ExpertFlyer.com Announces Addition of US Airways Award and Upgrade Inventory for Customer Access

Addition of US Airways Flights Complements Existing American Airlines Operated Award / Upgrades on ExpertFlyer 

us airways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK – September 17, 2014 – ExpertFlyer.com®, the premier online air travel information tool for business travelers and frequent flyers, announced today that US Airways will provide ExpertFlyer with access to its award and upgrade inventory effective immediately.  The addition of awards and upgrades from US Airways operated flights will complement the existing American Airlines operated award/upgrade data currently available to subscribers of ExpertFlyer, allowing travelers to create flight alerts for awards and upgrades with US Airways the same way they currently conduct searches with American.  ExpertFlyer’s goal is to provide convenience and value to its customers and has found more than 190,000 award and upgrade tickets for its customers since 2006.

“Our partnership with American has been beneficial to the airline, ExpertFlyer, and most importantly, our customers,” said Chris Lopinto, president and co-founder of ExpertFlyer.com.  “Our goal is provide our customers with important and oftentimes hard to find information all in one place.”

“We are pleased that customers who choose to fly US Airways will now have the same service from ExpertFlyer that they have had for American Airlines flights,” said Cory Garner, American’s managing director – distribution.  “This agreement provides another step toward a more seamless customer experience during the integration of our two airlines.”

The Awards & Upgrades feature of ExpertFlyer is the easiest way to find an award ticket or upgrade.  Simply enter the airline(s) you want to fly, the destination, the date(s), and search.  ExpertFlyer will show you in real-time the number of award tickets and/or upgrades available based on your query.  If you must take a particular flight where no upgrades are available, users can create a flight alert for as many as 30 different flights at one time.  If an award ticket or upgrade is found, ExpertFlyer will send instant notification.

About ExpertFlyer.com

Each month, ExpertFlyer’s One-on-One blog goes face-to-face with the travel industry’s leading decision makers to discuss and address topics relevant to many of today’s business and frequent travelers.

ExpertFlyer.com was conceived and created by an eclectic team consisting of a veteran elite tier frequent flyer, an airline captain and corporate travel manager, and information technology professionals to deliver a 24/7 real time powerful air travel information service.  The company provides its subscribers and corporate travel managers alike with a complete, concise and efficient way to access the ever-changing details of worldwide air travel information.  For more information, please visit expertflyer.com.

Stuck in the middle seat again?  Download the free Seat Alerts app from ExpertFlyer and get the window or aisle seat without hassle or frustration.

 

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The perceived challenges of doing business in China

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

tim harcourt

The latest book from The Airport Economist, Tim Harcourt, shares the lessons he has learned travelling through Asia as an adviser to governments and trade missions, but has its beginnings in lessons he learned as a student at The University of Adelaide in South Australia.

Harcourt says, many of the students he lived with were from Singapore and Malaysia. They were very smart at math and econometrics and helped him get good grades.

A prized scholar at Adelaide, then Minnesota and Harvard University, Harcourt credits those friends for enlightening his interest in Asia.

These early lessons helped him realize that doing business in China is not as scary as commonly thought.

“Don’t be put off by the horror stories of non-payment in China,” he says. “You are more likely to lose your pants in the United States than your shirt in China.”

He also warns not to overplay the cultural issues.

“Even if you don’t speak Chinese it doesn’t mean you won’t be good. You just need to have a good niche, product,” Harcourt says. “But be realistic. Just because it’s China, you’re not going to suddenly sell 1.3 billion pairs of socks.”

Harcourts advises looking to second and third tier cities, which still have populations of around 15 million people.

“They are growing fast with plenty of urbanisation. Think construction, landscape gardening, education…” he says, adding that to land big contracts in secondary cities it’s best to seek the help of your country’s trade representatives to pave the way through municipal bureaucracy.

Harcourt’s final piece of advice is that to succeed overseas you can’t rely on luck.

“There is no trick to finding opportunities,” he says. “Be well prepared, flexible and do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask for government help too.”

Preparation is key he says but adds that being flexible is also important. “Try not to overcook your strategic plan,” he says. “Innovation often comes from random thought. Over-thinking can hinder action. Get out there, try things and do it!”

With a good story, and country specific practical tips Harcourt says that Trading Places will help businesspeople wanting to take the next step in international business get started.

“I hope people reading it will become more knowledgeable about the world and more confident about going offshore. They may even have a laugh at the same time!”

Tim Harcourt’s new book, Trading Places: The Airport Economist’s Guide to International Business hits the shelves on 1 Oct. Come back next week for part two with Tim where we get the inside track on doing business in India.

How The Hotel Industry is Adapting to Meet Today’s Modern Business Traveler

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

businesswoman running with luggageThe face of the modern business traveler has changed. For one, it is increasingly female – women are the fastest-growing segment among business travelers in the U.S., accounting for nearly half of the market. It is also getting younger – Millennials currently make up an upwards of 35% of the workforce and are expected to soon surpass Boomers in overall travel spending. It is also more often seen working in the lobby and public spaces rather than tucked away in a guest room. Hotels, among other travel industry companies like booking sites and DMOs, are being forced to look at their branding, business models and communications methods to meet the needs of this modern business traveler.

The business travelers of today – especially the ever expanding Millennial market – are looking for flexible work spaces with high-speed and complimentary Wi-Fi, where they have the option to work and network, enjoy a good meal, cocktail or cup of coffee and be as social as they choose. They aren’t looking for cookie cutter experiences, but to discover something new, different or unique with each hotel stay – from the design to culinary offerings or craft beer and cocktail selections at the bar.

Hospitality brands like Sonesta, a global collection of 55 properties in eight countries, have taken notice, and aim to deliver a guest experience that is different, and flexible to meet each guest’s needs – from business to leisure travelers.

According to Mark Sherwin, Executive Vice President Operations for Sonesta, the brand is “passionate about offering guests a sense of place, not just a place to stay.” Sherwin says there is “no typical Sonesta, but a portfolio full of diverse and distinctive properties as individual as its guests.”

A bold and independent-minded aesthetic is woven throughout the hotel’s guest experience, from lobbies and dining experiences to rooms – all also conveniently fitted with complimentary Wi-Fi for guests. Bright, vibrant tones are being carefully selected in design updates to brighten the mood, provide light and airy spaces and inspire creativity during each stay.

Read this CNN post for another perspective on the Makings of a Modern Business Traveler.

 

Possible Hypoxia Blamed for Second Private Airplane Crash

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Private plane crashes in Jamaica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The widely reported private plane crash this past Friday is the second of its kind in less than two weeks.  While unconfirmed, experts believe the cause of the crash was due to sudden depressurization in the plane resulting in a lack of oxygen.  The pilot and passengers likely lost consciousness and control of the aircraft.

According to the Wall Street Journal, A tweet from Norad’s official Twitter account suggested the aircraft’s pilot suffered “possible hypoxia,” with a lack of pressurization on board depriving the plane’s occupants of oxygen and incapacitating the pilot.

View Fox News Video here.

 

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Google, Taiwan Tourism announce global YouTube campaign to showcase Taiwan’s beauty, heritage

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Google and Taiwan Tourism video contest

Photo: China Post

Google and Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau announced a joint campaign aimed at bringing more of Taiwan’s national heritage and beauty online for the world to experience. The “Anytime for Taiwan- Film Taiwan, Action!” initiative is a global competition that calls on travelers from around the world to share their Taiwan experiences through video stories on YouTube.
According to statistics released by Taiwan Tourism Bureau, the number of visitors to Taiwan broke 8 million in 2013 and is expected to grow to 9 million this year. The survey also indicates that over 60% of visitors are searching for travel information about Taiwan on the web. In order to help travelers discover more of Taiwan online, Taiwan Tourism Bureau teamed up with Google to launch “Anytime for Taiwan- Film Taiwan, Action!” as a way to encourage Taiwan visitors from around the world to share their knowledge of the country.

“The tourism industry plays a significant role in Taiwan’s economic development. We believe that this global campaign is the best of two worlds, leveraging technology to bring innovation to the tourism industry. With the support of YouTube, the Tourism Bureau is taking Taiwan to the global stage. We welcome travelers around the world to upload their videos to YouTube to win an opportunity to become tourism ambassadors for Taiwan,” said David W. J. Hsieh, Director-General, Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

“With people increasingly relying on the web to dream up, research and plan for their trips, the Internet can help share Taiwan’s heritage and landscapes globally. We’re excited to be working with Taiwan Tourism Bureau to celebrate and help export the beauty of Taiwan through YouTube, and hope to help travelers experience this beautiful island in new ways,” said Scott Beaumont, Managing Director of Google Greater China.

Those interested in competing in “Anytime for Taiwan- Film Taiwan, Action!” only need to upload their Taiwan travel videos through the “Film Taiwan” section of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau YouTube channel in order to be eligible for the grand prize of an around-the-world airplane ticket. The topics for the video entries are free choice, meaning clips from Taiwanese festivals, culture, food and shopping to local geographic destinations can all be accepted. In order to attract foreign participants, Tourism Bureau will offer NT$ 1 per vote on their entry videos as a subsidy to cover travel expenses in Taiwan.

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“Unmanage” your travel to slash costs and earn cash

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

main watching plane at airportIt’s a popular misconception that companies will lose out on business travel discounts if they use an open travel platform. Finding a company who provides business rates with an open booking platform is tricky. Even harder to find is one paying cash back on just about every booking, every flight, every hotel, and every rental.

ExpertFlyer caught up with Shannon Fore, Director of National Accounts at Global Travel for Business, a unique unmanaged business travel booking engine that purports to provide a wealth of travel product and cash back incentives.  According to Fore, there is no doubt a cost associated with traditional managed travel. Some companies charge per employee, per month, some charge a flat annual fee based on corporate size, as well as reporting capabilities. For example, many managed travel companies charge a per transaction service fee of $25-$55. So, if a company does 3,000 transactions a year this amounts to a bill of $165,000 just to pick up the phone! The determining factor in whether or not this Managed platform cost is worth its weight in gold can be summed up in terms of savings. Do the savings outweigh the costs?

Fore says, based on her research, that unmanaged travelers spend a third less per trip compared to managed travelers. It was also determined that unmanaged or open travel bookers experienced a higher level of employee satisfaction since, in fact, they were in charge of their trip — down to seat choice, hotel choice and carrier choice. The alternative is being at the mercy of a managed travel booker who carries the purse strings, as well as criterion which goes with there company travel policy.

Faced with increasing travel costs, tax hikes, fuel surcharges and the like, companies are urgently looking for savings opportunities more than ever. Seems like now’s a good time to explore options, such as open travel platforms that have no set up fee, no transaction fees and no monthly service fees.

“Did you know…4 overpriced airline fees to avoid?”

(ABCNews.com)

airline fees to avoidFareCompare.com CEO, Rick Seaney, calls out four over the top airline fees and how to avoid them:

1. The $100 carry-on fee
2. The $200 change fee
3. Overweight fee
4. Phone fee

Read the full story and solutions to avoid airline money traps here: http://ht.ly/zWKuv

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Cruising Bermuda — Part 2

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Back from the Royal Navy Yard and Horseshoe Bay, in Part 2 of our Cruising Bermuda series, Lisa Kaslyn, gives us a tour of Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital and St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hamilton

Piesse and Lubin Perfume

Piesse and Lubin Perfume

With about 3,500 people, Bermuda’s capital is anything but overpopulated.  Still, this charming city packs some hustle and bustle.  About a 20 minute ferry ride from the Royal Navy Yard, Front Street is brimming with upscale shopping and nearby attractions.

I was lucky enough to bump into a Hamilton resident who enticed me to visit Lili Bermuda, the island’s exclusive designer perfume maker.  There, I sniffed a 150-year old perfume that was discovered in a shipwreck off Bermuda.  It reeked!  But all is not lost; some of the world’s foremost fragrance industry experts have analyzed the perfume and have created a replica of the scent, making 19th century perfume available to the public for the first time.  The “fresh” batch is exquisite!

According to Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, Director of The Bermuda Perfumery, and Dr. Philippe Rouja, Bermuda’s Custodian of Historic Wrecks, the intact “Piesse & Lubin” perfume was discovered – almost miraculously – among hidden cargo inside the shipwrecked Civil War Blockade Runner called Mary Celestia, which sank in the waters off Bermuda in 1864 on her way to America’s South.

Visit Lili Bermuda’s retail store  on Front Street and check out the perfumery in St. George where they concoct unique scents for men and women.

 

Queen Elizabeth Park Photo: (c)Lisa Kaslyn

Queen Elizabeth Park Photo: (c)Lisa Kaslyn

The Tourist Center is right by the Ferry Terminal.  Stop by and pick up maps and other brochures about  Bermuda then head up to Queen Street where there is a lovely park: Queen Elizabeth Park.  If you need a break from the heat, like we did, sneak into the Bermuda National Library – you can use their Wi-Fi, too!  Next door to the library is the Bermuda Historical Society, which was closed when we visited, but we were told it was worth a look-see.

St. George

St. Peter's Church, St. George

St. Peter’s Church, St. George Photo: (c)Lisa Kaslyn

We visited St. George on the day we were leaving port.  Founded in 1612, the town boasts World Heritage site status as the oldest surviving and outstanding example of English urban settlement in the New World. While you’re there, a visit to St. Peter’s Church, the oldest continuously used Protestant Church in the Western Hemisphere, is a must see.  Services are still held there every Sunday, since c. 1620.

All about eve

All About Eve Photo: (c)Lisa Kaslyn

For a cooling sweet treat, we stepped into Temptations, where they offer delicious homemade ice cream and snacks. While you’re in the neighborhood, stop by All About Eve.  If you like hats and unusual fashions, this is worth a visit.

The only complaint we had about our cruise to Bermuda was that it was too short.

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New ExpertFlyer Features

We are excited to announce that today we are launching several new ExpertFlyer features:

  • Flight Timetables
  • Aircraft Equipment Change Alerts
  • Interline Agreement Information
  • Visa, Health & Passport Information

Flight Timetables:

  • Shows flights timetable information, both for direct flights and connections, for different airlines between a pair of cities on a specific day or range of days
  • Can also search for all flights to or from a specific airport on a given day
  • Ability to search only for non-stop/direct flights or include connecting flights
  • Advanced filtering options by airports, airlines, and type of flight
New ExpertFlyer Features - Flight Timetables

Flight Timetables

Aircraft Equipment Change Alerts: (Premium Subscribers Only)

  • Monitor for changes to the aircraft equipment code returned for the Seat Map of a flight
  • No more surprise seat reassignments, ExpertFlyer will periodically check for an equipment change and notify you if a change is made
  • Part of the 30 Active alerts allowed at one time in the Premium service.
New ExpertFlyer Features - Aircraft Equipment Change Alerts

Aircraft Equipment Change Alerts

Interline Agreement Information & Visa, Health & Passport Information:

  • Additions to the Travel Information tool
  • Interline Agreement search shows the airline codes that have an Interline Agreement with the specified airline
  • Visa, Health & Passport Information shows Visa/Entry requirements for travel based on your citizenship and departure country, as well as other country specific information for your destination

We hope you find these new features useful in your travel planning and look for more great additions to ExpertFlyer in the coming months.

Cruising to Bermuda – Part 1

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, we sent ExpertFlyer staff blogger, Lisa Kaslyn, to Bermuda.  She shares highlights of her adventure and ideas for you and your family to enjoy on your next trip to the Bermuda islands.

If you live in the northeast, like I do, it’s super convenient to take a cruise holiday from one of the three major cruise ports located in New York and New Jersey.  I have two daughters ages 20 and 9, so a cruise works well for all of us.  There are amenities, entertainment and activities that cater to a wide range of ages and interests.  The best part is we can do things together… or not!

Despite some anxiety about surviving the Devil’s Triangle, we set sail for Bermuda from Bayonne, New Jersey’s port of Cape Liberty.  Looking forward to fields of Bermuda onions, pink sand and endless supplies of long shorts, we were pleased to find many other attractions, charming natives and natural beauty that made it difficult to leave.

The Royal Navy Yard

royal navy yard

Royal Navy Yard, Bermuda – Photo: (c)Lisa Kaslyn

We disembarked at the Royal Navy Yard, where we immediately took advantage of the low cost WiFi.  Island Outfitters  charges $15 for a three-day package on one device.  While it was significantly cheaper than the ship’s WiFi, signals were in and out while onboard, but we made do.

Things to checkout:

We visited the National Museum of Bermuda where the island’s history is well documented and visually impressive.  Adjoining the museum is Dolphin Quest where visitors can enjoy a dolphin encounter.  Not for the budget-conscious, a five-minute “experience” is about $60(US).  That said, my daughter had no complaints and it will likely remain a treasured memory.

The Bone Fish Grill is a tiny little bar with big personality and ice cold beer – just what you need after a long hot day of loafing on the beach and shopping.

Horseshoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay Beach

After seeing many photos of the famous beach, this destination was on our priority list.  We took a 30-minute bus ride from the Royal Navy Yard to Horseshoe Bay.  The ride was an adventure in itself with lovely views, and narrow winding roads. Roundtrip bus fare is $8/adult; children under 10 are free.

The beach is lovely, but quite crowded – at least when we arrived at 1pm.  Renting an umbrella ($13) is a must, as the sun is blistering during the summer months.

Famous for its interesting seascape, including unusual rock formations that jut from the water, we couldn’t resist taking a swim out to see them up close.  A word of caution: swim at your own risk at Horseshoe Bay.  We only saw one lifeguard and there were close to 1,000 people on the beach.  The riptide near the rocks can be dangerous for little kids and folks who are not strong swimmers.

That said, the water was warm, crystal clear and relaxing – not to mention beautiful.  Come back next week for part two of our series on Bermuda and learn more about what to see and do in Hamilton and St. George.

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“Did you know…Southwest Airlines Has Left The Country?”

(Airchive.com)

Southwest airlines

Photo: (cc) Dylan Ashe

For more than 40 years, Southwest Airlines has made its mark as a reliable – and fun – domestic carrier.  Lately, its growth has put it ahead of competition, so much so that Southwest currently flies more domestic passengers in the United States than any of its rivals.  This week, Southwest launched its first international flight, departing from Baltimore, and landing in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Since its acquisition of AirTran Airways in 2011, Southwest has had the ability to cross US borders using AirTran’s existing routes into seven international destinations within Mexico and the Caribbean.

So, why the wait? According to a report from airline industry news site, Airchive.com, Southwest wanted to make sure that it was done right, and a lot of work had to be done.

“Although the formal celebration was held in Baltimore, Southwest also launched international flights today from Atlanta and Orlando to Aruba, The Bahamas, and Jamaica, but this is just the beginning.

Starting August 10th, the Dallas-based airline will begin operating daily service from Cancun, Mexico to Atlanta and Baltimore BWI, along with Saturday service to Milwaukee. San Jose del Cabo will receive daily service from Santa Ana, while Nassau, Bahamas will see Saturday only service to Atlanta.

The carrier will further expand international flights in October, operating daily service from Cancun to Denver starting on the 7th, and San Jose del Cabo to Denver on the 11th.”

Read the full story on airchive.com here.

Interview: The Honeytrekkers talk about extreme honeymooning, Part deux

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In part one of our interview with Honeytrekkers, Anne and Mike Howard, we proved that it’s possible for anyone to embark on a honeymoon of a lifetime.  In part two of the interview, we cover their picks for the most romantic honeymoon destinations, and how to prepare for your once-in-a-lifetime trip. 

What have been some of the most romantic places you’ve traveled to and why?

Mozambique

Mozambique

We were Newlyweds at Large for Honeymoons.com, so we were fortunate enough to experience and review 72 incredible properties around the world. Though if we had to pick a handful of places…Kinondo Kwetu in Diani Beach, Kenya – It was a Swahili-style house tucked in between the sea cliffs and a sacred forest. Rather than candlelit dinners in a packed restaurant they surprised us with a private dinner atop a water tower and another on a beached boat. Medjumbe Private Island in Mozambique—13 chalets on a sliver of a white sand…it was so perfectly tropical it looked like a screen saver. Awasi in the Atacama Desert of Chile – If you like adventure with your luxury this place came with a private guide and driver to take on everything from horse back-riding through the dunes to a sunrise breakfast aside erupting geysers.

Any other surprising experiences that you want to share with couples preparing for their honeymoon or just a holiday away together?

You can’t see the world on 10-day vacations alone. Ask your boss for extra time off or even a 1-3 month sabbatical. Everyone has a soft spot for newlyweds–now is the time to ask! Your honeymoon is the best excuse to go big and do something you may never have the chance to do again. Sure, you’ll want to spend some time relaxing but this is the start of your life together—make it exciting! Go on safari, go shark diving, try paragliding, do something neither of you have ever done before. Whether it’s your honeymoon or just a normal vacation…life is short—go new places and make the most of where you are.

What about “old” married couples – folks who have been married more than 10 years? Do your travel recommendations differ for them?

around the world honeymoonDon’t wait until retirement to see the world. The sooner you have these adventures, the longer you’ll have these enriching memories and experiences in your life. Plus the older you get, it only gets tougher on your body and wallet, so do your most ambitious bucket-list items first. We saw a lady in her 80s climbing Machu Picchu and as much as that was impressive, I think she would have enjoyed it more if she didn’t need a cane and a guide to hold her up. Have kids? Challenge them to do more. We know a dad who bicycled the length of Japan with his eight-year old and another family with three kids that is spending the year volunteering on every continent. Travel is the greatest bonding and learning experience you could ever have together. We are so passionate about the wonders of long-term travel that we started HoneyTrek Trip Coach, a one-on-one guide to world travel, to help more people get out there and experience the world. If you have any questions at all, reach out to us via email – TripCoach@HoneyTrek.com or Facebook.com/HoneyTrek. We hope to hear from you!

“Did you know…American Airlines is the last legacy U.S. carrier to offer a mileage-based frequent flyer program?”

(Forbes.com)

United airlinesForbes’ business travel blogger, Andrew Bender, accurately predicted United Airlines unfriendly changes to its MileagePlus frequent flyer program.  Following Delta’s lead, the updated program rules, which take effect March 1, 2015, make it significantly harder for passengers to accrue points on most flights. That’s because awards will be based on ticket price instead of mileage flown.  According to the post, depending on the flyer’s status, points accrual may be lowered by as much as 50%.

Read the full story here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2014/06/10/united-airlines-changes-its-mileageplus-frequent-flier-program-and-basically-youre-hosed/

One on One with Alex Herrmann, Director Americas, Switzerland Tourism

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Alex Herrmann, Director Americas, Switzerland Tourism, the official Swiss National Tourist Office promoting Switzerland as a vacation, travel and convention destination.  Alex shares the best of the best things to do, places to see, as well as how to get around in Switzerland – efficiently and economically.

Alex Herrmann, Switzerland“Switzerland is full of mountain railways, cable cars and gondolas – many of the most spectacular ones built a century ago or longer by tourism and hospitality pioneers. They continue to offer access to the mountains like nowhere else.” 

– Alex Herrmann, Director Americas, Switzerland Tourism

When one thinks of Switzerland, the famous Swiss Alps and skiing come to mind.  What are some of the other lesser known, but equally stunning attractions that Switzerland offers to tourists?

Of course there is amazing skiing in Switzerland, and all kinds of winter sports beyond. Winter tourism started in Switzerland exactly 150 years ago with the British, who already had discovered the Swiss Alps as a destination for their summer vacation.

However, the fact is, more travelers from North America visit Switzerland during the summer half of the year than during the winter. Be it winter or summer, the Swiss Alps are among the main attractions. A convenient and spectacular way to experience the Alps is by traveling on one of the scenic train routes in Switzerland, such as the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express or the Golden Pass. These and other train and train/boat combination trips are between three to seven hours and offer amazing views of mountains, valleys and villages. While the trains cross bridges and tunnels, the passengers can have a leisurely meal or lounge in First Class comfort and enjoy the vistas.

If visitors want a Swiss city experience, what are some options in addition to Zurich?

Geneva and Lausanne, the biggest cities in the French-speaking part of Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva, offer a different experience. An international city and the second headquarters of the United Nations, Geneva also maintains its old town charm and rich history. As the heart of the global watchmaking industry, it’s a paradise for lovers of fine timepieces. Lausanne is the Olympic capital, as the International Olympic Committee is based here, and the Olympic museum just reopened after an extensive renovation. Also, as the city is close to the most famous wine-growing area in Switzerland, the Lavaux – a UNESCO World Heritage site – wine and food are big in this city, with many restaurants and hotels situated along the shores of Lake Geneva.

Why do people want to visit Switzerland?  What is the country’s biggest draw?

The Swiss Alps and the Matterhorn, in particular, plus popular towns and resorts, like Interlaken and Lucerne, are the main reasons why many travelers visit Switzerland.

One of the biggest advantages of Switzerland is the location of the country. In the heart of Europe, it’s very easy to combine Switzerland with a trip to Italy or France.  Also, Switzerland has many direct connections from the U.S. and Canada to Zurich and Geneva, and the flight is less than eight hours.

Recently, many travelers combine a pre- or post-tour in Switzerland with a river cruise, mostly on the Rhine River, which mostly start or end in Basel in the Northwestern corner of Switzerland.

Is there a time of year that is more desirable to visit Switzerland?  Are there unique attractions and events travelers can enjoy in every season? What are some of the most popular?

Perfect times to visit the mountains are late summer and early fall (late August, September, early October), as the crowds are gone and rates are more moderate. For the cities, June is a great time. It’s warm and the days are long, and so is the time leading up to the Holidays, as all cities are decorated, many offer Christmas markets, and shopping is fantastic.

There are festivals in Switzerland throughout the year. Some of the most famous are the Lucerne Festival of classical music, with its main festival including many symphony concerts for a full month in late August/early September, the piano festival in December, and the festival for religious music around Easter.

For the fans of popular music, the Jazz festival in Montreux, on Lake Geneva, is a must. It takes place in July, and features world-renowned pop, jazz and rock musicians and bands. Deep Purple’s song “Smoke on the Water” features the festival prominently.

For fans of film, the Locarno International Film Festival, in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, the Ticino, takes place in early August. Highlights are the nightly screenings under the starts, up to 7,000 people watch a movie on the historic Piazza Grande of the town.

Switzerland appears to be a great destination for hikers, bikers and mountain climbers.  Where are some of the best trails for beginner to advanced hikers? Same for biking – what are the best trails and tours?

Switzerland is a natural playground for kids and adults alike. Thousands of miles of hiking, cycling and mountain biking trails, well-marked and always connected to the public transportation network – crisscross the country. An excellent place for hikers is Zermatt. This resort offers hikers of all levels not just excellent trails, but also wonderful views of the Matterhorn. Switzerland is full of mountain railways, cable cars and gondolas – many of the most spectacular were built a century ago or longer by tourism and hospitality pioneers. They continue to offer access to the mountains like nowhere else. So, even beginners can hike in high alpine terrain, as a gondola takes them up and a chairlift brings them back down to the valley again.

For bikers, a huge trend in Switzerland is the e-bike. The electric bike, with several different levels of support, which require pedaling, but allow the bikers to go farther and higher, is perfect for a country of mountains and hills. Particularly for groups with various levels of fitness and strength, e-bikes help keep everyone together and going to the same places at roughly the same speed.

How would you describe the Swiss people?  What are some of the culturally significant places and things visitors should experience?

The Swiss are generally a friendly people. While not as outgoing as Americans, once you get to know them a bit, they are warm and have a great sense of humor. Another point of pride among the Swiss is that the hospitality industry was founded in the country – and the legacy of Swiss hospitality continues to attract visitors today.

If timing allows, a visit to a local festival is one of the best ways to get to know the locals – be it carnival in Basel or Lucerne, Sechselaeuten in April in Zurich (celebration of the beginning of spring), festivities for the Swiss National Day on August 1st, countless other summer festivals throughout the country, many harvest festivals in the rural and wine growing areas in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of the country, or the many Christmas markets.

What’s the best and most economical way to get around Switzerland? Car rental, train, bus?

The best way to travel around Switzerland is by its unique public transportation network – the trains, buses, boats, and the transit systems in the cities. All can be enjoyed with one ticket, the Swiss Pass, which includes unlimited travel for four, eight or fifteen days on all the means of transport mentioned. Included is access to over 450 museums throughout the country, and most gondolas, cable cars and mountain railways offer discounts. Every town and village in Switzerland can be accessed by either a train, a postal bus or a boat, and these are all included in the Swiss Pass. The Swiss Pass can be bought in North America through RailEurope by going to www.myswitzerland.com/rail.

Where do you recommend visitors seek accommodations?  What are some options on the luxury side, middle of the road and cheap deals, particularly for college students?

Via our website www.myswitzerland.com, visitors find information on hotels in various categories, e.g. family-friendly hotels, wellness hotels, design and lifestyle hotels etc. For the five-star category, the Swiss Deluxe Hotels offer 38 mostly independently owned and managed hotels throughout the country. For the traveler looking for a three or four-star property, a group called “Typically Swiss Hotels” consists of about 300 independent hotels run by a family or a local host, with typical architecture and the gastronomy of the region. Great options for college students are the Youth Hostels, which offer very good value for reasonable prices. Several recently opened Youth Hostels offer amenities usually expected in higher star establishments, including wellness areas and cutting-edge architecture.

Where do the Swiss like to spend their holidays in Switzerland?

Many Swiss spend their vacation right alongside many international visitors in the most famous resorts, such as Zermatt, Grindelwald, Gstaad or St. Moritz. However, they also like the smaller, lesser-known resorts, oftentimes just in the next valley, such as Saas Fee (near Zermatt), Wengen or Muerren (near Grindelwald), Adelboden or Lenk (near Gstaad), and Maloya or Pontresina (near St.Moritz). Oftentimes the smaller resorts offer more value for families and are less busy during high season.

A very popular area for the Swiss is the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, the Ticino. Not just the language is Italian, the palm trees, the Italian-style cuisine and the excellent Merlots and other wines allow visitors to enjoy Switzerland Mediterranean-style.

Switzerland is still the most popular vacation destination for the Swiss, both in the summer and the winter.

What else is there to know about Switzerland and projects that are in the works with the office of Switzerland Tourism?

Switzerland Tourism as the official Swiss National Tourist Office promotes Switzerland as a vacation, travel and conventions destination. In these times of increasing global competition, we are always active in our mission to keep Switzerland at the top of potential travelers’ minds. We’re doing this through campaigns with major travel magazines such as AFAR or National Geographic Traveler, online and social media activities (via our website www.myswitzerland.com), collaboration with TV producers for travel and reality TV shows – Just last month, The Amazing Race visited Switzerland! And some of the models of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition visited Switzerland for the current anniversary edition. Who knew Switzerland could be so tempting.

Interview: The HoneyTrekkers Talk about Extreme Honeymooning

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Mike and Anne Howard, honeytrekkers

Honeytrekkers, Mike & Anne Howard

June is a big month for so many special events, like graduations and Father’s Day.  It also happens to be the biggest month for weddings — and honeymoons.  In keeping with our mission to help you explore the new and different, this month’s Hot Topic series features a two-part interview with intrepid honeymooners, Anne and Mike Howard.  Authors of the popular travel blog, Honeytrek.com, Anne and Mike took honeymooning to the extreme when they quit their jobs and decided to kick off their life together with a 675-day honeymoon around the world, including six continents, 33 countries and 302 places. You can follow Anne and Mike on their journey at HoneyTrek.com and Facebook.com/HoneyTrek.

What are some of the most unknown yet wonderful destinations for honeymooners and why?

Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines

Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines

The Philippines has over 7,000 islands and virtually no tourists. The islands have everything from pristine beaches to jungles to mountains to charming villages and incredibly friendly people wherever you go. El Nido with its karst coastline, Cebu for diving with whale sharks, Banaue for its cliff-cut rice terraces, and the journey from one island to the next holds endless possibilities for honeymooners. (HoneyTrek.com blogs on the Philippines coming soon!)

How do you handle conflicts on your honeymoon and compromising on differing desired itineraries?

If there is ever an issue when you are traveling together, you just have to address it and move on. There’s no time to let the petty stuff bother you on the road; if you do, you’ll miss out on the beauty right under your nose.  Then for all hiccups, you just learn to laugh about them and become stronger for it. For itineraries you will be going to so many amazing places that it is easy to mix it up and fulfill  both of your dreams.

Does an “exotic” or extended honeymoon always have to mean big bucks? What are your top tips for pulling off an extreme honeymoon on a standard budget?

Nepal, Himalayas

Nepal, Himalayas

Absolutely not. We did a three-day safari in the Serengeti for $245, stayed in beach-front bungalows for $10/night in the Philippines, and took an all-inclusive 10-day trek hike in the Himalayas, including food, lodging, permits and a guide for $200 per person. One of our favorite ways to get the best deals is to always book your activities when you arrive in a location. The prices and quality of what you get will always be better when you can compare options and bargain in person.  This may sound risky but we rarely booked anything in advance and never had a problem getting on a tour we wanted.

Next week, we’ll cover some of the most romantic destinations in the world – according to Mike and Anne.  Also, some advice for “old” married couples who want a second honeymoon.

“Did you know…Futuristic aircraft could use body heat to power aircraft systems?”

(CNN Special: 100 Years of Commercial Aviation)

We have traveled by air since 1914 — One hundred years of commercial flight.  With all that experience and new technology under our belt, what will aviation advancements bring to the air travel experience over the next century?

100 years of commercial aviation

CNN – 100 Years of Commercial Aviation

In a special week long series, CNN.com looks at possible futuristic enhancements and breakthrough fuel-saving solutions to get us off the ground in the 21st century.

According to the CNN post, Airbus’ vision of the future can be seen through its concept plane design, which includes an “eco-climb” feature, where take off is assisted by propelled acceleration for a steeper climb, so that planes reach efficient cruise altitudes sooner. “In the concept cabin, seats will use body heat to power aircraft systems such as holographic pop-up pods, while a futuristic cabin membrane can become transparent to give passengers open panoramic views.”

Read the full story here.

 

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