Would you believe me if I told you I had great food on an airline flight?

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I know some people will question my sanity if I tell you I recently had a wonderful meal on an airline flight. On Sunday I flew American Airlines from Charlotte to Paris.  My dinner was outstanding as I had beef and potatoes. The person beside me had chicken and also said it was very good. Three cheers to AA for finally putting money and energy in offering better food.


Hello from Normandy, France –

I’m excited and proud to host an exceptional tour to France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of select cities by members of the Nebraska National Guards’ famed 134th Infantry Regiment in World War II. Some of the highlights of this tour will be in the city of St. Lo, France on the actual day we liberated during the war (July 18th). We will also pay homage to the sacrifice and courage at Normandy American, Lorraine American, and Luxembourg American Cemeteries and lay a wreath for our gallant warriors from Nebraska that are buried there. Traveling with the Nebraska Delegation and some of the closest friends and loyal customers of Executive Travel, this will be one of the most memorable trips ever.

Airplane restrooms are getting so small many people don’t fit –

The one thing I dread when traveling on an international flight is having to use the micro bathrooms on many airplanes today. The airlines are trying to squeeze in one more row of seats on each plane and the casualty is bathrooms so small that people who are taller than 6’1 (like me) literally can’t fit inside. I don’t like government intervention in many things but I would love to see airlines forced to respect their customers with larger restrooms.

Everybody hates hotel resort fees, Giant lawsuit may finally stop the practice –

The Washington D.C. Attorney General has filed a lawsuit challenging Marriott for charging deceptive resort fees. For years I have been howling about the deceptive pricing used by hotels to add a mandatory $25 -$75 per day resort fee in addition to the nightly rate charged when you check into your hotel. I hope this lawsuit is successful as the hotel industry has had a serious ethical breach with its customers charging them a hidden fee. CLICK HERE to read more.

Boeing is rebranding their 737 Max plane so travelers feel safe on their planes once again –

Boeing has had a rough year with their newest model, the 737 MAX. After 2 horrific crashes, one in 2018 and one earlier this year, governments all over the world ordered the planes be taken out of service until the issue could be resolved. Boeing has been working on fixing the issue since the March crash with no end in sight (American Airlines just canceled all flight on the 737 MAX until November).

With 41% of Americans saying they wouldn’t feel comfortable flying on the aircraft until it had at least 6 months of safe flights, Boeing is going a different route and rebranding the newest member of their fleet. Ryanair, one of the worlds largest airlines, has rebranded the 737 MAX as the Boeing 737-8200. Once the airplane has passed all tests and is ready for flights again, they will begin flights on the newly named plane. Will other airlines follow Ryanair’s lead?

 

Be careful when charging your phone at the airport –

Be extra careful plugging your phone into a USB port at many airports without using a USB Data Blocker. It turns out that the bad guys have figured out ways to put malicious code/viruses into the devices that you plug the USB end into (like airport charging kiosks). You can buy USB Data Blockers for about $6 at many online stores such as Amazon. Also, our crackerjack security and tech teams at Executive Travel is warning our travelers to turn off your Bluetooth when you’re not using it as it is also a way the bad guys can connect and access your phones.

Final Call – two spots left on the greatest Italy tour …for women only!

Join Women of Nebraska this September 17-28 on an irresistible journey from Rome to Venice. Visit the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, experience a “movie-lovers” tour of Rome, take part in two cooking classes, taste and sip your way through the country of slow food, enjoy Assisi, fall in love with Florence, and finally, spend three days in Venice, including the islands of Murano and Burano. Travel solo or two-by-two. We have two spots left. Call or email Beth today, 402-858-0033 / GroupDepartment@executivetravel.com and CLICK HERE for full tour details. ask for Beth!




Flying during the month of July and August may become very painful

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All the major airlines (Southwest, American, and United) who operate the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are now saying that they do not plan to enter the airplane back into service until Labor Day weekend or later. This is a major problem for many summer travelers as thousands of flights will have to be canceled in July and August and most likely into September. Normally this would not be a problem if it happened in the slow travel season this fall but travel in July and August is the heavy season of family vacations and in some cases there just are not enough empty seats to go around.  I was flying on Friday and the airports are packed already. It could get really hot and ugly flying this summer as planes will probably set records for being full.

You may regret buying a ticket on Southwest Airlines this summer –

Southwest Airlines operates 34 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and has been impacted more than any other airline with the grounding of the 737 MAX. My simple calculation is that they have to cancel 170-200 flights per day affecting about 30,000 seats canceled every day this summer. WOW! American (24 airplanes) and United (14 airplanes) also operate 737 MAX aircraft however many fewer planes than Southwest. AA and UA are also blessed to be able to fill those canceled flights with larger aircraft they have and not displace as many passengers. The problem with Southwest is their flights are so full that when a flight is canceled it may take 2-3 days to find an alternate flight with empty seats. UA and AA both participate with other major airlines who help them take their displaced travelers on other airline’s flights. Southwest does not do this. For years I have been preaching that flying on Southwest (and other low-cost airlines like Frontier, Allegiant, etc.) can cause major problems and expenses when normal service is disrupted. In July and August, you may wish you had listened to my advice.

The airlines want your fingerprints and facial recognition to be able to fly –

The government and airlines are testing new facial recognition and fingerprinting services they say will speed up the security lines at the airport. Many people don’t trust the government or airlines with that information and are pushing back at the use of these biometrics for air travel. Granted these new biometrics can be used for good but they also can be used for bad. When I travel to China twice a year they get my fingerprints and my facial scan. Basically, they can follow me almost everywhere in China. This is very creepy to me and I think until there are safeguards in place I worry that biometric security should be put on hold until personal security is locked down first. CLICK HERE to read more.

United Airlines now allows passengers to pick a gender option other than male or female when making reservations – 

Previously, the airlines required passengers to select male or female gender options when making reservations. United Airlines now says they will provide travelers with the additional choices to identify themselves as U, for undisclosed, or X, for unspecified. With the new option to self-identify your gender, wouldn’t it make more sense to simply eliminate asking for gender altogether on airline reservations? Wouldn’t that be much easier and eliminate one more question to fill out? CLICK HERE to read more.

My favorite airline snack the “Stroopwafel” is back 24/7 on United –

Last year United Airlines decided to drop the Dutch-made cookie from its flights and they almost caused a riot with passengers who loved the snack with caramel syrup layered between two thin waffle cookies. Wisely, United brought back the Stroopwafel in January of this year and offered it as a breakfast snack on flights departing before 9:30 am. On Monday of this week, United did even better and announced they would now offer the famous Stroopwafel on all flights. Hip-Hip-Hooray! I also love the Biscoff cookies offered on Delta and American. They are not too sweet but just sweet enough. Both snacks are perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.




Has TSA PreCheck reached a tipping point?

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On Monday I was flying from Minneapolis to Lincoln and when I arrived at the airport to go through the security checkpoint I noticed a shocking thing. The regular line for security was only 6 people long and the TSA PreCheck line was 30 people long. As many of you may know the TSA PreCheck line is supposed to be an expedited express lane that traveler’s pay $85 for the right to speed through the security line. It would appear that there are so many people that have purchased TSA PreCheck that the advantages promised may in the future quickly disappear.

I’m starting to think about converting to a cash-back credit card as airlines jack around with point values –

Have you noticed how rapidly the major airlines are making it much harder and more expensive to redeem airline frequent flyer miles for free tickets? Delta has been the most obvious as they have devalued their Skymiles points to the point where it can take 640,000 miles for a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe. American Airlines, however, appears to be the most reasonable for their customers to redeem miles as they required only 115,000 miles roundtrip for a business class ticket for a recent trip. If AA follows the path of DL it will be time for all of us to say goodbye to airline-sponsored credit cards and replace them with cash-back cards.

I love Uber prices, I hate Uber wait times –

Sunday afternoon I flew to Minneapolis for a meeting and when I arrived at the airport I walked toward the Uber loading area. On my way up the escalator, I noticed a whole line of taxi cabs. I know that sometimes it can take 10 minutes to wait for an Uber so I decided to jump in a cab. When I arrived at the hotel the taxi fare was $42.  On my way back to the airport Monday I pressed my Uber app and the fare to the airport was only $28. The driver was there in just minutes. When Uber is on time (less than 5-minute wait)  I love it as it saves me about 50% on the cost of a taxi. When I have to wait more than 5 minutes for Uber I often just grab the taxi and pay a bit more. I guess you would call me a “convenience buyer”.

Hotel resort fees are getting pressure to go away –

Hotels have rapidly adopted adding $25 to $75 a day resort fees on top of the published room rates in many destinations. They do this to hide the total cost of your stay and to get around paying commissions to agents and taxes to governments. To put it bluntly, hotels that charge these resort fees are not being ethical with their customers. For many years I have blasted hotels for doing this. Now the big online travel websites are starting to push back with those hotels by charging them commissions on the resort fees they charge customers. It will be interesting to see if they have enough power to make hotels treat people with honesty and integrity again.

You may soon see robot bartenders in hotels –

One of the most expensive costs for hotels is the cost of providing services for their customers in a smaller, limited service hotel, (like Courtyard by Marriott). New robotic technology is allowing for cost savings programs that will allow hotels in the future to be able to provide bar service without an attendant. I can see that people who want a drink are able to use a kiosk to punch in their drink order and the robot does the rest. This would cut a lot of cost for hotels and yet still provide a service for their customers. CLICK HERE to read a great article about this idea.

Final Call for the Greatest Tour to Israel and Jordan! – 

We have a few open spots left on our once-in-a-lifetime journey to Israel and Jordan this September 11-22. An unforgettable trip is ahead of us, an incredible pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and an adventure into Biblical history with lifelong memories to bring back home. CLICK HERE to see the detailed tour program. Call or email Beth today at our friendly group department, 402-435-8888 or GroupDepartment@executivetravel.com. Do not hesitate!




Warning! Getting a passport renewed takes 8 weeks as State Dept. faces backlog – 

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The State Department says they are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of passport applications, which along with staffing cuts is causing the time to get a passport processed to increase from an average of 6 weeks up to 8 weeks. You had better take a look at your passport and see when it expires as many countries will not let you enter if your passport will expire within 6 months of your travel dates. So with the 8 weeks, it now takes to process a new or renewing passport you have an 8-month window you have to factor into your next international trip.

One option is to get passports processed faster than 8 weeks is to pay $60 for an expedited service which only takes 2-3 weeks. Executive Travel has an agreement with CIBT that allows us to get your passport processed quickly . If you need to renew your passport call our office at 402-435-8888 and we can help.

Kansas City has lowest airfares in the region but Omaha is catching up fast  – 

A recent study showed that during the last few years airfares from Omaha’s Eppley Airport have actually gone down over 20% and are now within 10% of the cost of the airfares offered out of Kansas City International Airport. The average round-trip airfare from Kansas City to 15 major U.S. cities is $256. This is amazing when looking at airfares from coast to coast which are at historic highs. Omaha was close behind with an average lowest airfare at $284 RT. Lincoln, unfortunately, has some of the highest airfares in the region with an average airline ticket price of $417 to the 15 cities we compared last week.

Omaha has closed the airfare gap with Kansas City as savings not worth driving extra three hours –

Five years ago I did an airfare comparison between Omaha and Kansas City and found on average it cost $108 RT more to fly from Omaha than Kansas City. This week that same comparison showed only a $28 gap in average airfares. Five years ago a family of four saved over $400 by driving to Kansas City to fly. Today it would be hard to justify driving the almost 3-hour drive, one way, to save $28 per person.

Here is a comparison of airfares (based on July 10 departure and July 17 return) –

United Airlines launching new software to help connecting passengers not miss their flight – 

Earlier this year United Airlines launched a new software called ConnectionSaver. Since its launch four months ago, more than 14,400 customers, who would have otherwise missed their connections, were able to make their flights because of the new software.  The software watches for late arriving connecting flights and holds connecting flights so the passenger can make their connection. The good news is even the flights that were held were only held an average of 6 minutes from their original departure time.  This is fantastic news for travelers. Hip-hip-hooray for United Airlines! CLICK HERE to read more.

 

Catch Broadway! Join our great trip to New York City in March!

We are excited to have the Lincoln Community Playhouse and Morrie Enders lead yet another delightful tour to the Big Apple, March 19-23, 2020. This trip is a great mix of group events and free time that includes highlights such as Ground Zero, Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Station, Museum of Modert Art, the New York Public Library as well as two of Broadway’s biggest hits. This trip will fill up fast! Call or email Beth today to sign up: 402-435-8888 / GroupDepartment@executivetravel.com. To see the details tour brochure CLICK HERE.




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