Business Travel Trends for 2014

Business travel is expected to increase during 2014 – and that’s according to road warriors and travel agents specializing in business travel.

Atlanta Airport Delta Welcome

As part of its comprehensive 2014 Travel Trends Survey, Travel Leaders asked its front-line business travel agents what their clients are saying about trends for the New Year.

When asked how business travel during 2014 will compare to 2013 based on client feedback and actual bookings:

  • 5.4% of agents responded that it will be significantly more
  • 33% said somewhat more
  • 39.4% said business it will be about the same
  • Only 5.7% predict it will be less

Travel agents were also asked about the concerns business travelers expect to have during 2014. The top six answers followed.

1. Flight Delays. Travel delays can wreak havoc on a tight schedule of client visits and meetings. Fortunately, business travel professionals easily help their clients search for alternatives to delayed flights, which may get them to their destinations sooner.

2. Limited airline seat availability. For the past several years, airlines have been cutting the number of daily flights, as well as entire routes. As a result, it can be challenging to find an available seat, especially when traveling on short notice. A business travel professional can help by researching alternate airlines and flights, and even alternate airports.

3. Earning frequent flyer or loyalty points. Some airlines have tightened up the availability of frequent flyer points during the past year or two, but business travel agents can provide advice on earning maximum points – and, using them for maximum rewards. Travel professionals also work to ensure those loyalty numbers are included in itineraries so that upgrades for the most frequent of travelers can automatically occur.

4. Travel costs. Travel agencies can negotiate discounted rates with airlines, hotels, car rental agencies and more. This helps business travelers contain the cost of travel and focus on maintaining their own customer and supplier relationships.

5. Ease of passing through security. The ability to move through airport security quickly can make all the difference when rushing to catch a flight. More than 75% of Travel Leaders’ business-oriented agents said they have clients who are approved for the TSA Precheck program, which provides an expedited screening process.

6. Making sure someone “has their back.” This role is tailor-made for a travel professional. Business travelers should contact their travel agents whenever they need to change travel reservations or run into unexpected travel difficulties while on the road.

Wifi Business Travel Trends

Inflight Wi-Fi

While it has only been in the past few years that Wi-Fi has been made available on flights and still only on some carriers, over half (59.7%) of you indicated Wi-Fi is either very important or an absolute must have for your business travel clients. Only 4.2% indicated it is not at all important for your clients when flying.

Hotel Wi-Fi

When asked, “How vital is it for your business travel clients to have access to Wi-Fi in their hotel room?” more than nine out of every ten of you (95.1%) stated it is either an absolute necessity or very vital. Only 1% indicated that Wi-Fi in your business travelers’ hotel rooms are “not all that vital.”

When asked, If your business travel clients have to pay for Internet access in their hotel room, what would you say is their limit in terms of daily cost? the top response from you was: Only if it is $10.99 or less per day (37.10%), followed by $11 – $15 per day (29.1%).

Delta flat beds, New Flights to Brazil and Caribbean

Delta Introduces Full Flat-Bed Seats on ATL-ZRH and JFK-BCN Routes

Starting in November, Delta will introduce new full flat-bed BusinessElite seats on flights between Atlanta and Zurich and between New York-JFK and Barcelona.

Delta flatbed on new flights.

In the JFK-BCN market, Delta becomes the only U.S. carrier to offer a full flat-bed seat on the route. By mid-2014, Delta will be the only U.S. carrier to offer full flat-bed seating with direct-aisle access on its entire international widebody fleet.

Delta to Start Second Daily Flight between Atlanta and Sao Paulo

Delta is expanding its presence in Brazil with a second daily nonstop flight between Atlanta and Sao Paulo starting in March 2014.

The additional frequency will be operated with a 210-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft featuring 35 BusinessElite full flat-bed seats, 32 seats in Economy Comfort and 143 seats in Economy Class. More

Delta Offers New and Expanded Caribbean Service to Freeport, Port au-Prince and Aruba

Delta has announced the expansion of its service between Atlanta and Freeport in The Bahamas, from a Saturday-only schedule to daily service. The daily flight will operate from December 19, 2013, to August 18, 2014.

Delta also announced the introduction of new daily seasonal service between Atlanta and Port-au-Prince in Haiti. The flight will operate from June 5, 2014, to August 18, 2014. In addition, Delta announced the return of Saturday seasonal service between New York- LGA and Aruba, operating from December 21, 2013 to August 16, 2014.

LaGuardia Update: Road Closure Advisory for New York-Area Travelers Oct. 28–Nov. 2, 2013

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has advised that because of construction activity at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a portion of LaGuardia Road will be closed between Monday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 2.

Affected portions include Parking Lot 5, the Terminal D inner roadway and the Terminal D middle roadway.

Air France Announces New La Première Dining Selections

Air France La Première customers departing Paris in October and November may enjoy new dining selections from Chef Jacques Le Divellec. Air France’s panel of chefs renews La Première dining selections monthly to ensure the best seasonal ingredients and ensure variety for frequent customers.

Air France’s aim is to offer customers in their first class cabin an exquisite dining experience that represents the best of French cuisine. Wines are especially selected by Air France’s sommelier to complement current menus. Since spring 2013, La Première customers have also been able to enjoy made-to-order salads and an additional hot dish as part of the snack on flights of more than six and a half hours.

Delta Corporate News, TSA PreExpedited, Pilots get Tablets

Travel News for Delta Airlines, TSA

Delta Launches New Seattle Service from West Coast Markets

Delta will offer new daily nonstop service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from San Francisco International Airport as well as increased service from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, beginning next year.

The new service is designed to provide customers access to the airline's growing trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific network from its global gateway in Seattle. More information

Delta Offers Savings and Award Travel Deals to Asia

Delta has published a fare sale and Award Travel deals for travel to select cities in Asia.  Flights must be booked and ticketed by October 21, 2013, for departures in BusinessElite between November 25, 2013, and January 1, 2014.  Fares are available across all major computer reservations systems. More information

JFK Update: TSA PreCheck now Available at T2

TSA PreExpedited is now available at New York-JFK Airport Terminal 2 (T2) and T4, in addition to 40 other airports nationwide.  Learn more about TSA PreExpedited Screening A complete list of U.S. airports offering TSA Pre.

Delta Launches 'Pink Plane' Commemorating Breast Cancer Research Foundation's 20th Anniversary

Delta's annual "Breast Cancer One" employee survivor charter flight launched last week, kicking off the airline's October fundraising campaign for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and celebrating the organization's two decades of dedication to preventing and finding a cure for breast cancer.

Since 2005, Delta's employees, customers and their friends and families have raised $6.7 million for the foundation, with more than $1.75 million raised last year alone. Delta's contributions have funded the vital work of 18 different research projects over the years in the pursuit of eradicating breast cancer. More information

Delta to Equip 11,000 Pilots with Microsoft Surface 2 Tablet Devices

Delta is providing its 11,000 pilots with the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet, which will be used initially as an electronic flight bag to replace heavy paper-based flight kits containing navigational charts and aircraft operating and reference manuals.

Device roll out to pilots flying the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleets will start later this year and all Delta cockpits are projected to be paperless by the end of 2014. More information

Delta Continues Expansion in Mexico with Two New Flights to Leon

Increased services highlight Delta's commitment to offer Mexican market more options to meet the demand for connections between the country's main cities and the U.S.

Delta announced its new daily nonstop flights connecting El Bajio International Airport in the city of Leon with Atlanta and Los Angeles. The new services will start in December 2013. The routes are in the process of government approval and will be operated by Delta Connection partners using a CRJ-900 aircraft with 76 seats, including 12 Business class seats, 12 seats in Economy Comfort and 52 seats in Economy. More information

Delta Partners: Virgin Air France KLM Alitalia

Delta Airlines

Delta and Virgin Atlantic's Newly Aligned JFK-LHR Schedule Now Available for Sale

Thanks to recent government approval of Delta's partnership with Virgin Atlantic, travel professionals and their travelers may now benefit from a newly aligned flight schedule between New York-JFK and London-Heathrow.

The updated schedule which became available on October 5 across all major computer reservations systems, offers business travelers a greater variety of departure times to better suit their needs. 

Starting March 30, 2014
Delta and Virgin Atlantic will offer daily departures from New York-JFK to London-LHR at 7:40 a.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

From London-LHR to New York-JFK, Delta and Virgin Atlantic will offer daily service at 9:05 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 5:35 p.m. and 8:05 p.m. More informatiom

Air France Celebrates 80th Anniversary

In celebration of its 80th Anniversary on October 7, Air France kicked off a year of celebration marked by numerous events to commemorate. A dedicated Air France Anniversary website includes information about Air France's rich history. More information

Air France Wins Business Travel Awards

On September 26, Air France won 2 Business Travel Awards at the IFTM Top Resa, France's largest travel trade show in Paris.

Air France was awarded the 2013 gold prize in the category of the best mobile technology at the service of business travellers, along with a silver prize in the "best airline" category.

KLM Continues to Rollout New World Business Class Cabins

More KLM travelers are enjoying a brand new interior in World Business Class aboard long-haul intercontinental flights.

Dutch top designer Hella Jongerius has worked closely with KLM design teams to fully renovate the airline's World Business Class cabins; successfully combining top Dutch design with more personal space - making customers feel truly at home.

In the new World Business Class cabins, full-flat seats adjust to allow customers to "dream away" from departure to arrival. In total, 22 Boeing 747 aircraft will be converted through April 2014. After that date, the new World Business Class cabins will also be introduced on 15 Boeing 777-200 aircraft. More information

Alitalia & Delta: Fly to Milan with Full Flat-Bed Seats and Unlimited Bonus Miles

Delta and our joint venture partner Alitalia are the only airlines that offer two daily, nonstop flights between New York-JFK and Milan-MXP.

On the route, Delta and Alitalia offer full flat-bed seating with direct-aisle access in BusinessElite and Magnfica Business Class as well as business class amenities including celebrity chef-inspired and award-winning menus, premium bedding and a full array of in-flight entertainment on-demand options to enhance the customer experience.

Delta also offers Economy Comfort premium economy seating and Alitalia offers the Classica Plus premium economy cabin. Economy also features on-demand video entertainment and Italian-inspired cuisine, and Alitalia Classica class offers personal USB ports at each seat. 

While our unparalleled service may make the trip feel short, travelers can enjoy the bonus miles long after their flight lands. Register, book and fly between New York-JFK and Milan-MXP through January 15, 2014, and SkyMiles members can earn unlimited bonus miles on the route. More information

Crossover Rewards: Travelers Earn Rewards Overnight, Over the Clouds or Both

Through the Crossover RewardsT program, Delta SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion members enjoy Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) benefits including priority check-in, 4 p.m. late checkout and free in-room internet access when staying at Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Similarly, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Platinum elite members enjoy the benefit of Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades on the day of departure for Delta and Delta Connection operated flights within the United States. SPG Platinum elite members who are enrolled in Crossover Rewards can request their complimentary upgrade at time of check-in. SPG Platinum elite members also enjoy several additional benefits, including one free checked bag, Priority Check-In and Priority Boarding when flying on eligible Delta flights. To view a complete list of Crossover Rewards benefits. More information

Airlines News, Passenger load, Priority boarding, Electronic Devices

Delta Airlines

Airlines Are Fullest They´ve Been Since 1945

U.S. airlines had an average load factor of 82.8% last year, their highest since 1945, according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation.

Load factors were even higher for domestic flights, averaging 83.4%. In addition, U.S. airlines carried 0.8 % more total system passengers in 2012, 736.6 million, than in 2011.

And the biggest carrier, when measured by number of passengers carried, was Delta Air Lines, carrying more system passengers than any other. It was the third year in a row that Delta hit this metric. Southwest Airlines carried more domestic passengers than any other airline for the ninth year in a row. United Airlines, its merger with Continental now complete, carried the most international passengers. (Source: DOT press release).

AA Tests Giving Priority Boarding to Passengers Who Check Bags

American Airlines is giving passengers who check their bags prioritized boarding in a test in four markets, letting them board between groups one and two.

Higher load factors and passengers’ desire to save on baggage fees and to skip the wait at the baggage carousel have made dealing with carry-on bags more time-consuming for airlines.

Flight attendants often urge passengers to quickly stow their bags in order to have an on time departure. In addition, flight attendant unions are reporting increased injuries among flight attendants and passengers from hoisting heavy bags into overhead bins or from improperly stowed bags falling out. American is testing the priority boarding in Austin, Washington Dulles Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale. (Source: American Airlines, industry interviews).

FAA Continues to Examine Changing Policies on Inflight Reading Devices

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman would not comment on press reports that the Federal Aviation Administration might allow passengers to read their Kindles or Nooks during take-off. However, the spokesman did confirm that the FAA’s Portable and (PED) Advisory and Rulemaking Committee is continuing to examine policies for using cell phones, electronic readers and tablets on planes and will end deliberations in July.

The FAA actually allows airlines to decide what can and can’t be used right now on planes, but the FAA provides guidance on those policies. The current guidance requires passengers to turn everything off below 10,000 feet. The committee is not looking at cell phone use, which is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. The committee has more than two dozen members, who include representatives of the FAA, Amazon, airlines, pilot and flight attendant unions, aircraft manufacturers, the FCC, the consumer electronics association and others. (Source: FAA interview).

IATA Forecasts Bigger Profits for Airlines in 2013

The latest financial forecast from the International Air Transport Association projects larger industry profits in 2013 for most airlines around the globe than it had estimated in December.

Tony Tyler, IATA´s director general and CEO, credited the improvement to optimism for the global economy. “Passenger demand has been strong and cargo markets are starting to grow again,” he said. IATA said that it expects North American airlines to make a $3.6 billion profit, which is slightly ahead of the $3.4 billion IATA originally projected for the year and well above the $2.3 billion profit reported in 2012.

Other regions were reporting smaller profits–$800 million in Europe, $1.4 billion in the Middle East, $600 million in South America and $100 million in Africa. IATA said that the recovery could be derailed by factors such as the continuing Eurozone crisis, specifically naming what it called the draconian bailout proposal for Cypriot financial institutions.
Tyler pointed out that travel demand has been supported by robust growth in emerging markets, reflecting a longer-term shift in the center of gravity in the industry. (Source: IATA press release).

WIFI Upgrades, Airline Fees, Electronics, In Flight Study

Delta flatbed in business class.

Upgrading Inflight wifi

Inflight wifi junkies know that when a lot of their fellow passengers are online, service speed plummets. Some research indicates just having 10% of passengers online can hurt internet speeds. But airlines are moving from air-to-ground to satellite technology to improve the inflight experience.

Southwest Airlines has quietly installed satellite-based wifi on more than 400 of its aircraft—about 75% of its fleet—and is adding movies and on-demand TV shows. Jet Blue Airways has begun the installation and certification process for its satellite wifi this month. And United Airlines has started offering satellite-based wifi on some of its international wide-body aircraft.

It is also offering it on two aircraft flying domestic routes and is charging more for the satellite service. United offers wifi on about 20 of its aircraft now and expects most of its fleet to have satellite wifi by 2015.
(Source: press releases and industry interviews)

Southwest Introduces Early Boarding Option

Southwest Airlines has introduced a fourth way for passengers to improve their boarding position with its new $40 early boarding option.

Southwest does not assign seats but boards its passengers by groups—A, B and C. However, Business Select passengers always have the coveted A1-15 boarding slots. Now, when those are available, ticket agents can sell them for $40 to other travelers, 45 minutes before the flight departs.

Southwest passengers have other ways of getting a better chance at getting the seat they want. For $10, they can buy EarlyBird boarding, which automatically checks passengers in 36 hours before departure, 12 hours before general boarding becomes available. The earlier you check in, the better your boarding position, so travelers can also move up in the boarding line by checking 23 hours and 59 minutes before their departure.
(Source: interviews)

Changing Airline Fees

Having trouble keeping up with all the different fees airlines charge? Well, it’s not surprising, given the fact that airlines changed those fees more than 50 times last year, according to Travel Nerd, which developed an airline fee comparison and shopping tool.

More than half of the fee changes were for baggage, but a significant number of fee changes were for services such as selecting seats, priority boarding or changing tickets. It found that ultra-low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air accounted for 18 of the fee changes.
(Source: Travel Nerd)

FAA Studies Use of Portable Electronics In Flight

The Federal Aviation Administration is studying the use of portable electronics in flight, considering whether or not to let passengers keep their devices on during takeoff and landing.

The question is whether or not electromagnetic interference from devices poses a safety threat to aircraft navigation or communication systems. There are other concerns—such as whether handhelds could become projectiles during an aborted landing.

The group is not looking at cell phone use because that falls under the authority of the Federal Communications Commission.
(Source: FAA press release)

Third Quarter Domestic Airfares Up 1.8%

Third quarter domestic airfares were up 1.8% over a year earlier according to the Department of Transportation’s latest figures. Not adjusted for inflation, the $367 third-quarter fare is the fifth highest since the DOT started tracking fares in 1995.

However, third-quarter 2012 fares were $243 in 1995 dollars, down 18.1% from the average fare of $297 in 2000, the inflation-adjusted high for any third quarter.
(Source: DOT)

Airline Industry News: Delta baggage policy & Southwest Fees

January 2013
Travel News for Delta Airlines, Southwest and US Airways

Skipping to the Front of the Line

JetBlue Airways is testing a new ancillary service a $10 fee to use expedited security lanes at select airports. For $10, passengers can buy an Even More Speed option that lets them use expedited security lanes usually reserved for elite frequent flyer club members and first and business class ticket holders.

Even More Speed was originally part of Even More Space for seats with extra legroom, but JetBlue has now made the service a stand-alone option. There are other expedited security programs, including the Transportation Security Administration´s Pre Check program, a trusted traveler program whose members are pre-vetted and can not only go through an expedited security line but also go through an expedited security process. (Source: industry interviews.)

Southwest Institutes No Show Fee

Southwest Airlines, which does not charge a penalty to change a flight, will introduce a no-show fee on its least expensive tickets at some point this year. Passengers who book the cheapest fare and fail to show up for the flight will be charged a fee.

To avoid the fee, passengers just have to notify Southwest that they will not be on the flight. The fee applies only to Southwest´s cheapest fares; passengers buying more expensive tickets don´t have to tell the airline they won’t be on the flight.

Southwest is unique in that its travelers can book a flight, pay for it, not use the ticket and have a year to apply what they paid for that ticket to another purchase, with having to pay a penalty. The new fee is essentially saying "Give us the courtesy of letting us know," said a Southwest spokesman. (Source: interviews).

Airlines Still Profitable in Q3 2012

Major airlines still showed a profit for the third quarter of 2012 according to the latest Department of Transportation figures.

The largest scheduled passenger carriers showed a 6.4% profit margin, down from 6.8% from the same quarter a year earlier. The DOT said that the largest 10 airlines have achieved an operating profit margin as a group in each of the last six quarters. The DOT also reported that all U.S. passenger airlines collected $924 million in baggage fees and $652 million from reservation change fees in the third quarter.

Airlines do not break out the fees they collect for other ancillary fees, such as revenue from sating assignments and sales of food, beverages and entertainment, for the DOT. (Source: DOT press release).

American and US Airways Lay Groundwork for Pilot Deal

American Airlines and US Airways said that they have completed discussions with the unions representing American and US Airways pilots. The talks were to create a framework for employment of pilots as well as prepare for the possibility of integrating the pilots working for the two airlines, should American and US Airways merge.

The two pilot unions created a memorandum of understanding designed to help determine whether or not the two carriers should merge. (Source: American, US Airways’ press release).

Delta Delays New Baggage Policy

Delta Air Lines, which had planned on implementing a new baggage policy on single or conjuncted tickets, checking bags only between the origin and destination points indicated on that ticket, is delaying the new policy.

This is for instances in which travelers have separate tickets for a trip. Previously, Delta and most other carriers in this circumstance would check
through the bags to the final destination, but Delta´s new policy would end that convenience and require customers to claim and the recheck the bag after flying the first leg. (Source: Global Business Travel Association press release.)

Air Travel News, Expected growth, Airline apps, Airline Lobby

December 2012

Air Travel Expected to Grow 5% Per Year for the Next 20 Years
Despite rampant press coverage of the fiscal cliff and campaign rhetoric of a struggling economy, air travel just keeps on growing.

Boeing’s Current Market Outlook 2012, a long-term forecast of air traffic volume and airplane demand, finds air travel to be “remarkably resilient.” It said that 2011 air traffic was 6% greater than 2010, and it expects this trend to continue for the next 20 years, with world passenger travel increasing 5% annually every year.

The report noted that airlines are managing aircraft more strategically to boost yields and cover higher fuel costs. It said that airlines are matching their capacity to seasonal demand, keeping passenger load factors at historic highs. This growth forecast comes despite the fact that global economic growth is expected to be below its long-term average well into 2013.

Separately, the International Air Travel Association issued its own forecast that projected air passenger numbers will increase 5.3% annually for the next four years. (Source: Boeing, IATA).

Most Stressful Airports
Business travelers named what they consider the most stressful airports in a new survey by Concur, the online travel and expense Management Company.

At the top of the list: Chicago´s O´Hare International, followed by Los Angeles International and JFK. More than half of respondents, 56%, said the long distances separating gates and terminals were O´Hare´s biggest problem. JFK had the longest lines according to 49%.

Common problems that travelers said plague many airports are confusing signs 28%, poor service by staff 28% and too few or overcrowded bathrooms by 19%. Other complaints: poor Wifi 18% and not enough electrical outlets 18%. The most hassle-free airports were Dallas Fort Worth, thanks to its clear signs 42%, good Wi Fi and a good selection of dining options 41%. (Source: Concur press release).

Airline Apps Most Popular Mobile Tool for Business Travelers
Nearly 90% of business travelers use mobile apps and 62% of them use them on every trip, according to a study released by Concur, the travel and expense management company.

Airline apps top the list of most used 44% followed by map apps 41% and hotel apps 30%. Just 43% of business travelers use business expense mobile apps, even though nearly 80% call expense reporting as a major pain.

Nearly a quarter, 22%, uses five or more business travel related apps during their trips. Most of the business travelers –89%--said that mobile apps improve their travel experience. (Source: Concur press release).

Airlines Start Lobbying for National Airline Policy
Airlines for America, the airline trade association, has begun lobbying Congress and the American public for a national air policy. A4A says that U.S. carriers play an integral role in the U.S. economy but are hindered by high tax rates that exceed those levied on tobacco and alcohol, products that are highly taxed in order to have consumers use them less. In addition, airlines say they have to wrestle with a regulatory burden that is expensive.

Airlines are also lobbying for improvements to the national air traffic control system and for a national energy policy to help stabilize volatile fuel prices.

The A4A national air policy campaign also calls for helping U.S. carriers to compete with foreign carriers that don’t have the tax and regulatory burdens U.S. carriers have. A4A announced the campaign in Washington and has set up a consumer website, NationalAirlinePolicy.com, and Facebook page. (Source: A4A)

Travel news Airlines report profits from charging fees like wifi

Delta flatbed in business class.

Major U.S. Airlines Report Second Quarter Profit
The largest U.S. airlines reported a 6% profit margin in the second quarter, according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation, up from 5.3% a year earlier. These nine airlines carried 80% of U.S. airlines& passengers.

Helping them hit those numbers: baggage fees. The nine airlines—Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, US Airways, ExpressJet, JetBlue, Skywest and Alaska Airlines--collected a total of $931 million in baggage fees and another $661 million in change fees. Fees from other services that airlines charge you for—seat assignments, premium seating, entertainment and other services--are not included in these figures. (Source: DOT press release).

Consumers Want to Comparison Shop Airline Fees
Consumers want to be able to comparison shop the fees airlines charge for luggage, seat assignments and other services or amenities, many of which were once included in the price of an airline ticket.

94% of travelers who recently booked travel online said that "all airline fee information should be available to travel agents and online travel websites," according to the market research firm Harris Interactive.

The DOT requires airlines to display those fees on their own website, but the only way to comparison shop is to go from one website to another, although some online travel agencies and airfare comparison sites carry listings of the fees each airline charges for these services.

Harris said that 31% of travelers who booked travel on an online site agreed with the statement that they "paid for fees that were not fully disclosed when I initially purchased my ticket for my flight this summer."

The DOT is looking at a rule making to address this matter. However, three major airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways, are close to making their premium seats available in GDSs, an indicator that comparison-shopping for these fees is on the horizon. (Source: Interactive Travel Services Association, industry interviews).

Airlines Keep Adapting to Changing Environment
Airlines are getting faster at adapting to geo-political and economic trends that continually buffet them—specifically high oil prices and a lingering recession.

A recent DOT Inspector General report said that airlines are adapting by charging fees for services once included in the price of a ticket or designing new products and charging for them.

They&re also cutting back on flights to keep flights fuller. And they&re undergoing rapid consolidation—five airlines now serve the bulk of the U.S. market, down from ten five years ago.

Some of this means good news for consumers, according to the IG report: fewer delays and cancellations. But there&s also bad news: less service at some hub airports and on routes of 500 miles or less. However, the report praised airlines& ability to adapt, since aviation plays an essential role in the economy. (Source: IG report).

31% of Domestic Flights Offer Wifi
31% of domestic flights in the U.S. offer wifi, according to the website Routehappy, a flight search site with a strong focus on the kind of experience airlines offer.

Delta Airlines leads the pack, offering wifi to nearly half of that customer base, or 16% of all domestic flights in the U.S.

The next closest is Southwest, whose wifi equipped flights account for 5% of domestic flights. American Airlines and AirTran Airways& wifi equipped flights account for 3% each and Alaska Airlines& service accounts for 2%.

Virgin America, US Airways, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines& flights with Wifi represent 1% of domestic flights each. AirTran and Virgin America have wifi on 100% of their flights, Delta on 65%, Alaska on 45% and Southwest on 37%. JetBlue Airways will add wifi early next year. (Source: Routehappy)

Speed Up Airport Screening, Mix Business with Pleasure

Amelia Island Boardroom


Loews Partners With DHS to Speed Airport Screening
Loews Hotels & Resorts is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security to help promote DHS’s Global Entry program, whose members skip the U.S. Customs line when entering the country and go through a kiosk. Loews will cover the $100 application fee for Global Entry for platinum members of its YouFirst loyalty program.

The DHS is recruiting other travel companies for similar partnerships. To qualify for Global Entry, travelers must do an in-person interview with Customs and Border Protection, undergo a background check and submit their fingerprints. Global Entry members automatically qualify for the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program, whose members can go through a separate and faster security line and separate screening machines when boarding domestic flights.

They don’t have to remove their shoes or take their laptops out of their bags. Airlines can recommend some members of their frequent flyer programs for PreCheck; the drawback to this is that you can only go through PreCheck when flying that airline. If you belong to one airline frequent flyer program but are flying another airline, it’s back into line for you. (Source, Loews press releases, DHS interviews).

Mixing Business With Pleasure
Over half of U.S business travelers 52% have invited family along on business trips, according to research by the Wyndham Hotel Group.

Americans come in second to the Chinese 67% of them have brought a family member along. Least likely to bring along a family member: British travelers, who do so just 33% of the time. U.S. and Canadian travelers see these trips as a way to explore a new destination, according to the study, while Chinese view it as a way to enjoy higher-end hotels. (Source: Wyndham press release).

Spotlight On…
    Travel Taxes

Inhospitality taxes can increase the taxes visitors pay by 57% over the general sales tax, according to the Global Business Travel Association Foundation’s fifth annual study of car, hotel and meal taxes.

These taxes often fund local projects unrelated to tourism and business travel, according to the study, which rates the top 50 travel markets in two ways. The first is total tax burden—combining general sales tax and discriminatory travel taxes. The second is the discriminatory tax burden, looking only at discriminatory travel taxes.

  • Least burdensome in total taxes: Fort Lauderdale at $22.50 per day’
  • Most burdensome in total taxes: Chicago at $40 per day
  • Lowest discriminatory travel tax: Burbank, Calif., at $1.81 per day
  • Most burdensome discriminatory travel tax: Portland, Ore., at $22.45 per day
  • “Overly burdensome taxes on visitors can often do more harm than good , especially when those taxes unfairly target visitors,” said Joseph Bates, vice president of research for the Foundation. (Source: GBTA).