Author: Kathleen Roberts

Delta Releases Automatic Check-in and In-Flight Messaging

Delta automatic check-in

With the use of cutting-edge technology, Delta Air Lines always seems to be at the forefront of traveler innovation. Their tracking technology has eased the stress of checked baggage. And their on-time landing rates are outstanding due to internal adjustments. Delta’s continual commitment to travelers often involves facilitating convenience. That’s why it’s no surprise that Delta’s recent updates yet again ease the burden of travel for their customers.

Automatic Check-in

Most recently, Delta has announced that travelers who have downloaded and logged into the Delta Fly app, will be automatically checked-in to their flight and sent a boarding pass. That’s right, potentially gone are the days of setting a 24 hour reminder before your flight. Or hurriedly using a ticketing kiosk at the airport before heading to the security line. Now, you’ll just to open your app to retrieve your boarding pass.
Currently, the automatic check-in is only available for flights traveling in the United States, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Delta has not yet announced how it will handle additional details, like checked bags and seat changes. They’ve also listed circumstances in which the feature is not compatible. This includes reservations with a delay or cancellation present. Reservations without a seat assignment at the time of check-in. And reservations that include special service requests, like wheelchair service, unaccompanied minor travel, or pet traveling in the cabin.

In-flight messaging

Another venture in which Delta is innovating with technology to ease the stress of their flyers, is providing in-flight free messaging. Now, travelers can stay connected with friends, family and co-workers while onboard. Through their wifi, travelers can use iMessage, Facebook Messenger and What’s App, as long as they have downloaded the app prior to boarding. It also will only be available on wifi enabled flights. Just remember to select the “Free Messaging” pass once you logged on to the Delta wifi through your browser.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Contact us to learn how our proprietary technology helps relieve burdens for both the travel manager and the traveler.

London Vacation Recommendations

London vacation recommendationsMy family recently returned from an amazing spring break vacation visiting London and Paris.  Having visited these cities before, we planned the trip through the eyes of our teenage son- mixing culture, history, and Harry Potter.

Our Hotel In London

A great hotel in a convenient location was key to our itinerary. That’s why we chose  Anthenaeum Hotel and Residences. Recently renovated, it’s located in Mayfair overlooking Green Park. The hotel is also close to Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace. It was truly an excellent choice for us in London. The hotel rooms were quiet and provided five star amenities with beautiful views.  The onsite restaurant, Galivan, is the latest restaurant from Michelin star rated brothers, Chris and Jeff Galvin. It has an inviting atmosphere and delicious meals, including afternoon tea and all day dining.  We also enjoyed restaurants in charming Shepherds Market, which is just blocks from the hotel.

Events In London

Another great resource for this trip was our Virtuoso partner, Sincerely Paul.  Paul was my hero in locating sold out tickets in London. This included the critically important WB Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. He helped me avoid a near parental fail for not securing tickets months in advance.  We look forward to working with Paul on our next visit to enjoy additional experiences beyond the city.

Working in the travel industry has a few perks and in the case of this trip, that was working with exceptional travel professionals in our organization that directed my travel plans and put my family on course for a memorable experience together.

Laptop Ban Affects Business Travels

laptop-ban-airplane

Business travelers, who utilize flight time to catch up on work and email, will be disrupted by the recent announcement made by the Department of Homeland Security. Dubbed the ‘laptop ban’, large electronic devices will not be allowed as carry-on when flying non-stop to the U.S. from 10 international airports.

What are these 10 international airports?

  • Jordan – Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
  • Egypt – Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Turkey – Ataturk International Airport (IST)
  • Saudi Arabia – King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) & King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
  • Kuwait – Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
  • Morocco – Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
  • Qatar – Hamad International Airport (DOH)
  • United Arab Emirates – Dubai International Airport (DXB) & Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

What airlines fly non-stop to the U.S.?

  • Royal Jordanian
  • EgyptAir
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Royal Air Moroc
  • Qatar Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways

Regulations of the new ‘Laptop Ban’

The aviation security enhancements are for all U.S. bound flights from these 10 airports. It  requires that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage.  Large electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and electronic games can no longer be used in-flight. The ban does not effect the flight returning from the U.S. back to these countries.

Increased security was needed, based on intelligence about airlines that fly non-stop from these 10 airports. Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff,  said “These steps are both necessary and proportional to the threat. The global aviation system remains a top target and proper security requires that we continually adapt our defenses.”

The nine airlines affected have until early Friday morning to implement necessary changes. If an airline ignores enforcement, security officials will ask the Federal Aviation Administration to revoke the airline’s certificate to fly in the U.S.

Great Britain has followed the U.S. with a similar announcement.  Their ban specifies dimensions of electronics not allowed as carry-on. The U.K. ban focuses on Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Canada may be following with their own electronic ban as well.

No time frame has been given on this change. The DHS has said in “will remain in place until the threat changes”. Additional airports could also be added at any time.

Business travel industry reaction to the ban

While safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, this ban comes as a jolt and inconvenience to business travelers. A complete halt in business productivity is one criticism, but additional safety concerns are another.

One possible matter is the increased risk of lithium-ion batteries catching fire in the cargo hold. These fires would be hard to contain early or even reach.

Another criticism is theft or damage to checked items. There is a reason we keep the most expensive and important items close to us while traveling. Most of us have experienced lost or damaged baggage, and even theft. Without your protection, your items are open to anyone. Speaking of which, this regulation will potentially leave confidential company business exposed while valuable information housed on laptops are checked.

Having flown on Emirate’s Airlines and experienced their exceptional in-flight entertainment, I appreciated their prompt and creative response to the ban, with their “Let Us Entertain You” video on Twitter.

Business traveler tips for the laptop ban

Regardless of in-flight entertainment options, the need to mitigate risk will be an inconvenience that travelers need to be prepared for in advance of their departure from the impacted airports.

  • Back up everything and save it to the cloud, just in case of theft or damage.
  • Add everything you need to your phone – movies, games, podcast, email, etc.
  • Bring those ‘back burner’ tasks you never seem to get to normally – whitepapers, recommended books, research, etc.
  • Buy an external keyboard that can be connected to your phone, making typing less of pain and increase productivity.
  • Consider changing flights from a non-stop to one-stop flights.

How To Help Ban Phone Calls On Planes

Have you ever noticed how sounds seem amplified when you are on an airplane?   Everything is louder than normal due to the confined space – like babies crying or stranger’s conversations. This is one of the reasons why I am a passionate supporter for not allowing phone calls on planes.  If you thought the middle seat was bad before, just imagine being seated between two different phone calls!

In a recent blog post by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), they cover additional insights, like the potential security risks and impact on personal productivity.  Interestingly, 64% of business travelers oppose allowing phone calls on commercial airplanes. Even if specifically designated rows are assigned, still 51% of business travelers disagree.

What to write to the Department of Transportation, to help ban phone calls on planes

As an active member of GBTA, I support their efforts to ban the use of cell phone on planes. I also encourage anyone who feels strongly should go to the DOT website and share their comments on that page. The docket will close February 13, at 11:59pm ET.

Feel free to copy and paste the text below, which was provided by GBTA, or write your own.  Then enter your name, select “Public Comment(s)” from the drop down menu under “Category” and click continue.

Sample Comment:
I believe the use of mobile wireless devices for voice calls is detrimental to the traveler and should be banned between the time the aircraft door is closed and the aircraft’s landing. In February of 2014, when the DOT previously issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Use of Mobile Wireless Devices for Voice Calls on Aircraft, 97 percent of the commenters expressed opposition.

Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 41712, DOT should find the use of mobile devices for voice during flight to be so disruptive that it would be inconsistent with adequate air transportation. Travel is difficult enough and the DOT should not add to traveler’s misery.  When it comes to flying on commercial airplanes in the United States, silence is golden.

#NoCallsOnPlanes

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Avoid Syncing Your Phone To A Rental Car

never sync phone to rental car

 

Beginning another year in the business travel industry, I often find myself reflecting on the changes and advances I’ve seen in the previous year. The biggest change I’ve notice is the growing access to technology conveniences while traveling. Aircrafts are equipped with USB charging ports and entertainment apps. It’s easy syncing your phone to a rental car or connecting to free wireless networks in hotels.  With so many ways to stay connected during business trips, I now even find myself feeling annoyed when an airport does not offer free Wi-Fi access.

The compulsion to stay connected while traveling

Being “connected” to the office, email, current news, etc, is becoming an ever-growing necessity of business travel. Not only do we always feel the need to stay connected, but we demand it in a convenient manner too. In this growing frenzy to stay locked in with those in the office, many travelers unknowingly put their employer’s information and personal data at risk while achieving this growing need. With this growing accessibility, I find myself easily forgetting the consequences as well.

Why you should avoid syncing your phone to a rental car and other no-no’s

While reading a recent USA Today article, I was reminded of the hacking risks related to connecting to unknown or unsecured networks. When free or instant wifi is offered, security is often a second thought. This is how hackers and identity thieves are so successful. Our “careless connection” behavior is found in many circumstances when traveling, including hotel wifi issues or basic phishing schemes. Below are a few surprising situations in which you might encounter unsafe network activity.

  • Syncing your phone with a rental car. Most newer rental cars immediately offer pairing with their onboard infotainment system. Unbeknownst to most travelers, your information can stay within the car’s system after you return the car. This leaves you susceptible to the future drivers of the car. Or, hackers can install malicious software to the car before you rent it, accessing your information once you connect your phone.
  • Using the free USB charging stations in the airport. Plugging your phone into an infected USB hub is so common it even has a name – “juice jacking”. While connected to this port, hackers can easily access your private information.
  • Connecting to free wifi in your hotel or airport. Are you seeing a trend here? Free access leaves many open to malicious software and hacking schemes.

Tips for avoiding hacking scams

As we’ve covered, immediate and instant communication is a necessity for business travel. And unfortunately, the easiest routes often put you in arms length of security issues. Below are a few easy tips to avoid hacks. Some of these tips are from the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Avoid connecting your phone to a rental car’s infotainment system. Instead, manually enter the addresses needed.
  • Charge your phone in a rental car with a cigarette lighter adapter. This is the only way it will charge your device without accessing your personal information.
  • ‘Do you trust this computer?’ Say ‘no’. Don’t quickly skip through this step. If you are traveling and accessing unknown devices, always select ‘no’ for this option.
  • Delete your data before returning the rental car. If you do sync your phone with a rental car’s infotainment system, be sure to delete your information before returning the car to the rental office. Deleting information is usually done by going into the settings menu of the infotainment system. Find your device and go through the prompts to delete the data. The owner’s manual or car rental company may have more information.
  • Bring a fully-charged portable phone charger with you. These portable devices act as a second charge for your phone. When you are almost out of battery, just connect your phone to this device, and it charges your phone without needing to access an electrical outlet. Just remember to charge it before you leave home.
  • Use a company VPN to access sensitive data while in hotels. Ask your IT department to set up an VPN connection to use while you’re traveling for business. This connection is a secure access straight to company files, so your information can not be hacked.

Our world is continually changing with increased accessibility and connectivity. With this instant gratification, it is very easy to overlook the potential security issues involved. I hope these tips will help as a reminder next time you are about to sync your phone with a rental car or in other ‘convenient’ situations.

FAA Bans Use Of Samsung Galaxy Note 7s Phones On Flights

Flying-samsung-galaxy-s7As a frequent business traveler, I’m accustomed to the on-boarding and pre-flight protocol of the flight attendants. But this last week, I quickly noticed a new addition to the announcements about a specific smartphone. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently banned the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7s phone from being on during flights. The reason? The phones may explode if overheated.

Released August 19, 2016, the latest Samsung smartphone has already been recalled. In the last month since the release, these phones have been exploding, including in a man’s pocket. The issue stems from the lithium ion battery. Samsung admitted that during the manufacturing process, the layer of plastic separating the positive and negative sides of the battery may have punctured, causing an explosion when overheated. It appears this happens more frequently when it’s charging, but not always, hence the pocket incident.

FAA Bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7s On Flights

Initially, the FAA was “strongly encouraging” people from using the phone during the flight. They have now elevated their statement to “ban” airline passengers from using or charging the device during flight. These phones are not allowed to be packed in checked luggage either. The FAA stated, ‘In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.’

I saw last week that the airlines placed notices near check-in and boarding areas about the new FAA ruling. The cabin crew also added the message to their safety script. On this flight, each seat had an individual power station.  While usually convenient, myself and the people around me were suddenly nervous of the possible repercussions. What if someone disobeyed? What can the airlines do to enforce the ban?  Similar to asking that devices are placed in ‘airplane mode’, everyone trusts that the passengers abide by the rules. It’s currently a little nerve-wrecking to think about. Fortunately, Samsung will be providing replacement units later this month.  I will certainly be relieved when these exchanges are complete, and the power stations can return to be the inculpable amenity I frequently enjoy.

Christopherson Honored As A Utah Business Fast 50 Company

Utah Business magazine hosted its annual Fast 50 event on Thursday, August 24, to recognize the 50 fastest-growing businesses in the state of Utah.  Christopherson Business Travel was honored at the event, and the only company to date to achieve the Fast 50 recognition for 8 consecutive years. Companies were selected based on five years of compound revenue growth and total revenue, submitted to an independent accountant for analysis.

Christopherson-Business-Travel-Utah-Top-50Christopherson is an innovative organization focused on long-term growth objectives in a rapidly changing industry.  We were awarded for our entrepreneurial spirit and innovative tactics. It is a notable accomplishment to have maintained sky-rocketing revenue growth for such a substantial period. Our CEO, Mike Cameron accepted the award, “When my wife and I first bought the company 26 years ago, we were doing under a million dollars a year and we set some very ambitious goals at the time. . . we wanted to become one of the top ten travel agencies in Utah. Turns out we met all those goals, actually exceeded them, and today we are doing 600 million dollars a year and we are the largest travel agency in Utah”.

Recognition as one of the Utah Business Fast 50 is shared with many of our Utah-based clients including Nu Skin Enterprises, Jane.com, Pluralsight, Extra Space Storage and Crest Financial Services. We applaud everyone for their success and wish them luck for an outstanding year ahead.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management agency with more than 60 years of experience. We are passionate about providing efficient travel solutions for busy professionals, so they can focus on what’s important to them. Contact us to learn more about our travel technology and consultative services.

Effectively Manage Unused Airline Tickets

AirBank corporate travel managementWhen meeting with prospective customers, I continue to see companies that do not effectively manage their unused airline tickets.  Did you know that the industry average of business travel airfare that goes unused is eight to ten percent? Unused tickets are generally non-refundable fares and the airlines love it when customers fail to reapply the value to future travel.

This inefficiency is why we were motivated to create AirBank®.  As one of Christopherson Business Travel’s first proprietary travel technology tools; we built it to capture, audit, report, and ultimately reuse any unused airline tickets. AirBank has continued to evolve with both industry and technology changes. AirBank now includes deeper fare audits and traveler notifications. Management of AirBank’s unused tickets is fully visible to Christopherson’s clients though our AirPortal 360 dashboard.

It is rewarding to deliver hard dollar savings to our customers and the power of AirBank is just one element of our total travel management solution for business travel programs. Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. With more than 60 years of experience, we are acclaimed for our proprietary technology and superior customer service. Contact us to learn about our additional travel technology tools or talk to one of our travel experts.

Salt Lake City Airport Now Offers Premium Reserved Parking

Premium Reserved Parking, which provides travelers with a guaranteed, covered parking space adjacent to airport terminals, has been added to the parking garage at Salt Lake City International Airport.

There are 71 reserved parking spaces available, including three that are ADA-accessible. The new Premium Reserved Parking is accessed via a dedicated entry lane and includes a concierge service with personalized staff assistance. Travelers can make a reservation in advance by going to SLCAirport.com/parking. Once a reservation is made, travelers will receive a Quick Response (QR) code that allows entry into the reserved parking area. Before using Premium Reserved Parking however, business travelers should check their company’s travel reimbursement policy as this service costs $50 a day.

The Premium Reserved Parking lot was created when space became available due to the closing of the parking garage’s drive-through passenger pick-up/drop-off lane as part of Salt Lake City Airport’s ongoing Terminal Redevelopment Program.

Christopherson’s Eighth Consecutive win for the Utah Business Fast 50

utahbusiness_fast50_155x160Christopherson Business Travel has been named to Utah Business magazine’s 2015 Fast 50 list. This 2015 ranking marks the eighth consecutive year Christopherson has been honored as one of Utah’s  fastest growing companies.

Utah Business has ranked the 50 fastest growing companies in the state of Utah for the past nine years. Companies are evaluated based on five years of compound annual growth and revenue generation.

To learn more about Christopherson’s growth, please click here to watch CEO, Mike Cameron’s interview for the 2015 Fast 50 Award. To see the full list of ranked companies, click here.