What Does Your Boarding Pass Say?

Did you know that the letter F on your boarding pass means first class and that Y means economy?

What about Z or X or L or Q? What do they mean?

When you book online, those letters do mean something. For instance, it means whether a ticket is refundable or not. It also means whether your ticket can be upgraded.

These letters are about fare distinctions. If you’re really not sure about the ticket you’re about to purchase, you can always call the airline or go to their website to see what that letter means.

Tumi or Samsonite…or Both?

Recently, I read about Tumi and Samsonite joining forces in the luggage business. Check out this from The Washington Post…
Two of the biggest names at the baggage claim are about to join forces.
Samsonite, the world’s largest luggage company, said Friday that it agreed to pay $1.8 billion to acquire Tumi, a deal that would bring together an every man’s travel brand with an ultra-luxe one whose suitcases start at around $500. Samsonite hopes the purchase will allow it to become a more dominant force in the upscale corner of the market.
“We always wanted to have a play in this segment, but we have never been able to do it in a very credible way,” said Ramesh Tainwala, Samsonite’s chief executive, on a conference call with investors.
David Schick, a retail analyst at Stifel, said the move was a logical one for Tumi, which pulled in $548 million in sales last year.
“What we see in the evolution of luxury is that brands understand that they can only get so big,” Schick said.  
In other words, at a certain point, it’s helpful for them to become part of a larger suite of brands if they want to increase scale and find operational and logistical efficiency. 
Tumi’s stock was up 2 percent in Friday’s trading session, though its stock was up about 35 percent for the week since rumors of the tie-up had been circulating in preceding days.
Tumi, founded in 1975 and headquartered in South Plainfield, N.J., is known for inspiring serious customer loyalty.
“It’s the perfect suitcase,” said Justin McNulty, 34, who lives in Austin and runs the travel blog Justin Does. “It fits in every overhead compartment, it’s durable and it looks cool.”
When the handle fell off his previous suitcase, McNulty took it to a Tumi store. “A week later, I got a phone call saying ‘we’re going to send you a brand-new suitcase. Tell us which one you want.’” McNulty said the deal with Samsonite made him worried that such customer service might be affected.
“Just like with any other consolidation of companies, you worry. Are we going to get higher prices and less quality, just like with the airline mergers?” McNulty said.
Still, Samsonite seems committed to maintaining Tumi’s premium positioning in the marketplace, saying that the acquisition made sense in large part because Tumi brought something different to Samsonite’s portfolio:  In addition to its flagship brand, Samsonite also includes Hartmann, American Tourister, High Sierra and other travel bags that aren’t at Tumi’s upscale price point and aren’t as focused on the needs of business travelers.
Samsonite said it intends to expand Tumi’s reach in international markets. Currently the brand gets 68 percent of its sales in North America, with just 17 percent coming from Asia and 14 percent from its Europe, Middle East and Africa division. Tainwala also said it thinks Tumi could do a stronger business in hardside luggage, which today makes up a relatively small share of the brand’s sales.

Do You Travel For Food?

I’m looking forward to listening to and watching these chefs at the Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show… I’ll report on what they had to say after the weekend. 
THE TASTE OF TRAVEL STAGE The Taste of Travel Stage, hosted by Chef Garth Blackburn and Amy Kushnir, provides visitors with insights from professional foodies and a taste of local, regional and global cuisine prepared by local chefs.
Special guests include:
· Chef Garth Blackburn of Sub-Zero Wolf in Dallas and Houston, Texas, and Amy Kushnir, host of “Taste Texas” and author of “Red Dirt Recipes”: Texas is all about fresh ingredients with a little heat! Come learn professional cooking tips for the home cook with the dynamic Texas duo who will show you how to make a quick and flavorful tostada that is guaranteed to impress your friends!
·Jerry Stone, food and wine blogger (Cooking Stoned and Green Wine Guide): The American food blogger, vegetarian chef, activist, and Internet personality is known for simple gourmet recipes and advocacy for the sustainable food and wine movement. In 2015, a Sierra Club magazine article named him one of nine chefs changing the world.
· Ben Simon – chief executive officer, Imperfect Produce: Ben Simon is a serial social entrepreneur and founder and executive director at Food Recovery Network (FRN). FRN unites students at American colleges to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus food from their campuses that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to hungry people. Ben founded FRN in Fall 2011 while a student at the University of Maryland, College Park. FRN is now at over 110 colleges and has donated over 450,000 meals to hungry Americans.
·Allan Karl, renowned motorcycle adventure traveler, photographer and best-selling author of “FORKS—A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection”: Allan is an author, photographer, professional keynote speaker, committed adventurer, and digital marketing strategist. With an insatiable passion for travel, culture, people, and food, he has explored more than 60 countries all over the world, photographing, writing, and blogging about them along the way. A dynamic and inspiring professional speaker, Allan shares his message with captivating storytelling and award-winning photography.

 · Sergio Monleón and Emily Sarlatte, Chef/Owners, La Marcha, Berkeley, Calif.: Chef Monleón and Chef Sarlatte opened Ñora Cocina Española in 2012, the popular mobile catering business specializing in paella and Spanish-influenced cuisine. Since its inception, the San Francisco Bay Area-based company has catered countless high-end weddings and special events, and made appearances at food festivals like Off the Grid and Eat Real Festival. Much to the delight of their loyal and growing customer base, Chef Monleón and Chef Sarlatte joined forces again in Fall 2015 to open a full-service restaurant: La Marcha, a critically acclaimed Spanish tapas bar in the heart of Berkeley with a menu of tapas and paellas.

What’s Too Touristy?

Lately, I’ve been reading about places that are too touristy. What’s that mean to you? Do you look for a place that has been mentioned frequently on travel shows and in travel blogs? Or, do you look for someplace that isn’t too touristy?

For instance, the Galapagos Islands control how many people they allow to visit at any given time. Many museums do the same and you pick a time when you book your tickets.

But, places like Cancun and the Riviera Maya exist for tourists. You probably expect to see many people and it doesn’t really feel too touristy.

What’s your definition of too touristy? Does it affect your travel plans?

Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show

Regardless if your next destination is half a world away or somewhere right in your own backyard, planning your next vacation is exciting.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a three-week long dive trip to Australia or a weekend trip to Yosemite, you want your vacation to be special and this is the place to learn how to accomplish that.
Head to the Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show this weekend in Santa Clara, CA.
Whatever you do…have fun. After all, this is for travel enthusiasts.
If You Go: March 5 and 6 at the Santa Clara Convention Center

Check Your Passport

I know I’ve mentioned checking your passport well in advance of booking your trip. Here are some more reasons you should check it early.

For the first time, 10 years ago Americans needed passports to travel to Canada and Mexico. As you can imagine, the number of people applying for passports spiked. According to the State Department, they added about 17 million that year.

Guess what? Those passports are expiring this year. Many of those 17 million are applying for renewals. That doesn’t count the number of new applications.

In order to avoid the rush or get behind when you need your passport renewed, these tips can help:

1. If you apply by mail, your passport should arrive in about six weeks.

2. Only go to a passport office to expedite your request. It will cost an extra $60.

3. If you go, make an appointment to cut down on wait time.

4. Make sure you’ve checked the address of the closest passport office. Some of them have changed.