Possible Budget Cuts / Potential Travel Delays

If sequestration (i.e., proposed government budget cuts) goes into effect on March 1st, as seems increasingly likely, there could be a significant impact on travel.  See this Fox News article.

You may have heard that various federal agencies are warning that this will dramatically cut the number of air trafficBudget Cuts controllers, Transportation Security Administration, personnel at airport security and Customs and Border Protection personnel.  Whether this in fact will eventuate is perhaps debatable.  A lot of political posturing on both sides revolves around such subjects today.  Since we can’t predict the future, the best we can do is give you advance warning about potential problems.   Like you, I have read that a reduction in air traffic controllers could adversely affect airline flight schedules and operations causing delays.  This could lead in turn to longer lines at airport screening and possibly even longer lines at customs.

You may recall in a previous blog post I talked about how travel agents can provide robust assistance when things go awry.

*  As professional travel agents, we are hardly strangers to navigating through weather related and mechanical delays.  If the scenario described above were to unfold, we will quickly offer alternative travel plans.

*  Since travel often consists of several components, our assistance extends not only to securing flight arrangements but also rebooking hotels and car rental reservations.  Our job is to get you to your destination quickly and with as little hassle as possible.

Here are a few practical tips for getting through the security line a little faster.

Turbulence

As I mentioned in the above referenced post, “You can either be that person standing in a long line praying all the options are not gone by the time you reach the front of the queue or you can be that relaxed traveler standing to the side, sipping a latte and talking calmly to his or her travel agent.”

Even if you didn’t book with us, we will try our best to assist you. For the next few weeks we all might be in for a bit of a bumpy ride.  We are here to help!

Remember, always come to Travel By Terry to  “Hear It Here First”.

The Qantas Queen Of Brand Redemption

For this post, I am going to reach back in time just a bit.  When you read the final denouement (don’t dare skip to the end), you will understand that for rather obvious reasons this event had to have taken place before 9/11.  I tell the story, however, because it is such a beautiful example of brand redemption.

Everyone out there who owns a business and is striving, brick by bloody brick, to build a powerful brand is painfully aware how much damage can be done to their efforts by one careless employee.  This is a personal story of how one callow employee sold a brand short and how another seasoned employee ransomed it from the bazaar of brazen behavior.

Qantas Airlines Sydney

For better than fifteen years, I escorted tour groups to Australia most of the time placing the groups on Qantas Airways.  Because of the volume of business we were producing, whenever I traveled I usually was provided a space-available upgrade to business or first class.  On the long-haul, international segments, this was truly a godsend.  It was a professional courtesy which I never expected but always appreciated.

On one particular occasion I was flying alone from Sydney to Melbourne, about a four-hour flight.  As was my custom, I waited for the check in counter to clear, walked up and handed my boarding pass and business card to the young gate agent and explained that if he would check the record, he would see I was listed for a standby upgrade.  As always, I said something to the effect that if there happened to be room, it would be much appreciated.  He asked me to leave the boarding card with him and check back after everyone else had boarded.

As instructed, when the last passenger entered the jetway, I returned to the gate toQantas boarding pass reclaim my boarding pass.  A quick glance at the new boarding card revealed I was having a good day and would be flying down to Melbourne in business class.  I boarded the plane, stuck the boarding card in my coat pocket, handed my coat to the flight attendant to stow and settled into my comfy business class seat.

A few minutes later the young gate agent, the peach fuzz on his bright red cheeks quivering,  stormed onto the plane, found where I was sitting and in the most bellicose and accusatory tone said, “You are sitting in the wrong seat!”  Taken aback, I replied, “I suppose that is possible but I am pretty sure I am sitting in the seat that matches the boarding pass you handed me.”  “Where is your boarding pass?’, he demanded.  “In my coat pocket.”, I explained.  He immediately retrieved it, pulled out the boarding pass and in a celebratory tone trumpeted to the entire section, “See, this is not your name on the card.”

I muttered something about it being the card which he had handed me five minutes earlier, gathered my belongings and sulked back to economy amidst the hostile glares of other business class passengers who were obviously aghast that their inner sanctum had somehow been breached by this unwashed Visigoth.

Picture from Nautical Cottage Blog

Picture from Nautical Cottage Blog

I took my coach seat and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible.  After take off, I managed to lose myself in a golf magazine for the next twenty minutes or so.  We had just leveled off and the seat belt light had been extinguished when I realized someone was kneeling next to me with a tropical drink of some sort in her hand.  This angel of aviation introduced herself (and here the ravages of time and, no doubt, too many similar tropical libations over the intervening years have robbed my memory of her name), explained that she was the chief steward, placed the drink on my tray and began to apologize profusely.  “I want you know, I gave that young man a tongue lashing he won’t soon forget.”

While she was attractive and quite feminine, there was yet a commanding presence about her that left me little doubt that she could administer a proper berating when the occasion warranted that would make the crustiest DI (drill instructor) proud.  She went on to say that such rudeness was not the way Qantas treats customers and hoped that I would forgive such an indefensible breach of etiquette.  I told her not to give it another thought and that I appreciated her efforts to mitigate the damage to my fragile psyche.

She left and I returned to my reading only this time pleasantly augmenting the turning of the pages with occasional sips of my complementary libation.  About ten minutes later she returned.  “Mr. Denton, I have shared this incident with the Captain and he was equally appalled.  He asked me to invite you to join him and the copilot in the cockpit for the remainder of the flight.  Just gather your belongings and we will drop them off in First Class.”

Qantas cockpitI would like to say I was mature enough not to gloat uncontrollably as I slowly made my way through the business class cabin but alas, that is not the case.  The next couple of hours were spent in convivial conversation with the cockpit crew.  They let me remain there all the way through landing giving me a perspective on final approach I had never before enjoyed on a commercial airliner.

So the moral of this little tale should be self-evident.  My estimation of Qantas, already high, only skyrocketed.  I have told this story to anyone who would listen dozens of times over the years and now it has found its way on to my blog.  Random acts of stupidity can not only be countered but can be redeemed and ultimately crowned by acts of brilliant thoughtfulness, especially when rendered by a Queen!

Do you have any stories of brand redemption you would like to share?

Addendum to American Airline’s New Look

I was on an American Airlines flight recently when the pilot received one of those urgent, undeniable calls of nature.  It happens.  So he asked me if I would mind taking over for just a few minutes.  Ever the accommodating sort, I said sure.  When, due to  his extended delay, I had to land the plane unassisted he apologized profusely saying he was sure it was the raw oysters from the night before.

American Airlines' new livery

Passengers, please remain calm. One of us terrified is quite enough!

Actually, that is not precisely what happened.  I suppose you are one of those sticklers for truth, historical accuracy and all that silly sort of thing.  OK, OK. Then what really happened is that I was invited this morning, along with four hundred of my closest friends, out to DFW airport (or FW/d airport as I like to call it) to see the new American Airlines livery up close and personal.  You don’t get much closer than the cockpit.

Here are a few pictures I took.

    American Airlines new livery          American Airlines new livery

American Airlines new livery 

Consider this post a brief intermission in our three act play called River Cruising: A Languid Stroll Down Liquid Highways.  The third act will arrive on your email doorstep shortly assuming you have had the perspicuity to sign up to follow this inimitable blog.

American Airlines Launches New Look

Welcome to another edition of Hear It Here First.  I was perusing my morning newspaper earlier today over a cup of hot java and my almond meal gruel when I happened upon an article talking about American Airlines‘ plan to create a whole new Hear it Here Firstbrand and image.

I see where our friends over at Skift News are all over this story as usual.  Rafit Ali has written a story called “UPDATED: Here’s the new look of American Airlines that launched today.”

They even have a page where they are tracking the twitter reaction to the new look.  You can see American’s own presentation of their launch in a nice video here.

We in the travel business are following all the developments over at American Airlines with more than a casual interest.  Our travel company operates out of North Texas where Fort Worth is American’s home town and DFW airport is, of course, a major hub.  They are going through challenging times over at American and we wish them the very best.  Our industry needs, and consumers are best served by, at least a handful of robust competitors.  We have no special insight to share regarding the likelihood of a merger between AA and US Airways but that eventuality seems to us more and more likely.

As promised, these little industry updates will be short and, like me, almost sickeningly sweet! What do you think of the new look over at AA?

Go Ahead Emirates: Make My Day

One definition of a good job is one in which every day is a little different from the one before.  I guess that is one reason I like the travel industry so much.  Not only is every day distinctive but every six months or so,  just for grins, we all get together and reinvent the entire industry.  Some of us find that a tad stressful but I suppose at least It keeps the little gray cells from atrophying.

DAY ONE

Earlier this year I experienced not one but two of those unique sorts of days thanks to one of the world’s most successful and fastest growing airlines:  Emirates.  Back in Dallas Cowboys Stadium Big ScreenJanuary Emirates staged a huge event for nine hundred or so Dallas / Fort Worth luminaries (and a few dimmer bulbs like me) at the iconic Dallas Cowboys Stadium of all places.  Perhaps you will recognize the big screen that hovers above the field like a suspended Walmart parking lot.   The event was hosted, appropriately enough, by Daryl “Moose” Johnson, the former Cowboys fullback.

I must say, Emirates knows how to do things right.  To give you an idea of the decor check Emirates Launch Event in DFWout this little item.  For those who may be wondering, this is not the hallway leading to my office although I think we can all agree, if there were any justice in this world, it would be.  In case you are also wondering about perspective, it is considerably taller than me, not the loftiest of standards, I will grant you.

DAY TWO

My second little “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” came  two months later in March when I was invited by Emirates to drive out to DFW Airport for a nice breakfast presentation and then to tour one of their 777s  which by then were shuttling people daily back and forth between DFW Airport and Dubai.  After the tour, we reconvened for a sumptuous lunch.  I told you they know how to do things right!

OK, steel yourself for a study in contrasts.  Close your eyes and conjure up the last time you flew Emirates First Class on the 777domestic coach in a middle seat wedged between a Japanese Sumo wrestler and a contestant on their way to an audition for “The Biggest Loser”  I know, shudder!!!

Now take a peek at what greets you when you arrive in first class on an Emirates flight to Dubai.   You know, now that I think about it, I never did find the little mini-bar or the make-up mirror on my last Spirit Airlines flight to Detroit.  Whether you are fortunate enough to fly first class on the 777 or the A380, you get you own freakin’ suite!   Now that’s just plain decadent.

First Class on the Emirates a380

This may come as a surprise but in addition to booking business and vacation travelers, we also have a missionary / humanitarian contract with Emirates for those traveling for more altruistic motives.  You can connect to 125 destinations in 74 countries through Dubai.  If you are flying from DFW or SEA, be sure and ask about the brand new firm upgrade offer from Economy Class to Business Class.  So if your purpose for travel is business, pleasure or even service to humanity, Emirates and Travel Leaders would be more than pleased to “make your day” too!