Hello from Munich, Germany

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I am writing to you this week from Germany as I host a small group of friends on a short tour of the Christmas Markets in Munich and Salzburg. This is one of the most fun and festive trips you can take this time of year as you will feel like you are in a Christmas fairytale.

Here are a few observations about my Germany trip so far –

Americans are everywhere – In every shop and every restaurant you can find Americans. It looks like it will be a good year for American tourism in Germany.

You can no longer tell American tourists by their shoes – For the last 20 years, I have been saying that you can always tell an American tourist by their tennis shoes. Europeans always seemed to be wearing black leather shoes. Well, not anymore.  My observation on this trip is that Europeans are now just as likely to be wearing tennis shoes as Americans.

The Euro currency is a bargain right now – Travel to Europe is an excellent value as the U.S. dollar has continued to increase in value over the last 5 years.

Germans make wine in the north and beer in the south – Most people don’t understand that Germans make white wine in the north and beer in the south. Germans make good, sweet, white wine but if you want a good red wine you will have to go to France (or California) for that.  Germany makes the best beer in the world.  Almost every town has its own brewery with each one bragging they are the best. I have noticed that German beer all has an inch or 2 of foam (head) on it. American beer does not have a head on it. German beer seems to taste so much richer and full of taste. Also, Americans on a diet will be disappointed as it is almost impossible to find “Lite” beer in Germany.

There is a bank ATM every 100 feet in Germany – I thought there were a lot of ATMs in the U.S. but there must be twice as many in Germany. I always recommend that instead of taking a lot of cash on your trip to Europe that you only take a few hundred Euros with you and use your credit card to get cash from the many ATM’s.

Germans love to smoke – Young and old alike, Germans of all ages smoke a lot of cigarettes. Americans will notice this as smoking has declined on our side of the pond in the last 30 years.

You don’t need to speak German to navigate Germany – almost everyone speaks English here and almost every restaurant has a menu in English.

FINAL CALL – join Women of Nebraska/Women of the Midwest to the Historic South

If you would like to experience the Historic South, March 8-14, then call us today to sign up. Our small-sized group will travel from Charleston through Beaufort, Savannah, and Jekyll’s Island to St. Augustine enjoying the hospitality of the Old South. Highlights include a visit to Fort Sumter, Boone Hall Plantation, reliving the days of swashbucklers at Pirates’ House Restaurant, trolley rides, horse-drawn carriage tours, sipping on tea at Mrs. Davenport’s, and shopping unique souvenirs at the local markets along the way. It is the perfect time of the year to catch the mild breezes off the bay. CLICK HERE for full details and call or email Beth at our friendly group department, (402) 858-0033, GroupDepartment@executivetravel.com.




Warning: You better arrive 2 hours early if you fly this week

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This will be the busiest week of the year for airline travel as everyone heads for grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. This is also a time you will see a lot of families, first-time travelers, a lot of kids and babies and seniors in the airports. This means that parking lots will be full and the lines will be long. My best advice if you are flying the friendly skies this week is to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to your flight. Taking this one piece of advice will save you a lot of anxiety when you stare at the security line that is one block long and worry about making your flight.

 

Steve’s travel tip #203: Take 2 pictures when you travel using your iPhone

Parking lots will be full this week so even if you are a seasoned traveler you will probably have to park in a place you normally don’t. Use your iPhone and take a picture of your car and your parking stall. This way when you return home you can easily remember where your car is. Another great way to use your phone is to take a picture of your luggage. This weekend thousands of bags will be lost. If yours is lost you can show the picture to the airline rep for easy identification. Also, did you know about 7 out of every 10 bags are black? If you have black luggage put a bright colored baggage tag, strap or even yarn on it to make it easy to identify for you and, even more, so that someone else does not mistakenly grab your bag thinking it is theirs.

 

Let’s change the way we treat airline staff this holiday season –

The airline counter agents and staff have to deal with an almost impossible task of telling people during this busy holiday travel season they have to wait in long lines, pay more fees, their flight has been canceled, their plane is delayed and they will miss their connection, and on and on. Even in slow times, the airline staff has one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. Please consider that these people are trying to do the best they can in an often very unpleasant circumstance that they have little to no control over.  In the spirit of the holiday season, I think it is time for travelers to change our attitude and encourage airline agents with a “thank you” and a smile. Please join me and let’s make this Thanksgiving a real “Thanks-giving”.

How about skipping the shopping mall on Black Friday? –

The best gift you can give this Christmas season is not found at the shopping mall. People today are looking for a “Return on Life” (ROL), celebrating the idea that a rich life is not measured by personal possessions, but by time well-spent with loved ones on journeys to new destinations and the memories created by these experiences. In recent years I have seen a shift in consumer motivation and expectations regarding travel. We are now facing a time of political, and economic uncertainty and people are taking time to reflect on what’s important to them: personal fulfillment and enrichment, quality time with family and friends, and the opportunity to detach from their everyday worries and de-stress.  ‘Return on Life” encapsulates these desires, and travel is one of the best conduits to achieving a higher ROL. So on Black Friday if you are looking for the “perfect’ gift you may want to pick up the phone and call us at 402-435-8888. Let us help you increase your “Return on Life” with family and friends.

Our service never takes a holiday –

We are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Our team at Executive Travel provides 24-hour a day support for our customers around the world. When a snowstorm hits we are here for you. When a holiday comes we are here for you. Whether you are traveling to Birmingham, Alabama or Birmingham, England you can call our office anytime day or night and a friendly professional agent will try their best to make your travels easier.

Travel with Women of Nebraska to the Old South this March!

Our awesome women-only travel concept “Women of Nebraska” is returning to the Historic South, March 8-14, 2020. Secure your spot today and join our small-sized group from Charleston to St. Augustine. Travel back in time and enjoy the hospitality of the Old South. Highlights include a boat ride to Fort Sumter, a horse-drawn carriage tour, afternoon tea at Mrs. Davenport’s, trolley tours, great Southern cooking including lunch at the famous Jekyll Island Club, and dinner at Pirates’ House Restaurant. Join our pair-and-share program if you are a solo traveler. Call or email Beth and our Women of Nebraska team, (402) 858-0033, GroupDepartment@executivetravel.comCLICK HERE to see the detailed tour brochure. Do not hesitate, the deadline for registrations is close and space is limited!

P.S. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year are just around the corner

I want to be one of the first to thank you for your business and friendship this past year. Executive Travel has enjoyed a year of outstanding success. We have just celebrated our 34th year in business and it has been our best year ever. This, of course, could not be accomplished without the support and consideration of our great customers, employees, and friends.

We are truly THANKFUL!




Hello from San Diego

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I am writing to you this week from sunny San Diego, California. This is my second week in San Diego as we had a company meeting here last week and this week I am at a Travelport conference. San Diego is a great place for meetings. The downtown is rather compact and easy to walk almost anywhere. The airport is only a mile from the downtown with easy transfers. The hotels are very good and pretty reasonably priced most of the time. There is so much to do here, including SeaWorld, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, amazing golfing, San Diego Harbor Cruise, deep-sea fishing, swimming, the beach, plus you are just a few miles from Tijuana, Mexico. This place is fun.

83% of our readers say they would fly on the Boeing 737 MAX within 6 months of when it returns to service –

This surprised me a little. I had heard many people say they would not fly on the airplane even when it returns to service. I for one think the Boeing 737 MAX will be the safest plane in the sky when it returns. They have checked and double-checked everything. Boeing and the FAA are betting their whole future on this plane flying safely into the future. As I said last week, I hope to volunteer to be on a test flight for AA or UA in the coming weeks.

Have you ever tried playing airline seat assignment roulette? – 

I refuse to pay extra for those roomier seats with extra legroom offered by the airlines under the brands of Economy Plus (UA), Main Cabin Extra (AA), and Comfort+ (DL). So here is what I do to bag those seats without paying for them. The majority of people are like me and don’t want to pay an extra $50 for that extra legroom so they go online in advance and select seat assignments for those seats in the back of the plane that don’t cost extra. I simply wait until the last few days (or even hours) before the flight and all the “no fee” seats are taken. This leaves the airline to assign me a seat from one of the remaining “extra legroom” seats. If the plane is not full there are sometimes full rows empty that I can stretch out in. This works well when traveling as an individual but is not as easy when traveling as a couple or family. You also risk getting stuck in a middle seat if the plane is full. I have used this technique dozens of times and have been a happy camper every time.

Have you noticed how new buildings are getting rid of men’s and women’s restrooms – 

Many of the new hotels, restaurants, and lounges I visit are replacing men’s and women’s bathrooms with unisex bathrooms. I actually really like this idea as it makes all the restrooms much larger. One restaurant I was in had 6 individual rooms that are used on a first-come-first-served basis. I actually think this makes the wait times much less. I think guys like this new idea, however, I have heard from several women who say they don’t like sharing with men who they say are so messy (and leave the lid up).

Something tells me there are too many new hotels being built –

As an active real estate investor I have been amazed at all the hotel properties I have seen coming up for auction recently. In many primary and secondary cities, there have been dozens upon dozens of new hotels built in the last 5 years.  I think in many markets that we have hit the tipping point where supply is exceeding demand. This means that in some cities you will see pressure on rates to stay level or rise a few dollars while in some super competitive cities rates may actually go down next year.  I think pricing pressure will be most acute in the 3-star hotel category as that seems to be the area with the most new hotels being built.

 

Join our amazing Passion Play tour next June – book today!

We have secured 20 tickets to the unique Passion Play, June 3-13, 2020, and we still have space available. Join us on a once-in-a-lifetime journey which takes place only every 10 years. We start in Munich, then swing by Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle in Neuschwanstein on our way to Oberammergau in the alpine region of Upper Bavaria to attend the world-renowned Passion Play. Our next stop is Salzburg with its “Sound of Music” traditions, Vienna with its palaces and stunning Lippizan horses at the Spanish Riding School, and finally fairy tale Prague, where we end our journey. This trip is ideal for anyone who wishes to hit some of the most spectacular cities and sites in Europe. Call or email our friendly Group Department and Beth today, (402) 858-0033, GroupDepartment@executivetravel.com. Do not hesitate – this is one of my favorite trips. CLICK HERE for full details.




I want to be the first person to fly on the Boeing 737MAX

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The 737 MAX has been grounded since early this year after two tragic crashes. It appears that in the next 90 days that 737MAX will get FAA approval to fly again. Some people say they won’t fly on the troubled airplane. The major airlines know that some customers will push back with concerns about the new plane even when all the bugs have been worked out. I understand that United and American will be flying many test flights with no paying customers – in addition to the thousands of hours that the FAA has already tested – to demonstrate to the public that the 737MAX is safe. Here is one thing you can take to the bank. The relaunched 737MAX will be the safest airplane in the sky. Boeing is betting their whole company on it and so are the bureaucrats at the FAA.  I am so confident that the Boeing 737MAX is safe I will volunteer to fly on the first flight that United or American Airlines puts in the air.

Will you be willing to fly on the Boeing 737MAX the first 6 months after it is approved to fly again?

Please CLICK HERE to answer this one question survey.

Should you be able to recline your seat on an airplane? The results are in – 

Last week I asked my readers if reclining their airplane seat is their right since they paid for the seat, or if seats should remain upright at all times and the results were definitive. 71% of those surveyed state that seats should remain upright the whole trip, 17% say it’s their right to recline and 12% said there are exceptions to each side. The most common comment was that airlines have made legroom so minimal that for you to recline your seat on a plane for your comfort, you are causing pain to another traveler.

You’d better be serious about taking immunization vaccines if you travel internationally –

My son Matt and I recently traveled to India and China for business. Before we travel we always visit our local immunization expert at our local University Health Center https://health.unl.edu/travel to make sure we have our standard Malaria, flu and other vaccines before we travel. This year my son Matt returned from our trip and was very sick and lost over 11 pounds in just a few days. It appears that even though he got vaccines for Hepatitis A and B that there are unique strains of it that have no vaccines.  The list of vaccines when traveling to Asia includes influenza, TDAP, Measles and Mumps, and Hepatitis A and B along with tablets for Malaria just to name a few.  I highly recommend that you keep up with all your vaccination protections prior to traveling beyond the borders. CLICK HERE to find a list for children and adults.

Delta, United and now Southwest miles never expire –

Southwest Airlines is joining Delta and United in changing their frequent flyer program so that their miles never expire. This is a big thing for people who don’t fly as much and have seen those miles quietly disappear before they can accumulate enough for a free ticket. CLICK HERE to read more.

The best travel deal of all time is about to get harder to use –

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Companion Pass is the best travel deal of all time, in my humble opinion. The companion pass allows customers to choose one person to fly (plus taxes) with them free for the remainder of the year it is earned, plus the following calendar year. Basically you and your spouse (friend) can travel two for the price of one. Amazing! Currently to get a Companion Pass you have to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. As of January 1, 2020, the requirement will increase to 125,000 qualifying points to earn a Companion Pass. CLICK HERE to read a great article on the easiest way to earn a Southwest Companion Pass.




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