All posts in Travel Industry

“Did you know…5 surefire ways to save on holiday travel?”

holiday travel

Aside from merry-making and reconnecting with friends and family, the holidays often signal crushing expenses, especially for travelers.  In a recent Forbes post, Grant Martin offers solid strategies to ease the financial burden for holiday travelers.

“With supply not able to keep up with the increased demand, airlines can raise prices with little ill effect. Compound that with one less legacy carrier [US Airways] in competition and the current atmosphere is ripe for high holiday airfares,” says Richard Kerr, Senior Points and Miles contributor at The Points Guy.

Here are Grant’s five tactics to ensure you’re doing everything possible to minimize your travel costs this holiday season:

1. Book early

2. Monitor the hottest sale fares

3. Use points

4. Use Creative routings

5. Use a low-cost carrier

For the full article and tips on implementing these tactics, click here.

Brexit and Terror Impact Travel Plans to US and Europe

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

American Airlines President Scott Kirby told USA Today that revenue on seat-capacity available to Europe dropped 6% during April, May and June, compared to a year earlier. A double-digit decline Europe is expected in the third quarter, he added.

Brexit

According to a Wall Street Journal report, “A confluence of negative factors is buffeting Europe’s tourism business. Travelers appear more cautious following a spate of attacks—most recently in Munich and in Nice, France. Economic growth in many European countries is weak, straining some consumers’ pocketbooks. And the British pound is down 8.6% against the euro since the Brexit vote—boosting costs for the bloc’s single largest source of international tourists after Germany.”

In a related story from nsight, demand for US travel from the UK is down nearly 18% YOY. And it’s not limited to Great Britain:

  • France demand to the US for the summer is down with the biggest drop in July (-13.2%) and August and September down less than 5%.
  • Germany demand increased for July (+10.8%) and then dropped moderately YOY for August (-7.5%) and September (-8.5%).

2nd Annual Summer Travel Survey Reveals Thoughts About Travel Safety, Rewards Programs, and How Airlines Can Keep Customers

Travel experts weigh in on results adding commentary about purchasing habits, security / privacy issues and Facebook’s edge as the preferred way for travelers to share their travel experiences

With families in the thick of planning their summer vacations, ExpertFlyer.com is releasing results from its second annual travel survey. The data reveals, not surprisingly, that the majority (81%) of travelers believe taking a vacation is very important, citing exposure to beauty, culture and new people as the biggest benefit, followed by increased energy, excitement and stress relief.  The survey also discovered that despite vast technological leaps and the convenience of online search and booking, planning a vacation is still a time-consuming proposition with 51% of those polled saying they spend a minimum of 2-3 hours over multiple days hunting down airfare deals and nearly a one-third spending in excess of 4 hours over multiple days. The overwhelming majority (79%) also said they would relinquish some privacy issues to expedite security checkpoints and voiced what they want airlines to do to maintain their loyalty.

WATCH: ExpertFlyer Co-founder and President Chris Lopinto comments on trends emerging from latest survey

ExpertFlyer conducted the survey with more than 1,200* consumer-based travelers subscribing to its free Seat Alerts app to determine their favorite destinations, airlines and award programs, how they pay for travel, and how they communicate with the world while on vacation and more.  The illuminating results are illustrated in the survey’s infographic. Continue reading →

Should we get excited about movie theaters becoming the new “thing” at airports?

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In a recent report by CNN.com, cities like Portland, Minneapolis-St.Paul and Miami and offering cinema experiences to bored, delayed or otherwise curious airport dwellers. In the case of Portland and Minneapolis, the cities are using mainly short films created by local artists to share the cities unique culture and artistic fingerprint.

airport movie theaters

While Asia has long pioneered the airport movie theater – even screening top box office hits for free – most aviation experts agree that it’s unlikely the US will see pervasive adoption of in-airport cinemas across the country.  In an interview with the LA Times, Bob Hazel, an aviation partner at Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm, says the economics of providing a movie theater in a U.S. airport are unfavorable. “Airport construction is just about the most expensive form of construction there is,” he said.

The good news is, with airports beefing up their power outlets, charging stations and wi-fi, as well as making DVD rentals available, travelers craving some video entertainment will be able to get their fix on their mobile devices pretty easily — who needs the big screen, right?

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.