For all of you that have passports expiring within the next six months, you might want to read the following. The U.S. State Department says the very best time to apply for a new passport, or renew an expiring one, is between the months of September and December. In other words, fourth quarter for the State Department is a bit slow.

The peak demand for passport, both new and renewals, is February through August, which makes sense as many people travel abroad during the spring and summer months. The processing time during the peak season can be as long as six to seven weeks. In contrast, passport processing time in the fourth quarter is roughly two to three weeks. Big difference.

Late last year TravelPlex posted a blog citing the airlines' escalating ancillary revenues. This is income primarily derived from the sales of seats (although one would expect the $550 flight to Dallas would come with a seat…), early boarding privileges, onboard entertainment and food. Also bundled into this stream are the sale of frequent flyer miles, commissions earned on sales of car rentals, travel insurance and hotel rooms, as well as revenue earned from in-flight advertising.

Over 60 airlines raised $38 billion in ancillary fees, an 8.5% increase year over year. This is shy of the projected 15%-20% increase.

If you’ve watched any Cardinal baseball in the last few years, or listened to a number of local radio stations, you are well aware that “six is a serious number”. With that in mind, and riding the coattails of a relatively successful ad campaign, we’d like to offer you TravelPlex’s Six Habits of Effective Travelers. Some of these you are already aware of, but just in case, we thought we’d dust them off and offer them up as a reminder. If you abide by the tips, you have our permission to stop by your nearest gasoline station and purchase a beverage of your choice.

We at TravelPlex are always trying to keep our valued clients and travelers up to date with the latest in travel industry news. One area we like to keep you apprised of involves various travel vendor reward programs. Recently we reported on National Car Rental's “OneTwoFree” promotion and highlighted the many benefits one can gain from the campaign.

Conversely, we like to bring attention to vendor promotions that do not seem to be that customer friendly. While TravelPlex has long been a major supporter of Marriott Hotels, their latest promotion, “MegaBonus”, does not appear to be as customer friendly as their previous programs.

As we turn the corner of summer and head into autumn, we thought this month’s Memorable City should be a nice “drive” destination from St. Louis. With that in mind, this month takes us to “the Queen City", commonly known as Cincinnati. 

Found amid rolling hills along the Ohio River, Cincinnati reaches from the southwestern corner of Ohio into Northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana. The city is located about midway on the 1,000-mile long Ohio River. A fun fact about Cincinnati is that according to legend, Cincinnati was, like Rome, built on seven hills. However, nobody seems to know what the original seven hills were. Ask 10 different citizens of the Queen City and you’ll get 10 different answers.

As travel promotions go, National Car Rental’s “One Two Free” is a winner. Unlike Marriott’s MegaBonus offer, which has shed considerable value in its last few iterations, the recently-announced version of “One Two Free” is potentially more generous than it has been in past years.

Now through January 31, 2016, Emerald Club members can earn one free rental day for every two rentals of a mid-sized or larger car for two or more days. Additional bonus points may be earned as follows:

While we try to bring as much original content to TravelPlex blogs as possible, many times we find articles that are too good not to share.

Tim Winship of Google Plus provides valuable insight into the rising amount of airline customer complaints. The “increase needle” is in almost direct correlation to the airline “profitability needle”. Hmmmm. Does this mean that as long as airlines are making money, they don’t care about customer satisfaction? After reading Mr. Winship’s article, you draw your own conclusion. Although I have an idea you already KNOW the answer…

Here at TravelPlex, we are often asked what the best airline frequent flyer program is, or what benefits can be earned from a car rental company. While both of these have been addressed in previous blogs, we have yet to really address our travelers' questions regarding what the best hotel frequent guest program is. With that in mind, we did some research and came across a recently published article in airfarewatchdog. A well written and detailed article by Keri Ann O'Riordan outlines the major hotel programs and the benefits travelers can gain from each. The biggest programs, as you can imagine, are not always the best. 

Have you ever been on a plane and remembered you forgot something in your carry-on? Or gotten to your hotel and realized you left something at home? We all have. In order to limit the times this may occur, TravelPlex, with some help, would like to provide you a check list of sorts to make sure you always remember needed items.  

Mark Orwoll and the good people at Travel & Leisure magazine recently published a list of items that everyone should have with them when they travel, whether domestically or internationally. While some are obvious, the list does include some good tips.  In no specific order, they are;

This month’s Memorable City takes us east to the Steel City, better known as Pittsburgh.

What many outsiders don’t know is that Pittsburgh is also known as the “City of Bridges”, boasting over 446 bridges.  Pittsburgh has also been named America's “Most Livable City” by Places Rated Almanac, Forbes, and The Economist.  National Geographic and Today named the city a top world destination.

Have you ever wondered just how that $35 daily car rental rate morphed into a $60 a day rate? Well, TravelPlex would like to give some explanations for these sometimes confusing fees.

Airline fees: few things get a traveler’s blood pressure boiling more than a discussion about the growing list of fees that airlines charge travelers. Comedians create entire stand-up routines on the traveler’s frustrations and airline elation at additional fees. Most of these fees cover services that were formerly included in the price of a ticket, including checked baggage, actual airline seats (or even boarding preference) and in-flight meals. 

However, the most aggravating fees are the ones that don't have any rational justification.

The most frustrating airline fees, in no particular order, are:

There are few things that are inevitable. Death, taxes, and the airlines coming up with yet another fee of some sort to throw at travelers. So, what will the next revenue stream for the airlines be?

A recent survey of 2,300 travelers conducted by FlightView may provide clues as to what the airlines are planning. At least, the survey indicates what travelers are willing to pay for.

If you are one of those travelers who like to take the first flight to a new destination, or the last one, you might want to mark October 17th on your calendar. That is the day American Airlines will shift to one reservations system and the current US Airways' reservations system will be deactivated.

If you fly, undoubtedly there have been times you have tried to fall asleep on the plane, and just couldn’t. That’s happened to most of us, and we’d like to give you some advice on how finding sleep on a plane isn’t as hard as you might think – IF you follow some of these helpful hints.

YOUR TIMING IS OFF – Try and avoid scheduling flights for the time of day that you tend to be most awake. Early-morning flights are great for this reason. Or, book a ticket that departs after dinner-time. The key here is to board the plane tired. That may mean you need to wake up extra-early that morning, or if you can get in a hardcore workout during the day, do it.

This month’s Memorable City takes us to the great northwest and the city of Seattle, Washington. Seattle, more commonly known to the locals as The Emerald City, is a city woven together by many neighborhoods. Most visitors view Seattle as an urban, outdoorsy, artsy city, where rain is a usual nuisance to be dealt with. It rains between 150 and 200 days a year, but because of this, the city offers plenty of things to do inside.