking at the hotel? The cost for off-site parking will often be significantly higher, and the inconvenience of walking to and from the off-site lot is higher, too. Weigh the costs between paid parking and ride sharing before you commit.

Do they have free or fee Internet? There’s no guarantee that a hotel offers free wifi; there could be a daily charge for it. You could also be charged per device, so connecting a laptop and phone can gobble up any savings. The more expensive hotels typically charge for their wifi while the less expensive hotels don’t. So either figure out how to use the mobile hotspot feature on your cell phone, or figure out whether you want to spend $10 – $20 per day on Internet access.

Do they have a rewards program? Loyalty programs are usually free and often provide great rewards. Ideally, you’d sign up before you make your reservations because members often get discounted prices, earlier check-in, later check-out, and other perks, but you can sign up once you check in. Just remember to do it before you check out so you can get the points. Some programs even give complimentary wifi and upgraded rooms.

Of course, you often have to book directly through the hotel rather than through the discount comparison sites or the conference websites to get those points. (Be sure to check with the individual hotel before you make the reservations just to make sure. Call them directly, don’t call the 800 number, because they don’t always have the best information.)

Are you a hotel travel veteran? What are some of your recommendations for hotel rookies and newbies? Tell us some of your recommendations and secrets on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Eoghanacht (WIkimedia Commons, Creative Commons 0/Public Domain)

Sleepbox Micro-Hotel to Open at Washington Dulles International Airport

January 8, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Thinking inside the box might be a good place for a nap if you’re at Dulles International Airport. As travelers long for a place to sleep other than the floor or curled up in a chair, Dulles will now offer a place to sleep, recharge or relax before your next flight.

According to USA Today, Sleepbox Nap Lounge opened during Christmas week on Concourse A, and is located between gates A6 and A14. Offering 16 small, stand-alone sound-proofed rooms, the micro-hotel will be the answer to the prayers of many weary travelers.

A double Sleepbox Hotel micro-hotel.The rooms can be rented through the Sleepbox website or app and reservations can last for an hour for a quick catnap or even an overnight stay. Canceled flights just looked a bit better with an option to get sleep and not worry about traffic back to the airport.

The article says the rooms are designed to be “cozy” with 8-foot ceilings and 30 square feet for a compact size. A 45 square foot room is also available with a little more storage space. Beds in both sizes are made of premium memory foam.

Room temperatures can be set via the Sleepbox app and so will lighting and the wireless entertainment system. It’s important to note that there are no restrooms or showers available at the micro-hotel, so if you need to use the facilities overnight, plan ahead and don’t leave your room without your mobile phone.

Minute Suites, a Sleepbox competitor, are currently available in Dallas, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Atlanta airports. Travelers familiar with these small rooms know they offer a sound-masked room for sleeping, working, or just relaxing in some peace and quiet. Minute Suites offer alarm clocks, HDTV (Netflix and DirecTV), and desks with chairs; some even offer showers.

The Atlanta airport sleeping concept has two locations and Minute Suites will open four new locations in the new year. Atlanta’s Concourse E will have 16 suites and two showers; Concourse F will offer six suites and one shower. Not to be left out, Concourses T and B will a part of “Traveler’s Oasis” concept with Be Relax Spa and Chiroport, which offers 15-minute chiropractic treatments that including spine adjustments and trigger-point muscle work.

Dulles is the first airport to get a Sleepbox micro-hotel, but the article says Sleepbox is already in talks with a few other large U.S. hubs for future locations.

Would you sleep in a micro-hotel or other tiny sleep room? Do the lack of toilet and shower facilities make a difference? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Vzor495 (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

More Americans are Using Their Smartphones to Book Their Travel

December 24, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a major shift for travelers and travel agents, whether you’re a business traveler or a vacationer: we Americans are using our smartphones more and more to manage all aspects of our travel.

A recent Travel Market Report article says, 61 percent of consumers have booked and paid for their trips through a mobile device of some kind. This is according to a new survey from Travelport.

A photo of a smartphone taking a photo of a plane wing. More people are using smartphones to book their travel.Travelport also found that we prefer using apps for our travel search and booking. We’re not necessarily going to mobile-friendly websites anymore, although that’s still very important for travel agents and travel booking websites. We’d rather use our favorite airline and hotel mobile apps, as well as the travel aggregation apps, to do our booking from there

U.S. consumers are also embracing new travel technologies for payments and voice search.

Our research highlights a clear opportunity to engage U.S. travelers with enhanced features on mobile apps,” Simon Ferguson, president and managing director of Travelport Americas told Travel Market Report.

This kind of technology could pose a threat to the travel agency business, but Ferguson doesn’t see it that way. He said agencies are always giving their clients new ways to stay in touch with them via social media or a mobile app. He said nearly half of all U.S. travelers said they would like to be able to live chat with a travel agent while they’re actually on their journey.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • 61% of U.S. travelers have book their travel and pay for it through their smartphone within the past year.
  • 64% of people use their smartphones as they’re traveling to their destination.
  • Leisure travelers use 7 – 8 apps for trip research — 52% use maps, 51% use weather, and 50% use a branded airline’s app.
  • 63% prefer checking into a flight on an app over a website, and 62% want to generate a boarding pass with their mobile app.
  • 79% of people consider trip status updates to be very helpful, relying on push notifications to alert them of changes to their travel.

While Ferguson may not think there’s a major disruption coming for travel agents, we can see this having a major effect. With all the mobile apps that let people do their own research, book their own travel, and even get their updates about changes to their travel plans, travel agents will have to dig deeper to find new ways to provide value to their clients.

Business travel arrangements will be an important service offering, especially if you can figure out how to help smaller startup executives book their travel. Specializing in certain kinds of leisure travel bookings is another possibility, such as booking accessibility travel for people with mobility issues.

What are your thoughts on using mobile apps to book and organize your travel? Do you prefer using your laptop to mobile booking, or do you favor a travel agent instead? Tell us your preferences on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Skitterphoto (Pixabay.com, Creative Commons 0)

Robert & Mary Carey Spotlight: Nashville

December 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

We are pleased to publish this blog article from Robert & Mary Carey of the RMWorldTravel radio program. Robert and Mary will provide us monthly blog articles covering their different favorite travel destinations.

There’s not a city in our nation as famous for songwriting and music as Music City itself, Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville’s deep roots and rich connections to music and the artists behind the music are unparalleled. But there are some other unique tidbits and facts about Nashville that we think are interesting and worthy of being shared with you.

The Nashville skyline at nightDid you know Nashville had another well-known nickname before it became known as Music City? By the mid-1800’s Nashville had gained a reputation for its established institutes of higher education and its public school system. Considered the Southern seat of culture and education, Nashville’s nickname back then was the Athens of the South. There’s even a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens to honor this, and it makes for an interesting visit the next time you’re in Nashville. Built as part of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, today the Nashville Parthenon functions as an art museum and popular tourist site in Centennial Park. The notable structure is also used for theater productions including Greek plays which are often performed for free.

Another fun fact you should know about Nashville is that it’s experienced an explosion of new restaurants onto the scene. Just over the past year, more than 100 new restaurants have opened with top chefs creating unique dishes while also making good use of locally sourced foods and celebrating the flavors and culture of the South. But don’t worry, there are plenty of the old standby Nashville favorites still cooking for their happy customers. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is one of those old time favorites. Serving legendary spicy chicken for over 70 years, along with a James Beard award picked up along the way, they’ve recently opened a second Nashville location due to high demand.

If you’re wondering what to do in Nashville besides explore the music scene and eat your way through this southern city, rest assured there are plenty of things to see! We always enjoy visiting some of the plantations and President Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage, is a beautiful, historic home on about 1,000 acres of stunning grounds. If you enjoy whiskey, you can explore the craftsmanship of the popular spirit on various whiskey trails and tours.

But with all of this and more, Nashville really does get some serious bragging rights for its place in music history so here’s what we suggest you visit on the music scene. The Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium are essential Nashville attractions. If you can’t catch a show at the Ryman you can take a tour. It’s a National Historic Landmark and one of the most famous music venues in the U.S. And if you have time, check out the iconic Bluebird Café. Why? Well, you’re just going to have to drop by and find out… hint: It’s fondly known as a place to go to hear the ‘heroes behind the hits’. And don’t forget your Travelpro luggage. Anytime we’re traveling, it’s what we use! Safe and Happy Travels!

Robert & Mary Carey, Hosts
America’s #1 Travel Radio Show
www.RMWorldTravel.com

United Airlines Launches Color-Coded Process for Streamlined Boarding

December 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Customers spoke and United Airlines listened. Travel is becoming a bit more colorful for customers of United as their signage and boarding process becomes color-coded. The carrier recently launched its streamlined boarding process across its 1,000 gates worldwide, after Los Angeles International Airport was the first facility to test out the new process.

Maria Walter, managing director of Global Operations Strategy for United, said the change was inspired by customers. In a press release on the United website, Walter said, “We listened to customers and employees as we tested a variety of processes on thousands of flights until we found a better boarding process that results in less time spent waiting in lines, improved communication and a better way to recognize our Premier customers while balancing out the number of passengers in each boarding group.”

According to United:

The improvements start with reducing the number of boarding lanes from five to two, giving customers added space, more time to relax and less time spent in line. . . United app users will also receive a new alert when boarding has begun for their flight, making it easier to know when to make their way to the gate. . . Digital displays in the gate area also keep customers informed with updated helpful boarding information.

The traditional boarding process of using groups will remain, but passengers will be processed through a color-coded system creating shorter lines and shorter wait times. A recent USA Today article stated that instead of boarding by row — the method in place for decades — Group 1 travelers will include frequent flyers, active military, and families traveling with children under two. They’ll board first when airline personnel announce “Premier 1K.”
A diagram explaining United Airlines' new color-coded boarding process.
Group 2 will be called next, and includes first class and business class flyers; they’ll also board in lane 1. They will be joined by Platinum and Gold level frequent flyers. Both Groups 1 and 2 will use the Blue lane. Stragglers of Group 1 and 2 will still board through the Blue lane.

Meanwhile, Silver-level frequent flyers, select United credit card holders and passengers who have purchased priority access will enter lane 2, now known as the Green lane.

Following those two groups will be Groups 3, 4, and 5 which consists of Economy Plus, United Economy and Basic Economy. These travelers will board after the first two groups, entering through lane 2. They’ll also board in the Green lane.

United will begin adopting new technology to send text messages, as well as send updates via digital displays in the gate area.

What are your thoughts on United Airlines’ new boarding process? Is this something you’re looking forward to? What’s your ideal boarding process? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Courtesy of United Airlines

2019 Global Travel Forecast

December 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel agents and frequent business travelers will want to pay special attention to the latest information from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), the global travel agency. Each year, they issue a forecast of what they expect the following year’s global travel forecast will look like.

The goal of the report, says CWT is “to enable travel buyers around the globe to create and support their travel programs for next year whether local, national, regional or in-between.

Here are a few of their predictions from their 2019 Global Travel Forecast.

The Asia Pacific region will see price increases: 3.2% for air, 5.1% for hotel, and .5% for ground transportation. The growth of the tourism and business travel market for Asia (especially China, now the world’s biggest corporate travel market) is putting pressure on the travel industry, which means travelers will have trouble not only getting rooms at their preferred properties but at their preferred rates as well. So book early, and have a backup plan ready.

The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. The 2019 global travel forecast predicts higher prices and limited availability for hotels in Asia and other parts of the world.

The Fullterton Hotel in Singapore

There will be a global increase in demand for rooms. We already said tourism and business travel is going to grow in Asia, but this is also true for Europe and Africa. Plus, the introduction of “ultra-long haul flights” will also increase leisure and business travel. More people going to more places means a need for more hotel rooms. While this means that there will eventually be more hotels, it doesn’t help in the short term, so make sure you book early or consider Airbnb and other room-sharing websites to find a place to stay.

Rental car companies will increase their prices, at least in the U.S. CWT is expecting to see an increase in car rental prices in Q4 2019, as the three main car rental agencies — which cover 90% of the US market — are seeing their fleet costs and maintenance costs increase and the residuals on their used cars are going down. The projected increase in price is 1% for corporate business travelers.

Amazon’s artificial intelligence is going to have an impact on travel According to CWT’s report, the travel industry is full-to-overflowing with all kinds of data on travelers — credit card, travel and expense HR data, combined with all the actual travel data like flights, car rental, and hotels — AI and machine learning systems are able to personalize and automate a lot of business travel functions. This means self-booking travelers are more likely to interact with a chatbot than a real customer service person on the other end of the computer line.

Fare tracking, fare forecasting, and the use of chat bots to book flights and hotels are increasingly the norm. Personalizing travel is no longer just about upgrades and ancillary services. Algorithms are being built to fully understand traveler preferences and behavior, and to extract more revenue by offering relevant products and services in real time.

Right now, as the economy is in an upswing, we’re expecting more and bigger things to happen in the global travel market. More of you will be traveling more often to more places. Of course, you’ll pay a little more too, but if you’re able to see a positive ROI on your business travels, or just have a fun time on vacation, it will all be worth it. Just remember to book things early, and always keep your confirmation numbers handy.

What are your travel plans for 2019? Do any of Carlson Wagonlit’s predictions have an effect on what you’re planning for next year? Share your ideas and your own predictions on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Holgi (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

Five Ways to Go Paperless for Your Business Travel

December 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel is usually an exercise in packing light so you can move fast. It means not carrying a big suitcase — road warriors definitely do not check their bags — and it means not carrying a heavy briefcase.

One way to lighten your load is to stop carrying papers. Many offices are trying to cut back on paper usage, especially since a lot of it gets thrown away or recycled, and the rest gets stored away, likely to never be seen again.

Consider this from Entrepreneur magazine: One four-drawer filing cabinet holds as much as 20,000 pages, costs $25,000 to fill, and $2,000 to maintain each year.

A desktop free of paper, except for a couple of notebooks. This is a great way to go paperless.Eliminating paper from your office saves money; eliminating it from your briefcase saves you from a backache.

It’s possible to avoid nearly all paper in your life if you go digital, keeping everything stored in the cloud and on your laptop and phone. You’ll never have to haul paper around again, and you’ll have easy access to everything you thought you’d need.

Here are five ways to eliminate paper from your business travel, and your life overall.

1. Use a business card scanner.

You can cut down on the number of business cards given to you by scanning them as soon as you receive them. Use an app like Evernote or FullContact to scan the cards. It takes a few seconds for each card, and then you can pitch the card or give it back to the person who gave it to you.

Then with an automation service like If This, Then That or Zapier, you can sync those scanned cards up with your phone’s contacts, Google Contacts, or LinkedIn profile.

2. Use an app to scan in all documents you receive.

Just like you can scan business cards into your phone, you can use a similar app like Evernote or Evernote’s Scannable app to scan new documents.

If you’re given a contract or even a meeting agenda, you can scan it quickly with Scannable and send it to yourself or upload it to your favorite cloud storage service. Tag it with a few keywords to remind you what the document is about, and you can always find it later on. Then just give the original back to the other person, or recycle it immediately.

3. Ask people to email PDFs and Docs to you.

If someone hands you a printed piece of paper, there’s a better than 99% chance they created it on a computer. And if they did that, they can email a copy to you instead. Which means there’s no reason to carry the paper around in the first place.

Most office people use Microsoft Word, which creates small documents that can be easily emailed. Even Apple users can open a Word document in Apple’s Pages word processor, which means both Windows and Macintosh users can open them.

Ask for all meeting agendas, notes, and other documents to be emailed to you instead of being printed out, and be sure to do the same thing for them.

If you don’t want people to be able to change or edit your document, export it to a PDF. It’s under the File –> Export menu in both Pages and Word. Then just send the new copy onto whoever needs it, and store your version in the cloud or on your hard drive.

4. Use Docu-Sign to sign contracts.

If you’ve ever had a contract emailed to you, you’ve probably been told you need to print it, sign it, scan it, and send it back.

You don’t. At all. With an app like Docu-Sign, Adobe Reader, or even Preview for Mac, you can open the emailed contract, sign it electronically, and email it back to the sender. You haven’t created any paper, and the signature is just as legally binding as if you wasted part of a tree to do it. Plus, if you use something like Docu-Sign, the document is time stamped with your signature as well. You can even import a real signature as a jpeg and drop it in, so it looks like you actually did print and scan it.

Docu-Sign works on your phone, tablet, or laptop, and you can save your signed contracts to your favorite cloud storage service, rather than stuffing it in a filing cabinet for later referral.

5. Store and share your documents via the cloud.

If you’ve got important documents you need to save, whether you’ve scanned them in via Scannable, or someone sent you a PDF or Word document, you can save them to a cloud-based service like Dropbox or Google Drive, which are easily accessible as long as you’ve got a wifi connection. Save all your documents to the cloud service and then just access them as you need them.

But just because the documents are in the cloud doesn’t mean you’re cut off if you don’t have wifi. Dropbox creates a folder on your laptop and stores a version of your documents there; it stores the original if you’re the one who created the document. And it’s possible to use Google Drive offline with a simple change.

Share documents with colleagues electronically, keep documents you might need later, and make changes and upload the updates at your convenience. Additionally, several people can work on a single document at once on Google Drive (Microsoft 365 does this as well), letting you make changes and updates together.

Finally, Google Drive can open Microsoft Word documents, so you can ask your colleagues to share documents with you in Google Drive and you can open them there.

You can adopt a paperless practice for your business travel if you just follow these steps. Ask people to email documents to you, but scan them in when someone hands paper to you. Sign contracts electronically so you don’t have to keep a real copy, and store everything in the cloud so you don’t have to lug it all around in case you need it.

Bonus: Never print out your tickets; always use your airline’s app

Rather than printing out your boarding pass at home, or printing it at the check-in kiosk at the airport, just download your airline’s app, and check in 24 hours before your flight. When you get to the airport you can use the special code on your phone to scan your way through security and onto the plane.

How do you go paperless for your business travel? Do you just carry big notebooks around and hope you might need the paper, or have you embraced the 21st century and gone on a paper fast? Share your ideas and techniques with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

5 Tips to Travel Light for the Holidays

December 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re traveling for the holidays, whether you’re flying or driving, remember you’re working with a limited amount of space in the car or your suitcase. You’re taking enough clothes for several days, probably heavy enough to keep warm in the winter. (Although we barely have to wear coats down here in Florida. Just pointing that out.)

And many people try to pack their gifts so they can save money. They end up spending more money instead and creating more of a hassle for themselves. There are several ways you can lighten your load and still get everything you need to where it needs to be.

1. Don’t check your bags.

A crowded baggage claim area at Las Vegas airport. If you travel light this holiday, you can avoid scenes like this.If you’re traveling for more than a week to stay with relatives, the big mistake many travelers make is to pack one or two big suitcases and check them through to their destination. Everything goes into the bags, including kids’ clothes, gifts, and one outfit for each day they’re going to be gone.

And then, because literally millions of people are traveling for the holidays, your luggage could get lost or delayed, which means you’re without your clothes, gifts, toiletries and so on, at someone else’s house. If you’re going to check your bags, then be sure to pack at least one change of underwear, your toiletries, and your medication into your carry-on bag. (Be sure to stick your laptop and electronics into your carry-on as well.)

You’re better off streamlining your packing and fitting everything into a carry-on and taking that onto the plane. If your kids are five or older, they’re allowed to carry on their own bags. So you can pack their clothes into their carry-on, and let them be responsible for their own stuff.

The next four tips will help you pack light, so you can avoid checking your bags.

2. Pre-plan your schedule and plan your clothes around it.

Look at your schedule and plan out your days. Many people will pack a nice outfit, “just in case” they go somewhere fancy for dinner. Don’t do that. Either plan for the dinner out, or just don’t go to that level of restaurant.

Similarly, don’t take other “just in case” outfits, like whether you might go skiing or might go paint balling or might go to a museum. If you plan your schedule, you can be sure whether you need to take those clothes or not.

3. Remember you can double up and wear your clothes more than once.

Don’t pack one outfit per day. If you’re going to be gone for seven days, you don’t need seven pairs of pants and seven shirts. You can wear your pants at least twice or even three times, and the same could even be possible for some shirts.

Sure, you’ll need enough undergarments, like underwear, t-shirts, and socks but you can even cut down on those items if you can do laundry at least once while you’re there. Just make sure you have some laundry facilities available to you; double-check before you leave. In a pinch, you can always wash your underwear and socks in a hotel sink. Just get a very small bottle of detergent when you arrive, although some hotels may sell them in their lobby shop.

4. Ship your gifts early.

Don’t pack your gifts in your bags to try to save money. Most airlines charge $25 for your first bag, and $50 for a second, and you’ll probably end up carrying enough gifts to require a bag. If you shipped most of your gifts ahead a few days early, you’d spend as much as you would on a couple of checked bags.

You could also order gifts online at Amazon or other ecommerce stores, and pay to have them shipped. If you have Amazon Prime, which is $119 per year, you could get free shipping throughout the year. But if you had planned on spending $150 in checked bag fees, you could save yourself quite a bit of money by spending it on Amazon Prime instead, and doing all your holiday shopping a few days before you leave. Follow all these other tips, and you can use carry-ons and save all your checked bag fees, which will more than pay for your Amazon Prime membership.

5. Wear your heavier items.

If you’re going somewhere cold for the holidays, don’t pack your heaviest items, wear and carry them. Wear your boots and pack your normal shoes. Your boots will take up an awful lot of room, plus they’re likelier to be dirty and get grime on your clothes. Just remember to pack your shoes in shoe bags so you don’t transfer dirt then too.

You should also dress in layers for warmth, instead of wearing a giant parka. Thin layers are easier to pack and take up less room than a single coat. But even if you take a heavy coat, carry it through the airport and then wear it as you’re boarding the plane. It’s not officially a carry-on item then, and you can always take it off and stow it once you’re on the plane.

How do you travel for the holidays? Do you pack everything and pay the charges, or do you try to travel as light as possible to keep things easy. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Josh Hallett (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Free Wifi On Planes? Make Sure You Practice STRICT Security

November 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

How important is it to you to have free wifi on planes? Are you able to stand being disconnected from the office for 1 – 6 hours? Or do you have to be connected at all times? And if it’s that important, are you willing to pay for in-flight wifi, or do you sit and suffer because you don’t want to pay $10 for a few hours of connectivity?

Delta Airlines is beginning to offer a rare incentive for their fliers and giving us all free wifi on their flights. Last year, they began offering free texting to their passengers, and this year, they’re upping the ante.

In a recent Travel Market Report article, Delta Air Lines said it would provide the free amenity, and according to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, it would be faster than what we’re already used to.

A man sitting on an airplane wearing a knit tube over his head and his laptop computer. His hands fit into little openings near the laptop. This is not good security if you're using free wifi on planes.

No, this won’t help.

Speaking at the Skift Global Forum in New York recently, Bastian said he didn’t know of anyplace other than in an airplane that you can’t access free wifi, so he wanted Delta to be the first to provide it to passengers. When the fee would be dropped remains unclear, but it is expected to be well-received.

We’re definitely in favor of free wifi, but it’s critical that you follow strong security measures in order to keep your computer and your personal information safe from prying eyes.

  1. Make sure you use a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt all web traffic to and from your computer.
  2. Make sure your malware protection and firewall are current. If you don’t have any, buy some.
  3. Never do any banking or transmit sensitive financial data while you’re on a free wifi system. If you need to do it, wait until you’re on the ground, and do it on your phone with the wifi turned off. Cellular data is harder to intercept.
  4. Be sure the wifi system you want to log onto is the right one. There are many imposters that look legit — Free_Airport_Wifi may look legitimate, but you can’t always tell. Make sure you know the official name of the official wifi, and ask someone who works there if you’re not sure.

These steps are always important, even if you don’t travel very often. But if you’re going to use free wifi, whether it’s at a coffee shop, the airport, or even a plane, you have to take steps to make sure you don’t fall victim to cybercrime.

Are you looking forward to Delta’s free in-flight wifi? Or do you prefer to stay unconnected while you’re flying? Some people want to answer emails, while others just want to read a book. How about you? Tell us your thoughts on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Becky Stern (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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