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)

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)

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)

How MSNBC Road Warriors Survive Life on the Road

November 13, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

In 2016, MSNBC introduced the world to Road Warriors, a group of young correspondents who cross the country covering political campaigns for MSNBC, NBC News, and NBC News Digital.

For the 2018 midterm elections, MSNBC brought back the road warriors for more coverage. In a recent USA TODAY article, four of them — Kasie Hunt, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent; Jacob Soboroff, MSNBC News correspondent; Gadi Schwartz, NBC News correspondent and co-host of “Stay Tuned;” and Gadi Schwartz, MSNBC road warrior — shared their insights for traveling under some unusual circumstances, which can be helpful whichever side of the aisle you lean.

In order to learn about a new area, Hunt said she seeks out local coffee shops right off the bat. Chatting up locals is a great way to find out more about the area. Politicians know how crucial these places are and often stop by for a meal.

As the face of the news, Hunt must be able to go live at a moment’s notice. So how does she stay camera-ready virtually anywhere? She makes sure her clothes, makeup, and a hairbrush are always within an arm’s reach by keeping them all in her carry-on bag. She said scarves serve many purposes, from a fresh look on camera to a layer of warmth on a plane. With earplugs, a travel pillow, and a scarf, Hunt is able to sleep just about anywhere. Irregular sleeping can be offset with a Tylenol PM or a phone app for relieving stress and enabling the listener to relax and ultimately fall asleep.

MSNBC road warriors carry battery packs to help them stay connected on the road.Hunt is also adamant about bringing along external batteries to keep her phone fully charged. Eating healthy can be tough while she’s on the go, so she tries to balance the healthy with the unhealthy. Finally, she makes sure she uses TSA’s PreCheck and other travel rewards programs.

Like Hunt, MSNBC correspondent Soboroff must be able to hit the road at a moment’s notice. Such urgency can wreak havoc on a person physically and emotionally, notwithstanding the ability to be camera-ready. Soboroff offers a unique suggestion: drink coffee, shower, drink more coffee and throw in an occasional shave. Another travel secret? He only uses carry-on bags, and never checks his luggage. He also said puffy jackets are a great alternative for pillows while trying to catch some sleep on a flight. Locations don’t always offer fitness facilities, so he improvises with Pilates and push-ups in his room. Other days he runs and stretches whenever possible.

NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz relies on YouTube to motivate him to work out on the road. Not a huge fan of fitness, Schwartz appreciates the music to keep him moving. Eating Acai bowls when he can is another healthy choice and juices are a go-to when he feels under the weather.

A bigger challenge is appearance, from the need for a haircut (which often results in taking matters into his own hands) to keeping his wardrobe neat. The secret to his success though is something everyone has: pockets. Headphones, cash, keys, charging packs, glasses, all have a home and become easily accessible. He always keeps them in the same pockets so he knows where everything is.

Technology comes into play with three time zones on a watch, which allows him the ability to stay aware of deadlines. Drowning out noise helps him sleep, and something as simple as a cooler room and avoiding technology before bedtime also helps him fall asleep.

Finally, NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford has found a sleep mask is her essential key to sleeping anywhere. In fact, it’s always in her purse. Like Hunt, Radford carries a scarf for making an ordinary outfit look a bit more polished. Her makeup musts include concealer and light lip gloss. She packs only versatile luggage: her four-wheeled, two-handled suitcase and stackable backpack that doubles as a briefcase and foldable purse with essentials.

Radford also focuses on healthier living: some weeks, it’s a strict diet and less exercise; others, it’s more exercise and a less strict diet. Either way, vegetables are her go-to for keeping energy up.

Road warriors, how do you survive spending so much time on the road? Do you have any special suggestions for those of us who are getting into the road warrior arena? Please share any suggestions with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Ilya Plekhanov (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

How One Travel Writer Saved Thousands in World Travel

November 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Ah, to be young and able to travel anywhere, eat anywhere, sleep anywhere at any time. We recently found an article by travel writer Evie Carick, who listed several ways she was able to make her travel dollars go further. While it may not be ideal for the seasoned executive who’s accustomed to traveling business class, for younger business travelers or people heading out on vacation, these are some tips to help you stretch your travel dollars.

Some of them are old standards, such as taking public transportation, traveling during the off-season, walking, and of course, hoarding freebies. But there are a few new nuggets thanks to advances in technology, such as Hopper’s flight alerts and Kayak’s flex month, to name a few. Here are some of Evie’s tips that we especially liked.

A train in a station. A travel writer suggested riding trains overnight to save money and time.Consider traveling at night, especially if you’re going by train. Not only can you travel comfortably (i.e. wearing pajamas), but you aren’t wasting a day traveling. Grab a sleep mask, ear plugs and blanket. Fall asleep in one place and awaken in another, ready to sightsee. Plus, you’ve just saved yourself a night’s stay in a hotel. Pack light, only a week’s worth of clothes, and do laundry as you reach your destinations. Put your laptop and toiletries in a backpack, and avoid checking any luggage.

Speaking of transportation, have you flown one of the many small, budget airlines? Google your destination and discover which airlines travel to your intended destination. Spirit, Frontier, and JetBlue are worth a good first look if you need to save money.

Booking directly also helps lower costs, but keep an eye out for extra fees and surcharges as they accumulate quickly. Try Skyscanner’s Everywhere search to find cheap flights close to your final destination, then book the final leg of the trip separately, or get a rental car.

Do you still have your student ID? Assuming it wasn’t more than a decade ago and the age differences aren’t obvious, show your student ID to get some additional discounts only available to students. And if you’re over 50, AARP offers great discounts for travelers, as does AAA.

Want to do some sightseeing? Learning about a new city can be costly, but if you take only free city tours, you might be surprised at what you discover about your destination. Check out Sandeman if you’re staying in a major European city, while FreeTour.com is available in 118 countries around the world. No free tours where you are? Ask at your hotel or tourist information desk if they know of any. Finally, even though it’s a freebie, your guide might appreciate a tip at the end.

To get around a new city, download an offline Google Map for Internet-free orientation. You can also download a language dictionary in Google Translate. BonusTranslate operates in airplane mode, so you don’t have to worry about chewing up data when you’re in a foreign country.

In fact, try to keep your phone in airplane mode while you’re in another country, unless you specifically have a phone that works overseas. (Ask your mobile provider if you’re not sure.) Then, if you need to send a text or update social media, use a place with free wifi, like McDonald’s or Starbucks — you can find those around the world. Also, consider using apps like WhatsApp to send texts and only use it on wifi, so you don’t incur international charges.

If you’d rather drive yourself to do some sightseeing, make sure your credit card or car insurance will cover you. If it does, skip the insurance from the car rental agency. In most cases, their insurance is expensive and unnecessary, but talk to your credit card provider and insurance agent to be sure.

Speaking of credit cards, make sure your cards won’t hit you with foreign transaction fees. Ideally, it will also offer airline rewards which can help you earn airline miles for every dollar spent. For example, you could use an American Express Gold to earn Delta miles. Use it to pay your bills, and then pay off your AMEX each month. You’ll eventually earn enough miles to score a free ticket.

Lastly, make sure you bank card doesn’t require ATM fees. Some offer reimbursement of ATM fees worldwide while others offer unlimited reimbursements in the US. If you’re going to travel a lot, you may want to switch banks to one that doesn’t charge ATM fees.

How do you save money when you travel? What are some of your big money-saving secrets? Share your money-saving tips with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: PXHere.com (Creative Commons 0)

How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

October 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Several weeks ago, we wrote about how one of the dirtiest places in the airport is the check-in kiosk at the front of the airport. Thousands of fingers poke at the screen every day, and no one cleans it off. Compare that to the airport bathrooms, which are cleaned hourly. In other words, the airport bathroom is much more sanitary than a computer kiosk.

Other germ-laden places you face during air travel? Armrests on the seats at the gates, armrests on the plane, and the tray tables.

And let’s not forget the security checkpoints. It turns out that the containers you send through the x-ray machine are also some of the nastiest places in the airport. Everyone touches the containers, but not everyone has clean hands.

The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in history, and we’re not sure what 2018-2019 is going to bring. And since it’s right around the corner, you’re at greater odds of getting sick when you travel this winter, so preventative measures are key to staying healthy.

One way to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), now is the time to get one, and you should get it sooner rather than later, as it takes two weeks for the vaccine to provide the highly-desired protection. Even if the vaccine is not 100% effective, or you get infected with another strain of the flu virus, the vaccination reduces transmission in the population in general, as well as lessens your own symptoms.

Self-check-in kiosks is often the dirtiest place in the airport.If you want to avoid getting sick when you travel, there are a few precautions you should take. First, the CDC suggests carrying a travel health kit, consisting of tissues, soap, alcohol-based sanitizer, and pain/fever medicine. We’ll also recommend adding some sanitizing wipes as well. Having these items handy may reduce your risk of infection and keep you well.

Use the hand sanitizer whenever you touch a dirty surface, or use the sanitizing wipes to wipe down those surfaces before you ever touch them. Wipe down the the armrests at the gate and your armrests and tray table on the plane. Use the hand sanitizer once you board and again after you use the bathroom on the plane.

Avoid traveling when you feel ill. Should you become ill, your physician can prescribe drugs to treat the flu infection, making the illness shorter and milder. The same is true for a cold — it may not be as severe as the flu, but it can still put a damper on your trip.

And when you do travel, follow a few simple rules:

  • Avoid close contact with people who appear sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough by doing it in your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after you blow your nose or use the bathroom.
  • Avoid touching your face if you’re in public because that’s often how the flu gets into your system — through touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands.
  • Finally, hygiene, sleep, drinking plenty of water, and eating right will greatly help reduce your risk of contracting most illnesses.

How do you stay healthy when you travel? Do you have any “I got sick on a business trip” horror stories? Share them with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Marek Ślusarczyk (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.5)

Air Travel Secrets from a Professional Airline Critic

October 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

When it comes to finding the hidden secrets about air travel, there’s no one better to turn to than a tried-and-true expert. And not just an expert, but someone who’s paid to find problem areas in the airlines’ performance.

Brent Bowen is America’s leading airline critic — and frequent air traveler — who has uncovered a few secrets on how to find the right carrier for you, how to avoid pain on your flight, and how to understand those obscure rules of air travel.

Bowen is an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor, and he publishes the Airline Quality Rating, a report we’ve sometimes written about on this blog. And the fact that he still flies shows that he’s figured out several secrets, which means he has less-eventful flights and is able to relax more while he’s on the plane.

The bottom line is simple: if you don’t make an informed decision about your travel plans, someone else will, and chances are that “someone” will be the airline. Their main concern is getting you from point A to point B safely; it’s up to you to do it in comfort and style. So here are some of Bowen’s secrets for having a more comfortable flight.

Knowing the right air travel secrets can help you have a more comfortable flight.Finding the right airline for you is key. You need one that fits your needs and budget. Do you need early seating? Do you want to avoid extra fees? Or is seat room a big concern? Dealing with an airline directly may give you more control over seating preferences, so research tickets and loyalty perks before you settle on one for the foreseeable future.

Next, know the rules. Air travel has become complex and most folks are unaware of the recent surge of fees and restrictions currently held by airlines. Be aware of the rules, especially with “low cost” carriers, who will often make up the lost ticket costs with additional fees. Look for deals and chances to avoid fees, such as joining an airline’s loyalty program or buying your ticket with one of their points-earning credit cards.

Whenever possible, Bowen says, fly nonstop as stopovers increase chances of lost luggage, delays, or other misfortunes. You only have one flight to contend with, so if there are any delays, you’re still going to get to your destination. But if you have a multi-leg flight, one late flight can throw off the entire trip.

If nonstop is not an option, then avoid checking a bag. Try to purchase a better seat to avoid the middle seat/back of plane (choose the upgrade to Economy Plus). And check the airline’s website and see if you can choose your seat in advance.

If you’re traveling for business and these options fall outside your corporate travel policy, see if you can make your own arrangements, and request reimbursement later. Alternatively, it might be better to take a longer trip than one with additional stops.

What are some of your air travel secrets to make sure you arrive in comfort? Road warriors, what tips have you learned that we could all benefit from? Share them on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Vincent Desjardins (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

TSA, American Airlines Testing 3D Screening of Carry-on Bags at JFK

October 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is starting to look at luggage in a whole new way. A way that’s faster, more efficient, and will get you through the security checkpoints much faster. It’s called 3D screening and it looks at your blag in three dimensions, not the traditional two.

According to an article in USA Today, the TSA announced plans to begin testing a 3D scanner for carry-on luggage. The device, created by Analogic, has already begun testing with American Airlines at New York’s JFK airport. The test began in late July and uses a ConneCT scanner.

A 2D bag being screened. 3D screening will let you also look at the depth of bags.The partnership with Analogic and TSA could transform aviation security by adding state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) technology to the security checkpoints, according to José Freig, American’s chief security officer.

“At American, we are always looking at ways to invest in technology that raises the bar on global aviation security while improving the customer experience,” Freig said.
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Five Ways to Boost Productivity While You Travel

September 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling for work can be considered a perk — in fact, many people often look for jobs with it — but for some it becomes a drain on productivity which can lose that high momentum normally happening at the office.

Between traveling to the airport, sitting at the gate, and sitting on the tarmac, productivity can plummet when you travel. But just five small changes can make a world of difference.

Work from the bottom up. Consider the way you typically attack the top of your priority list first. When you’re traveling, start at the bottom when you’re at the airport and on the plane. While these items may require attention, they’re probably not intensive and may not require a great deal of attention or focus. You can probably do them on auto-pilot or without straining your brain.

A coffee shop is a great place to be productive while you travel.

Cup Deal Online Business Drinks Coffee Shop


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