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Tips on how to make your business trips exciting and fun

by amit.uniyal 10. June 2014 08:22

Many travelers rue the fact that business trips often turn out to be more and more work, instead of leisure, particularly when visiting overseas. This can however turn out to be exciting and a great fun. Though it solely depends on you how the business trip is actually handled.

What does one do when embarking on a business trip? The very thought of endless business meetings and constant stay in hotel rooms may make you tizzy. But did you ever know that this might even become glamorous as well. Make your boredom that your business trip might entail just go away by simply adding a side trip to your itinerary. This is enough to break the monotony and turn your business trip into holiday travel magic.

turn your business trip into holiday travel 
magic

Here is how you can add more fun and pleasure to your business trip. There are many travelers who go for business meetings to destinations like Shanghai, Dubai, Delhi, Toronto or Santiago. Apart from your usual business activities here, you can simply enjoy your stay in these destinations as well.

If your company has asked you to go to meet a business client in Shanghai, here is how you should take advantage of your stay here. Consider extending your stay by a few days and think of visiting the futuristic Oriental Pearl Tower and ancient water town of Zhujiajiao. Both of them are quite remarkable and wonderful to visit. The 1,536 feet high Oriental Pearl Tower is China’s second and world’s sixth tallest TV and Radio tower. The unique architectural design makes it one of the most stunning places to visit. It offers a great photographic opportunity with the imagery of the Yangpu Bridge and Nanpu Bridge resembling to be twin dragons playing with pearls.

What if you are on a business trip to Dubai? How to make it exciting and fun is the foremost question that might appear in your mind. After putting off your business meetings behind, consider staying in Dubai for a few days more and visit the nearby Sultanate of Oman. Here you can enjoy spectacular views of wadis (oasis), mountain ranges and sand dunes. The Bedouin dwellings of nomadic tribes and date plantations are also equally pleasing to see. If you have decided to extend your stay by three days, then don’t forget to see the copper dunes of Wahiba Sands and the beautiful fishing villages in Oman.

When planning a business trip to India’s famed capital Delhi, you should better think of extending your stay for few days more and visit the nearby Agra, the fabled “City of Taj Mahal”. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this white marble mausoleum was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate the memory of his wife Begum Mumtaz Mahal. This alluring one of the seven wonders of world attracts millions of tourists from around the world every year. You can also spend your night in the renowned luxury hotel in Agra – The Oberoi Amarvilas. Here you can experience Indian hospitality, opulence and grandeur at its best while simultaneously enjoying fascinating views of the Taj Mahal.

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Canada relaxes rules for using electronic devices on flights

by amit.uniyal 4. June 2014 08:02

Now, customers flying in Canadian airspace will not be warned by flight attendants against using their portable mobile devices on board their flights until the aircraft attains its cruising altitude. Such warnings will soon become a thing of the past.

Lisa Raitt, Canada’s Transport Minister, has relaxed rules regarding using of the portable electronic devices in flights. The United States has already permitted the use of electronic devices in 2013.

portable electronic devices in flights

Media reports said that Canadian airlines are now all set to allow their customers to start using their portable electronic gadgets as soon as they board their flights until it has finally landed at its destination. This will however be permissible on the condition that the transmitting of data doesn’t take place during the course of the flight. This has become possible only because of the new rules being implemented by Transport Department in the country.

Air Canada indicated that it is planning to allow its customers to make use of their electronic devices on board their flights in a few days. While, other two prominent carriers – WestJet Airlines and Porter Airlines – said that they will implement this new rule in early summer.

Canada’s Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said that the rules regarding the use of portable electronic gadgets on board the aircrafts are being relaxed. Under the new rules, the airlines are now permitted to apply for this. However, before doing so they will have to ensure that the aircraft fleet is ready to withstand and tolerate radio interference. The airlines are also required to update manuals and make amends to the flight crew training programs.

Media reports quoted Raitt as saying that there is a need to grant Canadians the freedom to take their electronic devices on board their flights as soon as possible and make use of them. Raitt made the remarks while addressing a news conference in Ottawa.

This exemption is however also applicable to the use of devices such as e-readers, electronic games, tablets and cameras, from gate-to-gate, on the condition that they are kept in flight mode or non-transmitting mode during landings and takeoffs. Cellphones, also termed as electronic devices, are also allowed on board the flights and can be used. However, the customers cannot use their cell phones for making calls or receiving and sending wireless signals.

The Transport Canada is implementing new rules in an attempt to keep itself in sync with the changes elsewhere including Europe and the United States. The rules regarding use of electronic gadgets on board the aircrafts have been relaxed in European countries and the U.S. in 2013.

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Airlines grapple to retain focus on first class travelers

by amit.uniyal 28. May 2014 08:02

Premier Middle East carriers like Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline are striving hard to continue to offer first class cabins to their premium travelers. However, even as the airlines have upgraded their offerings, recent data released by the Centre of Aviation or Capa has shown that first class air travel is constantly on the decline.

Recent reports said that Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline have innovated new luxury travel concepts. Flying bedrooms have been introduced by airlines hoping to catch travelers’ fancy. Such bedrooms are akin to the ones found in a hotel or a luxury yacht.

luxury travel concepts

The reports said that Etihad Airways in May this year began offering premium travel experience to its customers. The airline introduced business studios, apartments and private suites on its aircraft. Emirates Airline has also decided to emulate Etihad’s premium travel offering. The airline is planning to introduce new “bedroom concept”.
 
The data released by Capa pointed out that the London Heathrow-New York JFK route continues to the most popular among first class travelers in the world. The travelers were offered 159 first class seats on an average per day between May 12 and May 18. This route in fact offered a total of 1,116 weekly seats in first class.

The study by Capa further said that American Airlines removed its first class cabins on its Boeing 777-200 aircrafts fleet. According to the data, that airline flew 560 first class passengers on its 35 weekly flights on London Heathrow-New York JFK route in May 2012 as compared to 168 seats on its 21 weekly flights in May 2014.

In yet another data released by IATA, the premium first class traffic also showed sharp decline in recent months with China demand on the wane. The Middle East sector only performed solidly on this front. The data also outlined that there was a slowdown in premium travel in March this year. The IATA report citing the Middle East performance disclosed that tourism and economic growth had accelerated in this region thus proving that it continues to be among the strongest markets for air travel in the world.
 
The reports concluded that the premium offerings are being constantly being reviewed by various airlines world over. The first class cabins are being sustained by only few airlines. The Capa report pointed out an increasing trend of more business class lie-flat seats is being seen, with first class air travel demand shrinking.

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Southwest Airlines launches mobile boarding program at McCarran

by amit.uniyal 24. May 2014 09:46

Southwest Airlines is continuing to move ahead with its mobile boarding pass program and has now expanded the facility to its passengers taking flights out of McCarran International Airport. The airline has announced that its customers at McCarran will now be able to make use of their mobile phones to complete their security checks and board their flights.

Southwest Airlines, which is currently the largest airline at McCarran International Airport, had earlier launched its pilot program in 2013 at Dallas and Austin. The mobile boarding pass program was primarily launched to help passengers to pass through security checks and ultimately board their flights with the help of their mobile phones.

Southwest Airlines will now provide 
mobile boarding passes

With the expansion at McCarran, Southwest Airlines will now provide mobile boarding passes for travel from 28 cities on its network currently. These cities include Tampa, San Jose, San Diego, Phoenix, Orlando, Oakland, Nashville, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Fort Myers, Denver, Chicago Midway, Austin, Albuquerque, St. Louis, San Francisco, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Orange County/Santa Ana, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Houston Hobby, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas Love Field, Baltimore/Washington and Atlanta. The airline is however planning to extend this program to its customers in all the cities within the United States where it is serving.

The process for getting a mobile boarding pass is simple. The customers taking Southwest Airlines flights out of any 28 cities will be required to place a request through the airline’s website, mobile site or mobile app.

The airline however indicated that the mobile boarding passes will not be provided to all the passengers. Those excluded from this category include passengers on military fares, senior fares, unaccompanied minors and infants. The airline also indicated that this facility is also not available to those traveling on its long-haul international flights or AirTran Airways-operated flights.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines recently announced it is extending its flight schedule as well as introducing $99* or less one-way fare from Dallas Love Field Airport. The destinations where the airline is extending its schedule and introducing cheap airfares include Washington Reagan National, Los Angeles, Denver, Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, Las Vegas and Chicago Midway. The airline will be offering introductory fares to these destinations starting from October 13 through November 2, 2014.

Southwest Airlines also said that starting from November 2 it will expand its nonstop service to other cities as well with introductory $99* one-way fare. These cities include Tampa Bay, San Diego, New York LaGuardia, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Santa Ana/Orange County, Phoenix, Nashville and Atlanta.

The airline further announced it is introducing flights to new international destinations including Mexico City and Punta Cana. The new flights are available for booking through January 4, 2015.

* The airfares are one-way and inclusive of airport fees, government taxes and fuel surcharges. Other terms and conditions are applicable.

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Customer Satisfaction in Aviation Industry Reaches New Heights

by amit.uniyal 21. May 2014 09:25

It seems that customers aren’t complaining about the airlines - at least, not as much. As per a recent survey conducted in the North American aviation industry by J.D. Power and Associates stated that travelers have never been more satisfied by the airlines they are flying in.

It may be hard to believe but the fact stays that passengers are happier with their respective airline providers despite innumerable charges and fluctuating ticket prices. The survey judged passenger satisfaction level on the basis of in-flight services; costs and fees; reservations; check-in; boarding, flight crew, aircraft, de-boarding and baggage. The survey was conducted on over 11,000 passengers who flew in the North American region in 2013.

1000 point passenger satisfaction attained 712 points

On a scale of 1000-point passenger satisfaction attained 712 points, an increase of 17 points on y-o-y basis. The most interesting finding of the survey was that passengers were happy with the cost and fees levied by the airline. The scores improved to 642 from last year’s 618. As per a market expert, it is not that passengers are happy with the ongoing price rise of airfares and other services, but just that they have accepted this as a reality of air travel making them a little less dissatisfied.

The survey also reflected that customers are satisfied with some parts of their air travel; however uncomfortable seating was their biggest point of concern. They particularly disliked seats with less leg room, elbow space and seats that are not that comfy.

As far as baggage charges were concerned the satisfaction level rose from 37 to 40 percent in 2013. They know that they do not have a way out as far as baggage fees is concerned hence they have accepted this harsh reality.

Seattle based Alaska Airlines topped the satisfaction score with 737 amongst traditional North American carriers, making it seven in a row for the airline. Its scores increased by 20 points as compared to 2012. Delta Air Lines received second highest satisfaction score of 693 points followed by American Airlines (684), Air Canada (683), United Airlines (658) and US Airways (656).

In the low-cost carrier section JetBlue scored the highest with a score of 789. This was its tenth consecutive victory. By topping the survey, it indicated that passengers preferred an airline that offered live TV on flights, creating an important divergence in their overall flying experience. Southwest Airlines came second with 778 points followed by WestJet with 734, Air Tran Airways with 708 and Frontier Airlines with 676 points.

Alaska got another feather in its cap by receiving first rank in the quality and usability of airline frequent flier programs category with 757 points on a 1,000-point scale. Southwest Airlines followed second (731 points) with its Rapid Rewards program. This was followed by JetBlue’s TrueBlue program (707), United Airlines (686), American Airlines (685) and US Airways (642). Loyalty/rewards survey was based on factors including reward program terms; variety of benefits available; ease of redeeming points or miles; customer service; ease of earning points or miles and account maintenance.

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Oneworld Open to Consider Indian Carrier as Member

by amit.uniyal 9. May 2014 04:59

Oneworld, global airlines group said that it is open to consider an Indian carrier as part of the alliance group, provided the airline offers expected service standards and complements its present member airlines. Kingfisher was the only airline from the India to be a part of this group, which at present is nonfunctional due to financial reasons.

global airlines group

Bruce Ashby, CEO Oneworld said, we will definitely consider an Indian carrier provided it meets the same standards as Kingfisher did. However we haven’t had any serious discussion with any Indian carrier, since the Kingfisher fiasco occurred. We are very clear when it comes to adding a new airline to our group. Service standards cannot be compromised at any cost. Also the new airline has to complement fellow airline members.

Ashby said, Oneworld does not have any Indian carrier under its wings, but it marks its presence in India with the help of members' airlines like Sri Lankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

India is primarily serviced by low-cost carriers. To be a part of this alliance, LCCs will have to attain higher levels by upgrading themselves. He quoted the example of airberlin, Germany’s budget carrier, which became its member in 2012, after adapting new technology and changing its business model.

Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance are three airlines groupings in the world. There are 15 members in Oneworld, 19 in SkyTeam and 26 in Star Alliance, making it the largest amongst the three.

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SriLankan Airlines Joins Oneworld

by amit.uniyal 5. May 2014 09:45

National carrier of Sri Lanka, SriLankan Airlines has become a member of oneworld. The airline will now offer complete range of services and benefits of oneworld. With this it has become the first South Asian carrier to join the global alliance.

SriLankan Airlines now the 15th international airline to be a part of the oneworld alliance will now rub shoulders with the likes of Cathay Pacific, British Airways, American Airlines and more, giving it admittance to hundreds of airports and smother connectivity to thousands of destinations worldwide. With this alliance, the airline will gain access to a combined fleet of nearly 3,300 aircrafts and expand its reach to nearly 900 destinations in 150 countries from its present 72. The airline also announced its codeshare with S7 Airlines and Finnair, both being oneworld partners.

SriLankan Arlines

Kapila Chandrasena, CEO, SriLankan Airlines said our addition to oneworld as the first South Asian airline directly implies flying to not just Sri Lanka but to other regions like Maldives and India will also become easier and smoother. With this alliance two more destinations namely Hambantota, Southern Sri Lanka and Tiruchirapalli, South India are being added to the alliance network. He further said that we are planning to fly to few more Indian cities, and we are working on the economics for the same.

Bruce Ashby, CEO of Oneworld said, by adding Sri Lankan Airlines to our alliance group we have successfully completed our biggest ever expansion done since our inception. At present we cater to nearly 500 million passengers and 14,250 departures on a daily basis.

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Jet Airways to offer mobile check-in service to passengers

by amit.uniyal 2. May 2014 08:56

Travelers flying on Jet Airways and its codeshare airlines will now be able to make use of their phones to check-in and get e-boarding passes. Jet Airways is offering a self check-in application for mobile devices. This application can be downloaded on smart phones running on iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10 and Windows.

Offering a plethora of enhanced features like interactive seat map, unique system recognizing check-in members and convenient check-in for code-share and interline flights and more, this mobile app will allow users to smoothly log in to the official website of the airline. Through this app users whether traveling with an infant of child or traveling in a group on a single PNR will be able to check-in with ease. Guests will also be able to update their frequent flyer number and add their meal choice preference ahead of their flight.

phones to check-in

Interactive seat map is another big change offered in this app. Passengers will now be able to view the complete seat-layout including non-reclining seats, companion seats and emergency exit seats through their mobiles devices. Once the user has been able check-in successfully, he/she will receive their e-Boarding Pass on their e-mail id. User can then either print the e-boarding pass or save a copy in their gadget for future use.

Senior Vice President – Commercial for Jet Airways, Gaurang Shetty commented, as far as technological advancements are concerned we have always been a leader in the industry. Bringing innovative products for the betterment and convenience of our users, is our utmost goal and by introducing this mobile app, we have taken one more step ahead towards this goal. We are committed towards using technology to offer better user experience. This all new self check-in service will make travel easy, quick and will provide a higher level of convenience to our users.

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United Introduces New Mobile App for Android Users

by amit.uniyal 1. May 2014 10:55

United Airlines has finally introduced a new Android based mobile application for its users. This application is also being optimized for KitKat, the latest Android operating system.

United said that this new application is user-friendly, offers bettered touch-friendly layout, smoother functionality and new features. Some of the new features introduced include ability to rotate the screen, save more than one boarding pass and more. This app also employs a new home screen widget. This android app is launched on the heels of United’s re-designed mobile app for iOS 7 platform. The latest version of iOS 7 app was introduced only last year.

introduced a new Android based mobile 
application

Just like in iOS 7, the android version will also allow users to views the seating layout more clearly, pick more travel choices and buy award tickets on more than one flight.

Scott Wilson, United's vice president of merchandising and ecommerce, said that it’s our endeavor to extend a mobile app that helps passengers find what they want and when they want. We are striving hard towards providing such an application that ensures seamless and quicker travel experience. In 2013, United had also launched Windows Phone 8 based mobile app. And by the end of 2014, we will introduce the upgraded version of the iOS 7 app.

United Airlines is the first American carrier to offer mobile boarding passes. Not only this, it also became the first U.S. airline to introduce mobile boarding at all the domestic airports. At present united offers mobile boarding facility at 55 international airports, which is more than any other U.S. carrier.

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What do Business travelers look for when picking a hotel says survey

by amit.uniyal 30. April 2014 10:05

Choice Hotels International, looking into the preferences and practices of business travelers commissioned a survey recently. Survey was done to find the parameters on the basis of which business travelers book their hotels. A total of 529 travelers participated in the survey.

As per the survey, the location of the hotel was the utmost important thing for business travelers. 73% said that their main criterion of picking a hotel on their business trip is its location. They want their hotel to be centrally located and accessible.

business travelers commissioned

The next on their priority was the room quality. 61% travelers said it is critical for them to check the quality of the hotel they are staying in. Availability of Wi-Fi came third with 55% in favor of it. As per Choice Hotels' senior vice president of global distribution, Robert McDowell, internet connectivity has become a crucial amenity for business travelers. Most of them carry more than one gadget with them and are in dire need to be connected all the time.

The survey also revealed an interesting fact, that most of the travelers prefer working in their own rooms. This is contrary to the fact that most of hotels across the globe are spending millions of dollars in decking up their common and business areas. Nearly 84% said that they would choose to work in their own comfort zone, sitting in their room and not in the business center or the lobby area of the hotel.

The survey also stated that more and more travelers are using their tablets, phablets and smart phones to book their hotels. Nearly 76% hotels are being booked online. Not only this, 60% travelers are even using technology to check-in into the hotels. Understanding the ongoing surge of mobile apps, Choice Hotels has launched an app allowing travelers to book hotels in three simple clicks. Since more and more hotels are booked last minute, hence they have made an easy to use and navigate application, enabling travelers to book their hotel in a jiffy.

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