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What's New In Travel

Cathay Lounge

New Cathay Pacific Lounge opens at Vancouver International Airport (YVR)



First and Business Class lounge offers understated luxury for travellers.

Cathay Pacific is unveiling a new lounge experience for passengers travelling from Vancouver International Airport, opening today, 4 May, 2016. Located in the International Terminal, between departure gates D66 and D67, the new lounge adopts the airline’s contemporary and elegant design template, which has already been rolled out in Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Taipei and Haneda Airport.

The new lounge measures 510 square metres, with a seating capacity of 108 people offering a supremely comfortable exclusive environment of understated luxury in which passengers can relax before their flight out of Vancouver.

Designed by Studioilse, the London-based design firm led by Ilse Crawford, the new lounge features warm, natural materials like wood and stone, alongside softened acoustics and lighting, to create an environment that helps passengers feel relaxed by engaging the senses and focusing on wellbeing as a core principle.


Alaska Airlines

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:

American Airlines

  • 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

British Airways

  • 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

Delta

  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Preferred seating
  • Complimentary upgrades to select locations

Hainan Airlines
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

Icelandair
Available to MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members

  • Complimentary access to the Saga Lounge at Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik.


JFK Puppy Potty Room

New United Club at Chicago O'Hare



The United Club in Chicago O'Hare (ORD) across from gate B18 in Terminal 1 is now open. The newly renovated club offers customers a higher-quality experience including a new bar program, an expanded food buffet and comfortable seating areas for working or relaxing. Over the next three years, United is investing more than $200 million into transforming the United Club program.
For more information visit United Club Enhancements.


JFK Puppy Potty Room

JFK Airport Opens a Pet Restroom



Complete with a fire hydrant and fake grass, this little personal pet potty place is perfect for your poor pooped pets after a long flight. A welcome alternative to accidents on the terminal floor from pets who simply can't wait any longer or having to take them outside then back in through security. “If you have a five-hour flight, you are at the airport a couple hours early,’’ said Patrick Glines, manager of the Guide Dog Foundation. “That’s a good seven hours that an animal doesn’t have access to relieve itself, not to mention if there’s a connecting flight.”
This personal restroom is designed to be hosed down regularly and poo bags are provided so everyone can do their part to keep this special little room clean and ready for the next four legged occupant.


Sea-Tac TSA

Sea-Tac Looking at Alternative Options to Speed up Security Lines



As travel though Sea-Tac continues to shatter records, security lines are only getting longer. With the busy season still months off, this problem needs to be addressed now in order to have the staff trained and ready by summer. Sea-Tac has 32 checkpoint lines that can be used, however they only have enough TSA officers to have 18 of them open at any given time.
On April 26th, there will be a round table meeting where options such as bringing in a private security company will be discussed. In that event, TSA officers would still be present to oversee the whole operation. Another option is to add 90 private contractors at Sea-Tac to help the TSA with non-regulatory positions, such as TSA agents who stand in front of screening advising travelers to remove laptops from their carry-on bags.
TSA administrator Peter Neffenger has also agreed to train new security officers locally rather than send them to a training center in Georgia in effort to get Sea-Tac staffed as quickly as possible.


Bellingham - Kona

Alaska Airlines to Launch Bellingham-Kona Route



Tired of living in the Northern part of the state and having to travel all the way to Sea-Tac for a flight? Then Good News! Alaska has announced that they are adding a seasonal Bellingham - Kona, HI flight! This will be in addition to the already operating flights out of Bellingham including Sea-Tac, Portland, Maui, and Las Vegas.


Travel Alert

Passengers departing from Brussels Airport must present a printed boarding pass or printed itinerary-receipt before entering the airport



Passengers traveling from Brussels Airport are requested to check in online and print their itinerary-receipt or boarding pass before arriving at the airport as no mobile boarding passes will be accepted, and it will not be possible to print boarding passes at the airport before the first security checkpoint. Only travelers with a printed boarding pass or printed itinerary-receipt will be allowed to enter the airport.
Passengers should also allow extra time for longer security screening procedures.


The Roosevelt

The Roosevelt Hotel in Downtown Seattle to get a Facelift and a New Name



The iconic Roosevelt Hotel in the heart of Seattle has planned an upgrade! Guest rooms will be given a new color scheme and design envisioned by Seattle interior design firm Susan Marinello Interiors. The Roosevelt sign that adorns the top of the building will remain however the hotel will now be named Hotel Theodore. To preserve the hotel's Seattle identity, it will be filled with works that highlight the city’s "long tradition of makers and craftsmen."


Circle Trip

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 Virgin

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.


Alaska Airlines Logo

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

Rule Change

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.

Example:


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

Ticket One

  • May 10, 2016
    United 244 Seattle to Denver
  • May 16, 2016
    United 339 Denver to Seattle
  • Cost: $347.20

Ticket Two

  • 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?


  1. 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.
  2. 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.


A4E

European Airline Association Formed to Tackle Rising Costs and Strikes


A new airline association has been set up with the aim to influence European aviation policy and tackle issues such as rising airport costs and air traffic controller strikes. Five of Europe's largest airlines have joined together to create the association Airlines for Europe (A4E) including Air France, KLM, Easyjet, IAG, Lufthansa and Ryanair.


Increase to SouthWest's EarlyBird Check-In

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


Department of State

Europe Travel Alert from The State Department


The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL.

Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation. This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.

U.S. citizens should also:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency.
  • Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with you family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

European government continues to guard against terrorist attacks and conduct raids to disrupt plots. We work closely with our allies and will continue to share information with our European partners that will help identify and counter terrorist threats.

For further information:


Alaska Milage Plan

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.
Learn More


alaska and sub pop

Spring Parking Deal at Sea-Tac


Park in the Sea-Tac garage at the main terminal for $19/Day or $99/Week thru 5/31/16 with this coupon. Includes all taxes/fees.
Print this coupon and provide to cashier upon exiting the garage.


United Number one for on-time performance

United number one U.S major airline for on-time performance in February


Even with several weather events impacting their hubs! Performance highlights include:

  • United was #1 among American (AA) and Delta (DL) in consolidated (Express and Mainline) A:00 on-time performance for February.
  • United was #1 in mainline A:00 on-time performance in January and February.
Our operational performance adds an extra dimension to your confidence and comfort with United, and that's why we are committed to continuous improvement.


American Airlines

American considers change to in-flight Internet service in pursuit of faster speeds


As more and more passengers fire up their smartphones and tablets to watch videos or play games while they fly, American Airlines is looking at new technologies to boost WiFi speeds on its planes, even if it means ditching its longtime in-flight Internet provider.
American notified its current provider Gogo this month that it intends to switch to a competitor offering faster wireless speeds on about 200 of its Boeing 737s. But Gogo, the country’s largest in-flight wireless provider, isn’t letting the business go without a fight and filed a lawsuit seeking a ruling on a disputed clause in its 2012 agreement with Gogo.
Gogo uses older, air-to-ground technology on all of American's jets. Technology which has been surpassed by satellite-based technology provided by its competitors such as ViaSat.
Gogo does offer satelite based service through its 2Ku system which Gogo intends to offer with any bid to retain its American contract.


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.
Benefits of TSA Pre-Check


CDC 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.

For the latest travel information about infected regions, visit the CDC's Travel Information page.


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


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.