What's New In Travel
Delta SkyBonus Voucher
Delta Airlines: "As a valued SkyBonus member, we would like to take a moment to address the recent disruption to Delta's schedule and apologize for any challenges this has created for you with your business travel experience. Over the past few days, our employees worldwide have been working diligently to recover from Monday's loss of power, and thanks to their hard work, Delta has resumed normal operations.
As part of our service recovery efforts, Delta is offering transportation credit vouchers of $200 to customers who experienced delays of more than three hours or had their flight cancelled. If you or your travelers were impacted and have not been contacted about your voucher, please complete a Customer Care form at www.delta.com/wecare.
Opening Late this Fall: Springhill Suites in Issaquah
Soon business travelers coming to the Seattle area will have another hotel option.
- The SpringHill Suites by Marriott Seattle/Issaquah is the newest spec of the SpringHill Suites brand, delivers fresh & stylish feel that provides travelers space to relax & make their travel more enjoyable
- Breakfast is included in your stay and is far from conventional featuring hot & healthy customizable options
- We are an all-suite hotel with suites that are smartly designed for modern living with hand selected décor by West Elm, airy beds and separate working and living spaces
- The hotel is nestled in the Issaquah Alpes just moments away from premium dining & shopping, local art & history & outdoor recreation opportunities
Reservations will be avalible December 1st
The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is about to get even cooler
Secluded within a peaceful blend of canyon and sea, our authentic 87-acer sanctuary invites guests to a local experience that's off the beaten path in every sense. Loosely scattered about the park-like grounds with the incomparable setting of Mother Nature's own magnum opus, our spacious guestrooms and cottages enjoy a seamless dance between casual elegance and the breathtaking 360-degree vistas. Leave the pretention and rules of other resorts behind and step into the warm embrace of a place where everyone is family.
Now Open: The Inn at Gamble Sands
Experience a Four Season Destination in North Central Washington
Award Winning Golf Course, Snowshoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Downhill Skiing, Guided Duck and Goose Hunting, Trail Riding, River Rafting, Art Classes, Wine Pairing, Bonfires, Access to Snowmobiling, Cattle Drives, and Exclusive Farm Tours
200 Sands Trail Road
Brewster, WA 98812
Fares as low as $467* round trip Seattle to Beijing or Shanghai non-stop on Hainan Airlines!
Departure dates September 2nd through October 2nd. Very limited availability so call Tina ASAP!
425-453-8200 or Tina@etctravel.com
*All taxes and fees included, minimum 3 day stay maximum 3 month stay, baggage allowance of 2 50lbs pieces per person
Premium Entertainment for Everyone!
American Airlines now offers premium entertainment in every cabin!
"We’re pleased to announce that on U.S domestic flights, we’re now offering complimentary access to all of our in-seat entertainment. Your travelers will be able to enjoy premium movies, TV shows, music and games on all flights that offer in-seat entertainment systems or by using Wi-Fi to watch from their personal devices.
Available inflight entertainment will vary by aircraft type, and travelers will be able to enjoy premium shows like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and “Silicon Valley” as well as new movie releases such as “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Boss” and “The Lobster.” Additionally, if tuning in from their own mobile device, travelers will no longer need to download the Gogo application, and can view content using the latest version of American’s mobile app."
US Declares Public Health Emergency in Puerto Rico Over Zika
The United States government has declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico, following the spread of the mosquito-borne virus Zika.
The declaration was made by US Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell at the request of Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla.
The move signals that “the current spread of Zika virus poses a significant threat to public health in the Commonwealth relating to pregnant women and children born to pregnant women with Zika,” the department said in a statement.
“This Administration is committed to meeting the Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico with the necessary urgency,” Secretary Burwell said. “As the first virus that can be transmitted by mosquitoes known to cause severe birth defects, we are working closely with Puerto Rican officials to pursue solutions to fight the virus in Puerto Rico with a focus on protecting pregnant women and continuing our efforts with jurisdictions throughout the United States to address this public health threat. This emergency declaration allows us to provide additional support to the Puerto Rican government and reminds us of the importance of pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and their partners taking additional steps to protect themselves and their families from Zika.”
Zika virus is known to cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects, and has been associated with other adverse pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, stillbrith and serious neurological problems.
As of August 12, there have been 10,690 laboratory confirmed cases of Zika in Puerto Rico, including 1,035 pregnant women.
The virus is less impactful if one is not a pregnant woman, however; just one in five people display even show symptoms after contracting the virus.
“The threat of Zika to future generations of Puerto Ricans is evident, and I feel a responsibility to do everything that is within my reach to make sure we fight the spread of the virus,” Garcia Padilla said. “This is why we are actively looking for alternatives to prevent the number of infections from increasing. The declaration made by HHS, which grants access to certain funds, is another example of collaboration between the federal government and the government of Puerto Rico. We will continue our campaign to guide Puerto Ricans on the steps needed to prevent becoming infected with Zika; especially to prevent the virus from affecting pregnant women. We will also continue assisting communities on the island in order to eliminate potential breeding sites and using land methods to attack adult mosquitoes.”
The public health emergency declaration means Puerto Rico’s government can now apply for funding to hire and train unemployed workers to assist in vector control and outreach efforts, and request the temporary reassignment of local public health or agency personnel to assist in Zika response.
Rebooking, refunds and compensation: What customers need to know
Delta people worldwide are working around the clock to take care of customers affected by the disruption of airline operations. Below are updates to assist customers with questions regarding rebooking a flight, the current travel waiver and compensation Delta is offering affected customers:
Q: What does Delta’s travel waiver offer customers?
If a customer’s flight is cancelled or significantly delayed (90 minutes or more), he or she is entitled to request a refund for the unused portion of the ticket. Even if the flight is not canceled, a one-time change to the ticket may be made without a fee. See full details here.
Q. Has Delta’s travel waiver been extended?
Yes, to offer additional flexibility to customers who wish to make changes to their travel plans, Delta’s travel waiver has been extended. For the latest information, see full details here.
Q. Is Delta offering travel vouchers to impacted customers?
Yes. Delta will provide $200 in travel vouchers to all customers who experienced a delay of greater than three hours or a cancelled flight between Aug. 8 - Aug. 10 as a result of the impact to operations systemwide. The vouchers are available for travel on all Delta and Delta Connection-operated flights.
Customers affected by the outage and who have provided their email address will be contacted via email and will receive their voucher in seven to 10 business days. Customers who have not been contacted can complete a Customer Care form on www.delta.com/wecare to receive their voucher. All travel must be booked by one year from the date the voucher was issued.
Q. Do the travel vouchers also apply to customers who are entitled to a refund?
Yes. Delta will provide $200 in travel vouchers to all customers who experienced a delay of greater than three hours or a cancelled flight as a result of the impact to operations systemwide.
Alaska Air's two newest cities: Indianapolis and Wichita
Alaska Airlines is adding two more routes from its Seattle hub.
The new service to Indianapolis and Wichita furthers the growth strategy Alaska Air has employed there since Delta began a rapid expansion at Seattle, Alaska Air’s main hub. The escalating competition between the partners-turned-rivals has sparked a turf war that’s led to months of record passenger levels at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The airport has reported 31 consecutive monthly records.
“We continue to add more destinations from our hometown,” John Kirby, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of capacity planning, says in a statement. “With the addition of nonstop service to Indianapolis and Wichita, Alaska Airlines now offers nonstop service to a total of 89 cities from Seattle – more than twice as many as any other airline.”
Alaska Air says it is the only airline to flying nonstop to 35 of its destinations from Seattle.
Service to Wichita begins April 13 and will be flown by regional affiliate SkyWest with 76-seat Embraer E175 jets. The Indianapolis route launches May 11 and will be flown with Alaska Airlines' Boeing 737s. The carrier will fly one daily round-trip flight on both routes.
Alaska Air also touted its expanding presence in the Midwest, bolstered by its two latest routes. The carrier says the Indianapolis and Wichita service will give it 20 daily flights to nine Midwest cities: Chicago O'Hare; Detroit; Indianapolis; Milwaukee; Minneapolis/St. Paul; St. Louis; Omaha; Kansas City, Mo.; and Wichita.
Zika Virus Update
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its Zika virus travel warning to include people living in or traveling to Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami, FL. The Florida Department of Health has identified this area as one where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes. This guidance is for people who live in or traveled to this area any time after June 15 (based on the earliest time symptoms can start and the maximum 2-week incubation period for Zika virus).
As a reminder, while the mosquito-borne virus causes only mild illness in most people, there is mounting evidence linking it to a serious birth defect. For this reason, the CDC is recommending that pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, and women who are trying to become pregnant talk to their doctors about the risk of infection before traveling. The CDC cautions that "specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time."
Top 10 Pokétels
As Pokémon Go continues to dominate local news headlines, sidewalks and landmarks, perhaps it's no surprise that Pokémon Go is taking over the tourism industry as well. Millennials are willing to change their travel plans to travel across the land, searching far and wide, for pokémon. According to research from Hotels.com, 79 percent of millennials admit that they'll play Pokémon Go on their next vacation and 48 percent would consider visiting a new destination because of the game.
A survey, which focused on 500 millennial travelers based in the United States, revealed Honolulu, Alaska, Sydney and Melbourne as top destinations for Pokémon Go players. Cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas perch at the top of the list as popular places to find Pokéstops.
Here's the list for the Top 10 "Pokétels" around the world:
- Doha Marriott Hotel in Qatar
- Mantra 2 Hotel in Sydney
- Pestana Vintage Porto in Portugal
- London Marriott Hotel Twickenham
- D'Best Hotel Bandung in Indonesia
- Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Portland Airport in Portland, USA
- Radisson Hotel Lansing in Michigan, USA
- The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in California, USA
- The Lakehouse Hotel in San Diego, USA
- Hotel Indigo London Kensington
Now Open: Thompson Seattle
"On Tuesday, June 28 guests and Seattleites alike celebrated the newly opened Thompson Seattle with a ribbon cutting ceremony and evening of revelry. Thank you to all of our guests for celebrating with us while enjoying first-looks of rooms and suites and, with Seattle’s very own Huxley Wallace Collective and Executive Chef Josh Henderson at the helm, mouthwatering first-tastes of culinary creations and libations from signature restaurant Scout and rooftop lounge The Nest." - Thompson Seattle
Iris and fingerprint scanning coming to Sea-Tac Airport security as new option this week
Biometrics company Clear anticipates launching its screening terminals at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport sometime this week. There will be two terminals at each of the airport’s three security checkpoints. Construction delays pushed back the launch, and Clear was hesitant to give a definitive opening day as a result.
The technology provides an alternative to the part of the check-in process where passengers wait in long, winding lines to have their ID and boarding pass checked by U.S. Transportation Security Administration agents. Instead, passengers can get iris or fingerprint scans while a Clear employee scans their boarding pass, and off they go to the body and carry-on scanners.
Clear has a presence in 15 other airports across the country and boasts more than 600,000 members nationwide. Clear expects to have its service in 24 airports by the end of the year. A partnership with Delta Air Lines will bring Clear terminals to all of its major hubs.
United to expand automated screening lanes at airports
United Airlines is teaming up with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to install new screening technology at select airports around the country.
As part of an effort to speed up wait times and improve security at checkpoints, Newark Liberty, Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles International will get automated screening lanes beginning as early as this fall.
The new technology, which is already being tested at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, is estimated to reduce travel wait times by 30 percent. Five travelers at a time can load their baggage into bins.
American Airlines announced a joint initiative with the TSA earlier this month would install the modernized checkpoints at busy hubs in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami.
United is also working with the TSA to help set up enrollment centers at convenient locations, such as a temporary location at Chicago’s Willis Tower.
The announcement comes after the TSA faced intense criticism this spring for overwhelmed security lines that led to three-hour wait times in some cases and thousands of missed flights around the country. The agency is also dealing with a beefed up security presence at airports after two major terrorist attacks on airports abroad in recent months.
Automated belts can draw bags into X-ray machines and return bins back to the queue. Under the automated lane system, bags that need additional screening can be directed to a separate area while allowing bins behind it to continue through screening uninterrupted.
Each bin, which is 25 percent larger than a normal one, has a unique radio frequency identification tag, and cameras take photos of the outside of the bag, which correspond to the X-ray image of the bag’s contents
- Melanie Zanona published by The Hill.
Top 5 Airlines for Customer Service
- Virgin American: With comfortable, inviting seats, Wi-Fi, personal outlets, and premium snacks Virgin offers a very enjoyable flight experience. In addition, their innovative seat to seat communication and delivery service offers a social aspect similar to social media aboard each flight.
- JetBlue: From unlimited name brand snacks and beverages to more leg room and monetary compensation for delays, JetBlue has a ton of customer service perks for a cut rate airline.
- Delta: Delta's impressive on-time percentage in 2015 and their virtually nonexistent percentage of bags mishandled have contributed to Delta breaking the top three. On board the usual array of basic snacks and beverages are available.
- Hawaiian: Traditionally Hawaiian has been higher on this list. However that does not mean that it's customer service is dropping. They still maintain their impressive on time performance and signature add on Lei Greeting upon landing. Also, they offer a bidding system for seat upgrades. Simply say how much you are willing to pay for the upgrade then when the time comes, based on availability, you may be upgraded.
- Alaska: With their lowest available fare promise and Customer Service Commitment Alaska rounds out the top five for 2015. However, with their impending purchase of number one Virgin American, we expect them to move up the list in the next few years.
TSA to Open PreCheck Temporary Enrollment Centers Around the Country
In an effort to reduce the wait that travelers are experiencing when enrolling in the agency’s PreCheck trusted traveler program thanks to a flood of applications in recent months, the Transportation Security Administration announced plans for multiple temporary enrollment centers, starting in the New York metro area.
The agency’s contractor, MorphoTrust, which manages the enrollment process, will operate two temporary centers in New York City starting Monday as well as one in New Jersey starting Tuesday. Temporary enrollment centers are being established in 12 other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, and Seattle, starting July 19 and continuing through the end of August.
Summer Parking Coupon for Sea-Tac
Present this coupon to the teller upon exiting the garage to recieve this deal.
Port of Seattle celebrates Volaris Airlines first Sea-Tac Airport flight
Thursday, July 7th, 2016
Thursday is one of the busiest travel days at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and things got even busier as Volaris Airlines made its first appearance at the airport Thursday night. In welcoming Volaris, Sea-Tac adds a new nonstop international destination of Guadalajara, Mexico, the country’s second largest city.
Live music and Mexican-themed snacks treated travelers before boarding the inaugural Volaris flight to Guadalajara on an Airbus A-320. The celebration and ribbon cutting featured remarks from Seattle’s Consul of Mexico, the President of the U.S. – Mexico Chamber of Commerce and the Director of International Relations for the Washington Governor’s office.
Volaris considers itself an “ultra low cost” provider and is proud to always be seeking ways to shorten distances between friends and families. The airline’s Guadalajara hub offers connections to cities across Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.
Complementary PreCheck for JetBlue Mosaic Members
JetBlue will be footing the bill for their Mosaic level members who do not already have a Known Traveler Number. PreCheck lines are known to be much faster than regular TSA lines since PreCheck does not reqire travelers to remove shoes, belts, jackets, or liquids from carry on baggage.
PreCheck is normally $85 and valid for 5 years. Eligable members will recieve a code via email that will be valid until September 30th.
To reach the Mosaic leve, travelers must fly at least 30 one-way JetBlue flights and earn 12,000 base flight points within a year or earn 15,000 base flight points in a single year. Travelers earn three base points for each dollar they spend on JetBlue airfare.
Lufthansa launches internet connectivity on short- and medium-haul flights
In October 2016, the first Lufthansa short- and medium-haul aircraft will take off with broadband internet on board. Lufthansa’s entire A320 family fleet is expected to have the innovative technology installed by mid-2018. One key milestone has already been reached: Lufthansa Technik became the first MRO company in Europe to have received the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from EASA. This allows Lufthansa to install a Ka-band antenna on the A320 family, such as the A319, A320, and A321 models. The STC serves to verify that the modifications to the aircraft (hardware or software) conform to the design specifications stipulated by EASA. These specifications ensure aircraft’s continued airworthiness.
The first aircraft was equipped with the technology in June. In the coming weeks, the onboard system will be tested for functionality and stability. Lufthansa passengers will be able to use the new internet service starting in October. Other Lufthansa Group airlines will follow at a later date.
Why Use a Travel Agent? Isn't it Obvious?
There you have it, right from Craig Sechler of the HBO series Veep.
New Airport Security Lanes In Atlanta Are 30 Percent More Efficient, TSA Chief Says
Delta Airline Funded "innovation lanes" are similar to the system used at London's Heathrow Airport
Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday, Peter Neffenger said these new lanes are "an example of the way in which we need to modernize and bring TSA into the 21st century."
According to Delta's chief operating officer, Gil West, the airline "funded everything" and "went from concept to start-up in less than two months." He hails the results as a "game-changer."
In the new lanes, customers "come through the lane not just one at a time, one after each other, but five at a time. You're able to move in the process at the speed you're capable of, not the person in front of you," West says.
Rather than waiting single-file, there are five automated stations in a row for customers to deposit their belongings into bins. That means customers don't need to wait for the person in front of them to finish unloading before they move their luggage into the cue.
The system also has an automatic rollers system and bin return, and diverts baggage out of the line if it requires further screening.
Port of Seattle welcomes new nonstop service to Munich on Condor Airlines
Beginning July 2017
The Port of Seattle is raising a stein to toast Condor Airlines’ announcement welcoming nonstop service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Munich, Germany beginning in July 2017. The announcement adds to Condor’s service expansion from Sea-Tac, which recently extended existing Frankfurt service to year-round flights. Sea-Tac has become Condor’s largest U.S. gateway along with Las Vegas.
The Seattle to Munich flights will begin in July 2017 and will be Sea-Tac’s only nonstop connection to the Bavarian capital in Southern Germany. Munich is a business hub for Germany, with 90 of the country’s 1,000 largest companies based there, including BMW, Allianz, and Siemens.
Changes to American Airline's AAdvantage Program
Earning award miles
Beginning August 1st, 2016, travelers will earn miles based on how much the spend.
Introducing AAdvantage Platinum Pro
January 1st, 2017, American will add a new elite status level, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, and adjust qualification requirements again.
Elite Qualifying Dollars
- Starting January 1st, American will be adding Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) to their elite-qualification requiremetns. Travelers will earn 1 EQD for every U.S. dollar spent on eligible flights.
- Members can earn elite status by reaching the EQD threshold, and either the Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) threshold.
Later in 2017, they will be making changes to upgrade windows and prioritization. Upgrade priority will be based on a 12 month rolling EQD total, sorted by elite status level.
For more information, please visit the American Airlines website.
Delta Shuttle Takes Flight from Seattle
Beginning May 10th, 2016
Created with business travelers in mind, the Delta Shuttle will offer eight peak-day flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) to Los Angeles International Airport and eight peak-day flights to San Francisco International Airport. Delta will also add two more daily flights from Seattle to Los Angeles for a total of 10 peak-day Delta Shuttle flights beginning May 23. Flights to Los Angeles will be operated with a mix of Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 717 jets, while flights to San Francisco will be operated by Delta Shuttle carrier Compass Airlines using two-class, Embraer 175 jets.
Delta Shuttle passengers flying from Seattle to Los Angeles and San Francisco will enjoy a number of amenities, including dedicated check-in counters, gates located near security and convenient access to the new Delta Sky Club, which is set to open in Fall 2016 on Concourse A.
The introduction of Delta Shuttle service in Seattle means customers from some of Seattle’s most important industries – including technology, aerospace, retail, and healthcare – and customers traveling between the three largest technology centers on the West Coast can rely on Delta’s consistent, customized product between the three cities. Collectively, Delta offers more flights between Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco than any other airline.
American Airlines Same Day Standby Policy Change
Same day standby is available at check-in on aa.com, the airport Self Service Machines, or by seeing an airport agent.
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum and Gold elite status members, including their companions in the same reservation may standby for both earlier and later flights at no cost
- All other non-elite customers may standby for earlier flights for a cost of $75 unless purchasing one of the below fares:
- Choice Plus
- First Class or Business Class
- SDS in only available for flights traveling within the United States.
- SDS in unavailable when making routing changes, including charges to the midpoint/connection city to reach the customers final destination.
New United Business Class Created with Maximum Comfort and Functionality in Mind
Named after the North Star, the brilliant point in the nighttime sky, United Polaris is the shining star of business class that flyers look to and can depend on for true comfort and a sleep experience like no other.
- Pre-Flight Reimagined: Your journey starts in the modern, elegant United Polaris Lounge, where you can relax, recharge, or engage in a quiet work session until it's time for takeoff.
- Comfort Reimagined: Whether you want to work, relax, or sleep, the custom-designed United Polaris seat is just right.
- Dining Reimagined: Whether it's daytime or overnight dining your international voyage, enjoy seasonal menus, custom dinnerware, more drink options, and world-class service.
- Sink into Sleep: Redesigned seating, luxury bedding, and calming amenities offer the ultimate comfort for relaxation and sleep.
U. S. State Department Issues Europe Travel Alert
June 1st, 2016
Expires: August 31st, 2016
As part of the State Department’s continuous efforts to provide Americans travelling abroad with information about relevant events, we are alerting U.S. citizens to the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation. The large number of tourists visiting Europe in the summer months will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, especially at large events. This Travel Alert expires August 31, 2016.
France will host the European Soccer Championship from June 10 – July 10. Euro Cup stadiums, fan zones, and unaffiliated entertainment venues broadcasting the tournaments in France and across Europe represent potential targets for terrorists, as do other large-scale sporting events and public gathering places throughout Europe. France has extended its state of emergency through July 26 to cover the period of the soccer championship, as well as the Tour de France cycling race which will be held from July 2- 24.
The Catholic Church’s World Youth Day event is expected to draw up to 2.5 million visitors to Krakow, Poland, between July 26 and July 31. U.S. citizens should be aware that local infrastructure may be strained due to the large number of visitors. Poland will impose border controls at all of its national borders from July 4 to August 2, and visitors to Poland during this period should be prepared to show their passport and undergo stricter security screening throughout Poland. More information to help prepare for travel to World Youth Day can be found at U.S. Embassy Poland/World Youth Day and travel.state.gov/WorldYouthDay.
ASTA's response to NYT Article "Where to Find Hotel Deals? Try a Hotel"
Below is a response to the article submitted by Zane Kerby, ASTA’s President and CEO.
To the Editor:
A recent article in your Travel section (“Where to Find Hotel Deals? Try a Hotel.”) leaves out a critical piece of the puzzle in terms of how consumers navigate a travel marketplace that offers an overwhelming array of options – the nation’s 100,000 strong travel agents. Last year, travel agents booked about $33 billion worth of hotel rooms, or 24 percent of the market, while overall travel agent usage is creeping up to levels not seen in a decade or more – 23 percent in 2015, according to our most recent research.
When choosing a hotel, price is always an important consideration. So it’s important to emphasize that consumers using a travel agents generally have access to the same deals as direct bookers – as the article points out, virtually all of the major hotel chains provide “book direct” rates to those who book through “travel agents” or “corporate travel professionals.” But price does not always equal value. Travelers also rely on trusted agents for comparison shopping – visiting four, five or more hotel websites is inefficient and frustrating – as well as unbiased advice, expertise in various hotel properties and personal support throughout the itinerary. In short, using a travel agent is the best way to guide travelers through these decisions and help them get the best value and best experience out of their trips. Your readers can find a professional ASTA travel agent, sorted by location or specialty, through our consumer-facing website at TravelSense.org.
Perhaps a better title would have been “Where to Find Hotel Deals? Try a Travel Agent.”
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
The New Lufthansa Premium Economy
- More personal space: New seat with up to 50% more space.
- More baggage: Two bags, each weighing up to 23 kg.
- More delight: Meals served on china tableware.
- More to look forward to: On board welcome drink.
- More entertainment: Larger 11 or 12 inch screen.
- More relaxation: Amenity bag with useful travel accessories.
- More refreshment: Individual water bottle at your seat.
- More exclusivity: Access to selected Lufthansa lounges, for a fee.
First U.S. Service by China’s Xiamen Airlines With Xiamen-Shenzhen Connection to Sea-Tac Airport
Service Begins September 26th, 2016
During a press conference in Shenzhen, China today (May 11th, 2016), the Port of Seattle, the City of Seattle and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce announced the first U.S. service by China’s Xiamen (pronounced sha’-mun) Airlines for direct connections to Xiamen and Shenzhen with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, beginning September 26, 2016.
“Xiamen Airlines’ new nonstop service between Shenzhen and Seattle builds on the special connection our cities share, enhancing our region’s standing as a globally competitive hub for international trade and investment,” said Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “In addition to our region’s longstanding, solid relationships with Chinese businesses in Shenzhen, we are also experiencing a tremendous increase in tourism between both countries, with a 7.6 percent increase in visitors year over year.”
“Service between the two leading technology centers of Shenzhen and Seattle is a very important addition to the Port of Seattle's direct flights throughout Asia," said Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman. "We value Xiamen Airlines commitment to connecting our region’s leisure and business travelers to new opportunities with state of the art Boeing 787 airplanes. Our goal of being a world-class international airport not only refers to customer service but also reaching new and diverse parts of the world."
Delta Introduces Innovative Baggage Tracking Process
Delta is deploying Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) baggage tracking technology, a first for
U.S. carriers, providing customers with improved real-time tracking of luggage throughout the
This move marks a historic shift for Delta and the 120 million bags it handles annually. RFID will replace barcode hand scanning – the industry standard since the early 90s. With this new technology, scanners use radio waves to capture highly accurate and consistent data stored on an RFID chip embedded in the luggage tag, driving superior tracking and increased transparency.
With RFID, customers will see their bags on and off the aircraft during their journey via push notifications to the Fly Delta mobile app beginning in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Initial deployments of RFID integrated throughout the baggage process show that bags are tracked at a 99.9 percent success rate, ensuring proper routing and loading. RFID will soon track bags on all Delta mainline and Delta Connection flights.
Better baggage handling processes and enhanced technology have already shrunk the airline’s mishandled bag rates by 68 percent over the past 10 years, establishing Delta as the leading U.S.-based global airline for baggage performance. In 2015 Delta led U.S. global airlines in DOT bag performance while setting six monthly DOT records and a full year record.
For more information and to read the full news release, click here.
New Study Finds Travel Agents Save Consumers an Average of $452 Per Trip
Press Release: The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
Alexandria, VA, May 2, 2016 – New research from The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) proves that travel agents save consumers time and money. Consumers report that travel agents save them an average $452 per trip, and four hours in travel planning. Perhaps most importantly, consumers said that agents help them avoid costly mistakes.
The independent study, "Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money," was funded by Carnival Corporation and conducted by market research firm TNS Global. Detailed findings of the final version of the survey will be available on ASTA.org by May 30.
"We couldn't hold back the good news, and that is that travel agent usage is at its highest level since we began commissioning independent consumer research three years ago. At this point, consumers have tried it all. They've booked online, they've gone direct, and they've used a travel agent. This study dispels the myth that booking direct with suppliers or spending hours online yourself gets you a better deal, or gives you a happier travel experience. Consumers told TNS Global that if you want a better travel experience, use an agent," said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.
Key preliminary findings in the ASTA survey include:
- In the past 12 months, nearly half of consumers polled (47%) booked travel through supplier websites, followed by 25% on online travel agency websites, and 23% through travel agents. That 23% was the highest share in the past three years.
- When looking back on their past travel experiences, almost two-thirds (63%) said using an agent makes their overall trip experience better; 69% reported that agents save them time in planning and booking; 66% said agents help them avoid costly mistakes, and 64% say agents find the better deals.
- The key reason consumers who haven't used an agent in the past 12 months say they went that route: "I want to do it myself."
- Travel agents lead other booking channels in selling river cruises, and tie online suppliers for selling ocean cruises and tour packages. Agents also scored well for selling all-inclusive resorts and travel insurance, nearly tying with online suppliers.
- The top reason cited by consumers who have not used an agent in the past 12 months of why they would consider it is if the agent can save them money (47%), followed closely by if the agent can find better deals than online websites and if the travel agent can help the consumer avoid mistakes.
Check back to ASTA.org/Research at the end of May for final survey results.
Alaska, With you Where Ever you Go
Earn bonus miles with Alaska's global airline partners.
When your travels take you beyond Alaska's flight paths, you can still receive elite benefits when flying with their global partners.
Here are a few examples:
- Priority check-in and boarding
- Preferred seating
- Express security lines at select airports
- Complimentary Main Cabin extra seating for MVP Gold and MPV Gold 75K members
- 50% off Main Cabin extra seating for MVP members
- One free checked bag for MVP members
- Two free checked bags for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members
- Club World priority check-in and boarding at Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) and London-Heathrow (LHR) airports.
- Fast Track security access at London-Heathrow (LHR) airport.
- Access to the Terminal 5 Galleries Lounge at London-Heathrow (LHR) airport
- Priority check-in and boarding
- Preferred seating
- Complimentary upgrades to select locations
Available to MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members
- Complimentary access to the VIP Lounge in Haikou, Beijing, and Xi'an
- Complimentary access to the First Class / Business Lounge in Guangzhou and Urumqi
Available to MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members
- Complimentary access to the Saga Lounge at Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik.
Travel Agents Help Consumers Save Under New Airline Pricing Structure
Press Release from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents)
Alexandria, VA, April 6, 2016 – Several U.S.-based airlines, including American, Delta and United, recently made subtle changes to their domestic pricing structure resulting in not-so-subtle changes to the cost of some airfares, especially impacting the business traveler. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) learned of this issue from its agent members who detected this change early, quickly began navigating through the complexities of fares and pricing and started saving their clients money.
"The simple way to explain what is happening is that certain multi-segment itineraries now cost a significantly higher amount when they are presented as a single ticket rather than multiple one-way tickets," said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. "The negative impact is on the time it takes agents to issue multiple tickets for one trip, but consumers who book multi city or circle trips through their trusted travel agent can experience significant savings."
The changes were made to what the airlines call "combinable fare rules," which prohibit certain one-way fares from being combined into the same passenger name record. For example, if a traveler needs to fly from New York to Los Angeles one day, from Los Angeles to Phoenix the next, and from Phoenix back home to New York, the price to ticket that all at once can be more than double the price of purchasing three separate one-way tickets.
To quantify, an ASTA agency owner told ASTA on Monday: "A test itinerary I did this morning on an AA circle trip showed the same ridiculously high fare display in the GDS, AA.com and Expedia. It cost roughly $1,800 for one ticket; only $450 for three tickets."
ASTA Chairman Roger Block, who is President of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, said, "The good news is travel agents immediately spotted what was happening, and figured out a way to work around it."
Marc Casto, President and CEO at Casto in San Jose, Calif., who is Chair of ASTA's Corporate Advisory Council, said, "Because of the efforts of our peers and ourselves at Casto, we were able to identify these new costs and adjust our clients' reservations to ensure these new costs were avoided." He added that "only through active travel management can the traveling public be assured they are receiving the best value for their dollar."
"This issue drives home a point we've always known – the best way for consumers to ensure they get the best price and service when they travel is to use a trusted agent," said Steve Orens, President of Plaza Travel in Encino, Calif. "Finding value for the traveler in a world of complex and ever-changing supplier rules is what we do—all day, every day."
Memphis-based Rebecca Martin, President of A&I Travel Management, Inc., said: "Even though it is surely an unintended consequence, the fact is that the only defense against these egregiously higher prices is a professional travel agent who will manually price and ticket circle trip and open jaw itineraries. Corporate online booking tools can't do it; online travel agencies and search engines can't do it; not even the airlines' own websites can do it. That may change with time, but for right now, a manual touch is required and that's a powerful testament to a travel agent's ability to pivot as needed on behalf of valued customers."
ASTA's Government and Industry Affairs teams met with senior officials at the Department of Transportation on this and other issues last week to raise the concern, and continue to discuss the issue with the airlines, Global Distribution Systems, ASTA members and other stakeholders.
"This is yet another example of why it just makes sense to use a travel agent," said Kerby.
Alaska Airlines has Purchased Virgin American
Resulting from a hard fought bidding war between Alaska Air and JetBlue, Alaska Air has acquired California based Virgin American for $2.6 billion. With both airlines known for their customer oriented experiences and west coast pride, this is a perfect match.
With this new alliance, Alaska Air is in position to be the biggest carrier on the west coast.
Combined, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America would have 1,200 daily departures, with hubs in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anchorage and Portland, Ore. Its headquarters will remain in Seattle.
Members of Virgin America's loyalty program will be welcomed in to Alaska's Mileage Plan.
There are still decisions to be made however. Alaska, who has always flown Boeing jets, is considering their options with Virgin's Airbus fleet. They could end up operating an expensive dual fleet or seek to liquidate them.
This was a fantastic move for Virgin American shareholders who came out at $57 per share. Analysts have predicted a big payoff for Alaska shareholders as well, but it will take time to recover from this pricey acquisition.
For further reading, please visit www.flyingbettertogether.com where Alaska Air has compiled all of the details about this deal.
Earn double miles on British Airways flights between Seattle and London
We're excited to help you travel to the destinations of your dreams, and encourage you to explore every day.
Register your Mileage Plan™ number with the link below before your first trip and there's no limit to the double miles you can earn when you travel on nonstop flights between Seattle and London from April 1, 2016, through September 30, 2016.Sign up for this promotion
Airfare Rule Changes
Today, some of our major U.S. carriers have announced that they are changing their airfare rules. Below is United Airlines announcement and ETC’s explanation of how this change will affect us.
United Airlines March 25, 2016 Announcement - Domestic Combinability Fare Rule Change
United as well as multiple U.S. carriers (including American and Delta) have made changes to the CAT10 domestic combinability fare rules impacting some one-way fares.
- Non-refundable fares will only allow customers to travel either on a one-way itinerary or to return back to the origin city (e.g., A -> B -> A type combination).
- For example, a trip such as ORD-DEN-LAX-ORD may no longer be combinable, but ORD-LAX-ORD or ORD-DEN-ORD is not impacted.
- Customers can still book multi-city circle trips and/or open jaws; however, the fares that do not have this combinability restriction may be slightly higher.
- As this change is in the fare rules, it applies across all channels, including united.com and all GDS (Travel Agency Reservation Systems) providers.
Note that refundable fares may still be booked as end-on-end and are not impacted by these combinability restrictions. Many international fare rules already carry combinability restrictions.
ETC’s Explanation and Airfare Example
Airlines are no longer allowing non-refundable point to point fares to be combined on the same reservation. For instance; on a Seattle – Denver – Omaha – Denver – Seattle reservation, if the point to point fares Seattle to Denver roundtrip and the Denver to Omaha roundtrip fares are cheaper than the through fares, the only way to price/ticket the lower airfare, is to book two separate reservations.
One Airline Ticket $1,454.70
- May 10, 2016
United 244 Seattle to Denver
- May 12, 2016
United 4781 Denver to Omaha
- May 14, 2016
United 4787 Omaha to Denver
- May 16, 2016
United 339 Denver to Seattle
Note: The above itinerary is pricing at $1,454.70 on united.com, ETC’s Deem/Concur, and ETC’s in-house reservation system.
Two Airline Tickets $735.90
- May 10, 2016
United 244 Seattle to Denver
- May 16, 2016
United 339 Denver to Seattle
- Cost: $347.20
- May 12, 2016
United 4781 Denver to Omaha
- May 14, 2016
United 4787 Omaha to Denver
- Cost: $388.70
Note: united.com, ETC’s Deem/Concur does not advise travelers to book two separate reservations for a $718.80 savings.
As always, ETC will monitor all reservations for airfare savings by issuing multiple airline tickets for one itinerary on both Deem/Concur and full-service/travel counselor assist reservations.
How does this impact us?
- Additional airline change fees. In the above United Airlines example, if we were to change the Omaha to Denver and the Denver to Seattle flights, since these two flights are on two separate airline tickets, we would be forced to pay two United Airlines $200 change fees…for a total of $400. Still a savings over the original one-ticket verses two-ticket scenario.
- Additional airline tickets will be issued and therefore, additional ETC ticketing fees will apply.
We understand the importance of obtaining the best airfares while meeting your travelers business needs. We are committed to doing this while providing consistent, reliable and professional service.
Southwest Increases Fee for EarlyBird Check-In
Next time you opt-in for Southwest's EarlyBird Check-In, you will notice a slight increase in fee. The increase from $12.50 to $15.00 aims to decrease the number of people using EarlyBird which in turn will add to the benefits for those who do.
As a reminder, here is what comes with EarlyBird:
- Automatic Check-In 12 hours before general boarding is open for check in
- Better Boarding Position
- Earlier Access to Overhead Bins
Use Your Alaska Miles for PreCheck Fees
Members of the Alaska Airlines loyalty program can now redeem miles for the application fee to the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program. "TSA PreCheck is a game-changer for those of us who travel frequently for work or pleasure," said Sangita Woerner, vice president of marketing for Alaska. The offer, which runs through April, requires 10,000 miles.
House Bill Simplifies Precheck Enrollment
TSA created Precheck in October 2011 to move frequent fliers more briskly through checkpoint lines because they were considered a lower risk than unfamiliar passengers. Since then, the rules for who is eligible and how to apply have frequently changed. On Tuesday, Feb. 24th, 2016, the House approved a TSA Precheck expansion bill entitled the Transportation Security Administration Reform and Improvement Act which has now reached the Senate. Here are the highlights:
- To make applying easier, the bill calls for TSA to develop secure standards to allow enrollment online, at kiosks, on tablets or at staffed computer stations. Before this legislation, travelers were requred to visit an enrollment center in person.
- If passed, the measure requires the TSA to develop online enrollment standards for Precheck within 90 days.
- The TSA — whose officers currently check travel documents by hand — would also have to experiment on an automated system for reviewing travel documents for Precheck members within a year, and to establish an automated system at large hub airports to verify travelers who aren't members of Precheck by the end of 2017.
- The bill requires frequent fliers, who have been able to participate in Precheck as part of their airline loyalty programs for years, to formally join the program
- This legislation would reduce enrollment in Precheck by phasing out frequent-flier participation in an effort to collect biographical and biometric information from all participants. The TSA administrator could postpone the requirement for a year for frequent fliers.
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.
Find more information and apply for an eTA here.
Report Reveals the Best Airlines and Airports for On-Time Performance
- Hawaiian Airlines, 89.11%
- Alaska Airlines, 86.38%
- Westjet, 85.88%
- Delta Air Lines, 84.46%
- Southwest Airlines, 82.12%
- Virgin American, 81.58%
- American Airlines, 80.14%
- Air Canada, 79.46%
- United Airlines, 78.99%
- JetBlue, 78.26%
Large airports ranked by average OTP for 2015
- Tokyo Haneda, 91.25%
- Munich, 87.47%
- Sao Paulo Guarulhos, 87.47%
- Minneapolis, 85.37%
- Sydney, 85.27%
- Melbourne, 85.02%
- Singapore Changi, 84.75%
- Atlanta, 84.38%
- frankfurt, 84.12%
- 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.