Category Archives: Travel Industry

Choice Humanitarian Volunteer Trip – Gabby’s Story

Choice-humanitarian- expedition

Every year, Christopherson Business Travel sponsors an volunteer trip for a selected group of their employees. A non-profit working in seven countries, Choice Humanitarian strives to end extreme poverty by focusing on raising up small communities. This year’s employees ventured to a small village in the mountains of Guatemala. There, they helped dig foundations for future buildings and painted.

Volunteering in Guatemala

I was not sure what to expect with on my team’s recent expedition to Guatemala. You hear stories and read articles, but nothing compares to actually being a part of such a trip. I cried, laughed, and tried to take in as much as I could of the scenery and people. It was a trip designed to give, but in actuality, it gave me more than I gave. It was a trip to help eradicate “extreme poverty,” and while the area is certainly not like what you typically see in our cities, it gave me insight into “extreme wealth,” but not in ways that one may see visibly.

On the first day we arrived, a woman was making corn tortillas at dinnertime. This being one of my favorite foods, I was eager to help. She was happy I wanted to help, and was happy for her to show me her skill. Even though I couldn’t speak the language, we made do by enjoying the camaraderie together. Another day, we had an opportunity to visit a local village which consisted of three generations of one family living together. The family was very welcoming, showed us their homes with pride, introduced us to the family members, and even let us partake in the daily chore of shucking corn, a dominant staple in their diet. I was reminded that no matter where we are in this world, pride in family is universal. The extreme reliance on family is primary to survival, particularly in these remote villages. This is a wealth that many in industrial societies may not have the advantage of.
Learning the average mortality rate is 57% and the average pregnancy age is age 10-14, was shocking. Seeing what CHOICE Humanitarian does by helping communities learn new skills and gain education, and knowing I was there to help in any way I could, was the proudest moment of my life. No matter how little we felt we did in just one week, I know it was far greater than not doing anything, and I am proud to support CHOICE Humanitarian.

Where are the sleep pods in airports, already?

Sleep-pod-in-airports

We’ve all been there — it’s a snow storm, rain delay or mechanical issue and you’re stranded in an airport. Your flight is delayed or cancelled with no solution in sight. Your only hope to get some sleep is sitting up in an uncomfortable plastic chair, surrounded by others attempting the same thing. Then, the thought hits you in a moment of hangery and exhausted frustration, ‘I would give my first born to comfortably lay horizontally for even just a few minutes! When will someone invent sleeping pods for airports already?’ Well, the time is finally here. A number of companies are cornering the market in accessible sleep units. Unfortunately getting them into airports is another matter.

Sleep pod options for business travelers

A well-rested employee is a happy employee. Along with taking vacation, people who sleep well are more productive. This may be why we’re seeing a trend of sleep pods in offices. Business travelers need this rest as well. Below are a handful of sleep pod companies entering airports.

  • izZzleep- Opened sleep capsules in the Mexico City airport earlier this year. It includes hourly rates, nightly rates and even showers.
  • Yotel Ltd.- A mini-hotel operator which can be found in four European airports. You can find Yotel at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, London Gatwick Airport, and London Heathrow Airport.  They also offer mini-hotel options in New York, Boston, and soon San Francisco and Singapore, with hopes to be opening in American airports soon.
  • NapCity- Found in the Munich airport, they offer a tiny escape with a small bed, internet access and tv. Charges are calculated on the actual time of use. And the cleaning staff is notified to sanitize and clean the cabin after each session.
  • MinuteSuites offer comfortable cabins to nap, relax or work. They can be found at the Hartsfeild-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Sleep pods in airports

With so many companies entering the field, why are sleeping pods in airports not a common and frequent occurrence. As Skift describes in a recent article, there is often resistance from the airports themselves. Revenue is the driving factor against commonplace sleep pods. Why sleep when you could spend time in a bookstore, duty-free shop or restaurant? This is especially conflicting since most sleep pod companies would prefer to be located inside security checkpoints, directly competing with these other options.
Another obstacle, is disrupting the relationships between airports and the nearby hotels. When cancellations and delays hit airports, these hotels are bombarded by the wary traveler. What happens to them if efficient sleep pods care readily available without leaving their gate? How does this affect local ground transportation companies too?
Most sleep companies are asking for a longer-term lease commitment, in order for airports to realize the proper return of the business model, says Jo Berrington, a vice president at Yotel. She also said in the Skift article that the company’s ideal airport business size is about 60 – 150 cabins. Can you imagine a sleep pod colony of this size?

Have you tried out a sleep pod in an airport? Find us on Facebook and tell us about your experience.

New Identification Technology Being Tested At TSA Pre-Check Lines

tsa-pre-check-technology

Already knew that the perks from TSA Pre-Check were pretty sweet? Well it looks like they’re getting sweeter. Already being tested in a few airports, TSA has started using a new identification technology for Pre-Check travelers. They will no longer need to show a boarding pass at security. Instead, a photo ID will be all they need to pass through to their gate. 

TSA Pre-Check New Identification Technology

Their Credential Authentication Technology will verify authenticity of a passenger photo ID and validate information from the ID against TSA’s Secure Flight vetting system. With this system, boarding passes will only be needed once you board they plane. Reducing the hassle of finding the boarding pass, whether on paper or on a smartphone, is expected to decrease wait time through security.  And more importantly, this new technology will be used to detect and reduce the number of people who use fraudulent  identification to board a plane.

How it works:

Pre-Check travelers simply hand their photo ID to the TSA agent at the security checkpoint. The agent will scan the ID using the credential authentication technology system. From there is will verify the authenticity of the document and cross-reference against the Secure Flight database.

This system is currently being tested at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Dulles International Airport, O’Hare International Airport, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. It will continue to expand to other airports in August.

What is TSA Pre-Check

TSA Pre-Check is a service provided by the Travel Security Administration. For an additional fee ($85 for a five year membership), travelers get to speed through security checkpoints at airports nationwide. Those interested apply online, submit to a background check, fingerprinting and in-person meeting with a TSA officer. Once they are approved, they can use the TSA Pre-Check security line. Additional perks include not removing laptops, shoes, belts, liquids or jackets through security.

I personally have been on the fence on deciding to pay for a Pre-Check membership or not. But seeing the TSA is continuing to innovate their processes is exciting. Who knows what additional perks they may bring within the next five years!

 

Additional Security Measures for International Flights to the U.S.

additional-security-international-flights

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that flights arriving to the United States will undergo additional security measures. This is response to increased threats on commercial aviation as a whole. Starting later this week, passengers flying to the United States should expect additional security measures.

 

These security measures include:

  • Enhanced screening of travelers
  • Increased security screening of aircraft and passenger areas
  • Heightened screening of electronic devices that are larger than a standard smartphone
  • Being prepared to remove these devices from protective cases or packaging if asked.
  • Using additional technology
  • Expanding canine security
  • Establishing additional preclearance locations

 

This heightened change effects 105 countries and approximately 280 airports that serve as the last points of departure to the United States. This affects 180 airlines, an average of 2,100 flights per day and 325,000 daily passengers on average. The DHS and TSA will be working with airline stakeholders over the next weeks and months to ensure these security protocols are fully implemented. Stakeholders that fail to adopt these requirements within certain time frames will run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.

Enterprise/National as a Ground Transportation Supplier

To be effective, corporate travel programs require many moving parts. One critical area involves nurturing wonderful supplier relationships, including ground transportation. We’ve found that Enterprise/National offers customized benefits for many of our clients.

Customized benefits from Enterprise/National:

  • Dual Brand Agreement (National Car Rental and Enterprise Rent-A-Car).       Programs are customized and negotiated based on the company’s specific travel patterns and traveler needs.
  • One loyalty number “Emerald Club” that is provided and works for both brands globally.
  • Global Billing options are available.
  • Local Account Management and support provided for any customized agreement.
  • 100% location compliance with corporate pricing.
  • Supporting lines of business that can help with other areas of ground transportation: Enterprise RideShare, Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Fleet Management, Enterprise Truck Rental, Exotics by Enterprise, Enterprise Car Sales.

Christopherson Business Travel maintains excellent communication with the many Enterprise/National Representatives throughout the country.  If you need a referral to the right contact in your area, please allow us to be your resource for making an introduction.

We’ve spent the last 60 years dedicated to finding travel management solutions for busy companies. From customized travel programs to advanced technology, we provide peace of mind. Contact us to learn more about how Christopherson, along with our preferred partners, and assist you with your travel needs.

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Airlines Updating Overbooking Policies

overbooking-flights-policies

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you have probably noticed recent scrutiny over airline’s overbooking policies. In the wake of an event on a United Airlines flight, these processes and its protocol have heavily been in the media. In response, most major airlines are updating overbooking policies.

What is overbooking?

Overbooking is the process of airlines overselling seats on most flights. Using advanced algorithms airlines estimate the number of no-shows or canceled tickets. This allows them to fill flights to capacity, while saving on fuel costs and keeping ticket prices low. Read our recent blog for everything you need to know about overbooking.

Updates made to overbooking policies

United:  Their new policy says passengers will not be removed from the plane once they have boarded. Also, local police will no longer be used to forcibly remove passengers. And crew members will not be allowed to bump passengers from planes. They will require one-hour advanced notice of the plane boarding, or wait for a later flight.

Delta: Though still allowing displacement of passengers once they have boarded the plane, they raised their compensation rate.  Originally capping at $1,350, it is now $10,000. Compensation has also been increased at the gate, from $800 to $2,000.

Southwest: This airline has said they will end overbooking policies completely. Gary Kelley, CEO of Southwest said to USAToday, “We’ve been taking steps over the last several years to prepare ourselves for this anyway… As we have dramatically improved our forecasting tools and techniques, and as we approach the upcoming implementation of our new reservations system on May 9, we no longer have a need to overbook as part of the revenue management inventory process.”

American: They have updated their Conditions of Carriage policy to no longer allow passengers to be removed from the plane once it has boarded. They also stated their compensation has never been capped, and it will remain that way.

Everything You Need To Know About Airlines Overbooking Tickets

overbooking tickets on airlines

We all nonchalantly agree to this when we book a flight, but the fact of the matter is that all major airlines overbook their flights, often leaving travelers in the lurch. Overbooking came into the spotlight this week when a United passenger was forcibly removed from a flight, leaving many of us wondering the extent of enforcing this policy.

It’s standard practice for airlines to sell more tickets than the plane has seats, anticipating a few cancellations and missed flights. Rather than having half empty planes take off, extensive calculations are been made determining the probability of no-shows. Additional tickets are then made available based on these solutions. The video below from Ted-ed perfectly summarizes the process and statistics behind overbooking.

Though overselling results in more profits for the airlines, not having enough seats on a flight is still a common occurrence. According to the video above, about 50,000 people get bumped off their flight each year.  Overbooking processes are outlined in each airline’s “contracts of carriage” policies, which passengers agree to when tickets are purchased.

What happens when a flight is oversold?

Federal rules require that airlines must first ask if any passengers will voluntarily give up their seat. Airlines can individually decide on compensation, but typically a travel voucher or gift card is given.

If passengers are unwilling to voluntarily to give up their seats, airlines are then allowed to bump fliers involuntarily. Every airline has a different policy on how they decide who is denied travel as well as their compensation.

  • United – Excludes individuals with disabilities and unaccompanied minors. Priority is then determined by passenger’s fare, class, itinerary, status of frequent flier membership, and order of check-in.
  • Delta – Decided with regards to priority boarding rules and elite status and check-in order and cabin.
  • JetBlue – JetBlue claims they never overbook flights, but have information in their contracts of carriage if a situation arises. Passengers denied boarding involuntarily will receive $1,350 dollars.
  • American – Usually deny boarding based upon check-in time, but may include additional variables such as severe hardships, fare paid, and status within AAdvantage program. Compensation and protocols differ for domestic and international transportation.
  • Spirit – Unaccompanied minors and people with disabilities are excluded. The last customer to check in will be the first to be involuntarily removed first from an over booked flight.
  • Southwest -The last Passenger who receives a boarding position will be the first Passenger denied boarding involuntarily in an oversale situation, with no preference given to any particular person or category of fares. Compensation differs based on their readiness to get the passenger on anther flight.

How business travelers can avoid being involuntarily removed for oversold flights

Getting to your meeting on time is tricky enough when you’re a frequent business traveler. It’s best to keep additional possibilities to a minimum.

  • Check-in early
  • Acquire elite or member status through the airline

 

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. We’re focused on getting our travelers to their destination smoothly, and with limited headaches for the travel manager. Contact us to learn how we do it.

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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.

Americans May Need Visa To Enter These European Countries

visa-European-countries

Earlier this month, members of the European Union’s Parliament approved a measure calling for the EU Commission to urge full visa reciprocity. The United States and a few other countries still require citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania to obtain visas before visiting. If the U.S does not change their policy, visas will soon be required by Americans to enter these countries as well.

Facts about the potential visa reinstatement:

  • This push stems from a two-year warning period to these countries to change their visa policies. The initial warnings went our in April 2014, which expired last year.
  • The other countries warned were Canada, Australia, Brunei and Japan.
  • Australia, Brunei and Japan have since lifted their visa requirements.
  • Canada will lift their requirements by December 2017.
  • These countries asking to change the visa policy were all formerly communist.

Next steps:

  • A two-month deadline has already been established for the EU Commission to act if the U.S. does not change its policies. Though the commissions has said they may not respond until this summer.

What does this mean for business travelers?

  • At this time nothing has changed. We will know more within the next few months.
  • If the U.S. does not change their policy and visa requirements are reintroduced, it would likely be temporary, the EU says.
  • If you travel frequently to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland or Romania, we will keep you posted via the blog.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company, focused on providing superior service for our clients. Whether it be our integrated software, consultative account management, or just helpful tips, your travel success is literally our business. Learn more about how we do it.

Is Your Driver’s License Valid For Air Travel?

The REAL ID Act, originally passed by Congress in 2005, has steadily been updating the identification processes in our nation. Already standardizing protocol in federal buildings, nuclear power plants and other facilities, the act is entering its final stages. The final focus in on passenger identification on commercial airlines, which is secured by the Department of Homeland Security. Depending on which state you live in, your driver’s license may soon not be valid for domestic air travel.

TSA protocols for valid identification will be updating

Surprisingly, many frequent travelers are unaware of the impending identification changes coming to commercial air travel. It has been the responsibility of the individual states to update their driver’s license to be REAL ID compliant. Even with detailed timelines and deadlines given, many states are still in flux.

Read our inforgaphic below to see if your state is compliant to the impending REAL ID Act changes.

Is your drivers license valid for air travel

 

Have more questions? Read our blog on the Real ID Act.

Christopherson Business Travel takes the frustration out of travel management for busy companies. Learn how our travel technology and consultative account management does just that by scheduling a demo today.