All posts in Business Travel

WOW, what big seats you have!

wow logoBoarding Area’s Travel Skills blog posted updates on international discount carrier, WOW Air’s new premium seat offering for travelers flying from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami to Reykjavik.

While photos were not readily available, WOW says the seats, known as The BIG Seat, “…is an entirely different seat, bigger with a foot rest and will at first only be in our A330 planes.”

Travel Skills reports that the section will offer 37-inch pitch (vs. 31 in regular economy), and fares for the premium seats will include carry-on bags, checked bags, in-flight food service and priority boarding. Typical economy pricing on WOW includes nothing but the ride and a single under-the-seat personal item.

Read the full post here.

Sharing Economy Lodging Takes Off Among Business Travelers

At the recent GBTA Conference, Concur, a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions, unveiled its annual State of Business Travel report.

state of business travel 2016

Concur analyzed business travel booking and expense reporting data from its database of more than 40 million users, representing more than $76 billion in annual spend.  In an effort to make the data more actionable by companies, Concur categorized six unique personas that represent typical business travelers:

  • Savvy Sam is a power traveler who travels 40 percent of the time, taking approximately 25 trips per year.
  • Jet Setter Jeremy is typically a C-suite executive who travels frequently, preferring to fly first-class and stay at five-star hotels.
  • High-tech Hannah is a young millennial who travels once a quarter, often combining personal and business travel, while staying budget conscious.
  • Approving Manager Alan doesn’t travel much himself, but is responsible for approving travel and expense reports and keeping budgets in line.
  • Travel Arranger Tanya books for others and files expense reports for teammates several times a week.
  • Cautious Carl travels just once or twice a year for business. He typically plans far in advance and isn’t familiar with policies and process.

Business Traveler Behaviors

The State of Business Travel report confirms that not all business travelers are created equal. In some cases, a company may want to tailor its travel policy to account for the unique needs of its travelers, from frequent flyers and road warriors to once-a-year travelers.

  • More than half of all business travelers are “Cautious Carls,” but Carls account for only 14 percent of total business travel spend.
  • “High-tech Hannahs” and “Cautious Carls” care more about price than other types of travelers, while “Savvy Sams” and “Jet Setter Jeremys” (who contribute to 46 percent of total business travel spend) are more concerned with comfort and convenience.
  • When it comes to air travel, “Jet Setter Jeremys” consistently spend the most because they are more likely to book at the last minute and opt for premium seats.

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Would you pay $35K for 1 year of unlimited biz class flights from NY to London or Paris?

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

La Compagnie airline

French boutique air carrier, La Compagnie, is betting frequent international business travelers will.  While the most airborne corporate flyers may scoop up these unlimited passes as the deal of the century,  others may be better off scouring for more traditional deals.

According to a CNBC report, the airline is looking to collect $350,000 in revenue on the idea that $673 a week is a great deal for New York-area travelers making numerous round-trip flights to London or Paris, which can easily cost in the thousands of dollars.

As part of the CNBC interview, La Compagnie CEO, Frantz Yvelin said $35,000 for unlimited travel is an offer too good for some frequent flyers to pass up.

“The demand is there,” he said. “When we started our load factor [the percentage of seats filled on a plane] was 30 percent. These days we are oscillating between 70 percent and 90 percent load factor.”

Read the full story and watch the video interview here.

“Did you know…Air France’s New ‘Night Service’ Means Eating Doesn’t have to Disturb Sleeping from JFK to Paris?”

Air France Night ServiceAir France is anticipating its Business customers need to rest  up on departure from New York-JFK airport on its night flights to Paris. Eager to offer them optimum comfort, the company is introducing its “Night Service”, only available on departure of flights AF011 (21:45) and AF009 (23:25) from New York-JFK as of April 11, 2016. Passengers may opt to enjoy the same meal in the airport lounge as the one served on board*, with the meal served at their table in a dedicated private area.

During the flight, customers can enjoy a good night’s sleep in the comfort of the Air France Business class cabin. A quiet, private cabin guarantees a peaceful night’s sleep in a seat that transforms into a lie-flat bed. Customers with a very healthy appetite can choose to eat again during the flight.

* Except for special meals that can be enjoyed on board only.

What’s the real deal on air travel in 2016

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Joe Cortez, travel expert and contributing writer for FlyerTalk, the Frugal Travel Guy, About.com and others, took ExpertFlyer for a deep dive on hot topics and predictions that are generating buzz in the airline industry and among consumers.

It’s still early in the year and travel experts are still making predictions on where the airline industry is heading in 2016. One trend we’re seeing is airlines competing for customers in the front of the plane – business class, first and premium economy.  What’s your take and will economy flyers have any perks to look forward to?

There is good news and bad news here. The truth is that airlines are focusing more attention on the front of the cabin – but even that is changing. Legacy carriers are moving from a three-cabin aircraft to a combined business first, and offering more rewards to those who are flying in the combined Business-First class and premium cabin.

The bad news is that economy travelers will see more divide in their experience. That is, those in economy class will get exactly what they pay for. You may recall in 2014 when Delta Air Lines changed their economy pricing model to run across five tiers, with the lowest tier being just the seat and nothing more. Those in economy class can expect to see more of that, along with encouragement to upgrade to premium economy for more perks.

The good news here is that for what the economy experience lacks, airlines are making up for in customer service and customer experience. For example, United Airlines is resuming free snacks and free drinks on certain flights. Airlines realize that the only way to retain customers is to improve the customer experience – even in the economy section.

Frequent flyer rewards programs from Delta and United have seen significant overhauls, now basing award points on dollars spent vs. miles flown.  Last fall, AA announced that it too would be following suit much to the dismay of many AAdvantage fans.  This seems another striking blow to consumers.  Is there a work around for leisure travelers – can they still find ways to accrue miles without breaking the bank?

There are two different points to differentiate here: elite qualifying miles and award miles. Prior to the American Airlines changes, a mile flown was an award mile earned. With the announced changes, an award mile flown is no longer earned. Instead, award miles are earned based on the base price, as well as certain other purchases. Therefore, flying is no longer an efficient way to earn miles alone.

However, miles flown are still miles earned when it comes to Elite Qualifying Miles. Those who are looking for airline status can still accrue elite qualifying miles for the distance flown on their flight. Therefore, there is still some value to be had for flying with one airline across country – just not towards discounted flights.

Which credit cards are the best for building points?  Any pros/cons?

It all depends on your traveling style. For those flyers who know they will be loyal to one airline, it may make sense to do all your spending on an airline branded credit card that offers miles for everyday spending. If you are focusing all your attention on one airline, then it may even make sense to consider an upgraded credit card. For example: while the Chase United Explorer card offers miles for spending, the Chase United Club card offers bonus points for spending with the airline, as well as membership to the United Club lounge.

Those travelers who are not married to one airline may want to consider a card that offers cash back or flexible points instead, such as those offered by American Express, Chase, and Citi. Cards with flexible points offer travelers the opportunity to book flights direct through their portals, or transfer their points to airlines or hotel partners. Through these opportunities, travelers can make the most of their regular credit card spending.

Now that Expedia and Priceline have a monopoly on airline bookings, are there any creative alternatives worth exploring?

There are still some very good opportunities to book flights outside of the Expedia-Priceline monopoly. Many people still don’t necessarily know that Google purchased ITA Software years ago, and uses their software to power Google Flights. I always recommend Google Flights as a great tool that offers a lot of flexibility for travelers to determine when and how they want to travel. For those advanced users who know they will be traveling a lot, it may be worthwhile to learn how to use ITA Matrix, for complete flexibility.

While travelers cannot book through ITA Matrix, they can build ideal itineraries through the matrix and then go back to a booking engine to complete their itinerary. Finally, if all else fails – it does not hurt to consider working with a travel agent. After building an itinerary, travelers can take their information and hand it over to a travel agent, who can then build out that flight in turn.

Up and coming budget airlines, like Norwegian, WOW and Viva Columbia seem to be offering to-good-to-be-true prices to Europe, South America, among other desirable destinations.  Are there any catches or should we be jumping on these deals?

As with many things in life, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that yes – these fares are believable. Travelers can fly on the advertised fare. However, that’s where the good news ends. While not “hidden,” fees can increase the price of those flights very quickly. Want to carry on more than one bag, or select a seat prior to flying? There are fees for that – and the fees can add up. If you are a traveler that can get away with flying around the world with the clothes on your back and one small personal item? Then you can get away for free. Otherwise, consider budgeting more than the printed price if you plan on flying an international low-cost carrier.