Monday, January 31, 2011

SWISS is changing the baggage allowance from 2 pieces to 1 piece!

For tickets issued on/after March 1, 2011, a revised free baggage allowance policy will apply for passengers traveling in SWISS Economy between North America (USA/Canada/Mexico) and Europe:

• One piece weighing up to 23kg/50lb with total dimensions not exceeding 158cm/62in: free of charge

• Second piece within the same weight & dimensions: USD/CAD50 (CHF60; EUR40)

• Third & more within the same weight & dimensions: USD/CAD200 (CHF250; EUR150)

The fee for the second piece of baggage can be paid via the SWISS website, or at the SWISS ticket counter at the airport. 
The free baggage allowance for SWISS First and SWISS Business guests as well as for Miles & More status passengers (HON Circle, Senator, Frequent Traveller, and Star Alliance Gold members) remains unchanged. All passengers continue to be entitled to check-in one set of ski or golf equipment free of charge.

Book your SWISS tickets now to still be eligible for the current luggage policy. Visit us at or call (800) 949-6362

Friday, January 21, 2011

You're Invited on an Exclusive Cruise with Food Network and Chef Anne Burrell

Discovering the world of food, one trip at a time! As part of The Signature Collection, we're excited to bring you the unique opportunity to travel with Food Network and provide exclusive access to authentic and engaging Food Network travel experiences on land and at sea. These itineraries offer By Invitation Only events such as one-of-a-kind classes led by Chefs from Food Network Kitchens, lively cooking demonstrations by Food Network stars, private parties and VIP opportunities to explore local culinary scenes around the world, and much more.

Theme Cruise:  
Food Network at Sea featuring Food Network star Anne Burrell
Anne has always stood out in the restaurant business for her remarkable culinary talent, bold and creative dishes, and her trademark spiky blond hair. After training at New York’s Culinary Institute of America and Italy’s Culinary Institute for Foreigners, she gained hands-on experience at notable New York restaurants including Italian Wine Merchants and Centro Vinoteca. Anne has also battled on Food Network’s Iron Chef America as Mario Batali’s energetic and reliable sous chef. In January, be sure to tune into the second season of Worst Cooks in America hosted by Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine!

  • Culinary Demonstrations led by Food Network’s Chef Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America and Secrets of a Restaurant Chef!
  • Interactive, hands-on cooking classes led by Chefs and Food Stylists from Food Network Kitchens
  • VIP Pier-side check-in
  • Food Network Exclusive Red Carpet Welcome Aboard Reception
  • Food Network VIP Hospitality Lounge
  • Other events featuring favorite Food Network recipes
  • In addition Food Network guests will receive pre-paid gratuities and special turndown gifts!

Friday, January 14, 2011

How does group airfare work?

Yesterday we received a group inquiry for airfare from Boston to Nuremberg, Germany. This is for a school group of 15 students going for a quick exchange and to see Germany! The group leader requested the best price and I started looking up fares and getting bids from airlines. This morning the group leader calls me back and gives me rates he has found through other agencies and by himself. What he didn't know, was that by doing this, he is bringing up the rate for his requested itinerary.

Here are some tips about group airfare requests and procedures as well as the pros and cons of group airfare verses published airfare:

  • When requesting group airfare, have alternative dates available
  • Do not request airfare with several different agencies, as this will increase you quote (see below)
  • Request group airfare with an agency which has a good connection and high sales volume with the desired airline

Group Airfare advantage:

  • Guaranteed price for all travelers (except taxes & fuel)
  • One Free seat (taxes need to be paid) for large groups (30+), depending on the airline
  • Low deposit required, final payment due generally 3 months before departure
  • Name changes are possible until ticketing (3 months before departure)
  • Group check in at the airport (most airlines)
  • Group seat assignment

Individual airfare advantage vs group airfare:

  • Individual ticket price generally lower than group price
  • More flexibility for departure and return flights as well as deviations

Here is the correspondence I had with a client about this:

Dear XXX:

We have great contacts to several airlines. However, I noticed that you or a different agency already inquired for the same dates with some of the airlines. The airlines do not ‘double quote’ airfare for several different agencies.

While I do understand that you like to get bids from different airlines, it is really just getting you higher quotes when having several agencies compete. The more group space is requested, the higher the fare will go, as the airline assumes that there is higher demand.

I am waiting to hear back from a different airline, but I assume that their rates might be around the same.
As mentioned on the phone and in my email, it will be less expensive to purchase contracted airfare. However, this would require full payment at time of booking, which you mentioned is a hardship for the group at this point.

The reason group airfare is generally more expensive is that airlines do not want to sell out their flights and loose the flexibility in terms of yield management. Once they sold out, they can’t change the price (and with that their profit) anymore. Plus they are going back to historical data and see how booked these particular flights were in the past. Group rates come in generally a bit higher, to ensure that the airline does not lose money on that flight, even though there might be a special on the market at the time of inquiry which is cheaper.

Hope this gives you a bit more understanding on how things are working.

Bottom line - if you are looking for the cheapest, most flexible airfare for your group, individual ticketing makes sense, especially as our contracted airfares are lower than the published airfare you will find online.

Please email us at for a group quote and to discuss the best possible way to get your group from A to B.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ALOHA DAYS are back! Best Hawaii vacation deals of the season.

Oahu has more hotels, restaurants, and major attractions than all of the other islands combined. The major city, Honolulu, is sophisticated, lively, and breathtaking. It has more in the way of arts, culture, and entertainment, and has an abundance of galleries, nightclubs, and museums, a major zoo, aquarium, Iolani Palace (the only royal palace on U.S. soil), Pearl Harbor... the list goes on and on. No other American city could offer you the chance to surf the world's biggest waves, snorkel a lagoon, hike into a dormant volcano, golf at championship courses, and catch the sunset from a five-star restaurant.

5-Nights Outrigger Reef on the Beach from  $572  

5-Nights The Kahala Hotel and Resort from $911

Click here to see all Hawaii Specials

Friday, January 7, 2011

ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization

We get many questions from our clients regarding the ESTA, which is mandatory for many foreign travelers to the United States.

While it is advisable to visit the website of the Department of State for questions and answers, we wanted to let you know about one of the most asked question:

How long is my ESTA approval good for?

Your ESTA authorization is generally valid for two years*. This means that as long as you received an ESTA authorization to travel, you do not have to reapply for two years. You may update your travel information; however this information is optional and is not required.  Note: Is it important to PRINT a copy of the document upon approval as it contains your ESTA number that may be needed for reference purposes.
Receiving ESTA authorization does not mean you may stay in the U.S. for two years. It only allows you to travel to the U.S. under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which only allows you to stay in the U.S. for 90 days or less. If you plan to stay for longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
*If you obtain a new passport or change your name, gender or country of citizenship, you will be required to apply for a new travel authorization. This is also required if one of your answers to any of the VWP eligibility questions changes.  Since September 8, 2010, the associated fee of $14 is being charged for each new application submitted.