Warning! New passports and renewals taking 3 to 4 months to process this summer

Warning! New passports and renewals taking 3 to 4 months to process this summer

International travel this year has snowballed as post COVID travelers have taken to the skies in mass. Unfortunately, the U.S. State Department who is in charge of processing passport applications has been falling far behind processing the 400,000 – 500,000 passport applications they receive each week. If you are planning to travel internationally before Labor Day and you have not started your passport application yet you better start building some contingency plans. Even those applications who have paid for expedited handling are reporting slow processing. CLICK HERE to read more.

Strike one, Strike two, Strike three. Seems like every union in the travel space is threatening to strike – Almost every day I hear of the possibility of another strike that will “cripple” travel this summer. First it was the pilots, then baggage handlers, then air traffic controllers, then flight attendants. I am surprised that the Starbucks baristas don’t jump on the bandwagon as well. With the massive number of people flying this summer the unions all over the world are using this opportunity to leverage new union contracts. As they say down on the farm. “You better make hay when the sun shines.” Fortunately, most of this is simply negotiating tactics to pressure the airlines to cut a deal during their busiest season. History tells us that they often come to the last few days before a strike and a deal gets done. Anymore I don’t pay too much attention to all the “Sky is falling” headlines.

Heat wave in Europe will cause people to move more travel to spring and fall – This spring and summer travelers to Europe have suffered through massive heat waves that have covered the continent. Even Scandinavia has seen temps in the 90s and 100s. For years I have been recommending that people forgo travel to Europe in July and August as there are too many people, weather that is too hot and prices are too high. The new sweet spot for travel to Europe is now September, October, and even November During these three months the weather is moderate, prices are good and the crowds are back at work and school. I also like spring travel to Europe in March, April and May. These months often see more rain than in the fall put still are fantastic travel windows.

Be sure to check if your hotel in Europe has air conditioning – Many hotels in Europe were built decades ago and many Americans are surprised and disappointed to find out that lovely 4 start hotel in Stockholm, Sweden only has fans to cool you down when the weather reaches 90 degrees. I have seen the same thing happen in France and even Germany and Austria. Years ago the weather was more moderate during the summer but with changing weather patterns around the world older hotels can “surprise” you with a very uncomfortable stay.

Your Airline frequent flyer miles are becoming less valuable every day – The airlines have billions of dollars of liability on their books in the form of frequent flyer miles they have issued and sold to their customers and credit card companies. Over the last five years we have seen the airlines aggressively devalue these points by requiring more and more miles to redeem for free airline tickets. The cost to redeem for a free round-trip domestic coach class airline ticket used to average 25,000 miles. Today that same FREE ticket can run up to 100,000 or more. Redeeming for international business class tickets is the area that the airlines have massively devalued your frequent flyer miles. In years past it was common to spend 140,000 miles for a RT business class freebie to Europe. Today that ticket can cost as much as 700,000 miles to ride up front. CLICK HERE to read a good article on how the airlines are devaluing your miles.

I am trying out a new Mississippi river cruise this October and have two cabins left if you would like to join us – American Cruise Lines is offering a real cool river cruise along the lower Mississippi between Memphis and New Orleans that my wife and I and a couple of friends are planning to take advantage of. The cruise dates are October 24 to November 1, 2023 and we get to explore all the historic sites of the civil war along the journey. If you are interested in finding out more about this fun Mississippi river cruise please email elizabeth.sloan@executivetravel.com and she will be happy to send you more details.

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