What's New in Travel Newsletter

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What's New in Travel

Stormageddon 2016

With the impending storm on the East Coast, we want to let all of our travelers know that we have been working tirelessly to reroute or reschedule anyone who may be affected. For those who are traveling this weekend, the best thing to do is to sign up for travel alerts with your airline. They will alert you as soon as there is a change in your flight status. Otherwise, keep an eye online at airport and airline websites for the most current information.
If you have any trouble, be sure to contact our after-hours service at 866.382.4584.
Be safe and stay warm this weekend!
~ETC Travel

CDC Zika Virus Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging pregnant women — at any stage of pregnancy — to consider postponing travel to 14 destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean where a virus linked to birth defects is reportedly being transmitted through mosquito bites. If you must go however, be sure to exercise extra precautions against mosquito bites. Follow these recommendations from the CDC to protect yourself as much as possible.

The countries impacted by this Level 2 travel notice are Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela. While the virus causes only a mild illness in most people, there is mounting evidence linking it to a birth defect, especially in Brazil.

The CDC also advises women who are contemplating or trying to get pregnant to talk to their doctor before traveling to those areas and to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Rules for Entering Canada are Changing

Starting March, 2016, citizens from countries other than the United States who do not need a visa to enter Canada will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before flying to or transferring through Canada.

The eTA process is similar to that of the United States ESTA: travelers apply individually online, they must pay CAD$7 by Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, and their eTA is valid for 5 years. Travel agents can apply for their clients, but they cannot charge a fee for this service.

Sea-Tac Winter Parking Coupon

Click here to download the coupon and present it upon leaving the garage.

Report Reveals the Best Airlines and Airports for On-Time Performance

Here's the line up:

    North American airlines ranked by average OTP for 2015

  1. Hawaiian Airlines, 89.11%
  2. Alaska Airlines, 86.38%
  3. Westjet, 85.88%
  4. Delta Air Lines, 84.46%
  5. Southwest Airlines, 82.12%
  6. Virgin American, 81.58%
  7. American Airlines, 80.14%
  8. Air Canada, 79.46%
  9. United Airlines, 78.99%
  10. JetBlue, 78.26%

    Large airports ranked by average OTP for 2015

  1. Tokyo Haneda, 91.25%
  2. Munich, 87.47%
  3. Sao Paulo Guarulhos, 87.47%
  4. Minneapolis, 85.37%
  5. Sydney, 85.27%
  6. Melbourne, 85.02%
  7. Singapore Changi, 84.75%
  8. Atlanta, 84.38%
  9. frankfurt, 84.12%
  10. Seattle, 83.56%

TSA Will Accept Washington Licenses for Two More Years

The final word is in: Washington state residents will have two more years to use their standard driver's licenses before those cards are no longer compliant with federal standards. The two-year extension is meant to give states a final chance to meet those rules.

The new deadline has been set to January 22nd, 2018.

There was concern the TSA would no longer accept Washington state licenses and identification cards this year, even for domestic flights. Some were concerned they would have to scramble to get a Washington enhanced driver’s license or a passport. This extension eliminates that concern.

Sea-Tac's Skybridge 6 Closed Until Summer

Sea-Tac’s skybridge 6, at the north end of the airport, is closed until summer so workers can replace the escalator serving this skybridge. Number 6 is one of two skybridges connecting the parking garage and the Alaska Airlines ticket counter area. Posted signs ask visitors to please use one of the other five skybridges. This is the next step in a modernization of more than half the airport’s escalators that began in 2011. They spread construction over a few years to reduce passenger disruption.

Super Mario Maker: Southwest Airlines Adventure

A Fun-LUVing Attitude is a required skill for working at Southwest. That’s why when Nintendo asked if we would like to create our own level in the new Super Mario Maker™ game for the Wii U™ console, we jumped at the opportunity.

Beginning today, Wii U users can play the Southwest Air Adventure level by visiting Course World in Super Mario Maker. Users will take to the skies in an air-travel adventure, with unique Southwest-themed obstacles before ending at our signature Southwest Heart, made out of coins, of course!

The Southwest level for Super Mario Maker also offers players the exclusive chance to unlock the Sky Pop costume in the game. Once players locate a Mystery Mushroom in the Southwest Air Adventure level, they are able to play the level in the classic Super Mario Land plane costume. Also, by completing the level, players can use the costume in future levels of their choosing!

Vashon Island's First Hotel Now Open

Why did this take so long to happen? The answer is that Vashon Island is very hard to build on, especially for commercial purposes. Plus getting water rights on a little island surrounded by sea water is no easy feat. This hotel is the result of about 40 people including a couple Seattle entrepreneurs. They purchased the land, had a Seattle architecture firm draw up plans for a modular building, had a company in Idaho manufacture the buildings, and then had them barged to Vashon where they were lifted onto the foundation by crane. The resulting hotel has been named The Lodges on Vashon and is now open for business.

American Airlines: Elevate Travel with Premium Economy

American Airlines will be the first U.S. carrier to introduce Premium Economy on international routes later in 2016 on their international wide-body fleet with the delivery of their new Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner.
With premium Economy, travelers can enjoy enhanced amenities, upgraded dining, personal on-demand entertainment and much more.

Gargantuan Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) Fall Dramatically in Consumer Satisfaction Ratings

Over the last few years, giant online travel agencies such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline have fallen out of consumer's good graces at an alarming rate. According to numerous sites including the BBB, and ConsumerAffairs.com, the lack of customer service and the amount of time it takes to find the best deal are proving to outweigh the convenience of DIY travel. These colossal entities are even falling behind in the cost reduction that they are so proud of. According to 1,423 reviews about Expedia, the average amount lost was over $1,000 per customer; Travelocity customers reporting losing $848 each compared to booking with an agent.

Here is the raw data taken from an annual survey by MMGY titled "Portrait of American Travelers." It shows the percentage of consumers who consult OTAs for research dropped from 84% to 58% in the past year, while the number of consumers who regularly book with OTAs plunged to 13% from 36% in just 12 months.

Once again, the human element, level of expertise, and time saving that comes with using a travel agency proves to be worth far more than measly fee that we charge for the service.

Here is a link to the full article from TravelMarketReport.com which is full of even more useful information.

Alaska to Add Premium Class Cabin, Larger Overhead Bins to Fleet

Alaska Airlines announced plans for a Premium Class section on some of its planes, and said it will increase seat pitch in its first-class cabins from 36” to 41”, install larger overhead bins, and install individual power outlets for all passengers.

The new premium economy lite section will offer extra legroom to passengers as well as several other amenities yet to be announced. Other airlines with similar sections offer a variety of perks ranging from complimentary alcoholic beverages to light snacks to amenity kits.

Alaska’s new section will add 3” to 4” in legroom and members of Alaska’s Mileage Plan frequent flyer program with elite status will be able to book the seats at no charge, while others will be able to pay to reserve seats in the Premium Class section.

Seats in Premium Class will have a minimum of 35” of pitch, while standard coach seats will have 31” to 32”. Alaska will be removing a number of seats on its planes to make room for the new section and additional seat pitch in first.

Icelandair flights finally bookable using Alaska Airlines miles

Back in September, Alaska Airlines announced a partnership with Icelandair that had us excited to finally book a straightforward trip to Iceland using miles, something that had been nearly impossible to do in the past without indirect routes and lengthy layovers. At the time of the reciprocity announcement, we didn’t know how many miles a redemption would cost or when we’d actually be able to redeem. Thankfully, we now know what we’re looking at. Here’s the official award chart:

The redemption chart is favorable, with the most economical round trip coming in at 45,000 round-trip. That’s 15,000 less than an economy roundtrip to Europe on either Air France, KLM or British Airways through Alaska, and only 5,000 miles more than an economy roundtrip to Hawaii on Alaska. Especially given the many low-cost options to continue onto mainland Europe from Iceland, this a very good redemption value for flights from North America to Europe.

Alaska Air Continues to Grow

The Alaska Air Route Map will give you a list of new destinations and frequencies including Costa Rica, Charleston, and Los Angeles. In addition to the new flights, Alaska has recently partnered with Hainan and Icelandair giving you even more chances to gain Alaska Miles and redeem them to destinations all over the world.

Delta Continues to Expand Service from Sea-Tac

Delta has made huge strides in turning Sea-Tac Airport in to a new Delta hub. So far, they have invested $15 million in upgrades and renovations and have plans to add a new 21,000 sq. ft. Sky Club and add additional ticket counter space for Delta One customers. Along with these upgrades, flight service is also increasing including 4 daily flights form Sea-Tac to Orange County’s John Wayne Airport beginning May 1st, 2016. Below is a map that depicts where and when Delta will offer service to various destinations.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Welcomes Spirit Airlines in 2016

Spirit Airlines is the ultra-low cost airline of the Americas and Home of the Bare Fare. Spirit will begin twice daily service to Los Angeles on March 24, 2016 followed by two daily flights to Las Vegas on April 14, 2016. Connections will be available to an additional 15 cities via Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

About Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines is committed to offering the lowest total price to the places we fly, much lower than other airlines, on average nearly 40% less. Our customers start with an unbundled, stripped-down Bare Fare™ and get Frill Control™ which allows them to pay only for the options they choose – like bags, seat assignments and refreshments – the things other airlines U bake right into their higher ticket prices. We help people save money and travel more often, create new jobs and stimulate business growth in the communities we serve. With our modern and fuel-efficient all-Airbus fleet, we operate more than 350 daily flights to more than 56 destinations in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.
When booking a fare with Spirit Airlines, be sure to take into consideration that you must pay for your seat, any baggage including carry-on, and any beverages or snacks consumed on board as part of their Bare Fare pricing. As expected, the rates for seats and baggage increase closer to departure date. For example, a carry-on bag costs $26 at time of booking, $31 before online check-in, $36 during online check-in, $55 at the airport reservation desk, then finally $100 at the gate. Taking these into consideration, Spirit Airlines can be the most affordable fare if you don't mind skipping the peanuts and plan way ahead with your packing.

Check the Spirit Airlines website to see add on options to their Bare Fare.

TSA Pre-Check Demystified

TSA’s Pre-Check program has recently gone through some changes. Here are the key points to remember:

  • The application process:
    1. Fill out the online application which takes 10-15 minutes to complete.
    2. Schedule an in person, 15 minute interview at a Pre-Check Enrollmet Center which includes finger printing.
    3. Pay the $85.00 fee.
    4. Your number will arrive by mail 2-3 weeks after the application process is complete.
  • Once approved, the number is valid for 5 years and a notification to renew will be sent about 6 month prior to the expiration date.
  • TSA Pre-Check is offered by 12 airlines including Alaska, Delta, Air Canada and American Airlines.
  • 162 airports offer a pre-check line, however it is never 100% guaranteed.
  • You have between 48-72 hours for Pre-Check however, even if it is entered at the airport at check in, you can still get pre-check.
  • Children under 12 years old may go with their parent/guardian through pre-check.
  • TSA Pre-Check is for domestic flights only. If you frequently travel internationally, it may be better to apply for Global Entry instead.
  • If something goes wrong with your Pre-Check number, there is a 24/7 hotline that either you or ETC Travel can call to find out what went wrong. (1-866-289-9673)
  • For more information, or to begin the application for a Trusted Traveler Program, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Website.

  • Port of Seattle Incentives Help Spur New Small Community Air Service From Sea-Tac Airport To Port Angeles and Moses Lake

    “As a Pacific Northwest-based company, SeaPort Airlines is very pleased to announce service to Port Angeles, Moses Lake, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport next spring,” said SeaPort Airlines President and CEO, Robert McKinney. “With our focus on serving smaller communities, we believe SeaPort is a great match for Moses Lake and Port Angeles. We’re looking forward to working with these communities, as well as staff at Sea-Tac, to successfully restore this needed air service.”

    At Moses Lake, SeaPort will offer three roundtrips to Sea-Tac each weekday along with one roundtrip to Portland International Airport. Port Angeles will be provided with five roundtrips to Sea-Tac each weekday. Reduced flight frequencies will be offered on weekends. All SeaPort Airlines flights are operated with 9-passenger Cessna Caravan turboprop aircraft.

    For more information, visit SeaPort Airline's website.

    Frequent Travelers Can Skip the Passport Line into the U.K.

    U.K. introduces Registered traveler scheme aimed at making it easier for frequent travelers to enter the UK. For a £70 ($106) annual application fee, citizens from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand Citizens who have a visa or an EEA family permit, or who have visited the U.K. four times in the past year for business, education, tourism, education, or medical treatment can take advantage of the program. The program allows non-E.U. citizens to use the ePassport gates across the U.K. as well as the country’s faster entry lanes in Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Manchester, and Stansted airports, and in the Eurostar terminals in Brussels, Lille, and Paris.

    To find out if you qualify and to begin your application, visit the U.K. Government website.

    Delta Basic Economy vs. Economy

    Not sure whether to choose Basic Economy or Economy? Use this chart to help make your decision.

    New Non-Stop Delta Flights out of Seattle

    Flying Delta out of Seattle has never been easier!

    • Orange County, CA - 4 Daily Non Stop Flights
    • Billings, MT (BIL) - Starting December 19th
    • Boston, MA (BOS) - Daily Non-Stops Starting April 4th, 2016
    • Bozeman/ Big Sky, MT (BZN) - Year-Round, Daily Non-Stops as of Aug. 1, 2015
    • Cancun, MX (CUN) - Seasonal Non-Stops Dec. 18th, 2015 - April 9th 2016
    • Kona, HI (KOA) - Daily Non-Stops begin Dec. 19th, 2015
    • Missoula, MT (MSO) - Daily Non-Stops begin Dec. 19th 2015
    • Orlando, FL (MCO) - Daily Non-Stops begin Dec. 19th, 2015
    • Pasco/Kennewick, WA (PSC) - Three-Times Daily begin Nov. 1st, 2015
    • Victoria, BC, CA (YYJ) - Three-Times Daily begin April 4th, 2016
    • Edmonton, Alberta

    Checked Bag Fees

    With JetBlue's recent addition of a checked bag fee, here is a look at checked bag fees across carriers.

    2015 Corporate Travel Index:
    Top 10 US Cities With The Highest Business Travel Costs In Hotel, Car Rental and Food

    Hotel Costs:.

    Car Rental Costs:.

    Food Costs: