If you have flown in the past, say, few years, you’ve noticed a common occurrence. Airplanes are full. I don’t mean full with a few seats open – I mean FULL! No matter the airline and regardless of the time of your flight. I recently flew a red-eye from Los Angeles and there was not one empty seat on the plane. I specifically chose that flight because I flew the same one a few years ago and there were maybe 75 people on the entire plane. Thoughts of stretching out in a few open seats and catching some sleep were quickly shattered when they started asking for volunteers to give up their seats due to an overbooked situation. On a RED-EYE!

Airline analyst Michael Baker of Business Travel News recently wrote that the airlines’ capping capacity is actually a strategy employed to help maintain the financial fortunes the airlines currently enjoy.

TravelPlex’s Destination of the Month for May takes you south to the city overlooking the bluffs, sometimes called the “River City”. We’re talking about Memphis.

Rising from the bluffs along the Mississippi River (thus its nickname), Memphis is Tennessee's largest city and the commercial and cultural center of the western part of the Volunteer state. The city is a combination of Southern tradition and modern efficiency, where old-fashioned paddle wheelers steam upriver past the city's most striking landmark, the gleaming, stainless-steel Pyramid Arena.

In our previous blog, we wrote about things you need to do to secure your home before you travel. Such elementary things as stopping the mail, making sure all your electronic items are fully charged, and checking the weather and traffic before you depart for the airport. 

Today, we are again addressing some things to do while ON the road to protect yourself. Megan Snedden of the USA Today staff offers a number of suggestions in order to protect your security while traveling. Identity thieves, and those just wishing to pilfer our homes while we are away, have found their jobs much easier with the explosion of social media. It seems some people have an unusual desire to tell anyone interested in listening the fact that they are away in some tropical paradise, or an international destination, complete with pictures of their exploits. The main problem with this is the fact that everyone now knows you are not home, ushering an invitation to any would be thief.   

To view some tips on how to make sure your trip is as secure as possible, please access Ms. Snedden’s article ....

It recently came to my attention that TravelPlex counselors are always asked for tips by clients before they go overseas, or on a family vacation, or even a three day business trip to Baltimore. So, in order to help all those out there that might have a question as to what you might need to do BEFORE you leave for a trip, we’ve compiled a list of helpful hints. Many of these you probably know, but if there is just one item that we bring to your attention that you do not already know, then the blog has done its job. Happy travels from all of us at TravelPlex...

For those of us old enough to remember late night talk show host Arsenio Hall, you may recall a segment he did every night in the beginning of his show. It was the “Things that Make You Go Hmmmmmm”. In the travel industry, we have the opportunity to say that a lot.

One of the travel related things that we at TravelPlex get asked, and something that makes a person go “hmmmmm”, is how do/did the airlines actually come up with their boarding process? Southwest aside, most airlines all have the same procedures, save a few variations. 

Nowadays, news of security and data breaches causes little surprise. It’s almost as if we have become immune to such announcements. Most of us, if we shop or travel, have come to expect that sometime, somewhere, somehow, we will all fall victim to data hackers. News of thousands – even millions - of credit card numbers and data being stolen barely pulls a yawn.  

Independent hotel management company White Lodging recently announced that their clients are the latest to have their credit card data hacked. The effected hotels include:

We at TravelPlex wanted to provide you with the latest news from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Changes are coming this month to the TSA Pre✔ Trusted Traveler Program that will impact which travelers receive expedited screening. If you are not already a member of one of the Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry or the TSA Pre✔ Application Program, you will probably see a decline in how often you receive expedited screening, even if you have previously "opted-in" through a frequent flyer program.

Last September, TravelPlex provided our readers with a list of top fall destinations. The response to the article was very positive, and we were asked by a number of our readers if we were going to make recommendations for summer travel as well. Give an old travel person a forum and we’ll always tell you where to go (no pun intended). So, with no further ado, and with help from a number of our leisure counselors, TravelPlex presents our top summer getaways. And remember, if you need any help in arranging that great trip at the best price…. You know who to call.

TravelPlex’s Destination of the Month takes us to the undisputed country music capital of the world, Nashville. Home of the Grand Old Opry, Nashville is riding high as a business destination and growing business center in the south. With its reputation as a great weekend and family getaway, Music City was recently named a top spot to visit by tastemakers as diverse as Travel + Leisure, Fodor’s, and The New York Times. While there’s something in and around Nashville for everyone, travelers with specific interests including country music, family travel, American history, and more can easily fill their days with activities related just to those interests or try a little bit of everything from a show at the historic Ryman Auditorium to getting in the spirit (and the spirits) with a tour at Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

As you can imagine, being in the corporate travel biz we are asked numerous questions about travel, such as when is the “best” day – or even time – to purchase an airline ticket. When is the best day to travel? Is advance booking really that important?

In order to offer a broad sweeping reply to those with such queries, we have taken our top 10 questions and present to you our answers. Keep in mind that as soon as you read this, some of the answers will have already changed. But, at least the following will offer a guideline to booking (corporate) travel. Happy travels!

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) will soon issue American Airlines their Single Operating Certificate, which signals the beginning of the end for US Airways. Once American is legally able to fly under one operating certificate as a combined airline, the phase-out of US Airways will begin. The first step to complete the merger will be to combine the frequent-flier programs. This process will begin on Saturday March 28, 2015. Below are a few details about the fusion and what to expect.

The airlines will continue their merger over the next two years, but the only thing to worry about is how this will affect your frequent-flier accounts. Here’s what we know so far:

With the sweet smell of Spring just around the corner, TravelPlex’s Destination of the Month takes us to the cherry blossom capital of the United States, Washington DC.

Trying to squeeze in a few fun things to do while in Washington DC is sometimes tricky while on business, but if you can go in a day early or stay a day late, the city offers more history, shopping, eclectic foods and varying areas than possibly any other city in the country, save New York.

Some of the top, must-see things in Washington include . . . 

On the heels of our last blog about Southwest Airlines altering their Rapid Rewards program, we thought we’d follow it up with some good news coming from Dallas.

Southwest is not changing their “Bags Fly Free” policy. At least not in the foreseeable future. Tammy Romo, the airline’s chief financial officer, said that “customers are voting with their wallets… They’re voting to fly Southwest Airlines”.

To give you an idea of how much money Southwest is leaving on the proverbial table by not charging for luggage, consider this. From January to September, 2014, Delta Airlines took in $655 million in extra baggage fees. Southwest brought in $62 million, or roughly 10% of what United made.

Those of you who fly Southwest Airlines probably do so for a number of reasons. One of the top motives for many travelers is the ease of using their frequent flyer points.

There were many loyal Southwest travelers that were holding their collective breath and hoping that the acquisition of AirTran last year would not lead to an overhaul of Southwest’s traveler-friendly Rapid Rewards program.

Well, for all of you who have been holding your breath, you can finally relax.

Because Southwest Airlines is the latest major carrier to downgrade the value of loyalty points.

Airports and airlines have been reducing baggage-carousel security personnel in order to save money, thus increasing the risk for luggage theft. Thieves often can simply take a bag off the carousel and walk out of the airport without having to prove to anyone that it’s actually their piece of luggage.

Historically, air travelers had to show a security guard a luggage ticket to prove that they actually owned the luggage they were leaving with.

Most thieves are never caught. What’s worse is that victims have no way of knowing if their luggage was stolen or just lost by the airline. However, recent arrests of large-scale luggage thieves in Miami, Atlanta and Chicago hint at the scale of the problem.

If you must check a bag, get to the carousel as soon as possible after landing.

If you have ever watched the sitcom “Seinfeld”, I’m sure you can quote a number of lines from at least a dozen episodes that hit your funny button and stay with you still today. How about Jerry’s fluffy shirt line of “I don’t want to be a pirate”. Or “Serenity now!” How about “No soup for you”, or one of the all-time best. “Hello…. Newman.”

One of my all-time favorite episodes is when Jerry and Ellen rent a car at the airport. You know the one, where the car rental company doesn’t have a car for them. Jerry tells the agent, “you know how to TAKE a reservation, you just don’t know how to HOLD a reservation, and that’s the most important part.” He then goes on to utter a line that everyone who has ever rented a car thinks, but doesn’t actually say out loud. When asked if he’d like the optional car insurance, Jerry tells the agent, “ Ya, you better give me the insurance ‘cause I’m gonna beat the hell out it”: Classic Seinfeld.