Travelers: Addresses

How do you convey the address of your hotel to your taxi driver in Paris when you don’t speak his version of French and you can’t understand the questions he’s asking you? Maybe you saved the emailed copy of your confirmation…but you’re in a cab without wifi…and your phone doesn’t work in Europe.

What then?

You could show him your confirmation email that you printed and have with you. It may be ‘old school’…but it works.

Travelers: Travel Documents

Do you back up your travel documents that would be catastrophic to lose? Copies of your passport, travel insurance policy, credit card info, or other identification info are vital to have when traveling.

You can keep these safe by using cloud technology like Dropbox, Google Drive, InfoSafe, and others.

Travelers: Too Much

I know you want to see it all when you travel. But, you know what? That’s impossible.

In fact, you should leave room in your schedule for those unexpected delights. If you slow down and enjoy the trip…chances are your entire experience will be better.

Guess what…you can come back to take in the sights you missed or want to revisit. It’s a whole lot more fun that way.

Travelers: Fare Searches

Many of you probably start planning your trips fairly early, especially if looking for flights to Europe, across the US, or a complicated itinerary.

When you start checking airfares, do you wonder if they will go down? Should you wait? How do you know?

One tool I found is to use Kayak. Put in your cities and dates. Then use their feature called Price Trend which shows whether the fare for your flight has been rising or falling. It also advises if you if you should purchase now or wait, with a confidence percentage.

Travelers: Rental Cars

You know you need to fill up the rental car before you return it. But…you forgot to check where the closest place to do that is.

Next time, on your way out of the rental car facility…check for gas stations. Or…check your smart phone before you’re in a rush to catch your flight.

Travelers: Check Out H.R. 4156

According to a post on…
Transparency in airfare. That sounds like something everyone can get behind, right?
But the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R. 4156), currently pending in the House, has ignited a firestorm of controversy about the nature and benefits of pricing transparency.
There are, it turns out, two rather different conceptions of transparency in conflict here: transparency as understood by consumers of travel, which facilitates comparison shopping; and the kind of transparency advocated by the airlines, which obscures the true cost of travel throughout most of the buying process.
The first conception, encapsulated in the 2012 DOT Full Fare Advertising regulation that would be overturned by H.R. 4156, stipulates that airfare ads must prominently display the total price of a ticket, including all taxes and fees, up front. The taxes and fees may be listed separately, so long as the all-in price is the headliner.
That approach captures the common-sense understanding of transparency, and addresses the persistent practice of airlines’ quoting low “net” fares and burying the associated taxes and fees in small-type notes at the bottom of the page. Importantly, it allows travel consumers to readily make apples-to-apples comparisons of ticket prices.
The competing notion of transparency focuses on the taxes and fees, at the expense of the total ticket price. In a nutshell, H.R. 4156 “declares that it shall not be an unfair or deceptive practice for an air carrier or other covered entity to state the base airfare in an advertisement or solicitation for passenger air transportation if it clearly and separately discloses: (1) the government-imposed taxes and fees for the air transportation, and (2) its total cost.”
It’s the airlines’ way of highlighting the effect government fees have on the overall price of airfare. (According to Airlines for America, an industry trade group that is aggressively promoting H.R. 4156, federal taxes currently account for 20 percent of the total cost of a ticket.) And, not coincidentally, it will allow a return to the bad old days when airlines and other travel distributors only revealed the total ticket price after a consumer had all but completed the booking process. It borders on bait-and-switch.
It may well be that some of the government-imposed taxes and fees included in the total price of a ticket are unreasonable or inappropriate. But that’s a separate issue, best dealt with by the airlines’ extensive networks of lawyers and lobbyists and trade groups. Positioning H.R. 4156 as a pro-consumer piece of legislation is cynical and misleading. But that’s nothing new. It is, in fact, exactly the sort of behavior the DOT’s 2012 Full Fare Advertising rule was designed to forestall.
As the New York Times opined in a strongly-worded editorial (pointedly headlined “Making Airfares Less Transparent”), “The cynically named Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 can only hurt consumers… This push to mislead consumers is particularly galling since recent mergers, like that of American Airlines and US Airways, have made the industry less competitive. This bill will only hurt travelers.”
If H.R. 4156 wins, it will be a win for the airlines at the expense of consumers.