Why would anyone ever purchase basic economy fares on United Airlines? –

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Recently the CFO of United Airlines reported that 40% of travelers are selecting basic economy fares when buying tickets. Several months ago United Airlines started offering these lower priced tickets on a select few routes. These fares save between $30 and $40 roundtrip, however, to save that money upfront on your ticket price you almost assuredly will pay even more for all the extra fees they will charge you. Basic economy fares do not get advance seat selection or upgrades. The biggest fees you have to pay for basic economy fares is the applicable checked bag fee of $25 plus a $25 gate handling charge if you bring a full-sized carry-on on board the plane. So you do the math. You save $40 on your ticket when you buy a basic economy ticket, however, you pay $50 extra each way (total of $100) if you try to take a full-sized carry on with you on the flight. Even worse, flight changes and refunds are not allowed. Wait there is more. If you are flying with family there is no family seating. Bottom line is that this is one time that the old saying “penny wise and pound foolish” applies.

Mexico and the Caribbean offering amazing discounts for fall travel –

We are seeing some pricing as much as 60% off for travel between July and December 15, 2017 to most of Mexico and the Caribbean. Historically this is the slow season so if you are looking for some amazing prices be sure to give our friendly travel advisors a call at 402-435-8888.

Recent changes to TSA Pre-Check rules are frustrating travelers who no longer qualify for the perk –

Several months ago the government announced that they were changing the rules and only the people who have purchased TSA Pre-Check would receive the express security line access. Before the change tens of thousands of travelers were given complimentary Pre-Check access from the airlines as a benefit of being in their elite frequent flyer programs. Now that the rules have changed many of the travelers that previously got to travel through security in the express lane are frustrated to find out their boarding pass no longer has been approved for express security lane access.

Executive Travel scores world-class Net Promoter Score for customer loyalty –

Executive Travel recently hit a record Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 91 during the first four months of 2017. This score recognizes Executive Travel as one of the premier companies in the world as it relates to their customers’ overall satisfaction with their service. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been widely adopted by more than two thirds of Fortune 1000 companies who use the metric to measure a customer’s willingness to recommend their service to a friend or colleague. NPS scores range from -100 to 100. Executive Travel during the first four months of 2017 maintained a NPS score of 91 which would rank Executive Travel at the top of all the companies in the world. Executive Travel’s 91 Net Promoter Score is more than triple the Travel and Hospitality NPS average of 29 in 2016. It becomes even more impressive when you look at Net Promoter Scores of the leading companies by industry in 2016 which include: Ritz Carlton, 72 NPS; Apple, 66 NPS; Amazon, 66 NPS; Verizon, 26 NPS; Nordstrom, 80 NPS; State Farm Insurance, 45 NPS; and Jet Blue Airlines, 67 NPS.

I know this sounds crazy but I recommend you start booking your Christmas travel right now –

I can just imagine how many people will read this and think I am totally crazy to start making reservations for your travel around the Christmas holiday. But we have already seen many people start to make reservations to many of their favorite sun and fun getaways around the heavy Christmas holiday season so they are sure to get the best travel accommodations.

Join my wife Marie and I as we cruise the Blue Danube this October! –

My wife Marie and I will be hosting the exceptional “Blue Danube River Cruise” this October, a true bucket-list cruise. We have a few cabins left, so do not hesitate to sign up and join us as we visit some of our favorite cities in Europe, including Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Linz and Prague. Call our friendly Group Department at 402-435-8888 or email me at steveg@executivetravel.com for more details and to sign up. To see the full tour program CLICK HERE – do not wait, travel while you can!

Need information on any of the above?
Call our friendly travel advisors….
Lincoln – 402-435-8888 Toll-free 800-737-0582

Steve’s annual “Travel Tipping for Dummies” –

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Most people when they travel are used to tipping when they eat at a restaurant but have no idea what to do for other tipping when they travel. Most professional service providers work for real low wages and depend on tipping as the primary source of income. Here are my recommendations for tipping when traveling:

Restaurant wait staff: 15% to 20% depending on service. Don’t forget about buffet staff as well. One of the best waitresses I have met is named Susan who works at Valentino’s buffet. It is sad when people don’t think they should tip buffet workers.

Hotel Bell Captain: $1-$2 per bag. This can get confusing as one person unloads from the cab. The next puts it on a luggage cart and then passes it on to another. I wait until I get to the room and pay the last person who presents me with my bags.

Airport or train porter: $1- $2 per bag

Cab and Uber drivers: 10%-15% of the fare. If they drive crazy or take me the long way around I do not tip at all.

Courtesy shuttle drivers: $1-$2 per bag

Hotel concierge: $10-$20 per request

Hotel doorman: $3 to $5 if they call a cab

Hotel maid (room steward): $2-$3 per night. Sadly, only about 20% of travelers tip the room steward and these people probably work the hardest of all the people on this list. Plus they really affect the quality of your stay.

Valet Parking: $3-$5

Tour guide: $3-$5 a day

Tour bus driver: $1 to $3 a day

Friendly Weekly Travel Alert writer: $5 a week!

Please let me know of other people you like to tip when traveling.

Are Uber prices about to go sky high? –

You all know that I love using Uber when traveling around the world. The ride sharing company has also been the darling of Wallstreet for years now. The only problem with the company is that it is hemorrhaging cash. Some estimate it might have lost more than $2 billion dollars each of the last three years. It is obvious that Uber is trying to buy marketshare in all the major cities. At some point people who are funding Uber will use their head instead of their heart and will run out of patience listening to the sucking sound of their money getting flushed down the toilet and force the ride sharing company to seriously increase their prices so that the business model is sustainable. Many people I have recently talked to have suggested that Uber is actually raising prices already by putting on surge pricing premiums even during the slow times. Interesting?

You can still travel to Cuba with Executive Travel –

Many people are confused about the recent Presidential announcement last Friday about limiting travel to Cuba. The main change is that individual travel to Cuba will be much more limited. Travel by qualified groups on a People to People mission will continue to be allowed into the country. Executive Travel is already planning a new Cuba tour in January of 2018. Cuba is still open for tourists. You just have to use the proper channels to visit.

Marriott is making it much harder for you to change your reservation at the last minute –

The giant hotel chain announced last week that they will immediately start charging you a one night stay penalty (room charge plus taxes and fees) if you cancel or no show your reservation within 48 hours of your planned arrival. They are doing this to prevent people from using last minute hotel deal web sites to get a lower price. Ironically, this is in reaction to them lowering their own rates at the last minute to try to fill empty rooms. Marriott has no one to blame for this mess than themselves, but they are going to make you pay the penalty for being a wise shopper.

Beer or Broadway? Join our extraordinary tours this fall! –

This is the final call for a fantastic tour to Germany! If you have ever dreamed about attending the authentic Oktoberfest in Munich, and if you appreciate great beer and European culture, then reserve your spot today on our incredible “Germany Brewery Tour & Oktoberfest” tour ​in September. And if the Big Apple and Broadway sound luring, then do not miss our back-by-demand ​tour taking off this November and hosted by Morrie Enders with Lincoln Community Playhouse; “New York, New York with Morrie!” Call our friendly group department today at 402-435-8888 for all the details. Do not hesitate; travel while you can!​

Need information on any of the above?
Call our friendly travel advisors….
Lincoln – 402-435-8888 Toll-free 800-737-0582

Here are my annual TOP 10 TIPS for using frequent flyer miles and credit card points –

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# 1 – American and United have the best frequent flyer programs –

Of the big three domestic airlines AA and UA have web sites that are pretty easy to use to find freebie space. They appear to have a lot more “saver award” space that allows for redemption for a reasonable amount of frequent flyer (FF) miles for both domestic and international free tickets than does Delta. DL freebie space is easy to find but often requires twice as many miles as other airlines. Perhaps their planes are so full they don’t have enough empty seats to redeem for freebies.

# 2 – Book your free tickets very early or very late –

A lot of airlines open up frequent flyer seat inventory very early (11 months in advance) or very late (7 to 10 days prior to departure).

# 3 – Don’t use miles for upgrades but for free premium class tickets –

It is a much better deal to use your miles for free tickets and not for upgrades. Most airlines today charge a very high number of miles plus cash to upgrade a seat domestically and internationally. You are much better off simply using all miles for a freebie premium seat ticket than messing with buying a ticket and then using miles and cash to upgrade and in some cases not being able to confirm your upgrade until the day before travel.

# 4 – Use your miles for international business and first class –

This is how you get the biggest bang for your buck. It is pretty easy math. Saver award space (low season) takes about 25,000 miles for a domestic round trip ticket ($400 value or 1.6 cents per mile). International economy class to Europe is 60,000 miles ($1200 value or 2 cents per mile). International business class is 90,000 miles ($4500 value or 5 cents per mile) and international first class is about 140,000 miles ($9000 value or 6.4 cents per mile). You can easily see the value in your miles is using them for international business and first class seats.

# 5 – Airline partners often have easier and cheaper freebie tickets than the major U.S. Airlines –

United, American, and Delta all belong to airline alliances that allow you to redeem airline miles on multiple airlines. There are 28 airlines in the Star Alliance with United Airlines. It is often much easier and a lot cheaper to find a premium (business or first class) freebie seat on a United partner airline like Lufthansa, ANA, Korean Air, and Asiana than on United Airlines. You are still using UA miles, just flying on a partner airline.

# 6 – Beware of airline fuel surcharges on free tickets –

Three cheers for AA, DL and UA as they don’t charge fuel surcharges on freebie tickets. International airlines like Lufthansa and British Airways can charge $1000 or more in fuel surcharge fees on free tickets.

# 7 – The best credit card with the easiest to use points is the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card (SPG) –

This is my favorite as you can redeem for hotel room nights as low as 2400 points a night (5 cents a point) at Starwood hotels like Westin, Sheraton and Four Points. You can also use your SPG points and transfer them into airline miles. Here is the best part. For every 20,000 points converted to airline miles you get an extra 5000 miles. So 20,000 points = 25,000 airline miles.

# 8 – I put the majority of my credit card miles into Air Canada’s Aeroplan –

Air Canada is a member with United Airlines in the star alliance so I can use my Aeroplan miles to redeem for UA tickets. Sometimes I can find UA tickets cheaper on the Aeroplan site than on the UA web site. This makes no sense but it happens a lot. I also seem to be able to redeem miles for premium seats on foreign airlines much easier and cheaper on Aeroplan than at United.com.

# 9 – Secure your airline tickets first when planning a vacation using FF miles –

The more flexible you are the easier it becomes to find freebie seats using your FF miles. Always start your vacation planning by securing your freebie airline tickets. It is much easier building your hotel stays around your freebie tickets than the other way around.

# 10 – Complimentary upgrades are fast going the way of the dinosaur –

Airlines are dramatically lowering the price of first and business class seats in certain markets to try to get people to buy the seats rather than have all the premium seats filled with non-revenue complimentary upgrade customers. The airlines have figured out in the past that they might sell 4 out of 20 seats in first or business class and the rest were given as complimentary upgrades to their best customers. Now they are trying to lower the price of premium service so that people actually pay for the premium service.

Good news from American Airlines about their new seat pitch –

Last week I wrote about my concern that AA was narrowing the seat pitch on their airplanes from 31 to 29 inches. Obviously, when a person like me, who is 6’4″ hears there will be less legroom between seats it causes heartburn. The good news is that I heard from Becky Braswell, our AA rep that the new seat pitch only applies on the new Boeing 737 Max airplanes and will be only a small handfull of their total fleet. AA is using a new Meridian seat made by Rockwell Interior Systems. The Meridian seat is thinner and lighter but configured more comfortably than some of the bulkier seats you find on other older aircraft.

Please attend our FREE travel night on Thursday! –

Please join us for an alluring and informative evening this Thursday, featuring three of our favorite European destinations; Ireland, Germany and Austria.

Follow Rod Fowler, our Executive Tour Host, as he tour Ireland this September on the wonderful “Ireland – The Emerald Isle” itinerary or travel along with our treasured tour guide, Hildrun Mathies, while she leads you through the magic of the most sought-after Christmas markets in Germany and Austria this November and December. Our “Merry Christmas Europe” yet another of our repeated-by-demand tours, a true fairytale journey!

Our travel night takes place at 7:00pm, at the Bernina Suite #27 at The Shoppes at Piedmont, 1265 S Cotner Blvd, Lincoln, NE 68510. Reserve your spot now by calling 402-458-9845 or RSVP by clicking HERE, space is limited. We are looking forward to seeing you!

Need information on any of the above?
Call our friendly travel advisors….
Lincoln – 402-435-8888 Toll-free 800-737-0582

Passport Alert: Your Passport “Expires” 6 months before it expires-

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Many people do not realize that some countries will not allow you into their country if your passport is set to expire within 6 months of your date of entry. Some countries use 3 months and others use 6 months. The bottom line is that if your passport expires within the next 12 months you had better start the process of getting it renewed so you don’t plan that perfect Italian get-away only to find out you can’t go because your passport is on its last leg. The U.S. State Department has a website you can visit to see how many months of validity left on your passport before you can enter the country. CLICK HERE to see.

Airlines having a lot of flash sales this week (Reminds me of Wac-O-Mole) –

Airlines around the globe from Southwest to Spirit to Emirates all have announced major flash sales offering great prices to very limited areas. These flash sales are kind of frustrating as they only last a few days with sale prices to a limited number of destinations and then they are gone. It reminds me a lot of that 1970’s game from Hasbro called Wac-O-Mole, where the mole’s head pops up and before you can wack it it hides again. CLICK HERE to see a video of the old Wac-O-Mole game.

Some people predict travel to Cuba may be reversed in coming weeks –

Word on the street is that the new administration may attempt to reverse the recent opening of Cuba to American tourists in the coming weeks. If this happens, it will be a big shocker as billions of dollars are now flowing to our neighbors to the south. I hope it does not happen as many people I know are excited to see Cuba in the coming years. I also know that many Cubans are struggling financially and the extra U.S. dollars are making life much more livable.

Your face may be your next boarding pass –

This month JetBlue Airlines is starting to test a new boarding process that screens people using the biometrics of facial recognition. Now, successful travelers will be able to board flights with a facial scan rather than a boarding pass. Wow, that is kind of spooky. According to BTN Magazine, we understand during the testing that JetBlue will photograph passengers at the gate who opt in, and the camera station will match their images to photos in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection database and verify flight details. This technology will catch on fast so be prepared to see more and more of this in the coming years.

The biggest mistake people make is putting off traveling until they retire –

In my thirty plus years in the travel business I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people tell me that they delayed traveling until they were retired but when retirement came around their health had failed to the point where they could not travel. How sad. That is why I always tell people to travel right now as you never know when your health issues (or those of your spouse) will keep you from traveling. No one’s work is so important that you can’t take two weeks a year to dream big dreams and visit new parts of this great big world. We would be happy to help you build your travel bucket list. Call one of our friendly vacation advisors today at 402-435-8888.

Our “Aloha Hawaii” Tour is back by popular demand! –

Back by popular demand, we are repeating our favored “Aloha Hawaii” tour this coming February. If you have Hawaii on your bucket list, then do not hesitate to join our wonderful, native Hawaiian tour hosts, Mailani Veney and AniAni Gwen, on an unforgettable trip to Hawaii this coming February 15-25. Our nine day tour includes a seven day cruise on the “Pride of America”, discovering Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai, an active volcano, blue, green and black beaches, waterfalls, and an unparalleled history and lifestyle including celebrating with the locals at a traditional luau under the stars. Call our friendly Group Department at 402-435-8888 or email us at GroupDepartment@executivetravel.com for more details and to sign up. To see the full tour program, CLICK HERE – do not wait. This tour is filling up fast.

Need information on any of the above?
Call our friendly travel advisors….
Lincoln – 402-435-8888 Toll-free 800-737-0582