Archive for December, 2015

Business Travel Survey of 1,500 Road Warriors Reveals Plans for Increased Travel — Could Signal Packed Flights in 2016

As airlines continue to struggle with effective ways to remain profitable, their biggest challenge remains how to maintain customer satisfaction from millions of passengers, including the business traveler who is the backbone of the airline industry.  In a recent survey conducted among 1,500 business travelers, ExpertFlyer.com and View from the Wing blog asked customers and readers to offer their thoughts about the state of the industry in 2015 and their travel plans for the New Year.  Based on the survey’s results and anticipated travel plans for 2016, travelers in general could see a decrease in the number of available seats, which doesn’t signal relief from higher airfares.

(Click infographic to enlarge)

business travel survey infographicAmong the key survey highlights

  • 43% said they traveled at least 15 times in 2015 and 83% said they would travel as much or more in 2016
  • 79% percent earned more than 100K frequent flyer miles over the past 12 months; 60% said they earned the majority of points by flying, while 39% earned more miles through credit card purchases. 15% of survey participants admitted to padding their expense reports at least once
  • 15% said they participated in one or more activities they would not otherwise do at home, including: participated in an extramarital affair, experimented with recreational drugs, and even pretended to be someone else
  • 25% said they now use ride share services, such as Uber or Lyft, rather than a traditional taxi (17%)
  • 40% said their companies did not allow stays at non-traditional living accommodations, such as Airbnb

“Our survey among ExpertFlyer customers and View from the Wing readers really focused in on the true business traveler who is frequently on the road and has a firm opinion about the travel industry and its impact on them,” explains Chris Lopinto, president and co-founder of ExpertFlyer.com.  “The survey offers some insight into the mindset of the business traveler, what they thought about their experiences in 2015 and more importantly, their thoughts for the year ahead.”

According to View from the Wing author Gary Leff, “Paying attention to the habits and trends among the people who travel the most gives us insight into what to expect industry-wide, and more importantly, we can follow their lead and make our own travel better too.”

Full Business Travel Survey results are available here. To read our Consumer Travel Survey, click here.

Air Travel in the Era of Terrorism — Still the Safest form of Transportation

You’re still more likely to get struck by lightning a half dozen times than you are dying in a plane crash, but travelers are more anxious than ever – and it’s not because they believe the plane is unsafe, but rather some of its passengers. Terrorism, hijacking, kidnapping and all sorts of frightening and unspeakable acts have flooded our consciousness and fuel our fight or flight reflexes.

So, what do we do if air travel is not an option, but a requirement for business or a family emergency? We posed this and other issues of concern to respected aviation and security specialists, including Stephen Lloyd, former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Director of Safety, Patrick Smith, an airline pilot, host of askthepilot.com and author of COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL, and Phil Derner, President and Founder of NYC Aviation, a news resource for aviation enthusiasts.

According to Stephen Lloyd, more than 850 million passengers traveled on more than 9 million flights on both domestic and international airlines in the U.S. alone last year. More than 3 billion passengers traveled globally. Since 9/11, the U.S. and many other countries have dramatically increased aviation security measures to prevent or deter future attacks. Improved intelligence and physical security both inflight and on the ground have been very effective and will continue to improve. Statistically, air travel remains the safest mode of transportation on the planet.

Are home-grown radicals a new reason to fear air travel?

When we consider the growing trend in home-grown radicalization, a new set of variables – and threats – come into play.  Smith says, at a certain point, there is only so much you can do.  “That’s not being defeatist; it’s acknowledging the reality that commercial aviation will always be a high-profile target, and that a resourceful enough criminal will always find a way to skirt whatever safeguards we have in place.  It’s also very important to recognize that the real nuts and bolts of keeping terrorists away from planes isn’t really the job of TSA screeners on the concourse. It’s the combined efforts  of law enforcement, FBI, CIA, Interpol, and TSA too, working together behind the scenes, inspecting checked luggage and cargo, reviewing passenger data, and foiling plotters BEFORE they reach the airport.”

Phil Derner

Phil Derner

Phil Derner asserts, there are no current threats from crewmembers at this time, nor is there reason to believe that airline employees are more prone to radicalism versus any other industry. “The consensus, as supported by recent events, is that there is a larger terror threat in busy areas on the ground in cities due to their easy access and crowds. A person with ill-intent would be less likely to go through the obstacles of airport security and other layers of safety.”

When you don’t want to fly, but have to …

Folks who do not necessarily want to travel, but must for business or family obligations should not panic unnecessarily over terrorism. “When it comes to safety threats that are on an aircraft, terrorism is pretty low on the list in terms of likelihood,” says Derner. “For passengers, maintaining good situational awareness is something that should be exercised at all times, whether they are flying or not. While we can’t witch hunt, we need to ditch the “it can’t happen ‘here’ or ‘to me'” mentality and must speak up when something doesn’t feel right. Better safe than sorry.”

As for clothing, Derner advises that people should wear clothing that prepares them for the “most likely of the unlikely,” which would be a standard aircraft evacuation. Most of this pertains to footwear that allows one to walk or run in case they need to go down a slide and walk or run from the aircraft through rain, snow, mud, water or rocky terrain. High heels may not be a girl’s best friend in this instance. Otherwise, comfortable clothing like khakis or jeans can help protect from bumps and scrapes as opposed to wearing something that leaves the skin exposed.

Lockdown or fight back

When confronted with violent behavior or a terror threat, it’s difficult to foresee how one might react or should react.  Is it better to remain quiet and calm or to retaliate and fight your captors? “In my opinion, it’s most important to remain as calm as possible and try to best understand the threat, says Lloyd. “Fighting back against hostage takers may have grave consequences for yourself and others. Unless you are trained for combat or law enforcement, you better know what you are doing before you act.  However, keep in mind, there is always the chance that you may become a help to others who have taken action.”

“I am a firm believer in, if you see something, say something,” says Lloyd. “I don’t know of a situation when I wouldn’t speak up. This is not the time to worry that you might offend or bother someone. Your life and the lives of others depend on all of us as travelers reporting suspicious objects, packages or bags without an owner and suspicious activity by any person.”

Thoughts on the TSA from the cockpit

Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith

Smith agrees that the TSA does a lot of good things, but it tends to be the stuff that we don’t see, the behind-the-scenes work. The parts that we do see — the lines at the x-ray machines and body scanners — include a lot of tedium and, quite frankly, waste: wasted time and wasted resources.

“Confiscating toothpaste and hobby tools and tiny toy guns does nothing to make us safer, while using up large amounts of time and money that could be redeployed elsewhere. And one of the most frustrating ironies of all is that pretty much none of the carry-on restrictions put in place after 9/11 would have prevented those attacks in the first place.  The success of the September 11th attacks had nothing to do with weapons or screening protocols. The hijackers could have used ANY form of hand-made weapon. What the men exploited wasn’t a weakness in security, but a weakness in our mindset, and our understanding of a hijacking, based on decades of precedent. The only weapon that really mattered was the simplest, lowest-tech weapon of all: the element of surprise.  The 9/11 plot unfolded because of failures at the FBI and CIA levels. The hijackers were known to these agencies prior to the attacks.”

Smith suggests moving past our self-defeating fixation with the September 11th scheme and stop fussing over harmless pointy objects. “The focus should be on explosives. Or, perhaps more importantly, on people who might use explosives.”

Feeling the fear – Moving through it

Derner recommends taking a deep breath and grounding oneself in the reality that air travel is still the safest it’s ever been and terrorism is not as likely even on the high terror end of the spectrum in Western nations. “A drone is more likely (though unlikely overall) to create a safety threat to an airliner than a terrorist is.”

Prepare yourself before a trip by reading up on the destination and safety tips. “A great place to start is the U.S. State Department Website, travel.state.gov, says Lloyd. “There you’ll find information for travel abroad, including safety tips and information about your destination. They also host the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, (STEP) where you can automatically receive the most current information compiled about the country where you will be traveling or living. You will also receive updates, including travel warnings and alerts.

People should consult the State Department to look for warnings of places that they are traveling to, and undergo safety practices that should be exercised even when not traveling. Having a plan that can deal with things that might go wrong is 90% of survival. When a tragic event takes place and people say “I never thought it would happen HERE,” they are saying that because they had no plan and were unprepared.”

 

 

 

“Did you know…Planes of the Future May Fly from NYC to Tokyo in 30 mins?

lockheed supersonic plane

Imagine getting lost in space before you jet to your destination at Mach 4+ or scooting from NYC to Tokyo for a lunch meeting — And why not?  It will only take about 30 minutes.  At least that’s what one engineer promises in a recent post from USA Today “Road Warrior Voices.

easyJet crew dons wearable tech

Photo credit: easyJet

While you’re zooming around the globe in Jetson style, your crew needs to be fashioned accordingly. In a Factor report, easyJet, a leading European low cost carrier, is already planning a trip down the fashion runway. Working with wearable technology trendsetters, CuteCircuit, the airline is planning crew uniforms equipped with lighting and sensors, which promise to improve comfort, safety and communications among staff and between crew and passengers.

 

 

 

ExpertFlyer’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Frequent Flyers

 

christmas ornaments

Still stymied by what to put under the tree for your favorite road warrior? Don’t stress. We’ve done some curating to find the best in practical and cutting edge travel gifts for the business traveler and frequent flyer in your life.

 

007 Gadget Lovers

smartwatches The Smartwatch

Tech nerds and early adopters have been dreaming about the prospect of a wristwatch-communications device since the early days of Dick Tracy.  Even Tracy himself would be amazed at how far we’ve come! Not sure if you should go with an iOS or Droid platform?  Get started with your research here  and check out PC Magazine’s review of the best smartwatches to fit your style, technical specs and price point.

 

Bluesmart LuggageBluesmart App-Enabled Carry-On Luggage

This smart luggage makes other cases look a bit dim. It enables travelers to control and track their suitcase from any smartphone. Includes app-enabled locking, built-in battery charger, location tracking, a built-in scale (for weighing itself, of course), and proximity alerts. It even collects and reports trip data – all for under $400 at Brookstone.com.

voice recorder penSlim Voice Recorder Pen with Voice Activation

You just never know when recording a conversation may come in handy. The Slim Voice Recorder Pen from Clearlight Security passes itself off as a regular black ink pen, but also features an inconspicuous voice recorder. The pen recorder comes in very handy at trade shows and meetings, when writing down lots of information can be inconvenient and distracting. Just whip out your pen recorder to keep detailed records of business discussions or make simple notes for yourself, without having to get out a notebook or computer. Price: $125

Presents with Purpose

ThinOPTICS glassesThinOPTICS

Think Morpheus in the Matrix. ThinOPTICS are revolutionary reading glasses that fit on your nose without any stems and slide right into your smartphone case. The ThinOPTICS team tested over 200 prototypes on over 800 users to create innovative glasses perfect for everything from reading text messages and emails to perusing the newspaper. The glasses, which are made with optical-grade polycarbonate and bullet-proof glass, come in thin cases that fit both Apple and Samsung phones as well as a Universal Pod that can fit in any pocket or suitcase. Price: $24.95-$38.95

fitbit surgeFitbit Surge

Many business travelers want to maintain their exercise regimen while on the road, but it can be challenging. A Fitbit tracker is a great reminder for frequent travelers to stay active and offers an easy way to log all of the exploring they’re doing. The new Fitbit Surge comes with a built-in GPS—allowing users to run and explore their destination without getting lost. Price: $249.95

scrubba wash pack

 

Scrubba Wash Pack

What’s a Scrubba Wash Pack, you ask? According to its maker, Calibre8, it’s the lightest and most compact ‘washing machine’ in the world. Ideal for all travelers and campers who want to pack lighter and cleaner, wash clothes anywhere, and save money, the Scrubba is an ultra-functional daypack, which includes a flexible internal washboard with hundreds of ‘nobules’ that give you a machine quality wash in a matter of minutes – just add soap and water. Price: $99

 For Fun & Comfort

NOON VR headsetNOON VR Headset

This virtual reality headset brings in quality, affordability, and a massive library of content to consumers. Compatible with the latest smartphones and virtual reality apps, the NOON VR headset is accompanied by more than 1,000 pieces of immersive content, including videos, 360 degree environments, games, and user generated content. Price: $89

 

Create-a-SpaceCREATE-A-SPACE

Stuck in the middle seat again?  No worries, CREATE-A-SPACE is a new travel accessory that helps people stay in their own seat space while keeping the person next to you out of your space when flying. A positive solution to the shrinking airplane seat, CREATE-A-SPACE helps to end the armrest battle. Its design enables business travelers to get more work done on the plane, or rest more comfortably. Compliant with FFA and TSA guidelines, the accessory is priced under $40 on amazon.com and independent luggage stores.

The Memory Makers

Canon G9 XCanon PowerShot G9 X Camera

The Canon PowerShot G9 X camera features a 20.2 Megapixel, 1.0-inch High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor, Canon’s powerful DIGIC 6 Image Processor and a fast, f/2.0-4.9 lens that helps you capture inspiring images – even in low light – with detail and color to match. This stylish slim camera is perfect for the traveler wanting to get great pictures without getting weighed down by a full size DSLR.  The camera features a 3x Optical Zoom lens (28-84mm equivalent), stunning Full HD video, and up to 6.0 frames per second to capture action. Should you find yourself gazing at the stars, switch into Star Mode and capture the view. Other features include a convenient control ring for quick adjustments, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC allowing for simple sharing and printing. The PowerShot G9 X retails for $479 and can be found on Amazon for $449. Visit Canon for more information.

Red River Greeting CardsGreetings from Red River!

Souvenir shop postcards rarely say what you want to say, and definitely don’t capture the moments that made that trip of a lifetime personal and special.  So why not create your own postcards  – as well as greeting cards, thank you cards, or special Save the Date notices, for that matter!  Red River Paper has an entire selection of quality paper in a variety of sizes that work with virtually any home printer so you can truly share your feelings with friends and family.  Use your favorite photos as cover art to celebrate honeymoon, anniversary or family trips, as well as unique holidays like National Dress Up Your Pet Day or Beer Can Appreciation Day.  They also work really well for Christmas and birthdays too!

Approximately $1.00 per card (includes ink and envelope).  Visit redriverpaper.com.

MylioMylio

If you have thousands of photos from all those great destinations you visited but don’t know where they are or have access to them everywhere you go, then Mylio is for you.  A unique imaging software, Mylio locates your photos on storage drives, mobile devices, computers, tablets and camera rolls and organizes them into one cohesive library organized by date, location, event, etc.  The free iOS and Android apps sync all your photos directly to your mobile devices so you can access, edit, and share all your photos from anywhere in the world. Annual subscriptions start at $50.  Visit Mylio.com.

Alaska Inner Passage framed using Whitewall

WhiteWall

Everyone has at least one amazing photo from a business trip or family vacation.  Don’t just post to Facebook and Instagram.  Immortalize it with amazing photo prints and framing from WhiteWall lab.  Whether it’s a photo print under acrylic glass, photo on aluminum or wood, acrylic block, or traditional wood frames, all orders are produced by hand in their lab in Cologne, Germany and shipped all over the world in less than 10 days.  Turn a great photo into an amazing work of art.  Think of it as German engineering for your wall.

Products and services start at $9.00.  Visit WhiteWall.

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Wishing you and yours Safe & Happy Holiday Travels!