Monthly Archives: May 2009

Time to Go Back to Mexico?

It seems that the swine flu scare is subsuding, just a few weeks after it made the front pages.  On May 15th, the CDC removed its recommendation to avoid traveling to Mexico.

On the cruise front, Royal Caribbean is resuming visits to Mexican ports of call on sailings starting on May 24th. Carnival has also announced that it will resume its stops in Mexico once their already modified itineraries run their course. In fact, I’ve already started to receive requests for short cruises to the Western Caribbean, which stop in Cozumel, such as this one. Mexican Riviera sailings will also be restored.

Even if cruise lines were affected economically by the epidemic, they were still able to operate and most guests elected to sail the modified itinerary. Hotels and resorts didn’t fare as well. Some chains, like Iberostar and Occidental, were forced to close some of their hotels, with the effect that has on the company and its employees.  Guests in the affected hotels were upgraded to the more upscale resorts that remained open.

Guests may not return as quickly as people would hope, so companies are enticing tourists to come back with discount and even assurances. Occidental Resorts is offering free nights, starting with every second night free at the Occidental Grand Xcaret and  the Grand Cozumel, all the way to every 4th night free at the luxurious Royal Hideaway.

Free Nights from Occidental Resorts

Free Nights from Occidental Resorts

AMResorts' Flu Free Vacations

AMResorts, owner of the Dreams, Secrets, and Zoetry brands, announced a Flu Free Guarantee. If a guest contracts Influenza A – H1N1 while staying at one of their resorts, their next three vacations will be free of charge. In order to qualify, the guest must have reserved their stay between May 8, 2009 and June 30, 2009 for travel taking place between May 8, 2009 and December 20, 2009 (see the website for more details).
More offers are available from other companies, so if you want to hear about them and plan your next trip, let us know.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Advertisements

Secure Flight Takes Effect

Not much attention has been paid to this in the media, but  TSA’s new Secure Flight program’s first phase has just been implemented.

This program is being put into place to try to eliminate, or at least reduce, the number of false positive matches against the government’s watch lists. Over the years since the no-fly list was implemented, children and babies have been delayed because their names were on the list. So have Federal Air Marshalls and even Senator Ted Kennedy.

So what does it mean for travelers? It means that every time you make a reservation, the airline will have to collect your full name, date of birth, and gender. Your full name includes your middle name, which wasn’t required before.

The following diagram, taken from the TSA’s website, illustrates the complete process:

TSA Secure Flight Process

TSA Secure Flight Process

If your information is approved by TSA, you will be able to get a boarding pass. If not, you will be submitted to additional screening.

The first phase, which goes into effect tomorrow, just requires that tickets be issued with the passenger’s full name as it appears on travel documents. The important detail here is that your name will need to exactly match your documentation. So:

  • If your driver’s license says Jonathan, and you used to fly as Jon, you’ll have to remember to have your tickets issued to Jonathan.
  • If you usually travel under your middle name, you’ll have to start using your full name.
  • You’ll want to make sure that your frequent flier accounts are under the same name you will travel. That will ensure that you get prompt credit for all travel

This last point is sure to cause more than a few headaches, as airlines’ systems usually require that the name on the ticket matches the name on the frequent flier account. My recommendation is to start updating them as soon as you can to ensure you get credit for all your flights.

Stay tuned for more information on when dates of birth and gender will be required.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Improvements to American’s Advantage Program

One common complaint I have (and I hear from clients) about frequent flier programs, and American Advantage in particular, is that awards for redeemed tickets are for round trip travel. That means that if you wanted to fly one way, you’d still need to spend the miles needed for a round trip ticket. Also, if one of the flights you wanted was not available with the cheaper awards, you’d have to use more miles to use the Anytime award for the whole ticket.

American has now changed that. I received an e-mail today from them introducing One Way Flex Awards. One Way Flex Awards cost exactly half of the round trip award, and give the flexibility that was lacking in the previous scheme. A domestic one-way ticket can now be had for 12,500 miles, instead of 25,000 (with half of those going to waste).

Another advantage is that classes of service can now be combined. For example, travel to Europe on an overnight flight in Business Class, so you can rest better when you arrive in the morning, and return on an Economy award, on a day flight. You can now do that for 70,000 miles instead of spending 100,000 on a round trip Business Class ticket.

Also, you can combine the more restrictive Mile Saver awards with Anytime awards if needed to avoid having to pay for a ticket.

It’s not often that an airline will introduce positive changes that don’t have a catch in the small print. So far, I haven’t been able to find one in this case. If so, kudos to American Airlines.

What do you think of these changes? Feel free to comment below.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Norwegian Cruise Lines on Facebook

Every day there are more examples of companies and organizations trying to take advantage of the social networking phenomenon. I will point out some of them in this and future posts. Today I’ll feature Norwegian Cruise Line’s presence in facebook.

Norwegian’s facebook page, which currently has 2,834 fans, contains notes, sales, a discussion board, pictures (posted by Norwegian and by fans), etc. Of course, it also allows fans of the cruise line to post questions and interact with each other.

In addition to the facebook page, Norwegian has made an application available to cruisers: A cruise countdown clock can be added to your facebook page, showing everyone how long it is to your next cruise. The application can be installed at Norwegian’s guest signup page.

Norwegian's facebook application

If you’re a fan, or if you’ve used the countdown clock, please comment below and let us know what you think about them, and if you are looking for an excuse to use the clock, please contact us to book your next Norwegian cruise.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171